Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Big show came to town

Seems like there was some kind of big-time bicycle riding race-thing here in Colorado recently.  It was really just plain cool to see the incredible turnout of people coming out to watch a few skinny dudes ride past real fast.  The crowds for Stage 6,  the Golden to Boulder stage on Saturday were pretty much insane for a bike race.  The Flagstaff & Downtown Boulder mobs were almost predictable (still bigger than I imagined... picture plagiarized),  

but it was the crowds in other,  less obvious locations that were amazing.  Highway 93,  Nederland,  Lyons (now THEY know how to party...),  Lee Hill,  and other less obvious locations were basically mobbed,  3-4 deep and more.   Even more amazing was that is was not just the hardcore bike crowd,  but just a big bunch of random people coming out to see it.

Having been around in the Coors Classic era,  it NEVER had a following ANYTHING like what happened Saturday.  Even accounting for the much lower overall population "density" back then,  this was like 10 times the people out to watch.  This really bodes well for the sport in general right now.  The "Lance" effect or not,  there is a huge opportunity here,  and I hope it can be capitalized on.

My early race watching plan involved riding up to Lee Hill Road,  but some "life" kind of stuff got in the way for Saturday morning,  leaving little time to get out.  Instead,  just headed out to the closest random little hill on the course.  We ended up at US36 & Hygene Road,  just south of Lyons.  There were HUNDREDS of people out there.

As usual,  it was all over pretty quick,  but all I heard as people left was "that was cool",  "wow,  fun"  and that kind of stuff.  Never heard the "was that it?" you might expect for an hour of hanging around for a few seconds of people riding by.

Even that quick look at them FLYING up a hill that leaves me CRIPPLED,  was inspiring,  even though I feel a lot more like this

Than I do a bike racer anymore.   No matter,  it was QUITE a week for cycling in Colorado.  Think the race will be back?  Given the turnout all over the place,  you have to think so.  Hope this thing stays around a while.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bad Blood

Normally,  I would have been posting the HELL out of this blog by this time of year,  digging up every little thing about the upcoming Cross season, going over the latest cross policy,  leaking the schedule,  analyzing the races,  and in general getting all frothy and silly in rampant anticipation for the upcoming cross season.  Instead,  I seem to have been avoiding writing anything here,  just dropping off the online radar,  so to speak.    Why?  well,  basically,   I'm broken.

At least from a bike racing perspective,  I am just plain broken.  Once again,  my "Bad Blood" has taken over,  and in spite of whatever desires and wishes I might have,  There is just not going to be any cross racing for me this year.   Given that this blog DOES seem to revolve at least a BIT around the silliness that IS Cross,  and it would just remind me of what I did NOT really want to think about,  I just plain hid from it.

As I have noted in the past here,  I have a chronic Blood Cancer.   It's a rare and "easy" cancer to deal with and live with,  a FAR cry from what most people who have the disease go thru,  but mine  never "goes away".   As a chronic form of the stupid disease,  Mine gets treated,  pushed to the background,  then slowly builds back up,  ever so slowly and surely screwing my blood chemistry up till it begins to get "symptomatic" again.  The "cycle time" varies,  but I guess I am on a 4 year plan,  since this is my first symptomatic recurrence since I got diagnosed 4 years ago in June.  Hairy Cell Leukemia is a rare blood cancer (like 500 people a year get diagnosed in the U.S. kind of rare....) that if untreated,  overtakes your white blood cells,  destroying your immune system very slowly.  Turns out it also kinda screws up your aerobic capacity along the way while it's at it.  Maybe I need to take up needlepoint for a while.

It is easily treated,  a short,  one time,  and relatively speaking mild Chemotherapy round,  and you can put it in the background for a few years.  Sadly,  I've been in the "too sick to RACE,  to well to TREAT" stage this summer,  and while my blood numbers are fine for a "normal" person,  it just does NOT seem to support riding a bicycle at the edge of your aerobic capability right now.   I can still RIDE my bike,  but just can't really get to my Lactic threshold,  or really spend ANY time near that top few percent of my already kinda limited aerobic capability.  This bad blood just does not seem to transport oxygen well,  as I can send my legs into a screaming,  fiery, lactic haze of pain,  complete with a kinda cool complete muscular failure at ridiculously low heart rates.  Nothing like your legs giving out at a heart rate of about 130 BPM to really confuse a bike racer.

I HAVE managed to use the "TIME OFF" this year to do some other bike stuff,  maybe some things that don't take quite that same high end aerobic functionality.  With a trip to Seattle,  Vancouver,  and Whistler in the summer mix,  I tried out a bit of that gravity-fueled kinda riding at Winter Park.  Love the Gladiator look,  huh?

Turns out that the bike park in Winter Park is pretty cool.  The bike park in Whistler is pretty wild.  Even with a day of pouring rain,  I can HIGHLY recommend a day there if you are "in the neighborhood".  It also turns out that riding these monster gravity sleds is a LOT of fun.  Spent more time in the air in those 2 days than I have had in 10 plus years.   Also just one or two days of that stuff will make you a LOT better descender in general.  There WILL be more of this in my future.

SO,  here I am,  just weeks away from what is usually a wildly anticipated start to cross season,  and I'm kinda wondering what it will be like this year without racing to fill my fall weekends.  While my sweet,  long-suffering wife is happy to have a bit of a fall without the endless cross weekends,  and I will certainly enjoy some time "off" in some ways,  it also feels like there is a pretty big hole in my soul right now.

Will I be at some races?  Hell,  yea!  I love the atmosphere and the people.  I may even enter and "ride around" in the back of one or 2 events,  but it just is NOT going to be the same.  Pretty strange.

So to all of you out there winding it up,  getting ready to rock the cross season,  I salute you.  Jealousy is never pretty,  and I kind of have it.  Just know that I will be back,  will get treated (probably well before next cross season...) and plan on hitting it hard when I can get back.  Till then,  enjoy your health,  NEVER take it for granted,  and have a hell of a season you all.  I already miss it.