Sunday, January 31, 2010

Man Killer

You may recall that Phil celebrated his 50th year by buying a couple new bikes, which we - tongue in cheek - refer to as the Wife Beaters.

After serious consideration, I have decided to even the playing field once again.

Sometime this week I plan to place my order for a new mountain bike. We shall call my new toy what it is meant to be – Man Killer. Grrrr!

This is a Pivot Mach 4 dual suspension mountain bike. The women’s specific frame colors available from the manufacturer are baby blue and pink. When will sporting equipment manufacturers realize that just because they “shrink it & pink it” they are not catering to the female athlete?
Anyway, as luck would have it, the size frame I need (an XXSmall) has the same frame geometry, whether you buy the “women’s” version or the standard version. So, thank goodness, I can get a black anodized frame rather than a pink one.
A pink Man Killer lacks a certain gravitas, don’t you think?
Details on my component selection will follow. I plan to build this baby so light it floats uphill without any help from me! The local bike shop is about to have a very lucrative month . . .

Monday, January 25, 2010

Exercise-Induced Asthma

One of the reasons I whine about working out in the cold weather is that I have exercise-induced asthma (most of the other reasons involve being a certified wimp, but we don't need to discuss that . . .!)

A recent article in the New York Times notes that exercise-induced asthma has been diagnosed in as many as half of all elite cross-country skiers and almost as many world-class ice skaters and hockey players.

Cynics believe the high incidence of asthma in world class athletes is tied to the fact that an asthma diagnosis gives them access to performance-enhancing drugs, such as Clenbuterol and Salbutamol. More objective observers have other hypotheses.

Exercise-induced asthma is not quite the same condition as asthma. And in fact, these days, the “preferred term” in the scientific community for exercise-induced asthma is exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, or E.I.B. It’s a reversible, obstructive airway disease that typically begins about five minutes after you stop exercising — particularly if your exercise was intense, at between 85 and 95 percent of maximum heart rate.

Historically researchers believed that exposure to cold air was what triggered the bronchial narrowing, with blood vessels in the throat constricting to conserve warmth, just as they do in ungloved fingers; when the vessels later reinflated, they were thought to ignite spasms in the bronchial tubes, like tingling in warming fingers.

But most researchers no longer consider it to be the primary cause. Instead, most experts think that the problem is not with the coldness of the air but with the “dryness.” Lungs need water-saturated air. If the air entering your bronchial tubes is dry, as it usually is in winter, the cells lining your airway release their own moisture to humidify it. The squeezing and loss of moisture prompt certain cells within the bronchial tube to release allergic chemicals that initiate an inflammatory process, slowly closing your throat.

While it is miserable (and probably not pleasant for anyone in the vicinity as I hack like a 3-pack a day smoker), it isn't life-threatening.

If we are going to continue these cold-weather training rides, I may have to consider getting one of these:

[it will also come in handy if I decide to start a life of crime robbing convenience stores and banks . . .]

Totally unrelated, but just too funny not to share . . .

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I hate wind.

I hate walking in the wind.

I hate driving in the wind (Wyoming, anyone?).

I especially hate biking in the wind. When it is 39 degrees. And I'm wearing all the clothes I own. All at the same time.

The End.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Movie - The Maiden Heist

Friday morning workouts are hard.

By Friday, I'm tired from a week of work and from a week of working out. When the alarm went off at 4 am today I was sorely tempted to roll over, pull the covers over my head and refuse to get out of bed until a decent hour – like 7 . . . or 10! But no such luck. We have plans this evening (it is bonfire Friday night in the neighborhood), so if we didn't get the workout done this morning, it wasn't going to happen at all.

Phil was moving pretty slow on the way down to the pain cave, too. Our lack of enthusiasm was palpable. Heart rate monitors were slowly strapped on. Shoes were donned. Water bottles filled. When we could stall no longer, we got on the bikes and started to warm up. 

I  fired up the DVD player . . . and our enthusiasm kicked up several notches.

THE MAIDEN HEIST gives us the most endearing characters ever to commit grand larceny: three museum security guards who live lives of quiet captivation, each enraptured by a particular work of art.
Roger (Christopher Walken), Charles (Morgan Freeman) and George (William H. Macy) are each so lost in fascination with the particular objet d’art of his affection that although they have been coworkers for decades, they only just meet for the first time when crisis strikes: there’s a new curator in town, and his plan is to change the museum’s collection entirely, threatening to rob each man of his greatest secret passion in life.
However, having found their kindred spirits, the men forge a plan to hold onto the works of art they hold most dear. Though hardly criminal masterminds, their inflamed hearts drive them to plan and execute the most daring art heist ever conceived from the inside – with amusing results!

We really enjoyed this movie. Another small, very entertaining independent film with engaging characters and an interesting story. I highly recommend it. [A little behind the scenes info about the film from NPR if you are interested.]

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Back to the Cold

Guest Blogger – Phil Kriz

We recently returned from Phoenix where we visited my parents and sisters to see the ice still on the streets and snow in the mountains.

The ice and snow reminded me of a recent question from my Aunt Connie.

Knowing that we ride our bikes - A LOT- she recently asked “What do you do when winter hits?”

Well, luckily I have a very motivated partner, and we have several choices to choose from.

The Outside Option

On the weekends if the temperature gets to 40 degrees or above, we put on a lot of clothes, attach fenders to our bikes, pack even more clothes - just in case. Then we ride a 55 mile loop around Denver using bike paths and surface streets in order to stay out of the mountains and avoid the freezing wind chill of long down-hill descents. BRRR!

Fenders . . .

Lots of layers . . .

The great thing out living in Golden is that even on days like this we will see LOTS of other cyclists all bundled up and out riding.

I have noticed that the nastier the weather the more smiles I see on the other riders.

Especially the girls!

The girls usually have this look that says “Riding my bike is the best thing EVER!”

Very motivating!

The other motivating factor when riding with Joanne on a winter day is trying to keep with her! She rides her cyclo-cross bike (which is built more like a regular road bike) and I ride my mountain bike - which is just not built for speed and is slightly heavier than her bike, too. I can manage to stay with her on the flats, but get dumped on the hills.

She always waits for me at the top, with that classic girl smile that says “Riding my bike is the best thing EVER!” and “Beating you to the top is even BETTER!”

We did a 2 hour ride yesterday and plan to get in another 4 hours today. There is still some ice on the roads, but the forecast calls for 50 degrees and a little bit of sunshine, so riding outside sounds 100 times better than our other option - another 2 hours sweating in the basement pain cave.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Basking in the Sun

Phil and I were lucky enough to leave Denver last Thursday where the temperature at take-off was about 10 degrees below zero – and head to Phoenix for a long weekend to visit his family. The temperature when we landed was about 68 degrees. Yeah baby!

In the front yard at Casa Kriz.

In addition to some great family time (Phil’s 2 sisters both live in the Phoenix area and his parents are wintering there) we snuck in some mountain bike rides – in shorts!! We actually needed sunscreen!! I’m doing the happy dance in my chair right now just thinking about it . . .

Phil’s parents live near two great mountain bike areas – Usery Mountain Park  and the Hawes Trail system.

My Pivot Mach 4 demo bike - sweet! I'm not too into the whole pink bike thing, but that little baby rides like a dream. I'm very seriously considering that model . . . in anodized black.

A neighbor of Phil’s sister Marla is an avid mountain bike rider and he not only printed maps and outlined the rides for us, he loaned Phil a bike and graciously rode with us on Saturday, though he could have had a much faster ride without us desert newbies tagging along.

Thanks Todd!
All in all, a great little get away during this cold and icy Colorado winter.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ouch . . .and Brrr!

So . . . maybe it's a good thing that I can't ride a wheelie for more than a microsecond! [Sure puts Danny MacAskill's tricks into perspective.]

We rode outside on Sunday - high for the day was 36 degrees - which lasted for about 17 minutes - with wind and frequent snow flurries.

We were supposed to do a 4 - 5 hour ride.

I just couldn't handle it - notwithstanding the heavyweight tights, winter cycling boots, skullcap, balaclava, 3 winter tops + warm jacket I had on. I bailed after 90 minutes. Phil rode the whole route and returned home frozen to core.

We are really looking forward to sneaking in some riding in Phoenix this weekend when we visit Phil's family. Even if it is 50 degrees it will feel like summer to us!

Monday, January 4, 2010


I haven't posted a whole lot about our current training regimen and plans for the 2010 cycling season. So, here is a little update.

As you may recall, last year we worked with a cycling coach, Nat Ross.  We learned a lot from Nat and enjoyed the experience, but decided we would try something different this season. We now have 5 years experience training for Leadville, and have quite an arsenal of workouts and training plans to draw from. In addition, we are also using a variety of plans developed by Lynda Wallenfels, an ultra-endurance mountain bike goddess.

Currently we are in week 9 of Lynda's 12 week Winter Training Plan for Endurance Mountain Bikers, as modified to accommodate our work schedules, the crappy weather and our old age!

One area of the Wallenfels plan we have modified based on our prior experience is strength training. We have put together a pretty rigorous plan that combines functional flexibility, core strengthening exercises (especially focused on low back – often a cyclist's weak spot), and strength and balance work. Phil has even grudgingly started going to yoga once a week!

We will wrap up that plan after the first week in February, then take a week-long break (during which we'll play some golf, eat far too much rich food and drink some adult beverages in Palm Springs with Phil's boss).

On February 8 we'll learn whether we will be racing our bikes at the Leadville Trail 100 or volunteering and supporting other racers this year. Keep your fingers crossed.

In mid-February we'll start the 12 week Expert Cross Country Base Training Plan, again, tweaking it as needed to accommodate our work schedules, etc.

In March we are going to sneak in a big training block. You may recall we did a spring training trip to Solvang, California last year. This year we are going to try to do something similar in Texas. Texas Hell Week will hopefully give us a great jump start on our spring fitness, while giving us a chance to sample Shiner Bock fresh from the brewery.

In May we are taking a mountain bike trip with Jeffrey, Colleen & Lowry to the White Rim, in Utah. I'm already anxiously anticipating that trip.

The rest of the season is somewhat dependant on whether we got into the Leadville race. If we are in, Memorial Day weekend will see us begin very focused training, at altitude, for the race. If we didn't get in, we'll still ride our bikes until we're cross-eyed every chance we get, but we'll probably drink a few more beers and eat a few more chips than we otherwise would.

So . . . that is the big picture overview. Boring details are sure to follow!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

We rang in 2010 by riding up Lookout Mountain, just as we have been doing for the last 7 or 8 years.

Our "winter bikes" with fenders to keep us dry.

Jeffrey risked the 35 degree weather with us – brave soul. We saw at least 30 other riders making the trek. It is great to live in a place where there are many other people who share our passion (and general lack of good sense!).

After a delicious lunch at Woody’s it was time to get ready for our Friday evening bonfire. The weather has been too bitter cold the last several weeks to accommodate Phil’s pyromania, but last night was dry, with a temperature in the low 20s – chilly, but bearable.

We had about 10 folks (including kids and dogs) hanging out, roasting marshmallows & eating hotdogs. We had a ring-side seat for blue moon  watching, as the full moon crept over the South Table Mountain mesa. A very mellow and fun way to spend the first night of 2010.

Phil's Guest Comments:

It’s 2010 – WOW! Where did the year go?!

It has been a cold winter so far, with little hope of the snow disappearing soon.

One of our favorite things to do each year on January 1st is to ride up Lookout Mountain.

We can see it from our house and it is one of the many reasons we love living in Golden. In my mind, it is one of the best rides in the U.S.A.!

Happy New Year to you all!