In a town full of plain-faced, Amish-looking, possibly reptilian, humanoids, one man had freckles, this is his story.
Fair Warning: Boil the kettle and clear your calendar, it’s longer than a Brachiosaurus Spinal Column.

 

Podcast - Breeze Shooting ⤬ Luke GJ

As this is a long, and no one will likely read the whole thing, I have recorded a podcast/audioboook of it. Podcasts are cool, they're passive engagement, whereas reading and watching videos are active engagement. Dearest reader, you can listen to this when you need to be hands-free, driving, cleaning, medieval cardboard sword fighting, etc.

I call my listeners the "Luke GJ Legion", the Intro and Outro are 11/10 cringe. If you can survive the cringe, you can survive anything. 

Search for "Breeze Shooting ⤬ Luke GJ" in your favourite podcast client.

 

 

 

Intro: The Events Preceding May 19th 2018

A hard winter of being sick was compounded with lots of personal distractions, proved to me that tough times don’t last, methodical motherfuckers do. Shortly after returning from Nice, your ginger protagonist reluctantly jumped on all the Autumn/Winter trends; Aussie Flu, Sneachtageddon and Avocado Hand. Finding myself in the land of the living, I set a my 2018 goals. One of these goals, following on from my 2017 goal to ride in Los Angeles, was to ride in Boulder. My dad wasn’t keen on me going. There was a story about a lad from Mayo who drowned in Canada recently. If you’re reading this post, I have completed this goal and survived a series of flights back to Walkinstown International Airport.

I spent a week in San Diego to visit my aunt. My mother came too. It was my first connecting flight, I was super nervous about missing it. It involved a Terminal change in Heathrow. As I was only in San Diego for a few days, our schedule was jam packed. We went to Sea World (who added a Beluga exhibit since last year), Disneyland, Mexico and the Safari Park. I got to meet my buddy Daragh, who is on a tour of the American Continents. The Safari Park was the best part of the trip. Daragh’s Alpaca jumper was the second best thing.

I was amazed how similar Boulder was to South Dublin for cycling. It had all it’s climbs to the east of the city. The main roads out were Flagstaff, Canyon Boulevard, Sunshine Canyon and Lefthand Canyon. They all lead, in a roundabout way to Nederland, a village at 2,700m. This is similar to South Dublin, which has Ticknock, Cruagh, Stocking Lane and Seskin, which all lead to Laragh. It has a very good climate, apart from a few months in Winter. It attracts many endurance athletes for it’s good weather and altitude training.

 

 

 

Day 0: Anniversaire sans Gâteau

Birthdays on May 19th are a bit of a case of pick your poison; George Saint Pierre, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, Ferdinand Magellan, Andrea Pirlo, Andre the Giant, Malcolm X, Pete Townshend, Diego Forlan, Sam Smith and Luke GJ Potter. Alas, my birthday was overshadowed by another ginger and his limelight stealing ways.

Saturday, I had a very early flight to Devner. I told my mother, that I would see her in five weeks. She was flying to Tuam International Airport on the Sunday evening. I would be flying back a week later. There was a promised Lightning Storm for Denver, but we avoided it.

#BreakfastBanter today was the woman serving me breakfast in San Diego Airport. I had already looked at the menu, and wanted to order straight away from the menu in my hand. She wanted to give me the menu in her hand and come back later. Delayed by American Idiots in TSA, I was under pressure timewise. I tried to order straight away. She wouldn’t give me the options for the bread types, and when my plate came she just threw it in front of me. She changed her tune when she dropped the bill over. Perhaps the lady who delivered the bill had an evil sister taking the orders. Either way, it was a “No” on the card reader’s “Leave a Gratuity?” question.

A couple of raunchy Black Mirror episodes had me regretting my choice of an aisle seat. But this day would be special, I was first person off the plane! There was a bit of a heave that almost seen me cede position, but I’m used to “Rubbin’ is Racing” and held my ground.

I arrived at my hotel, the Millennium Harvest Hotel, after a journey involving Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The hotel was in a fantastic location, right beside three strip malls. I had a list of tasks to complete in order to make myself road cycling worthy. Pick up the Rental Bike from Full Cycle Boulder, set it up using my Aidan Hammond divined measurements, purchase energy products and have dinner. The deluge currently hydrating the townscape’s flora, dictated that unpacking my suitcase would be my initial action.

 

Rental Bike, Giant Defy

 

My rental bike was a Giant Defy Advanced 2, the 2018 model. For $2k + 8.7% tax, this bike was a dumpster fire.

The Bad: the handlebars have no reach making riding in the drops horrible, 140mm disc rotors are too weak, the Giant system of a hybrid hydraulic braking system left no room for out-front Garmin placement, heavy wheels shod with only 25mm tyres and sloping top tube making it hard to remove and replace 750ml bidons.

The Good: 34-32t low gear, setup tubeless out-of-the-box, the frame was compliant.

I’m not sure how to class the saddle, as I had to ride in it so much, due to altitude and gradient, that I got sores. It had a Shimano crankset, so I could mount my Stages Power Meter to it.

I had a Enchiladas for Dinner. My attempts to get a birthday Mojito were thwarted by my Age Card not being accepted. Passports only. I didn’t get desert, as there were no cake-like options. Hence “Anniversaire sans Gâteau.”

 

Photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/N15P3gSv4uD7WiEv6

 

Day 1: Yr.no, Why July to Me, Papi?

This chapter’s heading needs to be read in a Hispanic/Latino accent. Internally channel Sofía Vergara’s voice, and you’ll understand that I’m accusing Yr.no of lying to me.

Sunday, I checked the weather. Light rain in the morning and dry in the afternoon. I headed down for the hotel’s breakfast buffet. The Oatmeal (Porridge, in new money) was rather tasteless, as it was made from water. I had the potatoes. My second plate consisted of me performing moral yoga and getting scrambled egg and Pancakes. This super-progressive mountain university town, had very few tasty listings on HappyCow.net and all of them were dinner suggestions. I seen a window sign for “Black Lives Matter”, evidently “Angus Lives Are Tasty”.

#BreakfastBanter today, was not as LIT as yesterday. Today two men of very different generations were discussing how to sell a Timberframe housing project. They wanted to charge extra for a 3D Visualisation of the houses. Apparently one of their salesmen had lost his edge and this is why this duo were dispatched.

After breakfast, I went for a walk around the town, it was rather dry. My hotel was right behind three strip malls. I picked up the remainder of my supplies from Performance Bicycle. I relived my days of water carrying on my Dad’s farm, as I transported two gallons of water around the back of the Supermarket to my hotel, via manual labor.

 

The Flatirons are the mountains to the east of Boulder.

 

I got a Portabello burger for lunch. It was the first thing I had tasted in over a week that didn’t vaguely resemble Washing Up Liquid. Post-Burger, I kitted up. It was getting chilly as 4pm approached. I rolled out in Winter kit. I began to slow roast. As I unzipped the jersey, it started to rain. Yr.no has promised otherwise. I started my climb up Sunshine Canyon Rd. On the easier gradients, I had more oxygen to swear vendettas against Yr.no. I tried to ride out of the saddle on the steeper gradients, I soon figured out that Lukeberto Contador would not be making an appearance this week, due to lack of Oxygen.

The roads had lots of gravel on them. It came from driveways and was washed out by rain. I would have to note this for my descent. I got to a fork in the road, eight kilometers from my starting point. I decided to turn around. The descent was tricky only because of the rain and gravel. The 140mm discs were too weak to make much of a difference. The streams running down the road, dissuading me from trying to Valentino Rossi around the corners.

Upon my arrival at the foot of the climb, I headed due south. This would allow me to practise my return route along the bike path back to the Hotel. It was best to practise this whilst I was near full mental capacity. The Garmin and OpenStreetMap Combo tried it’s best to confuse me. 

Outside the hotel, which is where the Bike Path ended, I wiped down the bike with an Glove. I put my shoes in the UV Heater I had. The rain stopped as I started my own shower. After wash, I walked to BJ’s Steakhouse. Their menu was massive. Living off plants reduces your options a lot. I flipped to the Pasta section. I ordered a beer, it was similar to our Cute Hoor brew. “Similar”, as in it was too bitter to drink without already being tipsy. Post-pasta, I was only half way through my beer, so I had a desert. It was a giant cookie with Ice cream on top.

As I dissected my cookie, I noted the other patrons. They all had extremely plain faces, just featureless. As I overheard the table of men close to me, I also noted that they had high-pitched voices. My freckles and Irish brogue, should’ve outed me as either a God or a Pariah. I didn’t let my lack of a Montezuma-Cortez welcome bother me as I Conor McGregor walked back to my bed.

 

Photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/7G7gAQJDcQ6hkXhPA

Strava: Testing Bike, caught in the rain. Yr.no said no rain today. 16km w/368m



Day 2: Blood Feuds Sworn Against Norwegian Weather Promises

Monday, I plotted my Strava route as my breakfast digested. Up Sunshine Canyon, cut over onto Fourmile and ride into Nederland via a number of smaller roads, then descend back to Boulder on the Highway. Man plans and God laugh.

#BreakfastBanter today is brought to you by Bratwurst Buddies. I was keeping a low profile, as I went up to the buffet for thirds. I was trying to match Merry and Pippin for numbers of pre-lunch meals. Two inventors talking over dead pig. Overhearing ze German man say “Inefficient”, was what homed my satellite ears in on them. They talked about funding and then the discussion turned an inventor who was going to make biodegradable shopping bags into a bracelet. My inner skeptic, honed on ERC20 ShitCoin White Papers, wasn’t excited. In a country where everyone has a car, basement larder and/or access to Amazon’s Prime and Fresh services, what future does the humble shopping bag have?

I was new to this environment. Boulder is at the same latitude as South Spain. It gets sixty days of rain per annum. Was Poseidon really going to blow four of his sixty rainy days on me?

Yr.no, my trusted guide, said is was going to rain all day. I departed my hotel in full winter gear; Hydra Jacket and Leg Warmers. I didn’t put on Suncream, as I figured I’d be covered up all day. It was immediately an Oven as I opened the hotel door. I ignored it. I figured that it would cool down as the rain moved in.

Five kilometers later, the heat was too much. Outside the church of some minor sect of some tax-dodging religion I removed the leg warmers, unzipped the Hydra and pulled the sleeves up as far as they would go. I was nicely cool once I was moving. Sunshine Canyon lived up to its name. It was sunny and the higher I climbed the hotter it got. With sweat droplets all over my eyelashes and body, I made the decision to remove the cling-film-like Hydra. I tied it around the top tube and head tube, making a Top Tube Bag out of it. I rode on with my sleeveless base layer. Without Suncream or sleeves, I was living the Redneck life out here in the wilderness.

 

Hydra Jacket repurposed as a Top Tube Bag.

 

I got to the sign for the turnoff to Fourmile Canyon road. It was accompanied with signs saying that Cyclists were not to use Fourmile Canyon. I ignored them, I would only be on Fourmile for a short time until my next turn off. The descent was sketchy. It was on a hardpack sand road. There were lots of loose stones on the hairpin corners. My hands ached from the terrible drops on the Giant Connect Handlebars and having to brake on this useless Giant Hybrid Cable/Hydro system. I had to brake long and hard, as the 140mm rotors were useless and probably overheating, leading to brake fade, leading to longer and harder braking on weakening hands. I longed for my 160mm rotors connect to Sram Rival full Hydro brakes on the beautiful Ritchey EvoCurve Handlebars on my CycloCross bike. This Dotherety was a long way from her Kansas. I didn’t fear getting a puncture, as the tyres were tubeless.

I got to the bottom of the descent and rode uphill to where my turn off was. Surprise, the road did not exist. Nothing existed up here anymore. My road was replaced by roadworks. The lollipop person (gender neutral traffic controlling people, I didn’t want to be chased out of this progressive mountain town by villagers with torches and pitchforks), told me that forest fires had ripped through this area in mid-April, four weeks prior to my arrival. He (I perceived this person as male, apologies if this person doesn’t identify as male) told me that I could continue up the road to look for another road. He warned me that the Sheriff might be up the hill writing tickets to rogue cyclists who were ignoring the “No Cyclists” signs. I took my chances. Further up this hill, into the post-apocalyptic devastation, the roads that were on the Garmin, weren’t there. I got up to my second road works. This lollipop person very much advised me to turn back. I accepted his advice.

I descended Fourmile. I debated going back into Boulder as a sunburnt failure. The frustration of not riding my bike in a few days overrode this desire for weakness. I returned up the dirt road and continued along Sunshine Canyon’s increasingly steep gradients. For awhile, I was super happy I did this. There were some awesome houses up here. They included one class circular one. I took a comfort break at a portaloo at Bald Mountain. My water reserves were getting low, and the elevation was getting high. 

At the top of Sunshine Canyon, the paved road ended. I cycled along another dirt road. At the end of this road, I could see the expanse of the burnt trees. There was a gate and a steep hill. The road was called “Escape Road” on the OpenStreetMaps loaded onto my Garmin. It looked like prime territory for a Bear Ambush. There is no more humiliating way to die than getting eaten. I was an easy target, playing Hike-a-Bike in road shoes. I was super scared as I scouted in ever direction with every step. Honestly, I never felt more alive. Imagine how the Oregon Trail people felt as they traversed unknown territory as they dodged dysentery deaths.

 

A months after a Forest Fire.

 

Eventually I got to the top. I followed the trails on my Garmin and arrived on pavement. I gave up on my quest for Nederland and decided to just go home. I decided back into Boulder, only fifty kilometers completed in a four and a half hour excursion.

I showered and applied aftersun. I had a Mushroom pizza for dinner in California Pizza Kitchen. The pizza didn't taste like Washing Up Liquid. I contemplated my day, I couldn’t call it a failure as I had a class adventure. Battled the Elements, called it a Stalemate and lived to tell the tale. I think the downsides were attached to my ego regretting failing to get to Nederland and the abysmal Average Speed on Strava.

I was getting redder from the sunburn, the chef in the pizza restaurant was eyeing me up. He wanted to throw me in a pot of boiling water, Luke the Lobster.

I struggled to sleep, my body was overheating. It was dealing with the sunburn, or something, I’m not a real doctor. I cursed Yr.no for it’s lies. I wanted to swear a blood feud by biting my hand, sucking in the blood and spitting it in Yr’s face, just like Cassius did to Darrow in the Red Rising saga.

 

Photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/TPseLXRtPHVyKce17

Strava: Boulder Day 2: Tried to go to Nederland via Sunshine and Fourmile, but closed roads. 52.2km w/1,291m



Day 3: Battling Inner Literary Demons on Magnolia Drive

If you’ve seen “Magnolia” the movie, know this, I suffered more emotional damage than all those characters combined.

Tuesday, I blew the dust off the Yahoo Weather App, it was going to be hot today. I plotted my route, up Flagstaff Road in the south east of Boulder, briefly onto Canyon Boulevard and onto Magnolia Dive, which would lead me onto my White Whale, Nederland. I planned to return the way I came out, as people on reddit told me that Canyon Boulevard is traffic heavy. Upon refreshing the newly made Strava route, to see the segments. I noticed a few segments with 12% and 14% gradients. Mental Scars were a dime a dozen today.

#BreakfastBanter today involved an Asian man freaking out. I only had two plates of breakfast. I noticed an elderly Asian man jerking in his seat. His jerking increased as the staff clearing tables walked by. SherLuke Holmes had an inkling what is was going on. He had an empty place setting and I knew that he was expecting table service. There was a sign saying such on my first day. This man was much more polite than I was. That was until he exploded. “When do I get service? Buffet? It was always table service! Someone should’ve told me!” The shocked staff reacted very camly. I was snickering into my pancakes and maple syrup. 

Dressed properly and more sunscreen than human, I departed. The first hill up to the University was brutal, as I had a tough time breathing as my stomach was pretty much full from the breakfast, and there was not much more stretch in my skin to make room for my lungs to expand. This flattened out, but a longer much more prolonged drag ensued.

I eventually arrived at the foot of Flagstaff Road. This climb resembled Ticknock. Steep with lots of Hairpins and walking tracks. I had to stop a few times on this climb. The toughest bit was when I was looking for a place to urinate. I didn’t want to get reported for flashing walkers. After some agonising hairpins, I found a very parched looking rock and unloaded my internal bidons.

There were a large number of cyclists out for a Tuesday Late-Morning. I kinda enjoyed the company. I was getting smashed by these riders. I only passed one, an elderly lady with a large backpack. On the higher turns, I was amazed by the roads leading west. They were dead straight and stretched for as far as the eye could see. I reached the summit of Flagstaff after about fifty minutes of riding from my hotel. My breakfast was mostly digested.

Time to descend. I thought I would be descending on the road, but I got an “Off Course” warning from my Garmin. I would be descending on the dirt road. This dirt road was more scary than the one yesterday. It had lots of loose clay and ramps before the turns. My hands were super sore from braking, as I tripodded around the corners. It was early season CycloCross skills practice, but I took my tripoding skill session with the enthusiasm of someone who didn’t want to crash into a tree.

 

Roadworks on Magnolia Drive’s dirt road.

 

After a quick kilometer on Canyon Blvd. I turned onto Magnolia Drive. It went from 0 to 14% really quick. After the first hairpin, I had to stop. It was too hot and this was too much exertion. This staccato rhythm kept up. A little riding and a lot of resting. It is super frustrating. Two kilometers at 12% had me close to quitting. The course on my garmin was just messing with me, it kept increasing the “Distance to Next” distance. It was like the dream where you’re running along a corridor and the door at the end just keeps stretching away from you. I regretted all those packs of Tesco Quadruple Chocolate Cookies. 

It leveled off for a little while, but then it kicked up again. I was struggling massively with motivation. Life at 55rpm is not fun. I had Joy Division’s “Day of the Lords” stuck in my head. The refrain “When will it end? When will it end?” was on repeat. On a steep ramp outside some dude’s house, I was close to cracking. I had to stop a lot in a short time before this point.

A godly man would’ve advised that when’st in the midst of Exodus 22:16 to take heart from Proverbs 30:19, and ride this bitch of an incline towards the divorce you seek, 50% is a small price to pay for the end to suffering. I steeled myself, straight out of the saddle, I got 100m up the road before hyperventilation caused me to stop. With my head on the handlebars, legs unsteady, gasping for breath, I highly considered quitting. “This will break me” I thought. The salty droplet deluge escaping my face was mostly sweat, but it could also have been tears.

Upon regaining my breath and composure, I had to whip out the inner mental mentor, Bill Shakesphere. “And many strokes, though with a little axe, Hew down and fell the hardest-timbered oak.” Yes dear reader, I had all day to chip away at this brute. Like Captain Ahab, I would be harpooning my White Whale with a wooden coffee stirrer. Coffee in Nederland, it would taste so good.

I reminded myself, that no one else get to do this shit, or have these adventures. I would not be quitting, or turning around. My fortunes changed when I see a nice looking rock under the shade of some trees. I pulled over and took a very long break. I had completed 23km in 2 hours and 40 minutes. I had only half a bottle of water left and it was 34 degrees. Frankly, I was kinda depressed about this situation and didn’t even bother looking behind me. I didn’t give two shits if a Bear was stalking me and wanted to add some ginger to his kale smoothie.

Around the corner from my rock, there was a sign “End of Pavement”. I had a 12km rolling dirt road ahead of me. As it was rolling hills on the plateau, I couldn’t get into the big ring. I couldn’t go hard as I was at 2,600m and the oxygen was sparse. There were lots of one off houses up here. I finished off the last of my water. I was content that I would survive. I needed mental songs to pump me up, so “Day of the Lords” was replaced with “Eye of the Tiger”, “Hearts on Fire” and Destiny's Child’s “Survivor”. It got weird up as there were roadworks on this road. It was just a scraper taking off the topsoil of the road. The hard pack topsoil was getting pretty bumpy. Including one downhill section where it was so bumpy that my wrists took a beating.

After much suffering, I seen a T-Junction sign. I had made it. I had arrived at Nederland. I may have acted out some corny Daniel Bryan “Yes, Yes, Yes” chants. It took me three and a half hours to cycle this 40km. The short descent on smooth pavement was like heaven. I sipped my victory coffee and my Tomato and Pesto croissant. The town was essentially an apres-ski town. Awesomely, Nederland had a Dining Car restaurant. My two loves, eating and non-Irish Rail trains.

 

Nederland, it was everything I dreamed it would be.

 

I refilled one bidon and placed an Electrolyte sachet in it. My planned route called for me to return back along the dirt road and down Magnolia. But I said “Nuts to that”. I would descend down the heavily trafficked Canyon Boulevard. The traffic wasn’t that bad. Then again, I was going pretty fast. The corners were fast and flowing. I was unnecessarily braking for them. I would be back to rip down this road, but for now I just wanted to get home.

Seventeen Downhill Miles later I was back in Boulder. I focused on stretching after my shower. I was very aware of how the low cadence can give me quadricep tendonitis. For dinner I went to a Pizza shop. I was like Subway, in that you can build your own pizza. They had Vegan cheese and Jalapenos, so I was happy.

As I walked back to my hotel, I looked into the mountains. There was a lightning storm incoming. It was crazy. Just massive flashes all over the place every ten seconds. It was very far away as I could not hear the thunder. The sound generally travels at one mile a second, so after you see the flash, start counting and stop when you hear the thunder. Then you'll know how far away it is. Within twenty minutes the storm was over the town. Pelting hail and rain on a town that was 32°C a few hours earlier.

“Haute Route Rockies” veteran Dan Coulter describes Magnolia Drive as a “Great Climb”. It illisits more of a “Hello darkness, my old friend” response from me.

 

Photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/3zkwmQAfELzXdi3w6

Strava: Boulder Day 3: Nederland. Only the 15 mental breakdowns. 70km w/1,801m



Day 4: Staring into the Abyss in an Outhouse

Today’s route would see me approach Nederland via the climbs in the northwest of Boulder, Lefthand Canyon Drive, up to the strange village Ward and then South on Highway 72 into Nederland. I drilled it down Canyon Boulevard.

Wednesday, my now beloved Yahoo Weather app said it would rain for a short while in the late morning. I didn’t care, I was gonna wear a short sleeve jersey as it was going to be hot rain.

#BreakfastBanter today would find me channeling Eugène Dillon. Someone left the Porridge lid semi open. So lots of the surface water had evaporated. I channeled Eugène by becoming DJ Porridge. I was using the dedicated porridge spoon to stir it up and rehydrate the parched porridge, using the water at the bottom. Just as DJ Porridge began dropping the beat, my peripheral vision (it’s top notch) picked up a bogey inbound on my nine. He looked like a failed Mexican hip-hop act, a hip-flop, if you will. “Awesome, Oatmeal! Hey hurry up man.” This guy wasn’t gaining any public support in this Porridge Pump Politics game. “I’m DJing it up bro, chill.” He was too impetuous though. He grabbed the dedicated Granola spoon and dogged up the porridge. Then he dug the porridge covered spoon back into the Granola. Granola was now stuck to the spoon. “I’m one of those crazy spics, love to fuck shit up!”

Wracked with Granola Spoon Guilt, I set about riding. I had to do something moral to liberate myself of being party to this crime. I was heading north on Highway 36. I seen a family of Meerkats, they were on the road. I was wearing my Vegan Athletic Apparel jersey, so I had to help out. There were cars approaching. I flagged the cars down they stopped. All-but-one of the family ran off the road. Only a little baby got confused and remained on the road. I employed all of my Cow herding skills to try to get this scamp back to his mother. He didn’t understand that I seen him as I see all animals, friends not food. He ran out in front of an oncoming 18 Wheeler. I shielded my eyes, expecting to be sprayed in blood. This young lad ran between the axles and survived. Then he ran back onto the white line in the middle of the road. I seen that I had held up enough traffic and that the was not going to listen. I took my leave. I told myself that I tried, and that he would somehow be OK.

I started my climb on Lee Hill. I passed some slower riders. I held them off until they turned off onto Olde Stage Rd. Then I was passed by some very fast riders. I was kinda hoping that I would see some Pros, but unlike my trip to Nice, I didn’t see any Pros all week. I felt that I was riding very strongly this morning. Halfway up the first peak, 12km, it started to rain. I wasn’t worried, as The Philosopher Connolly says "Rain is there to keep you cool on the climbs". At the peak, I put on my arm warmers ready for the short descent. I seen a rider in full BMC gear, this was Two Week Teejay country after all. This descent had a savage hairpin corner, which caused me some panic. Riding downhill, with dark lens sunglasses in the rain on shitty 140mm rotors, I almost missed the turn. An emergency brake pull and a tripod around the corner seen your Ginger Protagonist live to ...want to die when writing this report. There was a similar situation at the T-Junction at the bottom of the hill. Luke 2, Death 0, except for the ruin that lay in my wake, the Granola spoon and the Meerkat, it was probably 2-2.

 

Straight Block OG Riders will notice that I'm in the 32t.

 

Lefthand Canyon was a slog, 17km at 5%. I was passed by about ten cyclists. They must’ve been doing efforts on the hill as they were passing me in groups of ones and twos. Then they regrouped and encountered me as they rode back to Boulder in a group.

2km from Ward Village, I seen an awesome totem pole. It had bears carved into it. The owner’s house had cars parked outside. The cars had Peace symbols painted on them. One of the windows said “Jail Bush”. How long were these cars here? Likely 15 years, since Iraq and Afghanistan were invaded, and had their populous bombed by drones by a succession of War Criminals. Another rider passed me and asked me how long to Ward, I informed him in kilometers, and he converted it to his Old King Measurement System.

As I arrived in a village, there was a young couple and their dog, filling gallon jugs from a water fountain. They told me this was glacier water from high up in the Rockies. I filled up my bottles. It was indeed, high quality H2O. It was a full bodied vintage, that reminded me of the water in Dublin. In the village centre there was an Art Gallery and a Store. This village had about fifteen houses. The cars here were very old. They looked like the cars in Karate Kid, the Ralph Macchio one, not the guy who Will Smith learned the do’s and don’ts of parenting on.

The mature couple in the store were pretty funky people. The rider who I met at the Bear Totem Poll was also in the store. The three of them were just standing there, as I entered. I asked for an Americano. The store owner told me that I needed to ring the bell for service. I rang the bell on the counter, and the store owner asked me how he could help me. Like I said, these were funky people. Life at 2,822 meters above sea level attracts strange people.

I ate my bag of Boulder Kettle Chips (tayto) and drank my coffee outside. The other cyclist came out to talk to me. He was also new in town, he was staying in very north Boulder, also only there for the week. We compared rental bikes. His Specialized Tarmac won. Although he didn’t have a snazzy 34-32t low gear. I told him a little bit about the Rás and my upcoming trip to TKAS aka the Orwell Summer Weekend Away.

After our coffees, we needed to poop. He was faster an occupied the portaloo. Leaving me with the Outhouse. I lifted the lid and holy shit it was deep. The abyss. I stared deep into it, I could kinda see an outline of my murky reflection, it stared back. I could feel the internal pressure on my sphincter diminish, as any urge to poop went away. I just took a piss. You know how snipers say that a long range shot will take a few seconds to reach its target? It took an unnervingly long moment for my stream to make a splash.

 

The sights of Ward; Old Cars, Art Gallery, Outhouse and a Trash Sculpture of Santa BBQing.

 

I bid goodbye to the other rider. I rode a little north to the Highway 15. Sweet, sweet beautiful downhill. It was very welcome after spending 32 of the last 33km riding uphill. The scenery was beautiful. The snow capped mountains in the distance were much taller than my measly elevation. The Highways bridged a deep valley, which was awesome. Like those old train movies where the bridge over the valley breaks and the train just survives. I had the pleasure of riding the most awesome pair of downhill hairpins. I could clearly see that there were no traffic coming, so I took up position on the other side of the road, and Valentino Rossi’ed them without braking. Luke 3, Death 0(2).

In Nederland, I visited the BBQ Shack. I was hoping for some BBQed Sweet Corn and maybe some Pepper, Cajun-Tofu Skewers. Nope, only Carconigen filled Caracsses. Luke 3, Death 56 Billion per year.

I had planned to set a fast time down Canyon Boulevard. I had created a new Strava Segment the previous day, as the others were flagged. Attack time. My 50-11t spun out very quickly. I railed the wide flowing corners, outside-apex-outside. 21km at 50km/h, I only braked for one corner.

Back at the hotel, it took me ages to shower, stretch and rehydrate. The shower was a bit weird, as I believe I had a very raw saddle sore right on my ...outhouse cover. I got the sores from riding in the saddle, as the air is too thin to ride out of the saddle for any length to time. 

I had a Chipotle burrito for dinner and a Jamba Juice. Bearing in mind my saddle sore situation, I took the mildest options in Chipotle (it’s the same as BooJum). These franchises were two things I've wanted to try since watching the Chipotle Away South Park episode and Veronica Mars.

 

Photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/SHZviSajQcECL2jt5

Strava: Boulder Day 4: Took a Piss in an Outhouse and Drank Glacier Water. 80km w/1,788m

 

 

Day 5: The Beginning of a Life Long Cold Brew Addiction.

Thursday, was my rest day. I knew this as soon as I woke up. My ass was in bits. Too much enforced riding in the saddle. I enjoyed my lie in as I finished off season three of Black Mirror. 

#BreakfastBanter today involved two girls. The hotel’s breakfast waiter just had a basic coffee machine. The girls wanted some coffee drink mix that would’ve sent a Starbucks Barista into a tizzy.. After repeatedly being told that their recipe was not an option, they settled on an Decaf Instant Coffee with a Vanilla Shot topped with Half and Half Milk. I gave the waiter a look, we spoke the same language, “Ellos perras son locos, amigo”.

 

Chugging Cold Brews and Chewing Rice Bowls.

 

I had one goal for my rest day. Go to the Rapha cafe and check it out. I walked the the two kilometers in the blazing hot sun. I had my first Cold Brew coffee. It was the second time I heard of a Cold Brew. The first time was in Starbucks on Dame St. Where they had sold out of Cold Brew on the one hot day Dublin got before I left to fulfill my Manifest Destiny.

I was so enamored by Cold Brew, that on my walk home I stopped at Starbucks and had another. In true Starbucks fashion this Cold Brew drink was rather complicated for my head exhausted brain to pronounce. They used lovely Cherry Tomatoes in the Tomato Ciabatta, so I got a second one.

I spend the rest of the day just chilling out catching up on the Rás and Giro. I had a massive burrito, in the family-run mexican restaurant near the hotel, for dinner. I topped that off with a Cold Stone Creamery ice cream. Saddle sores need ice cream ...I’m only a pretend sports nutritionist.



Day 6: Fear and Loathing on Country Road 68

Friday, I planned to go all the way up Flagstaff Road to Gross Dam, the descent and and ride to Nederland by going north on Highway 72. “Planned” being the operative word. It ended up being too hot and I took what I thought was a shortcut.

#BreakfastBanter today involved Chris Froome. I’d normally wake up and check the Rás results and tune into the Giro text coverage. I didn’t do it this day. I went straight to the breakfast second thing in the morning. This would get me on the road nice and early. On my second plate of food, I remembered to check the races. The lads in the Rás were home safe. I next checked the Race Thread on Reddit r/peloton. The lads were freaking out about Froome. I checked CyclingNews Live Blog for the current status. Eurosport Player wa Geolocked, Fubo didn’t have the channel with the Giro. I had to rely only on my beloved CyclingNews for Froomedog Unleashed. 

By monitoring the coverage, I lost all the time that I had gained by getting up early. My day off really helped me. I felt strong going up Flagstaff Road. That was until I got to the “Upper Flagstaff” Strava segment, 2.3km at 10%. Near the peak of the Upper Flagstaff section, I encountered more of the devastation of the Forest Fires. The damage just stopped on one side of the road. There was a policeman marking the road where the asphalt was cracked from the heat. The descent was beautiful.

I arrived at the Gross Resovoir. Despite it’s name, it was very beautiful. There were two people Kyaking in it. In the lookout, there was a couple having a picnic. They had two Rottweilers ensuring that no man or beast would steal a PB&J from their owners.

 

Flagstaff Lookout.

 

It was brutally hot at this stage of the day. The Garmin was reading 38 Degrees Celsius, aka 100 Fahrenheit. I was unhappy about the temperature. Who could I complain to? Apollo, being Greek, had long since retired to a life of Feta and Olive Oil. As much as we try, us Gingers are not tropical weather folk. My planned route would see me descend on what turned out to be another dirt road and then ride uphill on the Highway to Nederland. Time for an audible to be called. I zoomed out on the Garmin Map and seen that I could take a road to Magnolia (the road that mentally scarred me a few days previous) and ride to Nederland that way. My Google Maps, cached offline, were a little help. The new road even had a name, Lakeshore Drive. Awesome, so my inner Robert Frost decided to take this road less ...planned to be… taken.

Ten minutes later, I was on a narrow dirt road with signs telling me to turn back, everything was private property. I started this trip as I meant to continue, by ignoring signs to turn back on Fourmile Canyon. I ignored all the signs, they eventually ran out and rode into the wilderness. Now I was truly alone. Fear immediately set in, Mountain Lions would offer me Liposuction, Bears could add Ginger to their Stir-Fries, no bodies would be found up here. I felt really exposed as I needed to dismount on the rock garden sections of the “road”.

After much mental torture, but no internal voice telling me to turn back, I eventually arrived at the top of this road. This was marked on the map as Two Sisters Peak. It was a decent sized rock formation that slightly resembled Dueling Peaks in Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

I seen a jeep, cool, people. If The Walking Dead has taught me anything, it is that people are the real danger. I got the fright of my life when I heard gunshots. I thought I was fucked. My rational mind set in, as the sounds were very familiar to the cannon that farmers use to keep birds away from the freshly swen crop seeds. I rolled up to the Jeep. I looked into the trees to the left. There were two auld lads with handguns and Duck Dynasty beards. They didn’t see me. I kept rolling, my eyes were slightly winsing, bracing for the gunshot wound to the kidney. I avoided being shot and the sodemy that my cooling corpse would likely endure. Their post-murder actions would be my own fault, for wearing tight short-shorts (this is a joke about rape culture, snowflakes). After the jeep and the casting rejects for Deliverance were out of sight, I again looked to my left. We both frooze. It was a deer. I was wearing my Vegan Athletic jersey again today. So this was my chance to make amends for the Meerkat family (RIP in Peace). I looked this beautiful creature in the eyes, I whispered “get out of here boy, they’ll shoot you, quick go Bambi”. The deer stayed there, I rolled away. I didn’t hear another gunshot, so I presume that the deer lived.

 

Gross Reservoir Lookout.

 

After descending on the other side of Twin Sisters, and treading over a few downhill rock gardens. I seen houses again. Who the hell lives up here in the forest? I was now on Country Road 68. This was a dirt road. It had lots of cars on it, as it contained a trailhead for walking. It also had an unpleasant 2.3km at 6% at the end which  ended at an elevation of 2,513 meters above sea level. This thin air had me stopping regularly. I eventually arrived at the T-Junction to Magnolia Drive. I was feeling both joy and dread. Joy, as I mentally knew that I could reach Nederland. Dread, as I had to endure this endless dirt road. 

I happened upon a photo shoot for Pactamo’s latest kit. The photographer seemed nice. I guess he really appreciated that I waited behind the camera until the photos were taken. On my last holiday, to Nice, I seen a video of the 3T Strada being shot.

As my close personal friend, Izaak Walton, once said “Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.” I happened upon a trail runner. We got talking and travelled this road together. A modern day, Roland of Gilead and Jake of New York. This guy told me that bears were not a threat to humans. They’ll only attack your car if you leave food in it. He was training to pace his friend in the final third of a Trail Ultra-Marathon, something like the Leadville 100. I regaled him with stories of Ann Horan’s and my brother, Mark’s, adventure racing exploits. He told me that Aspen has better riding than Boulder. We got to the end of our road. Our parting was better than Roland and Jake’s multiple partings.

In Nederland, I seen an Alpaca store. I was about to enter when I seen my reflection in the shop window… a yes, the Vegan Jersey. Morally, I couldn’t purchase animal wool. I ended up going to another shop and picking up a very unique Fridge Magnet for my mother’s collection. I descended back to Boulder via Canyon Boulevard. There was a drum circle near the bike path. What a contrast a few hours makes, I had gone from the wilds to this drum circle. Is there anything more representative of a super safe society than a bunch of voluntary smelly hippies making noise.

After showering all that country road dust off my, now cactus-like, calves. I read the Results thread on Reddit. Lots of Froome “pas normal” speculation. Lots of math-a-magicians with time gained breakdowns. Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

 

Photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/qVBksyz2tiBuJXqk9

Strava: Boulder Day 6: Flagstaff, Gross Dam, CR68, Magnolia, Nederland and down Canyon. 70km w/1,657m



Day 7: Raise What’s Left of the Flagstaff for Me

Saturday, my final day in Boulder. I had a list of things to do today, in order to be ready for my flight the next day. I was going to go on the attack on Flagstaff Road. I had a small breakfast.

#BreakfastBanter today involved the waiter. As I walked into the Breakfast area the waiter said “You again?”. “Last day bro”. After a small bowl of porridge, I was, again, a bit late filling out the bill. It wasn’t really a bill, I just needed to fill in my name and room number, as I had the Breakfast covered in my hotel package. At $17 per breakfast, I was very happy I picked the “Includes Breakfast” option. As I handed the bill back to the waiter, he checked it. I joked “Don’t you trust me bro?” We had a little laugh. I thanked him for all the breakfasts, telling him that I was very happy with it.

Hammer Time! I set out on my quest to smash my time up Flagstaff Road. I went for it, trying to hold Power Zone 4 on my Garmin. My heart rate zone was keeping pace with the power zone. When my heart rate started to tick over zone 4.5 and kept climbing I knew I was on borrowed time. Hairpin, after hairpin, I held on, fighting the urge to stop. My eyes rolling up into my skull, sweat everywhere, diaphragm pumping for everything it was worth. I could just about make out the tanned, toned calves of the one rider to pass me on this climb. I started to feel the slow burn of lactic acid. I looked down Zone 5.1 aka 180bpm. Finally I felt the urge to puke. I had to stop riding. I regained my composure, swallowed whatever stomach bile was in my mouth and remounted. It was a 90 second stop. I was onto the final hard part, before the turn to ride the long 1,200 meters to the summit. As I grinded up the 12% gradient, I encouraged a girl who was also stopped head on handlebars. I made the turn for the final run to the summit. It was just a mental game now. I encouraged myself with self-talk. Semi-Limit heard some of this monologue recently at the Club League Race on Dorey’s Forge. “Come on Luke, Push push push, Stop embarrassing yourself, It doesn’t hurt, Harder, Final push!!” Was this a bike race, or my audition for the remake of Junior?

Like the Big Bad Wolf, I huffed and puffed my way to the top. I interrupted a wedding photo shoot, I’m more important. As I took my time to recover, I was reminded that it was Memorial Day. An elderly man placed a Military looking flower pot. Alas, dead sons and brothers, the dark side of the Military Industrial Complex.

I coasted back to my hotel. After a shower, I took my Power Meter off the bike and rode it back to Full Cycle Boulder. I had a Rice Bowl and Cold Brew in Rapha Cafe. The clientele were talking about their ride with Kasia Niewiadoma that morning. I checked the Liverpool v Real Madrid final score ...The kids next to me almost learned a few new four letter words, but I swallowed my disappointment. 2005 was not to be repeated. 2008 was another disappointing night. That loss to Milan gave me an introduction line to use on, then weirdo Italian exchange student, now my BFF, Charles.

I walked back to my hotel to start packing. I planned to get to bed early, but I ended up staying up late to edit and upload the video of my stitched together Relive.CC Rides and to take the Fitness AR photos. The night was roasting hot and I only got 90 minutes of sleep before my alarm went off at 04:00.

 

Day 8: Rocky Mountains To Dublin

While in the merry month of May, now from me hotel I started
Left, the girls of Boulder were nearly broken-hearted

 

Sunday, my Super Shuttle was due to arrive at 05:00.

#BreakfastBanter today consisted of Hotel Reception. As I waited at reception for the shuttle, I heard a call to the desk. A drunk guest couldn’t open his door. The security guard was dispatched. The next event was a person trying to check in, his name, “Dallas Magic”.

Outside the aeroplane was the most spectacular scenery, as we flew from Denver to San Diego. We flew over the Rocky mountains. Did I see any of this splender? NO! Because the Nimrod at the window near me had his blind closed for the full flight. He was playing some stupid mobile game and wearing sandals and socks, the youth of today.

My aunt picked me up and I had an Olive Garden lunch before going to the airport again. The flight back to Heathrow was super bumpy as we flew over the Rockies and Canada. I ate the meal and immediately fell asleep for eight hours straight. Class!

Monday, which Monday? I honestly had no idea what time I was in.

Bonus #BreakfastBanter, as I was mostly on American Time was hearing stories from a Magician that I met in Heathrow. He was flying from San Diego to Cork. Living in a camper van and performing street magic were his forte. He reckoned that he’s made as much as $400 in two hours. He also voiced my displeasure at the large Indian family in front of us at the security. This family were clueless, makeup everywhere in their bags, their sandal’s metal buckles setting off the X-Ray Scanner.

I arrived in Dublin safe and sound. The lady at the passport window said “Welcome Home Luke”.

 

Wrap Up: Red Blood Cells, Where You At?

The absolute trash American “food” ripped my stomach to shreds. After most meals for a week or so after the trip, I just wanted to puke. I’ll had to wait until after the Tour de Burren to get a Mammy Dinner, that set the world to rights.

I spent TKAS Weekend Away wondering where my additional, altitude earned, rather expensive, Red Blood Cells would materialise from. Although the Kerry gradients semed much less steep. The feared Ballaghbeama’s 15% bits felt easy. 

Would I go back? Unlikely. I feel, like Jay Cartwright, “Boulder? Completed it Mate!” I got it right first time out. I got a great located hotel and got the routes sussed out. Nothing more to do pal, capisce?

 

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