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Colorado Rocky Mountain Bicycle Tour – CRMBT – Dan the Ironman

August 11, 2013

Day One

Colorado Rocky Mountain Bicycle Tour

Day One – First in the series of 6 days. Overall on the tour, everybody made it safely with no flat tires even. Pretty amazing given that we rode 466 and spent 34.3 hours actually riding. This tour was the most challenging I’ve ever done mostly because of all the climbing. We climbed a total of 32,719 feet, a bit more than the height of Mt. Everest is above sea level.

The first day was a nice run from Loveland (near Fort Collins) to the very neat town of Estes Park, the doorway to Rocky Mountain National Park and made famous by the Elk wandering around town and the Stanley Hotel which inspired Stephen King to write the Shining.

Day Two – The second day was more challenging in which we left Estes Park to travel southward along the Peak to Peak highway to Golden. Peak to Peak has no big individual climbs but it is never flat; 6042 feet of climbing that day and a real eye opener to the character of this tour. Got into Golden pretty tired. Day Two

Day ThreeDay Three – The third day was the so called “Queen Stage” of the tour meaning it was the most difficult. It sure was with 10,192 feet of climbing over 3 separate mountain passes. A few blocks from Golden High School the road went straight up. Switchback after switchback took us up the top of Lookout Mountain past Buffalo Bill’s grave and the associated museum. Poor Bill has a nice grave overlooking the Golden Valley (think Coors) but they built two cell phone towers at his lookout point. L

After we enjoyed a nice downhill run the road tilted up even more to Squaw Pass (actually Juniper as well). This climb was out first up over 10,000 feet in altitude so the few days of acclimation really helped. Not much oxygen up there. It was made more tricky due to quite a lot of highway construction with one way traffic in many places. The workers would let a few of us and some cars go over the bumpy open lane around the construction which was mostly with heavy equipment. I bargained with myself treating myself to a stop for breath or a drink every 300 to 400 feet of altitude gain. As you can see by the stats, average speed was pretty slow as a result.

Another exhilarating downhill brought us up short to the climb to the third pass, Berthoud. This one is also over 10,000 feet. We had a short stint on Interstate 70 which is always nerve racking but turned out to be quick and non eventful. Further along the way, we passed through the cute town of Idaho Springs. Ravenous after the first two climbs and quite tired of Gatorade and Propel, we opted for a quick deli lunch. I split a Reuben with a buddy and several Diet Pepsi’s for the caffeine and fluid. That turned out to be both good and bad since I felt better as we moved on but had almost gas from the sauerkraut. So I politely rode well ahead or behind my buddies for the rest of the afternoon. As we moved towards Berthoud the skies began to look quite dark and we worried about rain. As we moved on up the pass, it looked like we were going to get at least a passing blow. Fortunately that’s all it was. We donned the rain gear and moved on but some riders opted to head back and ride up the pass in the SAG. It turned out that it went west of us so we kept on plugging. I was with a strong rider we rode with in 2010 and another rider who had improved a lot from that year. It turned out to be his hardest day on a bike but we all made it. I stuck with my elevation gain and stopping strategy at intervals down to 250 feet near the top. The Tour Leader stopped us twice to make sure we were OK but we kept plugging and made it over the top. It was very cold up there and the storm had passed recently so we added layers and zipped up for the descent. Fortunately it took us down quickly to the relative warmth of about 8000 feet on the road to Fraser just outside Winter Park. Fraser is known as the “Ice Box” of the US for it’s cold temps. The riders who had all SAG-ed to some degree so they had already picked up our luggage and quickly helped with the tents. We found a nearby restaurant/pub with and outdoor patio and an C & W band to entertain us but it kept getting colder so we retreated to the Rec Center’s warmth. Good thing my family got me a good sleeping bag! We had some trains go by overnight and a snoring neighbor kept me awake so it was a tough night. We worried about a dubious morning forecast as well. Cold and rainy….

Day FourDay Four – Well; it was cold (low 40’s or less I think) but no rain so the group headed north on relatively flat roads towards a new set of Mountains. We zipped along pretty well trading pulls as a group. Eventually, we got to the foothills and Rabbit Ears Pass which Al might remember from 2007. Rabbit Ears going north is easier than the other way but we were tired (especially me) and glad to see the top. Rabbit Ears has three summits. The first is at Muddy Pass where Rt 40 intersects with 14, the second at the Continental Divide around 9600 feet and then drifts along the top several miles up and down to the East Summit. After that, we got a nice fast descent but mine was interrupted my two trucks who had to use their brakes a lot. It is not wise to pass them on the shoulder unless there is plenty of room so I played the waiting game until I could. It felt so good to get down in the sun again around 7500 just outside Steamboat Springs where I publicly disrobed and shed the jacket and a layer. We drifted along into Steamboat where we had rented a condo. First stop was for food and we found a really good Mexican place and summoned the whole group. They arrived via the car we had rented. The food was great! The condo turned out to be a perfect refuge; we stored the bikes in the garage, cleaned and oiled chains and did maintenance as necessary. I was able to get my gears working better too. It turned out that I had not been able to get into the lowest gear for climbing after all. We found a little market steps away and everybody was happy with the sleeping arrangement. It was on three levels though so the climbs and tired legs left us pretty breathless. We were joined by an old Illinois friend who now lives near Denver. Good times! Great rest too….slept great and caught up on my losses from Fraser.

Dave FiveDay Five – The start of Day 5 found us in high spirits. Much rested and relaxed, we dropped our bags at the school with the rental car which we had arranged to be left at the condo. This was actually closer to the route anyway so we effectively got a 3 mile head start. CRMBT was not to cheated though since Rabbit Ears going south is no picnic. Harder than the direction we came the previous day, it got everybody heated up fast after a 40 degree start. Tow of our guys had decided to abandon the tour due to sore legs and had retrieved their car from Fort Collins. So they acted as Sherpa’s the last two days; an added benefit. So after the cold start and warm up during the climb, we all shed some clothes and they took them. This was a “short” day of 57 miles with pretty much a descent after that first climb.

Our destination was the tiny town of Walden where we had been the year before with BTC. So we knew the places to get food and the layout of the school. The Sherpa’s got good camping and indoor spots arranged which also made things easier. We literally ate our meals at the same places we liked last June. Rain threatened several times in the afternoon an evening but very little came down. It got cold though overnight so the start for the final day was the coldest yet. Slept fully clothed in the sleeping bag and even added a jacket in the in the early morning hours. However, a late night trip to the bathroom yielded a huge sky full of bright stars all the way down to all horizons with lightning off in the distance in one spot; most likely more than 50 miles away.

Day SixDay Six – I got really cold taking down the tent and getting ready for this last day; a century. Frozen hands, feet and stiff joints made the start at dawn a really uncomfortable experience. I didn’t warm up until the first rest stop even though the sun was out. We had shadows in many spots due to the rocks or trees along the road. Brrrrr!

Our climb was Cameron Pass but we needed flats and a valley of over 30 miles to get there. Still cold, I dropped behind most of the guys and plugged along. The climb was gorgeous. The pass had huge rock faces, some snow fields, hardly any evidence of human activity. I could see why Walden bills itself the “Moose Watching Capital of the World”. We didn’t see any but the scenery was some of the finest I have seen out here. Stopped for quite a few pictures as I was mostly riding by myself still. At the top of the pass, we re-grouped for a photo under the sign saying it was over 10,000 feet. Moving down from there the pace quickened but the descent was very long and very gradual. Basically, we dropped from 10,000 feet to the end here in Loveland at about 5600 feet. The drop was mostly through the Poudre River Canyon which very honestly is the finest scenery I have ever experienced out here. Well worth a return trip. The river is rough and tumbling over boulders, rocks and wide rapids and there is only one dam near Cameron Pass. At times the canyon is so narrow, the road seems to close in above you with cliffs hundreds of feet high. More pictures but it was tough to stop a lot when you are cruising downhill and know you have to ride 106 miles. I came out of the canyon with about 20 miles left. These last 20 were undulating and some we on a busy highway but it still was fairly easy except for the constant headwind as the warm air (87 in Fort Collins and 37 at Cameron) blew up hill all day into our faces. I picked up the guys who had stopped for a cold drink at a 7-11 for the last 15 miles and we powered on to the end. Everybody was pretty tired of being on a bike at that point (8 hours total rise time) so we threw the bags and bikes in the car to head to this hotel. So there are 6 of us here in two rooms and the other five will be heading home across I-80 tomorrow. I get to drive back up 14 through the Poudre Canyon going the other way tomorrow on my way to Dinosaur National Monument where I will camp tomorrow night. So stay tuned for that Chapter and Good Night All!

bikeMS 2013 Team iDentifi raises over $21,000

May 25, 2013

By Dan Wiessner

Another successful MS 150 ride to raise money to fight MS. This was our eighth year as Team iDentifi and it is all due to your generous support. After quite some time of beautiful spring weather, at least according to the locals, we northerners apparently brought cooler and potentially rainy weather down with us.

The weekend was supposed to be a washout with 70% rain forecasted but we dodged the drops and really had very little to deal with other than some wet roads. Actually the cooler weather turned out to make the ride easier for those of us not used to the Florida heat.

We had a couple of “walking wounded” riders drop out for last minute medical reasons but our team of 18 has raised over $21,000 so far this year. You, as a group, contributed $1,450 under just my name this year! Many, many thanks!

The Central Florida Chapter raised almost $667,000 so far although the number of riders was down this year. We couldn’t do any of this without the consistent and magnanimous support from all of you….

Here are a few pictures of the weekend activities. We rode 50 miles on Saturday partially because of the weather forecast (and a stiff headwind all the way) and partially in deference to the lack of training with this cold rainy weather this year. Sunday’s ride was much more fun since the wind maintained its direction making it a tailwind almost all the way.

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Team IDENTIFI Charts a Course of Progress into 2013

April 5, 2013

Team IDENTIFI DONATIONS OVER THE YEARS bikeMSTeam IDENTIFI  Charts a Course of Progress into 2013

We should be very proud of our accomplishments over the years.

Not only have we grown as a team, we have grown as a family, developed long-term friendships, shared many great memories, endured the challenges of the roads, the winds and the rain.

We’re down right awesome!

And we have the numbers to prove it as we just tipped the scale at over $150,000!

Congratulations!

Just a reminder, we’re not done yet!

If you want to donate, follow the link below, select a rider on the Team Page and donate to them!

Link to —->Team IDENTIFI bikeMS 

The Ongoing Fight With MS

March 8, 2013

About My Fight With MS

img_0496I’ve been asked on occasion to include more information about my own personal fight with MS. I’m reluctant to do that at times because I want to keep my articles filled with useful insight. I realized through my own research efforts that sometimes hearing a personal struggle can be just as helpful.  My path to diagnosis was documented in an earlier post and can be found here: http://livingms.org/2011/10/26/newly-diagnosed/ But what about now?  What about since then?

In learning to accept and deal with my diagnosis I began learning everything I could about the disease.  I researched the web, talked to doctors, looked up news articles, read books, and talked to others.  I began this blog as a way to help everyone become better informed; it gave me a purpose.  I also started a twitter feed to relay any current or new science on the subject of MS.  In many ways this allowed me to distance myself from my own diagnosis and concentrate on helping the greater cause.  As most people can relate; the distance does not last forever and as my symptoms began to invade more and more of my life; my blogging slowed; much like my life, and it was time to start looking inward.

So here I am.  Looking inward.  Very publicly.  I’m going to voice my thoughts and fears and share them in hopes that it helps me, as well as someone else who is struggling with what this all means…sometimes knowing someone else is sharing your fears is enough to help cope with it all.

I think fear of the unknown is the greatest chasm in this mountain climb called MS.  I’ve noticed a significant slowing of all that is me.  I used to be so active; mountain biking, hiking etc…now a simple walk down the road is sometimes greater than me.  Will this be my life now?  will I get back to a state of being able to do adventurous things?  Every person is different and there is no answer for that.  So some days I feel like I am staring into this incredibly deep dark hole that threatens to swallow me up.

I’m grateful that I have the life I have.  Am I selfish for wanting more?  I am only 41 years old; I still have many things left to accomplish.  I begin to think about these things when I settle onto the couch after a long day and my legs hurt to the point of tears.  Not being able to stop moving them.  They jerk about without any will on my part.  Sometimes my nights are filled with these spasms and they keep me awake both in pain and worry for the future.   I can no longer wear the beautiful heeled boots I love so much.  They sit in my closet; I keep hoping for a day where I will feel balanced and strong enough to wear them but so far that day has slipped further and further.

I try hard not to bother my family or husband with my worries  or grief; what can they do?  I do not need pity and I do not need advice.  They are supportive and offer what they can when I need it; be it words or kind deed but beyond that; this is my fight.  I try to keep positive and keep kindness in my heart….but there are days the bitterness creeps in.  I can hear it in my words when my frustration peaks or when I am in pain.  I keep apologizing for who I am becoming.  I do not want to be this way but secretly there are times I resent seeing someone accomplish something I wanted so badly to do.  Fatigue has robbed me of who I once was.

No; my tears come late at night when everyone sleeps.  Silent tears.  Silent prayers.  Then in the morning; I try to put on a happy face and pull my tired, aching body into clothes for a full time job I still have to work; yes even here I am reminded of my failings as my cognitive decline has lessened my performance.  I’ve struggled; but I hold on with no other options.  I get angry as I have to hold the handrail and it takes me ever so long to walk the flight of stairs.  I get bitter when I need to use the restroom but wait until the last possible minute because I can’t stand the thought of the pain I will feel in my legs when I do descend the steps.  It’s a very old building and there are no elevators.  Yes sure; I could work in the conference room on the first floor when there are no meetings; yet another reminder of what I struggle so hard to forget each and every day.

I get tired.  I get depressed.  I am fighting each and every step of this disease tooth and nail.  I won’t give in easily.  Yes; I’ve turned the shower water all the way hot until my skin turned beat red in angry defiance…a very silly thing to do as it gives MS the upper hand but anger makes us do silly things sometimes.

There are some good things though.  I’ve met some wonderful people I would not have met otherwise who have taught me a lot about life.  I’ve also had my German Shepherd Nico by my side for the last year of his life.  He is only a year old but learning to become a service dog.  Right now; he keeps me active, gives me a purpose and reason to keep going and keep fighting.  He makes me laugh when all I want to do is cry.  And when I do cry; and he is with me; he invariably always touches me in some small way; or kisses my face and lets me know that he is there for me.  He is the one being that I do not have to put on an act for.  That I can cry, scream, yell and just sit quietly with and he remains steady; never waivers in his strength or love.  Never argues with me; never makes me feel inadequate like this disease does.  He just sees me as I always was; a person.

So here I am; 3rd year into my diagnosis, and finally opening up about it.  Thanks for listening.

There was no Lance…

January 19, 2013

Washington ParkI’m no Lance.  You’re no Lance.  There was no Lance.

Since early childhood I have lived by the creed, before you judge someone else, “put yourself in the other person’s shoes.”  I am a cyclist, albeit, a sorry ass one at best.  Sadly I will never be compared to the elite cyclists one speaks of, in the same breath, with Lance Armstrong.

I am and will remain a huge supporter of Livestrong.  The work Livestrong does for cancer victims is excellent and incontrovertible. The organization and the people behind it, sans Armstrong, are absolutely amazing.

Even before Lance’s true confession, I had tried to put myself in Lance’s shoes.  First and foremost, it becomes extremely difficult, unless you have been diagnosed, been treated and lived with a life threatening cancer.

There are many of Lance’s detractors who have never had cancer, let alone been on a bike seat, or experienced the extreme sport of competitive cycling or can even begin to appreciate his inimitable brilliance and determination.

Still there will be many of Lance’s detractors who have been diagnosed with cancer, so thank God, I’m at a distinct disadvantage here.  I can fall back on the fact I have one sister who is a breast cancer survivor, another sister who is battling breast cancer as I write this.

I am here to say, I have a serious problem with many of Lance’s detractors who have never experienced his amazing journey from serious life threatening testicular and brain cancer to recovery.  Back to trying to put myself in Lance’s shoes, as a cancer survivor, in his case, it was nothing short of being raised from the dead.

The problem is he had already doped.  He already knew how to dope.  He knew the culture of doping in pro cycling.  He knew other elite athletes in his profession were doping.  So he doped.  Somehow he won.  It was off to the races.

His genius and competitive furor brings to mind Steve Jobs and his achievements in cycling why competing with co-conspirators were immeasurable.  If you have read the book or studied the life and work of Steve Jobs, the comparison to Steve Jobs, is to say Armstrong is also a complete asshole.  It begs the question, is ruthless determination, the price one must pay to celebrate incomparable success?

The saddest of all, for me in this and for other cycling enthusiasts is the effigy of a championship cyclist.  We may never know.  How tragic.  Lance will never know.  We will never know if he was truly a great champion.  If in fact, if there was someone who rode clean, who could remotely challenge Lance, will we ever know who the greatest cyclist(s) in the history of the sport is, truly?

I will say this, if they were complicit in any way, they aren’t going to receive a pass.  If they were innocent and Lance rolled over them, he needs to make it right.  I would hope he would.  If not, he’s still the biggest loser, because this is one of his only means of redemption.  The other, is to protect and nurture his love for his family, especially his children.

I can’t remotely place myself in Lance’s shoes when it comes to his admonitions, accusations and confessions.  Lance was larger than life.  For a time, Lance’s achievements were larger than his lies.  No more.

In the end, none of his perceived success either on the pro circuit or in his work for charity can be applauded.  Neither can it be easily and lightly be disparaged and denigrated.  Why?  Simply, no one can ever possibly imagine, or conceive to “put yourself in Lance Armstrong’s shoes.”  Lance Armstrong is an enigma.

I’m no Lance.  You’re no Lance.  There is no Lance.

What I know for certain is we can Livestrong!

Bike MS: The Citrus Tour 2013 – April 20-21, 2013 C’mon! Team iDentifi – Get Registered! Let’s ride!

September 7, 2012

Grease your gears because

*Bike MS: The Citrus Tour 2013*

is officially OPEN!!!

(Scroll down for discount code)

GREETINGS!
The Mid Florida Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society would like to congratulate you and your accomplishment in claiming an important slot as a red hot CHILI for Bike MS: The Citrus Tour 2013!
We would also like to mention Bike MS: The Citrus Tour 2013 is now open!! So make sure you visit to nationalMSsociety.org/flc to REGISTER TODAY!
Since you are a CHILI, you get to use a special code for a discounted registration fee!!
To receive FREE registration for this year’s event please enter the code:
2013chili
The National MS Society truly appreciates all of the work you put in to make this event such a success…with your hard work and fantastic fundraising you help us to create a world free of MS! We hope to see you again on April 20th & 21st in 2013!
Sincerely,

National MS Society
Mid Florida Chapter

*Bike MS: The Citrus Tour 2013*
April 20th and 21st 2013!
Bok Tower Gardens to Caribe Royale
Don’t forget to use your special code for your discounted registration fee!!

Here’s your CHILI discount code:

2013chili

ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE!

For more information contact Heather Carelli at 407-478-8882 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting FREE 407-478-8882 end_of_the_skype_highlighting ext. 55136 or heather.carelli@nmss.org

BTC 2012 Wildfire Contingencies

June 20, 2012

Ft. Collins and route along Hwy 14

Route 14 may very well be closed Day 7. 

The information posted on the Bicycle Tour Colorado Website is a bit sketchy so I decided to post the following info.  Ride safely!

A good website to refer to for updates on the wildfires is:

http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2904/

Here is the content posted on the BTC website:

http://bicycletourcolorado.com/index.php?module=htmlpages&func=display&pid=50

“Please note that this is a week away and the situation can change. Riders will be updated at the information booth in camp of any developments.”

Situation 1 – DAY 7 –

  • If Hwy 14 (Cameron Pass/Poudre Canyon) is OPEN the BTC WILL cycle to Fort Collins down Hwy 14.
  • If you have parked in Laramie, and choose to cycle from Walden to Laramie, this routewill NOT be supported by the BTC.
  • There will be two baggage trucks (D and E) leaving from Walden to Laramie that will transport your bags to the Summit View Parking Lot at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
  • If you have parked in Laramie, and decide to follow the BTC to Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins (the official BTC tour end) and your car is in Laramie the BTC will NOT be providing transportation to Laramie. We apologize for any inconvenience.

 

Situation 2 – DAY 7 –

  • If Hwy 14 (Cameron Pass/Poudre Canyon) is CLOSED due to the High Park fire, the BTC will cycle into Laramie at the Summit View Parking Lot at the University of Wyoming
  • Cyclists and their bikes will be bussed back to Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins. A $25/rider and bike fee applies.
  • Bikes will be transported by Father & Son Moving Co. and cyclists will be transported in Coach America charter buses. Be sure to note the number on the moving truck you place your bike.

 

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