Early Fall Happenings

6 Oct

An aspen, but practically like a cottonwood. Either way, both look great right now!

Apparently, I’ve been too busy!  Had a number of rides over the past two weeks, just not enough time to sit and write.  Well, that’s about to change, right now.

After returning from Iowa, I had a few days of just catching up with work and life.  This past Saturday I finally had a chance to ride with the folks from the Denver 38 Racing Team.  We met up in Littleton and rode down the Platte River Trail to Chatfield Reservoir (southwest corner of metro Denver), where I parted ways with them.  The group was doing a 38-mile loop, and I needed to head home for an afternoon of tasting at the Great American Beer Festival.  They all agreed that you can leave rides for two things: beer tasting, and family stuff.  Works for me!  The ride was my “tryout” for the team, and it only took me the seven and a half miles to pass!  One of the members offered me an “official invitation” via email, so I look forward to a lot more riding with them in the future.  Hopefully I’ll make it onto the team website sometime soon!

I met some team members at my second race this past season.  I was struggling at the back in the wind, and one of the guys, Lars, kept offering me encouragement, and his wheel when I could hang onto it (to draft).  And you thought all cyclists were snobby jerks!  Well, I sort of felt that way, though I would never stoop to such a churlish and curt display of attitude myself.  I hung on as long as I could (will write more about the race in a future post), and eventually the wind claimed another rider.  Afterward I found the team gathered, breaking down t

he race.  We all made introductions, chatted for awhile, and exchanged contact info.  After a few emails and one ride, I finally have a team to call my own!  This will give me more training structure (and accountability), more practice with group riding and race tactics, and finally more cool people to become friends with.

While that has been my recent biking highlight, I have also really enjoyed the changing season.  This week I rode on the Cherry Creek Trail to the reservoir (southeast corner of metro Denver) a couple of times.  I had plenty of sun for both rides, as well as a fairly stiff breeze.  One of my favorite things about the Cherry Creek Trail is all the cottonwoods along the creek.  A lot of them have started to change colors now, but still about half bright yellow and half green.  While maybe not as brilliant as the aspens that have changed, the cottonwood leaves also have a shimmering quality about them.  As the wind blows they seem to flash in the sun, alternately both reflecting sunlight and showing off their colors.  The path also has another nice contrast with the dried native/wild grasses that keep the sides of the path a light tan.  With the path framed by the grasses, the cottonwoods stand out a lot now, where during the summer, everything just looked green.  While not a bad thing, I like how the trees stand out individually more in the fall, as opposed to what just looks like a mass of green.

I can say that the breeze has seemed stronger lately, and I really lucked out with the ride this morning.  While I had wind this morning, around two o’clock the system that had dusted out Arizona started to roll in, and you could barely see the downtown skyline from a few miles away; the mountains and foothills were non-existent.  The scene reminded me of seeing a snowstorm blow in, or even just blowing snow, where the sun is still shining, but the horizon just has a low cloud sitting on it.  This is one of the main reasons why I like morning riding:  generally less wind to deal with.

The other theme from the recent rides is that I’ve really slowed down, which is a good thing.  I have rode slowly on purpose, avoiding rolling out with an agenda of trying to keep up a certain pace, effort, etc.  This is probably no surprise, but training can make something fun, like cycling, a lot less fun.  All the goals, objectives and so forth can really drain the joy in riding.  So I will enjoy the weather, the sunshine, and the simple fact that I can hop on my bike and cruise.  So while this part of the year is for recovery (shoot, an objective!), the plan is pretty straightforward – go out and ride, enjoy it, repeat.

I’m hoping to ride Saturday morning, and the high temperature here is supposed to be around 50-ish.  In the spirit of the changing seasons, I got some new gloves (which Liz can also use, double-bonus) and a pair of knee-warmers.  Yes, one of the other joys of cycling – buying stuff!  Bundle up and head out for a nice slow ride amongst the dried leaves; I’ll be out there too!

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