Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Colorado Freeride Festival 2012

Ellie and I had a totally fun, rockin' weekend at the Colorado Freeride Festival up in Winter Park. We spent the weekend with some friends from the team.

Ellie and Maris put together a couple of fun costumes. Ellie has her game face on here so that you can see her mustache.

The most anticipated event of the weekend, for us at least, was the Intergalactic Pond Crossing Championship. It is really a lot of fun. Riders have to wear a life jacket to help them float in the event that he/she fell in. Out of 46 riders, only about 7 or 8 made it across. Ellie and Maris were two of them.

You begin going down a short, rather steep wooden track. The trick here is concentration and focus.
Many of the riders used their legs for balance. It made for some funny crossings.
By the time Ellie was half way across the pond the crowd started chanting, "Go Viking! Viking! Viking!" She made it look so easy and effortless. Each rider gets two tries. Ellie made it across both time, the second time was a bit less tidy.

Ellie won the women's category. She got a super cool trophy and $80. A female mountain biker that owns a boutique in town said, "That was so bad ass! Come into my store and I'll hook you up with about $50 merchandise." That was exciting, too.

Saturday's feature was the Epic Singletrack Cross Country race that began in Fraiser and ended in Winter Park. It was a fun, but somewhat rough ride. She hit a rock and flew over her handlebars. Perhaps we should have named her Endo Girl since that seems to be her favorite cycling trick.

She managed to get up, straighten her handlebars and seat then continued the race, coming in ahead of all of the women in her category, regardless of the age class.

Our friends were staying in the beautiful Vintage Hotel where we spent a lot of time when it was raining. We enjoyed watching the Olympics each night. They invited Ellie to sleep in the room so that she did not have to camp out in the rain. They invited me as well, but I opted for the woods.
Being able to ride the cabriolet was a bonus.

The kids spent a lot of time in the hot tub.

On Sunday we took in the Slopestyle Finals. It is exciting and scary. My mom brain looks at the course and imagines all of the places that the rider could crash or hit his/her head. At this point Ellie seems to like watching it, but is not interested in doing it. That is just fine with me.
Here's what the race venue looked like from the bottom of the mountain. The course was specially designed and constructed for this competition.

This is a whale tail. It might be the most scary of them all, at least for me. This kids seemed to love it. One rider made it into the scoop, but something went wrong. He tossed down his bike in anger and then had to climb down. This competition was being televised, so imagine he had lot of emotion around that, too.

All of these riders had to qualify to do the competition. Some of these guys came from places like Germany, England and Canada to compete.

The men are all so different. One excellent rider is 37 years old and 6'8" tall. Another is in his early 20's, about 5'4" and built like a bulldog. One rider hit the berm wrong. The seat got stuck in his bottom. It took two guys to pull it out. It was both a bit humorous and not, all a the same time. I imagine his bottom will be sore for a while.

The whole event was very interesting people watching. Most of the vendors had a certain look. Most of them were very hip, often either sporting artistic tattoos and grungy hip mountain biker or the sort of techy hipster. After talking to some of them I learned that many of them work for an advertising agency that "rents" out groups of folks to work such events. The company have many different "looks" to choose from. The photographers were the same way, but tended to be less polished looking. I loved watching them use the boom cranes to get great shots and see where they stand to get the others. I'd like to do that kind of thing after I retire. Somehow, I don't think I will have the look that they will be looking for. I can't imagine there is a lot of need for the funky, retired English teacher look, unless you are going to an education or library conference.

Here's a video that highlights the slopestyle contest.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Little Action - Go Kart Action! & a Few Recipes

After riding the trails on Wednesday, the team members who attended were treated to a 10 lap race at Action Karting in Morrison.

I thought about joining in on the fun, but wanting to take photos won out. Ellie said that was good because I would be too slow and get in everyone's way. That is life with a teenager. The coach says that there will be a rematch. Some of the kids thought their gokarts were too slow. They call for a rematch. Ellie is totally up for that!

Next time, I might ride, too. Perhaps there could be a mom's race after the kids go at it.

This was a nice dinner we had recently.

Steak and Pineapple Skewers
via: Guilty Kitchen Blog

Servings: 8 skewers
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time:10-15 minutes

2 ribeye steaks (approximately 10-12 oz each and 1″ thick)
1 pineapple
1 bunch fresh basil, torn into small pieces
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 Tbsp
1 clove garlic, grated
Fresh ground pepper
Wooden or metal skewers (if using wood, soak in warm water for 30 minutes prior to grilling)

1. In a large container (preferably with a lid), mix together the soy sauce , 1/3 cup olive oil, garlic and a substantial amount of pepper. This is your marinade.
2. Cube ribeyes into 1″ cubes and toss into marinade. Leave to marinate for 1 hour or as long as 24 hours.
(I did not have enough soy sauce so I substituted some of the Monterrey Steak Season. In the end I also added a small bit of Peach White Balsamic Vinegar and tossed it to coat the meat.)

Roasted Beets with Blue Cheese and Walnuts
via: Martha Stewart

4 medium beets (1 1/2 pounds total), trimmed and unpeeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Individually wrap 4 medium beets (1 1/2 pounds total), trimmed and unpeeled, in foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast until tender when pierced with a paring knife, 45 to 60 minutes. Let cool. Rub beets with paper towels to remove skins and cut into small wedges.
Whisk together 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard; season with coarse salt and ground pepper and stir in 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley. Toss beets with dressing. Serve topped with 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese and 1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Mid July Garden Tour

What a summer this has been. Colorado has been ravished by forest fires followed by flooding. We are most recently reeling from the shootings at the movie theater in Aurora. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those families. It is such a tragedy on so many levels.

From the outside I would imagine that things look pretty bleak.For most of us, however, it is mostly a summer with extreme weather. We've bounced between monsoon like rain to a record breaking string of days that approach or exceed the 100 degree mark. Usually it is a more manageable 85 degrees. The weather has had an interesting impact on my garden. On type of weeds has been replaced with another. Some heat loving plants are very happy, while those who like more cool weather are stagnate. They are green and upright, but refuse to grow. Let's have a look at what is happening our garden.

The early morning sun makes the cherry tomatoes look like they are glowing. They love the heat.

The eggplant has set out two lovely flowers. We'll have to see what transpires from there. I don't have a great track record growing them. This is the Japanese variety.

This, the most robust plant in the garden, was planted by the birds, I believe. For a long time I watched to see what kind of plant it would turn out to be. I knew it was a gourd of some sort. I think it will be white pumpkins. How exciting and what a surprise!

I love the squash blossoms. I wish I could put them in a vase in the house. However, they don't like that idea one bit.

Here's our first little zuchinni. I hope that many more will follow.

We are growing three varieties of potatoes. They are a new crop for us. They are much more lovely than I had expected. I thought they would be vines, like sweet potato vines. These plants were tall, upright soldiers for a long while. The heat seems to have forced them to their knees.

During the winter I dithered over whether I should grow veggies at all. I considered having a cutting flower garden. In the end I compromised with tall sunflowers mixed among the veggies and herbs.

The pond started with two plants. They seem to really like the hot weather.

If you come over to our house, the trumpet vines will be one the first ones to greet you. They are happy and exuberant.

Thee little guys are a bit more shy. They will give off a lovely fragance that you can carry with you for a while if you simply brush your hand on the foliage.
Out front, the garden has shifted its palette of colors from the deep, lush purples and blues to a riot of yellow and orange. I think I need to plant more of these.

These are in the allium family and are persistent greeters in the garden.

One of my favorite things is ornamental grasses. This is one I planted last year. It seems happy in its spot keeping a strict eye on the sidewalk and the goings-on there.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Urban Assault Ride - Denver Edition

On Sunday Ellie and Ariana took part in the Urban Assault Ride in Denver. Ellie is interested in doing some of the extreme adventure races, and this was a great place to begin.

It was big fun for a great cause.

The girls caught the attention of the local media and ended up as the front image - how fun it that!

It was a great day for a bit of interesting people and bike watching. This is just one of the super cool fixies. They are a very hip crowd.
Five hundred teams of two took part in this adventure. Start times were based on how well you did on a pre-event quiz that was really pretty tough. The girls were in the second wave to go off the line. The bikes were stored in a bike coral. Once the horn blared, you had to run about a half block to your bike and then fight your way out of the enclosure.
A list of five locations for challenges was published pretty early on. On the Wednesday before, riders had a chance to complete a word scramble game to figure out the location of the first mystery location. Therefore, the start was mayhem as teams went every direction. I am thankful that Ellie and I were able to drive her planed out the night before. It made it possible for her to know where she was going.

I had these lovely visions of me driving to each location and arriving way ahead of the girls so that I could pick out the perfect photographic spot to capture the action at each challenge. It was a lovely vision, but really only a dream. In reality the girls were ahead of me at all but one stop. I found myself parking and running to catch up with them. It was really pretty comical. I was so focused on getting there in time that I nearly tripped countless times. Luckily, I was able to catch myself before I actually went down.

(Photo by Westword photographer)

The first stop was a the Aztlan Recreation Center for a little Aqua Scrabble where the teams had to spell out a four letter word using letters found on the bottoms of rubber duckies. The girls found this refreshing. They spelled, "Eggs."

Next up was the Highland Tap and Grill where they completed a hoop throwing event. Ariana threw the rubber chain drives (hoops, kind of like a fan belt) to Ellie who was riding her bike back and forth while trying to catch using a nerf foam sword. It took several passes and lots of misses before they caught their required two hoops.

Down the hill they zoomed to Little Man Ice Cream where Ellie had to bounce balls on the ground once and Ariana had to try and guide the ball into the bucket. It sounds easy enough, but was actaully a bit of a challenge.

If you find yourself in Denver, you might enjoy going for ice cream. It was one of Ellie's birthday stops.
The girls made it to Cactus Marketing and finished the big wheel course before I could get in place. I was a little bummed as I was looking forward to photographing that one. I think it might have been the most fun, at least from my point of view. Off they go.

Don't you think that one would have been extra fun?

Just around the corner they did the Yakima Chopstick Challenge where they had to navigate the balls over, under and around a set of barriers.

This looks like it was a little like a limbo contest.

On to Stoney's Bar and Grill where there was a cup stacking contest. The Westword photographer took about 50 shots of the girls.
Here's what they were aiming for.

Cheeseman Park was next on the map for a little urban surfing or bike chariot. What ever you call it, I am sure it was fun. It appeared to be pretty challenging for most of the adults over 25.

The person on the bike tows the other rider as he/she holds onto a bit of rope that has been put around the seat post.

It was all pretty good, until they had to turn a corner.
The next stop was at the Salvaghetti Annex where they figured out the clue to the next stop. Unfortunately, my camera's card was fun and I do not have an image of that stop. They figured out that they needed to go to the Denver Bike Cafe.
I am not at all sure how they put that together, but they were off quickly.

After finishing each challenge the team was awarded a bead for their necklace. This was proof of their wicked skills. :)

Back at the venue at Skyline Park a post event party was in full swing with more fun challenges. Here the girls are doing the world's slowest race to see who could finish last. Ellie is great at this one.

In this challenge you had to do a track stand (balance on your bike) for at least 10 seconds. The bike was really too big for the girls and that made it extra challenging.

It was such a scorcher that morning. At one point a stream of sweat rolled down my forehead and into my eye, causing it to sting. It was a combination of salt and sun screen. Aiko Pops was there with wonderful, healthy and unusual flavors of popsicles. After a lot of debating, I settled on cucumber and mint. Next time I may try the mint and melon flavor. It has inspired me to make some of my own. If you check out Pinterest you will find that I have started to find some great recipes already. My popsicle molds are in the wash.

We also had lunch purchased from one of the food trucks.
After giving awards to the fastest finishers in each category, they moved onto silly awards and contests. (Ellie and Ariana finished 39th in the Female category and 193 of nearly 500 overall.) Here was a mustache man dance off - pretty funny!

A select group of ladies did a shoe toss into an Ultimate Frisbee cage. Two guys won their height in New Belgium beer. They both walked away with 9 cases each.

I'd imagine that she will take part in the Urban Assault Challenge in 2013. Next time they might be astronauts.

(Here's the link to Westword's slideshow of the event.)