Category Archives: Family

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.

Back Home

Well, we’re all back home in Colorado now. After a restless night with a nasty headache and little sleep, we woke to find no new news about the launch. Except, that the news conference announcing status was scheduled for 10:30, a half hour after our flight should leave. Ugh. Guessing wrong, and going home only to find out the launch was going to happen would be about the worst possible thing. I was stressed.

Luckily, at breakfast I had the bright idea to see if there was anything being discussed unofficially on twitter. And I did find a couple of NASA engineers who were talking about the troubleshooting. They said that the issue had been isolated to a junction box (or something like that) that would take a few days to replace, and then a few more to retest. That took a huge weight off my shoulders. At least it was clear what to do – get to the airport, and go home.

With only one car, poor K and Sparkles needed to go with us though their flights were well after ours. And while I know K likes airports, the thought of a six hour wait doesn’t sound like much fun to me. Anyhow, we said our goodbyes, and headed to our gate. Since we had a bit of extra time, the kids and I rode the train back and forth a couple of times before getting off. Geeks, just like their dad.

Currently, the shuttle won’t launch before next Monday, though no date is actually scheduled yet. Were hoping for a much longer delay. There are only a few more weeks left in school, and the kids can’t really afford to miss any more days. If the launch is scheduled for after school is out we’ll certainly head back. If it happens sooner, I could go, but I’d feel awfully guilty going without them.

A day of waiting, with less waiting

Today was an off day. Went spent a long morning at WonderWorks. It was a fun place with arcade games and edutainment stuff. There was a rope climbing area in the air above the arcade games. Most of us did it, though less actually enjoyed it. Sadly, Emily couldn’t partake because she wasn’t wearing appropriate footwear. It would have been fun to see her up there. There was also a roller coaster simulator. An interesting experience, but rather silly, really.

We took a break for lunch at a nearby Mexican restaurant, and then went back to WonderWorks for laser tag before heading back to the hotel for a little swimming and R&R.

For dinner, we went to Downtown Disney. We ate at a fish and chips joint and spent way too much time in the Legos store (or waiting for people who were taking too much time in the Legos store). We got back to the hotel around 10pm. I guess we’re trying to keep the kids on Colorado time…. Yeah, that’s the reason.

We still don’t know if we’ll see the shuttle launch. It sounds like they’ve been making progress diagnosing the issue, but no announcement will be made until Sunday morning. Our flight out is scheduled for 10am. At the least, Scott will be on that flight so that he won’t miss more school. I’m completely bummed about it, and so is he.

Scrubbed

Well, the kids and I are out in Florida to watch the shuttle Endeavor launch for its 25th and last time. Along for the trip are K and her brother Sparkles.

We started the morning off at with breakfast at 6:30 am and got to the Kennedy Space Center a bit after 8. We were worried about traffic, and ended up getting there an hour earlier than we needed. (Actually, it seems obvious now that we could have shown up much later without trouble.)

We wandered around the visitors center for a while before deciding to go to a show – Star Trek Live. The best that can be said about it was that it wasted some time. It was a rather silly two person show about… well, I’m still not sure. There was an astronaut, and a Romulan woman, and some audience participation… but no real point.

We then had some lunch, and watched a little presentation about the upcoming launch. They tried to reassure us that the really gray skies and wind could easily be gone by launch time (they were basically right – not that it mattered). There was a female astronaut (I don’t remember her name) who had been on four shuttle missions. She was very interesting and answered lots of questions. Scott asked her how they cooked fried eggs in space. She gave an interesting answer about cooking, or the inability to cook, in space, but didn’t really answer his question.

We then went to find a spot to watch the launch. While everyone else sat down, Tim and I wandered over to the Astronaut’s memorial. We watched an alligator in the pond there for a while. Then we heard the news.

Scrubbed.

There was problem with both of the heaters for one the auxiliary power units. The astronauts hadn’t even made it all the way to the launch pad before turning around.

After that, we decided to look around for a while. The kids and I played with legos for an hour in the IMAX building. It was a really big room with piles and piles of legos. Tim made a very cool model of a shuttle, though he really didn’t have time to finish it to the best of his ability. I’m not really sure what Scott built, but it was really cool. A Lego designer was there, and came over to him, and helped him with it. He really liked what both Scott and Tim made.

Then, we decide to wait in a line. Since the launch was scrubbed, they opened tours of the center back up. Or so we thought…. It turns out that president Obama was on site for the launch, and he stayed for a short tour. Well, a tour. Well, a private tour, so that nobody else could move around the site. We waited in that line forever… and ever… and ever…. By the time the busses started moving, it was 2 1/2 hours later. Ugh.

We rode by the Vertical Assembly Building, over to the Saturn V building. It’s still incredibly impressive seeing that huge rocket laying on its side. Did I mentioned that it was huge? No? It was freaking huge. OMFG, that thing was huge! (Inside joke: don’t whisper that.)

Outside the building, we could look across the pond at the two launch pads. It’s a really nice view, but honestly, we couldn’t tell for certain which pad had the shuttle on it. OK, I’m pretty sure it was the right one. But the shuttle’s on the far side, and you really couldn’t tell what we were seeing. I hope one of K’s shots has enough detail to pick it out. (Actually, they did.)

After that, we headed back to the visitors center, and then back to Orlando. I had a good time, but I hope the kid’s memory isn’t completely dominated by that long line.

The next launch opportunity is Monday. Sadly, Scott needs to get back to school, so he will definitely miss it. We won’t know for sure if they’ll even attempt the launch until they can troubleshoot the issue tomorrow evening. If they do try to launch, Tim, Emily, and I may stay an extra day. We’ll see.

To be continued….

25th Reunion

Over Thanksgiving, I managed to sneak away to Boston for my 25th High School reunion. It was great and disappointing at the same time. Great to see some of my old friends that I’ve missed since leaving Brockton so long ago. It was especially great seeing Lewis and his wife. Lewis was a close friend from 4th grade on. We used to play trumpet together in the early days. I’d love to hear what we sounded like back then. It must have been horrible. I remember talking after concerts about how I’d screwed up (or, often, not played at all), and Lewis would claim to have messed up (or not played) at the same place! How could our parents have stood it? (Actually, I know how. More on that later.) Here’s what Lewis has done with himself since.

Well, it was disappointing for two reasons. The obvious was that there just weren’t enough people there. With something over 1100 graduating seniors, there couldn’t have been more than 150 at the reunion. There were a lot of folks I’d hoped to see again. The second disappointment was how poor I was at talking with everyone. That’s rather normal for me, I suppose. It was great hanging out with Linda, Robin, Kolleen, and Jeannette, and I’m so glad I did. But I got contact information from exactly two people who were there. Sigh….

Anyhow, for those of you who weren’t there (and those who were), send me some email and say “Hi”. It’s been too long.

And yes, I did wear my Rockies hat in Boston, though not at the reunion. I didn’t want to start a fight while wearing a suit.

Thanks to Jeannette for the pictures. Besides not getting anyone’s email addresses, I also left my camera in my room. Lame. There were some cameras on tables, so there are now pictures up at classmates.com. That’s cool.