Sunday, June 20, 2010

Colorado Road Trip




My first extended work-related road trip saw me making a swing through colorful Colorado. I made a bee line for Fruita to get in some riding on their famed singletrack. Next time I'll ride Mary's and Horse Thief, the stuff above the river, as 18 Road didn't blow me away like I was hoping it would.








A bit of liquid companionship was called for to endure an evening at the Super 8 in Grand Junction...........





After calling on shops in Grand Junction I ventured into Durango, and as I got closer the views gave me a tantalizing hint of what was in store for the remainder of my week; my first taste was as I approached Ouray from the north.....


Upon entering town I was greeted by sights that, despite my haste to get to Durango for Monday night burgers and beer at Old Tymers, stopped me in my tracks and put me instantly into uber-tourist mode (lacking only a trucker's cap and fanny pack). The juxtaposition of structure to wild shapes, settlement to restless nature was simply too poignant to ignore. I was impressed with both the number and condition of the old buildings in town, and their proximity to such sheer peaks:



































The drive south of Ouray was certainly one of the more treacherous I've ever made, as chunks of ice were falling off the overhanging cliffs onto the roadway....which had no guardrails. I later learned that the absence of what is usually deemed as necessary safety apparatus was due to the fact that come winter, the snow plows simply plow the snow off the road and into the ravine a 1,000 below. They receive so much of the white fluff stuff that not being able to do so they'd soon run out of room to pile it.

Continuing undaunted, I made it to the top of Red Pass and was treated to some very resplendent images; the contrast of white snow and cobalt sky, wisps of snow streaming off the peaks, and the aroma of the mountains in spring time were overwhelming and represented a hight point of the week.



Durango was great, good vibe, down-to-earth folks, great local trails, flowing rivers, it was all there. I managed to ride Raider's Ridge on Horse Gulch early Tuesday morning before work. Raider's is a great run down the spine of the ridge consisting of singletrack interspersed with lovely rock gardens that demand just enough focus to for a good mental workout, but not enough to completely drain you.

The bike shops in Durango are as amazing as the town itself. I spied this great shop bike, an old C-Dale, parked in front of Pedal the Peaks - definitely one of the cleanest bikes I've seen.



And the crew over at Durango Cyclery is first rate. They had the most interesting bathroom, a mini museum to the great Greg Herbold, complete with skin suit, Miyata frame, numerous print ads, and of course the Onza pedals:




After making a quick stop at Tomichi Cycles in Gunnison (another great shop), I spent the night at Crested Butte. CB during mud season must be experienced. I ate at the Eldo Brew Pub and rubbed elbows with the local crew. The scene actually reminded me a lot of Eichardt's up in Sandpoint.

Cinco de Mayo found me in Aspen where I called on several shops and caught up with my buddy Brad from Coeur d'Alene. After beers in the sun at the Ajax, we watched his chocolate lab James Brown piss on his truck tire then met some of his friends for dinner at a great restaurant called Elevations. Highly recommend this fine dining establishment - great menu and food, friendly service, and surprisingly affordable!



Begrudgingly I left Brad et al to head for Eagle, Minturn, Leadville, and Buena Vista the following day. Snowed like crazy driving through Leadville, home of the Leadville 100 where road phenom Lance has been owning the event the past few years. We'll see if Dave can put it to him this year.

I spent the night in Salida where I met a swell gal named Patricia, a Denver-ite in town rep'ing wine. We enjoyed a beer together, exchanged contact info, and have become good acquaintances. One of the great things of being on the road is all the people you meet.

Salida is a great little town that sits on the banks of the Arkansas River, is surrounded by big peaks and great trails, has a great bakery downtown, and several good watering holes, Benson's being probably the most organic feeling of them all; just look for the lineup of bicycles outside!

The trip ended in Colorado Springs where I met my friend Tom from Coeur d'Alene - he was in town planning his upcoming wedding. The Falcon Trail at the Air Force Academy rode really well on the single speed by the way, highly recommend.

The trip validated my suspicion that Boulder is by far from the coolest place in the state, and actually, the towns I came across helped to relegate the People's Republic to the position of one of my least favorite places here.

But, being on the road, seeing new sights, meeting new folks, and riding new trails is definitely a good way to earn a living!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Doma Coffee

So, my good friends at Doma Coffee (www.domacoffee.com) in Post Falls, Idaho are featuring a new bag design, pictured below. Amazing artwork done by a friend of Terry and Rebecca's, Chris Dreyer. And portions of the proceeds go to benefit a women's cycling club in Coeur d'Alene, which is very active and introduces lots of ladies to the wonderful world of bicycles.

As for the coffee, well...I can't say enough about the amazing flavors, consistent quality, and sustainable and equitable way in which these coffees are grown, brought to market, roasted, and delivered.

All bike riders should be drinking Doma Coffee!!!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

New Cateye Altimeter Computer!


So Cateye has a new altimeter computer that should now be available at your local bike shop (please support your LBS - the internet can't tune your bike or help you install your new computer!).  

I've been playing around with my demo sample, and it's so cool to be able to look down and quickly see your current elevation, the temperature, your total gain, the percent grade you're on, not to mention your speed, countdown distance, etc.

The Adventure (its official handle) utilizes digitally wireless encoded transmission for reliable communication between sensor and head unit, and also features the ClickTec feature found on the Strada line; groovy as the entire computer body functions as the mode button - easy to work as you're riding along.

Initial impression are very good, and I'll update as my time and experience with the Adventure grow.  As you may already be aware of, I work for Cateye but try to remain as objective as possible.  

Mountain Respite

OK, so a small(er) town Idaho boy might feel a bit like a fish out of water in a thriving, culturally-astute mini-opolis such as Boulder.  I mean, I've seen guys wearing Dansko clogs with Carhartt double-knee work dungarees here for pete's sake!  And don't even mention the guy driving his $110K Bentley through 12" of fresh in town.  It's a bit different than what I'm used to; not saying this is a bad thing - quite the contrary, being exposed to culture that transcends flannel, death metal, dirt bikes, and funnel cakes is actually doing me a world of good.  And I won't even mention how many beautiful women I see on a daily basis (ooops!).  

However, every once in a while it's nice to have a respite from all the hustle, be among some folks who take life one day at a time, and see more pine trees than yucca plants.  Enter Nederland.  This is a great mountain town about 2o miles west of Boulder with a vibe of a somewhat-cooler Sandpoint.

A particular bright spot in Ned (as it's locally referred to) is a little coffee shop (that conveniently also sells beer, burritos, and bike tires - no kidding) called Happy Trails.  Swell place, great staff, can't wait to go for one of their Sunday mountain rides once the snow melts.  Took this pic while enjoying a beer and some Thoreau:


BTW, the Left Hand Sawtooth Ale (what else is a displaced Idaho boy to drink?) was splendid, as was the black bean burrito.  Word to the wise:  consuming beans at 8,236 feet above sea level won't make you the most popular person on the car ride back home.

In any case, highly recommend a trip to Ned and The Happy Trails Cafe if you're ever in the area!

Move to Boulder

Well, perhaps I need to change the title of my blog as I'm now living in Boulder, Colorado.  I had to move here for my new job, and I must admit, it feels strange living east of the Continental Divide and out of the northwest.  

I haven't quite adjusted to not being able to buy beer and wine at the grocery store, pro-life edition license plates, and having audis, volvos, bmws, bentleys, and mercedeses outnumber fords and chevys on the roads.

The drive down was mostly uneventful with the exception of my Subaru hemorrhaging oil from many leaks.  Wasn't sure it would make it the 1,100 miles but it did, and is running like a champ for the time being.  Had some oddly beautiful grey skies in Montana near Anaconda:

Spent the night in Billings, apparently Montana's fasting growing city.  Not necessarily my kind of town, saw several oil refineries within city limits.  Had a feel of pseudo-old oil money about the place, but folks were mostly friendly.

I stopped in Sheridan, Wyoming the second day as my step-mom's father was born there and she had never seen it so grabbed some pictures of main street for her, and a cup of mud for the road.  Great little coffee shop, believe the only one in town, that brews drip by using filter paper and a spout.  Even spied this bike shop, encouraging for a tumbleweed kind of town in the middle of Wyoming:


Made it to Boulder, and after waiting for the snow to melt from several significant storms, was finally able to hit some singletrack.  My first venture was to an area near Lyons called Hall Ranch which features a decent section of rock garden and some good flowing track.

Closer to Boulder is Heil Ranch, good riding for after work:


Barely visible in the above picture are the Flatirons.  I also made the trip down to Pueblo to ride out at Pueblo Lake State Park South Shore - certainly worth the drive!  You can ride either sinewy singletrack through the sage and cactus, or go hit the 'canyons' and get your technical riding skills going.  Really fun in the canyons, lots of shale, rock slabs, a few wooden bridges, but you had better be paying attention or have to deal with some reconstructive  dental work.  An overview of the area from the parking lot:


Sorry if this entry seems a bit anecdotal but not feeling terribly literal right now, and mainly wanted to get a post up as it's been some time, and felt the need to document recent exploits.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Thoreau

I've been reading some of Henry David Thoreau's essays as of late, and I came across this passage in one of them, 'Walking', that I'd like to share here:

"We had a remarkable sunset one day last November.  I was walking in a meadow, the source of a small brook, when the sun at last, just before setting, after a cold gray day, reached a clear stratum in the horizon, and the softest, brightest morning sunlight fell on the dry grass and on the stems of the trees in the opposite horizon, and on the leaves of the shrub-oaks on the hill-side, while our shadows stretched long over the meadow eastward, as if we were the only motes in its beams.  It was such a light as we could not have imagined a moment before, and the air also was so warm and serene that nothing was wanting to make a paradise of that meadow.  When we reflected that this was not a solitary phenomenon, never to happen again, but that it would happen forever and ever an infinite number of evenings, and cheer and reassure the latest child that walked there, it was more glorious still."

This passage strikes me for a number of reasons.  First, it reminds me of a brief moment last evening as I was outside cleaning my bicycle; the setting sun poked through that 'clear stratum' for only a moment, warming and calming the air I was sharing with the trees in my yard.  

It also evokes many similar memories that I, and I'm sure many of you, have of those perfect fleeting moments throughout my life - that first ride of the season on perfect singletrack, that early morning run down an untracked ski hill, that last cast of the day to a stubborn rainbow trout rising to everything but my fly, the  warming rays of a rising sun after a frigid night sleeping under the stars. Those sacred symbiotic moments that keep us recreating in the wild, an almost tangible connection to natural world around us, as if It allows us temporary membership to the Club.

More striking is the permanence of our existence it assigns to my psyche, knowing that moments like these were experienced and appreciated long before I came into being and will be relished long after I am gone.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ketchum Riding, Summer 2008

OK, not real timely but who cares, riding pics are riding pics regardless.....right?  Anyhow, I was fortunate enough to work a temporary job in Ketchum during the summer of 2008, working for an environmental non-profit group as a recycling coordinator.  This afforded me the opportunity to experience some of the valley's great riding.  

The singletrack in this area is amazing; one minute you're buzzing through a grove of aspens, the next you're ripping across a sagebrush meadow, back into the pines, long grind up, then top out for spectacular views of the surrounding mountain ranges.

I lucked out as the summer of '08 saw an amazing wildflower bloom - the hills were covered in the yellows of arrowleaf balsam root and the purples, lavenders, and white of lupines.  


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Cycling Industry Job!

I apologize for the inactivity here, still w/o a camera but soon to be remedied.  At last, I finally found a new job, I'll be the U.S. Technical Representative for Cateye, the bike computer and light company based in Osaka, Japan.  I will be responsible for visiting with bike shops and distributors throughout the United States, traveling around by car....with bike in tow!  So, hopefully the coming year will see lots of riding of trails I've long wished to ride, and I'll be sure to keep this blog updated with all the juicy details!