now that fall is officially here i have to start worrying about a lot more things when i commute.  in the good old days of summer i mostly had to worry about packing my essential work clothes….shoes, socks, underwear, pants, shirt, and wallet.  with the exception of pants, think i have forgotten at least one of those items on the list on more than one occasion.  nothing like walking around the office all day in a retro “once” cycling jersey.  admittedly it was a little awkward and embarrassing, but it was actually kind of convenient. i carried around my pen, notepad, and cell phone in the back pockets for most of the day.  socially, that was probably the worst of all things to forget… god forbid i should ever forget to pack pants.  i would hate to walk around the office in padded cycling shorts… probably get slapped with a harassment lawsuit, get fired and have to explain to the judge what “really” happened.  also, it used to freak me out when i forgot to pack underwear…i think i was over reacting because recently i learning that my teenagers go commando all the time, i don’t ask why…but i don’t care so much.  it’s not like high school where i’m standing up in front of my coworkers and the office-jock decides that it would be funny to “pants” me.  anyway those days are over i hope.

now that fall is here, i not only have to worry about my clothing, but i have to worry about the weather and lights.  the weather is not so bad, it’s just that it can change drastically within eight hours. it can go from very very cold in the morning to very hot in the evening… and the worse part is when the weather goes from warm to cold.  those are the days when i really dread the ride home.  it’s usually dark, i’m under-dressed… and my support crew has the night off, or something.  anyway, i’m probably too stubborn to call it off and get a ride home.  it never fails,there is always someone at the office, who insists that i get a ride from them, they can’t understand why i don’t just take the ride already… but i have to explain how demented i am, and that i have absolutely no other choice but to ride home underprepared.

note: the absence of light problems usually occurs when i forget to pack my light, or when i forget to charge my battery at work.  by the way i don’t risk lighting problems….i may be an idiot but i’m not stupid!  haha…

so the other day it was my birthday and i got a new commuter light from my family.  they knew exactly which one i wanted because i had emailed them a link before my birthday.  just to make sure there was no confusion, i went ahead and ordered it as well.  i even brought it in from the mail box when it arrived.  after i opened it up and i made sure they all got to see the birthday present that they bought me. i couldn’t wait to ride home the next day.

the only problem with trying out the new light was that it didn’t get dark soon enough. this time of year it gets dark around 7:30.  i usually get out of work at 5:30.  so i decided to work two extra hours.  it was ok, i think i won some respect from my coworkers. “hey leo, working late huh?” ….me: “yeah, i just want to finish up some stuff here, you have a good evening…. he he”  a little after 7 i suited up, packed my stuff and out the door i went…

i forgot to pack my tail light, but i had my old flashy headlight with me, so i just mounted it on the seat post and pointed it backward.  as i rode it wasn’t completely dark so my headlight wasn’t too impressive.  as it got darker and darker the peripheral scenery slowly faded away and i could feel my mind sharpening as i just concentrated on what was in front of me.  each curve of the path brought a slight rush of adrenaline as i had no idea what was around the corner.  i stuck to the right as much as i could just in case there was someone on the path coming the other way.  as i exited the gravel path and pulled on to the shoulder of the county road, i could see my beautiful little light light-up the road paint.

there was a closed road up ahead, so the traffic was non existent, i could ride in the middle of the road if i wanted. in fact i did ride in the middle of the road after i passed the barriers.  i felt like i was flying through the darkness i could hear almost nothing but the rumbling of my tires as i zoomed through the empty county road.   it wasn’t long before i was on the concrete bike path.  the path was really dark and curvy but not as open as the gravel path earlier.  even if someone did have a light i wouldn’t be able to see them until they were 10 feet in front of me.  so i slowed it way down….and it’s a good thing i did because there were lots of people out walking their dogs.

people really forget that they are out on a shared path sometimes.  they often walk with their dogs on one side of the path while they are on the other.  they just assume that no matter what time of day, they are the only ones on the path… oh yeah and who needs reflective gear?  it got to be kind of annoying after a while trying to see people, i kept thinking i saw someone, and slowed down, but it turned out to be a shadow….. bleh.

anyway, wear something reflective or light colored please, and for the love of god stay to the right!!!

i made it back to my car and felt a bit energized.  the first night ride of the season is always a blast.  i just love it.  i actually always enjoy it just a little bit even on the bad days.  i don’t really enjoy all of the logistics that fall and winter commuting bring but i get used to it, and before long it becomes fun too.

right before i got ready to ride back to my car, i passed through the company’s kitchen and rifled through the refrigerator.  nothing but some old salad dressing, peanut butter, jelly and some soy milk.  none of it was particularly appealing to me.  i was hungry.  all i had today was a clif bar and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  i thought it was going to be good enough, but as 5:30 rolled around i was famished.

nothing i could do now but go home.   i got my gear together and left out into the cold dark abyss.   as left the dark and empty industrial neighborhood i saw something that i would never really notice on a normal night.   it was the big golden arches.

then it entered my mind…. mc donald’s french fries and a coke.  it was just the first thing that i though of as i passed by.  mmm,  seems kind of like it would hit the spot right about now.   at the time it was just an idea, so i rode on.

as the miles passed the cold started to penetrate my clothing.  the thoughts of warm salty french fries started to infiltrated my short term memory. some how every though i had involved french fries.  i though about getting home and having dinner, with french fries.  i though about my lunch and wondered why i didn’t have french fries.  i thought about how happy i would have been if someone bought me french fries for christmas.  i was obsessed.  i couldn’t get those warm salty golden fries out of my mind for anything.

if anything i was so distracted by the thoughts of fries, i didn’t really think about the cold anymore, or the clicking sound my bike was making, the same sound that drove me crazy all morning.  although my mind was distracted, i couldn’t help but notice that the trail was getting tougher and tougher as i got closer to my car.  with each corner i turned i look ahead and thought to my self, “oh fuck, i don’t remember this hill”, or “is this snow getting deeper or what?”.

i eventually made it to my car.   i eventually made it to the near by mc donald’s.  with my bike on top i narrowly made it under the height limit of the drive through.  i don’t know what the hold up was but, man it was taking a long time.  i could smell the food while waiting in line. when my turn came, i ordered a large fries, and a large coke… no ice of course.  waiting waiting.  the guy in front of me had issues with his order…. waiting waiting.  finally i drive up to the window, get my bag and my drink and drive off.  i reached into the bag and grabbed a few, they were nice and warm, almost hot, like they had just come out of the fryer.  i could feel the grains of salt against my finger tips as they went into my mouth.  they were everything i expected and more.  a quick sip of my coke and back to the fries.  i devoured these things in record time.  i don’t think i even made to to the freeway before they were gone.

after finishing my brief indulgence i felt completely satisfied.  almost felt like having a cigarette….if you know what i mean.

note: this is an older post i just reposted it because it was in the wrong spot.

spent friday and saturday in breckenridge. not the best place for a single speed.

after missing the grand opening of a new trail in boulder county last week i’ve been preoccupied with the getting home and out on the new trail.   some time before i got home i got sick.  i was out in new jersey in a hotel with a fever and nothing to do but watch tv.  somehow i just forgot about riding all together.  yesterday was my first full day home and i wasted no time heading out to the trail.  unfortunately  the fever completely erased the fact that there was a new trail open in the area.  i stupidly headed out to my “everyday” trail.  i actually got about half way through it [the tough half]…. when suddenly i remembered…new trail!!!! “wtf am i doing here?” i turned around and sprinted bak to the car.  i was exhausted, just recovered from a fever, been at sea level for over a week, not to mention that i am not in the best of shape anyway…..ugh!   i headed out to the new trail, my head chest and both shoulders were hurting :).

the new trail is the opposite direction from my house so i was about 35 miles away.  it was a pretty long drive, but i was too excited to care.

there is a temporary trail head parking on red gulch road. there were only about five or six cars at the time.  i headed out on the trail and it starts out winding through a valley.

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the trail is pretty buffed out at this point with lots of powdery dirt from all the traffic.  plus the trail is only a week or so old, it needs a few rains under its belt to get firm.

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such a beautiful trail….. wait till you bomb down it!  there were lots of sections that were cut into the side of a hill.  you can see from the picture below, that it must have taken a lot of work to do this.

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it’s really interesting riding on these sections, because there is a drop off on one side and wall on the other. also,  there are lots of sections where you have to turn on a bump, or else go off the edge.  if you have balls to go fast, your skills will improve tremendously!  i’m a little rusty, but i still went as fast as i could…. no brake usage!

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just more pictures.

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more….

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not sure what this was but it was pretty cool to see…
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i love old abandoned vehicles.

p1050570_sm.JPGanother…..

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as the trail heads up toward heil valley ranch it starts to look a lot like the heil ranch trail [forgot the name]

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finally after a very short 5.5 miles, the picture rock trail connects to the wild turkey loop… woot!

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summary….

the trail builders went through a lot of trouble to build this trail.  they made sure you saw some interesting sights along the way like to old rock foundations of something, and the sylo, not to mention the two abandoned cars.   you can tell that the trail purposely seeks out these land marks for us to reflect.

there is lots of single track on this trail.  the only problem is that you really have to pay attention to others on the trail.  there are lots of blind corners, and steep drop offs if you are not paying attention.  i would recommend going on off hours to avoid people.  this trail is ideal for some who want to improve their down hill skills.  just make sure your skilled enough to go fast!  i did this thing on the way down where i tried to not use my brakes.  i wasn’t too successful, but it was fun trying.

enjoy

hotel

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chapter 1: the trip

i went out to cedar rapids this last week for more work related fun. before i left colorado, a guy from the company where i was going, asked if i had hotel reservations…hmm. i wonder why he asked that, he never cares about my trip? well, it turned out that after cedar rapids was hit by massive flooding last month, it’s been very difficult to get rooms. i’m not sure if displaced families are taking all the rooms, cleanup workers, or maybe just stupid misguided tourist, out to take pictures of the flood damage.

one of my coworkers ended up getting us all rooms at the cedar rapids howard johnsons. it was kind of difficult to find because it was already dark when we showed up and their light was out. kind of odd for a hotel to have lighting problems, especially since it’s near a major road way. i wonder if they turn on automatically or the hotel “manager” turns them on. anyway, we walk into the front lobby, which looks like a small decrepit vacant version of a holliday inn…express. after squeezing past the the pamphlet rack near the front door you will quickly notice the security monitor right on the counter top, facing out toward the customer. weird… it was showing almost the exact thing that i could see anyway. they might as well of had the camera mounted on my head, it wasn’t switching from different cameras or anything like that…just one view. there were a couple other security devices like those found in a 7-11, like a round fish-eye mirrors at all the corners, locked bathroom doors, and signs about money in the register…. the only thing they were missing was a height chart at the door.

chapter 2: “eintsein”

just as you walk in you could almost see down the main hallway. it’s not that the hallway wasn’t in plain view, it’s just that it was so dark and narrow with 7 foot ceilings, almost no lighting. it looked like a mind shaft, with crappy carpet. i wouldn’t be surprised if rabid bats flew out. another interesting thing, was that the employee side of the counter was actually larger than the customer’s side. they must have about 50 people working there or something.

when we walked in, a seemingly normal young guy, with an over manicured beard showed up behind the vast employee side of the counter. right off the bat, he looked confused as to why we were there. he opened his mouth. he had this “professional” voice where he kind of sucked in his chin, and tried to talk deeper than normal. i could tell that every word that came out of his mouth was processed and iterated over and over by his mighty brain, until he eventually formed sentences that he thought sounded “well articulated.”

“what can i do for you today”

my first thought was, “you could start by turning on the hotel sign outside, and while your at it, please turn on the hallway lights, or replace some bulbs or something…jeeze!

we informed him the we had three reservations, and we wanted to check in. he kind of stuttered and looked a bit troubled. he was standing in front of a really old computer was making lots of noises as if he just passed gas or something. we couldn’t tell if he was having trouble with the “reservations” or just the hotel software. this is probably what the software looked like, and why it was giving him so much trouble:

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[he couldn’t find our room?]

after about 5 minutes of grunts and sighs, and facial expressions, he finally returned back to the conversation, “you guys are really lucky…we are overbooked and i’ve only got 4 rooms left.” then he informed us that he will have to turn people away tonight, if he runs out of rooms. i guess that’s why there is such a thing as “reservations”

my coworker informed him that two of the rooms should be non-smoking and one doesn’t matter. he said that he only had smoking rooms available, but he would try to knock off 10 dollars from the nightly rate. after several more minutes of noises expressing confusion, and matching twisted facial expressions…he finally announced, “i can’t do it ‘right’ now, but as soon as i can, i will change the rate for you” [not surprisingly, we never got the discount].

then “einstein” started verifying the bed counts for the rooms. we told him don’t worry about it, we each need just one bed in our rooms. then … he paused what he was doing; with a look on his face as if he just invented cake frosting, he started to speak. this time, however, his excitement must have locked up his internal “word forming” part of his brain and he was forced to form his sentences out loud….in front of all of us.

“um… i don’t know how… well, i have a question…or more of a suggestion …uh.. request…let me see, how can i phrase this…it would really help me out. .. um, since you guys only need one bed, would you be willing to share the room with two beds?”

my coworker said, “no”

“um, ok, i just thought i would ask because it would really help me out tonight.”

then he starts talking about the rooms again, and how he’ll give us the rooms, and how he’ll take off 10 dollars a night, since we “were being so cool” about everything.

the whole check in took about 20minutes longer than it should have. no fault of the 2800 baud modem he used to charge the card.

chapter 3: the hotel … part 2.

howard johnson’s…”where you feel at home.” at least that’s what their stationary reads. i can say without hesitation, that this place did not feel like home. i can say that this place felt like a sweaty locker room for the cheap cigarette smoking convention.

if you go to the howard johnson website, it seems as though howard johnson’s is trying to be hip and modern. they started refering to themselves as “hojo’s.” this hardly seems appropriate in a business context. if my boss asks me where i ended up staying…what am i supposed to say? “i stayed at the hojo’s…bee-ach!”

if the customers are any indication of how classy a hotel is…then this hotel must be one step up from prison. the cars in the parking lot are not at all like the lot at the holiday inn express. the holiday inn express, or ho-in-ex [pronounced: ‘ho-in-ex’], has a parking lot, which consist of 90% rental cars, and 10% family travelers. the hojo’s on the other hand, consist of 40% severely damaged beaters and the other 50% were jalopies with minor damage, and the remaining 10% were rentals from suckers like us who didn’t plan far enough ahead to get in at the ho-in-ex. another interesting statistic to the parking lot is that 10% of the cars had people sleeping in them…guess “einstein” gave away their reservations.

chapter 4: house keeping

there was a sign in the bathroom, that warned people about stealing. i’m really glad that sign was there, because i was thinking to steal this decrepit age worn sand paper like disease spreaders…aka “linen”.

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funny that they are so worried about missing/stolen towels, because when “house keeping” finally cleaned my room, they removed all but one small wash towel from the room. wtf? i came back from a long sweaty day at work and just wanted to take a shower before dinner. then i noticed that none of my towels were replaced. i called the front desk and a guy answered the phone, “howard johnson’s… how can i help you?” i could tell it was “einstein”.

i said, “yeah…, is there any reason all my towels were removed from my room?”

einstein enounced, “no there isn’t, but i will bring you up some right now. ” [note: i was on the first floor.]

i said, “ok..do you know what room i’m in?”

einstein phrased, “yes, you are in room 122.”

i said to myself,”then why the f#$% did you answer the phone ‘howard johnsons?’ are some of the phones hooked up to the clarion across the street?”

so in my stinky “smoking” room i waited for the towels… 15 minutes passed as i waited for a knock on the door. i gave up and decided to walk “down” to the front desk. hmm…no one is behind the counter. i yelled out, “hello!” then einstein comes out from the back room…

“can i help you?” [i’m supprised he didn’t say, “howard johnson’s can i help you”].

“yeah, i need some towels!”, i exclaimed.

“oh…uh.. they are actually still in the wash… that’s how back up house keeping is…”, he said with a look as if he too was staying at the hotel, and his towels were missing too.
is that supposed to make me more understanding? am i supposed to say, “no worries, i’ll just shower whenever house keeping is less backed up….thanks”

i mumbled to myself, “then what the hell did they take them for? …and why the hell didn’t he tell me that on the phone!”. so i went back to my room and pulled out my camping chamois that i happened to carry with me [i don’t know why i brought this with me]. i hope they don’t try and charge me for those stupid towels.

chapter 5: wtf?

the size of the bathroom is about the length of a tub, and about the width of two tubs. the tub and toilet occupy about 3/4 of the floor space, and the rest is left for the inward swinging door. only, the door does not swing open all the way because of the giant full size ironing board hanging across from the toilet. so i don’t know about the rest of the guests in the hotel, but i don’t even get towels and shampoo, i smell like like a hundred years of cigarette smoke… why do i care about how wrinkled my clothes are? i just hope this freakin’ iron doesn’t fall on me. if ironing is such a big deal why don’t they add it to their unlit sign?

howard johnson’s

“continental breakfast”

“cable tv”

“ironing boards”.

i usually don’t like to spend the whole day out doing my stuff, but if i start early enough, i might be back before noon. right at dawn was my goal. this is probably around 5:30am. i made a sandwich, packed my new tube, and patches and before i knew it i was leaving the house at 7…. i don’t know what happened.

the first stop was the devil’s back bone. this was only about an 8 mile road ride from my house to the trail head. nothing eventful really happened, except that i found out that my rear hub was loose. too bad i didn’t bring my cone wrenches, all i had was one small cresent wrench…would have worked out perfectly if i had at least two. i managed to get it hand tight, and probably good enough. i rode the trail from the back bone trail head all the way to fort collins. there was some fairly technical mountain bike stuff along the way, but my touring bike managed just fine.

when i got to fort collins, i rode out to the south end of horse tooth res. i wasn’t really tired or hungry, but i ended up eating this instant tuna sandwich and some gatoraid. this was really a difficult sandwich to put down, because it was just bag tuna and whole wheat bread. i was just sitting there chomping on it when a really low flying ww2 plane came by.

the old plane….

as i was sitting there relaxing eating my tuna, watching the plane…. a good friend of mine happened to be riding by and saw me sitting there. we talked for almost an hour before packing it up and parting our ways. this guy is in such good shape, that after talking with him, i always feel like a 90 year old fat guy wait for rigamortis.

my plan was to ride around horse tooth to the town of bellvue and up rist canyon.

the rid up rist canyon was pretty uneventful. lots of slow gradual hill at the start.

this rode basically went on for infinity. only it gradually got steeper and steeper with fewer flat spots. i was getting a little worried, because i had no idea where i was, and i had already been fool by two false summits. i didn’t know where i was but it sure was pretty.

how did this whale get up here?

i finally got to the summit, but i didn’t take any pictures, because i thought there was more climbing to be done… i was wrong. going down toward stove prairie was even prettier.

..and

after finally getting to stove prairie, it started to rain on me just a tad. it wasn’t too bad and everything looked so nice i had to stop and take a picture.

right after i got through taking this little gem, it started raining pretty hard. the next 20 miles or so i spent putting on my rain cover, and then taking it off, then putting it back on….etc.

so at the end of the day i traveled:

11 miles of off road dirt.

11 miles of road climbing

48 miles of road riding.

70 miles total…. don’t ask how long it took me.

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