Got on the bike this morning and started riding to Chicken Creek Nordic center. Its a 40 minute rode from my home that starts on pavement then turns into a nice dirt road ride. I ride there a lot because it’s close to my home, and gets me into the San Juan National Forest the fastest. Today I started off thinking I would go for a two and a half hour ride. Seven hours later I rolled back into the compound with a new route completed.
For most of the summer I have been riding into the Chicken Creek Nordic center, and then riding up Chicken Creek road. These rides range anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours depending on how far I go. One ride that I have been thinking about is using Morrison 610 to connect to Highway 145 and then creating a 60+ mile loop back to the small town of Dolores and then home:
The big issue was that I haven’t ridden any of Morrison 610, and my only food was a package of ShotBloks. The good news was that I had plenty of water, and when I got to Dolores I could stop for Gatorade, potato chips, and candy bars. If I got to Dolores…
The temperature was chilly but not cold. With a skull cap, light jacket, and warm gloves I lost some feeling in my fingers but overall was comfortable. After one and a half hours of riding I was too warm for the jacket and gloves. 30 minutes later I switched the cap out for my regular headband. I was feeling very good, but also knew I had a long way to go.
One issue I immediately had with the Morrison 610 trail is that it’s a multi use trail. This means that ATV’s and dirt bikes can ride it. I have friends that tell me dirt bikes help break a trail in for mountain bikes. Yeah right. More like they break a trail.
The issue with anything with an engine is that it can spin it’s tires out anytime. This erodes the trail and leaves large roots and rocks which are not fun to ride a bike on. Personally I don’t see the need for recreational vehicles. If you want to recreate then get a bike or go for a hike. </rant>
The silver lining is that the 560 forest road kept criss-crossing the trail. The second time I crossed it I stopped and check my Trailforks app to see if the 560 forest road was a valid option. Sure enough it was and I could avoid riding the worst eroded part of Morrison 610 by riding on a mostly nicer road for about 4 miles.
The aspen trees in our area have been changing color for a few weeks, but it seemed like they were at peak color today. Half the forest was bright yellow and beautiful. The views definitely helped distract me from the climbing. Eventually I got back on Morrison 610 a short distance from the downhill to Bear Creek Trailhead.
The downhill section of Morrison 610 into the Bear Creek Trailhead on Highway 145 is only 2.5 miles but it has 1800 ft of elevation loss. There were a few trees that had fallen across the trail which I had to dismount for. Part of making a 60+ mile bike ride fun is not falling on a tree, or at all.
It was breathtaking in a few ways:
Once I reached the bottom of the downhill and made my way to Highway 145 I still wasn’t even halfway done with the distance. However the majority of the climbing was complete, and I would be on pavement for the rest of the ride home. I poured my 2 reserve water bottles into my Camelback bladder, and ate my last ShotBlok before heading for Dolores.
Highway 145 is a road Kate and I have biked before, but in the other direction. 4 years ago on Labor day weekend we biked the San Juan Skyway. On day 1 we biked up Highway 145 and today I quickly recalled that there is no shoulder on this road. The majority of drivers gave me plenty of room when passing, and a few slowed down if there was oncoming traffic. So, that was nice.
My butt was beginning to get tired of being on a bike seat about this time. Fortunately I was listening to the audio book Can’t Hurt Me during the start of David’s ultra marathon career. Compared to what he went through in those races my day was looking really nice. It is fascinating how much the mind will get you to quit something because it is hard.
Once in Dolores I stopped at the first gas station to get some calories. At this point I was 6 hours into the ride and had eaten 200 calories in shotbloks, which are just fancy Gummie bears. It was time to consume calories. My preference is for a 32 oz bottle of blue Gatorade, Lays BBQ potato chips, and chocolate bars. This station had Kind bars which make me feel like its kinda health food. I had 2 of those and grabbed a Cliff Bar for security in case I needed more calories before I got home.
Dolores to home is about an hour ride taking it easy. The good news is that at this point easy was the only gear I had left. Since I have biked this section a lot it was much more routine than the prior six hours of riding had been. My butt was definitely over riding bikes for the day but overall I felt good. I stayed well hydrated the whole ride and reserved my energy well.
Next step will be expanding the route to go over Sharkstooth pass and drop down the entire Bear Creek trail. That will add at least 2000 more vertical and at least a dozen or more additional miles. Should be fun.
Since we bought this property I have wanted a bench in this location. It is about 100 feet from where the trailer is parked, and where our house will eventually be. There is a nice grouping of trees that create great all day shade, and there is the view to the east.
One of my goals with my woodworking projects is to use the various scrap wood that we have. This can make it challenging when considering what to build as it limits what I can build. Yesterday I was browsing through some outdoor bench designs and found the Leopold bench.
My first exposure to Aldo Leopold was in high school when I was in the Environmental Ethics class. We read A Sand County Almanac and it was impressed on me how we need to look at nature and our place in it. So when I saw a bench design based on something he had come up with I was drawn to it.
“Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.”
It is also a very simple design and I knew I had the wood pieces to make it happen. While I didn’t have 2×8’s to build with I did have a lot of treated wood that will withstand the elements. So after work yesterday I spent about an hour picking through boards and then cutting and screwing them together.
The final result is definitely odd looking but it is surprisingly stable and comfortable. Kate and I spent about an hour sitting under the stars and moon last night talking about the house design.
I will build a more traditional Leopold bench with proper boards eventually. In the meantime this is the one we have and it gets the job done.
I got 1.5 laps around the land in this morning before a light rain stopped me. Normally I would have been caught out in the rain with miles to ride home, but today I was able to quickly head into shelter.
We had a call with our designer to get things on track and I hope to have a design to share soon!
Colorado is having a hot dry summer and the wildfires are big.
Another fire called the Grizzly Creek fire has closed I-70 though Glenwood Canyon. This is a massive disruption of a very busy interstate. The detour route is 284 miles on mostly 2 lane highway mountainous roads. Oh mylanta!
Went for an easy 1.5 hour ride though Mancos and out into the farm roads around town. It has been hot and dry during the day lately so an early morning ride in cooler air was very nice.
Part of writing is editing. Sometimes what you are writing is not working. Maybe the subject its too sensitive or awkward. Personally I start writing a number of posts that either end up in my Drafts folder forever, or I just sent them to the trash.
The Move to trash button in WordPress is a metaphor for crumbling up a page and tossing it in the trash bin. While the computer lets us do endless and perfect edits sometimes a peice is just not ready to be written or published. In those cases I just hit this and start a new post.
We rode into town to split a breakfast burrito at the local bakery. We also split a side of hash browns and it was glorious. There is some smoke in the air from at least one of the four major files raging in Colorado at the moment. 100% of the state is in drought conditions and it doesn’t look like things are going to let up anytime soon.
Building a house involves a lot of steps. There is financing a construction loan, getting the design we want, and finding the various contractors we need to build the thing. If we are going to be our own General Contractor then we need to get organized and stay organized.
Since we both work in technology it makes sense that we use software to manage this project. We have been talking about what to use for about a week when it dawned on us that we should use Jira. Kate uses Jira on a daily basis at her work and, while I don’t currently use it at mine, it is used and I should learn it.
The cool thing is that Jira has a free version which allows for up to 10 users. Considering none of the contractors we are considering even have a website we are pretty sure Kate and I will be the only users. So last night we started up personal accounts and got to work.
I should say that Kate got to work as she actually knows how to use Jira. If you are not familiar with Jira it is project management software used by a lot of software developers. While we aren’t developing software, and won’t be using the Agile features, we will have a number of tasks that we need to keep track of. Jira is probably overkill for what we need but its free and as I mentioned we both already have various levels of exposure to it at each of our work places.
Currently the Design project is the main focus but as we progress we are going to have a builder handling the foundation, walls, and roof. There is going to be an excavator handling the basement dig and the trenching for the Primary and Secondary electrical wiring. There will be a plumber, electrician, insulation, roofer, dry wall, painter, finishing, and landscaping to name a few. Each of those are going to have their own bids, schedules, materials, change orders, etc.
During the entire project we are going to be in contact with the bank issuing funds for each stage. We will need to keep track of expenses and make sure everything matches up. Basically we are going to be running a small business for 6 to 8 months, on top of our regular jobs. The good news is that we work from home and will be living on the job site. Its going to be work and staying organized with Jira is going to help a lot.
We went for a nice ride this morning before it got hot. We did a nice easy 23 mile loop to town and around on some dirt farm roads. We stopped at our local coffee shop just over halfway for some iced coffee and peach tarts. It was a lovely day and we talked about the house project almost non stop.
For a couple of months now Kate and I have been planning on building a house. We started off thinking we would design something from scratch with the assistance of a builder. This process has created some frustrating moments mainly because neither of us are builders, or designers. It turns out that there are a lot of considerations when building a home.
Recently we went back to the drawing board and by drawing board I mean we started looking at house plans. This has been really helpful in identifying what we like and don’t like. From that we have settled on a ski chalet type design with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a full unfinished basement, and an attached garage.
The next step we are taking is educating ourselves about home building. We ordered a number of books to read and have started watching various Youtube videos. One series of videos that I have found especially helpful is the Spec House series from Essential Craftsman.
Scott Wadsworth is the Essential Craftsman and is a builder/jack of many trades in Oregon, USA. In the Spec House series they have put together a lot of material about building a home that they plan on selling, hence a speculative house. It isn’t until the 27th video that they start talking about plans.
In that video they work with a draftsman to help them refine their initial design. Scott mentions how you can work with any draftsman as the principles are universal. That got me thinking that we should reach out to a number of drafting/designers to find one that we like best. So I have been reaching out to a number of them.
My attitude on building a home has shifted to how I work with designers on a website. I don’t have to work with a web designer who is physically close to me. In fact I haven’t met a designer in person in over 2 years. I think the reason this took so long to dawn on us is that we are novices when it comes to construction.
However we are not novices when it comes to project management. Kate especially, she used to run the ERP system for an aerospace manufacturer. What is also helping is that we are learning more about the various roles involved:
Some roles can be played by the same person/contractor, but all are required to get the final product we want. First things first is we need to get a plan finalized then we start filling in the other positions. Learning the vocabulary and processes will also be important when building begins. While we aren’t looking to micro manage things we are going to keep things moving forward.
Today was back on the bike with 4 sets of 6 minute intervals. During the intervals the goal is to have my heart rate in the Zone 4: SubThreshold range. This zone is 94% to 99% of Lactic Threshold Heart Rate. So you are pushing hard but not all out, that is for Zone 5.
Before getting into the intervals it is important to have a good warm up. This helps ensure a good effort and reduces the chances of injury. For my warm up I prefer to ride on the highway and I can stay smooth and consistent. I try to finish my warm up back at home so I can do the intervals on my trails.
As I wrote before being able to ride my workouts on my trails is like a dream. First of all I am riding on single track which is one of my most favorite things. Second it is a closed trail so I don’t have to worry about anyone else being on the trail, well except for my wife. Third I am at home so if I need to take a restroom break or something I can. Finally when I am done riding I am already at home and can quickly start cleaning up and getting ready for work.
Last time I did intervals on my trails I was coming up a bit short of the 6 minutes. So today I added the Kiss of Cactus and Drop Trow to my Fenceline loop and created a 1 mile loop. This takes me about 5 min 30 seconds to complete at a Zone 4 pace which is close enough to 6 minutes.
After an interval I recover for 3 minutes at Zone 1. I just drop into a low gear and pedal softly around the trails until it is time to go again. After I finished the intervals I had some time to cool down so I rode up the highway for a bit.
For my 1 hour 15 minute ride I covered 14 miles and 827 feet of climbing. The weather was perfect and the sun was shining. Doesn’t get much better than that. After the ride I did 4 sets of 5 burpee reps for my part in the August burpee challenge. Those are still really hard.
For the last few weeks I have been gaining more interest in gardening. We planted 2 apple trees, then got a rose bush and a stargazer lillie. So far all of them are still alive. We also have some bushes that we planted last year that I have helped back to life with watering, mulch, and some fertilizer.
I have picked up some tips online and a lot of information from the gardeners at the local nurseries. My desire to learn more about gardening lead me to 2 books by Michael Pollan: Botany of Desire and Second Nature. BoD is a fun book about 4 plants and how people have cultivated them and how they have cultivated us. SN is still a Pollan book with lofty ideas, but there is a lot of practical advice as well.
Lately I have been listening to SN while I have been watering and weeding the land. The chapter on Weeds was particularly interesting and insightful.
There are 2 opposing schools of though when it comes to Weeds in a garden: 1) Kill em all with chemicals, and 2) Let nature be. Personally I have always disliked the idea that we need to spray toxic chemicals in order to have a nice yard or garden. On the other hand there are Weeds that can invade and take over a garden if not kept in check.
Pesticide and Herbicide usage is going up worldwide. In the meantime we are just starting to fully understand how terrible these chemicals are for the land, water, and people. Homeowners use these chemicals just to show they are better than their neighbors. I definitely don’t want to be a part of that.
On the other end is the thought that weeds are good and part of nature. Except that when we go into nature we don’t see weeds. Weeds are found in one place: where humans have altered the landscape. From gardens to roads to parking lots weeds will be found. To say that weeds are part of nature is disingenuous and naive.
Weeds thrive in part because they have adapted to the clean environment that we create. While the plants we want to grow are selected for their looks and taste, weeds have self selected by growing quickly and tenaciously. Weeds exist in part because of us. So it is our duty to manage them.
The rest of the book has been great and I am looking forward to listening to more of it tomorrow; when I am weeding.
Did 3 sets of 10 burpess after some easy yoga this morning. My elbow is feeling better but I want to take it easy and let everything heal up. I went for a super easy 30 minute ride around the land after work. That was very nice.
This is the second week of my cycling training program. I burnt myself out a little with Sunday’s ride and used yesterday as a rest/recovery day. I was feeling pretty back to 100% for this mornings workout ride. Today was a force reps structured workout. Basically I get my 25 minute warmup in and then I do 10 sets where I get into a really big gear, slow down, and then explode with 10 pedal strokes. Between each set I recover for 3 minutes.
There are only 2 force reps workouts in this 12 week base training program. Its a funky workout that is close to being a sprint but you start slow. That low end torque is what you want to have when navigating tricky singletrack.
Today was pretty cool cause I was able to do all of the force reps on my trails for the first time. The last time I did these we were in southern Arizona waiting to get up to Colorado. Now we are here and I have the trails finished and ready for riding on. Not only am I at home getting the workout done but I am riding on singletrack. This means I am getting to work on my technical riding skills while getting my workout done.
I did 2 sets of 10 burpees for today’s challenge. My left elbow is still feeling sore so I am taking it easy for now. I think I will stick with 20 to 30 a day for the rest of this week and see how things feel on Sunday.