Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stolen Bikes - Tales of Woe

Now about a week after my bike theft, I thought I'd check Craigslist - genius! And I find the tales of woe associated with rampant bike theft in downtown Denver. A few notables:

-A guy had his Pogliaghi stolen from Veloswap by a guy who asked to test-ride it.

-Pedicab rickshaw stolen downtown (!).

-Banal commuter bike stolen from in front of the LoDo Tattered Cover.

There are an awful lot like the last one - crummy/average bike, parked/locked in a high-traffic area, during the day - no problem, right? Wrong.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Boulder Mountain Traverse, the "Boulder Six Pack," and the Boulder experience

For several years, I've wanted to climb the ridge up from Eldorado Canyon to South Boulder Peak, and then continue across Boulder Mountain. I tried it awhile back in an ice storm, dropped down to Shadow Canyon Trail, and spent the rest of the day shivering back to the car. So today, I went back.

-A talented climber could surely take an elegant route up the ridge. However, I am not such a person. Therefore, my climb to South Boulder Peak was a four-hour brush and scree suffer-fest featuring endless cliff-outs. Here's one:

Here's another:

And here's the universal sign for "tanning beds:"

Is that the top?

Nope, keep climbing.

Finally, I sat at the summit and enjoyed my lunch. And lo! I opened the register, and my blood turned cold as I read this incredible note:

I'd been one-upped (or more properly two-upped) only one day before by Ryan Hurst and Luke Siegal! I was only planning on climbing one mountain and then hiking to three more (Bear Mountain, Green Mountain and Flagstaff). Not only were they hiking two more destinations than me, but the full six destinations had a name - the "Boulder Six Pack." I was only contemplating a Boulder Four Pack! How I had missed planning for this?

But wait, all was not lost. First, the Boulder Six Pack must be pretty obscure - Ryan and Luke felt the need to describe the six destinations for squares like me. Second, they indicated that South Boulder Peak was the second destination on their route. What did this mean? Did they knock off Mt. Sanitas in the morning? More likely, they had already climbed Bear Mountain, indicating they had hiked up Shadow Canyon.

That means my Boulder Four Pack - featuring the long climb from Eldorado Canyon - is more extreme than their Boulder Six Pack! Sort of like the Great Divide Hercules Double IPA (which is both extreme and comes in four packs). Plus, my Boulder Four Pack featured great/classic form - I stayed on or near the ridge the whole time, and hit South Boulder Peak without using any extra trail (I left the Eldorado Canyon Trail right at the Rincon Wall hiker access trail). Sort of like Duvel (which has great/classic form and also comes in a four pack).

At that moment, a glider zoomed by about thirty feet over my head.

The pilot smiled and waved at me, completely in control. Piloting a glider mere feet from a mountain is definitely more extreme than either the Boulder Six Pack or the Four Pack. Such is the Boulder experience. But what if I climbed South Boulder Peak and BASE jumped off the top, like Dean Potter?


Later I saw this sign:

But what if I mountain bike across the land? Or snowmobile? If they didn't want me to drive my monster truck across their land, then why did they only specify hiking and jogging? I love these signs because they remind me of the awesome B.S. legal principle of inclusio unius est exclusio alteruis.

I also got some (blurry) shots of the awesome Abert's squirrel:


Totally unrelated:

I'm writing this EXTREME entry at the South Boulder Vic's. It's quiet and clean, with excellent coffee and outlets everywhere. It's everything I would want in a coffee shop, and there are maybe ten other places I like just as much (I'm easy that way). But not in Denver. No. You get dirty/smelly/bad coffee, or weird stuff like no wireless (Pablo's). I want Vic's/Brewing Market/Ozo/etc. Denver branch.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bikes in China

The bike theft reminded me of a story from when I was living in China:

The first few days I was there, a bunch of the other students bought new bikes. A student would buy said nice new bike, would show up to class with the nice new bike, and then the nice new bike was gone. I didn't want to waste money on a bike. So I found out about a place - you go in the morning and tell them what kind of bike you want and then in the afternoon they have the bike. You pay them a little money and that's the end. I ended up with big-box-style mountain bike that had been quickly spray painted yellow and black, with the paint carrying off onto the components. It was the ugliest bike in the world. And it lasted. I had it for at least three months before it finally disappeared. I probably got 500 miles on that thing. Then I got a green spray painted one, and it lasted me until I left.

Love and (bicycle) Theft

Went to City Park for a big yoga class - about 1,300 people showed up, and it was surprisingly hot in the beautiful fall sun. Short video here. And then to St. Marks to cap it off. Great. Still thinking about a long/bad lecture I had on climate change on Thursday. Hey, I'll stop by the library on the way home - I remember a friend mentioning "Super-Freakonomics" had something contrarian and half-interesting on the subject. Of course Denver library still has all the bike racks fenced off, so I locked up to the fence. Went in, of course it was checked out (unless I wanted to read it in French), and walked out.

Then things happened quickly, and here's how I explained it to the police officer:

-My cut lock was hanging from the fence - no bike.

-I look up and there is a guy on a red big-box store mountain bike ghost riding my bike away.

-I drop my bag (bad idea, as it turns out), kick off my flip-flops (it was a yoga morning) and start running after the guy.

I get almost to the guy's shoulder, and he turns on 14th Ave. (the Denver Marathon is tomorrow, so the street is closed. I'm yelling my lungs out. There are a bunch of marathon-type people - in running shoes - who all stand around doing their best grazing-cow imitation.

-I suddenly realize that my bag - containing my computer - is now sitting out in front of the library - the same library where guys are apparently hacking locks at noon on a Saturday.

-I start running back towards my bag as fast as I can. As I turn away, I see the guy pass off my bike to another guy, who looks like he's getting ready to ride it away.

-I get there, and two other guys are now converging on my bag. There's a very nervous woman with her baby in a front-carrier looking at my bag, looking at the two guys, and looking like she very much wished she wasn't there.

-I go into the library, where two security guards also doing their best grazing cow impression are more than happy to call the police and let me fill out a report.


I come home and yup I still have the receipt and serial number for my 2003 closeout Giant OCR3. Goodbye bike. Not good to get attached to things, but we had some good times together. Like this.


Additional thoughts:

-I wish I hadn't seen the guy stealing my bike. I could have thought, "Well, maybe I just botched locking it up and it fell down and some poor homeless guy took it." Instead, I now know there is a team of bicycle thieves who work the library - the guy who rode the bike away didn't have cutters, and there was at least one other guy (the one who was going to keep riding it away) involved.

-I wish I hadn't thrown my bag down, as my computer screen is now quite damaged (bottom right corner square does not display).

-Prior to this morning, I had been pretty smug about my bike. It had a great patina/aura of crappiness, while still quite useful for road rides (used it for my Denver/Boulder commute, etc.) I guess I was wrong. But I'm not sure what the hell those idiots are going to do with it. The frame is covered in stickers, some of which have been on there for five-six years. The components have never been updated. So a team of thieves ended up with something they can sell for...maybe $100? Less.

-And it's lose-lose. The replacement cost is high. Maybe my venerable Giant OCR3 isn't worth much, but a replacement road bike is going to cost a lot. And now I can add in a new computer screen/computer at some point in the near future. Arg.

-Last thing. So the security guys say, "Oh, this happens all the time." The officer says the same thing. But the library still has no secure bike racks at that location. Not that I'm a litigious lawyer or anything, and not that I'd spend oh, maybe three years trying to get $700 out of the city to buy a new bike, but governmental immunity only goes so far. Especially when the city knows there's a problem. At noon. On a Saturday. At a major public edifice.

Oh, well, live and learn.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

But I showed up at 9:57 and they were closed!

Saw this in Boulder:

Funny on a few levels. Hyper-specific. And in Boulder, allegedly a laid back town.

Also reminds me of the equally hyper-specific RTD bus schedules. Am I going to catch the BX at Table Mesa scheduled for 7:58 AM or 8:12 AM. Trick question - Denver doesn't have a train system (yet); this is a bus! The bus gets there at random intervals because it gets stuck in traffic/has random number of stops. The only way to catch a bus right on time is to catch it at the beginning of the route.

Lockheed Lair

A few weeks ago, we saw Iron Man 2 and one of us remarked how silly it is in movies how high tech weapons and gadgetry are always developed/built in slick high-tech buildings, and always in beautiful locations. Then we went for a hike last weekend near Chatfield Reservoir and saw this Lockheed facility tucked against the foothills:

I think this is actually where the Iron Man suit was built. Good to see that the shareholders' investment is being put to smart use.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quandary Peak, North Ridge - 10/2/10

This weekend, we were able to climb the north ridge of Quandary Peak, another climb from the Colorado Scrambles book. Catherine showed off her fearless free-climbing skills. This one was interesting - the book points you to the ridge, and then generally advises you to head right for the towers. There isn't a right or wrong way to go, as there is with a lot of these climbs. Although the book indicates some 5th-Class moves, we never hit anything that hard.

Interesting - there used to be some skis at the top of Quandary propped up and holding a register. Gone. But there was the same-looking hungry mountain goat following hikers around on the way down as when I hiked up in 2002.