Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In Albuquerque, on the way to Colorado

Just a quick blog post from on the road: Sabine arrived in Lubbock on Saturday afternoon, just about an hour after I had returned from my officiating gig at the Hotter 'n Hell in Wichita Falls. Since then, the schedule has been full: On Sunday afternoon, we met up with Martha and Alan as well as Wes and Susan at Wicked Beaver Brewing where Michael and his wife, Jenny, served us some fine cold beer. Later that evening we had a delicious dinner at M&A's. On Monday, Sabine wanted to go for a bike ride, so we took the road bikes out to New Home, where she experienced the cultural capsule of The Last Maverick restaurant, where we had a cold Coke. Then it was time to prepare appetizers for our evening with Jewell and Kathy (who, after appetizers, took us out to the Funky Door for dinner) and we also had to start packing for our trip to Colorado.
With Martha and Sabine and a Wicked Beaver
Yesterday morning we were on the road around 11 a.m.—amazing! And even more amazing was the fact that we had a tailwind leaving town! The little truck ran smoothly, and the gas mileage was like in its best days. we got to Albuquerque right at 5 p.m., so there was plenty of time to go to La Cumbre Brewing and then to Marble, where we met up with Chad and Jen, who have just recently moved to ABQ. We then had dinner at Il Vicinos—the pizza was as good as always, and Wet Mountain IPA is till one of the best brews out there.

And now it's almost 8 a.m., Sabine is already brushing her teeth, and I have to hop into the shower so we can have a standard Hampton breakfast. Then we'll be off for Rico, in the Dolores Valley, where we will spend the next week vacationing.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A few more Tour of Utah impressions

Even though I made it back home to Lubbock last night, I'd like to share a few pics from the past week. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Tour of Utah, one of cycling's biggest road races in the USA. Granted, it doesn't have the same stature as the Tour of California, but not every state can be as cycling-crazed. First, here are a few race-related pics:
Barbie gets a free ride with the Race Doctor in his convertible

And that's the inside of the Race Doc's car—course profile, roster, radio all within reach
The caravan heads out

Not-so-rich Team Optum prepares for the arrival of its riders after Stage 5

If you watched TV footage, it came from these two fellows

The chief referee himself, M. Pierre Blanchard at the start of the Park City stage (6)
My right hand for the entire race, Heather—Master RV Driver!
And lest thou thinketh it was all about the race, well, re-think. I did get a chance to ride my Ritchey for almost 200 miles, and there was a lot to see.
As posted at the state-owned liquor store—at least there is no requirement to also
bring along one's six kids!

Downtown SLC as seen from the Jordan River Parkway bike path, which stretches for 40+ miles

Crosswalks are equipped with flags that pedestrians are to frantically wave when dodging traffic
Artwork is everywhere—this one in Park City
One can learn new words all the time ...
The Red Iguana serves what locals called the best Mexican food in town
And that's all for tonight, folks. Thanks for looking, and stay tuned for more updates in the next few weeks—maybe I'll post a photo of my new carpet once it is installed.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

In the Land of Polygamy Porter

Or I could have called this blog entry "In the Land of the Mormons."  But in an attempt to stay with the often beer-inspired themes of this blog, I chose the former. Yes, no kidding: There is a beer called Polygamy Porter. Just like Uinta Brewing Co's Trader Session IPA it is a tasty, albeit watery beer—no wonder, as this place still has alcohol-content restrictions, and neither climbs much above 4%.

Polygamy Porter—"Why Have Just One?"
Today is Thursday, and thus it must be the third day of the Tour of Utah. Stage 3 is going to start in about two hours, and I have a few minutes in my hotel room here in Odgen before checking out, loading my stuff in the race-issued brand-new Subaru Outback, getting today's start lists at the sign-in, and then high-tailing it to the stage finish in Salt Lake City. It's another UCI Doping Control assignment, and it's been a good one so far. I flew in on Monday and attended the Team Managers Meeting that afternoon, and Tuesday's and Wednesday's testing came off without a hitch. Just like in California, we use an RV for doping control, and (almost) like in California I am assisted by an Allen—Heather Allen, that is, versus her husband John Allen in California. Heather drives the RV and helps with all things that need to be done to get us ready for testing. Medalist Sports, the organizers of this event (as well as for California and the soon-coming pro-race in Colorado) are to be commended for spending the money on an assistant for doping control.
Pro riders seeking a bit of shade from one of the fiber-glass horses that symbolize Odgen
Compared to the Amgen Tour of California, the crowds at this race are much smaller and the field is somewhat less stellar. The infrastructure is equally imposing, with start and finish areas top notch. Another difference is that we are not constantly traveling: For the first three nights we stayed here in Odgen, and today we are transferring to Salt Lake City for the final nights. Yesterday's Team Time Trial was run at Miller Motor Speedway, about an hour away, but we are certainly not driving the 1,000 miles that my odometer showed at the conclusion of ATOC. That, in turn, means that there is a little bit more downtime, which I have been putting to good use by taking out the Ritchey for what already is a respectable 79 miles.
The Team Time Trial at Miller Motor Speedway—an unusual venue but perfectly suited
Ogden is a strange place. Neither Heather nor I can put our finger on it: On the one hand, there is a lot of really nice (re-)development in the historic downtown area, where our hotel is and where the start of the first and also today's stage was/is located. But then there are so many run-down aspects, homeless people, decaying streets. And then another fancy boutique or restaurant.
The start of Stage 1 in downtown Ogden
Hotel staff made me aware of a cycle path (like a greenbelt) along the small Ogden River, and I used it for short before-and-after-work rides, and it is typical for this place: In places it is perfectly maintained, and in others it suddenly vanishes. Signage is spotty, and the users of the area are of a mixed nature. Oh well, maybe it's a Mormon thing.... This morning I found a new route, parallel to the mountains going north toward Brigham City, with beautiful views of the lake (yes, it really does exist!) and the surrounding mountains. No wonder one of the little towns along the way (founded in 1851) was called Pleasant View. Next up was a place called Box Elder.
Along the greenbelt cycle path in Ogden, with one of the prettier views
Yesterday morning I dropped off the samples from the first stage at the Salt Lake City laboratory (the SMRTL), one of two WADA-approved test facilities in the USA (the other one is at UCLA). I met the director of the lab and got a short glimpse of its interior. I was told that SMRTL processes about 20,000 samples a year, with a staff of more than 30. UCLA's lab is triple that size in samples processed. Obviously, that's not only cycling-related or even from the world of sports, but rather private industry as well. Dr. Eichner, the lab's director, told me that these two labs process more samples in a year than all accredited European labs combined. Wow.
My Outback in front of the Salt Lake City lab at 560 Arapeen Way
And now it is time to close the computer and start the day. If I find the time, I may add a few more pictures and a few lines in the next few days. We should see some really pretty countryside when we go up into the mountains. The final stage will end in Park City, and I have heard nothing but praise for that place, so we'll see.