Monday, August 23, 2010

Decoding nutrition labels

I recently finished reading a 5-part series of articles called "Decoding Nutrition Labels," by Jo-Ann Heslin. While it isn't too difficult to work out how to read those labels on your own, these articles can help make it easier to assess the quality of packaged foods at a glance.
  1. Serving Size and Calories
  2. Ingredient List, Allergy Labeling and %DVs
  3. Limit – Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium
  4. You Decide – About Carbohydrate and Protein
  5. Eat More – Vitamins and Minerals

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Commuter Cross-training

The company I work for has a program called Self-Powered Commuting (SPC), the name of which was the inspiration for the title of this blog.  The program encourages people to use some human-powered means of getting to the office instead of driving.  Participants accumulate stamps for each day we bike, walk, or whatever, and at the end of the year, the stamps translate into dollars donated to the charity of our choice.  This year, the company donated several hundred dollars to NARSAD on my behalf.

In the office where I work, we're having an SPC Week to promote the program, and since I bike to work every day, I figured I would take the opportunity to change things up a bit.  Today I ran to work instead of biking.  I've been intending to get into running for quite some time, so this was a great chance to stop intending and start doing.

It's amazing how the route I've ridden countless times takes on a whole new feel when taken on foot.  If the run home this evening doesn't kill me, this could be the start of something really fun.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My first time up Mount Evans

Mount Evans is the closest fourteener* to Denver and boasts the highest paved road in the world.  So of course cyclists flock to the place to pit themselves against this monster of a climb.  A coworker recently planted the seed of the idea into my head, so this morning I got up and made my own assault on the mountain.

My goal was to ride from Idaho Springs to the top of the mountain in under three hours.  Having looked at the results for the annual race, this seemed like a reasonable expectation.

I headed out from a parking lot on the southern edge of town at about 7:50.  At 9:00 I passed Echo Lake and made a quick stop at the gift shop there for an extra bottle of Gatorade.  It is also at this point that you must stop and pay an entrance fee to ride up Highway 5, which leads to the summit.  The individual pass is $3, and for cars it is $10.

Many folks prefer starting at this point instead of down at Idaho Springs.  Doing so cuts the distance in half and removes a couple thousand feet of elevation gain.  I chose against this mostly to ensure that I gave myself the full Mount Evans experience.

By 10:00, I had reached the poorly-named Summit Lake (there is still a lot of climbing to do before reaching the summit).  And I arrived at the top well within my time goal.  The final riding time was 2:36, with a total wall-clock time of 2:46.

Feeling like King of the Mountain.
There were cyclists all over the place up there, and I chatted with a few of them before heading back down.  The camaraderie amongst cyclists always adds to the experience.  It was quite chilly, and I was glad that I brought a jacket and ear warmers for the descent.

It turns out that there is a reason for not paving roads at this kind of elevation very often.  Because of the severe freeze/thaw cycles, the asphalt quality was really quite poor, especially after Summit Lake.  It was less of a problem on the way up, but on my way down, the road and my saddle conspired to inflict some serious abuse upon my nether regions.  That, coupled with the automobile traffic, made the descent somewhat disappointing.

View Mount Evans in a larger map

I had entertained the thought of having my family come with me, letting them hang out in Idaho Springs and drive up to the top.  But it would have turned out to be more of a hassle than any of us needed, particularly when considering that I left the house around 6:40.  The mountains around here are notorious for having afternoon thunder storms, so I wanted to be out of there well ahead of any adverse weather.  Hopefully we'll be able to drive up there together some time soon.

* A fourteener is a mountain whose elevation exceeds 14,000 feet.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Riding with Lance, Gov. Ritter, and a few thousand fellow Coloradan cyclists

Yesterday the mediasphere was all abuzz with the news that Lance Armstrong and Governor Bill Ritter were going to be holding a press conference this morning (2010-08-04).  Lance posted it to twitter, but I heard it first from  After the press conference, we would all be going for a big bike ride.  I promptly requested the day off of work.

Early birds at the steps of the Capitol.
This morning I rode from my house, down the South Platte River trail, to the Cherry Creek trail, and up 14th Avenue to the Capitol Building, arriving around 9:15.  Folks had already begun to gather, though many, many more would be arriving over the next 45 minutes.

It was no big secret as to what would be announced.  Back in May, at the Road to Victory ride, Gov. Ritter said that they had been working very hard to bring international bike racing to Colorado.  So today's announcement just made it (more) official: the first Tour of Colorado Quizno's Pro Challenge will be held in August of 2011.  It will be a 7-stage, professional level bike race ridden by the same teams that we've seen ride the Grand Tours of Europe, the Tour of California, etc.  Quizno's is the headlining sponsor.  More details can be read in the article from the Denver Post.

Gov. Ritter speaks about organizing the race.
Lance Armstrong describes his inspiration for suggesting the race.
As promised, once the press conference wrapped up, everybody lined up on 13th Ave. and Grant St., at the location of the first Quizno's sandwich shop, for the group ride.  There were a lot of riders there.

The field of riders in front of me.
The field of riders behind me.
We rode out to Washington Park and back.  I recorded the ride on my phone using the My Tracks Android application.

View Ride With Lance in a larger map

There were riders of all levels of skill on all types of bikes. It was pretty great to be able to be there.