Friday, June 29, 2012

Xterra/USDAA photos/video

Some funny pictures of me on my bike at Xterra Curt Gowdy.  I particularly like this one because I'm on my bike riding up the hill and the guy behind me is walking his bike.  But I'm sure in the end he passed me.  I like this one too but probably won't buy any because sheesh $15 for a 5x7 and I can't even tell if it's that good from the thumbnail.

And here's a great video showing the course.  The bike course starts at about 4:00 minutes in.  Though be careful watching this because you may want to do an Xterra by the end of it.

There were some great pix of Strummy from the Black Forest USDAA trial as well.  I love the focused look on his face in this one.  But this chute photo is great too.  I don't have very many agility photos of Strum so between this trial and the last one I want to get a few but can't quite decide.

Hardly got any training done this week, was focused on work and also so tired still from the race.  But I finally feel my legs coming back so I'll hit the hills on my bike tomorrow.  Provided no more of them start on fire.  The fire in Boulder as well as the High Park fire in Fort Collins are supposed to be contained tomorrow but Waldo Canyon has a ways to go and now there's a new one east of Grand Junction.  It's hundreds of miles away but if it gets big enough we could get smoke from it.  Can't wait to get up in the mountains tomorrow and escape the summer heat.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rocking Curt Gowdy

Xterra Curt Gowdy
1200 meters/1312 yards Swim
14.1 mile mountain bike
5.4 mile trail run
6700-8000 ft. elevation

'Kick Curt Gowdy's Ass', Jonny sleepily tells me as I leave for my race.  I said I would but I admit that I wasn't feeling it.  Between the prediction for a high of 90 degrees and a feeling of being unprepared for the bike, I briefly thought about bagging it.  But I had blinked awake without my alarm at 4:19 a.m. and was not going to fall back to sleep anyway so I dragged my butt out of bed, loaded the zillions of water and ice and food for before, during and after the race into the car and started the nearly 2 hour drive up to Wyoming.

The smoke in Longmont and towns north of Longmont was thick.  The mountains had disappeared in the haze and it was settled into the landscape like a thick fog.  Breathing it in was awful and I wondered how I would ever get the smell out of my car.  But once I got north of Fort Collins the air cleared, the mountains reappeared and you would never know there was a fire.  Thankfully Curt Gowdy was not getting smoke from the fire even though it's only about 35 miles away.

I thought I was going to get to the race not too early, not too late but it turns out the Xterra crowd is pretty laid back and I was one of the early birds.  Got a good spot in transition but had too much down time sitting around.  But there are worse places to sit around and wait for a race to start.

As I listened to the race director's pre-race talk I admit that I felt some doubts start to bubble.  He was going on about all the medical support on hand complete with ATV for the bad crashes.  He said that like it was a certainty.  Then he talked about the 'beast' of a climb out of the Canyons at the end of the bike which was the one part of the course I missed out when I pre-rode it.  Water temp. was 62-63 degrees which is cold for me but the air temp. at 9:00 a.m. was already too hot.  Standing on the beach waiting for my wave to start and cooking in my wetsuit I told my inner Goldilocks to HTFU.  Then I got in the water to warm up, felt the biting cold water on my face and the feeling of my breath being knocked out of me and decided this was stupid, I was getting out and going home.  It would be so easy to get out now while I could.  Then I swam a little and once my heart rate came down and I got used to the cold I was fine.  Got back out since my wave wasn't for a while and decided I was going to do this thing.  The whole thing.  No wimping out and DNF'ing before the run or bail out point on the bike. 

So I decided to banish the doubts I had and closed my eyes and did some self-hypnosis stuff.  When I
opened my eyes I saw a woman who looked like she must have been the oldest woman there, like she was the oldest woman I'd ever seen at an Xterra.  She had a pleasant look on her face so I smiled at her and she starting chatting with me.  Turns out she's done all kinds of Xterra's, been to Nationals in Utah and Worlds in Hawaii as well as the Mountain Championships we have in Colorado.  She just moved here from Florida where she claims they have the most technical bike course for one of their races.  She was going on about how fun this race or that race was.  Her joy for the sport was infectious and I immediately felt better as well as inspired.  She had pre-ridden the course and said she planned on walking the whole part of the Canyons climb, too steep and technical to even attempt so I felt a bit of pressure taken off right there knowing someone with good technical skills was going to walk it.  Such a neat woman, I hope I'm still doing crazy off-road triathlons with technical bike courses like Curt Gowdy when I'm 62.

The Start

By the time my wave lined up in the water I was back in attack mode, ready to take on the day, no more doubts.  And I did.  Swim went great, even with holding back and keeping an easy pace I managed a 1:52/100 yard pace for 1200 meters/1312 yards which is good for me.  The swim course looked so small because it was two 600 meter laps with a very short, couple of steps run on the beach in between.  I'm used to doing a bigger 1000 meter loop at masters so this was a piece of cake.

The Swim

Took some time in transition to put on socks and gloves.  I got terrible blisters the last time I did an off-road tri sockless and the gloves were a luxury I felt I deserved given the tough bike course.  Well worth the extra few seconds.

The bike was awesome.  I was able to ride so much more stuff than I rode a few weeks ago.  It felt like the fun, flowing course I initially thought I was signing up for.  And the other racers were great, I had no trouble passing or letting people pass me and everybody was so friendly and supportive and so happy to be out there.  One guy with a big grin on his face passed me and said, 'What an awesome trail, isn't it?'  and I had to agree.  There were places still that I had to get off.  Steep climbs that I didn't feel like fighting as well as the technical parts on Mo' Rocka.

The Bike

But this time around it seemed like the smooth single track went on forever because I didn't have to get off at every single rock or drop-off.

I know I posted these photos already but I want to have them in my race report.

I guess I wasn't as unprepared as I thought I was.  Also watching other people ride stuff gives me the confidence to ride it.  For the second half of the race I ended up changing places back and forth with a 51 year old woman.  I thought how cool that she's doing races like this at 51 then got a jolt when I realized that I'm only 3 years away.  We encouraged each other along and it was nice to have company on the hike up the Canyons trail.  I'm very glad I missed that part out in my pre-ride because if I had known about it ahead of time I'm not so sure I would have come back. 

In the end I finished the bike portion in about 2 hours 3 minutes compared to the 2 hours 5 minutes it took me to ride the shorter course when I pre-rode it and left off the last 2.4 miles including that long steep climb out of the Canyons.  And I felt way better this time around, not that same exhausted, mentally drained way.  I was tired, I'll admit that but not discouraged.  (My official bike finish time was 2:12 because my cyclometer doesn't record time when I'm stopped so I lost 9 minutes or so stopping to let other people pass and getting off and on my bike.  But I want to compare apples to apples.)

The course deals a cruel blow in that you have to run through the finish area to get to the uphill single track to start the run.  The very same single track I did on the bike.  Plus I had to run past my car and I had my key on me.  But I wasn't the least bit tempted.  I shuffled along at a painfully slow pace but I got back on that single track and told myself my race was only just starting and I repeated the process every time I ticked off a mile.  With 3.4 miles to go I told myself I was starting a long 5k.  With 2.4 miles to go I was starting a short morning run with the dogs around the lake, etc.  The course was much hillier and more challenging than my typical, flat-ish run around the lake but I told myself it anyway.  The course is my favorite kind of run course, rolling and none of the climbs too long.  There were a few places that were so steep that it made more sense to power hike them but they were short.  Such a fun run course, wish there were more trails around me like this.

At the start of the run I was thinking I could break 4 hours, a much better finish than my anticipated 4 1/2 hours but as I passed the 5 mile marker I knew it wasn't meant to be and in the end I finished in 4:04:55.  But it was o.k., I was just so happy to finish and to have had such a fun race.

The Finish

I did a good job of drinking water and taking in gels.  Thankfully some cloud cover and a slight breeze blew in just as I hit the exposed part of the bike course.  The cloud cover stayed through the run and this made a huge difference to the day.  It was warm but not unbearable because the sun wasn't beating down.  The race director added some aid stations due to the heat and that helped a lot.  There was plenty of water and the volunteers were happy to throw cups of it on me.

There was no pizza left at the finish line but I had brought plenty of my own food in anticipation of the food being either gone or non-vegetarian.  I had to hike almost a mile back to the transition area to get my bike and gear then ride the mile back to my car so it took a while to get out of there.  Didn't get home until nearly 5:30.

Going forward the biggest area for improvement is the run.  I was still so painfully slow despite doing way more running than last year.  I'm going to start hitting the track at least once a week and continue with the hill workouts.  My next race is the Mountain Championships in Beaver Creek in 3 weeks.  This is kind of like agility Regionals except you don't have to qualify.  The race is a bit longer and more challenging than a typical Xterra and you get more points for a given placement.  The good news is that I don't think the bike course is nearly as technical.  It has a lot of climbing though and some very long sustained climbs and a net elevation gain since it's a point to point race.  I think the run also has a lot of climbing and a net elevation gain so I'll be hitting those hills the next few weeks.

I'm still a bit tired today but the only muscles that are significantly sore are the muscles on my back just behind the lower part of my armpits, my lats maybe?  They're sore from all the turning and braking that I did on the bike.  I'm hoping to get back to training tomorrow though.  We've been having a terrible heat wave, triple digit heat for the past 5 days including today so it's not a good day to be out anyway.  Poor dogs, they get a nice walk early in the a.m. but not much else I can do with them after that and agility practice is out of the question outside of a few quick weave pole entries in the backyard.

Here are the final numbers.  I was not DFL.  There were 9 DNF's and 2 DQ's.  One guy had a crash that exposed 6" of his shin bone yet he seemed to have a good attitude about it though he did not finish.  I passed woman walking on the run and she had some cuts on her back.  They didn't look that bad but I saw her seeking medical attention at the finish line and it sounded like she had cactus spines in the cut.  Ouch.  There were a lot of cacti out there, many of them blooming.  So pretty but not if you land in them.  I saw a lot of guys on the side of the trail with mechanical problems and a few carrying their bikes back to the finish area.  Didn't see or hear about any other injuries.

Overall had a great time.  I think Curt Gowdy and I will meet again next year.


Swim (1200 meters/1312 yards):  24:36 mins. (1:52/100 yards), 5/5 in age group, 142/191 overall

T1:  3:37 (wore socks and gloves)

Mountain Bike (14.1 miles):  2:12:45 (hours:mins:secs), 5.5 mph, 5/5 age group, 168/191 overall

T2:  1:53

Trail Run (5.4 miles):  1:22:06, 16:26/mile (winner of age group was 11:46), 5/5 age group,    168/191 overall

Finish:  4:04:55, 5/5 age group, 46/59 women, 165/191 overall

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Agility Trial or Tour de Fire?

This sums up the day we've had in Colorado.

This is a view from the trial site in Black Forest, just east of Colorado Springs.  You should be able to see Pikes Peak on a normal day.  But unfortunately this was not a normal day.  I took this at about 1:00 p.m. just before I left for home.

Another view very near the trial site.

The light is green but it had only just turned as I snapped the photo.  I was at a dead stop as were the cars in front of me as you can see from the brake lights.

I thought this looked awfully close to be the Springer Fire and sure enough when I got home I found out a new fire is burning, dubbed the Waldo Canyon Fire.  Garden of the Gods is closed due to that one.

There's also a fire burning up in Estes Park and the main entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park is closed due to that one.

And driving into Boulder I was surprised to see that the High Park Fire west of Fort Collins, about 35 miles away as the crow flies, was looking positively apocalyptic.

Doesn't look like they're having a good day up there.  It's 102 degrees right now in Boulder.  I got out of my car and felt like I was stepping into an oven.

The heat at the trial wasn't too bad for my runs.  I was done by noon and I'm guessing it was in the high 80's for my last run.  There was a hose so Strummer was happy and it wasn't too bad in the shade with a nice breeze going.  But I could feel the heat turning brutal when I left.

Strum only got a Q in Starters Gamblers, the only one I didn't care that much about but it does give us our title.  I'm happy to be in Advanced in anything at this point.  Standard run was really nice but blew his dogwalk.  Grand Prix was kind of a mess on paper though it felt like a decent run somehow.  Strum was listening nicely, behaving mostly pretty well at the trial site.  There were 2 rings running at the same time and thankfully they put up some gating along one side but it was possible to run around the edges to get into the other ring.  I thought this was some good practice actually but we only had 2 rings running at once for Strum's Grand Prix run.  He had no problem at all but both the A-frame and dogwalk were facing away from the other ring so he never got a really good look at the other ring.  Still, very encouraging.  I did some extra credit work on keeping him calm at ringside, ie I worked with him while we weren't waiting our turn, and he did great.  Silly nutcase has come such a long way.  He seemed so happy too, despite the heat.  He loves playing in that stupid hose, probably more than agility.  I didn't even give him treats after his run, he wanted to pull me full speed ahead to his hose.

His 2 dogwalks were atrocious and he had one naughty teeter that the judge didn't call though his weave entries were much improved.  He did miss an entry in Grand Prix but this was likely due to confusion after the dogwalk.

Still have 3 more chances for that final elusive Grand Prix Q though I am questioning whether I should bother to spend the money at Nat's. with such a low Q rate in it.

Decided to enter another Team event in August even though we have our Q.  I want to get more practice on Team courses before Nat's. so getting out of Starters will have to take a back seat.

I was taking a picture of our little secret forest hideaway set-up when a woman came by and offered to take our picture.

Doesn't get much more Crazy Dog Lady then this.

Strummer looks thrilled.

Cleared the car out for round 2 as soon as I pulled into the garage.  And just to add to the chaos of the day, as I was dragging in huge armfuls of crap from the car, Jonny let Lola out to say hi to Strummer and me and she discovered the baby birds had been kicked out of the nest and were conveniently scattered throughout the yard.  Thankfully they took cover under the teeter and various other hiding places and we quickly herded her inside.  Then 10 minutes later I forgot all about it and let her out again on my way to the garage for another load.  As I was gathering more armfuls of stuff I heard a huge commotion of angry bird cheeping and wings flapping and realizing my mistake I ran to get her in the house once again.  Thankfully they all escaped again though one almost got caught in some wire fencing I have around my deck.  Hopefully these will not be Boulder trust funder birds and live at home off their parents forever and they'll move on to independent self-sufficiency somewhere else.

Trial Stats

Starters Gamblers Q, 1st place

Starters Gamblers Title

Dogwalks:  0/2 (0%) 

A-frames:  3/4 (75%)

Weave entries:  2/3 (67%)   didn't pop out at all

Knocked bars:  1 in Grand Prix, grass was dead and slippery

Teeters:  3/3 (100%) though one was naughty

Table: 1/1 (100%)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wheels Up

I'm not sure which is worse, packing up all the gear for an outdoor, hot weather agility trial or a hot weather, off-road triathlon.  So imagine my joy at getting to pack up for both in one weekend.  The packing and getting to the venue and setting up part is always the most stressful part, I love the competition part once I'm there and set up.  And I don't mind the setting up part for triathlon, much easier than for dog agility.  Rack bike, put towel on ground, put as little amount of gear as possible to complete race on towel in order events are run, done in 5 minutes or less, maybe 10 if a rack hog shows up in the process and I have to shuffle things around a little.  Some people have to get to the transition area right when it opens, even if this is 5 am and the race doesn't start until 8.  I'm not sure what those folks do that takes so long but I guess we all have our race day rituals.  Setting up crates and EZ ups and clipping all the zillions of clips to the shade cloths and pounding in tent stakes, now that is a production.  Even so, 20 minutes, maybe 25 if I'm tired and the coffee hasn't hit my veins yet and I have to dig through the gear bag to find the rubber mallet and the parking lot is far away.

We gets to do agility??!!

It's supposed to be hot in Black Forest tomorrow, high of 93 or some such nonsense.  I only signed up for 3 runs so hopefully those will be done before it gets too brutally hot.  I didn't sign up for the 'later in the day' runs but who knows what they might do to the schedule because they had to add a second ring last minute and hadn't quite figured out the running order.  I'm also hoping the smoke isn't too bad down there.

I've got a shot at my 2nd Grand Prix Q for Nationals and if I could have one Q it would be that one. Though I wouldn't turn down a Standard Q which would get us out of Starters, at least in Standard.

We've been practicing but not a lot due to the heat we've been having and my shift to focus on triathlon season training.  Been working on those weave pole entries in the back yard, quick little sessions, and I'm seeing some improvement.  Dogwalks have been looking awesome these days the few times I get out to the practice field.  Been practicing some more challenging turns/discriminations after the dogwalk.  Fun but we can only do a few reps in the heat before poor Strum's tongue is down to his ankles.  Wish I had somewhere that I could go to early, the field doesn't open until 8:30 and by that time it's too hot.

As for my race, I'm feeling better about the bike course though I know it'll be a long day.  The race is run in waves so there isn't congestion on the course and the waves are arranged by biking ability since this is the place where clogging will be a problem.  I was put in wave 5 of 7 waves and knew I had to switch to a slower wave but whether to go to 6 or 7, I couldn't decide.  I didn't want to be in too fast of a wave and contribute to congestion but I also didn't like the idea of being in the last wave with rank beginners and people who might be walking even more than me.  In the end I opted for wave 6.  This way I'll push myself and I tend to have more confidence in my own riding abilities when I'm riding with other confident riders.

My goal for the race is to finish.  There are opportunities to bail on the bike course and I don't want to do that.  It's supposed to be hot as well, high of 89, so the strategy for the race will be to keep to a reasonable, steady pace for all 3 events so I don't blow up and to drink plenty of water, keep up with food and electrolytes.  The race director added some more aid stations due to the predicted heat but I'm going to bring my own water on the run anyway.  And this will be the motto for the day:

I'm also going to make sure to drink plenty of water at the agility trial.  Running around in 90 degree heat the day before a race is not ideal so I'll have to take extra care at least to eat and drink properly.

Ah well, got the dog crap packed up, better move on to the race gear.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Who Doesn't Love a Good Vet Drama?

You know you've reached the point of no return in your weirdo life when you find yourself in the reception area at the vet talking to a complete stranger about her cat's anal glands.  Poor cat, he was not in for a fun day at the vet.

For me it all started as most of these things do at 1:30 in the morning.  I don't know why these dogs can't keep business hours.  Anyway, I woke up Tuesday night to the sound of Cody reverse sneezing and gasping for breath.  The reverse sneezing is something he does on occasion so I wasn't too concerned about that but the gasping for breath?  Kind of scary.  I noticed a strong smell of smoke so I went outside to see if a new fire had started nearby.  Ash was falling but no sign of a new fire.  Weird because the winds were calm, temps. cool and it was even a bit humid.  If anything the High Park Fire should have been calmer than normal and so far we hadn't experienced smoke that bad in Boulder, at least not in my neighborhood.  I turned on the swamp cooler and stuck it near his bed and once I finally got him to settle in front of it he was fine.  Until the vomiting started a couple hours later.  I figured he was just sick from the smoke and didn't think much of it but in the morning his back legs were so weak, he could barely support himself.  He's got weakness and arthritis in his rear legs/back but this was a huge downturn.  I called the vet to see if she could take a look at him and maybe prescribe some Rimadyl or something.  I'm not a big fan of drugs but he looked so bad and I didn't like the idea of him being in that kind of pain.  Couldn't get in until Friday night and even then I'd have to see a different vet than his regular one.

I'll spare you the rest of the details but the next day and night there was vomit.  Too much.  So I called the vet first thing this morning and pleaded my case and thankfully she squeezed me in.  Who could refuse sweet old Cody?

I'd already been to the Rez for crack of dawn masters and swum 2000 meters and walked Lola all without having very much food but I didn't have time to make breakfast before scrambling off to the vet.   I was feeling a bit light headed, stomach achy already and I had barely sat down in the vet's exam room when Cody starts to squat.  Normally he's such a good dog, I don't think he's ever had an accident in the house in the 13 years we've had him.  He's mortified at the very thought of it.  So I knew he must really be sick.  The vet tech seemed quite pleased.  'Can't get a sample much fresher than this,' and she cheerily scooped up a bit in a plastic container then mopped up the mess.  I'm remembering my incident of passing out in the Chipotle and hoping I don't have a repeat performance.  The smell, people.  We opened all the doors in the exam room and I somehow managed to stay conscious.

Well Cody is just too smart for his own good because it turned out he did have a bacterial infection and the sample he provided was perfectly timed to diagnose his case.  He got some fluids, an antibiotic shot, an anti-nausea shot and some take-home drugs as well as a detailed recipe for a bland diet that he's supposed to have.  I stopped on the way home for his white rice, cottage cheese and chicken because while normal people probably have these staples, I do not.

When I got home I set about cooking food for both of us because it was nearly noon and remember I've expended way more calories than have gone in and who knows when I may finally pass out?  Cody is clever but like me he can't work a cell phone very well.  I don't do so well in the kitchen and trying to cook 4 things at once is usually how I end up starting fires but miraculously I got all the food prepared without setting off the fire alarms.  However the rice was a horrible mess of mush.  I felt bad about making Cody eat it until I realized that the reason he got into this mess in the first place was from eating some disgusting, inedible thing.  He had a bit of a hard time eating the sticky mess so I had to fluff it with a fork for him while he ate it.  Seriously.  Even I can see how this is maybe a little much.

But he looked so much better after he got some food and water into him.  His back legs were back to normal and so far we've been vomit free for 2 hours.  Phew.  Cody turns 14 next month and I was going to be pissed if he wasn't going to make it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


There's a nest of baby robins right outside my home office window.  I get to hear them peeping on and off all day when I'm home and sometimes I even see their little heads sticking up out of the nest.  So cute.  At least I thought they were cute but this is because I have poor eyesight.

Not so very cute up close and personal.

Lola can't wait for the day that they get shoved out of the nest.  She'll be waiting underneath with her mouth open.  I don't have a game plan for this day.  I was thinking of fencing off that part of the yard with some kennel panels but then I remembered the year of the Baby Bird Massacre.  I woke up one morning after a night of hurricane force winds to find a gruesome mosaic of baby birds splattered into my chain link kennel panels that separate back yard from front.  Given the strong winds we've been having I'm not excited about trying that experiment.  Also not excited about searching for baby birds in the grass every time I let Lola out.  I'm predicting that this is going to end badly.

Then there's the critter possibly with babies and possibly a racoon living under our deck.  Lola is already fenced off from that family of tasty treats and she's pissed off about it and not shy about letting me know her displeasure.   And the raccoon is not shy about letting me know his displeasure about me stomping on the roof of his house.  There's no pleasing Mother Nature sometimes.

Speaking of which, Strummer has a plea for her.  Some water, pretty please?

And Lola?  She can smell the baby birds from there.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Or, this is not your granny's Walker Ranch.  I blinked awake at 5:30 this morning, let the dogs out and decided not to drive up to Curt Gowdy for the organized pre-ride of the bike course.  Mostly because I didn't want to spend so much time driving but other reasons too including a prediction for 35-40 mph wind gusts by 11:00 a.m up in Cheyenne.  So I decided to grab some much needed sleep and ride locally.

My first though was Betasso but when I ran this past Jonny he vetoed it right away.  'Too easy'.  So he suggested Walker Ranch and I snorted because I've always thought it a bit over my head.  I rode the full loop many many years ago, before such niceties as suspension forks let alone full suspension mountain bikes.  I was younger and stupider too, in my 30's, maybe even in my 20's.  I remember riding it but not particularly enjoying it and that was the end of that.  But I need to practice more technical stuff for my upcoming race so I did my penance at Walker.

There are some nice views.

I was struggling on some very steep uphill climbs, mad at myself for not being able to make it up when I thought for sure that I could.  About 3/4 of the way through the ride I discovered that my rear derailleur was not shifting into my granny gear.  It was stalling out at 2 gears up from the granny so no wonder I was struggling.  Jonny had replaced my derailluer cables for me since they were 9 years old and I discovered the rear one was holding on by a thread.  He made a few final adjustments for me before we left and put the bike in the car before I could check them out.  I figured he had taken the bike for a spin around the block but I had figured wrong.  This turned into a good strength workout that's for sure.

The trail has some very technical parts to it and is much steeper for longer distances than Curt Gowdy but does not have as many technical parts one after the other.  Plus we were battling a good strong wind in places.  It took me 2 hours, 22 minutes to ride 11.78 miles on Walker compared to 2 hours 5 minutes to ride 11.67 miles at Curt Gowdy but the Walker ride felt so much easier and shorter even though my legs were more sore by the end of it.  Funny how mental challenges are so much more exhausting than physical ones.

We rode up to the Steps and turned around which is longer than doing a full loop anyway plus saves you having to haul your bike down these.

They go on for quite a ways.  When I last did the loop there weren't even proper steps like these, it was more like hauling your bike up or down a cliff.  They give Jonny vertigo and I was happy to have a longer ride so we turned around.

I rode down some technical type stuff though was hoping to ride more than I did.  This was one section, not too impressive really but we were stopped for a moment anyway so I whipped out the camera.

I went out of my way to ride up some rocky bits that were similar to stuff I remember at Curt Gowdy just to convince myself I could.  I think I'll be able to ride a bit more of the course now than I did a couple of weeks ago.  Wish I had more time to practice but the race is in a week.  I wasn't planning to taper all that much but now that I see how hard it will be I think my day will go much better if I have fresh legs.

We stopped downtown to pick up lunch and parked in front of this place, Piece, Love and Chocolate.

I was hungry after my ride but I did not go in.  Not sure when this place opened but I haven't been in it yet.  Probably should avoid it until after all my Nationals.

Today was a bad day for fire, high winds, high temps., low humidity and another one broke out west of Colorado Springs/Black Forest where I have a trial next Saturday.  There seems to be no escaping it.  Hopefully they'll get this one out but given how thin resources are stretched and the complete lack of rain in the forecast and another red flag day for tomorrow (high wind/temps/fire danger) I'm not optimistic.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Crazy Dog Lady Goes to the Bike Park

Technically it's the Valmont Bike and Dog Park because dogs and mountain bikes go so well together, like road rash and rubbing alcohol.  But before you get too excited, the dog park is fenced off from the bike park.

We are truly spoiled to have such a place, it just opened a year ago.  And it's free.  It's a great place to practice technical skills.  There are challenges for all levels.  I had a lesson here with Ann Trombley last fall that I never did do a post about.  Anyway, I had an idea of good stuff I could practice that I remembered from our lesson. 

Ha, no, that was not something I practiced in my lesson.

I started off in the Skilz Area, which is a short loop that has many different challenges along the way.  There's always a smooth dirt path option to the side.

This part was easy peasy.  I even saw a little 5 year old kid do it.

 This part's a little more challenging but not too bad.

Then there's the first drop off challenge.  I only tried the rock to the right, the farther ones looked a bit much for now.

Looking backwards at the same rock to see the drop-off.  It's hardly anything if you stay to the left but I kept going to the right.  Still not that bad at all.

Next we have another little rock garden, this one is easy too but the 5 year old opted out.

This is the hardest of the challenges in this section that I attempted.  You can't tell from the photo but there's a rock blocking the path so you have to try to make a sharpish turn at a good enough speed to carry yourself over the rock and make it up the step.

This is looking backwards at the end of the section to show the drop-off.

If you're a real mountain biker you're laughing your ass off right about now at the thought that I think this is challenging.

This is the final tricky bit.  It's hard to tell from the photo but your line takes you right off into the dirt.  The challenge is to be able to make a sharpish turn to stay on the rock but maintain enough speed so you can make it over the bumps.

I rode this short little loop over and over and over.  First until I could do all the challenges, then until I could do them easily and then until I was bored with them and could do them without thinking about it.  It took me 2 miles of loops, don't even know how many reps, but I finally got bored and moved on to more challenging areas.

This was the biggest drop-off of the day after riding down the steep rocky side of the hill.

While I was stopped for the photo a girl about 9-10 years old came down the hill (my bike wasn't in the way at the time) and she opted for the dirt path, a nervous look on her face and a good grip on the brake.  When she got to the bottom I told her, 'Good job', and she rode off with an enormous grin on her face.

There were some other drop-offs that looked like maybe I could do them but I didn't feel good about trying them today so I left them for another day.  I was pleased enough with my progress for one day.

After having my fill of the obstacle challenges I went over to another part of the park that's smooth single track that goes up and down hill.  The Corkscrew trail has a series of tight, banked turns, good for practicing going through turns at speed.  One of the nice thing about the bike park is that the trails are all one way.  This is kind of a problem though if you get stuck in a series of loops and can't find your way out.  I kept having to go back up the hill until I found the one downhill trail that led you out of the maze.

After about an hour I'd had enough and stopped at the terrain park to watch the crazy kids.

The same log jump shown at the top but from head on.

E.T. phone home.

If I had photoshop and a boatload of time on my hands I'd superimpose this over the E.T. moon but chyeah, right, have you seen my upcoming trial/race schedule?

June 23:  USDAA trial

June 24:  Xterra Curt Gowdy

July 4:  USDAA trial, tournament only

July 14:  Xterra Mountain Championships, Beaver Creek

August 4:  Xterra Indian Peaks

August  11-12:  DOCNA trial Tentative

August  17-19:  USDAA trial

August 26:  Xterra Lory

September 1-3:  USDAA trial, tentative

September 23:  Xterra Nationals, Snowbasin, Utah

September 26-30:  USDAA Nationals, Commerce City, CO

I know, how the hell did that happen?  I probably shouldn't have written out the 2 schedules separately.  I also probably shouldn't have decided to go to Nationals in the same week in both sports.  Somehow it sounded like a good idea at the time.

The race director for Curt Gowdy sent out an email saying that he'd had questions from people about a cut-off time for the race.  Apparently I'm not the only one who's expecting a 2 1/2 hour bike finish.  Anyway, there is no cut-off time, they'll support anybody who's fool enough to attempt to finish (my wording, not his).  So I'm going to go into the race with the intention of finishing.  I think maybe I won't necessarily be DFL.  Maybe just 3rd to last.  That's o.k., it's better than a DNF.

The race is having an organized pre-ride of the course on Sunday and I'm tempted to go even though I don't fancy the nearly 2 hour drive.  Next weekend I have a 1 hour, 50 minute drive down to Black Forest for the USDAA trial then back the same day then another 1 hour 50 minute drive the next day to Curt Gowdy.  And a very tired drive back the same day that will likely involve a stop for caffeine in Cheyenne, WY.  So I'm not thrilled about the idea of a long drive this weekend.  But I think it might be a good idea to give the trail another shot.  Or maybe why torture myself?  Maybe race day is already more than enough on that trail.  We'll see how I feel Sunday morning and how the smoke/fire is doing.  Curt Gowdy is only 34 miles directly north of the fire, smoke could be bad there if the winds are blowing north.  We've been lucky so far in Boulder, just periods of smoke now and then and some days not at all.  Sadly part of Lory State Park did burn, including the trail for the run portion of Xterra Lory, but it hasn't burnt any more in several days now and I think they've established a line there or something.  Hopefully the line will hold and no more will burn.  And as long as I'm hoping maybe the whole damn thing will extinguish.  Pretty please.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Golden Gate and Fire

This is a photo of the start of the High Park Fire (west of Fort Collins) taken from Hall Ranch in Lyons at around 10:30 Saturday morning.  It's about 50 acres at this point and about 30 miles away as the crow flies.

Now, 2 days later, the fire is 37,000 acres and the smoke plume is several hundred miles long and can be seen from space.  I can see it from the end of my street in Boulder about 15 miles even further away from where the photo was taken though today it's a bit hazy due to the smoke hanging around so I won't bother trying to get a picture.  Air quality didn't seem too bad at 6:30 this morning when I took the dogs out but this afternoon it's not so great-smoky smell, itchy eyes-and I decided today would be a rest day.  I'm not complaining, the folks in the path of the smoke have got it a zillion times worse never mind the 2,000 folks who had to evacuate and those who have lost their homes as well as those who will have to evacuate as the fire progresses.  Over 100 structures have been burned so far and sadly it looks like the fire is bearing down on Lory State Park.  When it started I figured Lory would be safe but this is a bad, angry fire, impossible to contain so far and it's grown a lot quicker than I thought it would.  No rain or improvement in conditions are in sight so there's a possibility Lory and maybe even the Blue Sky Trail could get hit.

Yesterday we went hiking in Golden Gate Canyon State Park where we couldn't see or smell the fire.  The air quality was decent enough and we had a great day.

Yes this is a trail.  The skinny brown sign even says so.

Having a break in the shade.

We took a little break in the shade for a snack and to let a German Shepherd waddle by.  Poor dog had such a roached back and frog legs that it looked crippled, hobbling along up the steep hill.  I felt bad for the dog and angry at the conformation breeders that do this on purpose.  And puzzled as to why someone who likes hiking would get a dog that's so physically debilitated by design.  My good friend and next door neighbor had a German Shepherd when we were kids growing up and it was such an awesome dog, great temperament especially with all the neighborhood kids, physically sound, could run around with us forever.  Looked nothing like the poor hunchback waddling up the hill.  Such a shame what has happened to that breed.

O.k., enough of that.  Time to go.

The bike ride at Hall the day before went well.  I rode almost the whole trail including things I had to walk last time.  In fact I was looking for rocks to ride over and taking the rockier line in places.  Jonny showed me how to ride something I've always had to walk.  Some of the terrain is similar to Curt Gowdy, some granite drops offs and such, but not nearly as many challenges.  Nonetheless good practice and I was feeling a good bit more confident about my technical skills at the end.  And was barely even tired after 2 hours so that was good.

My latest plan is to go ahead with my race in 2 weeks.  I don't know if there's a cut-off time but my plan is to finish the race even if I have to walk part of the run as long as the race organizers will let me.  I may very well be DFL for the first time ever in my life but I'm determined to finish the thing.  Was going to go to the Valmont Bike Park today to work on skills but this will have to wait until the smoke dies down.  In the meantime the dogs and I are doing our best rain dance for those folks up in the hills west of Fort Collins.

Edited to add:
Ugh, just after I posted this I found out an agility person I know lost her home in the fire.  Thankfully her dog was with her and at least no one was physically hurt.  The emotional scars are often as bad or worse than the physical ones though.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

We Got That Attitude

Don't care what they may say
We got that attitude
Don't care what they may do
We got that attitude

Hey, we got that P.M.A. (positive mental attitude)
Hey, we got that P.M.A.

'Attitude' by the Bad Brains

I think this pretty much sums it up.

Step up to the start line, do your best HR impersonation and enjoy the ride.  Whether you Q or not you and your dog are going to leave the ring with a smile on your face and at the end of the day that's all that matters anyway.  The rest is just background noise.

Attitude is the easiest thing to change.  You just decide to do it and you do it, simple as that.  You don't need to pay for some fancy pants mental management guru.  Just put on your pink pirate socks and go dive off that stage.

Easy peasy.

Also as it turns out lots of studies show that one bad apple does spoil the whole bunch, girl, so if you have someone at your trial or club meeting or class who loves to spread their misery and vitriol around it's good if you can shut them down right away.  Shove them in a crate with a Kong, stuff them in a x-pen, whatever but don't let them harsh your buzz.

This post is a part of Blog Action Day. Go here to see more posts on the subject.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Give Me a Home

where the baby buffalo roam.

I was cooped up at a hypnotherapy pain management seminar for the past 3 days and by the end my head was full and my legs were twitchy from so much sitting so I went for a nice long mindless ride out east on the dirt roads.  I saw lots of babies, baby cows, foals, lambs, baby prairie dogs and I didn't stop for any of them because I just wanted to ride and not think about anything but I couldn't pass up the field full of baby buffalo.

Because for crying out loud, how cute are baby buffalo?

Apparently it's hard work being a baby buffalo.  These guys were tuckered out.

I only had my point and shoot camera and I only brought it just in case I ran across something extra special.

You think you have bad shedding issues at your house.  This guy's going to need the extra large furminator.

And an osprey out at the Boulder Reservoir for good measure.