Saturday, March 31, 2007

And It's Only Half a Weekend So Far!

Saturdays are days to rest, kick back, take a load off, pop a brewski, and generally recover from a hard week of work.

Unless you're an architect and your work is fun.

In that case, Saturdays are times to pay the piper, do your penance, suffer, and relearn some self-respect.

Howard ran another 5K race today in Laramie, Wyoming... at 7,200' altitude. (He is pictured here during pre-race warmup.) Howard was wondering if the altitude would have much affect on him since he already lives and "trains" at 5,000' above sea level. He found out. Just 200 yards into the 3.1-mile race, Howard's heart rate shot up to 171 and he couldn't breath.

So there's our answer. A little altitude change goes a looong way.

Howard knew he was in for a good hard suffer-fest, but he did his best anyway. He finished 25th out of some 100+ runners with a personal best of 24:37 (7:56 per mile), snagged 8th in his age group of 35-49 (ribbons only extended as far as 3rd place), and... he DIDN'T DIE!

Afterwards, Howard, his best girl, and his youngest son ate some Chinese food with a new client couple who live in Laramie, and talked about upcoming weddings, travel experiences, and custom dreamhome design progress.

Then Howard rode his bicycle home from Wyoming to Colorado. Well, not the whole way... just the second half which was mostly downhill... and included amazing 25 mph tailwinds or crosswinds. Howard's average speed for the bike ride was 24.0 mph, eclipsing his previous fastest long ride by a bunch.

So what did YOU do this weekend, huh?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Howard's Righteous Descent

Following today's difficult cycling climb up 16% grades to Horsetooth Reservoir Road (see previous post), came the righteous descent off the north end towards Bellvue. Got 'er up to 51.3 mph while videoing. Tried to turn the camera on the speedometer, which showed 49-point-something at that time, but things got wobbly. So both hands went back on the handlebars.

We now present a Crazy Howard Production...

A Beauteous Bike Ride

Today, Howard went on a bit of a climb as he grinded his way up 16% grades until he was high above Fort Collins. While there, he shot the following video while cruising along Horsetooth Reservoir Road...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Fortune Cookie: "Duck Now or Die!"

Tonight's fortune cookie: "God will help you overcome any hardship."

Yes, this was an actual fortune from an actual fortune cookie. Does it strike anyone else as kind of odd? Fortune cookies being written by evangelical Christians? Now don't get Howard wrong. Howard believes in God. But if he wrote fortune cookies, the last thing he would do would use that Power to evangelize about God. Don't fortune cookie companies have editors?

Of course, it could have been worse:

Sorry I've been away so long. I've once again been busy with busy-ness. I've had to scramble like the dickens to finish up a set of construction documents for an addition & renovation to the world's most modest home. I finished and had them plotted up mid-week last week, then delivered stamped sets to the county and more sets to the two contractors who will be bidding on the job. The permit's already been approved -- took them all of four business days! It's their slow season, they said. Hmmm. The contractors say they'll have their bids back to me by Monday, April 9th. Good luck to all of us!

Also, I just began design on a new custom home for a retired professor and his wife up in Wyoming. 2,500 square feet of Arts & Crafts goodness (not counting the unfinished basement or garage.) They want the house to blend into the bland neighborhood on the outside, though not without a certain charm and good taste, but inside they want beauty as far as the eye and budget can see.

Busy, busy, busy-ness!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Just Another Epic Day With Club Hypoxia

Club Hypoxia went and did it again -- planned and executed a group ride that not only exceed expectations, but also exceeded our abilities as cyclists... Or at least it exceeded what we thought was possible so early in the season. Sunday's ride started at 11 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. (frequent breaks), covered 54 miles, and climbed 4,720 vertical feet -- most of them of the relentlessly up, Up, and UP variety!

Prior to the start of the ride, a couple of Hypoxians had to bow out due to flu. Then a couple more began to complain of various aches and pains. Even Howard had reason to moan after his 5K run the day before. Finally, one rider posted the following appropriate FRAZZ comic (click all images to make them big):

The route for the day was the Lariat Loop, a 38-mile bike route through the foothills, ridges, and mountains west of the Denver metro area. It's a very popular ride for cyclists, though Howard didn't know it existed until about a week ago. Because he's still a rookie.

Here's a link to a map and explanation of the Lariat Loop. Please note that it starts out west of Golden by climbing Lookout Mountain, the same five-mile 6% pant-fest that nearly killed Howard two weeks ago. Only this time, instead of turning around, Howard and the Hypoxians would continue on to Genesee, I-70, Evergreen, down through Bear Creek Canyon to Morrison, then back to Golden. But we didn't start in Golden. We met up and started as before in Wheat Ridge. Total mileage for the day = 54 miles. Here's a photo of the eleven of us at the top of Lookout Mountain (left to right -- jxscott, zcubed, Zin, Howard, BalticTiger (Howard's best girl), GrubG, deadhead, bmclaughlin, BikePrincess, ZenLC, Sunshine):

Here's Zin at Lookout Mountain admiring seven levitating bikes without kickstands:

BalticTiger looking all slim and fit on the outskirts of Evergreen, after being informed that we face only one more climb:

Zin taking pictures of weary riders while BalticTiger wonders when the climbing really ends:

Club Hypoxia relaxing in Evergreen, looking to zcubed for direction (downhill, he said):

As a special added treat, here's a video shot and edited by zcubed, who posted it to YouTube. It's nearly five minutes long and incredible. Enjoy...

Finally, since this started out as an architecture blog... once back down in Lakewood, Howard rode right in front of a pair of office buildings he and another architect designed in 1995, but never once visited after construction was completed. Go figure:

When Howard and BalticTiger got home, Howard went for an 8 1/2-mile ride in the sunset to complete a metric century. BalticTiger just smiled with patience and understanding.

What's next? I don't even WANT to know...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Teaching an Old Howard New Tricks

A year and a half ago, Howard bought a Raleigh hybrid bicycle and started riding daily. Those first few weeks of riding were sheer hell. Then bicycling began to feel more natural and comfortable and fun. So Howard went even faster, which cancelled out the comfort and fun. And on and on it went, until Howard is now putting in 150-200 miles a week on his Fuji touring bicycle, and feeling the fun, despite continued discomfort due to pushing himself ever harder.

Perhaps the same thing is starting up again, only this time with running. Howard ran in a St. Patrick's Day Sharin' O' The Green 5K Run in Fort Collins on Saturday. 5 kilometers is equal to 3.1 miles, and to be honest, this is the first time since Howard was a teenager that he's ran more than 3 miles all in one go.

On Wednesday, Howard did his one and only training run of 2.8 miles in about 22 minutes. He felt like crap, but still felt that it was a sustainable pace for where he is right now aerobics-wise. So he figured he would do the same pace on Saturday -- 8 minutes per mile. This meant that he would try to finish the 5K race in 25 minutes.

Final time -- 24:28. Ave. time -- 7:53 per mile. Finished 55th of 551 runners, too. Not sure how he did among his age group though.

Howard's pretty sure that the 54 runners ahead of him -- and a bunch behind him too -- were pretty serious runners who had put in pretty serious training time. So Howard's pleased with his efforts. Although he still regrets getting passed by that guy pushing the stroller in the last half-mile -- the only one to pass Howard during the entire race!

Now he's gunning for the 10K Bolder Boulder on Memorial Day, May 28th. A month ago, he signed up for a laid-back 10 min./mile heat. Perhaps he should re-think that?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Snippets of Fun, Fast Ride

On Tuesday, Howard rode up and over the Horsetooth Dams road. Brief 16% climbs, sustained 10% climbs. Exhausting work, but somebody's gotta do it, right? He's noticing improvement with his climbing, which has been gratifying. Above is a photo looking over the north side of Fort Collins from one of the dams. Along the bottom of the photo is the water treatment facility providing fresh, clear Horsetooth water for about 150,000 people. Yum... Horsetooth water...

Next is a brief video of Howard flying down the northern-most dam. Twice he's reached 55.1 mph coming down this road, but on this day he had a brain fart that he would videotape his descent. Although he only hit 51.3 mph this time (only!) because he didn't go into a full tuck, it also became clear that videotaping at that speed was damned dumb. So he couldn't find the nerve to start taping until he slowed to the low 30s...

Finally, a videotape at a stop along the Poudre River Trail. It got up to the mid-70s that day, yet everything is still so brown...

Friday, March 09, 2007

Cycling Crime Caught on Video

Howard hates it when he's an idiot. And he hates it even more when there's photographic proof. In case you need evidence of just show stupid a man Howard actually is, it's going to be Howard himself who will provide proof of his intellectual shortcomings.

Returning home from a 41-mile bicycle ride today, Howard was approaching his son's high school just as school was getting out. The speed limit during this time is 20 mph, and the speed limit signs flash for those clock-challenged individuals who don't realize that high schools get out at about 3 pm local time.

Seeing the lights flashing ahead, Howard had a light of his own flash overhead -- get video evidence of himself speeding. Unfortunately, Howard filmed the whole crime with the camera turned sideways. Not knowing how to rotate video footage, we present for your mockery and tsk-tsking Howard cranking his bike up over 22 mph in a 20-mph zone (turn your head to the right and press PLAY) ...

Monday, March 05, 2007

Best of Rides, part II

As I wrote a couple days earlier, on Sunday, six members of Club Hypoxia ("Oxygen or Altitude: Pick One") met at Zin's place in Wheat Ridge and headed west. We rode through residential neighborhoods and parks of Wheat Ridge and commercial strips of Lakewood, climbed up past Coors Brewery, through beautiful Golden and past the Colorado School of Mines campus built on steep slopes. At Highway 6, the serious climbing of Lookout Mountain Road began -- serious not so much because it was so steep, only a 6% uphill grade, but because it was relentlessly up, up, and up. No breaks at all for five and a half miles.

Deadhead and SombraGato have the reputations as the strongest climbers, so they took off ahead of everyone else. Howard made the attempt to keep up, following from 20 feet, then 50 feet, then 100 yards, then a quarter mile. But until we got into the trees about halfway up the climb, Howard kept them in sight. At the top, the two were waiting for Howard at the entrance to the Buffalo Bill Museum and lookout. Together the three of us rode in. Here's a picture of the victors Deadhead and SombraGato at the overlook (click on any picture to make it larger):

After a few more minutes, the other three riders joined us, and Howard was about to snap a picture when a nice woman offered to take one of all of us (from left to right: Howard, ZenLC, SombraGato, Statchem, Zin, Deadhead):

Also, here are two pictures of Golden and Denver from atop Lookout Mountain:

The ride down the mountain was fun. We all stayed together and cruised at about 30-35 mph. The traffic was light and polite, but there were lots of switchbacks and some gravel, so we never let 'er totally rip.

SombraGato had to head back home at the bottom of the mountain. So back in Golden, five of us stopped at Sixbucks, err, Starbucks Coffee, which has been named the Official Coffeeshop of Club Hypoxia (thank goodness there are so many of them so our trips won't be limited to Golden!) Again, Howard was about to take a picture when another nice woman offered to take a picture of all of us. Coloradans are the nicest most considerate people!

Sunday's ride was all kinds of fun for all kinds of reasons. But the greatest part was in meeting and riding with new friends. Tailwinds (or screaming fast descents... or both!)

Best of Rides, part I

On Saturday, Deadhead and I hosted a Club Hypoxia ride ("Oxygen or Altitude: Pick One") around Fort Collins and stretches north of town. While Howard's best girl had to stay at home, nursing a bruised left half of her body after a nasty bike fall a week before, five Hypoxians rode 53 miles, stopping in Wellington for pizza and ice cream.

The first part of the ride went north 20 miles into a 15-20 mph wind, so the pace was slow and oxygen-intensive. Once we turned east and then south, cadences quickened, heart rates eased, and smiles returned. Here is a video that Howard took of the other four riders as we cruised south at about 25-30 mph. You'll see Deadhead first, followed by Sunshine and BikePrincess, and then Zin at the point.

As I was passing Sunshine and BikePrincess and we were riding three across the lane, a car was passing from the opposite direction, so I can be heard to say, "hope I don't die." I didn't. Not yet anyway.