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I spend most of my money on bikes and beer. The rest I just waste!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Part 1: Bikes, Bikes and More Bikes

I just have to face facts. I am a mountain biker. I like the smell of a pine forest. I love the feeling of dropping like a rock down steep trail. I enjoy the challenge of switchbacks and the wonderful feeling of a flowing along winding single track.

Here is a photo of some fast easy single track:

This trail is at Elk Meadows in Evergreen, Colorado. This is a nice trail that is a favorite of hikers, bikers and trail runners.

Colorado has some very well-developed and nicely maintained trails.

This trail is at Meyer Ranch in Conifer, Colorado. At the start of this trail there is a long and steep climb. After the climb, the trail runs pretty flat and is quite scenic.

On these nice smooth trails any good mountain bike will do just fine. My ancient 2007 Specialized 26" Stumpjumper Pro Disc hardtail , called "Little Stumpy" flies along nice single track.

I love Little Stumpy but he has limitations. Little Stumpy gets downright skittish on rough and rocky trails.

I also have a blazing fast bike, which is a Specialized 29" Stumpjumper Carbon Expert . I call this bike "Ultra Stumpy". Ultra Stumpy is an endurance racing bike and is scary fast.

Ultra Stumpy's long wheelbase and slack steering makes the bike stable at high speed. Low speed handling is good but not great. High speed handling is superb.

I have a 2012 Specialized 26" Camber Comp named "Little Cam". Little Cam is a pure trail bike and is lightning quick but not fast. I completely updated Little Cam with a Fox Factory suspension, Shimano XT group, carbon handlebars and carbon seatpost.

Little Cam is really sensitive to tires. I have experimented a lot to find tires that work. I am still looking. Little Cam can turn so quickly that the tires tend to slide or skip sideways, which is not a good feeling.

Part 2: They Don't Call This Place the Rocky Mountains for Nothing

Fortunately, in Colorado there are mountain trails that are rocky, rough and steep!

This nasty trail is at Elk Meadows and is not too far from the nice single track shown in the first picture posted above.

This is a shot of a bad chunk of real estate called Bergen Peak,

This is actually more difficult than it looks. A trail bike with 120mm (4.7 inches) of suspension travel, such as Little Cam, will bottom-out on this rocky terrain, which results in a rough and jerky ride.

Ultra Stumpy has larger 29" wheels and 130mm (5.1") of suspension travel and rides better over rocky terrain than Little Cam. However, Ultra Stumpy wants to accelerate on a descent.

Using the brakes causes the bike to be slow in responding to steering input. Ultra Stumpy is a white-knuckle ride on steep and very rough terrain. The bike is just too fast.

Part 3: Enduro - The All Mountain Bike

A recent development in extreme mountain biking combines the long-travel of gravity racing bikes with the utility of a trail bike. The result is a bike that is designed to take on any and all terrain. An Enduro bike can take on smooth single track and nasty near-vertical trails strewn with rocks roots, loose gravel and fallen trees. Here is video on Enduro/All-Mountain riding:


I tried a few Enduro bikes at the Golden Bike Junkie Fest Demo Day. I was extremely impressed with the 26" Pivot Mach 5.7. This bike just flew over any and all obstacles. I tried the all-mountain Pivot Mach 6 with 27.5" wheels. The Mach 6 was great on the descent. But seemed to take a lot of effort during climbing.

A few weeks ago I went to Wheatridge Cyclery to pick up yet another set of tires for Little Cam. I wandered over to look at the new Santa Cruz and Yeti bikes. Both Santa Cruz and Yeti make high-end mountain bikes for serious riders with more money than good sense.

Santa Cruz and Yeti only build mountain bikes. I found out that the shop had a demo Santa Cruz Bronson available in my size. I plunked down $90 for a three day demo ride. I walked out the door with a sadly beat-up 2014 Black and Orange Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon XO.

Here is the demo Bronson in the bed of my truck. You may be able to see the new SRAM 1x11 XO drivetrain in the photo. This bike has Shimano XT brakes, Maxxis Tires and FOX suspension, which are my favorite components. The Bronson Carbon tips the scales at a bit over 26 pounds.

Here is the Demo Bronson propped against a bench at Elk Meadows.
This shows the 1x11 drivetrain.

There was a nice family riding on this trail. The mom was riding a 1980's Diamondback rigid "iron dog" that likely cost less than the tires on the high tech wonder I was riding. They passed me while I stopped to take in the view.

Many times I am so intent on riding that I don't do a lot of sight-seeing. Elk Meadows is designated open space and cannot be used for anything other than recreation.

I had a great time. The Santa Cruz Bronson handled beautifully and was fast. I took the bike into some very rocky and steep terrain. The long-travel 150mm+ suspension worked beautifully. The bike was stable through rock fields but still maneuverable. I really liked this bike.

I want one.

Part 4: Sticker Shock

I took the demo Bronson back to Wheatridge Cyclery. I talked to a salesman to see if they had a Bronson in my size for sale. The 2015 models had come out and they lacked some of the features of 2014 that I had demoed. I got sticker shock when I saw that they wanted $8,600 for the 2015 Bronson Carbon-C XO AM, which is the newer version of the bike I demoed.

I knew the Bronson was an expensive bike. But they had really cranked the price up for the 2015 bikes. I decided I would check out the bikes at my favorite bike shop. A few days later I went to the Golden Bike Shop. But that is a subject for another blog and this one is too long already.

Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NWFL59 8/18/2014 5:02PM

    Oh boy, I see another blog about your next new bike! Your riding is definitely too fast and scary for me. I'll stick to the flat mounds of Florida. hope your ankle and other parts are feeling better. emoticon

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LISAINMS 8/15/2014 2:47PM

    All that bike porn and nothing about beer!

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GHK1962 8/13/2014 12:29PM

    Gotta love a title with either the word "Bike" or "Beer" in it. To have both is like having your cake and eating it too. Like having both your favorite teams go to the superbowl ... and win. Like not having to choose between Ginger or Mary Ann. Errr...ok, I had better stop with the analogies now ...

Anyway, AWESOME trails. I only dabble very briefly with mountain biking ... but nothing so extreme. (I was briefly introduced to trail riding on an actual built wooden trail through the forest ...that was freakin SCAREY.) A friend of mine who is retired is TOTALLY into going up to the mountains and trail riding. He goes at speeds that is crazy stoopid ... flys down trails where he 'thinks" they are based on what he might be seeing ...YOW. I bet you are similar. (He also is an ex machinist ... he builds a lot of his own bike components. Who in the hell does that?!?!?!?

I'm interested to see if you eventually succumb to the 2015 Bronson ... though it seems you want to look for the 2014.

Good riding dude!

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MARGARITTM 8/13/2014 11:49AM

    OUCH on the bike price!

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KAYOTIC 8/13/2014 9:21AM

    You really know your bikes and bike components! I learn something new every time I ready your blogs....

And sticker shock is right! Any chance of getting a discount on a "gently used" model? emoticon

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PMRUNNER 8/13/2014 7:12AM

    Would love to get out west and ride some of those trails! Had a good ride at a local mtn bike park in NY last weekend. I ride my road bike during the week to help keep in shape for when I can ride some single track. Happy trails!

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KA_JUN 8/12/2014 11:26PM

    Sweet, nice blog! I hear very good things about the Bronson.

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LIVESTRONG2010 8/12/2014 8:56PM

    Wow no way on trail like that. I for one love my road bike and stay on the road!

Ride Strong and Pedal Safe!

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HKARLSSON 8/12/2014 8:40PM

    You BIKE on trails like those? Nope. You are a braver man than me.

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KENDRACARROLL 8/12/2014 3:24PM

    Great trails! I'm thinking hiking though.

Having a hobby we're absolutely passionate about is awesome. Having the funds to support an expensive hobby is even better :)

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IFDEEVARUNS2 8/12/2014 1:28PM


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LINDAKAY228 8/12/2014 12:20PM

    Different bikes for different trails! I love the trails you ride! Unfortunately, I never had the desire to ride them. But to hike them I love everything you mentioned plus the chance to take in the scenery and lots of pics! The important thing is that we love what we do. We both love the same areas but you love the ride and that's awesome that you can do it again!

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HILLSLUG98239 8/12/2014 12:10PM

    Ack! I got nervous just looking at those pictures. I dab on asphalt.

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DESERTDREAMERS 8/12/2014 10:07AM

    Beautiful trails! Have to admit you sucked me in with your blog title emoticon. Wow, the bike are WAY more expensive than I thought!

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NATPLUMMER 8/12/2014 9:47AM

    emoticon emoticon Do you save any for models? ;-)
It always amazes me how much bikes are. Greg and I were running a couple of weeks ago and saw somebody on an Elliptigo. I was saying that I wanted one but they were expensive and he asked how much...about $3000. He said some bikes are well over $10,000.

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LMB-ESQ 8/12/2014 9:40AM

    Haha... you buy bikes like I buy swimsuits. But at $30 to $40 a pop, I think I'm spending a little less than you are emoticon Definitely not spending $8600 on a swimsuit!!

The trails are beautiful! Since I am not a mountain biker, I won't be sharing a ride with you anytime soon. I would love to hike them though, and then share a beer after!!

Happy riding!! emoticon

P.S. I think this is the first blog I've seen for quite awhile where you weren't addressing your injuries. That's great to see!

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LOSER_ZIMM 8/12/2014 9:33AM

    emoticon I love to bike, but not mountain biking!

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Official Fitness Test

Monday, July 28, 2014

Part 1: Football Officials Fitness Test

Although I am not sure why, I have been a high school football official for 16 years. For the first 14 of those 16 years, the Colorado Football Official Association ("CFOA") pretty much ignored physical fitness. I suspect that the Colorado High School Activities Association ("CHSAA"), which is the governing body for all high school sports in Colorado, decided that sports officials should be in some semblance of physical shape.

Yesterday, July 26th, was the first football officials meeting of the 2014 season. This meeting is called the "Master's Clinic'. At this meeting we are told about new rules and points-of-emphasis. For the past several years, points-of-emphasis have been on player safety.

We also have to pass a physical fitness test. We always have the Master's Clinic at a high school. Last year we all had to run a 1/4 mile in under 2 minutes and 30 seconds (2:30) and a 40 yard dash in under 12 seconds. A lot of officials did not pass this test. I ran the 1/4 mile in 1:24 and to 40 yard dash in a tad under 7 seconds. In other words, I passed with time to spare.

Part 2: New Test for 2014 - Agility and Flexibility

This year the directors of the CFOA decided to make the fitness test easier and concentrate on agility and flexibility. The directors decided on 130 yard shuttle run. Here is a diagram of the shuttle run.

Prior to starting, we placed one of our bean bags on the 15 yard line, and another bean bag on the 50 yard line. Bean bags are used as an aid for ball spotting during a game.

Here are the details of the fitness test:

(1) Start on the goal line;
(2) At the word "go", sprint to the 15 yard line and pick up the bean bag;
(3) Sprint back to the goal and place the bean bag on the line;
(4) Sprint to the 50 yard line and pick up the bean bag; and
(5) Sprint back to the goal line.

The clock starts at the work "go" and ends when the goal line is crossed while carrying the "50 yard line" bean bag. Any official that takes longer than 40 seconds to do the shuttle run is given a "failing" grade and is ineligible to work Varsity games.

There is a re-test in two weeks at the second meeting for those officials that failed this test.

I was worried that my right ankle could not take the strain of running and stopping. My right ankle went through reconstructive surgery on January, 31st. My ankle is okay but not 100%. I was wearing turf shoes so I wouldn't slide. I was concerned that my right ankle would give way.

As I stood on the line with 6 other officials I was worried. 130 yards seemed like a long distance. I was also concerned that the fitness test required stopping and reversing directions 4 times!

I was in the first heat. I was also the oldest guy standing on the goal line by a minimum of 20 years. I had no idea if I could pass the test. The Starter said, "Get ready - GO!"

I took off as fast as I could go. I ran to the 15 yard line. As I approached the bean bag, I pivoted on my left foot and quickly planted both feet sideways. I ended-up looking directly down the 15 yard line. My right foot was slightly beyond the line and my left foot was a few feet in front of the line. I timed this move so I could just reach the bean bag with my right hand. I scooped-up the bean bag, pushed off on my right foot. In a cat's eyeball blink, I was sprinting back toward the goal line.

I was in front of the pack when I got back to the goal line. I used the same quick sideways move to put the bean bag on the goal line. I then ran down to the 50 yard line to pick up the next bag. I used the quick sideways move at the 50 yard line and shot back toward the finish line. I got passed by one young guy at about the 20 yard line.

As I approached the finish line that timer was counting off the seconds since the start. I was amazed to hear the timer shout 21.. 22.. 23. I crossed the finish line at 24 seconds! I was just a second behind the fastest guy.

I was pretty happy. My right ankle held-up; I blazed trough the test; and I didn't pull any muscles!

Part 3: Plateau

After my initial 15 pound weigh loss, I hit a plateau. However, I am getting stronger and more fit. I did a long, and somewhat brutal, mountain bike ride yesterday. My clothes are fitting better so I am not going to get in a twist about stalling-out.

I forgot just how challenging dropping weight can be.

Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GHK1962 7/31/2014 11:24PM

    Wow ... that sounds like it was NOT a cakewalk ... and the fact that you did awesome is ... well ... AWESOME!

That pivot -push off turn around move sounds pretty cool dude. Did anyone ask you about that after?

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KAYOTIC 7/30/2014 9:31AM

    Nice results on your fitness test! Guess your ankle is fine after your surgery, probably nice for you to know. emoticon

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FANGFACEKITTY 7/29/2014 5:55AM

    I wonder how they are coming up with what your physical tests and acceptable results are supposed to be? It sounds a little haphazard right now, but I am sure they will eventually find some balance between a meaningful test and keeping enough officials to man the games.

Great job for an "old" guy!

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KENDRACARROLL 7/28/2014 4:56PM

    Old guys rock!

Great job on the fitness test and the weight loss. The plateau will break in its own time.

Comment edited on: 7/28/2014 4:56:42 PM

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LINDAKAY228 7/28/2014 12:47PM

    Congratulations on acing the test and that your ankle did so well during it! Don't worry about the scale if the other things are improving. Keep going strong!

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BA5454 7/28/2014 12:34PM

    emoticon Your test sounds harder than my test in the Air Force (timed sit-ups and push-ups and a run). Way to go on passing it! You rock, Bruce!

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NATPLUMMER 7/28/2014 9:35AM

    emoticon I am so happy your ankle was happy!!

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LMB-ESQ 7/28/2014 9:04AM

    Wow... great job! Showing up all those younger guys :-) Well, you did say you were an impossibly fast runner. Glad the ankle held up!

Interesting that the athletic association never stopped to think about safety and fitness for their officials. I don't watch much football, but I do attend soccer games and those officials get run over or knocked around by players at least a couple of times in every match. Considering how many times you've been injured even though you are apparently in much better shape than many other officials, it makes sense they finally started paying attention. If for no other reason, they have to protect themselves from liability. But better for you too.

I hope you have a great, productive football season, and NO MORE INJURIES! emoticon

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TERI-RIFIC 7/28/2014 9:00AM

    Way to go, Dawg! Plateaus are tough, especially when you are very near your goal. But your level of fitness is great- good to not be obsessed by the scale. My son is a hockey referee. Being a sports official is quite the challenging job.

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MARGARITTM 7/28/2014 8:54AM

    Nice job and very interesting - I am pleased to see that the officials must be able to "walk the talk".

In my experience as a mom of 2 (now adult) active males I have seen some coaches and officials that didn't appear to be in shape to go out and pick up the newspaper!

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DEW1960 7/28/2014 8:31AM


Don't worry too much about plateaus, your success is not defined by the scale alone.

You are doing great!

Daniel Walker


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ROXYZMOM 7/28/2014 8:20AM

    I love this blog! You did awesome! Great job figuring out how to maneuver the turns! I bet it felt great to beat the younger folks!! emoticon

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Of course you hurt, it's supposed to hurt. So keep pedalling!

Monday, July 07, 2014

Part 1: A Bicycle is a Unicycle with a Training Wheel

When I was 14 years-old I decided I wanted to work on my balance. I bought a Schwinn unicycle with proceeds from my paper route. I had no idea how to ride a unicycle. I had even less of an idea on how to learn to ride a unicycle.

My older brother taught me how to ride a bike, which in retrospect, would constitute cruel and unusual punishment in any court in the land!

I was on my own trying to learn how to ride a unicycle. I spent many hours pedaling my unicycle back-and-forth across the driveway using the garage door for support. I fell off a lot!

Slowly, very slowly, I started to get the hang of it. At first I could do just a few peddle strokes without leaning against the garage door. Then all of a sudden I felt a surge of confidence and I took off down the driveway. It worked! I could ride a unicycle!

I learned how to pivot the unicycle, balance without moving, backup, hop sideways, and jump over stuff. I could stand up, move the seat out of the way, and pedal just standing on the wheel.

The coolest thing I could do was go up and down stairs! I used my unicycle to collect from my paper route customers. The tips rolled in! I could almost always get to the door on my unicycle, ring the doorbell, take the money, make change and give the customer a receipt, without getting off the unicycle!

In the last 40 years, unicycles have become really cool.

This is an Nimbus Oregon 26" Mountain Unicycle with a Surly Nate "Fat" tire. This bad boy has a hydraulic disk brake and downhill pedals. For the modest price of $830 you get an all-terrain unicycle that can take on any technical terrain.

But wait a minute - I already have seven really cool bikes. How much trail time is this killer unicycle going to see? It already takes me a week to ride all the bikes I have. I decided to pass on the ultimate unicycle.

Part 2: One of The Best Bike I Have Ever Been On

Earlier this year I attended the Bike Junkies Fest hosted by the Golden Bike Shop. Here is link to my blog about the event:


One bike I demoed really stood out. I fell in love with the 26" Pivot Mach 5.7 Carbon XT/XTR PRO.

This bike is a rocket and has 150mm (6") of trail gobbling suspension travel. Although the Mach 5.7 climbed well, the descent was where it shined! When I hit the lower part of Chimney Gulch I just let the bike go!

Here is the lower part of Chimney Gulch. This trail segment consists of anti-erosion timbers, big rocks and steep drops. I hit this nightmare going over 20 mph. I just relaxed and let the bike do the work. The Mach 5.7 floated over the obstacles. Even to glance at the brakes during this rough segment was certain death! At the end of the bumps was a 90 degree corner. I threw the bike into the corner pretty much thinking I was dead meat. The bike tracked through the corner like it was on rails!

I was in love.

But the Pivot Mach 5.7 is really expensive. Even on sale this bike is $6,000. To afford this bike, I would have to part with my Specialized Camber "Little Cam", Specialized Allez road bike, Surly cross bike and my Honda CRF230 dirt motorcycle. I am already selling my Suzuki DL1000 street motorcycle to get a bigger down payment on a new car for my wife.

I already have plenty of great mountain bikes. I had to pass on the Pivot Mach 5.7.

My best bike is a 2012 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Carbon Expert. This bike is fast! I installed bigger disc brakes to help control speed. "Ultra-Stumpy" is an endurance racing bike. The Pivot is an all mountain bike. However, Ultra-Stumpy has 130mm of travel and can take on bad terrain. I think I am set.

Part 3: Better Ride Mountain Bike Training Camp

I decided to attend a three day mountain bike training camp that will be held in Evergreen, Colorado, on August 15th through August 17th.


I find mountain biking more strenuous than road biking. When I ride my road bike, I pretty much stay in the saddle and pedal. When I ride a mountain bike, I am rarely on the saddle. Mountain biking takes more upper body strength than road riding.

The uneven and loose surface can knock the front wheel all over the place. Even though mountain biking can result in some spectacular crashes.

I consider mountain biking safer than road riding since I regard careless drivers to be a lot greater hazard than a few rocks.

This is a mountain bike trail near Golden called Apex Trail. This trail has a few rocks here and there.

I have a month to get in a lot better shape before the camp. My ankle is healed and I am increasing my running and riding. I have a mountain biking specific strength workout that I have just started.

Even better news I am down 15 pounds!

Thanks for reading my blog.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PDQ1203 7/12/2014 4:50AM


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LMB-ESQ 7/10/2014 10:42AM

    "Bike Junkie" Yup, that's you :-)

Rocks versus drivers? Well, in ordinary circumstances, I'd agree that drivers are way more hazardous. But honestly, Bruce, you put yourself in out-of-the-ordinary circumstances all the time. Are you sure you weren't the model for the Epic Failure poster? Looks plenty hazardous to me!

emoticon for 15 lbs! Excellent!

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BOILHAM 7/9/2014 7:39AM

    Great to see you're back in the saddle and enjoying those rides. You are a beast, enjoy the training camp.

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LINDAKAY228 7/8/2014 7:14PM

    I agree with you about the mountain being safer than the streets! My mom used to get upset about my hiking in the Gila National Forest when she was alive. I told her I stood much more chance of getting run over in town (even on the sidewalk because sometimes people leave the road ha ha) than I did in the mountains! I remember Evergreen, because we lived 35 miles outside of Denver towards Evergreen somewhere (I was 6 when we left so don't remember much) in the mountains and I remember my parents taking us to Evergreen sometimes. Don't remember too much about the town because my memory is fuzzy about my very young childhood LOL but the name sticks in my mind. We moved to New Mexico the summer before I started 1st grade. Kindergarten was an option you paid for back then (dating myself I thing). Glad you get to go to this! I loved the unicycle story. It remind me that I had forgotton that I had a friend in high school who could ride a unicycle. She didn't do it a lot by then, more before I met her I think. She rode it in a local 4th of July parade one year. Small town and I think I only saw 1 or 2 others over the years on unicycles. However lots of people riding street or mountain bikes. Mountain bikes were often seen on the trails when I was in the mountains. I miss those mountains! Love to read your stories!

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TERI-RIFIC 7/8/2014 7:29AM

    Just looking at Chimney Gulch makes me nervous. Thanks for an entertaining and informative blog. Have a great time at the camp. I hope you blog about it. It's fun to read about things I would never do but look like great fun when others do them. I could hike those trails, though. emoticon

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BA5454 7/8/2014 7:04AM

    Bruce you make me hurt, lol. I loved the trail that had a 'few' rocks! Mountain biking is something I've never done, but I can see why you think it's safer than street/road biking. Hope you have a great time at bike camp! P.S. Too bad the unicycle is out of the picture, it's kind of a neat thing. Had no idea they even made them anymore.

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PMRUNNER 7/8/2014 6:18AM

    Have fun at camp! Sounds awesome!

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KA_JUN 7/7/2014 11:23PM

    MUNI, nice! Good to hear you're out there sending it on the trail! Ride on!

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CHARITYAK 7/7/2014 10:34PM

    I have a 2013 specialized stump jumper and adore it! Was always a Trek girl up to that point.

And recently did a 100K Tour de Cure and there was a guy who did the entire thing on a unicycle! What a stud!

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ROXYZMOM 7/7/2014 10:15PM

    I will bet learning how to ride that unicycle has helped you tremendously with riding your bikes on that tough terrain. I haven't ridden a unicycle, but can imagine it's all core.

Congratulations on your weight loss. I am so happy for you to be back on your bikes! Can't blame you for staying away from cars. That was a very long year for you!

Comment edited on: 7/7/2014 10:16:27 PM

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SHESMITH1 7/7/2014 8:50PM

    A true bike junkie! Don't ever quit!

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NATPLUMMER 7/7/2014 7:43PM

    Wowa unicycle! I'm totally impressed!!
I'm glad your ankle is letting you get out to run and ride. Yay for 15 pounds!!

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    Down 15 lbs! Nice!
Yup, just a couple of rocks here and there on the Apex trail :)
What little (hybrid) off road experience I have, I can't even imagine riding a trail like this.
I'll stick to hiking for the crazy terrain.
Training class sounds like fun.
Ride on & spark on.

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    emoticon emoticon

You and your bicycle adventures are an incredible look into the life of an extreme enthusiast. Love it!

You'll get into shape and you'll have a blast at the camp.

Congrats on the weight loss. That is awesome!

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Bike Ride Back to the Past

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Part 1: A Little History

On January 29th I had reconstructive ankle surgery that took a lot out of me. I was in a cast for 6 weeks, which seemed like an eternity. After the cast came off, I had 8 weeks of physical therapy. I finally got the okay from my doctor to run and ride.

I have always been very active. I found rest and recuperation like being in prison!

Part 2: Riding for Fitness

I have a lot of bikes. Each bike has is different. My all-purpose bike is a Surly Cross-Check. My Surly is decent pavement bike that can handle rough dirt roads and easy trails.

For my mountainous neighborhood, the Surly is a perfect fun and fitness bike.

I made a few changes to the Surly including lower gearing, knobby tires, better brakes and more comfortable saddle.

Part 3: High Meadow

Yesterday, June 22nd, I jumped on my Surly and took off for a long ride. Since it was likely to be dark by the time I got back home, I put my headlight and tail light on the bike. I wanted to ride a few miles on pavement then hit the dirt.

I decided to ride the High Meadow area. Fourteen years ago, on June 12, 2000, a carelessly discarded cigarette started a forest fire on High Meadow that burned 10,800 acres. We had to evacuate. On the ridges above my house was a 170 feet wall of flame.

This is a photo of the High Meadow fire. This condition is known as a "crowned-out" and reaches temperatures of over 2,200 F.

The fire flared-up so quickly that many residents had to evacuate between walls of flame. We had less than 15 minutes to pack-up and leave. I was sure I had seen the last of my house.

As luck would have it, the fire burned directly away from my house. I was let through the police road blocks to get back to my house during the day. My house would shake when the slurry bombers would fly over. These planes came in very low.

The pilots that fly these planes are brave and skilled.

Part 4: High Meadow is Beautiful and Quiet Now

During the last 14 years the burned trees have fallen down and enriched the soil. The burn area is now a rich grassland that is full of berry bushes and wild flowers. I like riding through High Meadow because it is so beautiful.

As I rode along High Meadow the sun was starting to set.

I stopped to take a drink of water. There are very few houses in the burn area. There was no sound and it was a little spooky. I noticed I was near an overgrown driveway. For no good reason, I walked my bike down the driveway to the houseless foundation.

This house used to belong to a nice young couple that were our friends. Where the far end burnt log now sits, we had many dinners together and shared great conversation.

In the setting sun, I could remember what the house looked like. The house was nearly new and the view was spectacular.

There was a forest here once. The burned trees fell over as the years went by. This area provides great grazing and browsing for deer and elk.

If you have a good eye, you can see the burn area on the other side of the valley, which is slightly to the right of my bike.

Our friends never came back. They lost two dogs and cat in the fire. They were not allowed past the police roadblock to get their animals. My wife talked with them afterward. There was just too much pain and they did not want to rebuild.

I got back on my bike and rode home. I am not going to stop by the sad foundation again. I should not have stopped in the first place. The view is so pretty though.

Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HARRINGTON5 6/26/2014 5:30PM

    What beautiful pictures. You are such a good writer. I love reading your blogs. I was just checking in to see how you were doing.

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IFDEEVARUNS2 6/26/2014 11:05AM


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LINDAKAY228 6/24/2014 12:13PM

    Coming from New Mexico, I know also what those wildfires can be like! I lived in town and never had to evacuate but saw devastation around me from various fires. I have also hiked through areas that had been burned and seen the devastation, but also seen how things can grow back in a few years and both the good and the bad. My daughter's brother-in-law and family was living in Show Low several years ago when a huge fire went through the areas in and around there and they had to be evacuated. We had a fire that started on a main road into Silver City when a car pulled over and the catalytic converter started a fire on the dry weeds one spring when the winds were terrible. The area it started didn't have houses, but there were gusts up to 70 mph and the fire spread very very rapidly to a subdivision and the people there had minutes to evacuate. Due to the hard work of a whole slew of fire fighters from different levels of government only 5 houses were lost. That's still too many but it could have been worse. Last summer, in June, there was a huge wildfire about an 45 minutes by road from where we lived in the Gila National Forest. I'm so sorry for your friends and their loss and anyone else that has losses. I'm so glad you got to get out and ride the bike. Healing is a long slow process sometimes but you are making great strides now! I know what you mean about being in prison!

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NATPLUMMER 6/24/2014 11:37AM

    So sad and scary!! I would be devastated if I couldn't have saved my cats.

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LMB-ESQ 6/24/2014 9:26AM

    Wow, what a tragic story. And scary too! I can't imagine being chased down by walls of flame. I'm so sorry for your friends. I would feel terrible pain over the loss of my pets also. The pics of their foundation are haunting. Do you still keep in touch with them even though they didn't come back to the area?

I am always awestruck at stories of fire and the terrible devastation it leaves behind, as well as the rebirth afterwards.

Thanks for sharing this.

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PMRUNNER 6/24/2014 7:05AM

    Thank you for sharing, quite a story!

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ROXYZMOM 6/24/2014 6:59AM

    How tragic for your friends and everyone else who lost a home. I can't begin to imagine how scary that must have been for all of you. I hope that ride gave you some sort of closure. 14 years ago must have felt like yesterday during that ride.

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BA5454 6/24/2014 6:47AM

    Sad story--and sorry for your loss, because 'losing' friends to them moving away *is* a loss (I know the feeling). Good to hear the land is slowly coming back, Mother Nature can be a wonderful thing. And congrats to you for getting out there on the ride--here's to many more!

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    Wow, you were very fortunate. I'm with your friends - I would have not wanted to rebuild either. So sad.

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WEARINGTHIN 6/24/2014 12:51AM

    Thanks for the pics and the story. I imagine the bikes are probably some of the best exercise for you after the surgery. Best wishes, Glenn

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Rehab, Run, Ride, Lift and Track - Sounds Easy

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Part 1: Fighting to Lose Weight and Get Back in Shape

I know exactly the time and date that I was last in great shape. On August 19th 2011 at 12:00pm I was standing at the starting line of the Leadville 10k. This race is billed as "The Highest 10K Race in America". The starting line was at 10,152 feet of elevation.

Unfortunately, the start was botched. The Starter was supposed to go "1-2-3 Bang". Instead, she went "1-2-3-4 Bang"! Expecting the gun after the count of three, the pack surged ahead. When the racers realized the gun had not gone off, they stopped. I put on the brakes to keep from clobbering the person in front of me. As I slammed my right foot forward to stop, I suffered a grade III muscle strain in my right calf. I had severely tore and ruptured the calf muscle.

It felt like someone took a knife and sliced through my calf muscle. The pain was intense. But I thought I just had a cramp. I ran about a 1/2 mile and managed to get to the side of the road. I stretched the calf and kept running.

I stopped a lot during the race and turned in a terrible 72:12 minute time. My wife was wondering where I was. She knew I could run 10k in at little over 50 minutes even at high altitude. She snapped the above shot as I attempted to sprint toward the finish.

I was on crutches for a long time. I have never raced since. While recuperating I gained 10 pounds. Before the Leadville 10K disaster I had lost over 85 pounds and was pretty fast.

This also marks the time that I started looking for lower impact exercise. I started doing more biking than running. Prior to Leadville I was primarily a runner. I biked for fun and cross-training. After Leadville I became primarily a mountain biker. I ran to get in better shape for biking.

Part 2: Becoming a Roadie - Big Mistake

My torn calf took a long time to heal. There is sill a visible gash in my right calf muscle. In May 2012 I bought a superb full-suspension mountain bike I call "Ultra-Stumpy".

Ultra-Stumpy is a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Carbon Expert model. This bike is made of carbon-fiber and titanium. Ultra-Stumpy is scary fast.

I live in the mountains of Colorado so good mountain biking terrain is at the end of my driveway. However, I work in downtown Denver, which is road bike country. I decided to buy a road bike. At first, I wisely had decided on a dual-purpose cross bike. But when I test rode a sport/racing road bike I changed my mind.

I bought a Specialized Allez. This bike is smooth and handles well. Compared to my mountain bikes, the Allez is wicked easy to pedal. My Allez is a pure road bike that can only be used on hard surfaces. Once the tires heat up, this bike rails through the sharpest corners. With modest pedaling effort, the Allez cruises at 30 mph on a level road.

I even bought a roadie outfit, including roadie shoes, roadie shorts and roadie jersey. I looked like a bona fide roadie. I was even temped to act like a bona fide roadie and sneer at lesser bikes, such as fat-tired cruisers, silly hybrids and, of course, those contemptible mountain bikes.

Then came May 22, 2013. At 6:05pm a woman in a Toyota Forerunner made a turn in front of me as I rode down Cherry Creek bike path. I had the green signal. I had the right-of-way. She saw me coming. She was talking on her cell phone. She had a chance to stop and let me by. She pulled directly in front of me when I was 12 feet away. I had less than 9/10ths of a seconds to react before impact. No human being on earth could have avoided the collision.

Right before the impact. I closed my eyes and relaxed. The noise and pain were amazing.

Besides many cuts and bruises, I suffered torn ligaments and tendons in my right foot, torn ligaments and a torn labrum in my right shoulder rotator cuff, a severe concussion, and compressed discs in my neck.

I thought I was okay. I did not have my cell phone. I really needed an ambulance. But because of the blow to my head, I was not thinking straight. I was in shock.

These injuries eventually put a stop to my exercise routines. My ankle has been rebuilt but my shoulder and neck still cause me some difficulties. I elected not to have neck surgery. I have another round of intensive neck rehab coming. I have put off shoulder surgery. I don't want to go through the 6 months of healing and rehab until the winter.

This is a photo of my ankle a few weeks after surgery. I snapped this shot while getting fitted for a new cast.

This is a shot of my first cast. My leg has lost most of this definition during the healing phase.

Part 3: Weight Gain and Strength Loss

Since the Leadville 10K in August of 2011, I have gained 30 pounds. What is worse than gaining weight is my loss of strength and cardio-vascular conditioning. It is hard to get motivated when normal activity hurts. I am struggling to ride my bikes just half the distance I used to. Running is also challenging.

I have difficulty controlling my appetite if I am not active.

Part 4: My Plan - Rehab, Run, Ride, Lift and Track

I got to get back on track. I have been putting off more rehab on my neck because it really hurts. I got a good recommendation for a rehab specialist from a coworker that had the same neck injury. I work in health care and the coworker is a neural therapist and certified fitness trainer.

I got to bite the bullet and workout frequently. Right now, I can muster about one or two bike rides a week. I have to start running, not just riding.

I need to get more strength. I can start out with light weights. I have also been hit-and-miss on nutrition. I have been drinking too much beer because it makes the pain more bearable.

I guess I am lucky I have only put on 30 pounds.

Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TEDDYBABE2 6/22/2014 12:01AM

  Well old friend. Sounds like I joined Spark People just in time. You have more tenacity than most. Maybe smaller goals to start. You can do it!! Speedybabe emoticon

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BA5454 6/16/2014 6:40PM

    Oh gosh, I'm familiar with that race as I lived in CO for a number of years (but never ran it). So sorry to hear about your injuries, it seems like you have a good plan for tracking and rehab, though. Hope you keep your chin up (I kind of get the idea that being inactive may bother you) and good luck!

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KENDRACARROLL 6/16/2014 3:06PM

    Man, Bruce, that really sucks. Getting banged up and having to live in pain is just awful. Glad you're determined. Do what you can.
Better nutrition is a good place to start.
Wishing you well.

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BILL60 6/15/2014 8:45AM

    So sorry to hear your bad luck. The important thing to all of this is not to stop exercising. As long as it's safe, do it. I remember coming back from Viet Nam and having some serious lower extremity wounds. Luckily, I wanted to return to full duty ASAP and had to work through the pain and exercise. Good luck to you and keep the faith.

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NATPLUMMER 6/14/2014 11:04PM


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LINDAKAY228 6/14/2014 10:38PM

    I was in pretty much my best shape when I had the stroke too. And I've put on about 25 pounds since then. I lost a few of them but then went to see a friend for a few weeks and have put those back on I think although I don't have a scale at her place. Tuesday I fly back to TX and I've got to get serious too about really getting in shape and getting my nutrition under control. My balance is so messed up since the stroke that I'm hoping if I start working more on core training it will help. Sounds like we both have some serious work to do! But I know that both of us can do it whatever our methods may be. I know I can't use my health for an excuse. I used ot run some but not as much as you did. Now I can't run due to balance but I'm hoping that gets better with time. I can walk and hike though, although it is more painful and takes longer than it used to. But there is no holding us down!

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LMB-ESQ 6/14/2014 5:23PM

    You've just had one thing after another haven't you? I'm in the same place but I can't claim accidents as a reason. I just got lazy. 20 lbs up over a year and a half. I need to get back on track too and get my shape and strength back. We should hold each other accountable.

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    Wow, this is one of the most explanatory blogs about your total situation I've had the pleasure to read. I've got a fuller picture of what has happen and what you have endured. I know you like to be active and involved. I understand the feeling one gets when "they've made it" in weight loss/fitness. I also have gone through the downhill slide afterwards for my own serious reasons. And, like you I am on the slow path of recovery and making certain I do what is right for me to do for a total health picture.

If anything has Sparked me to get my butt in gear and do my lap at the mall tomorrow and every day next week and continue, it has been this blog.

Thank you my friend. Looking forward to your recovery and weight reduction.

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HARRINGTON5 6/14/2014 1:34PM

    OMG! You have been through so much! I know how strong and determined you are and I have faith that you will bounce back from these injuries. I stopped running for over two years because I have worn the cartilage down so much in my left knee that it is always swollen and used to hurt all the time. The surgeon told me surgery wouldn't help and I am not interested in a knee replacement, so I started walking and then jogging a little. I found a really good knee brace and with that I can jog enough to enter races again. I am not fast any more, but I am still in the game and at 66, I feel good about that. Take care of yourself and don't push too hard. I also put on about 30 pounds and I have been working this whole year to get it back off. I am almost there. My prayers are with you and I hope you recover quickly. You have a good frame of mind and that will help get you through. Hugs, Cynthia

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MJRVIC2000 6/14/2014 1:22PM

    You can do it! But it's going to take planning and commitment, along with lifestyle changes. God Bless YOU! Vic..

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