Thursday, March 30, 2006

One More Photo

Jason persuaded another cyclist to shoot this for us at the end of our great ride on Saturday:

Now I'm just struggling with the decision about whether or not to head back there this weekend. I'm feeling better, but I can imagine that strenuous mountain biking would just break me down again. Rats. I'll talk to Brad and get some outside perspective.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

How Often Does Perfection Happen?

Not too often, but this weekend embodied it! Everything about the weekend was ideal. We left Boulder early Thursday, Jules and T.J. in their car with little Lilliana, and Amanda and I in my car. We stopped in Glenwood as planned. It's obviously a very commercialized hot springs, but it's still very enjoyable. The pool is huge, and is hottest (like 108 degrees) near the source, and then coolest (probably about 78) at the farthest end, giving you many options for hangout spots. We explored the full length of the pool, noticing how hot water seeped out of the cracks. The water smelled faintly of sulfur and other minerals, and seemed smooth as silk. The surrounding hillsides had snow and it was about 40 degrees out, with the sun on our shoulders. Perfect weather for a hot springs. I didn't shoot any photos there, but Amanda did, so maybe later I can add one to this post.

We continued on the road, reaching Fruita at about 4pm. We unloaded our stuff into Casa Fruita, a fabulous house owned by a Longmont couple who rent it out to mountain bikers and wine afficianados. The house is beautiful, filled with cycling art, and blessed with a huge kitchen, space for eight to sleep, wireless internet, DVD player, stereo, and a garage with bike workstand. Needless to say, the place kicks ass. I was SO glad we stayed there! It made the trip that much more pleasant, with home-cooked meals, music, and safe storage for the bikes.

I jumped on my bike and decided that since I couldn't take any more of the car, I'd ride out 18 Road. I had forgotten how long that road is! It took me 50 minutes at an aerobic pace to make it to the singletrack of Prime Cut.

Love that sunset light. I got totally sucked in by the sinuous trail and could not force myself to leave until the sun was already dipping below the horizon. I zoomed back down Prime Cut and hauled ass as fast as I could back to La Casa, making it there just as total darkness was setting in. It was a really pleasant solo ride.

The next day, I got up and found Jules getting ready to ride -- with a passenger:

Jules and Amanda and I rode while T.J. looked after the baby. We did some trails on the Kokopelli side... Rustler's Loop, part of Mary's Loop, and Horsethief Bench, one of my favorites. Jules, who used to ride constantly until she got pregnant and then broke her ankle, was overjoyed to finally be riding again. Amanda has done some mountain biking in her hometown of Annapolis, but totally impressed us with her fearlessness of the technical aspects. Sadly, though, she's a smoker in addition to being from sea level, so I watched her with some trepidation as she bent over her handlebars, gasping for air, at the tops of hills. She complained of her airways closing up, and I was terrified I'd be forced to test out my never-used CPR certification on her. Thankfully, nothing happened, and she seemed to suffer her breathlessness with good humor.

That night, two more folks arrived, Jules' former roommate Shelly, and her husband Jason. They're very fun people as well, and since they live in Westminster, I may get to ride with them again in the future. Jules had brought an entire turkey, of all things, so we enjoyed Thanksgiving in March.

The next day, everyone but T.J. and I headed out to ride the Bookcliffs. I really wanted to ride with T.J., and he had baby duty for the morning while Jules rode, so we planned our ride for the afternoon. He and I went to the coffee shop for a little while, where I saw two Boulderites. I swear I am absolutely not exaggerating when I say that I never see these people in Boulder, but I see them in Fruita almost every time I go there. It's like they read my mind or something.

When the group returned and had lunch, T.J. and I got ready to go. Jason decided to take on an entire day of riding and came with us. We were psyched to ride Troy Built, a trail none of us had ever ridden. It's built, obviously, by Troy Rarick, the man who owns the bike shop and singlehandedly turned Fruita into a mountain bike destination.

We rocked some Pantera on the way there, and I was just itching to get on the bike. We started hauling ass right from the car, and I felt incredible, like there was no chain on my bike. I love that feeling!! It seemed so effortless, which is a rare reward in a sport that usually feels like very hard work. I was charging the hills, railing the turns, and flying over the technical stuff. I could not pry the grin off my face. I couldn't dream of a better day -- the weather was warm, the trails were in perfect condition, the company was wonderful, and Troy Built was a fantastic joyride.

Artsy fartsy shot of Jason:

T.J. and Jason on Lion's Loop:

Then T.J. wanted to shoot the same photo with me in it, which I could hardly refuse:

We finished not long before sunset, and after three hours of zooming around, I still had energy left. I couldn't believe it. It's a testament to the consistent training I've been doing, that's for sure. I've never ended a ride in Fruita without feeling completely blown out! It was a refreshing end to a killer day of riding. We made it even sweeter by grilling steaks and salmon with baked potatoes and salad on the side. Yum!!

Sunday morning was the last quickie ride for us, since all of us except Jules and T.J. were driving home that afternoon. It was windy and chilly, a far cry from the previous day's balmy warmth, so we layered on all our clothes and headed up to the Bookcliffs, where there was some possibility for dropping down out of the wind.

Jason on Chutes and Ladders: (I was always shooting him because he was always right behind me!)

After a hot shower and lunch, we made our goodbyes and headed out. We decided to forego the hot springs on the way back, because we heard there was bad weather over the mountains. But the driving home was just as easy as the drive out! What more could you ask for from a weekend road trip???

The only thing that would make that even better would be... you guessed it -- another trip back THIS weekend! My teammate Cindy and I are planning on it, because her brother-in-law, who lives in Grand Junction, invited us to stay at his house. The only stipulation is that I need to be feeling better... I woke up yesterday morning with a raging sore throat. We'll see what happens, but another chance at Troy Built, as well as stuff we didn't ride, like Moore Fun and Mack Ridge, would be fantastic!

And this time, I better not see either of those two Boulder folks stalking me. :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Fruita, Here I Come!

Here's what the weather looks like here, as I take the mountain bike to the shop for cleaning because I don't want to wash it out in the snow:

Here's what it looks like in Fruita:

Plus we're stopping in Glenwood Springs for a soak in the water. Niiiice.

I am sooo ready to rip up the trails!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

I'm only a tiny bit Irish, if any, nor do I drink, but I made sure to wear green today so I wouldn't get pinched by all the "adopted" Irish people out there in the world. It's a good thing, too, because I had to go to the local Irish pub and shoot pictures of people who were already completely blitzed at noon. Wow, once you're that pissed, how do you manage to keep it up for another twelve hours??

For me, St. Patrick's Day is my anniversary at the newspaper. Today, if fact, marks ten years at this job. Here's my press pass photo from five years ago:

This is an interesting profession... I've had experiences that I could never replicate. I've flown over wildfires in small planes. I've been tear gassed at riot scenes. I've watched a man take his last breath as I sat next to him. I see my community from the inside; I see its highs and lows, I meet the people who accomplish incredible things as well as the people who screw up. I get to spend chunks of time inside the lives of others. Even on a scale as small as Boulder County, this is fascinating stuff.
But at the same time, I've spent more mindless hours in my car, driving around this county, than anyone I know (maybe I should meet a UPS driver so I'll feel better about myself). I've spent far too much time that I'll never get back photographing at meetings, people at computers, and pictures of the weather. I can't go into a coffee shop and try to read a book without being interrupted by five people that know me and want to chat. I can't afford to buy a new car, take a vacation any farther away than I can drive, or purchase furniture for my apartment (my desk is a door, straddling two filing cabinets). I see the struggles of the newspaper industry and wonder where my career is headed. And most of all, I can't figure out if my work actually has meaning for me on a deep level anymore -- and what I would do instead. This is something I hope to answer before St. Paddy's Day, 2007.

But I gotta add something that so far has made it all worthwhile.... SIX WEEKS OF VACATION A YEAR!! Yeah, baby!! This job has enabled me to do a lot of other things that I love: bike racing, Dirt Camps, tons of bike trips, and interesting freelance opportunities. And it's simple work. Once the next day's paper is on the presses, I go home and sleep like a baby. Ahhhhh.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Wheelie Master

I finished my next cycling column yesterday, complete with story, still photos, and video, about Matt Fisher, the Wheelie Master.

This guy can wheelie for blocks at a time, up stairs, down stairs, on road bikes, on kids' bikes, you name it, he can wheelie it. And then there's my friend Nick Martin, who has long wanted to be able to wheelie. After a few minutes' coaching from Matt, Nick made significant improvement -- I think he's on his way of reaching his dream: to wheelie across the finish line when winning a NORBA pro mountain bike race.

Nick took this of me at work:

I'm hoping the column works out okay... there's a lot less space available this time. And I had to shoot the videos on my crappy little point-and-shoot camera, so they are going to be tiny on the web. People will have to glue their faces to the screen to see anything. But I'm hoping we can run the vids in slow motion so people can really see what Matt's doing with his body to make the wheelie happen.

Now I gotta learn it!!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I was going through some more photos, searching for bike-related stuff to send to a prospective freelance employer, and I found this:

Instructors Dave Nash and Akira Yasuda and me, standing at Gemini Bridges during a Moab Dirt Camp a few years ago. Ahhh, the memories! I really, really miss Dirt Camps. I can't even express how much. Those days were the most fun and most fulfilling experiences of my life (along with a few special assignments for the paper). It's hard to explain to people why teaching mountain biking is so gratifying. Adults often don't make a point of learning new things, especially athletic things, and it is just SO cool to watch them ride things that they were convinced they could never do. They get these huge grins on their faces, and the cameraderie of the group makes the accomplishment even more rich. It gives these people, who are normally very busy with jobs, families, and other demands, a bit of time for themselves; and they take the renewed confidence back to other areas of their lives. Dirt Camp clients were always such cool people, so diverse, so interesting and funny.

I just have to work hard to help Akira and Dave bring RipStoke up to speed, so we can have camps like that again.

Doing Time

is bad enough, but when you have another person sleeping on the floor of your cell, watching you take a leak, etc., it's gotta really suck.

Austin Fisk mops his cell in the Special Management Module at the Boulder County Jail on Friday. He shares his room, meant as a single, with another inmate, who sleeps in the plastic bed on the floor. This module, which houses inmates with special needs, was built to contain 16 people. As of Friday morning, 25 men were housed there.

Or how about this dorm:

Albert Luna Jr. reads a magazine in his top bunk in Dormitory D at the Boulder County Jail on Friday. The dorm was built for 40 people, but as of Friday morning it held 50. Some single bunks had to be built into doubles to accommodate more people.

And get this... our jail just had an addition built last year. Doesn't make you feel too good about the state of the world, does it? Luckily, this assignment isn't as bad as it looks. The inmates are usually happy to have any attention, and since I was escorted around by the jail commander, no one even so much as looked at me funny. Although Austin called me "sweetheart," ha ha. Actually, for whatever reason, I've always had an interest in the correctional system. And maybe because I'm such a restless person, who can barely stand to stay at home when I'm sick, I'm morbidly fascinated with the horror of being locked up. I know I couldn't stand it. I'd be driving people nuts by constantly pacing and doing pushups or something.

Friday, March 10, 2006


I went swing dancing last night, with Phil, Juliet and Kerry. What a blast!! We went to the Mercury Cafe in Denver, where we had a lesson, and then an hour or so of putting together everything we learned. Those guys had been before, but I wasn't too lost, since Zack and I had learned the basic steps as part of a teaching program he did for work. But I had to learn to do turns and keep it together while all sorts of new things were added. Juliet was kind enough to find other partners while Phil brought me up to speed, and he was very good-natured as I stumbled around adding about sixteen steps to turns that should have been two. At least I didn't step on his feet!

The people-watching was great -- lots of folks of every age, size, color and shape out there having fun, some learning like us, others competitive dancers who were mind-bogglingly good. And the music was great. I love swing music. I know this will come as a shock to those who know what a metal head I am these days, but you know, it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. Frank Sinatra doing "Mack the Knife" and that song that always makes me think of my mom, "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy From Company B." Totally cool. I was always watching the older folks, imagining what it was like to be a young person when the swing craze first hit.

After learning way too many turns and variations to possibly contain in my feeble mind, and experiencing a competely deflated hairdo, I managed to peel the grin off my face and be persuaded to leave. I might have to go again next week! Cindy and her husband Matt swing dance, too, so maybe I can drag them along next time.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Face In the Mirror

Heh heh, this is funny. I found it while digging around in my personal archives. This is from when they tore down Crossroads Mall, and we were doing a story on Resource 2000's efforts to recycle a lot of the building materials.

I had some long-ass hair then -- for me, anyway.

Here's what guys look like on the job; I call this picture Gear Envy:

Because men LOVE to talk about gear. My buddy Patrick Kramer, right, left the business and is now a Longmont firefighter. Only working ten days a month, heck yeah! And Esdrass Suarez went from the Rocky Mountain News to the Boston Globe, I think. I'm sure no one there can roll the R in his first name, that's for sure. :)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Consumer Equipment Sucks

I thought I was shooting a nice picture of Cindy against Long's Peak during our groovy mountain bike ride on Sunday, but it wasn't until I downloaded the photo that I realized how outstandingly awful the digital zoom is on my point-and-shoot camera.

Wow. Even if I wasn't a professional snob about camera equipment, I would think that sucks. There's absolutely nothing sharp about that!

For comparison, the wide shots are fine:

Dang, to think that camera, worth probably $150 today, cost me $400 three or four years ago. Oh well. Such is the nature of electronics. I'll make sure to only shoot wide stuff from now on...

Red tea at Amante:

The fantastic Christmas cactus given to me by Zack:

I gave my two weeks' notice at the gym on Saturday. I really need to earn some more money still, but I think I've only got about two weeks of this left in me. I've decided to lay off the two jobs while I can still be relatively cheerful about it... I'll deal with my financial situation as best I can. Maybe the universe will help me out by sending some freelance work my way.

However, I actually will miss that job. It was fun in many ways. Very social, easy, and mostly mellow. I got to meet a lot of cool people and got in several really interesting conversations with the late-night crowd. Plus, I will miss the access to the gym, since I'm too broke to actually be a member there. :) But it's okay, I'll buy an exercise ball and some dumbbells for my house (don't go there with the dumbbell jokes, folks!).

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Bike With an F-Bomb

I saw this bike outside Amante the other day, right near a funky old Vespa. I blasted off this messy shot with the point and shoot:

Here's the aforementioned bomb:

This doesn't help you make friends, does it?

Then I had to go full force into the cliched shadow shot, but hey, it's cause they're fun to shoot.

I need to post some REAL photos from work... this stuff makes me feel like a slack-ass, but it's keeping my interest in photography alive, so it's worth its weight in gold. :-)