Thursday, July 31, 2008

Boulder and Driving into the Mountains

After relaxing a bit this morning at the hotel and catching up on the news, I headed into the main part of Boulder looking for a bike shop.  Since I don't have cycling gear with me and I'm doing the event this weekend, I needed a jersey and shorts.  I found a Performance Bicycle (one of the biggest chain bike stores in the country) and they were having a huge clearance sale, so I picked up some gear for fairly cheap as far as cycling gear goes.

Then I went and explored the CU campus for a while before lunch.  I wasn't expecting all the stone buildings, but it's a really nice campus, and in a great setting too!

I also managed to sneak a peak at Folsom Field.

I met up with Greg and he briefly showed me where he works and what he's up to, and then we went to Half Fast Subs (say it out loud), which was very tasty and had one of the most overwhelming menus I've ever seen.  I couldn't capture two of the boards in this picture.

After lunch Greg had to get back to work, so I wandered around one of the main malls in town and eventually decided I needed something refreshing to drink.  I ended up at Jamba Juice, which was a wise decision.  Then I headed to an arcade/mini golf place that also happened to have a run-down driving range with cheap range balls and even cheaper rental clubs.  I hit about 80 balls and relaxed there for a couple hours.

For those of you familiar with golf clubs, I was also surprised to learn that apparently Cleveland's Hi-Bore design is nothing new.  One of the lefty clubs was this old beaten up club with a sunken crown just like the Cleveland design, only it was much older.  It was also made out of carbon fiber.  It also didn't work very well.

After gassing up the truck, I met Greg and his girlfriend Dana for dinner at the Southern Sun brewpub, which had some tasty food and good root beer on tap (I had to drive following dinner).  It was great to see Greg more and get to meet Dana.  After dinner I picked up Lyndsay in Denver and headed West into the Mountains on I-70 as the sun set.  The drive into the mountains was really scenic, even mostly in the dark.  The truck handled the climbs well for the most part, and we got to Copper in a reasonable amount of time.  Copper itself seems like an amazing place from what I can tell in the dark.  There's a ton to do here, and it's incredibly scenic.  Our hotel is really more of a condo, and since we have a kitchen and meal prices are a little spendy, we'll probably try to do some of our own cooking.  I'll update more on Copper tomorrow when I can actually see it, but I'm impressed so far.  Should be a great weekend.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Driving and Pizza

From Angola, we continued the drive through Indiana, Illinois, and Nebraska.

Last night we stayed in Omaha, Nebraska. After forgetting my razor at a previous hotel, I walked a couple miles to a pharmacy to get a new one. Along the way, I definitely was reminded repeatedly just how big the Huskers are there.

Today's drive was from Omaha to Fort Collins, Colorado via western Nebraska and Wyoming. A fairly uneventful drive, other than having to be careful to not overheat our truck in the hot weather going uphill.

Nate is from Fort Collins, so the plan was to end up at his house for dinner. Nate's parents own/run several restaurants, and tonight we had grilled pizza, a homemade specialty that was quite delicious.

We topped them with pesto, BBQ sauce, pesto chicken, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and mozzerella. Very tasty indeed. Nate's dad was gracious enough to lend me his bike for this weekend's ride, so it looks like I'll be doing the Copper Triangle for sure.

After dinner I dropped Lyndsay off in Denver and headed to my hotel in Boulder. Tomorrow I'll explore Boulder a bit and meet up with Greg, a best friend from high school who I haven't seen in a while. Tomorrow evening we'll take the truck up into the mountain passes in order to arrive at Copper Mountain for the event. The 80 mile ride and the elevation gain aren't too intimidating, but the fact that it's at elevation with three passes over 10,000 feet will make things really interesting.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Road Trippin'

Today we ate breakfast in a really crowded hotel lobby and hit the road destined for our current location, a Ramada Inn in Angola, Indiana approximately 630 miles away from where we started the day.  Much of the day was driving as normal.

Notable sightings included an out of control car fire on the freeway, two Tootsie Roll trucks (the trailers look like a giant Tootsie Roll), some cool light effects coming from the clouds, and lots of spots of road construction.

The highlight of the day (if you can call it that) was having both trucks stopped at a truck checkpoint for a full inspection by highway police.  They're pretty rigorous, and while the officers were friendly, they sent us on our way with numerous warnings for minor infractions.  I suppose in retrospect it was a good learning experience for what to potentially expect in the future, but at the time we were wondering how many fines we might be racking up for things like not having our emergency triangles accessible enough.  Apparently they like to stop smaller trucks for several reasons.  First, many fail to have properly authorized drivers and logs, and secondly it's quicker and easier to inspect one of our trucks than a semi.

After arriving at the hotel, I went for a short hill-interval type workout on an elliptical in a futile attempt to jump start my climbing legs.  I'm still hoping to attempt the cycling event we'll be working at this upcoming Saturday if I can find a bike and gear.  It's a 90 mile ride at elevation with a good amount of climbing, so to do it mostly untrained will take some patience, tons of food to make sure I don't bonk, and lots of mental toughness.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Brief Update

Today we woke up early to a nice thunderstorm complete with pouring rain. Luckily, our tent is mostly leak-free and our stuff stayed dry overnight. The weather cleared up in time for the race, and the sponsor village was a success, with lots of cheer signs handed out and surveys being taken. We managed to pack up pretty quickly, and hit the road headed for a hotel right near the Newark airport, where we'll meet Nate in the morning. Along the way, we nearly ran one truck out of gas simply because we couldn't find diesel, and when we did find it, we also found the world's slowest gas pump. It probably took 20 minutes to fill our two trucks (they were filling simultaneously).

We hit a bit of traffic coming back across the George Washington Bridge, but it was nothing compared to my experience heading the opposite way a week ago. We got settled in at the hotel and then found a slightly quirky restaurant (which called itself a tavern) serving a variety of tasty food. I had a chicken/rice mix dish with salad and some fried plantain. After dinner I set about doing some laundry and went to work out. The machines at the hotel are all pretty pitiful and in various states of disrepair, so I went and ran outside for a bit instead.

Tomorrow we start the long drive to Colorado.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


I seem to have created a new word, a mix of increments and intervals. Usually occurs when I make up my mind to late on which word to use.

Today went pretty much as expected, with a busy expo and then an immediate breaking-down of the expo setup followed by immediately unloading and setting up at the finish line for tomorrow's race.

After some Subway for dinner, I worked out on an exercise bike while watching Men in Black II (made me feel dated). Now it's time for bed so I can be ready to go at 5AM tomorrow morning. I think I've got the alarm figured out this time.

Friday, July 25, 2008


After picking up the truck this morning, we drove the hour west to Worcester (the title of this post is about as close as I can get to spelling it phonetically as people around her pronounce it). We found a nice little restaurant that seems to be a popular place and got lunch, and then went to set up at the expo. Setup went really smoothly for only two of us, up until I gave myself a massive splinter that went under my fingernail and hurt like crazy. I understand now why it's been used as an ancient form of torture. Luckily, I found a nice lady who is another exhibitor at the expo who decided to play mom and spent a good 5 minutes gently pulling with her long nails to get it out. The finger still hurts a bit right now.

After setup, we had a little over an hour to kill before picking up Lyndsay (our help for this weekend, and possibly for the rest of the tour) at the bus station. We wandered around what seemed to be the downtown section of Worcester and found a couple interesting things. The first was a memorial to Major Taylor, whom I had never heard of before. He was a world champion bike racer around the turn of the 20th century, and also notably one of the first African American Athletes to rise to an elite level in American sports.

The other cool thing we stumbled upon was a large memorial with interesting statues on it that honored the local soldiers from Worcester that had died in the civil war.

After picking up Lyndsay, we stopped by the hotel and then decided to get Thai for dinner. It was good, but I still compare everything to the Thai House in Fairbanks, AK and so far nothing has quite matched it. After getting back from dinner, I went for another 5 mile run, and now I'm back catching up online, which is kind of nice since I'm on my computer rather than the work computer. I have bookmarks for all my favorite sites. One of my favorites at the moment is - a collection of stories of dumb, scary, and angry customer interactions.

Also, if you saw Iron Man, check out for a good laugh or two.

Tomorrow is expo day. Then a load-out from an expo and setting up at the finish line in Webster.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Raining Buckets

Today I got off to a bit of a slow start and caught up on the news.  I decided to clean out my bag a bit, which meant I decided to get rid of (drink) the glass Coke bottle you get at the end of the World of Coke tour in Atlanta.  Given its presentation, I figured this had to be some really good soda.  I chilled it nicely and then drank it over ice.  It was pretty much just a Coke.

Meanwhile, it had been raining all morning, and hard at that.  I still don't have a truck until tomorrow morning, so I decided my options were either to stay in the hotel all day (exciting) or catch a train downtown again.  I chose the latter, and sprinted from the hotel to the train station in a hard downpour.  The train parking lot was in the process of becoming a lake.

In downtown, I wandered over into North End for a while and grabbed some lunch followed by gelato and tea.  The latter combination was very tasty.

Shortly thereafter, I met up with Molly and Marco and planned to help Marco inventory shoes in the back of the truck we have access to.  We scrapped that idea quickly due to the rain. Instead we drove around Boston somewhat aimlessly in Marco's rental until deciding we were hungry.  We ended up at Legal Sea Foods, which is a really tasty, upscale seafood place.  I got the crabcake combo, which was extremely flavorful.

After dinner, I took the train back to the hotel.  The dinner wasn't sitting particularly well with my stomach, so I did what any perfectly sane person would decide to do - I went for a 5 mile run in the rain.  It was actually really refreshing.

Also of note, something is screwy about these hotel elevators.  There are two of them, and the floor buttons are on opposite sides in each.  I've probably ridden them 20 times in the last few days, and not once have I turned to the correct side that the buttons are on.  That's even after I made a mental note of which side they were on and in which elevator.  I swear they're changing sides on me or something.

Tomorrow we drive to Webster, MA and set up for Saturday's expo.  It's been fun, Boston.  I'll be back.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Boston: Beer, Rain, Book, Lightning

Today's route (only about 9 miles today):

After switching hotel rooms, I headed out to catch the train and got off a few stops before downtown to check out the Sam Adams (Boston Beer) Brewery.  Besides the fact that I like their beer, we did a big project on the company last winter term, so it was fun to visit. 

I got to sample a couple of unreleased beers and vote on which one should go into production.  They were both good, but the Witbier got my vote.  

The tour explains all the intricacies of making beer, and I got to smell fresh hops and taste 3 different types of malt barley, one of which tastes like grape nuts.

And then of course the tasting room, where we sampled the famous Boston Lager and their Summer Ale.  I also learned more about the Utopias, and will have to try it sometime when I can find it and feel like spending $20 on a drink.

Then I wandered all the way north into downtown.  On the way I wandered through the Theater and Chinatown districts and checked out the Beacon Hill area more fully after yesterday's excursion.  I also sensed rain was on the way, so I bought a book.  I would have eaten at this restaurant simply because of the clever name, but I wasn't hungry at the time.

Boston is still a really cool looking city, even on a rainy, cloudy day.

And then it started raining, so I sat down under cover and read an entire Grisham novel cover to cover in about 4 hours.  It's a little bit of a deviation from classic Grisham, but with the same ability to tell a good story.  It's about a 3rd string NFL quarterback a little too full of himself who finds direction in life by getting sent to play on a no-name league in Italy.

After finishing, I grabbed some clam chowder in a bread bowl, and having nothing else planned for my time downtown, I headed towards the train station.  On my way, I had an attractive girl ask for directions somewhere, and I told her I couldn't help until suddenly it hit me I was carrying an iPhone.  I headed back the other way a couple blocks and found her and managed to give easy directions (well, the phone did most of the work).  After that detour, I had to practically run to catch my train.  Upon getting back to the hotel, I've been treated to a really nice lightning storm out my window.

Tomorrow holds in store... something.  The truck should be ready for pickup, and I still hope to meet up with Brownie before leaving Boston.  Other than that, who knows.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Photo Blogging Boston

After dropping off the truck, I took the train downtown.  Between noon and 10PM, I logged close to 20 miles on foot walking all over downtown, Charlestown, and Cambridge.  After just a day, I really like this city.  It's definitely the kind of place I could see myself living.
The route

The view coming out of the train station

The Freedom Trail - I followed it off and on through downtown into Charlestown.  I like how easy it was to stumble upon.  I saw the red bricks and figured it must be the walking tour.

Boston State House across from Boston Common

A really good street performing 5 gallon bucket drummer being upstaged by a little kid showing off some sweet dance moves in Crocs

Cobbles in North End - Made me think about cycling

A typical North End street.  I really like that part of the city.  Feels very historic and European, plus tons of good-looking eateries.

U.S.S Constitution

U.S.S. Cassin Young and my finger.  I walked around the boat for a while.  Kind of odd/cool that it's managed by the National Park Service.

Bunker Hill Monument - looks familiar, right?

...and the view from the top.  Worth the muggy 294 stair climb.

Wandered over to Cambridge to check out Harvard and MIT.

The Downtown view coming from Cambridge.

If you ever get the chance, watch a group of geese hurriedly eating grass.  More importantly, listen.  It's really funny.

And I saw tons of people wearing Crocs.  Then I ran into the Crocs retail store.  Almost as big as the New York Store.

Tomorrow I plan to head back into Boston and perhaps spend money to do something (aquarium, boat tour, museum of fine art?).  Hopefully I can meet up with Brownie since that didn't work out tonight.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A lazy work/play day

Today I woke up about 10 after getting a decent night's sleep and got some menial work tasks done before checking out of the hotel and heading down the road to check out Mystic, CT for some early lunch and a good place to get work done.  The Mystic Seaport looked interesting, but I didn't particularly feel like being touristy or spending money.

I also saw Mystic Pizza (famous because of the Julia Roberts movie of the same name) but wanted something different after lots of pizza in New York.  So I took a picture of their sign and moved on.

I ended up finding a shady bench near the docks to have a conference call and write our weekly event report before hitting the road to wind up at the outskirts of Boston.  I ended up getting lucky on Priceline and got upgraded to a 3 star for a price I thought I'd only get a 2 star for in Dedham, MA.  I was even happier when I realized it's about a 3 minute walk from the hotel to the train stop that heads into downtown Boston (about a 15 minute ride).  I checked into the hotel and decided to wander over across the highway to see what I could find for dinner, and I decided it was about time I got around to seeing the Dark Night, so I was happy to find that there was a theater right near the hotel.  Or was there...?

So I was out of luck.  I decided to wander North a couple of miles to downtown Dedham to see if I could find anything to eat that wasn't a Chilis.  Dedham was a really nice, older town with lots of historical buildings.

And much to my surprise and happiness, I found exactly what I had given up looking for.

The movie was definitely extremely dark (not a kids movie by any means) and profoundly heavy.  It was also really good.  At first I wasn't sure I was buying the CGI,  but once I got caught up in the storyline I didn't even notice.

Then I walked back to the hotel in the dark, where I am now.

Tomorrow I'll be taking the truck in for service before catching the train into Boston for the day.  I'll enjoy checking out the city during the afternoon and hopefully meet up with a friend from Oregon in the evening.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Rough Beginning - A Rougher Ending

Today got off to an interesting start as the alarms (note: 3 different alarms) meant to wake Nate or myself up failed to go off, or were inaudible, or something.  Needless to say, 8 minutes after a text from Molly (the text noise woke us up!?) we were downstairs in the lobby ready to catch a cab.  We ended up in 2 different cabs, with Nate taking one on his own.  I took my best guess at where to get dropped off near the finish line in Central Park since we had all of our personal belongings with us (lots of large, heavy bags and suitcases), and I actually had a pretty good guess.  The only problem is that the street we took into the park didn't actually connect with any part of the park.  We ended up cutting all the way across the park East to West just to go back East again.  It was a painful, slightly humiliating experience (Side note: Molly is a trooper).

We did have a really nice view from our finish line booth.

The finish line was fun, and definitely made me lust after some bikes.  I miss having one around and will be working on trying to get one on the tour with me.  I think the nicest bike I saw (even in spite of the numerous Zipp wheels, Cervelos, etc) had to be this one:

After the expo finished, we headed over to the Crocs flagship store a few blocks west of the park.  They have a really nice selection.  I bought myself a pair of the men's Santa Cruz model.

After we returned to the trucks, Nate and I parted ways with Molly and we headed back to Nate's aunt and uncle's house for dinner.  They had a wonderfully refreshing pool that I swam in for a while, and then dinner was extremely tasty.  They gave me some good suggestions for what to check out along the Connecticut coast tomorrow, so I booked a hotel in New London, CT and headed out at 8PM expecting to get to my destination around 11PM in time to catch up a bit on sleep after a long weekend.

Here's where things got a little interesting.  I thought getting into Manhattan through the Lincon Tunnel was bad traffic-wise (though I expected some delay on a Thursday afternoon), but the traffic on the George Washington Bridge into Northern New York City was absolutely horrendous at 9PM on a Sunday night.  I spent 3 hours sitting in standstill traffic before finally crossing the bridge.

The entire drive took about 6 hours, and I just recently got to my hotel (note the time stamp - Pacific Time) at about 2:15 AM.  Red Bull was my friend along the way, as was loud music.  Note to self: avoid the George Washington Bridge in the future.  The only problem with that idea is that the main traffic veins between New England and the rest of the U.S. run right through New York, and going around that area can add hours onto a drive (though apparently going through that area does the same thing).

Tomorrow I'll be sleeping in a bit (I got the hotel to give me a late checkout for free) and then checking out a couple spots along the coast (Mystic, CT and Newport, MA are two likely stops) before trying to get to the suburbs of Boston tomorrow night.
Overall, a good day.  I'm just exhausted.