4/10, 4/11 & 4/13/14 Workouts


Several days gone by and I’ve had several good workouts. I did some power cleans for the first time since the ACL and everything felt fine. I also rode up Lookout Mt. in Golden, CO and again, things felt good. Here’s what it all looked like:


  • Power cleans: 135 lbs. x 5 reps x 5 sets
    • Knee was stable.
    • Weight felt fine.
  • Front squats: 135 lbs. x 2 x 5 reps
    • Easy/light day for squats
    • Front squats are more challenging than back squats but that means I can load myself lighter.
  • Good mornings: 135 lbs. x 6 – 145 lbs. x 6 – 155 lbs. x 6 – 165 lbs. x 6 – 175 lbs. x 6 – 185 lbs. x 6
    • Heaviest on GM I’ve gone since the knee.
    • I do these on light days, deadlift on heavy days.
  • Kettlebell snatch: 16 kg x 40 reps – x 50 reps – x 30 reps = 120 reps total
  • Super set: 3 sets
    • 1-leg squat: 30 lbs x 7 reps
    • cable anti-rotation: 15 lbs x 3 seconds x 10 reps


Lookout Mt. from the air.  My favorite climb.

Lookout Mt. from the air. My favorite climb.

Bike ride up Lookout Mt: about 2 hrs/20 miles.

  • Tough ride but good.
  • Early season climbing is always an eye-opener.
  • Knee felt fine.
  • Lunch and beers afterward! Yeehaw!



  • Jump rope & mobility work
    • First time for any jumping since the knee.
    • 5 x 50 reps
  • Circuit: 8 rounds
    • Weighted pull-ups: 20kg x 4 reps
    • Kettlebell swings: 32kg x 20 reps – 36kg x 15 reps – 40kg x 10 reps for all remaining sets
    • Push-ups: 10 reps – 3 reps plyo push-ups – 10 reps – 3 plyo reps – 10 reps – 3 plyo – 10 reps – 10 reps = 59 reps total
    • 1-leg hops: 20 reps
    • This was a moderate workout. I went at an easy pace and worked until I was moderately fatigued.

This past week I was successful doing power cleans, jump rope, and 1-leg hops. This is fairly aggressive stuff and everything held together well. I’m very pleased.

Surgery is scheduled for May 1. It’s a little tough to contemplate after seeing so much quick progress since the initial injury. That said, I’m ready to get fixed up.


NSCA Endurance Clinic Summary: Day 3


David Barr: Nutritional Supplements & Ergogenic Aids

  • NSCA CSCS, USA Track & Field, Precision Nutrition Certified, participated in research with NASA
  • High Return On Investment Supplements
    • Caffeine
      • blocks adenosine which results in
      • less fatigue and
      • lower feeling of exertion during activity
      • concerns include GI distress and diuresis (exessive urination)
    • Carbs
      • type: glucose, fructose, maltodextrin
      • timing: during exercise
      • beneficial in events lasting >2.5 hrs
      • dosing by duration: 60g/hr for 2-3 hrs, 30g/hr if <2 hrs
    • Fish oil
      • effects
        • increased muscle anabolism
        • may enhance recovery
      • Don’t look at total Omega 3s
        • You want EPA = 180 and
        • DHA = 120
      • If eating a high-fat diet (me) then up the Omega 3s.
      • potential synergy with Vitamin E
    • Protein (He seems to be a big protein guy.)
      • Don’t use during exercise (but what about Accelerade?  No good?  Didn’t get a chance to ask.)
      • Consume up to 2 g per kg of body weight or 1 g per lb.
      • Whey post workout: 20-25 g is the limit
    • Nutrient timing:
      • Protein pulse feeding
        • multiple protein feedings per day of 20-30 g
        • ups protein storage
        • Seems the effect of this is separate from the training effects from the workout.
      • Take about 40 g of casein before sleep to help blunt catabolism
      • Carb timing:
      • If you need rapid glycogen replenishment then consume carbs soon.
      • If you have 24 hrs before the next workout then it’s not an issue.
      • Protein and the workout
        • If you’ve eaten soon before a workout then don’t worry.
        • If you haven’t eaten in a while then eat protein pre-workout.
    • Keys to hydration
      • specific prescription better than ad libitum or drinking at will.
      • (Dr. Tim Noakes disagrees and I side with Noakes.)
      • flavor enhances consumption
      • cold increases palatability
      • drink early/often
    • Building the optimal endurance drink
      • 200 ml water/15 minutes
      • sodium: 450 mg/L
      • Carbs: 8-10%, 90 g/hr: glucose and fructose
      • Protein (potentially): 7%
      • You must “train the gut” or use this stuff while training in order to condition the digestive system to put up with it.
    • Antioxidants
      • mitigate free radical damage and aid recovery
      • Don’t take directly after workouts.
      • May be a case for taking antioxidants during activity
    • Lactate
      • Lactate is used as energy.
      • Doesn’t cause burn/fatigue
      • Cytomax makes some sort of drink w/lactate in it.
    • Buffers
      • bicarbonate
        • 300 mg/kg
        • potential GI trouble
      • Beta alanine
      • Theoretically: use both for a systemic effect
    • Nitrates
      • may help power output
      • may mitigate effects of altitude
      • Improved time trial performance in cyclists
    • Immunity
      • CHO
      • Vit C
      • Vit D
      • Zinc
    • Common deficiencies
      • Vit D
        • No toxicity
        • 6000-10,000 IU/day
      • Iron: Test for it.
      • Magnesium
    • Experimental considerations
      • hyperhydration
      • “train low” (carbs): unclear if this benefits performance
      • echinacea: increases EPO
      • ketones: novel energy source
    • Future prospects
      • cobalt chloride
      • guanidinopropionic acid
    • Other resources

Tim CrowleyProgram Design: Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

  • CSCS, NASM-PES, USA Cycling Elite Level Coach, 2008 US Olympic Triathlon Coaching Staff, USAT Elite Coach of the Year and Development Coach of the Year, Owner TC2 Coaching, Head Strength Coach at Montverde Academy
  • Huge need for endurance strength & conditioning coach
  • “Great swimmers are great athletes that swim fast and great athletes are strong.” – Richard Shoulberg, Germantown Academy
  • Program Goals
    • Reduce injury incidence
    • Reduce injury severity
    • Increase athletic performance
    • Improve athleticism
  • If you can read/learn 1 hr per day then you’re way ahead of the crowd.
  • Try stuff out before we give it to athletes: workouts, tools, food
  • Book: Endurance Training Science & Practice, Mujika
  • He covered various research evidence showing that strength training aids runners, cyclists and other endurance athletes
    • Reasons strength training works for endurance athletes:
      • conversion of type IIX fibers into fatigue resistant type IIA fibers
      • improves strength (like money in the bank)
      • rapid force production
      • improved neuromuscular function
      • tendon stiffness (essential for running)
      • improved max speed for fast starts or finishes
    • Common myths
      • Heavy weights make you big
      • Weight training hurts young athletes
      • Endurance athletes need light weight/high reps
      • Heavy weight training reduces ROM
      • Lifting equals bodybuilding
      • Squats hurt knees
      • Only for use in off-season
      • Endurance training will build strength
    • Important considerations
      • Strength work often isn’t to improve the engines of endurance (legs for running for example) but rather to address weaknesses, increase overall athleticism, and avoid injury
      • As pressure mounts on an athlete, find ways to coach less and simply get them to perform at their ability.
      • Time:
        • an obstacle for endurance athletes
        • goal is 30-40 min 2x per week
        • Try high-intensity/low-volume workout to increase muscle activation prior to a track workout
      • Energy
        • finite amount of energy for training
        • can’t interrupt endurance sport training
        • DOMS can be a problem
        • physical effects of high-vs low-volume
        • psychological effects
      • Reciprocal Inhibition
        • Reduced neural drive to opposing muscles
        • Areas of concern
          • scapula/thoracic spine
          • hip flexors/glutes
          • hip adductors/glute medius
          • anterior core/low back
      • Pattern Overload
        • Endurance sports are cyclical
        • high incidence of overuse injury
        • lots of “itises”
      • Force Couplings
        • Key body regions for multisport athletes
          • internal vs. external shoulder rotators
          • hips in saggital plane (flexors vs. extensors)
          • hips in frontal plane (glute medius and quadratus lumborum)
        • Eliminate power leaks
        • Improve movement economy = free speed
      • Masters athletes
        • strength development/maintenance is vital to success
        • loss of power declines faster than strength
        • mobility is crucial
        • compensation patterns
        • slower recovery from injuries
      • Program design
        • foam rolling/movement prep
        • mobility
        • corrective exercise
        • strength
        • keep it simple
        • less is more
        • quality over quantity
        • develop power
      • Self-myofacial release (SMR)
        • foam rollers
        • tennis/LAX balls
        • golf balls
        • the Stick
      • Mobility
        • May be the most important component in the beginning
        • a must for masters athletes
        • Vital concerns:
          • hip mobility
          • thoracic spine
          • ankles
          • 1-leg squat
          • split squat every workout
          • His ACL injury rate is almost 0.
      • Overuse injuries
        • Be proactive
        • shoulders
        • low back
        • glutes/glute medius
        • lower leg/ankle
      • His go-to exercises
        • inverted/TRX rowing
        • anterior core
        • core dynamic stabilization
        • single-leg squatting (priority goes to 1-leg over 2-leg work)
        • glute/hamstring and glutes
        • trap bar deadlifts
        • ankle band walking
        • eccentric calf raises
      • Mobility and Stability
        • Mobility is the combination of muscle flexibility, joint ROM, and the body segment’s freedom of movement
        • 2 types of stability
          • static 1-leg stance
          • dynamic core stabilization during athletic movement
        • Example: Hips are stiff so lumbar spine becomes too mobile/unstable and injury is incurred.
      • 10 exercises to include
        • Cook hip lift

      • Hip flexor stretch
        •  X Lat pull (couldn’t find a video)
        • Reverse cable fly

        • single-leg squat

        • single-leg deadlift

        • stability ball pushup or TRX pushup (unstable surface)

        • lawnmower row

        • cable and tubing lifts and chops (and other similar exercises)

      • single-leg heel raise
  • Resources

Nick Clayton, Power Training for Endurance Athletes

  • Objectives
    • Explain how training with explosive movements benefits endurance performance
    • Correctly perform variations of the Olympic lifts and plyometrics specific to performance in endurance activities
    • Lecture
    • Practical
      • dynamic warm-up
      • Olympic lift variations
      • Plyometrics
    • Why train for power?
      • Rate of force development
      • eccentric strength
    • Non-barbell Olympic lifting
      • Clean, snatch, jerk variations
        • kettlebells
        • dumbbells
        • medicine balls
      • Plyometrics: various 1 and 2 leg jumps, hops, skips
      • Nick said he would create videos of all the exercises and post them.  When/if they’re available I plan to post them here.
      • This was a fantastic session from warm-up to all exercises.
      • It was very much in line with the idea of creating athleticism.
      • These drills exposed a lot of weaknesses and lack of athleticism in a lot of the participants.
      • Exposing these weaknesses could be a huge opportunity to improve athletic performance.


This clinic was just excellent!  It far surpassed my high expectations and that’s a rare thing.  The combination of theoretical/academic/”sciencey-type” stuff, practical application of the science, and physical participation kept the whole thing extremely interesting.  I came away with my mind overflowing with ideas.

Several things are prominent in my mind right now:

  1. I was re-introduced to some of Gary Gray’s concepts.  I’ve returned to doing the 3D lunge matrix with much greater understanding of hip, spine and knee position, plus how to tweak the lunge matrix in all sorts of ways.  I’m doing it again and all my clients are doing it now.
  2. The concept of athleticism as a necessary foundation is a HUGE concept to me.  We tend to specialize too much.  We devote ourselves to endurance sports which go one direction (saggital plane) and we neglect 3D movement.  We avoid crawling, climbing, rolling, hopping, jumping and engaging in unpredictable movement situations.  Check out the people going into and out of Spinning classes and you’ll see a lot of broke-down people who can barely hobble.  They aren’t athletic.  And I have been one of those people–but not anymore! Every one of my workouts now has a dedicated 3D movement component, power component and I try to do something that I don’t typically do.  Athleticism deserves a blog post of its own.
  3. I’m going to contact Jay Johnson for some coaching.  He did such a fantastic job of distilling academic information into practical application.  I can only coach myself so far.  I need someone who’s been through the process both as a runner and a running coach.

Good Core Strength Artice


“I have a section called, ‘Stop doing crunches,'” said Westfahl. “If your core routine mainly consists of crunches, you are training for bad posture.”
– Alison Westfall personal trainer, Boulder

Briefly, if you’re an athlete (particularly a cyclist), a fitness enthusiast and/or interested in addressing back pain, you should check out a recent article from the Denver Post titled, Tom Danielson, Tour de France cyclist from Boulder, focuses on core strength, writes book to address back pain. The article covers former pro cyclist Tom Danielson and his trainer Alison Westfall and their approach to addressing Danielson’s back pain.  The two teamed to write a book called Core Advantage: Core Strength for Cycling’s Winning Edge.

Five clients mentioned this article to me and it definitely has some useful information in it.  The admonition to quit doing crunches is the first good piece of advice.  The second is the inclusion of the glutes as part of the core:

“Pain in Danielson’s spine compelled him to see Westfahl, who found his problem wasn’t rooted in his back, but in his glutes. She had him stop doing crunches — his primary core workout — and switch to other exercises, ones that, among other things, would persuade his glutes to start working properly when he rode.”

There’s more good information in the article including descriptions of three core exercises.  Have a look.  The book sounds interesting to me as well.  Probably need to put it on my wish list.

Shifting Gears from Strength to Endurance Work: Part I


Springtime in Denver means it’s time to bicycle.  So now I’ve shifted my focus from heavy strength and power work to endurance work.  (I never did hit 500 lbs. on the deadlift.  I did however pull 435 lbs. for two reps.  I’m content with that.)  Endurance activity and strength/power work lie at two opposite ends of the exercise/movement/exertion continuum.  From what I’ve read and in my own personally experience, it’s very difficult if not impossible to develop a high-end level of strength while also training for an endurance event like the Sunrise Century (which I’ll be doing in June.)  Simply put, trying to maximize one area of performance means the other will suffer.  If you try to maximize all areas then you won’t reach your potential in any one.

Terminology: Endurance, Strength, Power

I’ll define some terms.  Endurance work is something like long distance cycling, running, or cross-country skiing.  These are long-duration activities executed well below the participants’ maximal abilities.

Maximal strength work is often a slow moving, short duration type of thing. If you attempt to lift a maximum weight you won’t be moving it very quickly. Heavy deadlifting, bench pressing and squatting typically move slowly. These activities can only be sustained for a very brief amount of time–several seconds at most–before the muscles fatigue significantly.

Power sports require a combination of strength and speed. Think of a shot putter, long jumper or an Olympic weight lifter. These athletes must move a fairly heavy object very quickly. Maximal power may be expressed in two seconds or less.  Power sports and endurance sports occupy the furthest opposite ends of the exercise spectrum.

So what happens if we decide to mix endurance work, strength work and power work together?

Endurance Work May Inhibit Strength Abilities

The National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) offers a document titled Concurrent Strength and Endurance Training for Strength/Power Athletes.  Here we have evidence that suggests mixed results for combined strength and endurance work.  Several studies suggest that endurance work impedes strength gains.  Other studies show no interference.

Confusion and questions come up when we start to dissect the studies.  The article states:

“Differences between these studies may have been due to differences in the length of the studies, experience level of the subjects, and the training protocols utilized. For example, studies differed with respect to the specific exercises performed, whether strength and endurance training were performed on the same or different days per week, the sequence of training modes (strength before endurance or endurance before strength).”

We don’t have a definite answer to this question.

In my personal experience I run into difficulty if I ride/run a lot while also lifting a lot.  I become too sore and stiff from one activity to perform well at the other.  So I have to reduce one type of stress as I increase the other. Further, I find that riding my bike up mountains quite sufficiently addresses my strength needs. (Now we’re starting to get into the SAID Principle or Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands.  Then we start to ask whether strength developed in the gym has any effect on strength expressed on a bike…)

In subsequent posts I’ll examine the effects of endurance work on power performance.  Then we’ll drive the other way up this street and ask the question, “To what degree does strength and power work affect endurance performance?”



Avoid Cramping This Spring


The warm weather is trying to break through to us and we’re all itching to run and/or bike. You may be at particularly at risk for cramping at this time of year though. Why? First some background on salts, muscles and muscular contractions.

Salts (aka electrolytes) specifically potassium, sodium, and especially calcium are key components of muscular contractions. Without them we may either experience muscular weakness or uncontrolled muscular contractions–cramping. We get these salts through our food and drink. We tend to lose these salts through sweating. Prolonged exercise and/or exercise in the heat typically requires us to consume more salts than we would during short bouts of exercise or exercise in the cold. Now, on to the particulars of cold-to-warm weather issues.

As it turns from cold to warm weather, our bodies are also adjusting the degree to which we sweat out our salts.  During the cold, our bodies will fork over the salt quite readily. We retain more salts during the warm weather.  So let’s say we get a nice warm day and we decide to get in a long run or ride.  We may be exercising like it’s warm but we may be sweating out salts like it’s cold. This is prime time for cramping.

Here are some ideas to avoid cramps:

  • Salt your food. You’re an exercising athlete and you need salt. Unless you have high blood pressure, you should be fine.
  • Keep a sports drink with you. Drink when thirsty and stop when you’re satiated.
  • Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  These contain electrolytes.
  • Don’t overhydrate. Too much water will dilute the salts in your body.
  • Consume dairy products. Calcium is important for bones but it’s also massively important for muscular contractions. It’s rarely found in sports drinks though.
  • Ease into warm weather activities. Your body will adjust to retain salts if given some time.

Recovery Strategies, Heat Acclimation Training for Cyclists, Healthy Lifestyle vs. Genetics


We’ve got three useful articles to point out.  One deals with recovery strategies for runners, specifically why damage is a good thing.  (I imagine this information will apply to other types of athletes–cyclists, swimmers, weightlifters/bodybuilders for instance).  Another article discusses research into how training in the heat can increase cycling performance in both hot and cool conditions.  Finally, research suggests a healthy lifestyle can affect cardiovascular health more than genetics.

When Damage Is A Good Thing

Steve Magness is a Washington, D.C. area runner and exercise scientist who writes a blog called the Science of Running.  Recently he’s written a piece for Running Times called When Damage is a Good Thing.  Magness does a good job of explaining the training adaptation cycle:

“We improve from training by putting our body through stress that it normally does not encounter. When the body encounters these stressors, whether it is a decrease in oxygen, increase in lactate or low glycogen stores, it responds by increasing our ability to deal with the stressors, thereby improving our running performance. The stress, recover and adapt cycle is the foundation of training.”

Most important to the article though is the discussion of how recovery methods such as anti-inflammatories, ice baths, and antioxidants may impede the adaptations we’re looking for.  Magness states:

“All of this scientific theory and research sounds good, but what does it mean practically?  It doesn’t mean that antioxidants, ice baths, Advil or taking a Gatorade while running is necessarily bad. It means using those items at the wrong time or after the wrong workout could negate some of those hard-earned training adaptations. The key is to understand when it’s beneficial to use those methods and when to avoid them.”

Read the whole article to understand the strategy Magness recommends.  It’s certainly an issue worth pondering if you’re a serious athlete–endurance athlete or otherwise.

Heat Conditioning for Cyclists

Science Daily gives us an article titled Exercising in the Heat May Improve Athletic Performance in Cool and Hot Conditions.  Researchers at the University of Oregon studied two groups of cyclists: one group underwent heat acclimation while training and the other group worked out in a cool environment.  What did the researchers learn?

The study found performance increases of approximately 7 percent after 10 heat acclimation exposures. “In terms of competitive cycling, 7 percent is a really big increase and could mean that cyclists could use this approach to improve their performance in cooler weather conditions,” said researcher Santiago Lorenzo.

Healthy Lifestyle Wins Out Over Genetics

The final article,  Healthy Lifestyle Has Bigger Impact on Cardiovascular Health Than Genetics, also comes from Science Daily.  There are two big points from this article which discusses two studies.

  • To stay healthy in older age,  five key healthy behaviors should be adopted while young.  Those behaviors are: not smoking, low or no alcohol intake, weight control, physical activity and a healthy diet.
  • One of the studies states, “only a small proportion of cardiovascular health is passed from parent to child; instead, it appears that the majority of cardiovascular health is due to lifestyle and healthy behaviors.”  Thus we see that poor genetics is sort of a straw man when it comes to determining our health.  It’s our own behavior that’s far more important.

Music, Exercise & the Nervous System


Four laps around this radio equals a mile.

Many of us listen to music while we exercise.  (Some of us even proceed to sing and dance too.)  Do you think it makes you stronger?  Faster?  Is it easier for you to grind through your workout with music?  The New York Times Health Section tells us more about why we like music and how it affects our performance.

The Times piece describes research done at Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences in Liverpool, England.  Twelve male cyclists listened to music set to three different tempos.  Popular music was played either at the regular tempo, increased by 10 percent, or decreased by 10 percent.  Researchers tracked heart rate, power output, pedal cadence, enjoyment of the music and perception of exertion.

Participants rode faster, produced more power, had higher heart rates and enjoyed the faster music more.  In contrast, slower music brought on slowe rides, less power, lower heart rates and less enjoyment of the music which stayed the same.  Interestingly, participants perception of their effort didn’t drop with the increased music but rather it went up.  Seems the music motivated them to ride harder. 

There may be an upper limit to the effect of music on our performance though.  Research shows the following:

“While running on a treadmill at 85% of aerobic capacity (VO2max), listening to music will not make the task seem easier in terms of information that the muscles and vital organs send the brain. Nevertheless, the runner is likely to find the experience more pleasurable. The bottom line is that during a hard session, music has limited power to influence what the athlete feels, but it does have considerable leverage on how the athlete feels.”

What we’ve got here is a nice thorough intermingling of auditory input, psychological motivation, and physiological performance.  It’s fascinating that though we may very much feel the effect of exhaustive work, we can through music actually perceive the work differently.  Does anyone still think there’s some sort of difference between the “body” and the “mind?”

the Rest of the Bypass


I’ll start where I left off in the last post: at the top of Vail Pass.  The sun was out and things were going well.  I was at the final rest stop and according to others around me, this would be a high-speed screamer into Vail and on into Avon to the finish line.  Sounded like fun.

Let me tell you, this final descent was like being shot out of a cannon!  I hadn’t ridden this part of the course though so I wasn’t sure about the twists and turns.  I kept the speed at the high end of modest.  Glad I did because there were a number of turns that had I been going any faster I probably would’ve wrecked in an ugly way.  Which brings me to the worst part of the whole day.

I rounded a corner, started down another slope and about 100 yards down I saw two people lying on the pavement.  (A couple of bikes were turned over and two other cyclists had just hopped off their bikes.  Thankfully, this was a bike path and not a road.  No cars to worry about.  A man was on his back bleeding from the face and head and he was groaning.  A woman was several feet ahead lying face down.  She was also bleeding.  She wasn’t moving.  There was blood on the pavement.  One person was tending to the woman, the other person was heading down the hill to a nearby highway patrolman.  I had a look at the man on his back and knew from CPR training that the only thing I should do was to calm him down and keep him from moving.  I told him he’d be just fine and that help was nearby.  About that time another cyclist showed up and told me he was a medic.  Thank god.  From there, I and another rider went back up the road from where we’d come in order to slow down other approaching riders.  An ambulance arrived in maybe 10 minutes.  When I left the woman was conscious.

That situation was a real nightmare.  I’d never seen a wreck like that.  It could’ve been any of us in that wreck.  If those riders weren’t wearing helmets I imagine I’d have been looking at two corpses.  (There’s probably not a very good way to transition from that episode…)

The rest of the ride went well.  We had a tail wind and an easy downhill.  I’m not sure where the energy came from but I pushed hard over about the final 10 miles into Avon.  Now it was hot and dry but the ride was done!  One-hundred twenty miles, about 8.5  hours of riding, and my ass felt like someone had replaced my bike saddle with a cheese grater.  Time to eat, drink, and sit down in the shade.  Much thanks to my wife for driving out to pick me up.  I hope I get to do it all again next year.

My 1st Triple Bypass


Any Colorado cyclist knows about the notorious Triple Bypass.  It doesn’t actually involve a scalpel but rather 120 miles of cycling over three mountain passes (Squaw Pass, Loveland Pass, Vail Pass) with over 10,000 feet of climbing.  It’s a very popular ride that fills up quickly.  It’s definitely something worth having on the cycling resume.  The journey took me a little over 10 hours with around nine hours of riding.  This was no casual ride.

The ride was reasonably brutal but also beautiful and enormous fun.  (Equating self-inflicted brutality with fun is common among cyclists I think.)  Save for the very ugly wreck I saw near the end of the ride, everything went exceedingly well–even with the afternoon shower and high winds.  Traveling Colorado by bicycle is a wondrous thing.

The day started at about 4:30 am and the wife dropped me off at Bergen Park at 6:15 am.  I joined about 3,499 other riders for a bit of climbing  up Squaw Pass.  All went well but several other riders had flats early.  I saw one rider walking his bike–not a good sign.

I asked, “You OK?  You need any help?”

“Ah…  This is my third flat,” he said.

That’s a nightmare.  Fortunately there were support vehicles orbiting us as we rode.  I hope he got to finish the ride.

The ride up Squaw Pass featured all the mountain scenery you can imagine.  Any tourist to Colorado would be impressed–as would most residents.  Tremendous views of many mountain peaks were all around.  Nice enough, but the ride down into Idaho Springs was helluva thrill ride!  The scenery was exquisite, the roads were in good shape and the traffic was minimal.  I believe I can descend fairly well (I’m 200 lbs.; thus gravity tends to welcome me) but some of these guys were SO fast downhill I couldn’t believe it.  It’s like they were sprinting downhill, taking turns at vicious speeds.  My gajones are only about medium-sized it seems.  But how cares?  It was all fun.  Then we were into Idaho Springs.

From Idaho Springs the ride sort of hit a lull.  I think most of us were anticipating the next big climb which was Loveland Pass.  To get there we had to travel alongside and then finally on Interstate 70.  This is nothing to dream about.  Part of the route involved a slightly muddy, rocky road that was quite unsuited to road bikes.  It wasn’t treacherous but I’d like to avoid such roads in the future.  As for riding on I-70 (or bicycling on any interstate for that matter), this is a harsh and ugly thing.  It is necessary from time to time however.

If you ride bikes in the mountains then you know getting an early start is wise.  Winds tend to pick up around noon and it’s always about a 50% chance that a storm will blow through.  This means you may get a sprinkle or you may get a cold soaking.

True to form, the wind started to gust as we marched onto the highway.  Clouds were gathering  If you like a windy uphill slog next to SUVs and tractor trailers then you’ll love this part of the ride.  I’ll move on to more interesting parts.

The big lunch stop was at the Loveland Ski Area.  We were about 60 miles in.  We’d had a couple of other aid stops but this one was very welcome.  (WHOOOOO!  Did I want to sit in a chair….  A rock would have to do.)  The refuel felt good but I wanted caffeine.  I thought I brought two caffeinated energy gels with me but I managed to forget them.  I wanted all the chemical assistance allowed by law as I had to climb up the nearly 12,000 feet of Loveland Pass, but no dice.

This was the toughest part of the ride for me.  The climb started well enough but soon I felt light headed and my stomach was in slight turmoil.  Both symptoms are rare for me.  This is where all the weird mental imagery and self-talk started.  I thought of my ride up Mt. Evans (hardest thing I’ve ever done); thought of my dog; thought of ice cream, beer, big pizza…  I played Judas Priest and Black Sabbath in my head.  Pretended I was riding l’Alpe D’Huez…  None of it helped much.  I got to the top and sat down on some warm pavement.  I could’ve napped right there on the shoulder.  Couldn’t do that though so I got the jacket on and got ready for another warp-speed run downhill.

By this time significant dark clouds were all over the place and the wind was gusting wildly.  It was into an absurd headwind that climbed up Swan Mt. Road and around Dillon Reservoir.  White caps were on the water and the sky was a thick, dark purple.  Looked like DEFCON 2, but the big storm held off…

One more aid station stop and it was on to the third and final climb up Vail Pass.  The rain started about a half-hour in to this portion of the ride.  I had almost the right gear: full-finger gloves and a water RESISTANT jacket.  The lesson learned is that I need to get an actual water PROOF jacket.  That said, I felt pretty good.  Climbing meant I was generating heat and I didn’t have to worry about slipping and sliding on a fast downhill.  The full-finger gloves were vital.

The rain stopped in about a half hour and then the sun was out!  I felt fantastic at this point–why?–I have no idea.  I tend to like cool temps and I had them.  Made climbing a lot easier for me.  Plus, Vail Pass didn’t seem too terribly steep and the scenery was absolutely stunning.  Everything was green and blooming.  Looked like something out of “the Sound of Music,” complete with a picturesque mountain stream.  (We rode by a lot of them throughout the day.   It’s amazing how much easier it is to grind out a long climb when there’s flowing water nearby.)

Bed time now.  I’ll finish the rest tomorrow.