Saturday, January 11, 2014

Studded Tires are the Bomb!

So the first week or so of the year started out quite chilly. For several days I commuted back and forth to work with temps just below or just above 0 degrees F. The back streets on which I commute are ice packed and slick. One morning last year, under these conditions I hit an ice patch and went down hard causing several injuries that kept me from riding and running for a couple weeks. This year I bought a pair of studded tires. These things are the bomb!

These make Ice seem like normal pavement
In the winter I commute on my home built single speed. A bike I built from an approximately 20 year old Schwinn Homegrown mountain bike frame and spare parts I had in my garage. It’s not much to look at but it gets the job done. Having only one gear significantly cuts down on the maintenance requirements of riding in cold, wet, and snowy conditions. The only issue I have with the single speed is when climbing I almost always have to stand up. Under the slick conditions of winter, with no weight on the back tire, I often slide out. Not so with the studs! Now I can climb up roads of almost solid ice while standing with barely a slip. I’ve seen cars fishtailing and swerving all over the road while I just pedal on. I’m amazed! I ride primarily bike paths and side streets to and from work. Many of these side streets have sections of mirror like ice. These can be a challenge to even walk. With studded tires, no problem!  After over 25 years of bicycle year round commuting I finally tried studded tires. I don’t know why I waited so long!

Not much to look at but gets the job done!
Living in Colorado means big critters hanging around the front yard
I had a little mishap on my road bike that ended up trashing the frame. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but the chain wrapped around the derailleur, locked up my back wheel, snapped the derailleur, broke the chain, bent the derailleur hanger into the cogs, bent the cogs and front chain rings. It was about a four mile walk home in bike shoes. Frame not repairable. So a late Christmas present has arrived – a brand new Specialized S-Works Roubaix frame! This frame was designed for long rides. So the first thing I did was take in on a nice hilly 60 mile ride. I like it!

Maiden voyage on my new ride
With the New Year kicking in, I’ve began to get back in training mode. I’m looking to do the full Rocky Mountain Endurance Series again, as well as the Tour of Colorado, the Gunnison Growler, and a multi-day mountain bike trip, among others. With the cold and ice I’ve had to resort to the trainer for specific workouts before heading out on the single speed to work. I’ve also incorporated strength training and Max loves to help out with the ab work!

Max helping with Crunches

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 In the Mirror

When I look back on 2013 I can’t believe what an incredible and productive year it has been.

For me, one of the biggest highlights was saving Ute Park. For those not from Colorado Springs, Ute Valley Park is a magical mecca for mountain bikers, hikers, and those that love the outdoors; and it’s located right in the heart of city limits on the northwest side of town. What most people didn’t know is that over half of the “park” was actually private property. The owner decided to put it up for sale and the City of Colorado Springs approved it for several hundred housing units and a shopping center. With a very short time line, a small group of us formed the “Friends of Ute Valley Park”, our community united, we held fund raisers, worked with other organizations, the city, and in eight blazing months raised the money, approval, and closed the deal to purchase the land to remain forever open space.  I am so very proud to be a part of this, even though I played a fairly minor role compared to others. Now every time I run or ride in Ute Valley Park I can’t help but appreciate how close we came to losing it and the legacy we will leave behind.

Ute Valley Park Gateway Project
Another accomplishment I am particularly proud of is helping my good friend, Kevin Cahn complete and compete in the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series, arguably the toughest mountain bike race series in the US. In Kevin’s first year of serious racing he completed these races like a champ with a top 15 finish in the final race, the incredibly brutal Breckenridge 100.

Kevin at The Breckenridge 100 MTB Race

This year I made an effort to use my bike as transportation as much as possible. This resulted in putting more miles on my bikes than my truck. A combination of biking and running brought me just short of 10,000 miles for the year, while I put just under 8,000 on my truck. I intend to increase that difference in 2014!

I went back to school this year and it has been everything I hoped it would be; interesting, challenging and educational.  Although my other degrees are in the computer science field, I’m now pursuing a degree in exercise physiology. It’s been awesome and I’m looking forward to learning even more in 2014.

Some other highlights of 2013 are; a back packing trip with my incredible wife, Roswitha (and Max of course) for our 34th wedding anniversary; riding new trails in Moab; camping in the Redwoods; a multi-day road bike trip in southern Colorado; accomplishing my goal of reading at least one book a month (outside of text books); winning the old guys age group in Rocky Mountain Endurance Series; and having the opportunity to lead a number of very challenging projects at work.

34th Wedding Anniversary

Riding the Magnificent 7 in Moab
The Amazing Redwoods
Finally, the year wouldn’t be nearly as amazing if it wasn’t for all the incredible friends, family, and colleagues that I have the privilege of knowing and being inspired by. One particular young man in Kent, Ohio who I have never met in person is an extra source of inspiration to me. He is a young teenager who has been battling leukemia for over a year and his positive outlook and attitude are beyond compare. He refuses to be a victim and is on the road to recovery. I am truly looking forward to meeting him face to face some day.

Let’s all make 2014 our best year yet. Build upon the positive, learn, grow, and pursue your dreams, whatever they may be. Happy New Year.  

Happy Trails in 2014!