Monthly Archives: August 2011

USA Pro Cycling Challenge

After 23 years, top-tier professional cycling is back in Colorado. It’s been a long time since the Coors Classic/Red Zinger Classic bicycle races. It’s been nice watching the Tour of California (and the Tours of Georgia, Missouri, and Utah), but bicycle racing belongs in Colorado.

The days of Lemond, Hampsten, and Phinney are a distant memory. The days of Leipheimer, Hincapie, Zabriski, Vandevelde, Danielson, and Van Garderen are now. And those are just some of the current top Americans.

I had a great four days of following the tour around the state. OK, really, I just stayed in Breckenridge for three days and came home Sunday morning for one last quick view of the finish in Denver.

On Thursday, my friend Steve and I went to watch the Vail Time Trial near the finish line.

We rode our bikes over Vail Pass from Copper Mountain. Despite what they said on TV, the finish line was about 1000 ft below the summit of the pass. Still, that made for quite a climb for them in 10 miles. It was really impressive watching how fast these guys could climb. But the suffering on their faces was even more impressive.

Here’s a shot of Levi Leipheimer on the climb.

I put a few good pictures of the stage up on Picasa.

Friday morning, we drove to Avon to watch the start of the race to Steamboat.

This was far more fun than I expected. We got there to watch most of the rider sign-in, which included lots of interviews. Many of the riders were also signing autographs for the fans. The crowds were not too bad, so it would have been pretty easy to get an autograph if I’d been so inclined. (I wasn’t.) Here’s the rollout:

From US Pro Cycling Challenge Videos

I also put a bunch of pictures up of the sign-in interviews and such.

Saturday, the race finished in Breckenridge. We decided to go for own bike ride in the morning around Dillon Reservoir, up the Swan Mountain Road climb, and back to Breckenridge. This climb was being billed on TV as a big deal for the stage. It really isn’t all that hard. The descent off it doesn’t seem like much either. I’ve done it a bunch of times. On Saturday, I hit 42 mph on the descent. Andy Schleck was leading the race when he did the descent and hit 68 mph. Holly crap, that’s fast!

We met up with some friends from the Cycling Boulder group I often ride with. Here’s a bit of the climb showing Alma, Kenny, Steve, and Eric on his EliptiGo:

From US Pro Cycling Challenge Videos

And me and Steve at the top.We got there long before the crazy crowds, though you can see that there were still many people who’d camped overnight. There were also lots of people writing words of encouragement on the road in chalk.

Once we got back to Breck, we had some time to kill, so we made a quick stop at the Breckenridge Distillery Tasting Room.

And, of course, we took a few passes through the Expo.

This was a great stage where Andy Schleck really went for it, winning the most aggressive rider jersey after the stage. I didn’t get many good shots of the race, but did manage to get him leading the pack around the final curve onto Main Street in Breckenridge.On Sunday, the race finished up in Denver. I thought it would be ending around 3pm, but it turns out that it was closer to 1pm. Consequently, we only got to see the last two laps through Denver. But I brought Tim and Emily down for this. We at least had a good time hanging out at the Expo after the race and got lots of free swag.

Here’s the main pack coming around near the end of the second to last lap. I’m impressed how close Levi is to the front. He was obviously taking the day seriously. (He’s third wheel in the picture. There’s one rider out of the frame another bike length or two further ahead.)Emily and Tim had a good time playing with the Smash Burger noise makers.

While we didn’t have the best race viewing in Denver, the crowds were just outrageous. I’ve never seen so many people in one place. I’m so glad everyone came out. We already new the race was coming back next year, but if we keep getting crowds like this, it’ll be around for much longer!

Appendicitis

Early, this past week, Scott started having a dull pain in his abdomen. It didn’t seem too bad, and it didn’t seem to slow him down too much. (Though really, playing video games isn’t all that straining.)

By Wednesday, it was getting worse, and definitely seemed more localized. We decided we’d probably make an appointment with the doctor the next morning. That night we went to his grandmother’s house for dinner. He had a really hard time getting out of the car. So, we said, maybe we’ll head to urgent care that night.

When his mom showed up, she looked at him a bit. Then looked at the web a bit. And decided to take him over right away.

After a few hours of waiting, and an ultrasound, the doctor confirmed that it was probably appendicitis. They scheduled him for surgery that night.

All went well. The operation was quick, and they removed the useless appendage through one of three tiny holes they cut into his belly.

Scott’s now recovering well, and having little pain. The only medication he’s taken is a little ibuprofen, and that, rarely. He was out of the hospital by 5pm the next day – less than 24 hours after he got in. Here’s a shot of him eating his first solid meal Thursday afternoon. It was the last requirement he had to fulfill before they’d let him out.

The next week or so will need to be slow for him. He missed the first day of school on Friday. He probably won’t be able to march with his sousaphone for at least a week. I just hope walking from class to class won’t be too much tomorrow.

Get your elbows off the table!

I woke up Friday with a sore and swollen elbow. It was obviously infected, though I don’t really know why. There was a small cut on it, so I put some antibacterial ointment and a band aid on it, and didn’t worry about it much.

By Sunday, the swelling was pretty much gone, but a much larger area was all red. Uh oh. That kinda thing can be bad. I marked the area with a pen, and resolved to go to the doctor if it grew any more by the next morning.

Yup, it was bigger on Monday. I got a nice big shot of antibiotics (I won’t say where), and instructions to monitor it more. If it grew more, I’d get two more shots. Luckily, it’s getting better and I only have to go through a normal course of oral antibiotics.

So, what was it? It started as bursitis. The swelling in my elbow may have just been caused by leaning on the desk in front of my computer. I’ve had some swelling a number of times over the years. We don’t really know why it turned into an infection that aggressively spread, but at least I didn’t wait too, too long to deal with it. (Well, I probably should have gone to urgent care over the weekend.)

Now, I need to keep those elbows off the table.

B Strong Ride

Another weekend, another ride. (Actually, it has been a year with more long weekend rides, and fewer weekday rides.)

My friend Barry hooked me up with this ride benefitting LiveStrong (organized by friends of his). It’s the inaugural year for the ride. Apparently, there were around 1200 riders, though most must not have been doing the 68 mile mountain route that we did. They set a first year event fundraising record for LiveStrong of over $250,000. Cool!

The ride made a loop from Celestial Seasonings in Gunbarrel, up Left Hand canyon to Ward, and back through Lyons. That’s a pretty popular ride around here. It was fun riding with Barry most of the day. We tried hard to keep our pace reasonable on the climb, and made good time on the decent to Lyons.

However, about half way up the climb I met an ambulance and a bunch of people stopped on the side of the road. On big rides it’s all too common to see an ambulance attending a crash, but I’ve never seen one on a climb. In this case, a rider who had passed me not long before (in distinctive Cervelo kit) had had a heart attack. A race organizer was there and grabbed me to help direct traffic.

It turns out that the very first rider to come upon the victim was an EMT with an emergency kit and a radio. The second rider to arrive was an orthopedic surgeon. This guy may have picked the luckiest place of all to have his heart attack.

I’m not sure when they started, but I soon noticed that they were giving the man CPR. (I don’t think they were doing it when I first came on the scene.) CPR is more than a little surreal. It looks nothing like the movies. It was nothing like I remember from training in high school. Giving chest compressions is violent. This man’s (dead) body shook like a huge lump of jello. That sounds weird, but it looked even weirder. It wasn’t long before they stopped. I thought that he really was dead and that they’d given up. I also thought that I heard one of them say “I’ve got a rhythm”. I didn’t believe it at the time, but I think now that I heard correctly.

It was quite a few minutes before they got him into the ambulance. By the time they did, two more had arrived, and a motorcycle cop and a fire truck. They had a hard time figuring out where they could get a helicopter in to medivac the guy out. I was quite surprised that none of the emergency personnel knew the area very well.

In any case, they really did revive the man. I don’t know how his recovery has gone, but he was alive when he was taken away. The Daily Camera has some minimal coverage of it.

Later in the ride, as Barry and I were leaving Lyons, we hooked onto another group and let them pull us along for a few miles. Leading the group was a big guy with fanny pack full of medical gear. After a while, he apparently asked if someone else wanted to pull for a bit. There were no takers. Another of his friends said something like “Ah c’mon. Help him out. He saved a guy’s life today!” (Barry told me this after the ride. I’m not sure I could have done much of a pull, but had I known, I would’ve given it a go.)

Anyhow, mister EMT, thanks for saving that guy. I’m so glad you were the first to arrive, and not me!

And thanks for the pull!

IPA in the works

I’m in the middle of building an IPA. This is my fifth batch of beer this year. Where’s it all gone? (Possibly related: I’ve ridden my bike a ton and haven’t lost any weight this summer.)

This beer is based on the Yippee IPA recipe from The Homebrewer’s Recipe Guide. I substituted 1 oz of Simcoe and 1 oz of Amarillo hops for 2 1/2 oz of Cascade in the brew pot. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going for, but it seemed like a good idea. (Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA comes to mind, but I didn’t spread the additions that evenly.)

Here’s a shot of the beer being racked to the secondary, about to get dry hopped with another ounce of Cascade. This is the first time I’ve tried dry hopping. The beer’s currently sitting at 6.3% alcohol, and I expect it to go a bit higher in the next two weeks.

I was actually worried a lot that this beer would be a failure. Mark at the Bald Brewer had me try out some East Coast Ale yeast, which I’d never used before. I’m not sure why that made me nervous, but it did. Fermentation hadn’t really started 12 hours after I’d pitched the yeast. (No bubbles, no beer!) By the following morning, it was bubbling, but not really all that vigorously. The temperature was 76-78, so I figured that might be the problem. I put the fermentation bucket into plastic box, added some water, and covered the bucket with a t-shirt to do some evaporative cooling.

The next day, the bubbling had nearly stopped, and the temp was down to 68°F. Damn! Too cool! I took the t-shirt off, and by the next morning, the temp had settled in at 72°. Still, there was little or no bubbling. My other batches had bubbled very vigorously for at least two days, and all had started within a few hours. But I was heading to California, so there was nothing to do about it for five more days.

Luckily, when I returned last night, I measured the specific gravity, and saw that lots of fermentation had occurred just fine. Nothing to worry about! The beer tastes a bit bitter, or even sour. I expect it’ll mellow out fine with a secondary fermentation, and some bottle conditioning. Time will tell.