Much of my summer has been spent riding my bike. I trained for both mountain and road bike events that kept me busy from May to September. Goals keep me motivated to stay in shape, and organized bike rides are perfect milestones.
New Belgium Short Track
May – Fort Collins CO
The season started with local short track races on Tuesday nights behind New Belgium brewery. The short track course covered a mile of twisting singletrack around an empty field. The course builders added plenty of obstacles, including short, steep climbs, a gnarly rock garden, and tight switchbacks.
The races raised money for the local youth cycling organization, Cyclismo. They were a great way for me to work on my early season fitness and see how I stacked up against other local riders. As a bonus the short, circular course let my wife and friends see me race and cheer me on from the sidelines.
May 17 – Eagle CO
My first big race of the year, the Firebird 40, took place in Eagle, CO. Unfortunately I had a bad case of allergies early this year (a new ailment for me) and I wasn’t able to ride my bike the entire week before the race. I felt horrible the day of the race, but I had driven over 5 hours to get to Eagle so I didn’t want to not race.
I didn’t finish well, but at least Jodi and I had a great time exploring the town together and camping at Sylvan Lake in the mountains above Eagle.
June 14 – Stapleton CO
My next big ride was the Denver Century. I led the inaugural Team Young Life of Northern Colorado this year, and our big goal was to complete the Denver Century together. For ten weeks we met every Saturday morning for a group ride around Fort Collins. We gradually built up our mileage for the big ride.
On the day of the ride we had 8 team members make the early morning trek to Denver, most of which had never ridden a full century, or 100 miles.
We started out together and then each settled into our own pace. My wife Jodi drove the course and met riders at each rest stop, encouraging them on throughout the day.
The ride climbed almost 5000 feet over the course of 100 miles, and some of the team got caught in a giant hailstorm ten miles from the finish line. I crossed the finish line in 5:30 with my teammate Andy Blosser. After cooling off in the Young Life tent we stood at the finish and cheered our teammates across the line for the rest of the afternoon.
Everyone on our team finished the ride, with many on the team completing their first ever century bike ride. We also raised over $5000 dollars for Young Life through everyone’s efforts. I felt privileged to have helped lead and train such a great group of people.
40 In The Fort
June 28 – Fort Collins CO
My next race of the season was the 40 In The Fort. I took off for vacation the week before with Jodi’s family, so my main goal for the race was not to die.
The 40 In The Fort takes place in Fort Collins CO, on trails that I ride almost every week. I knew them well, and thus I knew how bad the day would hurt. The course climbed almost 8000 feet over the 40 miles, making it a long, painful day in the saddle.
I felt good the first 20 mile lap, but the second lap forced me to play mind games with myself. I couldn’t think about the 20 miles I still had to ride, instead I thought about the specific trail I was riding, and then crossing it off the list as I finished it.
Having the small goal of completing the trail I was on kept me from mentally giving in to the pain I felt climbing up Towers Road for the fourth time. Thankfully the last few miles were mostly downhill, and I descended down into Lory State Park, rolled through the finish line, and collected my finisher’s medal. I crossed the line in 6:11:48, and finished in the top 10 in my category.
Red River Roadkill Rally
September 20 – Ardmore OK
After spending the rest of the summer traveling around the country, my final organized ride for the year took place in my hometown of Ardmore OK. I’ve ridden the Red River Roadkill Rally for the past two years, making this my third in a row. The ride meanders around the southern Oklahoma countryside that I grew up in, and I love a good excuse to go home and spend time with family.
This year my dad and brother decided to join me and ride the 20 mile course while I did the 60. I had to rent a bike from the bike shop in Ardmore because Jodi and I flew in to town and I didn’t have my bike with me.
This year the organizers decided to hold the ride in September instead of June so it would coincide with Fiesta OK. It didn’t really matter to me, but I’m happy that the rain held off this year. Last year the rain drenched riders, but this year the sun shone all day.
We started off at 8am riding through downtown Ardmore, and then headed out toward Springdale and Lake Murray. I stayed with the front group through the first rolling hills, but I didn’t have the extra power in my legs needed to stay wit the group the entire day.
I dropped back, settled into my own pace, and rode most of the ride in solitude. I knew the course well, since this was the third time riding it, and I made sure to take in the surroundings and enjoy the day. I rolled back into town about three hours later, my grandma greeting me at the finish line with a loud siren blaring in her hand.
I couldn’t help but smile and be thankful that the day had become a family affair, and something that we all have come to look forward to every year.
See You Next Year
I have had a great time racing and exploring on my bike this year. I can’t wait to see what rides make the calendar for next year!