Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A Picture Share!

A Picture Share!, originally uploaded by bthemn.

The dinner meeting has spread out into a breakfast meeting this morning at the Owner's House. You can't quite see the Peak.

Monday, June 13, 2005

A Picture Share!

A Picture Share!, originally uploaded by bthemn.

I haven't actually been able to leave this dinner party/meeting. I'm bored.

A Picture Share!

A Picture Share!, originally uploaded by bthemn.

The obligatory meeting shot I forgot to post earlier. Heh.

A Picture Share!

A Picture Share!, originally uploaded by bthemn.

Blah. The all day meeting spilled over into the all evening dinner meeting... at least the food is good...

It's obnoxious that I sent that message about finishing the ride on Saturday and Blogger only bothered to post it now. It hasn't happened lately, but every so often some post will disappear into the great oblivion of the information superhighway only to reappear after a couple of loops around.

In any case, yeah, I finished. I didn't finish however as strongly as I wanted to finish. Sometimes I think I have a bit too much braggadocio... I'm not nearly as strong of a cyclist as I sometimes appear to be and that shows up the most when I start to climb a hill.

This course we were riding on Saturday was of the sort that never quite gave in. You couldn't bend it to your will because as soon as you thought you might be gaining the upper hand you came across the crest of a hill only to see 8 more rolling hills over the horizon.

After the photo I took of Russ and I in Florence(?) We started the climb up towards Wetmore. Things started out smoothly but hiccuped almost right away when we got to climb a slight grade up to an occupied railroad crossing. Whatever momentum you have when you start and then have to stop less than two minutes into the next leg of your journey for a train is lost... and as soon as we were able to cross the tracks we started a long steady climb.

Somewhere shortly after passing the SuperMax facility and waving to Teddy K (not that Mr. Kaczynski was able to wave back) I was slowly dropped by Russell as he climbed off into the distance. At the same time as I was watching Russell pedal off into the horizon I was catching glimpses of a couple guys on the horizon behind me. At one point in the climb to Wetmore I just bonked. I had been having some stomach problems and even though I had been getting food and gatorade in I just didn't seem to be getting any energy. Russell finally disappeared over the horizon and then these two guys behind me passed and rode over the horizon as well. There's nothing worse than riding through barren farmland with the sun blazing down, knowing that your sunblock is inadequate and just wondering why your legs are gone.

The Wetmore to Lake Pueblo section was better (including the much welcomed section of 9% grade), but that's where the confusion about mileage began to sink in. I knew my cycle computer might be a couple tenths of a mile off, but with my math, I had Pueblo pegged at 20 miles and the guy at the rest stop was telling me 27. At mile 60 I knew there was something at least a bit askew. The cue sheet said there were 40 miles left when we left the Lake Pueblo rest stop but riding through the park trying to find the rest stop and seeing spaced out spray painted arrows help tick the miles off one by one past 60 led to a little bit of depression.

There are few things worse in a century than coming to the realization that your 100 mile ride is actually longer and not know exactly how much longer. This feeling is worst when you reach mile 100 and discover it for the first time, but even experiencing it at mile 60 doesn't make it much better. You have a hope that maybe the cue sheet is wrong, but the feeling in your gut is that the cue sheet is right.

Wetmore to Pueblo is a fairly steady rolling downhill section. Though there are rolling hills the entire way, you're still descending even if it doesn't feel like it. The section from Pueblo heading back towards Canon City is ANYTHING but descending... it's just a steady 40 miles of grinding uphill grade.

One of the things I really liked about the ride was how small it was. There were probably only 200 people total and 50 on the century ride. You hardly saw anyone out on the ride, which made it seem like you had personal aid-station angels manning outposts on the horizon for your own benefit. But the downside of that was the desolation. In between those aid stations there really wasn't much of anything. No riders on the horizon. Mountains in the distance that are pretty, but don't seem to be getting all that closer (even though you know that you have to ride almost all the way to them) and the occasional car or semi blasting past at 70 or 80 mph giving you a shock even though you're a few feet away.

Rides with more riders on them, while they can be annoying, are faster because there are trains you can hop around. Without a large group, you're left with what you can do with what you have. What I had was Russell and myself. If you haven't done any paceline riding it doesn't work very well and while Russell has a greater power/weight ratio (as evidenced by his riding off into the horizon on hills... though that could be partly due to his triple crank as well) he wasn't the best puller that I've ever ridden with. That said, I'm a fairly cocky puller. I love pulling pacelines during club rides. When I'm on neutral ground I've got a little bit of power and I can pull a group of riders for way longer than my turn in line.

In any case, we didn't get to really have any of the benefits of the paceline and just spent most of those last miles riding side by side trying to put our sodden legs another turn around the cranks. I'd be amiss if I said that those last barren miles didn't suck.

We finished just as the odometer leaned towards flicking up 105 miles. What did I learn? I learned that I'm not ready for Triple Bypass at the very least. I learned that the excitement has faded from centuries. I still enjoy conquering them, but the sheer wave of euphoria that I experienced when I finished that first one has flickered away never to be seen again until some new massive undertaking. My fear is that that same flickering away will happen to Ironman distance racing. When you know you can do something, what's the joy in discovering you can do it again? Do you have to chase ever furthur and furthur goals in order to get that temporary feeling back? I'd imagine that it's a bit like crack cocaine. Once you get the first rush you chase after it, only to realize you can never attain that same rush again.

Now, all of that said, the ride wasn't a bad thing. I proved to myself that I still had it. I maintained. One of the reasons I'm not a big fan of the M-Dot Ironman tattoo is that when you do your race and then get a few years down the road, even if you have done a race, it's an ephemeral thing. If you quit, if you slack off, even if you ARE an Ironman, you're not an ironman anymore. Sure Al Bundy was a football great, but selling shoes in a shoestore reliving those past glories doesn't make him a football player. To wear the tattoo is too serious of an obligation. It means never giving it up. It means devotion and allegiance that I'm not willing to give to a race. I want to be that octogenarian that's still kicking the tuckus' of riders my age now, but I don't know if I can stay so focused on the Ironman that I'd be willing to tattoo the M-Dot on my arm as part of my 'initiation into the club'. To still claim I'm a serious cyclist there need to be tangible benchmarks. I think the century ride is one of those. Can you still ride 100 miles? Yes? Well, you've just justified your naked legs. I don't know that a century is the right benchmark, but it's just an example.

I had to wait for Russell to get a massage before we headed back to Colorado Springs, but that wasn't so bad. It was a chance to sprawl out on one of things I miss most about Minnesota... luscious grass. There are very few pieces of carpet like grass here in Colorado and the abbey that the ride started from had one of them. It was so nice sitting down and just looking up at the passing clouds thinking... Brian, you're a cyclist and an ironman. You've done well, even if you haven't done as well as you may have liked.


Waiting for Russell to get a massage. I get one from Angela later. We finished with about seven hours of hilly climbing.3500 ft or so. More when I'm home.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Canon City Rockers!

worldslargestrocker, originally uploaded by bthemn.

Friday as I was throwing together a little mix disc for the drive down to the century ride yesterday morning, I scrawled "Canon City Rockers" in sharpie on the top of the disc. I had no idea how true that statement was as we headed west and discovered the obelisk like sitting implement dawning on the horizon.

Every state has to have the "World's Largest" something. Until yesterday, I didn't know that Colorado's was the rocking chair. We passed it on the way to the ride, but made a promise that we'd stop on the way back.

I realized that I have an obligation to continue the series of weird giant objects started with the concrete snowman of North Saint Paul.

I'm sorting through the rest of the few photos I took and they, along with some other stuff will be posted soon.