Denver Triathlon Race Report

I had initially signed up to race the Olympic distance for the Denver Triathlon, but that was before I found out that I would be riding Ride The Rockies for three straight days after the race. So at packet pick up on Saturday, I sheepishly went to the timer’s table and switched to the sprint race.

Sprint distance is not my strength, and I’ve only raced one in the last three years. Nevertheless, I was a little excited about seeing what kind of speed I could muster in the midst of Ironman training.

Our wave took off at Sloan’s Lake in Denver at 7:40am under near perfect weather conditions. As usual, I started too fast and my arms were throbbing after about 300 meters. Oh well, if you are going to go too hard, might as well be in a sprint. I hit the turn around, headed home, and exited the water around 10:30.

After a slow transition, I got on the bike and decided to put it in cruise control to gather myself.  But just about a minute in to the bike I was passed by my friend James Sharpe, owner of TriBella multi-sport shop. He said hello and got me going. James is a strong rider, but I’m typically about as strong so I knew I couldn’t let him go.

I trailed behind James for a quarter of a mile then passed him and decided to give it a little juice. Though I was tired from the previous day’s training and little sleep the night before, I was pleased with the way my legs responded. There were no land speed records set, but I was able to keep a good pace for the rest of the ride which was a two loop affair that weaved in and out of neighborhoods and the Denver Broncos stadium. I came off the bike and hit T2 with a 23.2 mph average according to my Garmin Edge 500.

In less than a mile of the run I caught three guys and one of them went with me. He was in the age group below me, so I told him if he helped set the pace I wouldn’t contest him at the end. I’ve found that working with someone on the run is very helpful for me and my racing mindset.  We kept a steady but a good pace out to the turn around and started back in.

With a half mile to go my partner looked back and said we were clear to the finish. We backed it down a notch, shook hands and cruised on in. I crossed the line with an 18:40 something 5K and a 1:13 and some change finish time for the race. It was good enough for 6th overall and first in my AG.

After the race, I was greeted by Whit and we hung around the race for a while. It was a great environment and plenty of folks were happily cheering on their loved ones. We then headed to the house where I showered then hopped in the rental car for Grand Junction and Ride The Rockies.

Freedom At Last: Carbondale to Leadville via Independence Pass

Ride The Rockies day three is over now, and with that came the first of two 12,000 ft climbs. When I stepped out of my tent at 5:00am this morning, there was a buzz in the air already.  Most people were excited and anxious about knocking out Independence Pass, which topped out at mile 50 of today’s 84 mile route. As I loaded my gear in to the transport bus, I noticed there were already many people  who had apparently loaded and left themselves before my departure at 6:30am.

The route started by rolling through downtown Carbondale and then on to the Rio Grande Trail. We followed the trail for as it weaved through a valley which was just receiving its first rays from the sun. I was fortunate enough connect with a group that included cycling legend, and founder of Wheat Ridge Cyclery, Ron Keifel. Besides being a world class cyclist in his day, Ron knows how to ride like few others ever have. It was a pleasure to share a pace line with him.

Parts of the Rio Grande Trail we covered today are comprised of crushed gravel. Personally, I loved this section as the trail was covered in a canopy of green trees with the occasional sweeping vista of the climb that was to come buried off in the distance.

After a quick break in Aspen, the climb to Independence Pass started in earnest. I’d heard a lot about this climb which both racers and recreational cyclists respect immensely. As we climbed, I was struck mild the grade was. Sometimes when you hear about things for a long time, you tend to make them bigger and badder than they really are. While the climb to Independence is no doubt tough, it was also equally beautiful, which was a needed distraction from the 20 plus miles of uphill.

The top of Independence Pass was like a small celebration. You don’t always see people in spandex eating bratwurst and Dr. Pepper while high fiving each other on the success of reaching the top of a mountain. Today, however, the pass was full of such happy souls who were also snapping photos to send to their loved ones. In the excitement, I jumped in a few photos with strangers with whom I know nothing about except that today we shared the same great bicycle ride.

The descent was fast, I again topped out at just over 51mph. It also provided stunning views of Mt. Elbert and then towards Twin Lakes. The last hour was a mixture of terrain including one dirt road and a brutal final 5 miles in to Leadville with a head wind. Such is Leadville, I suppose. The camping has the best views yet, front row seats to Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert.

Today’s Stats:

Miles – 84.5
Time – 5:45:55
Top Speed – 51.2 mph
Calories Burned (est) – 8,598

Ride The Rockies – Hotchkiss to Carbondale

Ride The Rockies Day 2: Hotchkiss – Carbondale

Day two of Ride The Rockies took us 68 miles from Hotchkiss over McLure Pass and down to Carbondale. Day two was actually day one for me because I arrived in Hotchkiss late last night. I had a commitment to race the Denver Triathlon on Sunday morning, and then rented a one-way car to Grand Junction, followed by a shuttle ride by “Mike” of American Spirit Shuttles. Mike was full of great information, adding tidbits of regional historical facts all along the way.

I arrived at the in Hothckiss around 6pm, quickly erected my tent then headed down to the live music. After some great food, conversation, and frothy beverages it was time for rest. Around 4:15am I awoke and decided to use the facilities. I was treated to a bit of shock when I walked in and saw a gentleman in his full cycling kit trimming his already groomed and mature mustache. Standing there in my underwear and half closed eyes, I suddenly felt a little unproductive. However, I had very little struggle falling back asleep when I arrived back in my tent.

I was up for good and out on the bike by 7:15am. Though the course profile looked intimidating, the ride was pleasant. It could best be described as rolling with head winds for the first hour or so. I used this section to ride from group to group. Everyone rides at their own pace on a tour like this, so it’s easy to hop on to a group for a bit, have some conversation, then roll on. The entire time we were flanked by steep rocky walls and the occasional mountain lake.

Mile 38 saw the start of the day’s toughest climb; McClure’s pass which is located on the western side of the Elk Mountains. The climb was steady, but not exceedingly difficult. The grade of the road was steady, and the average for the climb (that heads up CO State Hwy 133) was nearly 8%.

The top of McClure’s Pass signified two things. First, we only had about 25 miles left. Secondly, and most importantly, the rest of the ride was all downhill! The descent was fast, my clock reached 51.5 mph. Feeling the urge for a burger, I decided to just put my head down and give it some effort to reach Carbondale. We were greeted to town by smiling faces of kids and adults, which was really nice to see after a day in the saddle. Time for rest, tomorrow is Independence Pass and our first foray over 12,000 feet.

For a full gps report on the ride, please click here.

Stats For Day 2 of Ride The Rockies:

Distance -68.1 miles
Average Speed – 15.8 mph
Climbing – 4,814 ft
Time – 4:18:52
Calories Burned (est.) – 3,420
Burgers – Two (both with side items)

Upcoming Epicicity

It’s here, and I’m not all the prepared! The next three weeks include Whit and I celebrating 1 year together, The Denver Triathlon,  a week long bike tour of Colorado called Ride The Rockies, a wedding in Malibu, and a trip to Ironman Coeur D’Alene. Whew… I feel a little sick to my stomach.

The Denver Triathlon takes place on June 10th in downtown Denver and I’ll be racing as part of the Ambassador Team. Not long ago we did our group photo shoot, which was a blast. Chris Laskey, Race Director, did a great job of picking his Ambassador Team. there are only one or two elite athletes on the squad, but everyone has dynamic personalities and represent the race well. I’m very much looking forward to race day that includes screaming down closed roads throughout the City Denver.

After the race, I jump in a rental car and head to Hotchkiss, CO where I’ll join the second day of Ride The Rockies. I feel very fortunate to be working with the team over at the Denver Post, they are top notch pros at what they do. The section I’ll be riding heads from Hotchkiss to Carbondale to Leadville to Grandy to Estes Park over the course of 4 days. It also covers such famous climbs as Independence Pass, Trail Ridge Road, and Fremont Pass. I can’t imagine there can be better Vineman training then four straight days of dedicated bike time!

I’ll get back to Boulder on Thursday night, then fly out to L.A. with Bug on Friday to attend the wedding of our great friends Adam and Lauren. The wedding is actually in Malibu and I suspect we’ll sneak in some trail running while we’re there, as well as see our good friends Ricardo.

Last but not least, the weekend after we return, we head back out to Coeur D’Alene for Whit’s Ironman. Shes super fit right now and I fully expect a great race! Her parents will be there, as well as a group from Denver, and my good friends Wes and Rhea Spratt from SC.  (See them from B2B here).

So staying busy to say the least! Should be awesome though, and I’ll keep you updated with posts from the road.

Here and There

Well it has been an interesting few weeks. Just to name a few things.

Got to go to my first playoff game to watch the Denver Nuggets play the L.A. Lakers. It was the Bug’s first NBA game ever. She loved it, as did I. My friend Tony hooked up us with tickets (still owe you) and we had dinner and drinks at a cool brewery overlooking the city just prior to the game.

Spent a little time recovering from the Rev3 race in Knoxville, which included a few nights at the Avery Brewery and Mountain Sun with my Nashville to Boulder buddies Graham and Justin.

I also was part of my first triathlon production, Summer Open Triathlon in Longmont, CO. I had the pleasure of being asked to work by Lance and Tony Panigutti of Without Limits Racing. It was a cold day, but overall great experience. These guys have it down to a science, and they nail their events.

The Colorado State Patrol called, and they wanted a cyclists to be part of their new PSA series. We got to film some footage in some of the most beautiful areas around. I fully expect to be famous when the videos come out. 😉

The Naked Juice pb TriBella race team held their 2nd Annual Ride for Reading Delivery in Denver, and I attended. Most people have never heard of Ride for Reading, but it is an amazing charity that promotes literacy and bicycles by delivering children’s books to underprivileged schools. In a world where iPads and Playstations rule, it is truly great to see kids get excited about receiving a few free books.

Finally, and most fun, Cary and Christy Graham visited Boulder for a few days. Cary has literally been a life-long friend and a great influence in my life. Cary was taking a bit of a break from his writing and figured the mountains would be the perfect place to get away from the hustle of city life. Cary (aka The Hack Novelist) is pushing his newest novel, Remnant, which by all accounts is stellar. Just got my copy and looking forward to diving in. Seeing Cary and Chirsty was good for the soul, and Im grateful to have them as friends.

Rev3 Knoxville Race Report

First race of 2012 is in the books. While May is later than I’ve ever waited to start a season, 2012 is the year of ednurance races so there has been more preparation required. Whit and I flew out of Denver on Thursday night and arrived in Nashville late. We woke up Friday and went to visit my Grandfather’s grave and then put our bikes together for the Sunday race. After lunch, we headed up with Dad and Mary Ann to  Rev3 Knoxville.

Once in Knoxville, we checked in for our first Rev3 race ever.The race expo was not busy when we got there so the whole process was quick and easy. After registering for the half, we had dinner on Market Square where we had tapas and great company.We strolled back to the Hilton where Whit and I lazily laid around then watched the movie “Our Idiot Brother”.

Saturday, we had a nice breakfast and then drove out to preview the bike course. While I can’t say I was surprised, I was a little anxious after viewing the 56 mile bike route. The course was covered with short punchy climbs and a few extended climbs. I knew right away that my typical sub 2:30 bike probably wouldn’t happen. After driving a bit, we all hopped on our bikes to get a real taste of the roads. Within 20 seconds of riding, Whit’s 650 tubular tire exploded! The tear in the tired was so bad that we couldn’t plug it and we didn’t have a spare with us. To make things worse, we called every shop in town and not one had a 650 tubular tire, much less the time to glue it on in time for the race.

At a loss on what to do with no help in Knoxville, Mary Ann thought to call our friend Howard Newsome in Nashville. He has an early model Cervelo that was made back when 650’s where thought to be faster. Lady Luck was on our side, because Howard was not riding this weekend and said his wheels were ours to use. Even more lucky, Clint and crew had not left Nashville yet, so they were able to swing nby Howard’s house to pick up the wheels. Though is was a lot of work and sacrifice, the family seemlessly worked together to save Whit’s race. Also, my Mom came up to watch the race as well. Her support means so much to me, it was awesome to cross the line and see her standing there cheering with Whit. We are so blessed to have that kind of support.

The night before the race, Dad, MA, Whit and myself were joined by Tim Hayes (college teammate) and his buddy David. Both of those guys are great dudes and will be racing Ironman Wisconsin. It was great to hang out, talk tri, and catch up.

Now on to the race…

The gun for the Half Rev went off at 7:30am est with the first wave of athletes starting the swim in the Tennessee River. The course took athletes upstream for 4/10 of a mile before shooting back down stream, past the start, and on to the exit. The swim seemed a bit long, and my time of 34:28 confirms that it at least had the potential of being long. Nothing remarkable to note about the swim, which is good because races have a way of being off in the swim fairly often.

The 56 mile bike course left Knoxville and sent riders east in the direction of the beautiful Southern Appalachian Mountains. Though the course did not get as far as the real mountains, it did weave in and out and over some of the foothills. The course was as challenging as it was gorgeous. As a frame of reference, my last two half iron bike splits have been 2:12 and 2:18 respectively, my time this past weekend was 2:42. Sharp climbs were typically followed by slightly technical descents, and there were several ninety degree turns thrown in as well. This actually favors me due to having done a significant amount of bike racing. At mile 10 of the ride, I met a guy named Shay. We decided to legally pace each other and it worked great.

Felt great on the bike until about mile 45. It was then that I started feeling the 80 degree temps and nearly 70% humidity. Simply put, I just couldn’t keep up with my sweat rate. Also, at about this time at a turn around, I saw Whitney on the course. She had started 10 minutes behind me and the course suited her riding style, so I was not surprised to see her about 2 minutes behind me. She looked great and I was looking forward to her catching me. On a steep climb near mile 50 I had a technical problem with my front brake and it start sliding ovder catching my front wheel. I stopped twice to correct it and it cost me a minute and a half or so.

After adjusting the bike, all was good for the final few miles back to the transition on Neyland Stadium. While leaving transition I look up to see Whit entering. I yell to her “I see you Garcia, better come get me!”


The run was a great course. It started by heading down river on Neyland Drive on an exposed four lane highway. The heat and humidity was oppressive. At 6’3 and 185lbs, I don’t handle the heat well, never have. At mile two and on a greenway now, I caught Shay and we decided to run together. At mile four Whit finally caught us. While my legs were there, my body just couldn’t go fast. I was overheating and couln’t up the effort. At mile 5 Shay caught a cramp on a long and steep decent, it was a hill we’d have to climb on our way back out. I reluctantly left him and motored on. The second half of the run was more brutal due to the rising temps. I slowed significantly, but kept at it.

I was passed at mile 12.5 by the second place woman and a man not in my age group. At mile 13 I caught a guy in my age group. He looked at me and said “I’m not going to chase you down. I just want my kids to cross the line with me. Go ahead.” Even in the finishing part of my race, his statement struck me as a great testament to his priorities. I appreicated his honesty and intentions. I kicked it in to the line and finished witha 5:00:07. 7/100 of a second short of sub 5 on the toughest course I’d face. Damn. It was good enough for 22nd overall though, I’ll take it.

Whitney did great considering everything. Though her times were not where she and her coach had aimed for, she ended up winning the woman’s race by a 9 minutes! After the race I was trashed. I spent the rest of the day trying to rehydrate, then loosing fluids in many different ways. It just proved to me that I did give all I had, so I’m happy that I used all that was in my tank. Ultimately, it was a great race. I will most defintelty do another Rev3 race. Their team and race organization is amazing.I can’t speak highly enough of them.

Next… the Denver Triathlon in June, then prepping for Vineman in July and Ironman Wisconsin in September. A pint or two tonight then time to get back at it.

FUN-raising

I don’t get outside of the Boulder Bubble as much as I would like. It’s challenging. Boulder literally has nearly everything I need. That being said, there is a giant stigma about those people who refuse to leave the BoCo (Boulder County) as it comes off as elitist. I’ve seen this happen in numerous areas or parts of cities, it is not a phenomena unique to Boulder.

Saturday night, a buddy of mine (Chandler) invited Whit and I to a party in Denver to help raise money for under-privileged children in dire need of heart surgery. It was a stellar event, and the host made the $50 ticket price well worth the entry. There was fake gambling, dancing, food and alcohol, and break dancers even showed up.

Late in the evening and after several drinks, Whit and I had some fun at the photo booth. RE-DIC-U-LUS. After the party a large group of us went to the Highlands for a night cap and then Chandler, Whit, and I headed to a late night and authentic taco stand on Sheridan St. The two mile walk home was just the way to end the night!