Monday, August 31, 2009

The Utility of Cats

By now you all know that I love to read the New York Times and find the small gems buried in its pages.

Earlier this summer John Tierney reported on the findings of researchers, led by Stephen J. O’Brien of the National Cancer Institute, an expert on cat genetics.

The researchers (through diligent study, I'm sure), came to conclusions such as: “Cats do not perform directed tasks.”

Thank goodness Mr Tierney has both a sense of humor and a bully pulpit. As of earlier this week, 321 comments had been posted - mostly in defense of cats.

Further, the defense was pretty much - "Who cares if they are useful (which, the overwhelming majority of commenters agrees they are)? We like them. That in itself has utility."

Rex & Fritz - helping Phil pack for a road trip.

Fritz, Rex & Junior keeping the bed warm, just in case we decide to forego a workout and snuggle with them for a few extra minutes.

Rex - what a handsome kitty!

Fritz, posing cooperatively for a change.

Rex - helping Phil with his "work-life balance."
TierneyLab recently posted a Part 2 in the discussion (generating another 220 comments!).
"If I were a cat’s PR agent, I would say my client transcended utility and change the subject. Ailurophiles (cat lovers) should probably concede the scientists are right in doubting the general usefulness of cats. If scientists are to be challenged on the nature of cats, firmer ground might be the question of whether cats can read human minds.
People have an ability, called “theory of mind” by psychologists, to infer what is going on in the minds of other people. Psychologists doubt whether any other species possess this ability, at least to the same degree.

But a cat of my acquaintance seems to be very adept at reading minds, at least those belonging to people. When he needs to be let back into the house, he jumps up onto the ledge outside the kitchen window, waiting for people to notice him and open the door. If ignored, he will grab the mesh of the storm window in his claws and rattle it impatiently to gain attention, having clearly read people’s disinclination to get up and open the door for him yet again."

I don't know if Fritz, Rex and Junior can read our minds, and I guess I don't care.
They are boon companions, chasers of moths, warmers of laps and I can always count on them to raise my spirits - even at 3 am - because the yowling is closely followed by purrs.
If Phil didn't have kitties to squeeze l'm not sure he'd get through the day.
Useful? Indeed.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dinner and a Movie

[Bike geeks (like me) can talk about bikes and biking and bike races and other cyclists and gear and equipment and . . . you get the picture. It can be endless and BORING for anyone who doesn’t share the passion.

I get that.

My plan is to broaden my focus a bit in the coming months. I will post a recipe and a movie review every weekend. Let me know what you think!]

This isn’t typically “dinner,” but it could be. I love to eat breakfast for dinner. My mom used to let us have pancakes and scrambled eggs when my Dad wasn’t home for dinner – it seemed like we were getting away with something. Anyway, this is my sister Barb’s recipe. She usually makes it for holiday brunches and I love it!! Serve it with some fresh fruit and low fat yogurt.


3 cups shredded hash brown potatoes
2 tablespoons butter, melted
seasoning salt to taste
1 cup diced cooked ham
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 small can green chiles, drained
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Press hash browns onto the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie dish. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until beginning to brown.

In a small bowl, combine ham, onion and shredded cheese. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and a little seasoning salt. When crust is ready, spread ham mixture on the bottom, and then cover with egg mixture.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C.) Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until filling is puffed and golden brown.

A Crude Awakening (2006) (85 min. run-time)

Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack's nonfiction treatise Crude Awakening joins Maxed Out, An Inconvenient Truth, and other recent documentaries devoted to unearthing and exploring forces that are untying the connective threads of contemporary society.

The subject at hand is crude oil - specifically, the depletion of petroleum from the Earth, in an era when consumption threatens to exceed supply. The overtone of the film is speculative but admonitory; Gelpke and McCormack suggest that if western society fails to reinvent itself altogether (via such innovations as hydrogen-powered autos, and a decreased reliance on politically unsound Middle Eastern nations), economic cataclysm is not just likely it is inevitable. To underscore this point, the filmmakers contrast obscenely naïve shorts from the 1950s that promise depthless oil supplies, with contemporary warnings from geologists who suggest that the bottom of the well is close at hand.

McCormack and Gelpke interview subjects such as former OPEC secretary general Fadhil Chalabi and Bush advisor Roger E. Ebel.

Phil and I watched it June 26 while doing interval workouts. First let me say that because Phil is a petroleum engineer, we are pretty educated on this issue. The movie takes a somewhat simplistic approach to the problem, but it still presents a great deal of thought-provoking information.

The bottom line is that hydrocarbons are a non-renewable resource. Production is not keeping up with demand. The entire Western lifestyle is predicated on cheap hydrocarbons to drive industry and agriculture. What are we going to do when cheap hydrocarbons are no longer available?

In an effort to provide a “fair and balanced” picture of what is known as the Peak Oil issue, I’m providing a link to an opinion piece that ran in the New York Times recently.

I disagree with the analysis, but I’ll throw it out here so you can form your own independent opinions.

I give the movie 3 stars out of 5. A superficial treatment of a critical issue – but at least it introduces the core concepts. The audience can do additional research if so inclined.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Talk

Phil and I haven’t yet had “the Talk.”

The “are we doing the Leadville 100 again in 2010” talk.

As you may recall, previously we made a deal that we wouldn’t try to ride Leadville (and more importantly devote ourselves to the necessary training) every year. We were on an every other year schedule: 2005, 2007, 2009, etc.

Phil’s broken ribs and resultant scratch from the 2009 edition of the race puts us in a quandary.

The Lottery
Entry into the Leadville 100 is dependent on a lottery. You send in your money and your entry form, and 6 weeks later you find out whether you are one of the chosen few. Lance Armstrong’s participation in the event, and the ensuing publicity, has made those entry slots hard to come by.

However . . . the lottery isn’t exactly a straight-up-blind-pull-the-number-out-of-a-hat deal.

First, riders who have completed 5 or more Leadville races seem to get priority placement. The race directors seem to understand those folks are going for the 1,000 mile buckle (which is bigger than your head). [If you finish 10 Leadville races you get the 1,000 mile buckle. Our friend Chris got his this year – it is a huge accomplishment and a coveted trophy in the mountain biking community.]

Second, people who volunteer at the Leadville events get priority, too. [The race directors are darn smart. They have this event with more people who want to do it than slots available. It is an event that requires lots of people to support it. Bingo. You want in? Volunteer. It creates a built-in feeder pool of volunteers.]

Third, if you had an entry slot in the race – say in 2009 – but were unable to race due to a legitimate reason – like several broken ribs – you may be given priority in the following year. This priority may not, however, extend for 2 years.

So . . . if we decide to race in 2010 we are 99% sure we’ll get selected in the “lottery.”

If we take 2010 off, and try again 2011, our chances of getting in the race are about 50 – 50. We would certainly volunteer at the 2010 edition of the race (it is a lot of work, but it is fun and energizing, too), but volunteering only gives some priority – it isn’t a guarantee of entry.

We’ll have The Talk after Labor Day. Any bets on what we’ll decide?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How Others Viewed the 2009 Leadville Event

Dave Wiens just posted his Leadville 2009 wrap up:
Part 1
Part 2

The comments to his Part 2 entry much sum up how most Leadville racers feel about him.

For example: I have to be honest and say that I am far more impressed with you as a person than as a racer. There are plenty of guys who have freakish abilities to do what you guys do at the front of the pack, but not many who have the grace, intelligence and perspective to handle themselves with such class at all times, win or lose. For that you are a true role model and I only wish there were more guys like you throughout sport for our kids to emulate.

Rebecca Rusch also posted her summary.

It is cool to see they think the event is tough and challenging, but it is special to them, too.

IMO – Lance and Dave at Leadville

I will wager that no one has lost any sleep waiting to find out what my thoughts are on the “Lance Crashes Dave’s Leadville Party” saga.

That said, here’s what I think: That’s bike racing.

Not a lot of bike racers would win the Miss Congeniality Award. They are a fiercely competitive bunch.

My hunch about why Lance rode Leadville last year is that he knew Chris Carmichael, his long-time coach, was training like mad to finish Leadville in under 9 hours. Chris just missed the nine hour mark in 2007 and Ken Chlouber, the race director, had been giving him hell about it for a whole year.

Over dinner one night about 4 weeks before the race, my guess is Lance and Chris started talking trash, and next thing you know, Lance says, "shoot, I can not only break 9 hours at that race, I can win it without even training."

Game on.

Lance didn’t win in 2008. That bugged him and he came back in 2009 to wrap up loose ends.

Many people think it stinks that Lance raced Leadville, when the race has historically been a race for amateurs. I have to agree with The Bike Gal.

You can have all the idealistic thoughts you want, but the whole point of the event is to bring money into Leadville’s economy.

“The total purpose of the race was community,” Chlouber said, “bringing people here to spend money. My passion has never been that the world needs more exercise. It’s that Leadville needs more money. You’ve got your choice if you wanna stay fit, but we want you to come here and spend money.”

Paersonlly, I find Dave
to be a more compelling role model and just generally a good guy. But the Powerline wasn’t lined with spectators 6 deep when Dave was racing against Ted McBlane and Jake Rubelt. [Who??]

Lance brings people.

More people means more money for the town of Leadville.

That's the bottom line.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

He Just Won’t Quit

Lookout Mountain Hill Climb

Lookout Mountain is one of the best known climbs in all of Colorado. It is easily accessible from Denver and offers cyclists a challenging course from its base in Golden to the top near Buffalo Bill’s grave.

Phil has been riding Lookout Mountain for well over 20 years. Some days he takes it easy (relatively), some days he rides as hard as his legs and lungs will allow, but every ride up Lookout presents a challenge.

Phil still feels cheated out of racing at Leadville this year - particularly because he knows he is at peak fitness.

Rather than giving up, relaxing and watching baseball on TV for the next several weeks he established a new goal: he wants to set a new personal best time on Lookout Mountain.

The current “official” Lookout Mountain Hill Climb record is held by Tom Danielson, a pro with the Garmin Slipstream team (the same guy who holds the Mt Evans Hill Climb Record – Tom can go uphill seriously fast). Tom’s record, like all “official” Lookout Mountain records, is timed from “Pillar to Post.”
Tom's record is 16 minutes & 2 seconds, which works out to something like 17 miles an hour. Holy cow.

That isn’t how it works for Phil, though (and by default, it isn’t how it works for me, either.)

No, we use The George Rooney Rule. George is an old college buddy of Phil’s, and he always started the clock at the second driveway on the right just before Pinal Road.

A completely arbitrary spot that makes no sense to anyone but George.

It adds another ½ to ¾ of a mile of hard climbing to the route. However, since that is where Phil has started timing himself for over 20 years that is where we’ll hit the stopwatch for Phil’s record attempt.

Also, we don’t stop the clock at the turn-off to Buffalo Bill’s grave – again, the end point for everyone else who rides Lookout.

No, George’s Rules call for stopping the clock at another crazily arbitrary spot – the mostly dead pine tree on the left as you make the last turn at the top of the climb. I’m not making this up.

These odd start and end parameters make it really hard to do an “apples to apples” comparison with the official Lookout records.

None of that matters, though. Phil and George know the rules under which their record attempts are raced. Phil’s prior personal best is 28 minutes & 20 seconds, set on Labor Day weekend in 2007.

I have put together a training plan for us to set Phil up for a race against the clock on September 19. The focus is on building power for a short, hard effort – much different than our training for Leadville, which was all about endurance.

I think Phil will have a better chance of setting a new record if he has a few good pacers to ride with him.

Are any of you up for a really hard 25 – 27 minute ride on September 19??

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Saddest Sight

Dug, who is one of Fatty's Core Team, posted this entry on Monday. picked it up.

I think it describes, so much more eloquently than I ever could, what finishing the Leadville 100 means to people.

Specifially, what it means to me.

Crewing for a Leadville 100 Rider

[Guest Blog #4 by Phil Kriz]

To be honest, I thought I was going to be depressed on race day after training for 9 months but ultimately being unable to race this year.

However, it was exactly the opposite! The race atmosphere was energizing and crewing for Joanne was an intense and very fun experience for me (and for my crew mates Lowry, Colleen, and Jeffrey).

I was full of nervous anticipation and was anxious to watch an epic race unfold.

I was very nervous that I was going to miss Joanne at an aid station, forget something she really needed, or watch her have a bad day and want to quit! Lowry and Jeffrey were just as bad as me, and the 3 of us checked, checked, and rechecked Joanne’s list for each aid station. In fact, Colleen was the only truly calm one of the bunch and repeatedly chuckled watching us messing with the gear.

This is how the day progressed:

We woke up at 4 am, (well I was really awake around 1:00 am – the bed was killing my ribs), had breakfast and drove up to Leadville at 5 am in a hard steady rain.

You could have heard a pin drop in our car! Both of us know that a rainy day at the Leadville 100 can take away a finish, no matter how hard we trained.

We hit Fremont Pass and the rain slowed, then stopped. I was holding my breath all the way into Leadville, hoping that the weather would hold. And luckily it did, for the start….

Although we arrived at the starting line at the same time as in prior years, the increase in riders put Joanne a long way back in the pack at the starting line. I knew instantly that this was going to cost her time in her race.

I saw our old neighbor Jim Gill just 20 feet ahead of Joanne in the starting queue. Jim is a much, much better rider than Joanne or I, but this was his first Leadville 100. I went over to tell him to push hard on the pavement to improve his placement at the St Kevin's climb (where riders bunch up and progress comes to a stand-still).

We finally got Joanne checked in to a race official 8 minutes before the race started. I gave Joanne a kiss for good luck, whispered into her ear “I would have kicked your ass this year!” and worked my way out of the huge pack of riders preparing to take off.

I immediately started fighting the crowds to trying to see the front of the pack and watch the race start. Lance Armstrong, Dave Wiens, Chris Carmichael and our friend Yuki Saito were all lined up on the front line with nervous faces. It was nice to see that even the pros are apprehensive of this race.

The shotgun went off and 1,300 riders clicked into their pedals. It took several minutes to watch everyone go by and I was so proud when I saw Joanne ride by surrounded by all these big mountain biking guys!

I knew some of these big guys would experience the humility of her passing them on the big climbs and how that makes her soooo happy!

Before I knew it, 1,300 riders had disappeared and the sky did not look kind! A rainbow had formed in the morning sun, with dark skies in the background toward the first steep climb of St. Kevin's. There was no question that it was going to rain. It was only 38 deg F., and I knew it was the just the start of a miserable challenge for many, if not all of the racers.

[To be continued . . .]

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

2009 Leadville 100 MTB Stats

Gale Bernhardt did some analysis of the Leadville results, which I found interesting:

1504 entrants
1307 people started the race
896 official finishers (giving the last racer the two-minute timing chip leeway that the race directors gave at the awards ceremony)
40% of the entry field did not finish the race
33% of the starting field did not finish

I finished in 757th place overall [NOT DFL!!].
I was 51st out of the total of 66 women to finish in less than 12 hours.

Only 7% of finishers were women. Wow.

I was 23rd in my age group (women 40+), which had 29 finishers overall. The old gals are a tough bunch!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why the Leadville 100?

It’s not as if I haven’t had time to think about the answer to this question.

Every morning for 10 months when the alarm went off at 4 am I had the opportunity to think: “Why am I doing this?”

Every cold and wet weekend afternoon during the winter when Phil and I headed down to the pain cave to ride the trainers for 2 hours I had the chance to ask myself: “Why am I doing this?”

Saturday morning, as the rain pelted down and I began pre-hypothermic shivering, I certainly had good reason to ask myself: “Why am I doing this?”

The answer is: “It’s complicated.”

In part, I suppose, it’s because I can.

I am fortunate to be healthy enough to give it a try.

Also, Leadville is close enough to Denver that it is easy for us to go up and train on the course. If we decided to make the Mohican Mountain Bike 100 in Loudonville, Ohio our main event of the season, we wouldn’t have that opportunity.

After a great deal of thought, though, I think it ultimately comes down to this: the Leadville 100 MTB race is a race of personal bests – for every single person who participates.

1300 people line up at 630 in the morning, and while many share the same, “simple” goal of finishing in less than 12 hours, the reality is that there are 1300 individual goals represented on that line.

From Lance, who wanted to set a new course record (maybe finishing in under 6 hours); to Dave Wiens, who wanted to race in a way that he could be proud of – win, lose or draw; to Yuki, who wanted a top 10 / sub-7 hour finish; and finally to me, hoping to break 11 hours.

[photos courtesy of Colleen Reilly]

We all had our goals. Which were stretch objectives for each of us.

From top to bottom on the finisher list some racers achieved their goals; many more did not.

Some walked away knowing they did every last thing possible to achieve their goal, but the course beat them.
Some will be fired up to come back and try again. Others will accept their reality and move on to other pursuits.

Some racers feel defeated by the challenge faced; others feel energized and motivated.

At this moment, with only 3 days in the rear view mirror, I’m ambivalent.

I trained. I was prepared. I stuck it out when the weather and the course conditions gave me an easy excuse to quit.

I’m not as strong physically as Lance, and Dave and Rebecca Rusch (who absolutely rocked the course, by the way). But I may be as strong mentally.

I set my goal; I strived to achieve it; and I hung tough even when it became clear I wasn’t going to “win.”

So . . . “Why Leadville?”

After facing the challenges necessary to compete in that event, my determination cannot be questioned.

I have a little part of my psyche that whispers in my ear “You’re a bad ass!!”
It gives me confidence to face all manner of other challenges. I have proven that I do not crack under pressure. How great is it to know that about yourself?
Competing at Leadville gives me confidence, it tests my resolve, it challenges me physically . . . in the end, the answer is simply

“Why Not?”

Sunday, August 16, 2009

All Four Seasons

A Very Long Day

Some of you may be familiar with the Sting song “All Four Seasons.”

The gist of it is that his love is changeable – from warm and sunny to wintry in the blink of an eye:

If it's a sunny day I take my umbrella
Just in case the raindrops start to fall
You could say that I'm just a cautious fellow
I don't want to be caught in a sudden squall
That's my baby
She can be all four seasons in one day
That's my baby
She can be all four seasons in one day

Leadville on Saturday was equally unpredictable. As we left Copper Mountain at 5 am it was pouring rain and 38 degrees. Phil and I were completely silent all the way to the top of Fremont Pass – where it appeared the road was wet, but no new rain was falling – and we could see one or two stars, so the cloud cover appeared to be breaking. Whew.

Our friends Lowry & Colleen came up from California to crew for us – even after we learned Phil couldn’t race, they insisted they’d come up and support me. Jeffrey also came up – I felt like a pro rider with a full support team.

We got to Leadville, parked, and quickly set up the trainer so I could do my warm-up.

Lowry & Colleen took my mountain bike and got it staged in the starting area while Jeffrey watched the time for my warm-up, helped break things back down & waited with me in the port-a-potty line, holding my miscellaneous gear. It was cold and damp, but not actively raining at that point.

Go Baby Go!!

All too soon I was checking in, lining up, and the shotgun went off – time to ride, baby. As we headed out of town on the pavement, a beautiful rainbow formed. I hoped it was an omen of good things to come – and in a global sense, I think it was.

The race is different than it was 2 years ago when I rode. Oh, the course is the same, but there are twice as many racers now – and the course simply cannot accommodate the mass start.

There was never a time in first 25 miles when I wasn’t riding in traffic. St Kevin’s was a very slow ride because I could only go as fast as the person ahead of me – who could only go as fast as the person ahead of him. It was a bottleneck that never broke open.

It rained – hard – off and on all the way to the Fish Hatchery. The wet weather did seem to keep people in check. I didn’t see anyone making crazy monkey maneuvers like I’ve seen in years past. I think everyone was trying to stay safe.

It was cold. Very very cold. On my descent of the Powerline I was shivering so hard I feared I would wreck from the uncontrolled jerking, but I managed to stay safe.

My Team Rocks!!
The sun came out and by the time I got to the Pipeline where Phil was waiting with a fresh Camelbak and a rag to wash my sunglasses, I was warmed up and ready to keep going. I told him there would be no personal records – I was already behind my anticipated split times, and with all the traffic on the course and the wet weather, I knew I had no chance to break 11 hours.

Lowry, Colleen and Jeffrey were like a Nascar pit crew when I got to Twin Lakes. They may have rotated my tires and changed my oil in addition to swapping Camelbaks and handing me supplements & food - it all happened so fast it was hard to tell!

Phil cleaned and lubed my chain and I was back on the course in minutes.

It was a little intimidating. With such a great team supporting me, there was no time to even think about being tired or whether it was good idea to keep riding.

40 miles/60 Miles - He's Not Twice as Fast as Me . . .
As I pulled out of Twin Lakes, Lance was rolling back in – at that point he was already 20 miles ahead of me. Wow.

I felt good leaving Twin Lakes, but it seemed like it was taking more effort to turn the pedals than it should have. My shift indicator showed that I was in my small chain ring – but when I looked at my chain, I was actually in the big ring. I figured, hey, no big deal, that must have happened when Phil lubed my chain.

Whew – my legs weren’t dead at 40 miles with the hardest 60 miles still to come.

So I shifted. And nothing happened. And I tried again. And nothing happened.

I rode in the big ring until I hit this steep little incline on the transition section over to Columbine, then dismounted, ran up the hill, and started messing with my chain, derailleur, etc.

Finally, I got the bike to shift. Yippee. Otherwise, I would have been out. I am simply not strong enough to ride Columbine in my big ring.

Just as I re-mounted, Dave Wiens rode past. He had to be 10 minutes behind Lance at that point, and he looked cooked. Ugh.

Climbing Like a Monkey
I rode Columbine as strong as I have ever ridden it. I felt absolutely great during the entire climb. I passed at least 250 people. The weather wasn’t playing nice, though. It rained – hard – 4 different times. Later I heard some people got caught in hail and sleet. I had about 3 – 5 minutes of nasty corn snow, but no real sleet or hail. I just kept turning the cranks and moving ahead.

As usual, I got passed by many riders on the descent from Columbine – remember, I go downhill like a girl. Nevertheless, I had put time into quite a few people on the climb, and nowhere near that many folks passed me descending.

At Twin Lakes I was feeling a little bit shaky. I ate a Salted Nut Roll, took a few deep breaths, got more love and attention from my entourage, and headed out.

The sun was out again – I took off my arm warmers and my vest (I rode with my knee warmers on all day, though).

75 Miles, or Halfway - Really, That is How it is on This Ride
I got back to the Pipeline at 230 pm. That meant I had 4 hours to get back to Leadville and make the 12 hour time cut-off. I knew that gave me a cushion – and maybe even a chance to make up some ground.

However, there was a fierce headwind/crosswind on the Pipeline to Powerline transition – I didn’t make up any time there.

The Powerline was hard, as it always is, but it wasn’t emotionally crippling for me. There were other riders slumped over their bikes looking pretty bad. I felt good, and just hiked on by. I was starting get hopeful about maybe making my 11 hour goal after all.

Like I-70 on a Saturday Afternoon in January
Then I hit the traffic jam.

The entire climb up Sugarloaf was single file, one bike following the next, no one able to pass or make a move because there really was only one good rideable line. So, I fell into line and just climbed at the pace allowed. That was a bummer, because my legs still felt great, and I could have gone faster – maybe not much faster, but at least enough to make up a few minutes.

I did make up time on the pavement climb to St Kevin’s. My legs did not feel fatigued.

Weird, but true. So I cranked. I was not passed once on that climb, while I passed at least 50 other riders.

I hit the turn-off for St Kevin’s at 450 pm. I knew I’d make the 12 hour cut-off, barring any mechanical trouble. I stopped and ate – I was feeling just a little bit shaky and bonky – but not terrible.

Then I hit it hard. Again, there were several places where I got caught in traffic and had to simply cool my jets and ride at the pace everyone else was riding. The descent was fast – the rain had made the course tacky, and the line was obvious after 750 other riders had been there. So I went pretty fast – at least for me.

Before long I was on the Boulevard, and again, I climbed past several people who were suffering.

Then it was over. My finishing time was 11:29:48.

30 minutes slower than my goal. [Hey - Lance was 30 minutes off his goal, too . . .]

I am okay with it, though. Between the weather conditions and the traffic jams caused by the large race field, I did my best.

My fitness was good – I climbed like a spider all day.

My crew was amazing. With Colleen, Lowry, Jeffrey and Phil taking care of all the logistics, all I had to do was ride my bike.

It was physically the hardest of the 3 Leadville races I have finished. The cold and wet made it very challenging for me. It takes a lot of energy to keep the fire stoked in that kind of weather.

Also, I took several mud clumps in my left eye throughout the course of the day, and rode the last 25 miles with impaired vision. I could still see, but nothing was crisp. Thank goodness I could see well enough to follow the line carved by the riders ahead of me.

Again, thanks to everyone who supported me with e-mails, calls, text messages & psychic vibes. It means a great deal to me.

When I was shivering and miserable I thought “Quitting is not an option. Suck it up. There are so many people pulling for me I just need to keep turning the pedals and finish.” So I did.

I’ll post more photos in the next day or so, and also some thoughts on the Lance v. Dave race.

I’ll even try to answer the question I was asked, and asked myself, many times over the last few days: “Why the Leadville 100?”

My best friend and biggest supporter at the end of a very long day.

Lowry, Coleen and Jeffrey - my amazing crew.

Coming into the Pipeline on my way back to Leadville.

The race is held in a beautiful place - even if I don't usually get a chance to appreciate the views.

Lining up for the start.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Thanks to all of you who have called, e-mailed, dropped by, and otherwise offered your support, good vibes and "be safe & fast" thoughts over the last few days.

It means a lot.

I have invited those of you who stop by to read this blog into my personal space. For those who know me, that's not something I do, or did, lightly.

Having friends along on this journey has been very rewarding - and motivating - for me.

I hope you have enjoyed learning more about me and Phil and our passion for cycling.

I'm not certain I'll keep this going after the post-Leadville wrap-up.

I'd like to hear from you - in comments, e-mail or otherwise - is reading this blog worth your time? Does it allow you to keep up with what we're doing? Do you even care?

Results from Leadville will probably be posted on the official site Sunday morning. I'll post my report later in the day after we get home, unpack and I drink my first "Training? I'm not in training" beer.

Again, thanks.

Monday, August 10, 2009

It’s All in Your Head

The role of the brain in determining how far and hard we can exercise — its role in fatigue — is contentious.

According to a recent study, “Training is no longer simply an act of getting the muscles used to lactate or teaching the lungs how to breathe harder.”

It’s also about getting your brain to accept new limits by pushing yourself, safely. “Once your brain recognizes that you’re not going to damage yourself, it’ll be happy to let you go.”

Anyone who participates in endurance events already knows this.

No matter how good your legs feel on a given day, if your mind isn’t committed to the task at hand, finishing the course will be difficult.

I may be slow – but as most of you know, I’m determined.

With a “Little Engine That Could” mindset, I have managed to accomplish many things that initially seemed impossible.

So if you see me muttering under my breath on Saturday, you can bet I’m chanting my mantra:

I know I can . . . I know I can . . . I know I can . . .

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Rule of 3

Everyone has heard, and most of us have repeated, the old saying that “bad things come in threes.”

I’m really hoping there is some truth to that, because it means I’m home free. At least for now . . .

Bad Thing #1:

Phil’s crash, the resulting broken ribs and being forced to withdraw from the Leadville 100 MTB race this year.

Bad Thing #2:

While I was eating my lunch outdoors in downtown Denver yesterday afternoon, I was physically assaulted by a mentally ill person.

Honest. I was sitting there, eating my yogurt and raspberries, reading Cooking Light, when she grabbed me from behind and began clawing at my arms and ranting in gibberish.

I was so surprised I didn’t really react. I just calmly told her to let go of me and walk away, because I was calling security. The whole incident probably took 90 seconds to 2 minutes, but was certainly disturbing. My arms are scratched & scraped, but it is all superficial. Weird. And bad.

Bad Thing #3:

Today Phil and I headed out for a 3 hour training ride. The plan was to ride at a fairly easy pace, but get some time in the saddle and miles in my legs – a little, but not too much – the delicate balancing act of a pre-race training taper.

2 blocks into the ride Phil hit a tiny dip in the road and nearly passed out from the pain. He peeled off and I went on (this was not the bad thing).

I had a fantastic ride up Lookout Mountain – it was clear, sunny and about 70 degrees – absolutely perfect riding conditions. At the end of the Lookout Mountain part of my ride I decided to tack on about 40 minutes of riding on the flats in order to flush the lactic acid out of my legs.

The bike path near our house was closed due to construction, so I dropped down onto 44th Avenue and started rolling. 44th has two very tricky railroad crossings – well-known to all the local cyclists. The tracks are not perpendicular to the road, so you have to very careful to turn your bike in such a way that you hit the tracks straight on. Which I thought I did. And obviously did not.

When I came to (Yes. I crashed, hit my head and knocked myself out for some period of time. Probably only seconds, but I really don’t know . . .) a nice man was trying to make me lie still while he checked to see I wasn’t badly hurt.

The next few minutes are vague. The upshot is I have a gash on my elbow, road rash on my hip, the beginnings of a very colorful contusion on my upper thigh, and a new bicycle helmet. (Thanks Matt Holderman – the gift certificate to WRC was very appreciated!!)

Helmet took quite a hit

Brake lever got jacked up, too

My boo boo . . . the only one that is G-rated
I’m fine, just little stiff & sore – nothing that won’t heal in a couple of days.

Let’s all cross our fingers and hope the Rule of 3 holds true.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lookout Mountain

One of the best things about living in Golden is how easy it is for us to get out for a killer bike ride. Whether we are looking for a skinny-tire road ride or a fat-tire mountain bike challenge, we have plenty of options.

We rarely load the bikes on the car and drive somewhere to begin our rides (Buffalo Creek MTB rides being an exception). Instead, we get dressed, pump up our tires, and ride from the comfort of home – a treat most other cyclists envy.

One of our favorite rides is Lookout Mountain. I just stumbled across this
set of photos – you can see why we love the ride! Light traffic, stunning views, and a steep enough grade to ensure we get a good workout every time.

Staying Focused

With Phil on the Disabled List, this last week has challenged my focus and my dedication.

Do I really want to do the race if Phil can't ride, too?

Do I want to keep training? (Even though I am in my taper, I'm still working out 5 days a week, with doubles on 2 days in order to work on core strength & flexibility.)

Do I want to keep counting calories and developing strategies to increase my grams of protein while maintaining my complex carbohydrate intake?

In a word – NO.

I don't.

But I will.

To quit now just seems foolish.

I didn't get a whole lot out of the Economics classes I took at Montana State 'lo those many years ago, but the concept of "sunk costs" is one I remember.

I have already "sunk" 10 months into this endeavor. So one more week is no big deal and will allow me to protect my investment.

So this weekend I'll do a couple of 3 hour road bike rides – easy pace, not much climbing. Phil will try to ride, too – we'll see if the position on the road bike is too much for him.

I'll eat healthy meals with lean protein, lots of vegetables and some whole grains – brown rice, probably.

I'll drink plenty of water and continue my alcohol drought.

And I'll count the days until August 15th . . .

[Sounds like Dave Wiens is also ready for the hoopla to end . . .]

Thursday, August 6, 2009

VeloNews - Dave Wiens Video Interview

VeloCenter clip - Dave Wiens says six hours at Leadville 100 possible . . . hot damn.

That would mean the big boys would be at the summit of Columbine Mine before I even get to Twin Lakes.

I don't know.

There may be 15 - 20 minutes of spare change in the current record, but 45 minutes? It will be interesting to see what happens on race day.

Tires - Maxxis Cross Mark UST

After plenty of fussin' and wonderin', I have settled on my tires for Leadville - the Maxxis Cross Mark UST.

My Neighborhood Wrench, Matt, highly recommended them, so I used them in Laramie to see if I liked them. Once I dialed in the air pressure (I'm going to run them at about 28 psi) they were great - fast rolling, hooked up in the loose stuff without skidding on downhills and gave me plenty of bite when climbing. I'm running them tubeless, with Stan's tire sealant.

One decision down - 327 more to go!

Competitive Cyclist did an extensive REVIEW entitled "Which tire is right for us?" The Continental Explorer UST, Kenda Nevegal UST, Maxxis Crossmark UST and Kenda Small Block 8 UST were evaluated.

We got turned on to the Maxxis Crossmark UST by its tread design. We’ve ridden some good tires from Maxxis before, so it was no surprise that we found a niche fairly quickly for the Crossmark. It is marketed as an all conditions / hardpack tire. One of the fundamental elements of the tread design is the nearly continuous center ridge. This makes the Crossmark ideal for hardpack trails, paved bike paths and forest roads. The lack of void space makes it roll easily and smoothly. The tread opens with ramped intermediate blocks. The shoulder blocks are an alternation of square and round shapes. They are tightly packed, and we felt like the lack of void space on the shoulder hampered the tire in loose conditions and off camber corners. Maxxis claimed weight of 690 grams was spot on with our readings.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

He's Out

I’m Out

Guest blog #3 by Phil Kriz

This is hard for me to write, let alone say out loud, but after 10 months of training I will not be doing Leadville this year.

My fall at the Laramie Enduro did break some ribs [jcm edit - at least 4 of them], so the doctor says no mountain biking for about 6 weeks for me.

I do not, however, concede the Lion to Joanne until she comes back with a belt buckle!

The Good News

The good news is no messed up joints (like a dislocated or separated shoulder/blown knee) that require surgery and a lot of rehab.

Six weeks will go by fast and I will only have to endure one long tough day watching everyone else suffer while wondering how I would have done this year.

Especially how I would have done against Joanne!

Leadville Factoids

[From Outside Magazine (August 2009 edition)]

Tour de Suffer

This August, the 16th annual Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race kicks off in America's highest city. An expected record of 1,300 competitors will climb more than 14,000 vertical feet at an average elevation of two miles. Lance Armstrong says he's returning, and Levi Leipheimer has committed, too, both hoping to dethrone six-time winner Dave Wiens. But for most riders, the main goal is to not end up sucking air from one of eight oxygen bottles spread out along the course. [written by Kyle Dickman]

More vertical feet Leadville cyclists ride than Everest climbers ascend from Base Camp to Mount Everest.

People who applied for this year's entrance lottery, which fills the race's 1,400 slots, a 25% increase over last year.
[10,000, the number I heard in January was evidently highly exaggerated!]

Twice offered to race director Ken Chlouber for a spot in the race (he declined)

Portion of riders who do not finish

Expected cases of post-race high-altitude pulmonary edema

Monday, August 3, 2009

Leadville Trail 100 - LIVE stream web cast

[Big news from the Leadville race organization - those of you who want to see the action live can do so for $6 - how can you beat that?]

Historic First for the Leadville Trail 100

For the first time in its 27 year history the Leadville Trail 100 will be hosting a LIVE stream web cast of one of its ultra endurance races. On August 15 an international web audience will know who the 2009 LT100 MTB champion is the moment it happens. The action, tension and drama of the world’s toughest 100 mile mountain bike race will be captured in 4 live web casts throughout the 12 hour race.

Versatile Productions of Carbondale in conjunction with Leadville video producer Karen Rinehart will produce 4 live 1/2 hour video segments of the race: at the starting line, 3 hours into the race, as the first racers cross the finish line, and at the 12 hour cutoff.

They will specifically cover the progress and finish of celebrity riders such as 6-time LT100 champion, Dave Wiens, as well as international biking legends Lance Armstrong and Tinker Juarez.

In addition to all the race action, the production will include: profiles of Leadville and Lake County, LT100 founder interviews, "Man on the Street" interviews and stories, local color, as well as race results, and LT100 sponsor interviews. Not only is the live stream web cast a first for the LT100, but also for Leadville.

So, if last year’s mountain bike race was touted as the “David and Goliath” showdown, tune in online August 15 to watch the sequel: “David and Goliath II: The Return of Lance.”

In 2008, Wiens successfully defended his title by beating Armstrong by just under 2 minutes and setting a new course record of 6:45:45. But before the bikes were wiped down and last year’s awards were presented the whisper had already begun: who will win in 2009?

LT100 organizers decided to answer the whisper with a roar. In fact, last year’s race demonstrated how significant a role the internet played when over 90,000 people logged on to the LT100 web site within a 24-hour period to see the race time results. Imagine that number when viewers can see the event live!

“When we started the Leadville Trail 100 twenty-seven years ago, our singular purpose was for the Leadville community to benefit financially from the races. That goal continues to be met by assisting local businesses with today’s economic hardships by bringing people into town,” says LT100 President Ken Chlouber. “This live stream web cast will benefit our local community in monumental ways, allowing thousands and thousands of people to tune in live to see the race, as well as what a great town this is!”

Versatile has been in production for several months now, interviewing racers and volunteers, in addition to community leaders, students who received a LT100 Legacy Scholarship and LT100 participants who have chosen to make Leadville their second home.

Racing enthusiasts interested in subscribing to the live stream web cast may do so by signing up at the LT100 web site: The cost is only $5.95 for all FOUR live streams and purchases my be made through the security of Pay Pal at the Trail 100 web site. Don’t delay, get online and order yours today. Be a part of this historic once-in-a-lifetime event!

Thank You,
Kathy Bedell

Public Relations Manager
Leadville Trail 100
(719) 486-3502

I was doing GREAT…

I was doing GREAT…until I WASN’T!
[Guest blog # 2 by Phil Kriz]

Laramie Enduro – 111K or about 70 miles

This weekend Joanne and I took a road trip up to Laramie, Wyoming to participate in our favorite mountain bike race – the Laramie Enduro.

The Leadville 100 is the race that we train for all year and Leadville is by far a tougher endurance challenge, however since we use the Laramie Enduro as a training race it takes the pressure off and ups the fun factor!

Combine less stress over our performance with only 400 racers, wonderful race volunteers, incredible beautiful views, and the fun factor goes WAY up!

Joanne has said several times that it is too bad that it is a race, because she would like to just stop and enjoy the views - beautiful grass pastures with granite outcrops. Since we are racing, I have never stopped to take a picture, however I have noticed several racers stopping to do just that.

Driving to Laramie

If you have not taken the road from Ft Collins, Colorado to Laramie, Wyoming in the summer – it is definitely worth your time. Rolling undeveloped grass lands with cool granite outcrops heading into the Eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains.

As in years past, we drove into an incredibly ugly looking rain storm perched over Laramie and the low mountains to the East where the race is held.

We drove straight to the Fine Edge bike shop that hosts the race and registration. It was raining and looked like it was going to get really nasty.

Watching the rain, I kept thinking how lucky we were that we could afford a nice hotel rather than camping like many of the racers!

This year the registration process was totally dialed in compared to years past and there was no waiting in line to get registered - which was good for my ego. There are some pretty fit people that do these races, and it can be pretty intimidating standing in line with them and comparing my legs to theirs . . .

Friday night it rained hard until about 3 am, but true to the weather forecast we woke up to clear and sunny skies!

Race Day

We woke at 4 am to get breakfast early enough for it to digest before the race started at 7 am. We drove up to the race start/finish eleven miles East of Laramie and found a great parking spot. We set up our trainers to practice our coach’s race warm-up routine and proceeded to make a ton of noise with our knobby tires on the trainers. I felt sorry for the people parked next to us who were getting ready in quiet solitude until we showed up.

After warming up and changing to non-sweaty clothes we only had 15 minutes to get to the starting line - which eliminated a lot of standing around nervous time for me.

Right before the race started Joanne told me she was going do the race as a long tempo ride and not get caught up in the race part of it. I said I was going to push it, but not try to blow up.

So, we started a little more forward than in the past when we have purposely started close to dead last. I was hoping to not get caught up in slow lines on the beginning single track as in prior years.

About ten minutes into the race I noticed that Joanne had gotten ahead of me. So much for not getting caught up in the race! I kicked it up a little harder and managed to get ahead of her and then concentrated on trying to put some distance between us.

The First Fall

I was feeling great and climbing pretty well. We got off of some jeep trails and headed into single track in the trees. By this time, I had managed to put some distance ahead of the people behind me. (Keep in mind I am not even close nor never will be close to the front of the pack – to be in the front of the back 1/3 is good for me!)

The single track in the tree section was wet from the rain and criss-crossed with lots of tree roots. I noticed my “fast” small block Kenda tires were slipping on the roots and I really started concentrating on avoiding the roots or hitting them as square as possible. Just then a nasty root attacked and WHAM - I was down on my left side.

The first thing that went through my mind, was “GREAT - that didn’t even hurt! Hey, the bike is fine – quick get going before the next person catches you!” So, I took off no worse for wear and feeling quite lucky!!!

The Seven Mile Hill

The Laramie Enduro has a steep jeep trail at the seven mile mark that historically hurts a lot of people. Last year this hill caused 5 broken collar bones and one broken back. The hill is pretty much straight down and looks pretty harmless, until you notice that you are going over 30 mph and the road is covered with small round eroded granite pebbles.

Then come the ruts and then bad things happen very, very quickly.

Since we have done this race several times before, I rode the brakes the whole way and prayed Joanne would do the same.


The next seven miles have some very fast sections with water control berms that I call Whoop-Dee-Doos. You have to make sure you are off your saddle or they can buck you right over your handle bars.

A guy passed me and was jumping off of them, so I started to do the same thing. It was a ton of fun! But after about eight of them, I figured I had pushed my luck far enough and it was time to start riding more in control.

Mile 14

So, next I am riding down a smooth gravel road that is slightly downhill pedaling about 25 mph. Feeling great, glad that it is the best weather we have ever experienced in this race, and thinking I am really going to kick Joanne’s butt this year!

My front tire hits a soft spot in road, kicks right and WHAM - I fly-swat onto my left hip and back, slamming both elbows into the road and blowing a hole in my Camelbak.

I am laying there with the breath completely knocked out of me wondering: “Did I break anything? It is going to totally hurt trying to get my breath back. Is someone going to run over me?”

Then several racers came up and got me out of the road. The gal who helped me to my feet said “The leg is weight bearing – doesn’t look broken.” The guy who got my bike out of the road said “Good job – sacrifice the body to save the bike!” The second guy brushed dirt off me, saying “nice war wound.”

I told them to keep going with their race, and took several minutes to try to tell if something was broken and get my breath back. I could tell immediately that my collar bone was OK. But I was worried that I might have cracked ribs or a messed up vertebrae up high in my back on the left side (really painful under the left scapula).

Since it was downhill at that point, I got back on my bike and started easy pedaling to further check out the pain level. I was still pretty shook up when I hit the aid station at 18 miles, and I decided to keep going.

Big Mistake.

I just felt worse and worse from that point, but I then had to keep going to aid station #2 at 32 miles before I could quit. I was really having trouble breathing and steering was causing a lot of pain. I knew I was going to crash again if I kept going.

Just Plain Lucky

A volunteer at aid station #2 drove me back to the start/finish and on the drive back she said she was a massage therapist and needed to get back there to set up to start working at 1 pm. I quickly asked is she minded starting working earlier …. on me!

She said no problem, and worked 1 hour and 45 minutes on me - that really, really helped. I still felt like I might have some cracked ribs, but she was able to loosen up part of my back, my hip and shoulder.

I then took a nap, and got to cheer on my team mate Joanne as she came in 6 hours after I crashed. She looked fresh and ready for even more riding. She is clearly ready for Leadville!

I am Hoping . . .

Today (Sunday), thanks to the massage and a lot of icing I have a somef range of motion back, but it is limited and I still am in a lot of pain.

Rolling out of bed is almost impossible, but once I am standing I feel pretty good.

I can lift a bike up on the rack with some pain, however the pain makes me light-headed; trying to to bend over to pick anything off the ground takes my breath away it hurts so bad.

So, here's hoping 10 days is enough recovery time to tackle a 12-hour mountain bike race!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Laramie Enduro 2009

In 2005 and 2007 we rode/raced the Laramie Enduro as a final fitness test before Leadville. We decided to stick with that routine this year, too, so Friday found us loading up our gear and heading out for the 3 hour drive to Laramie.

The Enduro is by far my favorite cycling event. The field is small – between 400 and 450 riders. The course is unique – as the race organizer describes it:

Situated in the Laramie Range of Southeastern Wyoming, this course covers some of the best mountain bike track in the region. The course is a fast and extremely fun loop, covering no ground twice. It includes virtually every kind of trail and surface a mountain biker is likely to encounter in the Rockies, from wildlife trails to single track to dirt roads.

The course is a challenging 70+ miles which climbs over 8,600 vertical feet, all at elevations over 7,500 feet. You race over high grass plains, through serene aspen and pine forests, and through the renowned rock-climbing venue of the Vedauwoo (pronounced Veda-Voo) Recreation Area.

Friday evening it rained. It was the kind of rain that makes you look around for Noah and an Ark – sheets of water coursing down for several hours without respite. Luckily, we knew that the course is very sandy, so while there would likely be puddles and some boggy sections, most of the course would be rideable.

Saturday morning we were up at 4 am in order to get bikes and gear loaded and breakfast eaten (bagels with peanut butter – our pre-ride staple). We then drove out to the race start at the Hidden Valley picnic area off of I-80, got parked, set up our trainers and did a 25 minute warm up. Toweled off, geared up, and checked in for the 7 am race start – with 20 minutes to spare – just time enough to stand in the port-a-potty line – whew!!

My plan was to use the event as a high-intensity, long duration training ride – not to actually “race.” So I hung back at the start and let the folks who were in a hurry take off. There is fairly steep, short climb right out of the gate, so I ended up passing quite a few people on that – we have learned this year how much being warmed up before the start helps in those first few minutes. After about ½ a mile of climbing on the county road, the course takes a sharp right onto single track – and things start to get messy because there is a big jam up of riders. Eventually it sorted itself out, and we were off.

Phil was behind me on that section, but when the single track ended and we got back on a two track, he took off. I kept him in sight and just rode my own pace. At mile 7, there was a sketchy downhill section - very steep, rutted, very loose granite material and reclaimed 2-track. Phil pulled away a bit at that point and I let him go.

From that point on I settled into my all day pace – just a little bit harder than comfortable, but not so hard that I would blow up. I felt really good all day – I rode several sections of the course that I’ve had to walk in prior years.

I kept my eye out for Phil all day, but didn’t see him. I assumed he was just having a killer day and was crushing me. I was even sort of okay with that, because I knew he planned to “race,” rather than “ride.”

When I came off the Headquarters Trail ½ a mile from the finish line, Phil was there to take pictures. [I didn’t know it was him at first, and there was big dog charging at me too, so my expression is kind of weird. Hey, gimme a break, I just spent almost 9 hours riding my mountain bike 70 miles. At that point I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.]

I said “how long have you been waiting for me?” I expected him to say 45 minutes, or maybe even an hour. He said “6 hours.” I still had to ride to the finish, so I just thought “smart ass” and rode by.

It was only when I got back to the car (climbing that steep hill, yet again) that I found out he had crashed at mile 14 and was forced to drop out of the race at the second aid station (about mile 32).

He may have cracked a rib, we’re not sure. At the least he strained the ligaments between his ribs. He is in a lot of pain – especially if he draws in deep breaths.

For now it is day to day on whether he’ll be in any condition to ride at Leadville.

He is trying to keep a good attitude, but he’s worried. I’m preaching patience, ice and Advil. I’ll keep you posted.

As for me – the Enduro was a great experience. I don’t know what my time was at Laramie in 2005 – I was just glad to finish the ride. I had never done anything like that – a “real” mountain bike race with single track and technical stuff. In 2007 I finished in about 9 hours and 20 minutes. This year I finished in 8:53:27.

So, as a fitness test – I’d say I’m ready. Let’s just hope my buddy gets to ride, too!