Friday, October 30, 2009

Burke-Gilman Hall of Fame

Last weekend I rode with a group of local Boy Scouts to finish up their Cycling merit badge. The final step of their merit badge was to complete a 50 mile ride. This group of 12 and 13 year old kids did a great job of sticking it out and made a great day of the trip. Surprisingly enough I never heard any complaining from any of them even though I know the last 15 miles were pretty tough on them.

We rode along the Sammamish River trail and then connected into the Burke-Gilman trail. The fall colors were out and at some points there were so many damp multi colored leaves on the ground that it was tough to keep your bike upright. I was cursing the fact that I couldn't find my camera all day because the picture opportunities were out of control. Turns out my camera was stuck between one of the kids beds and their wall. Why was it there? Some things I just don't want to know.

Anyway, as I was riding along I spotted a number of signs that said that the Burke-Gilman trail had been inducted into the Rails to Trails Hall of Fame. Rails to Trails Hall of Fame? Really? How does a trail get inducted into such a hall? Does a trail have to have a career that spans at least 10 years and then 5 years after retirement if it gets 75% of the votes from the Rails to Trails writers association it get this coveted election? What happens if the trail pulls a Brett Favre and decides to come out of retirement (over and over again)? How do you count the 5 years of retirement? Hmmmm..... Makes me wonder.

Well, I did a little research on the rails to trails website and found that:

"Beginning 2007, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy began nationally recognizing exemplary rail-trails around the country for induction into the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is selecting inductees on merits such as scenic value, high use, trail and trailside amenities, historical significance, excellence in management and maintenance of facility, community connections and geographic distribution."

After riding the Burke-Gilman I can truly say that it passes all of these stringent qualifications so I guess they earned their hall of fame signs.

Congratulations Burke-Gilman on your Hall of Fame induction. I hope to see you soon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Race Across The Sky

Two of the things that I really enjoy are cycling and movies so when both of these are mixed together I just can’t stay away. I even liked Breaking Away with all of its cheesiness. Last Thursday Jenny and I attended a one night showing of Race Across the Sky which is a documentary of the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race which was held last August.

If you’ve never heard of the Leadville 100 it’s a mountain bike race starting in Leadville Colorado. It’s a 100 mile race with an out and back format boasting elevations of over 12,000 feet. If that isn’t lung busting enough there are 14,000 feet of climbing in this race.

The movie starts out with a brief background on the history of the race then immediately takes you to the pre race meeting held at the local high school gym. There are so many people packed into this gym I’m sure they were breaking every fire code in the county but all of the racers seem to be enjoying themselves. The race organizer was dressed in full spandex racing gear and was also wearing a huge cowboy belt buckle. It was certainly a look all his own but he actually had some really good words of wisdom for the racers. He told them that they were tougher than they thought they were. He also told them that no one had ever died racing the Leadville 100 so they should give it more than they think they could give.

During this meeting they also introduced some of the pro riders who would also be racing. When they introduced 6 time winner Dave Weins the entire crowd gave him a standing ovation. It was pretty obvious they he had gained the respect of most of the other racers through the years. Oh yeah, there was also another well known rider that you’ve probably heard of but he didn’t come to the meeting. Lance Armstrong.

As the race started it was obvious that Lance Armstrong had someone setting the pace for him because the lead group was riding at a blistering speed. Later Dave Weins would say that the pace was so fast that after the first mountain climb his legs were cooked. Tactically, Lance had sized up his competition very well and exploited Dave Weins weaknesses.

By the 50 mile turn around point Lance had a solid 10 minute lead on Dave and had the Lance Armstrong stare of concentration going on. The 50 mile turn around point is at the top of a huge climb that most riders walk up. Watching Dave Weins pound up this ascent it was evident that he was riding to his limits trying to catch up with Lance. When he got to the turn around point he proved why he got the huge ovation at the pre race meeting. Even though he was riding to his limit and losing the race that he had owned for the past 6 years he paused for a brief second as he rode past a group of volunteers at the top of the mountain and thanked them for coming out and supporting the riders. That was really a classy move.

Lance held the lead for the rest of the race and easily beat Dave even after a scare where Lance got a flat. It was kind of funny, Lance looked around like “Hey, where’s the team car, who’s going to fix this flat?” Eventually, he pulled out a CO2 cartridge and filled his tire up and rode a mushy tire across the finish line.

Take aways from the Movie:
  • In cycling it’s always important to remember that you’re a lot tougher than you think you are. Those are some words to live by.
  • No matter how tired or in a hurry you are it’s important to take the time to thank people for their efforts
  • I am now a huge fan of Dave Weins. He’s the man!
  • I never want to race the Leadville 100. Hike-a-bike just isn't my thing.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Night Mountain Biking

Is it possible to do something on a bike that rivals the thrill and terror of a riding a roller coaster or gives you the feeling of putting yourself right in the middle of a really intense video game? Normally I would answer no but I think I’ve found the one thing bike related that could possibly top both of these feelings.

Night Mountain Biking.

In the last year I’ve read a couple of blog posts about how fun night mountain biking is so I decided that this was one cycling adventure that I needed to add to my cycling bucket list. In order make this a reality I had to do two things.

1. Make my Costco mountain bike dirt worthy again by putting the knobbies back on.
2. Convince Jenny that this wasn’t a totally insane idea and that she should try it with me.

Changing the tires on my mountain bike turned out to be fairly easy but when I approached Jenny with the idea of night mountain biking I was initially met with some crunched up eye brows. Over time she came around and was willing to give it a try but I could tell she still had some reservations.

A couple of weeks ago we waited for it to get dark, strapped some headlamps on to our helmets and headed across the street to the trail that circles our neighborhood. Based upon Jenny’s general lack of excitement about this outing I was thinking we would make it once around the half mile trail and call it a night. Boy was I wrong. After at least 20 feet of riding I felt a smile come across my face that I just couldn’t get off which was quickly followed by uncontrollable giggling. Jenny was following close behind me and I could hear the same uncontrollable giggling coming from her as well.

When we completed the loop I looked at Jenny and she said “That was a blast, let’s do it again”. That, was the sound of success!!!!

Night Mountain Biking is a really interesting sensation, you can’t ride as fast as you could in daylight but by having a light strapped to your helmet and only being able to see 10 feet in front of you I felt like I was absolutely flying down the twisted single track trail around our neighborhood. At one point I almost rode into a small ditch but at the last second I was able to stay on the trail.

Jenny and I took turns switching bikes as hers was a full suspension bike she borrowed from one of our kids and mine was fully ridged. We rode a bunch of laps around our neighborhood until our brakes were so wet that they were useless.

Since then we had dragged our kids out to try our latest adventure and they loved it too. I still prefer a nice long ride on a deserted road on a road bike but this winter I plan on doing a lot of Night Mountain Biking for cross training and the sheer entertainment of it. I’m hooked.

. . . . .

Friday, October 16, 2009

Photo of the Week

You have probably noticed that I haven't posted anything for a couple of weeks. I really have been meaning to but my attention has been turned to other things lately. You see this week my oldest son left to serve a 2 year Mormon mission in Uruguay where he will among other things be getting a very large dose of Spanish. I'm sure when he gets back we will have no problem ordering tacos at the local taco truck I frequent.

Now I have a favor to ask. If you ever see some missionaries out riding their bikes or they knock on your door will you be nice to them for a least a minute or two? You could even offer them a glass of water. You don't have to agree with their beliefs but I'm sure you could strike up a good conversation with them about bikes because most of them have been chased by dogs while riding at some point.

It won't be my son you're talking to unless you live in Uruguay but maybe someone will in turn offer him a glass of water on a hot day where he's at. You'll know what they look like because they will be wearing a name tag that looks like this. OK, this one is in spanish so the one you might see will look a little different. Anyway, thanks for helping me out.

On another note, I've recently given night mountain biking a try and it's a total blast. I'll do a write up about it next week. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Photo of the Week

This photo was taken by Jenny on Orcas Island while I was riding up Mt. Constitution. By far this is one of my favorite photos of the year and has been a productivity killer at work. Now how that be you say, well when I got to work on Monday I made this my wallpaper picture on the desktop of my computer. I can't tell you how many times I've found myself staring at this picture and riding up this road in my mind. It's been a great little escape from the grind of work.

By the way, this bridge was constructed by the CCC in the 1930's as part of an economic stimulas program. Back then the CCC workers made $30 a month of which $25 when back home to their families. I'd say they did a great job with this bridge.

Looking at this picture I wish I was there right now on my bike.

The forecast is calling for rain this weekend. Hopefully, the weather will be better where you live and you'll be able to get out for a ride.

Have a great weekend.