Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Life on the farm

Had a very nice (re: relaxing!) long Memorial Day weekend on the farm in Virginia. It's SO amazingly green here...we must have been lucky, not a lick of rain the entire time! During my lazy few days I did manage to peek in and read about Ryder's amazing Giro win. How great for American Cycling (even tho he's Canadian). And what an exciting race! Nice to have a Grand Tour come down to the final day...it just can't get better than that.

 OK...on to the weekend in pictures!
 My bro-in-law John sneaks a nap in the hammock while the Guinnie-hens (NO idea how to spell that, and spell-check is also at a loss) roam the yard.
 A tasty dinner out on the deck, Jeannie, Barb (Jeannie's friend from Norfolk) and John

 After dinner treat: home-made vanilla/mint ice cream, made with fresh goat-milk heavy cream and mint yanked from the garden hours before the making. Tasty beyond BELIEF! This recipe could make John a fortune I swear!
 Matt, the dog whisperer. Dogs LOVE me. That's Bosley (black) and Domini (white)...the "Pupples".

 Bosley focused on the objective. He LOVES to play fetch. He can run much faster than you'd think.

This is Marmaduck. She and 3 other ducks were the 'house-ducks' and the people were moving, so John took them. He dropped them off at the pond on his property, and a week or so later only this one was left (apparently there are 'critters' snacking on duck down there). She stays up at the house now, hanging out w/ her new friends the chickens and goats.

 Jeannie felt sorry for Marma so bought her a pool at Walmart. Marma LOVES her new duck-pond! You should see her splashing around, bathing, swimming...like a duck on water!

As we sit on the porch there are at least a dozen hummingbirds buzzing about the feeders, fighting for space in the sipping-spots. Turns out it's pretty hard to get a decent shot of a hummingbird!

I take pictures of this old house every time I'm here (our view as we sip coffee from the front porch). Today it's got a nice batch of thistle blooms in the foreground.
 OK...on to the weekend in pictures!

This is the cows. That's Bebe (the bald-faced Angus/Holstien cross) in the back left (has a white face). She's a keeper, as is the other lady on the far right. That's Sir-Loin 1 and Sir-Loin-2 (the steers) staring at me. Maybe I shouldn't be following them with a hamburger bun? (sorry, that's mean!)
And a view of the old dairy barn (near the wind generator) and the goat/turkey barn (on the left). The field was JUST bailed today by John's friend and neighbor Ken. Ken and Brenda have a farm just a bit away, with like 14 horses, dozens of goats and cows, and everything inbetween. I can't IMAGINE being a real farmer. It's not a 9-5 job by any means, more like a 5-9 job (Ken was driving the tractor doing the bailing all day on Mem Day while WE lounged around drinking beer and living the vacation life).

That's all the pics for this week...I have literally dozens more but paired it down to just these. Hope everybody had a wonderful holiday weekend. Today it's back to the air for Jeannie and I, as we fly home in mere hours (don't get home until midnight Calif time). Tomorrow is a work day too. Ugh...back to the grind.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Last Rites (er, I mean Rides)

Before I get into the pics n such, just a quick mention of those two tiny bike races. The Tour of Calif wrapped up today, and I wasn't there. Z-man wasn't able to hold on to the top spot...someday Dave...someday. Still a great performance!

And as for the Giro..how about Ryder? He lost the pink today, but he's still in the hunt in 2nd place. With his awesome Garmin squad I think he can do it. And speaking of Ryder, anybody remember when Sara Best interviewed him (via  phone if I recall) so long ago on the ORIGINAL home of the Asylum (My First 100 miles)? She had great things to say about him, and he sure is living up to that. (We miss you Sara!)

OK..on to the topic of today's post (my LAST from here in Colorado Springs). I have a bunch of  pics from my last 2 rides here in the Springs. I fly home on Tuesday (HOORAY!!!!) and can hardly wait! Just have to survive one last work day. The bike goes to work and will end up back in box for it's trip home. The weather once again was less than optimal, which is just amazing as it was in the 70's and 80's all last week, and the news just said that today (Monday) will most likely be a record high. All I know is that it rained on me Saturday and was quite chilly. Sunday was SUPPOSED to be much nicer, but alas it was not.

On Saturday I ended up diverting from the high mountains (due to the nasty weather predicted) and finally rode the Falcon Trail located on the Air Force Academy. It was a pretty amazing trail (13 mile loop) that was rarely flat...either climbing or descending, and LOTS of work.

 Here's a panorama of the mountains. You can see the low-level clouds, I estimate them to be at about 8000' (the high point of today's ride is about 7500').

 This is where the cadets live, and is off limits to visitors. Pretty fancy diggs!

A bit over half-way around the loop is a trail offshoot that takes you to the North Gate where there is a B52 on display. WOW! I've seen a lot of aircraft in my life, but this is the first B52...how impressive!

 What an amazing plane...the plaque said it's bomb payload is 60,000 pounds. That's a LOT of bombs! The B52 was the backbone of our Strategic Air Command (SAC) for decades!

On the trail was this cabin. 

The Beverly Hillbillies...NOT! Pretty tiny....I guess they didn't entertain much.

You can see my GPS track (in red on the left) and how close I came to Falcon Stadium. This shot is a Microsoft satellite photo taken from my Garmin track.

An A10 Warthog. This is a tank-killer...it's a HUGE Gatling gun with an aircraft built around it.

And finally a T38 (thanks Pez for the correction, I mistakenly called it an F16),  wearing the clothes of the Thunderbird's. This model was used between 1974 and 1982 (after the disastrous training exercise when 4 of then slammed into the ground).  And the local news just said that the Thunderbird's will be performing today at the Air Force Academy graduation
(credit Wikipedia for this info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Air_Force_Thunderbirds)

Sundays ride was heading up HIGH towards the summit of Mt Baldy. The storm that came thru on Saturday dumped new snow up high, lucky me. But it was go for broke or don't...it's my LAST ride.

This is my objective. Stupid storm, there was almost NO snow as of yesterday. You can see the road slanting across that I eventually climbed.
Note: this picture was taken thru my windshield, which is why it's such a sad and out of focus shot. Also of note: no animals were injured or killed during the taking of this photo...did I mention that I was driving at the time?)

 Gold Camp Rd, still quite low (about 7800'). Down here it's not too shabby!

 Target in sight, dead ahead. There's my road again!
Above 10,000 there was a LOT of this. Slush and melting snow. My bike is now a mess btw.

Nearing the summit. This side of the mountain is facing the sun so the snow is already melted. (this is the road you can see from town).

Looking at the actual summit of Mt Baldy. I didn't do the final road as it was still snowbound, and I was out of gas. The altitude here is about 11,900' and I was gasping for air as I climbed. On the right is a survival barrel in case a storm moves in while you are up here. I did the summit road 3 years ago when it was much warmer (the current temp is about 42F as I took this shot).

The view looking back over Colo Springs. 

 And my final shot...a pan of Stratten Reservoir (or lack of a reservoir...3 years ago there was a fair amount of water in here). Pikes Peak is just to the right of this photo but not quite visible.

And that wraps up my rides, and my trip. I'll be home for just 2 days, then Jeannie and I fly to Virginia to spend a TOASTY WARM Memorial Day weekend with her brother on the farm. I'm racking up some Frequent Flyer miles this year, that's for sure.

OK..have a great week everybody!

Oh....also after posting I checked, and now something is obviously messed up in my design page as there is ' once again text' intruding into my pictures. I have NO IDEA how to fix it, but I will be looking at it when time permits).

Sunday, May 6, 2012

And.....they're OFF!

Wow...the years first Grand Tour is already underway! I've totally MISSED the entire season (thus far). Phinney taking the prologue (or more accurately, stage 1 I guess), and Cav takes stage 2! Looks like the question of whether he will continue his reign of domination on a new team has been answered. And how cool for Taylor!  The pink jersey, and he's HOW old? That young man has BIG BIG things in his future!

And on a sad personal note, I'll miss this years Tour of California in it's entirety due to my current work-trip to Colorado Springs. However being as they are totally bypassing my part of the state, it's not such a huge blow. I'm still sad tho...will be the first ToC that I've not been able to go to at least one stage.

On a plus note, my trip here won't be totally wasted...I've ridden the Mt bike the last 4 days IN A ROW! My total is a measly 62.7 miles total, but that would be minimizing the SUFFER factor. I'm a sea-level guy, and all the rides here START at 6500' or more. To say I've been gasping for air as I climb would be an understatement! Also of note is that those meager 62.7 miles took me OVER 11 hours of actual ride time (not to be confused with elapsed time, which is much longer due to MANY MANY breaks). And I've climbed a total of almost 11,000' of climbing. Sure sure...that's not REALLY that much climbing...but again I remind you that I'm DYING on the climbs.

I've only been in town 7 days now...and I'm HOPING that my body has been reacting by becoming a little portable red blood cell factory. By next weekend I SHOULD start to slowly feel the effects of my acclimatization to altitude as the new crop of RBC's take about a week to mature (learned this from the many EPO doping scandals in cycling). However, I have to admit that what I'm hoping for (in terms of quantity) is probably a LONG way off from what I will get. But hey... beggars can't be choosey...I'll take any increase in my hemacrit and I'll like it!

And so...I leave you with a few pics from the last few days rides. As much as I miss Jeannie and the babies (and just being HOME), Colo Springs is a fun place for me to visit if the weather is good AND I have my bike!

 On the trail, that is Cheyenne Mt directly ahead in the distance (I mean the FAR distance).

 A view of Mt Baldy. You can see the road slanting across down in the tree-line. This will assuredly be a target before I leave (the top is just under 12,000').

Love this shot...it's a view of the Bear Creek trail (looking back up where I just came from). There are many 'scree-slopes' like this throughout the area..and it's quite exhilarating to come bombing down 'surfing' the scree...it's like riding with 2 flat tires as the bike is all over the place, and you just keep shifting your body weight around, keep your weight WAY back, and try not to shoot off the edge.

 Doesn't look like much, but this is St Mary's falls. I killed myself getting this far up what turns out to be a HORRIFIC trail for a bike. To say that this was a whole lot of HIKE A BIKE is an understatement. But I made it, and beyond.
 I had to cross this snow-field on the way down "Jones Downhill" trail. I had already climbed to over 10,000' up the evil St Mary's Falls trail to get to this AWESOME downhill run. Was it worth it? YES!
As I descended Jones, I came across this beaver pond at about 8800'. It's a quite scenic spot for sure!

The first tunnel on Gold Camp Rd (which is a 16.5 mile climb at around 4% grade). It was actually QUITE dark in the middle, but the road is butter smooth so you just keep riding 'towards the light'.

 Now THAT'S what I call a ROCK!

A view looking down the "Pipeline" trail. That is a very old clay pipe (it's exposed in many places, with more than a few parts totally missing). No idea what it's purpose was way up here in the mtns.

This is a view looking down trail 667 (part of Jones Downhill). It's a loopy swoopy bobsled like run in many places, bringing a HUGE smile to a tired face.

And with that, I bid you a good week!