29 June 2012

Kick the heck out of MS

UK shoppers were treated to a surprise performance when more than 35 traditional Korean martial arts students emerged from the crowd to take part in an MS Fightback Flashmob to mark MS Week 2012 and honor 100,000 people living with multiple sclerosis in the UK.

The heart-rending excerpt by Elizabeth Damewood Gaucher published here leaves me wanting to read the entire account. I want to know if there is a happy ending.

The Lizard and I will be riding 150 miles this weekend in support and honor of those diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Please join us in the fight. May a cure be found. Soon.

28 June 2012

Relief in Many Flavors

what the route would have been

A collective "we" of about 2,500 riders have been on pins and needles for two weeks now awaiting word on this weekend's MS-150 charity bicycle ride. The High Park fire outside of Fort Collins continues to wreak havoc, and fires across the state have stretched our firefighters as thin as they can possibly be. Then began yet another monster firestorm on the other side of us, near Colorado Springs, followed by lightning strikes near boulder that set even more trees ablaze.

I would have been satisfied and at ease if the MS-150 had been cancelled this year. In my mind, it's more important to get the fires contained than to ride a bike. Nevertheless, the ride has been re-routed and will go on as planned, just shorter, more direct and flatter. More SAG vehicles than ever before will be available to transport riders who cannot ride or chose not to ride in smoke conditions that cannot at this point be forecast. Many of the riders have MS, and the combination of heat (which IS predictable AND predicted at this point) and smoke could cause severe health issues for them. The MS-150 has always been one of my favorite rides because the organizers take such good care of their riders, from the variety of special-needs food provided along the way to bicycle maintenance to one-on-one concern and care for those who ride with multiple sclerosis.

There I go, surrounding him in pink again...

The revised MS-150 route announcement came on the heels of receiving results from my mammogram. No anomalies this time around. Dancing for joy. Relief in glorious pink.

home, sweet home

Also igniting my adrenaline was getting my beloved Nikon back from the shop this week. (Can you feel my joy?!?) I turned it in for another dusting prior to Ride the Rockies and expected it to be ready by the time we got home. At 15 days, I called to find out if the six- to seven-day repair had been complete, and I was told two more weeks.

I think it's important to go back to photography roots, such as using a simpler and less fancy camera, every once in a while to keep camera and composition skills sharp. I don't like the point and shoot or iPhone as much as the Nikon, but the smaller cameras teach me and remind me things I take for granted when I use the most modern of technology. So I dug my heels in and prepared to get by on the smaller cameras for a while.

The day after I called the shop, the shop called me back and said the camera was ready. Joy! Joy! Joy! I wasted no time picking it up as soon as I got off work that night. I'll be able to use the "real" camera for fireworks. Assuming we have any in the state of Colorado...

limitations, limitations

Speaking of technology, I invested in a new toy for the iPhone. The Lizard had convinced me not to take the Nikon on Ride the Rockies and to cut back on weight as much as possible to help me get up the mountains a little easier, since I didn't get to train as much as I needed this year. I took the iPhone so I could listen to music on the climbs, to help keep my cadence steady, to use as an alarm clock, and also to use as a camera (because it allows me to email photos). (If I have signal.) (Which we didn't most of the week.) I also took my 10-year-old point and shoot, which is airy light and features a big shutter delay. Oh, and frequent autofocus (the only option) shortfalls. As I've mentioned before, I forgot to take an extra memory card, so I had a 25-shot per day diet throughout Ride the Rockies. I didn't like the diet at all, but I did live within it, and I suppose I learned from the experience.

Altitude and cold nights drained the iPhone each day, which meant I couldn't use it for both photos and music. Each evening of Ride the Rockies, I had to find a plug and recharge for at least two hours, which was not my idea of relaxation after 70 miles and a big climb, so I could set the alarm for the next morning. Even when I tried to keep the phone warm each night, the power was down by at least 30% each morning before I even got on my bike.

As a result, I listened to music only while climbing the steepest section of Independence Pass. I listened to the birds, the streams, the leaves rustling and the wind the rest of the ride.

going solar

Because of the iPhone frustrations during RtR, I bought a solar charger for the iPhone. Who knew such a thing existed?!?

When it arrived in the mail this week, my first thought was, "This is WAY too HEAVY!" I thought it would be easier to carry the Nikon! As it turns out, the heavy portion of the package is the AA battery pack, which I don't need for the iPhone.

I plan to try charging the solar pack during my ride this weekend and to try using the solar pack to recharge the iPhone overnight. At least I should have signal the entire weekend!

point and shoot smoky sunrise

26 June 2012

Wordless Wednesday

mama and teenagers

fairy trumpet







I got you covered.

here, lizard, lizard, lizard

protective mama

Operation Marigold

hide and seek

About a year ago, I made a hat for a neighbor who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The hat was patterned after one I'd designed years earlier for a very dear friend battling ovarian cancer. Crocheters have been begging me to write the pattern for the two hats. I didn't get it done because I was tied up with snowflakes. And socks. And snowflake motif projects. Oh, and cycling...

Curly Q Hat

Recently a blogging buddy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Mrs. Micawber and I thought it would be the perfect time to write our hat patterns, in honor of the Goatmother and all those battling cancer. Mrs. Micawber thought a hat drive would be a great idea, and she has done most of the footwork in launching our Operation Marigold. Her hat pattern was published last Saturday. (See the Goatmother in her beautiful turquoise hat here. And see her again in two more incredible hats, including the Curly Q, here.)

Just a short time after Mrs. Micawber and I committed to this project, I learned another of my very close friends has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Then came word a close friend has been prescribed to have a mammogram every three months because she, too, has found a suspect lump. Then last weekend at church, I learned of a young mother whose toddler is undergoing chemo. Time to start Butting the Hay Out of Cancer!

This hat pattern is designed with love and admiration in honor of everyone currently facing a battle with cancer.

Hats for chemo patients should be soft, cover the entire head and be washable. Keep in mind some cancer patients are unable to tolerate wool or animal fibers. Color schemes should be upbeat but also fashionable and suitable for everyday wear.

Below is a list of charities that accept hats, but you also may contact hospitals or cancer/oncology centers in the area where you live to see if they accept donations. The list below is alphabetical and not in any order of preference.

Caps for a Cure
Chuck's Hats for Chemo
Halos of Hope
Hat Box Foundation
Hats off for Cancer
Head Huggers
Knits of Hope
Knots of Love

Other charities exist to provide warm handmade items to homeless, AIDS patients, victims of domestic violence, less fortunate, families who have lost everything through tragedy such as fire, and military soldiers and their families, but our focus this month is on cancer, so I have not included such charities in this post. However, a terrific list is located at Daily Crocheter.

You may do whatever you'd like with hats you make from this pattern, but please consider donating at least one hat you make to charity or to someone you know battling this all-too-common enemy.

We'd love to see the hats you create for charity. Please share them with us here.

You may not sell or republish this pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!

Curly Q Hat

Finished Size: 7 inches from top of crown to brim, not including tendrils, 23 inches around
Materials: Approximately 200 yards of the softest yarn you can get your hands on (for the turquoise hat, I used one skein of Yarn Bee's Soft Delight Extremes), size H crochet hook, three big beads (optional), sewing needle, thread to match yarn

Curly Qs

Curly Q Hat Instructions

Make magic ring. Tutorial here.

Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 11 dc in ring; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2. Pull magic circle tight.
Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in same ch as sl st from Round 1, 2 dc in each dc around for a total of 24; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
Round 3: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in same ch as sl st from Round 2, 1 dc in next dc, * 2 dc in next dc, 1 dc in next dc; repeat from * around 10 times for a total of 36 dc; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
Round 4: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in next dc, 2 dc in next dc, *1 dc in each of next 2 dc, 2 dc in next dc; repeat from * around 10 times for a total of 48 dc; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
Round 5: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in each dc around, increasing 1 dc 6 times evenly spaced around for a total of 54 dc; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
Round 6: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in each dc around, increasing 1 dc 6 times evenly spaced around but not directly above increases of Round 5 for a total of 60 dc; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
Round 7: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in each dc around, increasing 1 dc 3 times evenly spaced around for a total of 63 dc; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
Round 8: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in each dc around, increasing 1 dc 3 times evenly spaced around for a total of 66 dc; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
Rounds 9-13: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in each dc around; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.
Round 14: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in each of next 2 dc, [ch 5, 3 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 3 ch, 1 dc in each of next 3 dc] 3 times, [ch 10, 3 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 8 ch, 1 dc in each of next 3 dc] 3 times, [ch 15, 3 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 13 ch, 1 dc in each of next 3 dc] 3 times, [ch 20, 3 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 18 ch, 1 dc in each of next 3 dc] 4 times, [ch 15, 3 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 13 ch, 1 dc in each of next 3 dc] 3 times, [ch 10, 3 sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 8 ch, 1 dc in each of next 3 dc] 3 times, omitting final 3 dc of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2; bind off. Weave in ends.

flowery Curly Q Hat

Optional Flower Instructions

Flower 1

Round 1: Make magic ring. Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 11 dc in ring; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
Round 2: *3 dc in next dc, sl st in next dc; repeat from * around 5 times, ending with sl st in starting sl st. Bind off; no need to weave in ends. Ends may be used to attach flower to hat.

Flower 2

Round 1: Make magic ring. Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 11 dc in ring; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
Round 2: *5 dc in next dc, sl st in next dc; repeat from * around 5 times, ending with sl st in starting sl st. Bind off; use ends to attach flower to hat.

Flower 3

Round 1: Make magic ring. 9 sc in ring. Sl st in starting sc.
Round 2: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in same st as final sl st of Round 1, 2 dc in each sc around for a total of 18 dc. Sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 2.
Round 3: *1 sc in next dc, 3 dc in next dc, 1 sc in next sc; repeat from * around 5 times for a total of 6 petals. Sl st in starting sc; bind off. Use ends to attach flower to hat.

super soft stash


beaded flowers

Flowery Curly Q Hat

To make hat larger, increase 6 stitches instead of 3 on Round 8. To make it even larger, increase in multiple of 3 stitches on the 9th Round. Adjust number of tendrils in relation to number of stitches added in Rounds 9 through 13, such as, one additional tendril for every 3 stitches added.

To make hat smaller, don't increase on Round 8. To make hat even smaller, increase only 3 stitches on Round 7. Adjust number of tendrils based on total number of stitches when working even, such as one less tendril for every 3 stitches less than 66.

To make hat shorter or longer, add or subtract even Rounds.

Finish: Attach bead to center of each flower, if desired. Attach flowers to hat, if desired. Weave in ends. Present hat to recipient. Smile, because you’ve done something good today and made the world a better place.

Curly Qs and Beads

25 June 2012

Snowflake Monday

Mount Sopris provides the most stunning view on the way to Basalt.

Earlier this year, I challenged myself to create a snowflake a day for seven days straight. I was trying to build up my stash of patterns for cycling season, and I wanted to see if I could push myself into higher production.

The experiment was a joy, even when my job required more hours than normal. I ended up designing 11 snowflakes and writing 11 patterns in 11 days before other commitments put an end to the streak. (Today's snowflake is NOT one of the 11.)

Designing a snowflake might take me as few as 20 minutes or could require up to a couple of hours, depending upon complexity. Writing the pattern takes a couple hours more. If I think I need a photo tutorial for a complex pattern, that takes a few hours more, plus sometimes coordinating my schedule with my husband's so he can photograph my hands. (I position the crochet hook and shoot it myself if he is unavailable.)

Stiffening snowflakes takes overnight, and I photograph flakes the following day. Uploading one snowflake photo from slow dial-up at home takes up to half an hour. (A tutorial must be uploaded somewhere with better internet access than what is available in my neighborhood.)

The entire process is time-consuming. But I've been working through this routine once a week for coming up on three years this fall, so it doesn't feel like much of a time hog to me. It's refreshing, rewarding, challenging, inspiring and even fun. Yet it does require time. Sometimes, LOTS of time.

Imagine my surprise when one of my readers let me in on a little Icelandic secret during a rare moment of viable cell phone and internet signal while I was Riding the Rockies two weeks ago. Meli Bondre is designing a flower a day for 365 days and publishing the free patterns on her blog! Because of my daily goal earlier this year, I truly appreciate the commitment Meli has made, and I just can't imagine designing and writing patterns every single day for an entire year!!! Please check out her beautiful crochet patterns and let her know you appreciate what she is doing. (Thanks, Autumn, for sending me the link!)

Meli's project was introduced to me during a time when I've been considering decorating a stone a week with a snowflake, and today's pattern is the third in the series, although I've covered six stones now (not all with snowflakes, but all with the same ecru thread) and have not written and do not intend to write the patterns for the first three stones I covered. Our house came with an extensive rock garden that gets quite hot in the summer, so hot that the rocks reflecting the heat kill a lot of the drought-tolerant and drought-resistant plants (including Icelandic poppies) I've added to our landscape to beautify our surroundings. One day I wondered if crochet-covered rocks might cool down the reflected heat just a bit, while providing a highly unique brand of splendor to my little neck of the high prairie.

Basalt Snowflake

The goal has always been to make our yard the showcase of the neighborhood. I like to knock people's socks off, and this is my latest brainstorm to achieve the objective.

As I was trying to come up with a name for this snowflake pattern, the names Stone Snowflake, Garden Snowflake and Green Thumb Snowflake were tossed about. After a few Icelandic names suggested by The Lizard, I opted for Basalt, what most of Iceland is made of and also the name of one of the small towns I pedaled through during this year's Ride the Rockies.




The winner of last week's drawing for a set of my cute, cuddly, tiny teddy bears in tiny socks greeting cards is Laurie Russo. We'll be riding the MS-150 this weekend, so there's time for one more drawing. Everyone who makes a tax-deductible contribution in The Lizard's name by noon Mountain Time on Friday, June 29, will be entered in another drawing for my infamous worm in an apple, which is going to be a painful thing to give away. I love this little guy, and I hope the winner will love him as much as I do. All donors will continue to receive a PDF copy of this year's snowflake pattern booklet, which features three amigurumi snowflake patterns that will not be published anywhere else. Read more about our fundraising drive here.

You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!

Basalt Snowflake

Finished Size: 4 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 8 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or foil, cellophane tape, glue, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

Basalt Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: Sl st into ring, ch 3 (counts as 1 dc and ch 1), *1 dc in ring, ch 1; repeat from * around 10 more times for a total of 12 spokes; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 4. Pull magic circle tight.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Round 2: *1 sc in next ch 1 sp, 2 dc in same sp, ch 5, 2 dc in 3rd ch from hook, ch 7, 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook, 1 dc in next ch, 1 tr in next ch, ch 2, sk 2 ch, 1 hdc in next ch, ch 4, 2 dc in 3rd ch from hook, ch 2, 2 dc in next ch 1 sp in main body of flake, 1 sc in same sp; repeat from * around five times; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.

Finish: Tape wax paper or foil to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or foil.

Mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or foil. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch the snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

Basalt Snowflake

22 June 2012

End of the Road

Day Six
Estes Park to Fort Collins
47 miles
15 June 2012

Longs Peak

It felt so good to NOT get up at 4:30 this morning! We slept until a whopping 5 a.m. How's that for sleeping in?!?

The smoke didn't seem as bad this morning, and lightning was dancing over the hills to the east.

Today's ride was re-routed to feature minimal climbing to protect the health of the riders, to minimize taxing of law enforcement resources in the county beleaguered by wildfire and to keep firefighter road access open and uncongested.

The route originally would have taken us down Devil's Gulch and Big Thompson Canyon, down, down, down, high speed descent, then via Masonville up Horsetooth Reservoir, a whale of a low-elevation climb also featured in the MS-150, which ride also may be re-routed if smoke and fire are still dire next weekend. The Ride the Rockies climb of Horsetooth was eliminated, and we took a direct and straightforward route into Fort Collins via Loveland instead. The plains ripple and wave, so the new route wasn't entirely flat and climb-free, but much faster, especially given the tailwind aiding us whenever we headed north.

That friendly, helpful tailwind, cherished by all cyclists, however, is an angry enemy to firefighters. Any wind at all serves only to hinder firefighters and whip fires into renewed frenzy. I think all of us would rather have had no wind at all and drenching rain sans lightning over High Park to aid the firefighters and prevent further loss of lives, homes and forest.

But this is Colorado. It seems we're stuck with the wind.

fire-enhanced sunrise

The Lizard offered to ride with me today, which thrilled me beyond measure. He could have easily bombed down into Fort Collins in less than two hours but instead spent more than four hours riding alongside me most of the way. I insisted he rocket down the Gulch and the Canyon at his speed because he planned to film the descents with his helmet cam, and to go my speed would have been boring on film and completely drained the battery as well. He waited for me at the end of each downhill and then pedaled all the way through Loveland and Fort Collins with me, watching me ride and cooking up some new training plans to hopefully strengthen me on climbs. My coach is already getting creative with his training plans for next year!

Estes Park was a bowl of memories for me, my neck of the woods for eight years prior to abandoning my chosen field of journalism. I had secretly hoped my adopted son might be among the roadside cowbellers welcoming us to Estes Park, but I'm not even sure he lives there, so it wasn't too much of a disappointment when I didn't see him.

Pedaling through McGregor Ranch to Devil's Gulch reminded me of the day my son and I visited a cabin at the top of Devil's Gulch to adopt three long-haired Siamese kittens: Banzai, Kamikaze and Abu. We had to find a family to adopt our three grown loveable and cuddly cats years later when I moved to the metro area into a no-pet apartment. It was like giving away three members of my family, and I'm not sure I ever fully recovered, even though the new farm family loved my kitties as much as I did and provided the perfect home for them.

maybe next time

I'd told The Lizard we had to stop in Glen Haven for cinnamon rolls, the best in the world, and he waited for me in front of the Glen Haven store, which, sadly, wouldn't be open for another hour and a half, so I will have to take him back up there one day to find out why those cinnamon rolls would have been worth waiting for.

Volunteer firefighters in Glen Haven were up early with boots in the hopes of collecting donations from passing cyclists to help build their new fire station. With the fire in Fort Collins heavily on everyone's mind, I had no problem stopping in the middle of a steep downhill to contribute, and was doubly delighted when the firefighters recognized me as the wildlife photographer from their newspaper nearly two decades ago!

The high winds at Drake, where we rejoined the Big Thompson Canyon highway, once again put the Fort Collins fire in our minds. The pancake guy couldn't keep his grill lit, and the firefighters below can't extinguish flames due to the very same wind putting the kibosh on breakfast here.

time for a new pin quilt

The ride through Loveland and Fort Collins went quickly, too quickly. Every time I finish a Ride the Rockies tour, I can't believe it is over so quickly, and I'm sad to be finished, even when I'm sore. As we pedaled along the foothills, The Lizard was reminded of "amber waves of grain" at the very same time I began singing it because I was enjoying watching the tall grass dance in unison in the wind.

Inside Fort Collins, I realized what a great route choice the revised route was because we were in designated bike lanes nearly the entire way. This relieved law enforcement personnel of having to monitor every single intersection and freed them up for more important battles.

At one intersection, The Lizard, who had been riding behind me so he would know where I was (because he frequently loses me when I'm behind him), got into the right turn lane with a car behind him. I was watching him, watching the car behind him and watching the light, all while moving pretty darned fast due to flat road and tailwind, when the light suddenly changed. All I could think was, "Don't squeeze the brakes too tight! Don't squeeze the brakes too tight! Don't squeeze the brakes too tight!" Because that's exactly how I broke my wrist in March. I didn't want a repeat performance, and not just because we were surrounded by cyclists and motorists who would witness my folly!!!

I laid rubber. I didn't go over the handlebars, and I was able to stop in the nick of time, but I left my very noticeable skinny tire signature in the bike lane!

The Lizard grabbed my hand as we crossed the finish line together, first time ever, and I think the official photographer even captured it! That's one photo I'm sure I'm going to end up buying.

Minutes later, a former co-worker and current stairclimbing buddy called out to us; she was there to see her brother-in-law cross the finish line!

394 total miles for me. 443 miles for The Lizard. His four-year-old bike hit 11,000 miles ten miles into today's ride!

securing the wheels

After a very satisfying chicken sandwich and sweet potato fries at Smashburger, we headed home to see how many of my plants survived the week without being watered. We lost about half of my garden, but one of three still hearty tomato plants has its first blossoms!!!

The cycling kits (shorts, jersey and socks) we'd packed in Ziploc bags for each day of the ride and repacked in the same bags each night to keep them separate from our street clothes nearly bowled me over as I unpacked and prepared to do laundry. The idea of keeping kits together in plastic bags so you don't have to dig around to find socks each day WAS truly a great idea from RBR magazine, but they forgot to mention extreme caution should be exercised when opening those bags after a week of fermentation. PPPPPPP-UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!

stinky, stinky

how to dry and air out your tent

21 June 2012

Riders in the Sky

Day Five
Trail Ridge Road
Grandby to Estes Park
64 miles
14 June 2012

Riders in the Sky

I learned about Ride the Rockies while living in Estes Park for eight years and working for the newspaper there. I was assigned to cover the event when it came to our town in 1993.

I shot photos, on black and white 35 mm film, I might add, of riders climbing in soup-thick fog up Many Parks Curve in Rocky Mountain National Park. I have wanted to ride Trail Ridge Road ever since.

Today I lived that dream.

Many Parks Curve

Two weeks ago today, we received our rider manuals via email. A few route changes were described, and the National Park Service, which prohibits commercial vendors and commercial vehicles, had imposed cut-off times to protect riders from thunderstorms that typically begin building just before noon over the highest peaks this time of year.

Never Summers

I knew going into this week I would have to leave before the sun came up today to get through the RNMP gate before 8 a.m. cut-off and to have any hope of reaching the 12,183 summit by what I thought was the 11:30 a.m. cut-off. I knew I would have to carry my own food because water and animal crackers to be provided by RtR wouldn't get me up the mountain.

few on the road, shadow show a la Mrs. Micawber-style

I left our tent just after 4:30 a.m. and was perhaps the second rider on the road until the sky lightened enough to render headlights unnecessary. By the time the sun came up, I was about the 500th rider on the road. But again, this is not a race. It doesn't matter which place I hold, only that I make it all the way up and over.

I deliberately didn't look at any clocks while I rode until I reached Medicine Bow Curve, the final switchback before the summit. One of three park rangers stationed there to direct traffic and literally keep impatient powerful riders in line announced we had 1.3 miles to go. I scrolled through settings on my cyclocomputer until I reached the clock. The time was 11:14. Adrenaline surged.

No problemo!!!


"Are we in danger of being cut off?" I asked the ranger as I wheeled by, slowing to await an answer.

Clouds were forming but seemed to be eager to give a few more riders the opportunity to complete the ride.

"No," the ranger replied, "you're fine. You're all doing great. You'll make it. Keep going!"

Relief washed over me. I knew I wasn't out of the woods yet, even though I had reached timberline and was above the trees. The storm was building. Even if the Park Service gave us an additional hour, we would still need to keep an eye on the clouds. No time to doddle. I was going to make it.

home stretch

less than a mile

living on the edge

I reached the summit at 11:42. Turns out the cut-off was 12:30, so I made it with time to spare, and full SAG buses and bike trailers continuously passed me throughout my descent.

When I looked down to see from whence I’d come,
I thought the SAG wagons were coming to collect us.
But it was just the potty trucks.

When I thought I had missed the cut-off time by 12 minutes, I told myself I should have gotten up a few minutes earlier, stopped to breathe less and not taken pictures of my bike in the snow. I'm thankful I had an hour more than I thought I did, and I'm so excited I beat the time, but the real reason I made it is because the clouds were tardy. I got slapped in the face by graupel on my descent, but lightning never materialized while I was on the road. I made it!

Now I just had to make it to Estes Park in time to attend the cycling seminar with Davis Phinney and Connie Carpenter. All downhill. No problem!

”Chasing Legends” is just about the best cycling movie ever made,
and, no, I’m not getting paid to say that.
The soundtrack by Haik Naltchayan can’t be beat, either.

I arrived at the high school before 2:30, so had plenty of time to shower and eat before listening to a trio of my cycling heroes.

I often talk about meeting Olympian Nelson Vails during my first Ride the Rockies and Olympian Alison Dunlap during my 2010 Ride the Rockies, and I neglect to remember there's another superhero cyclist in there, too, on all four of my Ride the Rockies trips, and I even bought a bike from him.

Davis Phinney and Connie Carpenter

Davis Phinney and Ron Kiefel

Ron Kiefel has been arranging seminar speakers for Ride the Rockies for something like 17 years, so I've been able to enjoy his mini speeches and humor on many occasions. His dad started Wheat Ridge Cyclery in the Denver Metro nearly 35 years ago with a $10,000 investment that now has turned into one of the most profitable bike shops in Colorado. Ron rode the Giro and the Tour and was a co-team member of Team 7-Eleven with Davis Phinney. Ron was the first American to wear the Giro's pink jersey, and only three American riders have achieved that honor to date.

Third in the pink jersey race for America is Davis and Connie's son Taylor, whom they spoke about during the seminar. Taylor claimed the maglia rosa (leader’s jersey) this year on Day 1 of the Giro! Taylor expected to learn the following day if he qualified for this year's Olympics. (HE QUALIFIED!!!!!)

We've always been supporters of the Davis Phinney Foundation, which benefits research and treatment for people with Parkinson's, and I've had Davis' book, "The Happiness of Pursuit" on my Amazon wishlist ever since it was released. As a result of hearing Davis and Connie talk about their son and the Foundation tonight, we now are proud owners of an autographed copy of the book.

Go Taylor!!!

Longs Peak from Rock Cut
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