Milan-San Remo Road Cycling Race

The Milan to San Remo Road Cycling Race takes place tomorrow March 19 in Italy. I have been reading about different editions of the race today at milansanremo.co.uk. This thing is a monster of a race as it is the longest of the five “Spring Classics” at 285km or 177 miles. The fastest average speed for that distance was 28.46mi/hr or 45.8km/hr in 1990.  DrunkCyclist.com has an interesting post up about the first British winner, Tom Simpson, where I found the link to the race history website above. My favorite story of the ones on the site is about the 1910 Milan-San Remo that was won by Eugenio Christophe. What a bunch of crazy bastards.

From milansanremo.co.uk - copyright La Gazetta della Sport

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Ride From Town

This is one of the loops that I want to do this summer on the mountain bike. Being able to do a ride from town is always better than driving to the trailhead in my opinion, and it can make for a great, all day adventure.

Continental Divide Trail from town

Ride from Satchel’s house down the bike path to the east side of town until you hit Hwy 40.

Take Hwy 40 to County Road 199 (Up the west side of Rabbit Ears Pass)

Take a left onto Co Rd 199 to Dumont Lake, ride past the lake/campground to the singletrack

Follow the singletrack for hours until you get to Buffalo Pass Rd

Ride down Buffalo Pass Rd towards Steamboat until you hit the Grouse Ridge trailhead

Ride down Grouse Ridge to Dry Lake Campground then cross the road to Spring Creek trailhead

Ride down Spring Creek back in to town and eat at the Double Z

Or something like that

That would be awesome.

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Keeping the Cycling in the Balance

So the other day I am thinking “Hey, the weather is getting nicer and I can’t wait to start riding more.” I start to think of all the different rides that I will be doing to help cure my Vitamin D deficiency and once again unite myself with the flow of the Universe. I love the after work rides along the bike path for their routine and solitude; I love the weekend road bike excursions out of Boulder into the mountains for their beauty, difficulty and solitude; and I really love the long, weekend trail rides for their twisting singletrack, adventure and solitude.

Dreamy.

As I think about these rides I begin to notice a theme. Solitude is great and I am good at entertaining myself, but as a member of the human species I am a social creature, and this is really evident when I have done too many rides by myself. I do get in some great rides with my friends and my wife that are the highlight of all my cycling experiences. What I find myself searching for are rides that balance my desire to get exercise-pushing hard enough to clear thoughts out of my brain and find the quiet place-and the need to share that experience with someone else, even a complete stranger. No need for deep conversation to share the fact that I am totally whooped because it is pretty obvious that I am not in the group anymore, and nothing totally whoops me like trying to keep up with someone who is faster than me. In the search for this balance, I came across the RMCC website, and my friend PriMo was kind enough to hold my hand on my first group ride in 12 years. Thanks, PriMo! For the time being these group rides may have ended my search for the elusive exercise/social balance, but I’ve only been on two rides. I am excited to get more rides in with this group and see if I can ride a lot without getting burned out. Maybe I will even get better and faster than the Wildenbeast!

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Jumping The Gun…Again

We have had some fairly warm weather this past week here in Denver and as usual I am getting overexcited about riding my mountain bike. I am so excited about riding my mountain bike that I have resorted to riding my road bike. I spent the week dreaming about trails without snow so I could shred tread on Saturday. Specifically, I wanted to ride Buffalo Creek. Buffalo Creek is fairly high up in the Pike National Forest and obviously does not have the same weather as Denver, but in my experience it usually stays pretty ridable all year. I went up there a couple months ago in January, and I was able to ride most of the Buck Gulch Trail, but at the top the snowy sections were too deep and long making riding difficult to impossible. Yesterday, I tried to get ahold of someone at Pine Valley Ranch Open Space and ended up talking to Carolyn (sp?) at the main Jeffco Open Space office. She broke the terrible news to me that most of the open space parks at higher elevations were still pretty snowbound. Normally, I would have to go and check this for myself, but I resolved to wait it out just a little while longer so that the first ride out there would actually be more of a ride and less of a walk. I will keep checking in, but for now I will have to stick to the roads. What a life.

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Denver to Lookout Mtn-The Short Version

Saturday was another great, early spring day here in Denver. I had decided that I would ride no matter the weather in an effort to show my support to the professional cyclists that were riding the first spring classic of the year, Omloop Het Nieuwsbald and a video. Since my legs are unshaven, I could only ride 47 miles to the pro’s 126. It was also sunny and 50 deg F here, while in Belgium it was raining and  43 deg F. So, I lucked out. I decided to do the standard ride out to Golden from Denver and back, climbing Lookout Mtn in the middle. I call this the short version, not only because it is short compared to the Omloop and what other front range cyclists can do, but also because I take the streets all the way as opposed to the bike path which adds 15-20 miles to the ride. From the REI down on Platte St, this ride is around 44 miles. It trends up to the base of Lookout Mountain in Golden, then shoots up nearly 2000ft in about 5 miles from downtown/Coors. I have found that the climb becomes generally less steep as you go up. There is a little (2 milesish) loop if you ride past Buffalo Bill’s grave and take the next right to the Lookout Mtn Nature Center. The climb up Lookout Mtn is probably the closest, easily accessible, decent-sized climb (for road bikes) in the Denver area. Downtown Golden is a nice little area as well with multiple bike shops and food options. I will usually stop at the Windy Saddle cafe and grab a slice of quiche and/or a cinnamon roll to give me the legs to get home. Door to door, this took me about 3.5 hours. My version of directions from REI are below.

1. Take 15th St. west over I-25 and curve left onto 29th.

2. Take a left on Zuni and cross over Speer Blvd.

3. After crossing over Speer, go half a block and take a hard 90 deg curve to the right. This is 26th.

4. Go west on 26th, jog to the right, then left, as it turns into 27th (no other option really). 27th runs into Youngsfield.

5. Take a right on Youngsfield.

6. Take a left onto 32nd at the light and go under I-70.

7. Take 32nd past Coors Brewing into downtown Golden. 32nd becomes 13th as it passes Coors.

8. Take a left onto Ford then curve to the right onto Jackson (Ford and Jackson become one way)

9. Take a right onto 19th. This takes you out of downtown and up to Hwy 6. Go across Hwy 6 on 19th. As this curves to the left it becomes Lookout Mtn Road and you’re off!

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If You Were Stranded on a Deserted Island, and You Could Only Have One Gear…

Which one would you take? This is an intrinsically difficult question to answer as the answer in this case (eternity, or until you die) will continously change depending on any given set of parameters. I have found that it is much easier to choose the one kind of food I would take to a deserted island to eat for the rest of my life (Samosas, of course. Or maybe vietnamese egg rolls.) than to choose the one, do-it-all gear I want to have on the singlespeed mountain bike. The decision is reliant on an infinite number of contradicting variables, and like so many other cycling related issues, totally and completely subjective. I have listed some things that could be taken into consideration when choosing the appropriate gear. 1. What are the specific qualities of the trail(s) that you are planning on riding? This includes things like the degree and level of the technical sections, the amount of climbing/descending, the length, and how much paved road is involved. 2. What is your level of personal fitness at the time of gear selection? Consider whether or not using a hard gear will help you gain fitness or help you walk more. 3. What is the wheel size on your bicycle? 4. What gear is your riding buddy using? Yours will need to be harder. Historically, I have tended to go with a theoretically easier gear in general on both the 26er and 29er. It didn’t make much sense to force myself to walk up everything. I have recently been thinking I should start to gear up and see what happens. Sure it will be harder to ride up hills, but I would really like to have a little higher top speed on the rollers, flats, and road. And hard gears make hard men. Out of desperation to make the Bianchi Grizzly rideable (as described here), I threw an 18 tooth cog on and hoped for the best. I’m not sure what is going on, but this gear doesn’t feel any harder than the 32/20 that was previously on the same bike. I guess I will stick with it. I am also thinking that I should drop a tooth or two on the 29er since it seems to work fine on the 26er. I can always switch back if I don’t have the legs. I am listing below the gears that I have experience riding which may give someone else a reference point to start from.

26er – 32×20 (pretty doable, only have to walk sections that I couldn’t ride with gears anyway), 32×18 (same as 32×20) (Side Note: the wife is riding a 34×21, and she gets up pretty much everything)

29er – 33×21 (pretty doable, only have to walk sections that I couldn’t ride with gears anyway), 32×21 (same as 33×21), I am going to try the 32×20 on the 29er this summer.

I don’t really know what this does, but this is a link to a gear calculator that will tell you stuff about your gear inches.

Technically speaking, I have used and am using a variation of rings and cogs for singlespeeding. On the Grizzly, I am using a standard middle chainring from a triple crankset and a cheap, pressed steel, singlespeed cog like the kind that come from singlespeed kits. “They” say that these cheap steel rings will dig into your cassette body leaving indentations since the cog is narrow and harder than the aluminum cassette body. That has not happened to me so far. On the Niner, I’m all official with a Surly Stainless chainring and a Surly widebody cog. While out on my first ride with the Surly chainring, I was riding over a log pile and stopped on the top log, teetering precariously with the only point of contact being the chain-wrapped chainring. After a split second of tottering, I kept pedaling only to realize a minute later that the manuever had resulted in 4 teeth on the ring bending out about 30 degrees. I was able to finish the ride, and bent the teeth back when I got home. I was suprised that the teeth would bend that easily, but it has worked perfectly ever since.

In the end though, we are talking about singlespeeding and having fun so the whole point is to ride what you can with what you got, no excuses. The debate I outlined above is really a moot point. Personally, I intend to harden up and crush the gear that I have and try to make it look easy so people with gears feel ridiculous when we end up on the island with only one gear.

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Super Gold Hill Ride

Wooohoooo! What an awesome ride to begin washing away my winter blues. My attitude during the winter is like my attitude during a backpacking trip. You feel gross, but you’re having a good time doing this and that in the great outdoors, you know you’ll have a sweet, sweet shower when you get home, and so you deal with being smelly and disgusting and ready to be done with it. I also make believe that I am an indigenous Siberian which means that I have evolved the ability to drink copious amounts of alcohol during the winter to survive the brutality of it. Back to the ride I did yesterday, I call it Super as a joke, because I rode out of Boulder, but I started by riding downtown to the bus in Denver. It feels really nice leaving my house in Denver knowing I will have a long day in the saddle in another town, and all I have is what I can carry in my jersey pockets. No one on the bus has any idea or would consider that I will be riding my bike up into the mountains for 4 hours. I don’t take that for granted either, what a blessing. I haven’t been riding much so I took it slow, stopping when I felt like I needed to eat and drink. I highly recommend stopping at the The General Store and Cafe in Gold Hill for some super delicious home-baked goodies and a shot of finger and toe warming espresso. It’ll make you feel all euro like Fausto. They take credit cards with a $5 limit. On this particular ride, I grabbed a baby head-sized blueberry muffin and a choco-chip oatmeal cookie as big as my face. It took me 6.5 hours door to door, and I wasn’t completely trashed.

43 miles total, 12 or so miles of dirt

 The route I took was this: Sunshine Canyon Dr to Poorman; Poorman to Fourmile Canyon(dirt); Fourmile Canyon to Gold Run; Gold Run to Gold Hill (dirt); Gold Hill to the Peak to Peak Hwy(dirt); the Peak to Peak Hwy to Utica St/Lefthand Canyon (Ward); Lefthand Canyon to Lee Hill; Lee Hill to Broadway; Broadway to downtown Boulder.

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