Posts tagged ‘travel’
Not exactly the same as biking all the way across the country, but I am getting to enjoy a number of spectacular rides during our trip out west to give a presentation at a conference, to visit friends and family, and to race the Cascade Cycling Classic. Here’s some highlights from our trip so far:
East Texas- on the first day of our trip, we drove from Alabama to Tyler, Texas to stay with friends of ours from Mercy Ships. This is also where I met my wife 8 years ago. I rode a 45 mile loop on roads that I used to ride that included passing through YWAM Tyler (Twin Oaks) and the Mercy Ships headquarters from a starting point in Van, Texas.
Carlsbad Caverns, Carlsbad, New Mexico – on our third day, we headed to Carlsbad Caverns to watch the bats fly out at sunset, spend the night, and then explore the caverns the next day. In the morning, I got to ride from our hotel in the town of Carlsbad to the entrance of the caverns at the top of a small mountain. I had been wanting to do that climb since I first visited the caverns as a teenager. It was fun to finally do it, fly up it, and realize that it wasn’t such a hard climb after all!
Flagstaff, Arizona and the Grand Canyon – In Flagstaff, we stayed with Kristine’s cousins Kip and Beth. Kip and I got to go for an awesome ride where he guided me up Snowbowl, a six mile climb at the base of the mountains containing Arizona’s highest point. I turned on the gas for the last two miles and couldn’t believe how hard it was to breath for the last part of the climb rising well above 9000′ by the turnaround point — but it was still a good sign that I could maintain a low zone 5 pace for that entire two miles. We flew down the mountain and then headed towards the Grand Canyon. The road was wide, well paved, and surpisingly little traffic. After the gradual climb to the Nordic ski center, Kip turned around to head back to Flagstaff and I went on to the place where I had planned to rendezvous with Kristine and the kids before heading into the canyon. It was an awesome ride hanging out with Kip, doing an epic climb, and then absolutely flying towards the canyon with a tailwind and a long gradual 2000′ descent. The last five miles was really tough as the road changed direction just enough to have a hard sidewind and started to roll upwards. Also, the sun came out at that spot and I quickly drained the rest of my water finishing my bottle just as I sprinted to meet Kristine at the Flintstone campground.
Las Vegas, Nevada – This was the next stop for us as I was presenting a research paper at a conference. We stayed at the conference hotel, and I was able to ride twice from the hotel to a very cool national conservation area called Red Rock Canyon just outside the city. I saw lots of other bikers, and the road was like none other that I have ridden – a 13 mile scenic loop on a one-way road with no oncoming traffic! So you could fly down and truly enjoy the descent after a tough 5 mile climb. The geography was breathtaking with exposed “red rocks” and towering canyon walls. On the highway bordering the conservation area, there was one spot where you could see the entire 13 mile road laid out before you on the mountainside.
Davis, California – I lived in Davis for six years while I got my Masters and PhD from UC Davis, but it has been four years since our last visit — so my rides over the past three days have brought back tons of memories. From a homebase with my college roomate and his family, I’ve gotten to do rides in three of the four directions leaving town. My kids enjoyed riding in the Arboretum and taking breaks to feed the ducks. I also rode the Tuesday/Thursday training route that leaves from Sutter Davis Hospital, and then today got to do a short ride all over town.
Tomorrow it’s on to Oregon for the Cascade Cycling Classic. Fun riding and hopefully some great racing!
So it is definitely the off-season. One way I know that is because of the number of projects that have managed to make it to the queue for processing. I am working on the development of two different websites in addition to creating a toolkit for monitoring Ajax performance as part of my academic research. I haven’t been riding a ton, but there a few things to note:
- The 2008-2009 BBL season is underway! I am managing the website for the series, and we have really stepped it up this year with organization, prizes, etc… I rode the inaugural weekend but was then out of town last weekend for a conference, and this coming weekend we will be on our way back from Thanksgiving with family in Northern Indiana.
- My Garmin Edge 705 bike computer / GPS unit arrived in the mail yesterday morning. I brought it with me here to Indiana where I am sitting in a coffee shop trying to get caught up on a few things while Kristine and the kids nap. I will write up a detailed review of my experience with the Garmin after my first few rides with it. On an interesting side note – I am writing from Rocky Mountain Cafe – a very cool coffee shop in La Porte, IN. My large mocha was a bit expensive ($4.50), but I have unlimited access to free wireless. This is compared to the other wifi hotspot that I tried – Temple News Agency – where I had the option of paying $4.25 for a large mocha and then paying not $1, not $2, not $3, but $4 for one hour of wireless connectivity. Hmmm, let’s see – $4.50 plus free wifi or $8.25 plus the opportunity to sit in a small cramped building with somebody smoking inside it. I’m glad I just smiled and said “thank you” and left the first spot!
- Finally, it looks like I’ll be doing a couple days of cold-weather riding up here on snow-free roads surrounded by a beautiful snowy countryside up here in La Porte, IN! They had a lake effect snowstorm that dropped about 10 inches of snow a few days ago and all of it has melted from the roads which are completely dry and yet the fields are still covered in snow! It doesn’t get any better than that for a biking southerner who doesn’t get to see snow very often!
Quick summary: 18th today, 17th for the GC
The details: Coming later today (we just got in from our 12 hour drive back home)
Quick update: We made it into Aurora late last night after 14 HOURS in the car yesterday. After a good night’s sleep, Kristine took the kids with our friends to play at a children’s garden/playground nearby, and I am getting caught up on a few things. Later this afternoon I’ll be driving part of the way to Elk Grove and then biking the rest of the way to get a good ride in today and then watch the Pro prologue time trial. The elite amateur race doesn’t start until tomorrow so I’ve got an additional day to recover from the drive up yesterday.
Well, it’s the night before our last major racing trip of the year. Don’t worry – I’ve still got lots more racing to come after this weekend, but this is the last LONG (i.e., >10 hours) trip that we are making. We’ll be pulling out mid-morning tomorrow to drive all the way to Aurora, Illinois to stay with friends of our that have kids the same age as ours. We’re going to try to time our arrival for a little bit after their kids go to sleep – otherwise our kids would be so wound up with excitement they’d probably never go to sleep! Here’s our route:
The race I am heading up to do is the Tour of Elk Grove, which has a huge prize purse of $35,000 for the 2-day amateur stage race ($35,000). That purse is just for the Cat 1-2 field! There is lots of prize money for the other fields, too — including the separate Pro-only race which has $170,000 for that field. The courses are pretty much table-top flat with some good corners on excellent smooth pavement (in 2007 – but Chicago winters are hard, who knows what the road will be like this year!). With so much prize money on offer, it will be hard for a break to get away unless it has the perfect representation from the major teams at the race. Since it is a timed stage race, the sprint time bonuses at the midpoint and end of each race will play a huge part in determing the overall placings. Look for updates, photos, and race reports over the next few days.
We’re leaving bright and early tomorrow morning to head up to Hartselle, Alabama for the state road race. 72 miles, 4 laps of an 18 mile course. After the race we’re heading over to Guntersville, Alabama to stay with the McCrory’s whom we haven’t seen in a while so we’re looking forward to catching up with them and maybe getting to go to church with them Sunday morning … before Josiah’s first bicycle race, ever! Analise is racing, too, and then I’ll get to race at 2:00 (although my race will be a bit longer than theirs!)
1300 miles of driving through 9 states and we have finally made it to Fitchburg, MA. We swung up through Nashville to pick up a U-Haul trailer and load it up with not one, not two, but about 30 bikes for all the juniors, pros, masters, etc. riding for Tri-Star. Check out our travel map:
After we pulled into the dorms at Fitchburg State College, we unloaded the bikes and took off up the road to find the TT course. We found it and had a chance to take a look at the course with some nasty potholes and cracks. The course is mostly uphill for the first 5 miles and then mostly downhill for the last mile. My start time tomorrow is 5:38 PM. Plenty of time to hit up a coffee shop in the morning to check email and get caught up on some work. There’s so much I could write about our trip up, from the beautiful mountains to how crazy it is to drive a GMC suburban pulling a very large and heavy U-Haul trailer for 1300 miles – but instead I’ll just describe one experience which was a highlight for me so far. We had just crossed a large river (the Hudson, maybe?) shortly after entering New York state from Pennsylvania and we needed to stop for something to eat for lunch. I was driving and I saw an exit with a couple of options and pulled over. We ended up at the Hometown Deli and it definitely had the atmosphere of a very authentic New York deli — lots of options with Boar’s Head meat and a buffet spread that had things on it that I feel like the locals would have recognized, but I had no idea what they were. The people there were actually nice, but we must have sounded funny with our Southern accents. I settled on “stuffed shells”, and they were very good. Ok, that’s it for tonight. I am off to bed! No wireless here in my room so I’ll have to post this in the morning from a coffee shop.
We’re settled into the Hampton Inn here just outside of Memphis in Colliersville, TN. It was a nice drive up even with a major nose bleed from Analise which started with “Daddy, my nose is running”. We turn around to see Analise covered in blood from her nose down to her chin (she had wiped blood all over her cheeks and into her hair). Kristine valiantly cleaned her up, calmed her down, and got the bleeding to stop. She was fine in a matter of minutes as if nothing had happened.
After that, we met Lennie and Kim and their kids for a fun Greek/Italian dinner in Tupelo, MS. A short drive later and we made it up here to Colliersville. I just got back from a spin around a cool park called “Eagle Lake” which had a really nice lighted bike path around a lake. There were tons of geese and even a big heron that took off when I rode by it. It was cool to see it swooping out of the water and past one of the lights on the path.
The racing starts bright and early tomorrow morning with a 72 mile road race, followed by a 4 mile mostly flat TT tomorrow afternoon, and an hour-long criterium Sunday morning. Wish me luck!