Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kale Chips!

Kale Leaves, stems removed
Olive oil, lightly drizzled
Salt, to taste
350 degrees bake, 10-15 minutes

Saw this recipe in Competitor, from Deena Kastor. I've been a fan of her other cooking and running skillz -- check out both in "Spirit of the Marathon" (Watch Instantly on Netflix).

But this is kind of an "Oh, duh!" recipe -- mostly I didn't know that kale would get so crispy when baked. And be delicious!

Kale is very nutritious, being a good or very good source of important vitamins and minerals, as well as having antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. One thing that's especially nice is that it's a vegetable good source of Iron -- it's still under 10% per serving, but coupled with over 100% Vitamin C, which helps the body to absorb Iron, it will be more bioavailable.

That's all for today on kale. I like it!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Red Rocks Stairs, and Mt. Falcon Outer Loop

Red Rocks stairs, Red Rocks Amphitheater stock photo

Mt. Falcon
Went out for a shorter trail run today while J had some training in Denver, then I could be back earlier to get work done.

First, ran a loop at Mt. Falcon. I guess there are various loop versions (Version 1.0, etc.), named by Scott and some others -- I like that as a reference. I ended up doing what I considered the full outer loop, including all the spurs, but skipping ~1M in the middle of extra Meadow/Tower trail loop -- because I took the 'wrong' Meadow and didn't realize it (but was too lazy to backtrack even 1/3rd of a mile). Anyway, I've run it and mt. biked it now, and I label this one as "preferred run" due to the waterbars. It has occurred to me to focus more specifically on technical downhill speed, so been trying to push that a little bit.

At the bottom, started talking to briefly to a guy, but then we ended up having a 20-minute conversation. His name was Bob Whitely, and he's run Pikes 18 times(!), and we talked about various trail runs and races. He asked what I was training for, and I always feel a little funny about that question because I mostly due the same stuff even with nothing specific on the calendar, but then I mentioned Leadville. He paced last year and said it was fun but tough, so we talked about that for a bit. Then I asked what he had coming up, and he mentioned Collegiate Peaks (CPTR). Yes! Mostly I'm just thinking about piling on miles for Leadville, but technically I should be training for CPTR. Anyway, I'm excited that he'll be there, in the 25M, and hope he gets his goal, so we hope to see each other on the trail. I'm getting pretty excited about that race because of Colorado friends doing the race; Colorado folks I haven't met yet; and a contingent of South Dakota friends coming out for the race as well.

Red Rocks Stairs
Then I decided to check out the infamous Red Rocks Amphitheater stairs.
Red Rocks has an interesting 'culture' and history. Most famously, it's a natural amphitheater that hosts national concerts in the warmer months, as well as movies. More topically relevant: it will be hosting an Easter sunrise service this coming Sunday. Red Rocks is also a public Denver Mountain Park, and outside of these special events, people can come in and wander the grounds for free. And many tourists do: J and I did so while visiting before moving here.

But it's also become known as an exercise Mecca. Throughout the week, but specifically Sunday mornings, people come and do various workouts on the stairs and bleachers. There's been an especially popular regular workout session on Sundays, with some controversy over the use of the Red Rocks name, the size of the crowds, usage of music, etc. I don't know how I feel about all of it: I guess some of the regulars really get into it and support each other, which is a good thing. (But is that similar/different to a group of folks wanting to have a friendly 'race' in other mountain parks? Not sure)

Sure enough, even on a Friday, people were up to various workouts. I couldn't help but be reminded of "Muscle Beach" in Venice Beach, California:

People were doing all kinds of "indoor exercises" -- outside. Not just running the stairs, but also jumping, side-to-side, and incline or decline pushups. I can see the attraction of doing these sort of exercises outside in a beautiful setting -- the Sunday crowd has weights and resistance bands as well. So I get the attraction, as everything is better outside.

But I prefer running, and the most natural thing to do would be to run up the stairs, right? This is actually pretty hard, since the bleachers are of course tall and wide, for sitting. It's too long to stretch from step to step consistently (I think), though you can start out this way, but if you put your foot down on each step naturally, you'll end up with the same leg pushing up each time, which tires out that leg faster. So you also want to switch legs every few stairs. I did this 4 times (after the earlier trail run) and it shot the heart rate through the roof as I tried different techniques, and what I came up with is a hybrid of changing techniques to avoid fatigue, but still not that great with times in the upper 0:40s (starting from touching the lower rail). Now I see that the best technique is indeed to fearlessly sprint up a stair at a time -- wow, these guys finished in the 0:20s unless they wiped out!

Anyway, it's kinda cool if you pretend that the spectators at the top are watching you and will make fun of you if you slow down, so it pushes you to finish strong...when really, they're making fun of you anyway for running up stairs like an idiot. But even after 4, my legs were shaking a bit. I can see 8-10 reps, or 20 or more, being absolutely brutal, in a good way, and in a short amount of time.

But running the stairs directly is not the most popular route.
Rather, it is running a serpentine route across every row of stairs/bleachers, then running up to the next one. The rumor is that it ends up being a 5k. Here is what it looks like:

Essentially, this is the route that only a snake in the game "Nibbles" that got really long from eating a bunch of apples and needed to burn off some length would take.

Or maybe Pac-Man, under duress.

But for humans to run back and forth, it seems ridiculous to me. Sorry, I usually don't say stuff like that, but I'm tired of getting weird looks for ultrarunners being considered freaks. We don't think of running as drudgery and repetitive "exercise," but we like to see a bunch of stuff and have a bunch of stuff happen in a long run or race. Enough to tell stories, on a good day. You see, everyone likes to hike, be outside, etc. -- and ultrarunning is that, times 10 or 20. More of what you like, though still fits within 10-15 hours/week, which is in the realm of socially acceptable "tv watching" time. And, I comprehend the other outdoor circuit training (pushups, etc.) at Red Rocks -- good for you, but able to do them outside. Heck, this would be a great spot for yoga. But running back and forth across stairs, ending up a couple hundred feet within visual sight of where you started, is like running on a treadmill outside -- but a treadmill where you have to dodge people every minute, and stop and make a 180-degree turn frequently. I'd rather run straight up -- that's the unique thing you can't do just anywhere. So, I don't "get" it. It seems to be popular, though.

Then again, I don't usually see an ultrarunner jogging in place at a stop light, or jogging in place while waiting for a herd of deer or elk to move out of the way. Maybe we're just a lazy bunch and really want to get from Point A to Point B.

Of course, it doesn't hurt me at all for people to do what they want -- whatever floats their boat. I'm just trying to push a little toward exploration, so if visitors come to town and think about "running Red Rocks" -- check out the beautiful trails and road running surround the amphitheater instead!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

5 years in Colorado....

Celebrated 5 years in Colorado on Friday,. That's the most number of years we've lived in a state other than Wisconsin. 5 years ago, we finished our drive out from California (a scenic detour up through Yosemite and parts of the state of Jefferson), and ended up in the Fort. First full day here in 2006, I went for a jog and almost got hit by a car. Not really almost, I'm embellishing -- I was crossing with a green light in a crosswalk, but on the left side of the road, and you know how that game goes when the driver is not watching while waiting to make a right turn. I know how that game goes, so I went out in the crosswalk but waited to get her attention at the last minute -- but I imagine it's harder to teach children this, which is why "Look both ways" is just a good idea for life.

Later that first day, with our 'stuff' not yet arrived and unpacked, we got our library cards. I am suspicious of people without library cards.

Also happened to be my birthday. No significance to this, other than what number might appear after my name, separated by a comma, should something silly happen, such as: "Hinterberg, 32, ended up safely at a Leadville bar after wandering off course and getting lost in the Leadville 100 trail race."

So in that spirit, we celebrated up in Fort Collins, at El Monte Grill, which has a limited but delicious menu of Mexican favourites. It is owned by the Rio owners, but is less noisy and has better food, though both places are great depending on what you're in the mood for, and I'm glad to see it looks like they're doing well.

Had a good time with the in-laws and DJ, and J made an awesome chocolate layer cake with jimmies for dessert.

Bike Ride North Again
Since everyone was up there but me, it was another leisurely bike ride. I did some work in the morning and didn't leave til near noon, so I met J in Loveland, but still got a solid 70 miles. As usual, the cluster through Aurora and Denver sucks up the most time -- I inexplicably ended up on the wrong side of Sand Creek in an area I've been on foot dozens of times (but wasn't thinking about where the real trail was vs. singletrack), and ended up fording the creek, then the trail had a construction detour, which led me to new surface streets near the Western complex and a train delay. Still, one of my favourite pastimes is wandering on a bike in a general direction and taking a random route.

And that is not unique, as I simultaneously enjoyed listening to David Byrnes's Bicycle Diaries audiobook.

Eventually I got back to the Platte River Trail, which I've been on before, but then decided to head West on the Clear Creek Trail, which was new to me and quite pleasant. I didn't know a good way to get North, since Huron St. has let me down before, but eventually I ended up on Sheridan, which has a nice shoulder north of Broomfield, and was a great decision. (Google maps has a green bike route line on Huron, but not Sheridan, despite Huron not really having a bike lane or shoulder).

Then I ended up swinging back East from Sheridan to the frontage roads. This means I ended up going almost 3 miles west of I-25, only to head back to the frontage roads, so it wasn't the quickest route by any means, but its more pleasant than Thornton and Northglenn on the east side of I-25 when there isn't a frontage road.

Finally on the Frontage road, I was able to crank mindlessly and keep up a decent pace. Enjoyed this for a few hours and headed up to Centerra to meet J. Maybe 6 or 7 miles south of it, an accident had all of I-25 South backed up, and it was a reminder of how much more enjoyable it was to be on the bike, even on a frontage road, than sitting in a car in traffic. Several miles down the road -- I hadn't been thinking about this consciously -- but traffic on my frontage road started picking up, as people were using it as an alternative. Then, one particular Important Human Being decided to pass a semi and a couple of other vehicles, which I didn't notice until he was speeding at, let's say, a speed differential of 90 miles per hour (my 20 vs. his 70) a couple feet from my left shoulder! I shouted as he passed, but there was nothing else I could do. It got me curious about the Colorado Driver's handbook, since it seems obvious to me:

if you cannot safely return to the right-hand side before coming within 200 feet of an oncoming vehicle, including a bicyclist in the oncoming lane or shoulder

Not all states specifically mention the bicyclist clause, so that's nice....and 200 feet(!) is significantly more than 0. Laws won't save a life in a particular accident, though, I get that, and we've all been driving when an idiot passes in the opposite direction too close for comfort. And I'm overall quite happy with the cycling situation in the state as a whole -- there is a noticeable change from people actually following the 3-foot passing rule versus 5 years ago. Still, this is another frustrating case where somebody was in a hurry and wasn't even thinking about looking for the possibility of a cyclist or pedestrian, which (to me) is the root of our low expectations for driving skill in this country. You may have an opinion on cyclists riding on highways with otherwise good shoulders, but show me a regular cyclist and pedestrian, and I will show you somebody who looks at for other people when they're driving as well.

I am getting old, and can now drive twice. The legal driving age should be 31.

More accidents, more bikes
Saturday morning, a run up Overland toward Reservoir Ridge was thwarted by a fatal single-car accident. Troubling -- not at all the fact that I had to turn around! -- but the loss of life on a beautiful morning.

Eventually did get up to the Foothills trail for a decent morning run, then joined J, Neil, and DJ for a leisurely bike ride -- always enjoy riding with them! Happy to see the improved surface on the Poudre trail.

Worked some more on that chocolate cake...

Then, drive back down to Denver. School's going to be tough for the next 7 weeks -- June 8 is the last day of prelim exam and will be quite a relief -- but I signed up for it and am grateful for the opportunity. Need to balance and keep at it, it will be better in the summer when I can have a single research focus instead of 3 or 4.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wahoo's Fish Taco coming to Fort Collins!

>UPDATE: 5/24/2011: NOW OPEN!

Wahoo's Fish Taco coming to Fort Collins!

I was talking to Caleb on the phone, while I was in the parking lot of a Wahoo's in Denver, when he thought he remembered seeing a Wahoo's sign in the Fort. Sure enough, J spotted it today near Front Range Village, Rustic Oven, etc. near Harmony and Corbett. Good thing J had some warning or she would have freaked out also when she first saw it, as she's one of the folks that joined the "Bring Wahoo's to Fort Collins" Facebook page. (But I'm not going to believe that actually works until a Trader Joe's finally shows up here).

My first Wahoo's was on a bike ride in Encinitas, CA, and I quickly brought J back there. We stopped there often when in the mood for something good but not wanting to wait or pay more money somewhere else. Very glad they're in Colorado:
it's one of only 4 states (California, Hawaii, and Texas(!)) with Wahoo's, and it's great to see them venturing north (already in Denver, Boulder, Longmont, etc.) Yeah, they're a chain, but an awesome one. Although the blackened fish tacos are the best, lots of other good options...and they keep it real with options like wild salmon, brown rice, etc. in addition to beer and margaritas. Finally, the service we've seen has been universally impeccable, as the food is quick and gets delivered to your table, and they'll clean up (and argue if you try to clean it up yourself) as soon as you're done. I usually leave a buck or two in the tip jar for service I would pay 20% for, though I also swipe free stickers which have found their way onto my ski helmet and bike.

As far as outdoor sports (besides being easy to get a halfway-decent number of halfway-decent calories in you quickly), they're sometimes a good source for Competitor magazine, if not some other free sports mags, as well as Westword and The Onion; and they often co-sponsor or provide food for various races. They have a running club in Denver.

Check 'em out!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mt. Morrison Hike - South Ridge

Mt. Morrison
~3.8-4M RT, ~2000' gain, Class 2
~2.5 hour hike

Update 2014: South Ridge Trail up Mt. Morrison is open; direct access from Amphitheater (east face) is not allowed

With a nice day on Saturday, J wanted to get out for a modest hike, and we didn't want to drive to far out of Denver. Thought it might be a good day to check out Mt. Morrison -- and we were glad we did.

Mt. Morrison is a prominent foothill above the quaint town of Morrison, Colorado. Even more famously, Mt. Morrison stands above Red Rocks park, home of the famous Red Rocks amphiteatre. Other than the antenna towers near the top, it seemed like it would be an interesting climb, with a great vantage point above the city.

As usual, mtnrunner2 takes much better photos, such as this one from last year:

Otherwise, I didn't even know the logistics of hiking Mt. Morrison until recently. It doesn't appear on the official Red Rocks trail map, for example, and I hadn't seen it in popular guidebooks (despite being a very popular park). However, there was some discussion on 14ers.com that discussed the "South Ridge" trail (among others), which is described specifically on Summitpost.

It appears there are some "official unofficial" trails to the top, and only in the last few years, I've read, have some fences been removed to allow access to the summit. The various trails seem to have arisen as social trails, yet not prohibited, as the unofficial trailhead we started at had a sign next to it for hiking only (no bikes or horses). Several folks suggested that the South Ridge trail is the best developed trail, while the more popular and shorter trail from the amphitheater itself is more erosion-prone, which seemed both less fun, more crowded, and less ecologically sensitive.

So these trails appear to be popular, but not developed with modern sensibilities for heavy use, and operate in a nebulous state between official and unofficial. I'm torn, because I love cross-country hiking and scrambling in more remote mountains, whereas this area sees heavy use, but also want to see resources be used sustainably. On the other hand, it's littered with dead telephone poles, antenna, infrastructure for a funicular, and assorted concrete waste near the top. Now you know, and feel free to comment if you have more information or disagree.

South Ridge trail begins by parking at Entrance #4, the West entrance off of Bear Creek Rd. Immediately on your left is the obvious trail and sign, so park anywhere convenient and accessible near the entrance.

And then, there's nowhere to go but up! You begin the hike directly next to an overhead cable, and then over a knocked-down barbed wire fence. Higher up the hill, you actually go over the neglected cable itself:

At the top of the first ridge, you have great views of the valley below, to the West, as you start following the ridge and continuing upward to the North:

Continuing following the obvious ridgeline trail to the north, where the rocky summit itself comes into view:

And on the last push to the summit, the fun begins!
The actual bits of trail are steep enough at times that you might want to put down a hand or grab a rock occasionally (and be careful to avoid sending loose rocks down on a person below), and then you have some occasional larger rocks and boulders to scramble over. But, none of these "problems" are exposed, nor more then 5 yards or so in length, so it's pretty much good clean fun.

By now, Mt. Evans is clearly visible to the West, and a short bit of easy trail on top of rock leads to the summit.


We both liked this hike, and I liked it more than I thought I would. It's right near the magic 1000ft/1M ratio that marks much of the Class 2 mountains I've enjoyed hiking with J in the Sawatch Range especially, so I can see this as a good "14er training" hike for people obsessed with such things. It has some scrambly bits to be interesting while being relatively safe, and is great practice for steep running in either direction (as I annoyed J by goofing off with some repeats on the way down). And, we still only saw maybe a half dozen people or so on the trail. Meanwhile, being a Sunday, other folks were running the amphiteater stairs below -- over and over and over -- I don't discount that as a good workout, but was happier to have the views up top.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Jake Gyllenhaal in "The Stand?"

Just to out myself fully: I am a Jake Gyllenhaal fan.

Yes, I know that leaves me open to "Brokeback Mountain" jokes, whatever. I thought that movie was decent, if not a bit slow, and although the 'controversy' of some of the story got the most attention, it had additional merits with the scenery and Michelle Williams's acting. But as for Jake, I can't not think of "Donnie Darko" no matter what other movies he makes, which is one of my favourite movies of all-time.

And then, there's Stephen King's "The Stand", which happens to be my favourite childhood/teenage book of all-time. Though the 90s TV miniseries was somewhat cheesy in the special effects department, it was still awesome to see that narrative on video. I taped the whole thing on VHS, but now have the DVD (and just noticed that it's streamable on Netlix!) Also, Gary Sinise cemented his awesomeness that movie, which was only solidified later in "Forrest Gump", and Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper" somehow increased it's awesomeness factor beyond 100% by opening the film.

So I just saw the rumor/news that there is going to be a movie (re-)made of "The Stand" -- and Stephen King's suggestion (though he doesn't really have the most say in this) is that Jake Gyllenhaal gets the lead as Stu Redman!


What does this have to do with anything that this blog purports to be roughly about? *Everything* -- Jake is already an advocate of trail and barefoot running, and was recently featured in Men's Health talking about cycling and running in L.A. Even more notably, Brandon provided the big scoop last August that led to rumors of Jake starring in a "Born to Run" movie. I still have hope that he shows up in Leadville this August.

As for "The Stand," if you aren't familiar with it, I won't spoil too much by telling you it's an apocalyptic tale that essentially leads to a battle between good and evil. The bad folks live in Las Vegas, NV, while the good people establish a home base in...
Boulder, Colorado!

And part of the final confrontation has the characters travelling from Boulder to Las Vegas...on foot.

Anyway, could you imagine the combined awesomeness of Jake Gyllenhall in "The Stand?" Wouldn't that be the limit?

"M-O-O-N," that spells awesome, laws yes!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Denver Rollerblade Ultra

32 miles, flat
3 hours

Perfect, warm, sunny saturday. Didn't want to drive anywhere (J had the car, anyway), and I didn't want to monkey around with traffic on the road bike. On a day like today, everybody's out, and I'd rather join it than fight it.

But, I also wanted to continue my non-running experiment this week at least to see if my leg would feel better. So I brought out the rollerblades!

I hit the HCT and Cherry Creek Trail in style, including my little mp3 player (I run with it less than 5% of the time) that has a speaker so I could subject everyone to my music. It also warns them of my approaching awesomeness as well.
(Ben had recently suggested that the best rollerblading would involve carrying an old-school boombox).

Now I've never rollerbladed a marathon before (maybe a half was the farthest?), so I thought that sounded like a good idea. But first, some rollerblade history.

Rollerblade History
I did "learn" to rollerskate at grade school skating parties. 'member those? Problem is, I never really learned correctly: I pushed off with my right foot repeatedly, kind of like a skateboard (I also had a skateboard and never got good at it, but it had skeletons on it and looked cool) and then coasted on my left foot. And I certainly couldn't ice skate (never even tried).

In middle school, probably because of the Wayne's World movie, I wanted to get rollerblades and a hockey stick and ball so my cousins and I could play rollerblade hockey. This didn't work out so well when we realized our neighborhood roads had all these pebbles and cracks on them that we hadn't noticed earlier on our bikes. And still, no skills for any of us, so we went back to playing football on the street.

Didn't think of it much until college, when I had been dating J for a year, who was great at figure skating. Meanwhile, a friend, Neil W., and I used to study together, and one day he pointed out that we could skate for just a couple bucks at noon (including rentals) at the "Shell" by Camp Randall. So a couple days a week, we ice skated, all year, as I learned to skate. Neil W. helped me, and even cranked my laces tight for me (which he said was imporant). This whole thing would be great to watch with some sort of musical montage. Eventually I did some basic crossovers and skated backwards -- and this was all in secret from J! Then eventually J and I were able to skate together, and we continued to do so -- maybe 2 or 3 more times, ever.

By senior year of college, I had a sweet rental house with 4 roommates on Lake Monona. One time I tried skating around it in my old skates -- don't remember if I even made it all the way around (7 miles or so?) but barely moved in the wind and thought I was gonna die. Then I borrowed my roommate's skates, some sweet Nike's, and it made a world of difference! I learned about bearings and ABEC ratings: basically, a higher number is faster (skates are nice and uncomplicated that way). J got me some as a gift, and I used them a few times in Madison.

Then, J and I definitely rollerbladed together more than we ice skated: occasionally in the Twin Cities, sometimes to class and mostly on nice weekends near Lake Calhoun. Then we moved to San Diego, and the best spot was the trails around Crown Point near Mission Bay (and along the Pacific Beach boardwalk). By then, we met "other" Neil, and Diana, and often met them on perfect weekend mornings for skating and breakfast. And that reminds me: I worked with one guy in San Diego, who was definitely "in" to rollerblading: he had done the Minnesota Duluth North Shore Inline Marathon a few times, even returning from San Diego to do it. I thought that sounded really cool, but 26 miles sounded crazy far for anything less than a bike! But the point is, there is apparently a pocket of rollerblade culture in Minnesota, and it was perfectly acceptable in San Diego (actually, in PB it was cooler to have old-school skates and be able to dance and stuff), even if it's not as popular elsewhere.

We also took our blades with us for a Labor Day weekend trip to Vancouver and Victoria, BC, where we bladed in Stanley Park, which was awesome. But then we carried our heavy skates in our packs the whole rest of the time.

Then, in the Fort, a few times we bladed in South Fort Collins and on the bike paths; namely, the Spring Creek/Mason/Power loop that ends up being 13 miles. For the first 6 months or maybe even a year, I think I actually rollerbladed to work more than any other transportation -- at ~2.5 miles, the bike ride was "too short" and it was easy to stash the blades in a locker, yet I wasn't sweaty like I would be from running.

So now, Denver -- I hadn't rollerbladed here at all.

Denver Rollerblading
So today, on a perfect day, I saw 3 other rollerbladers in 3 hours! Bad news is, they all appeared *older* than me. I gave them the knowing nod, but I think they were also focused on not wiping out on some crack in the trail. (To make up for it, though, some legit kids on skateboards gave me the nod as well). Actually, for the most part (especially Cherry Creek) rollerblading here is decent.

Rollerblading is more popular say in Wash Park, but I am more of a cover-the-map sort of dude than a park-loop dude when it comes to anything, though. It appears that there is a group that meets regularly and then hits the streets...neat!

So normally when running, I cut off HCT on Florida, but it's a steep hill with a stop sign in the middle that would mean death on wheels (based on my relative inability to stop gracefully on rollerblades), so I followed the winding HCT the extra miles to Cherry Creek. I had mapped out that this route would be 13.1 miles where the trail crossed Speer. Unfortunately, I hadn't noticed that it first crosses right after the country club, and then the trail runs parallel for another few miles until crossing it for real, basically in LoDo, which was actually 16 miles (I thought I was just slowing down).

So I ended up blading my first ultra. At 5:45ish miles, nothing to write home about -- many dudes run faster than that! But it accomplished my goal of not irritating my groin muscle at all (I figured it would be a nice, 3 hour adductor stretch), and also accomplished a newish goal (which used to be the older M.O., and might be related to lingering injury) of not chasing running miles if there's a fun alternative.

Mostly, though, it just made other muscles hurt and blisters appear. Importantly, I didn't wipe out!

I highly recommend the Cherry Creek Trail for rollerblading and people-watching. The Highline Canal Trail (HCT) is decent, too -- it's smoother by the golf course west of Parker, and noticeably more rough to the East.

Walrus II

It's ice cream season! (Not that it ever, really, isn't).
From a few weeks ago, but here's Caleb and I at the new Walrus Ice Cream south location at 140 Boardwalk in Fort Collins:

This satellite location is a cool but strange part of town because you have a still-good but smaller Walrus, La Luz Grill, and Lamar's Donut's all right next to each other. All are excellent and the best in their respective classes ("Ice Cream and Frozen Novelty", "Fast Casual Mexican Burrito and Fish Burrito at Any Price Class" "Donut and Sweetened Bread"), yet all have slightly better original "mothership" locations.

But the point is, two Walri are better than one!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mt Biking in Golden

White Ranch, ~9 miles
North Table Mtn, ~3.5 miles

Been consciously avoiding running this week (as an experiment: results inconclusive, to see if my nagging groin/leg thing would get better), and I had more school work this week anyway. Had a few hours and access to the car today.
I was thinking about road biking, but mountain bikers have been getting a bad rap lately, so I dusted my mt. bike off, and headed to White Ranch in Golden (having noticed just in time that Elk Range trail on Centennial Cone is closed for the season).

White Ranch
It was a gorgeous day and the wind finally died down, so I headed up Belcher Hill. Unlike running there last month, when there was mud and ice, it was dry, loose sand on the front side today. As I mentioned, I hadn't mt. biked much lately, and although I live for steep aerobic climbs, some of the moderately technical rock sections were making me dab or stop when I shouldn't have.

Finally, I reached the rolling sections, but I still felt slow and overly cautious. The waterbars, stairs, and loose sand -- frankly -- suck. I like trails where I can ride the whole time and have good flow. And, if erosion control is necessary for certain trails (and it is), even as a mt. biker, I do understand the concern about poor trail construction, poor riding habits that make things worse, and some areas and types of soil that just don't hold up well to bike traffic. By Gawd, look at the glory of the singletrack in Fruita to understand this distinction.

I decided not to check out the backside and headed back down. But, the upper level singletrack is significantly better. Still, I was dragging and tentative here. My brake was dragging.

Finally, I just flipped the damn bike over and took a look. There is a black lever piece outside of the brake caliper itself where I had the cable routed directly underneath it. The lever was pushing against the brake cable, and limiting how far I could squeeze the brake! Duh, I rerouted the cable and had an instant improvement. This also explains why the problem was intermittent, as the cable was poorly routed (by me) so it occasionally (but not always) was limited in this way.

This was the fix I needed, as though I assumed I was slow on climbs from not having ridden, I really was held back by the brake as well. It was much more fun this way. I encountered more people on the way down, and said "Hello" and gave plenty of room and warning as an ambassador to the sport. Stopped at one point to watch some deer, and chatted with some hikers.

So I had already made my decision to head down early, but I had a plan: check out North Table Mountain.

North Table Mountain
North Table Mountain has wide, non-technical trails that wind to the top of the mesa. It looked like it would have great views, and is a great locals' workout, but harder to justify as a destination due to the shorter trails. But I was in the mood more for speed than technical monkey business, so it was easy to stop off and give it a shot.

Headed to the top in around 7 minutes, to great views:

Immediately got distracted by the gravel pit/quarry to the right. Some informal trails and such, but no no-trespassing signs: it looked like a fun little rocky playground. Checked it out and then continued to finish the loop.

Just some smooth rolling and then downhill. Not knowing what to expect, I rode the brakes quite a bit. When I hit the 110-degree turn back down off of Tilting Mesa, I came to a complete stop, and checked my rims out of curiosity.

Hot Rims!
I've checked my road bike rims, on purpose, coming down Flagstaff, Trail Ridge, Mt. Evans, Skyline Dr., Haleakala, etc., and found them to be warm. (Even though road bikes are often going faster, there's also often enough room and ability to sit up and use the wind to slow you down, more than on a mt. bike trail). But in this case, OUCH! I put a little bit of water on, and it didn't sizzle, but it steamed right off! I've heard rumors of that (the tube will explode, and/or the bead or tire melts), but never had it happen myself.

I only had moderate downhill now and took it easy, and the rims cooled off pretty quickly.

Anyway, the short ride on Table Mtn. was better than I thought it would be, and I was in a better mood than when I started.

Learned some good things by hopping on the bike: doesn't seem to affect my groin/leg much at all (even with weirder, jerky moves on a mt. bike compared to a road bike); got my brake dialed in, finally; and it's time to get that front rotor mounted!

And as always, when I haven't done it in a few months, I think to myself, why don't I ride more often?