Monday, November 28, 2005

Happy Turkey Day, Everyone

I had originally planned to spend the weekend in Fruita, mountain biking with Zack, Cindy, and her husband Matt. But the cold I caught last weekend continued to smack me around, so I decided against traveling anywhere. Instead, Zack and I had Thanksgiving dinner with a couple who are also my teammates, Peter and Patsy Shaffer. They're funny people who sure know how to cook a good turkey, as well as a slam-dunk pumpkin pie. Yum!
We spent the rest of the weekend in a fairly mellow fashion; I had to ride at least a few times because the weather was so nice, even though I didn't feel 100%. Now is the time of year where I'll ride Hall Ranch a zillion times because it's always pretty warm and dry up there, plus the trail is a blast.

A man and his shadow:

Rippin' it up on the singlespeed:

Who doesn't like a cyclist's legs?? I ask you...

While we heard that the weather in Fruita was crappy, it didn't stop Zack and I from feeling restless. I wish we could fast-forward to summertime, and win the lottery so we could mountain bike in British Columbia for a month, and then spend a month riding through Italy. Dammit! Winter sucks. But then I have to remind myself: this isn't what Thanksgiving is about! It's about being happy with what you have. I live in a beautiful place; I have my health (for the moment, anyway!); I have family, friends and boyfriend that I adore; I have a job; I have my passion for cycling, which encompasses the joys of fitness, competition, friendship, and travel all in one; and I live very comfortably. I haven't a thing to complain about!
And best wishes to all of you, too!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Cyclocross Is Not For The Faint of Heart

Another great race, this time at the Xilinx campus out near Longmont. This course is a blast, with off-camber turns twisting through trees, the requisite steep run-up, and some really big log barriers. This company, whatever they are, is really great to hold races on their property. They even open one of their buildings for us, so we can use real restrooms instead of port-a-johns. And the registrars, who usually freeze their asses off under a tent in a parking lot, got to sit in front of a fireplace in their shirt sleeves. I've gotta say, it makes them a lot friendlier. So, on to the race...

Look out folks, we've got another shooter in our midst -- Zack took some awesome photos of my teammate Cindy and me:

Luckily, what you don't see in these photos is the fact that I dropped my chain on the first lap, trying to remount in a really choppy spot. I managed to chase back up a few more places as the race went on, but as usual, I didn't get a thorough warmup and wasn't feeling that hot. But I was really enjoying the technical aspects of the race, and that always keeps me smiling. I was duking it out with two women who were obviously road racers... they would speed up and pass me on the paved sections, and then slow to a crawl when the dirt sections arrived. I'd pass them back, and put some time into them, but as soon as I had to face the wind on the pavement, I couldn't stay ahead of them. The smaller you are, the more the wind pushes you, and both of these girls were bigger than me. It was motivating, having to pass them twice every lap. So finally, on the last lap, I passed them (both in turns, which is pretty cool, I thought) and managed to hold them off. It was really great to actually have some action within the race; usually I get isolated somewhere in the top ten and feel like I'm racing by myself.
The other motivator was Dave Towle, the announcer. He's very good at what he does, and in fact, he announces at many of the biggest races in the U.S. It's a pleasure to have him at a local race, because he keeps the energy up and makes everyone laugh with his funny comments. Zack got a picture of him:

He tends to announce my name a lot when I'm racing, because he knows me and I'm someone he can actually recognize and say something about. I mean, he's gotta fill a lot of air time during the 45 minutes of our race, and once the pro women go by, he's probably hard up for anything to say. One lap when I went by, I heard him say that I was "breaking legs all over the course" and Zack heard him call me the "wattage cottage," which cracks me up. He always tells everyone I'm a photographer for the Camera... I'm never sure if that makes people think less or more of me, ha ha.

Anyhow, I managed to pull off an 8th place in the combined Category 4/35+ group, which translated into 3rd place in the 35+ only. Yay, a podium finish! Hey, do I win anything?? I'm not sure. Doubtful. Just bragging rights among the other old chicks. ;-)

Then on Saturday night, Zack "The Pyro" Price and I enjoyed a fire in my fireplace, the first time I've had a fire in my house that wasn't accidentally set by a roommate. Unfortunately, I had only brought in some wood that morning, so it really wasn't dry enough to burn well. But hey, it was still pretty fun to light all those Daily Cameras on fire.
Here's what Zack thinks of my desire to document my first-ever (intentional) house fire:

I am extremely privileged to report that I now have a Christmas tree, courtesy of Zack as well. Not only that, it was decorated by him, too, with the only thing he could find around my house: cycling gloves.
Behold... and be awed by.... The Glove Tree:

Ahhhh... life is good. Even if I got sick within hours of that 'cross race... sore throat, congestion, etc., all over again. It's just hard on the body, I tell you. Joe is sick too, so I don't feel so bad. It happens to us all.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Making Cookies Out of Dog Shit

Do I have that right, Zack? I think this is the phrase one of his coworkers uses. And I plan to adopt it as the Daily Camera photographers' slogan because it's so amazingly appropriate.

I got sent over to this dorky little ice rink that opened today, with the added pressure of being asked to make a front-page picture, and guess what? Nobody knows it's open. Plus it's a gorgeous day, the kind that would motivate you to hike or run, not ice skate. For hours I sat by an empty ice rink, getting more and more bored. Finally a lone woman showed up, but she could barely stay upright on her skates. She was extremely slow-moving and tentative. Not that I could do any better, since I haven't ice skated since middle school, but she was not the best subject for a desperate photographer. Then I noticed that the warmth of the day had created a puddle of water on the surface, and I finally had a photograph:

It just figures that in the next day's paper it was the lead photo on the front page, but my co-worker Mark Leffingwell got credit for it. It's like a little microcosm of what happens in life sometimes... you bust your ass making cookies out of dog shit, and then someone else, usually someone who skates through life with very little effort, gets credit for your hard work. But hell, my job is still way better than most!!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Catching Up

Sorry folks, I had a busy week. Plus I kept forgetting to carry my little happy-snap camera to things over the weekend... rats!!

Anyway, here are some photos from work.... Friday was Veteran's Day, with a parade in Longmont. I really enjoy talking to all these old guys, who just light up when they see the parade.

Michael Benavidez, right, and Greg Emery, center, U.S. Navy recuiters from Longmont, thank Ed Yusko for his service in World War II during the Veteran's Day Parade on Friday in Longmont. Yusko survived a kamikazi attack on the USS Nashville on Dec. 13, 1941, an attack that killed 133 and wounded 190. That ship was part of the first U.S. attack on the Japanese mainland, called the Doolittle Raid, after Pearl Harbor in 1942.

And it's funny to watch the little kids go nuts, too:

Ethan Mitchell, 6, gets excited after spotting several military vehicles during the Veteran's Day Parade on Friday in Longmont. He and his classmates at the Longmont Christian Kindergarten stepped outside their school to see the parade of bands, marching veterans, military vehicles, and fire engines.

This kid was just stunned into silence by all the pomp and circumstance and really big machines:

I spent the weekend riding a lot -- did a two hour 'cross type ride on Saturday, and then an awesome mountain bike ride with Zack and my team on Sunday at Hall Ranch, one of my favorite technically challenging rides near Boulder. Even though I was feeling kind of tired, I perked up enough to do a decent job with all the rocks and ledges. Schwing! I wish I'd shot some photos, for sure. This weekend is a cyclocross race at Xilinx, an industrial park that actually provides a really fun course. I'll definitely get some photos from that!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Lung Biscuits Are Yummy

I spent Sunday afternoon doing the hardest cyclocross race of my life, and then all of Sunday night sounding like a chainsmoker. I haven't hacked up that much stuff since I had pneumonia as a kid. That CAN'T be good for your body. But everyone else was clearly suffering, too -- the contorted faces along the course can hardly be described as attractive.

Here's what I look like (overjoyed that I'm not tripping over the barrier in an oxygen-deprived stagger):

This hill doesn't look like much in a photograph, but it was one of those easiest-gear-you've-got, stand-and-grind kinds of pain in the ass:

The crowd was awesome -- lots of teammates and friends cheering and ringing cowbells, barbequeing and hanging out, having a good time. It felt like a par-tay. And Zack was amazing as always, giving Cindy and I handups as well as providing much-needed vocal support. I'm always astounded that he's so supportive... I must confess I don't see too many other boyfriends doing that! He's the man.
The course was full of tough spots, lots of running uphill, through sand, etc. and it's just Murphy's Freakin' Law that the only spot to slow down and try to recover was in full view of the spectators. So you're all hunched over, gasping for air and going about one mile an hour while everyone hollers at you to "go, go, go!" It's just lovely. But I loved the fast downhills, zooming along and whipping through the off-camber turns. Wheeee!

Here's what it looks like when the pros do it:

And here's an artsy way to look at it:

(None of these photos were shot by me, just so ya know. Beth Jordan gets props for the pix of me; Daily Camera freelancer Jonathan "Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Waiting to Happen" Castner took the other two.)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Daylight Is For Sissies

Once the time change happens, ya gotta do this:

As long as you're not freezing your tits off, it's a blast. It makes the boring trails around Boulder a lot more fun, and (close your eyes here, Zack!!) the other ones even MORE fun. There's no one else around, and it's amazingly peaceful. I love to stop somewhere along the way, shut off the lights, and check out the stars, city lights.... and the putrid glow of combusted fossil fuels that hangs over the Front Range. Sigh. But anyway, it's awesome. I'm hoping this funky warm trend we've got will allow me some more of these fun rides.

It was me, Zack, Cindy (left) and Beth (taking the picture). We're hoping the ride will turn into a regular Friday night fun-fest with more people each time as the word spreads. I already ran into a person today who knew about it, so it proves the insular nature of the Boulder cycling community.

I may also have to get used to this type of ride for my structured workouts... such is winter as a cyclist. I better cover myself in that reflective 3M tape you can buy at the hardware store so all the cell-phone-using motorists don't run me down. I could also try about fourteen of those little blinkie lights!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Today Was Raw, Baby

Eat your heart out, friends.... I got more free food!

My favorite...salmon roe with quail eggs.

The Colorado Roll -- filet mignon. Not super high on my list, but tasty nonetheless. And looks great, that's for sure.

Yup, they hack up big fishes there. With the eyeballs still on 'em.


(British accent:)" And now for something completely different!"

This is Tony Green, a Britisher who moved to America and has become, of all things, a police dispatcher. He said he wanted to do something to help his fellow man. I thought he was pretty damn cool. The mug's a nice touch, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I Love Politicians.

The fact that they vie for office and propose referendums means that I get to ride. Cha-ching!! Due to late-night coverage of election stuff yesterday, I had the whole morning off on a beautiful day. Sometimes I love my job! So Beth and I took a fabulous cruise through the oh-so-scenic environs of the Gunbarrel trails. Sounds like a joke, but it's really not -- incredible views of the mountains and fall foliage were everywhere, and at least Beth was smart enough to bring a camera. (Really, I'm a professional.)

What a crappy view.

Beth's got a good eye.

Here she is:

While exiting the dirt jumps, we ran into some really slow people, har har:

Us having a wretched time:

After all of this, Beth's blog just kicks mine out of the water. Go read a better recap in her blog.