Boulder

Go Outside: Do Epic Shit

sunrise bike commute

sunrise bike commute

I’ve never fully understood Daylight Savings. In theory, I guess I understand wanting to best use energy/light for working purposes, but why don’t we adjust the work day instead of the clock? Like most people, I enjoy having lighter mornings, but find it wildly depressing to have it completely dark at 5pm. And we still have over a month before days start getting longer again. Regardless, I’ve been trying to commute to work (35 miles) by bike as much as possible. For a while I was doing one day a week commuting both to and from work, which made for a 72-mile, 12-hour day, but man…seeing the sunrise and sunset was pretty great.

after work sunset rides

after work sunset rides

Now that we’ve changed the clocks, and we’re setting into winter, I likely won’t commute home until the spring. I don’t like being out at dusk when the air drops drastically with the loss of the sun. But I hope to still bike to work when we get above-20-degree mornings. And I’ll sneak in some quick after-work rides as often as possible. At People For Bikes, we’ve got a standing Thursday (and sometimes Friday) group lunch ride.

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My other method of battling seasonal depression is swimming at a year-round outdoor pool. After swimming all summer/fall outdoors, the prospect of moving indoors seems awful. Luckily, Boulder has a great little old-school gym, with die-hard swimmers who love cold air matched with the heated water. I’ve done a few really cold/snowy swims, and it’s like being a kid. Plus you get to dash to the hot tub immediately after your set.

I’m still contemplating different ski-ticket packages, and setting plans in motion for some trips to the mountains to snowshoe/fat-bike/winter adventure. One thing I’ve come to love about Colorado is, you’ve got to embrace what the day gives you, because tomorrow will almost definitely be totally different.

Sunshine Canyon--Gold Hill--Jamestown--Boulder

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Earlier this year I talked about Gold Hill, and how I needed to try biking all 4 roads that ended in this tiny mountain town. I recently crossed another one off the list.

Fall is really settling in to Boulder County, and this week we’ve seen temperatures dipping into the 40s over night and in the morning. I love this weather. Starting in the 40s and ending in the 70s is perfect, in my opinion.

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I set out for Gold Hill with a goal to continue on through town all the way to Highway 72 (this isn’t an actual highway, just a larger/paved road at the end of a lot of tiny gravel/dirt roads). I wore a medium-weight long-sleeved jersey and medium-weight gloves, but short bibs. It was 45 when I started at 7:30am, but I knew that if I did the entire ride, I’d get hot if I layered too much. I was really never cold: the sun beamed for the entire ride.

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After reaching Gold Hill (which alone is a decently tough HC climb from Boulder), the road narrows slightly and continues to climb. I wasn’t sure exactly how far it was to reach 72, but I figured around 5 miles…It was more like 7.5. Sometimes I like not knowing, and sometimes not knowing is torture.

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After 5,500+ feet of climbing (to around 10,000 feet) I took 72 past Ward and descended back to Boulder via Jamestown. They recently finished paving most of Overland Road, and it is like silk (especially after 17 miles of gravel!) My final climb was Olde Stage, which looks like a speed bump on the Strava report after doing Gold Hill!

Cheers to more epic fall rides!

Race/Fondo Report: Buffalo Bicycle Classic--Epic to Estes

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About a month ago I was feeling like I should have signed up for one more triathlon this season. Last year I had the Harvest Moon Long-Course, but this year I didn't really want to do another Boulder Reservoir race. I searched for cycling events instead, and found the Buffalo Classic. In its 16th year, 100% of the money from this ride funds Colorado student scholarships at the University of Colorado. There are a LOT of choices for this event, which allows almost anyone to participate. I decided to go for the toughest option: 100 miles with 8,000 feet of climb. Called the "Epic to Estes," it is aptly named. 

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Only the first 18-miles of the ride (up Boulder Canyon to Nederland) are considered a race, though I tried to ride pretty hard for the whole thing. I came away with 12th-place female and 4th in my age group. This was my first time riding up the canyon and it was a huge perk to have the road closed to traffic for that initial climb. 

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Overall, this race is really well organized. The start was right around 7am as planned (60-degrees to start the day off), and the aid stations throughout were amazing. I stopped at the snack area in Estes and was surprised to find fresh fruit, PB&J, and tons of Honey Stinger and Skratch products. I made a couple other quick stops in Lyons and at Diagonal Highway, just to fill up water. By the time I got to the last ten miles (around 1pm) it was probably around 85-degrees. 

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I was also really impressed with the signage: there are directional signs for the riders, but also TONS of signs up for vehicle traffic, to make them aware of the cyclists. They obviously can't close 100-miles of roadway, but the signage definitely made me feel safer. 

Awesome day, great weather, and amazing views of early fall foliage. I will definitely do this event again. 

 

Race Report: Boulder West End 3k

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I've been running since I was 10-years-old, when I'd "help" my dad get ready for marathons. That doesn't mean I am or have ever been particularly amazing (even during my cross-country days, I was usually 4th runner in), it just means I've run at a lot of events. Boulder Westend 3k made me realize that the best events are super simple, super cheap, grassroots, just a bunch of runners who love to run. We don't need swag. We don't need packet-pickup. We don't need all the crap that gets in the way of running. This race is so fun because it's spectator-friendly. Which means it's automatically not as fast as a track, or maybe even your typical looped road race. But, all those hairpin turns (3 times around a 1k "loop," down and back the same street) mean spectators get to see the runners several times. Nothing matches the hype of streets lined with cheering fans. Everyone imagines leading the pack--being the hero.  

I knew I wanted to watch the elites run, so I entered the open 3k, which went first: even if I could technically qualify as elite (women had to run it in under 13 minutes), it was WAY more fun to watch the pros than to be dusted by them. After rain cleared through the area, the sun came out and Pearl Street was bumping. I saw Noah Droddy before the open race, in addition to a few other familiar faces. No matter what day of the week, what time of day, what the weather is, people will show up to run: especially people in Boulder. This race was commemorating Pasta Jay's 30th year in Boulder, and the place was packed. It was all organized by former Olympic marathoner Lee Troop, and TEAM Boulder

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The open race was super fun. At first I thought making all those turns would be annoying, but passing the crowd 5 times in a few minutes was awesome. My legs were still recovering from a 100-mile ride with 7,200 feet of gain I had done the day before, so I wasn't trying to crush it. Nonetheless, the runners were keeping a good pace, and I managed a 6:45 average. I'm glad to know that with some work, I could probably get "fast" again. 

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Then the main event. Noah Droddy hung back for the first loop, and let the other top guys set the pace. By the last loop, he was inching to the front, and by the final straightaway he was totally crushing it. He looked over his shoulder a few times to make sure he was set: no one was near him. I haven't seen official times, but he crossed the line right around 8:35. It's fun to see the local hero win a race, especially one who is such a good character. Noah and I had the same cross-country coach: went to the same tiny college in Indiana; so, it's like he's family. Overall, this was a great community event. There was a 1k race for kids under 12, several local vendors on hand, and plenty of outdoor seating to grab a bite and watch the best of Boulder. 

Do It: Gold Hill, Colorado

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Ten miles outside of downtown Boulder, Colorado is a step back in time. Mapleton Avenue changes to Sunshine Canyon Drive; after about 6 miles of winding pavement, it switches to dirt, and then gravel. By the time you reach Gold Hill, you've climbed over 3,000 feet. A sign greets travelers with all the relevant statistics: Established in 1859, elevation 8,463 feet, population 118. There's a store and an inn and a school. There are old dogs wandering the road. There's probably some lingering snow piled up. Cyclists know to stuff a jacket in their pocket as it's usually 10-20 degrees cooler up top. 

There are several options up to the old mining town: a road from all four directions. I've climbed up two of the roads, descended one, and still have one on my list. Lickskillet is the steepest county road in the United States, and after going down twice on a road bike, it's still solidly outside of my comfort zone. Even riding the breaks the entire way, you slide and skid down the gravel. It's one-mile of between 15-20% grade. But, it empties onto the smooth-as-pudding Lefthand Canyon Drive, where coasting back to town at 30 mph feels absolutely luxurious. 

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I recently "raced" the pavement of Sunshine Canyon, which means I went all-out and had an average pace of just 8 mph. Then I meandered the rest of the way on the dirt to the top. I can't really explain why I love these mining towns so much. The thin air, the reminders of striking it rich, the old general store that's been selling coffee and treats for over 150 years: it all feels like a treasure--like I've done something impressive just in getting here. 

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I can't wait to keep climbing these roads. Eventually I'll make it up Lickskillet. Eventually I'll take the longest route and hit two mining towns in one trip. There's still gold up here: even just in the experience of the trip.  

Gear: Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels

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I've got friends who seem to buy bikes more often than I buy running shoes (and I buy a decent amount of running shoes). I get the whole N+1 theory, and there are certainly bikes I'd like to buy, but instead of purchasing a whole new package, I decided I'd upgrade my current frame a little at a time.

Twelve years ago, I purchased my first decent road bike: a Fuji Roubaix 1.1. I studied up, talked to local shops, and then was fitted for it at a locally-owned store that I trust. Then...I moved to NYC. After less than a month in Brooklyn, my bike was stolen. When I went to the police, they essentially laughed and told me that professional thieves can pop a U-lock in between 2 and 8 seconds (they showed me how). Professional thieves? I was heart-broken: my first NYC scar. I bought an all-black $500 Fuji Feather single-speed with zero bells and whistles to commute on, and a $90 Kryptonite lock. I used my bike for transportation only. 

After a few more years in the city, I decided to look into road bikes again. I tested several out, but really just wanted my Roubaix. I found a Fuji dealer in Manhattan and they got me my bike. I vowed never to let it out of my sight: never to lock it at all. If I had to go indoors anywhere, I carried it on my shoulder. I started doing some bigger rides up 9W and with the local Rapha club

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When I moved to Colorado, though, that's when I really started biking. That's when I fell in love with big, long climbs. I live between Fort Collins and Boulder, which means access to some of the best roads/hills in the Front Range. I met some great people via Strava, and got some advice on parts. Over the past several months I've added the following: SRAM Force Outer Ring, SRAM Powerglide Inner Ring (34Tx110mm), Shimano Ultegra RD-R8000 Rear Derailleur, Shimano Ultegra CS-8000 11 speed cassette, Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels, Specialized Power Expert saddle. This setup is like a new bike, but with the frame I've come to, and continue to love. I can't recommend the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels enough. Fully carbon wheels are insane. Basically, no matter what bike you buy, unless you're spending more than I did on my last car, you're probably going to get crappy wheels: it's how bike manufacturers save/make money. Straight up: the wheel upgrade is the best thing you can do for any bike. 

Due thanks

Even though I said I'm not doing any recaps this year, I am feeling especially fortunate, and want to shout-out the ones who helped me so much in 2017. It was our first full year in Colorado, and we wouldn't be here without Katy Welter and Rick Bieterman.  

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It was my first year as a "triathlete," and I couldn't have done it without such a great race series and amazing local support. I got a ton of super helpful advice from my friend and superstar athlete, Lydia Dobbs! I also got a lot of (unknowing) support from the professional female athletes that I admire so much: Linsey Corbin, Rachel JoyceRachel McBride, Flora Duffy, and Shalane Flanagan. And some much needed and appreciated knowledge from Triathlon Taren. Above all, I have to thank Douglas Light for his ongoing incredible support. He gets up at ridiculous hours to drive me to races. He makes me delicious meals after long rides and runs. He forces me to go to the hospital when I'm so dehydrated I can't even keep water down (oops). He teaches me how to lift weights to get stronger. He cheers for me, and never, ever stops saying "I know you can do it."  

Here's my year in sports: thanks to Strava for making these cool videos! 

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Also, big thanks to All Aboard Rescue, for bringing Ten Paws up from Texas so he could make our lives even more hilarious and nonstop. Onward! 

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Race Report: Harvest Moon Long-Course Tri

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And so the race season comes to a close. For now. I'm endlessly thankful that I signed up for the 5430 Boulder Triathlon Series instead of an Ironman race. It was so great to have a small field with local athletes who love their community. Plus! Ironman doesn't have that sweet, sweet slip-n-slide finish! And maybe it's fitting that I completed the last race of the 5430 series in 5:43. After a 3:03 finish for the Olympic race (with tons of hills and heat) all I really wanted for the 70.3 was sub-6.

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A month ago, when we were hitting the 90s each afternoon, I said I'd do anything for a race-day high of 70 and a low of 50. Yesterday was exactly that. The air temperature for the swim was 50-degrees and the water was 65. The bike was brisk and perfect. The run was warm, but not oppressive. 

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The bike route was 2-loops on mostly empty country roads. 2K feet of gain over 56 miles, which I found to be perfect. Small climbs and awesome downhill rewards. The run was also 2 loops on a packed-dirt course. Around 400-feet of climb, which took its toll on me. I had to run a lot slower than I prefer, but I was thrilled with my swim and bike performance, so I can't complain too much. 

I'm stoked to rest a bit. Training up was awesome and exhausting. I've never slept better than I have over the last few months. I've also probably never eaten as much! A couple of weeks "off," then onto some trail cycling this fall!