Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Clean Team

Last Wednesday, I met friends Barb, Chris, Nat, and John at the team introduction of the
Slipstream Chipotle presented by H30 Professional Cycling Team
at the Boulder Theater, a beautiful old theater downtown.
Proceeds from the night benefitted the Davis Phinney Foundation,
and it was a really great night.

My camera definitely doesn't work well in a dark theater,
but you'll at least get a little feel for the night.
After being introduced individually, the team hung out for Q & A from the audience.
Magnus Backstedt is definitely popular with the Boulder crowd and got called to the mic a lot.
He's so dang tall.

People had a lot of questions for Scotsman, David Millar, too.
Prior to the Q & A, a great video was shown where he discussed his career, including
his doping conviction, his admission of guilt, and how he's come back to the peloton
after serving his 2-year ban. Pretty amazing story.
And nice purple tie.
And Dave Zabriskie...what can you say about him?
Yes, he's just as quirky in real life.
Someone asked him what race he is most hoping to win in the 2008 season.
After fudging around for a bit, he finally said, matter of factly:
"Probably a timed event."
And when asked by some kids what his favorite race day food is, he again paused before saying:
"Burritos." Duh.
The guy truly has the timing of a stand-up comic. On 'ludes.
(but he's not on 'ludes...)

I think Zabriskie might have taken a cue from the
Chipotle "blimp" floating to the left of the stage.

Check out the broken collar bone sling on one of the riders....
the Slipstream boys take the argyle theme seriously. Jonathan Vaughters and the team sponsors have put together quite a team.
Twenty-five guys who offer a wide variety of strengths,
find fun in racing, and clearly have great chemistry with each other.
I'm looking forward to watching what they do this season.

While I was Sleeping....


If I weren't fighting off a flu-bug, I'd have strapped these on and headed out into the fresh white blanket. But there'll be plenty of time for that, because winter's here.
Deep, deep sigh.

And, yes, my bike is sleeping inside tonight.

Mrs. Claus has got the Big Guy's Back

I'm working on a series of five articles for the Holiday Gift Guide section of a local paper. Fun work, as I primarily get to interview local businesses and share their ideas and goods related to themes like gifts, decorating, and entertaining. For the only non-business one, I'll get to interview kids about all things Christmas, which will be cool. Nice combination of my child development background and my new "Kathie Reid, journalist" persona, I think.

In the process of working on an article on holiday entertaining, I decided that I'd like to let people know how they can get in touch with Santa to book party appearances. I found him on the web, BELIEVE it or not, and when I called, I spoke with the Mrs. She was incredibly nice (she'd have to be to put up with his being out all night each Christmas Eve), told me a bit about his holiday schedule, and asked me to call back when Santa got home from his day job -- driving a city bus (apparently, delivering gifts and good cheer doesn't bring in a lot of cash). She said he'd be home at 7:00, so I should call then.

I figured that after a long day driving the bus, Santa would want a bit of time to wind down after getting in -- you know, pat the reindeer, sip a little cognac with an elf or two, and put his boots up. So, I sat down to eat dinner at about 6:45, figuring I'd call him when I was done. As I was just about to put my plates in the sink at 7:25, the phone rang, and it was Mrs. Claus. She let me know that Santa had rushed home early in anticipation of my call, and had been sitting by the phone anxiously waiting to hear from me. He had held off eating dinner, too, and really needed to get to bed by 8:00 because he had to get out to drive that bus again early the next morning.

Imagine my dismay...I'd inconvenienced Santa, and Mrs. Claus had to call me out! Of course, I apologized profusely about the misunderstanding, explaining that I wanted to give him some time to relax when he got home -- visions of my name in bold letters on top of the "Naughty" list danced in my head -- but thankfully, Mrs. Claus understood and passed the phone to her bearded fella. He was so nice, and though I assured him I'd make it short, he talked at length about his experiences and left me feeling like I may make the "Nice" list yet.

Now though, I'm understanding how Santa's able to get all that Christmas work done each year...Mrs. Claus definitely has his back!

You can see him and even book him in the Denver area by going to
Be quick, though...he's a little busy this time of year.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

MS Great 8 -- Vegas or Bust

Las Vegas.
I drove there last weekend to meet up with friends for an MS 150 -- a 150 mile bike ride to benefit the National Mulitiple Sclerosis Society. As always, I rode in honor of Lisa, but also rode to celebrate the culmination of the
MS Great 8.
Friends Mike Zimits and Catherine (Cat) Tsigakos, both of New York,
put together this campaign to benefit NMSS chapters across the country.
They rode in one MS 150 each month
in a different state since April. Wow.
The Gambler's Classic
in Las Vegas was their 8th and final one.
(You can learn more about their adventures -- and see what's planned for next year -- at
So, to help them celebrate, friends Natalie and John Payne (from Denver), Duncan Harper (from London), and I met them in Vegas to ride those last 150 miles.
And what a ride it was....
We started bright and early on Saturday morning at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
This is John, Nat, and Cat waiting to start.
And this is Mike rarin' to go, too. I don't have pics of it, but we got to do a lap around the speedway before heading out on the road, and Mike, Duncan, and John rode around on the upper edge of the speedway. I only rode a little way up the "banked wall" before getting freaked out and returning to the bottom where the road is perpendicular to my bike....the whole wall thing was too crazy for me, but the guys loved it.
At one of the first rest stops (and there were a TON of rest stops), we posed for a group shot.
(back to front, left to right) John, Mike, Cat, Nat, Duncan, and me.
The majority of this first day, we rode on Interstate 15 -- yes, on the Interstate, and there'll be more about that later -- but we eventually turned off and rode toward the Valley of Fire. This was a rest stop on the way there, with three signs leading us in:
"Passion for the Cause"
"Strength for the Ride"
"Hope for the Cure"
At the same rest stop in front of a "Together we will find a cure" sign, Cat calls back home to New York to check on her family. She rides for her brother, Peter, who was diagnosed with MS 19 years ago. As a child, she never learned to ride a bike, but after Peter, and then his friend, Mike (the other MS Great 8 organizer) were diagnosed with MS, Cat learned how to ride a bike so she could do MS rides. True story!!!
John models our team jersey.
One of the great views in the Valley of Fire. The photos don't even begin to capture the beauty of these dark orange rock formations out in the middle of the desert.
Lady Liberty greeted us at a rest stop in the Valley of Fire. New York girl that she is, Cat had to pose with her!
Not too often that you see rest stops against a backdrop like this.
Oh, yah...and we spent some time on the Interstate. A LOT of time on the Interstate. This was still on the first day, when we'd left the Valley of the Fire and were riding the last 20 miles or so into Mesquite, our destination. On the way up this hill, Duncan was stopping to check his rear tire, as he was riding tubeless tires and had a bit of a leak. He "MacGyver'ed" it both days by Supergluing it over and over.
Cat and Nat congratulated each other at each rest stop. Nat has recently started riding, and this was to be her longest ride. Since it was scheduled to be 93 miles, we'd agreed that we'd ride around a bit more once we got to Mesquite so she could log 100 miles -- her first century. So, we all looked forward to that with her all day. the last rest stop, just about 11 miles out of Mesquite, we were told suddenly that we'd have to put our bikes in the sag wagon for the last few miles. Apparently, the organizers had a permit for us to ride on the Interstate, and it expired at 4:00. This was news to us, and given the fact that this ride was the culmination of 8 months of MS 150s for Cat and Mike, and Nat's first century, you can imagine that we weren't too happy that we hadn't been informed of this earlier. We had been taking our time all day, chatting it up at all the rest stops since we'd come together from Colorado, New York and England to ride together, and could have easily made it in time. Though we protested, we were made to leave the course....
But, alas, being Vegas, we were saved by a vanload of, well,
Cheetah's is a topless club in Vegas, and they had some girls at the rest stops. The club manager, Dianna, was at the last one when we were made to give up our bikes, and she offered to sag us into Mesquite so we wouldn't have to wait for the ride organizers to do so. We happily took her up on her offer, but managed to pose for pics with the billboard truck that carried our bikes before departing. The boys hated every minute of it.
Our favorite strippers pose for a goodbye pic once we arrived in Mesquite. After giving each of us Cheetah's t-shirts, of course.
Day 2
John and Nat cuddle a bit in anticipation of the 68 miles we're about to do almost entirely on Interstate 15 to get back to Vegas.
(And, yes, Nat did get her 100 miles the day before, despite our getting sagged. Once we got to town, John and Mike rode around with her until they turned 100!)
Duncan's "McGyver'ed" rear tire. The Superglue held out all the way back to Vegas. I'm pretty sure that he could sign them on to sponsor the next MS Great 8.
Our team at one of the last rest stops.
We rode about 60 miles on the was crazy scary. Between debris on the road, small to gigantic vehicles zipping by at 75+ miles per hour, and trying to get across all the off-ramps without getting creamed, our nerves were shot. Nat and I killed time for awhile by asking each other crazy questions that can't be printed here. We also all counted semi-trucks that passed us, and ended up with 381. Trust me....we felt each one.
Finally, with just about 8 miles to go, we got to exit the Interstate for the last time, and rode the rest of the way on a service road -- it felt like heaven. Just after leaving the last rest stop, though, there was a terrific explosion, like gunfire, and we all thought Duncan's tire had finally blown. Surprisingly, his was intact, but Cat had rolled over something huge and sharp, and had blown a nice huge hole in her rear tire.
Duncan "McGyver" Harper came to the rescue again, and superglued a $5 bill inside her tire to cover the gash, we replaced the tube, and Mike volunteered to switch tires with her so she wouldn't have to worry about it blowing out again. And we were off for the final miles.
Yet one more adventure to be had, though. There was a great descent into the speedway at the end, and Mike encouraged me, Cat, and Nat to lead the way down. We were riding parallel to each other with the guys behind us, doing close to 30 miles per hour, when suddenly a truck blasted past us and, in a great show of support, threw a full large cup of coke out the window, hitting me in the side, and succeeding in scaring the living shit out of all of us, and soaking me and Nat. John, Mike, and Duncan, being the tough spandex-clad biker dudes they are, took off after the truck, but they didn't catch them.

Thankfully, when I got hit, none of us broke our line, so we stayed upright, and kept riding until the guys came back to us, made sure we were alright, and we all shook it off and rode the last miles into the speedway. Viva Las Vegas.

Me, Nat, and Cat at the end of the ride...
ecstatic to be alive and off the Interstate!
So, the ride itself was a bit mentally challenging, but riding with good friends for such a great cause, well, to borrow a phrase...
And we were all there for this. Can't beat that.