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A look at a week of rides (and a run) in Boulder, Washington DC

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It’s been a busy week thus far (and seemingly only getting busier, despite being Sunday). So I figured I’d catch folks up on where I am, and in doing so I have a post that isn’t about power meters (since more of those are on the way next week). Don’t worry, a running post will be up Monday. After all, it’s not like I only cycled in these locations.

I arrived in Boulder Sunday evening after the sorta-long journey from Paris via Washington DC. Thankfully, the drive was only about 45-50 minutes from the Denver airport to Boulder. Though I think I spent 45-50 minutes getting from the airport to the car rental place at that airport. I despise off-site car rental facilities.

(In case you’re wondering about the above photo, the pilot was retiring, thus the water treatment.)

Monday

Monday turned out to be reasonably free. I started off meeting up for breakfast with Lindsey Jerdonek and Kevin Collington – both Pro triathletes. I know Lindsey from all my time in Washington DC.

Then from there it was off to take care of a bunch of little odds and ends around town. First was hitting up the bike shop to have them clean up the housing cabling a bit on my bike, along with a few other items.

While that was happening I met up with Randy Cantu for lunch.  Coincidentally, he had planned to be in town to compete in the Boulder 70.3 that previous day, but an injury sidelined that. Randy, from Augusta Georgia, helps out a bit behind the scenes here on the blog with keeping links up to date and editing posts (though, I’m horrible in that I usually post the post and then he edits them).

Following my apparent continual feasting I headed out of town a bit to pickup my bike and go for a ride. First on the list was taking photos of various products. I decided to do that pre-ride, fearing that if I did it post-ride and it rained, I’d have non-clean products. Glad I did that.

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Then up into the mountains I went. I only was really aiming for about a 60-75 minute ride. Nothing earth shattering. I knew that on Tuesday (the next day) things would be hectic. So I just wanted to ensure the bike was happy.

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As I started my descent back into town, my rear tire flatted. No big deal I thought, I picked up CO2 cartridges at the bike shop before heading out – so I should be all good! Except, I grabbed non-threaded, which means I was hosed with my threaded CO2 nozzle.

So, I found a house nearby and asked to borrow a pump. Unfortunately, they hadn’t ridden a bike in 30 years (I wouldn’t have doubted that claim).

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Then I walked perhaps half a mile. Found another house. This lady was probably 90 years old. No pump.

Then I walked some more. I found a horse…not a hose.

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A very friendly horse, came running across the field to greet me.

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He however, did not have a pump.

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So I walked some more – maybe a mile or so in total now. Eventually, a cyclist passed – and he did have a pump. Woot! A guy from Team Trakkers – thank you!

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From there, it rained. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.

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And then poured:

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But, I was soon back in town – safe and sound. Later that evening we’d start the various Vector briefings. Numerous hours of inquisitive cycling geeks from Velonews, Outside Magazine, Bike Radar, Bicycling, and myself asking more questions than a 2-year old.

Tuesday

I was up early, just as soon as sunrise cleared to start getting photos for the Vector post. I hate – *HATE* – indoor light for product review photos. So I was basically just waiting till I got some nice natural light before we installed everything to get the unboxing shots. This all occurred on a stone wall I found in a parking lot behind a Safeway.

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From there each media member got paired off with a Vector engineer to get everything installed on their bikes.

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After which it was out onto the road we went.

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The route would eventually intersect with pretty much the same ride loop I did the day before.

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The only difference is this time I got no flat, and no rain. Oh, and I got to see these little guys:

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Post-ride it was a quick lunch before I spent some more time with the Vector team running through technical questions. Then, I jumped on the bike and baked in the sun for about 20 minutes on a trainer. You can see the puddles below.

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After the trainer I packed up my bags as best as possible and stuffed them in my car. The hotel was not giving me much leeway on late checkout today.

Then it was off into the mountains again. Clark Foy (head of the Vector division) and I started off together for the ride up Flagstaff, though we had agreed we’d just ride our own paces.

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It was a really nice and quiet ride.

And then it rained.

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Again.

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And harder.

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And a bit of thunder and lightning too for good measure.

After heading up exactly 40 minutes, I turned around, working my way back home. I had put a bit of a limiter on my time since I had to catch a flight later on that night.

Post-ride I literally jumped into the hotel pool as “a shower”, and then finished packing up my bike in the parking lot. It was then off to the airport to return the car, drag a bike across the airport, and then get on my 7:45PM flight to Washington DC.

I’d write pretty much the entire post on that flight, landing at 1AM. I’d finish editing the photos while in the baggage claim, then again after driving to my sister-in-law’s house. Then I worked on power comparison details – finally finishing up at 5:10AM. Oh, and I got to meet back up with The Girl. Woot!

Wednesday

Wednesday was a rough-day sleep-wise. I was up sorta early doing errands with The Girl.

And, we got to go hang out with our coach for a few hours. :)

Thursday

Oh glorious sleep! Lots of sleep.

After sleeping I put together my bike (which had been packed from Boulder). This also included swapping out the wheels for the new PowerTap wheels that came in that I mentioned over the weekend. I rather like the new look of these, they blend better than the yellow writing:

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After doing a slew of errands related mostly to the bike and bike parts, I was finally on my way out to Skyline Drive a bit after lunch – arriving around 2PM:

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As usual, I’d drive the short distance up to the visitor center and ride from there.

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The start of the ride was pretty uneventful – just like I’d done numerous times before.

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Then it started to rain a bit.

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Then a lot harder.

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Then it got rather foggy.

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And then I got pulled over.

Yes, pulled over. By a police officer. I suppose technically a National Parks Officer.

They were very friendly, but said that I was required to have a rear/front light on (actually one officer said light, the other said reflector). In either case, being it was a day-time ride in the middle of summer on my ‘race’ bike, I had neither. No worries, they were friendly.

When they asked how much further I planned to go, I responded with “10 minutes before turning around”, to which one responded with “I think now’s a good time to turn around”. So I did.

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Coming back I eventually got out of the rain and fog and things opened up.

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Once back at the visitor center it was full sun, so I added a down and back to the entrance gate on to add about 30 minutes of time.

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With that, my ride was complete. I’ve uploaded all the new Vector data to the comments section of the Vector post, for those interested.

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Friday

Finally, last but not least on the the week in DC and Boulder is a run around the mall. Not a terribly long run, nor a fast one, just an enjoyable easy run around the basin. We started from Gravelly Point, with the airplanes roaring overhead:

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Then crossed the bridge into the District:

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From there we took a quick water stop at Jefferson.

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Knowing where all the water fountains are is key to any successful DC run.

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After that we looped around the basin, ducking under cherry trees:

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Then a quick side trip over to the World War II memorial, with Lincoln hanging out behind:

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Finally, cruising past the newish MLK monument and then FDR we wrapped our way back around the basin.

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To wrap up the day we hit up a Washington Nationals vs Philly game. Obviously, since we were there, they won (actually, they dominated).

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Speaking of Philly, it was a few hour drive up to the City of Brotherly Love, where I write from today. More on that later…

Thanks for reading!

23 Comments

  1. Matthew R

    So what's the deal with the light requirement? Is that a legitimate law? (Virginia?)

    Reply
    • randomduck replied

      This year, as Eli says, the Park Rangers at Shenandoah have been really strict on light enforcement. Even on clear days, they want all cyclists to have them. The rangers at the Front Royal entrance (which Ray kinda missed because he did the *cough cough* party foul of driving to Dickey Ridge to start his ride) are really stringent this year. The rangers at Thornton Gap aren't nearly as consistent.

      Lemme tell 'ya, though, they are great to have if the weather is dicey. I did a Skyline ride from Front Royal to Thornton Gap and back in some THICK fog and rain, and my lights (which are on my race bike when the weather is bad) made all the difference. Both front and rear are easily installed and removed - perfect for things like Skyline!

      Glad you made it back into town, Ray!

      Reply
  2. Man, your life sounds fun. Sorry Boulder was not too kind to you. I'm from Boulder and going to school/training in Colorado Springs. Would love to go for a run if you're ever in the springs area.

    Reply
  3. Lance

    @Matthew VA law requires lights only at night. The park service adds the low visibility requirement: link to nps.gov

    Reply
    • Eli replied

      Just to clarify, the rules for Shenandoah hasn't changed they just started being better at enforcing them.

      Reply
  4. John S.

    What maintenance do you do for your bike after riding in the rain?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I mostly just wipe things down if not already dry. And then clean-up anything else that looks out of place.

      Honestly, the biggest PITA for three rides of rain was that all of them I had products shots planned post-ride, so that meant having to get everything fairly clean again for those shots.

      For example, post-Skyline I took a bunch of shots (both products seen here and others), all of which led to at least half my bike looking pretty...

      Reply
    • Doug replied

      Riding in really heavy rain is great for cleaning the chain, it flushes everything out. Once back at base wipe dry then squirt with a water displacer like WD40, apply favourite bike lube and relax.

      "At least my chain's getting cleaned" is my positive thought while getting drenched.

      Reply
  5. Chris T.

    I have to say One of my peeve's is that we have a lot of cyclists in my town that insist on wearing dark clothes in low light conditions with no lighting. I worked for a few years in EMS, and I can tell you that cars beat people.

    Reply
  6. Mikey

    That road outside of Boulder is one I am very familiar with. My in-laws live up Lefthand
    Canyon. I once ran from their house into Boulder. Nice to see a familiar place on your blog.
    N
    I I know exactly where that horse was. FYI I'm sure the inlaws don't have a pump either.

    Reply
  7. Chris T.
    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, I have a few blinky lights at home (3,861 miles away). Just didn't even cross my mind to bring them with me when my rides were planned mid-day in the summer rides.

      Noted for next year...

      Reply
  8. John

    Dude...Ward.

    Reply
  9. Mans M

    *wonders how many framepumps will be send to you to be reviewed in the next weeks

    Reply
  10. philippe marc humbert

    Actually riding in the rain is terrible for your chain. It does not clean it-just gets a bunch of sand and grit in there. The first thing I would do when getting home after a wet ride is scrub the chain with a chain cleaner, then lube everything very well.

    Reply
  11. Ames G.

    You do know that when a rain shower is moving into Boulder it shows up on the radar of a weather app like rain anywhere else, right? And fyi, an afternoon rain shower or pop up thunderstorms are routine during August in the Colorado Rockies. Most CO travel guides mention this fact but a few novice visitors will always whine about it.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I don't believe I was whining about it. I pretty willingly knew I was about to go for a ride into it (given I was riding right towards it).

      Shrug, it's just rain (I was born and grew up in Seattle, I know all about rain).

      Reply
  12. Makes me happy to see you posting rides on my turf! Lee hill is one of my favorites, and I have a love/hate relationship with flagstaff. Next time you're in the area, you should ride up St. Vrain Canyon. If you need a riding buddy, you can shoot me an e-mail. (I carry a pump)

    Reply
  13. Joe

    Ray, Great post! It seems like every frame pump I've ever bought has absolutely sucked. Do you have one you'd recommend? I've done the long walk more than once...just this past Sunday as a matter of fact.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I wish I had advice. I'm pretty much in the same camp as you - all the ones I've tried have sucked in some way or another, so I've given up on them. :-/

      Reply
  14. Paul M

    Lots of traveling fo sho!

    I was at the Nats game too! They certainly did smack down the Phillies that day. Good stuff.

    Reply
  15. Tom

    A very late comment here, but what are your thoughts about the safety of riding on Skyline generally? I live in DC and want to make it out there in the Spring, but the high volume of traffic every time I have gone there to hike makes me somewhat skeptical that I would be able to relax and enjoy the scenery.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      No issues at all. I've ridden it perhaps 40-60 times, maybe more.

      In general, your biggest issue is honestly squirrels and bears running in front of you. True, traffic can be an issue, but even at 1PM on a Saturday it's not too bad (busiest time).

      If you ride earlier in the morning, it's dead quiet. Most cyclists get there around 7-9AM, and try to be heading back by 12PM. Keep in mind that traffic generally flows in front the Front Royal side, so it's kinda like traffic into the city in the morning, and back out in the afternoon. As long as you're slightly ahead of it, you're good.

      Reply

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