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.


  1. Holy hey you kids get off my lawn with the 31 year old drivers license thing. Happy birthday.

  2. Thanks!

    Next year it'll be 32 for the driver's license, it's all selfishly relative. Like the way that senior citizens vote.

  3. Hey Mike,

    Read through those links. TnT - I'm surprised so little of the money does go to research. I vaguely remember that they could get their travel costs paid for if they raised enough $, but had forgotten it until reading that article. So yeah, that read confirms what I already felt then. The running charities that came to mind when I posted were 1) The local Denver homeless running charity. The guy that runs it ran Boston a year or two ago, along with lots of other races. I was a little suspicious of some intermingling then. 2) The dozen or so teams running TransRockies the year that I did raising money for charity (2009). TransRockies cost something like $1,200-1,300 per person that year (I got comped in on a Salomon team), so folks spent some considerable cash to enter the race, and most of those charity runners were from out of state and incurred travel costs, not to mention the money they lost by not working that week. I couldn't understand donating money to them then.

  4. Also, I have not read Under the Banner of Heaven.

    Accounting-wise, I actually don't have a problem with what TnT is doing. Those fundraising letters certainly are misleading, but that shouldn't impact their actual financial statements and filings. I guess it's wrong then, but the non-profit police (?) should be the ones to crack down on it.

  5. Yeah, I wondered if you got the posts emailed, thanks for the follow-up. I worry, depending on the charity, some cases it's like taking $0.50 per dollar and turning it into $0.90. Mostly I wish there were more understanding and open accountability of different charities...and if people would just pay enough attention and give more money to medical research, and go for a run themselves, rather than have this middle-man situation.

    But good post overall and good free read of Krakauer, skimmed through it to get the general ideas. Enough examples that his argument seems convincing. Unfortunately, I donated some money to that group a couple Christmases ago for some relatives that were reading that book.

    Depending on your religious (or non) point of view and interests, I thought "UtBoH" was fantastic, but I'll leave it at that.