Tuesday, June 10, 2008

There's a Bear Up the Road

Chuck and I actually had a day off together yesterday, so we planned a big mountain bike ride. We packed our jerseys with food, slathered on the sunscreen, and took off on our adventure. It only took about 30 minutes for our ride to become quite exciting. As we started our climb up Gold Camp Road, a cyclist flew by us in the opposite direction and yelled "There's a bear up the road!"

Um, okay. Wait a minute, what are we supposed to do with that information? A bear? Holy $#%*!!!!!!!!! You can't just say that and offer no more information!! I immediately reduced my pace and looked over at Chuck. This was quite a new situation for us. It wasn't "There's a crazy rabid dog up the road," or "There's a huge pothole up the road," or even "Watch out for the Jehovah's Witness up the road!"

My eyesight suddenly became very keen as I scoped out every shadow. While I recalled that bears can run up to 30 mph, I looked down at my Garmin computer to see that we were going a mere 10 mph up this climb. Chuck told me the bear wouldn't just run out and attack us, but I wasn't so sure.

Of course, being the adventurous types we are, turning around was not an option. We had our route planned out and no stinkin' bear was going to ruin our day. As we kept tentatively riding along, I wasn't sure if I should slow down or speed up. I was thinking very hard about my escape plan if we saw the bear--turn around? Sprint UP the hill? Yell at it at the top of my lungs? Of course, I reallllly wanted a picture of the bear, so I hoped he would just be relaxing in the shade eating some yummy flowers or something.

Well, after all this excitement, do you think we saw the bear? NO. No bear. I was very relieved, and yet, somewhat disappointed. So far in Colorado we have seen tons of mule deer, a fox, millions of bunnies, coyotes, and even mountain goats. I really would have liked adding a bear to our resume..........

So we rode on. The road turned to gravel and kept climbing and climbing. At the end of the day we got in almost 5,000 feet of climbing. Here's a pic of my computer at our turnaround point.

Here is a view of a very tiny Colorado Springs and in the foreground, what looks like the remains of a forest fire.

After almost 2 hours of riding and going through 4 tunnels in the rock, we came upon this collapsed tunnel. Luckily, there was some singletrack off to the left so we could get around it. I wasn't too unhappy to go around, because riding through the tunnels on a bike is creepy. You can't see a thing after you get about 20 feet in. You have to have a lot of faith that you are not riding directly into a black hole of death (I've read too many Steven King books, I know). Luckily by the 4th tunnel, Chuck recommended that I take my sunglasses off. It was much better after that :^)
Here's the final stats on the day.... Almost 4 hours on the mountain bike, 45 miles covered, a crapload of climbing, and a nice high heart rate thrown in. The green line is our elevation and the red line appropriately enough, is my heart rate. Both Chuck and I were pretty wasted by the time we made it home. Time for a recovery drink so we can do it again tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Thunderbirds and the Falcon Trail

My favorite trail here is called the Falcon Trail--its on/in the Air Force Academy. It has a little bit of everything: climbing, descending, turning, stream crossing, mule deer, turkeys, snakes, hike a bike, chicken heads, baby heads, goat heads, and roots. Wonderful views if you're not glancing at the HR monitor and staring at the 6 inclined feet in front of your wheel while on a 900 foot climb I have nicknamed “Destroyer”.

Last week here in COS the Academy had graduation and George Bush gave the commencement. The Air Force Thunderbirds were supposed to put on a show and do the fly over during the hat toss. Graduation day was cloudy and the Thunderbirds could only do the flyover for the hat toss….but we were on the Falcon Trail at 2 pm the day they were practicing the air show. As we were attempting to finish our lap a military guy was on the trail instructing us to move 400 yards “that way” because the Thunderbirds were about to begin the practice air show. Ok, fine, so we backtrack to a higher point on the trail to watch the show. We could see and hear the Thunderjets coming from Peterson Air Force base from the east. We lost them in the clouds for a minute, then out of nowhere 6 Thunder jets fly 300 feet directly above us with the smoke on. LOUD! It sounded like they were trying to rip a hole in the sky. As we watched for the next half hour they got close, 300 yards or so a couple more times. From where we were, when the jets would make their pass above the stadium, we could look straight into the cockpit and see the pilot.

Needless to say--a very cool day.

This is as fast as i could get the camera out.