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Training in Boulder, Colorado

6th July 2015

For those of you who haven’t seen it, Budget Forklifts received an invitation to race this years Tour of Utah! Fortunately after the Tour of Beauce I decided to hang around in Boulder, Colorado for some training before heading back home. Hopefully this should provide some really good preparation before the tour of Utah.

Boulder provides a handful of reasons why many professional endurance athletes choose to train here. I’ve been here for a little over two weeks now, and after settling in and discovering most of the local training I have to say this place is living up to expectations.

I’m staying in Uptown Boulder, sleeping at about 1700m above sea level. There’s a cat-2 climb just outside the door that takes me up to 2500m, and then we can continue up to Peak to Peak highway to a little town called Ward, which is close to 2800m. Most of the roads that join up to Peak to Peak highway feature a name associated with a canyon, (eg sunshine canyon, four mile canyon, coal creek canyon, boulder canyon… etc) and all have spectacular views and a large river that follow the winding roads. They also have either a dedicated bike lane or a wide shoulder, which makes riding with the traffic enjoyable. Since the large majority of residents in Boulder also own bikes, there seems to be that little bit of extra respect from the cars. (96,000 residents, 36 bike shops, 112,000 bikes, and 200 miles of streets with bike lanes in Boulder)

I’m not here to talk about my training in Boulder though, instead I want to give a little bit of insight into some of the smaller things that I’ve come to appreciate.

Bagels. These have quickly become apart of my daily nutrition. Toast that bad boy, spread it with butter and you’re done. Add a macchiato and you have my current go-to choice when we stop at a cafe during a ride. They also share many similar characteristics as a donut. And I have to be honest, I haven’t consumed one donut since I’ve arrived in this town. Boulder is an extremely healthy town, and although I’m not saying bagels are healthy, they seem healthier than a donut and therefore I feel like I’m doing my best to integrate into society.

Stop Signs. These things are confusing. When we come to a cross-intersection and every entry has a stop sign, who is suppose to have right of way? I’m not sure the locals even know the answer to this question. At least everybody obeys these signs, and as a cyclist, most cars tend to wave us through. It feels safe. But sometimes, two cars begin to cross at the same time. It reminds me of that awkward moment when you’re walking down the street towards another pedestrian, and you both move in the same direction to avoid each other. Awkward.

Thunderstorms. The weather so far in Boulder has been fantastic during the day, and most afternoons will see a thunderstorm roll the town. I can sit out on the balcony and watch them roll through the hills and it’s rather relaxing. Although I’ve heard it’s quite common for people to be struck by lightening here, which is not so relaxing. An afternoon storm also helps cool down the temperature so it’s not too hot overnight.

Prairie dogs. Coming in at about 1.1 lbs and 14 inches in length, these little creatures remind me of rabbits in Australia and are most populated in the states of Colorado and Utah. Small and unpredictable, they stand in the middle of the road watching you ride closer and closer before deciding to dart one way or another, narrowly avoiding being squashed by my 25mm continental four-season tyres. I have seen far too many prairie dogs, but at least I would prefer to run over a Prairie dog than being run over by a moose.

Clif Bars. Don’t get me wrong, we are sponsored by Shotz and I really like their product, but since the Canadian block of racing I’ve run out of Shotz energy bars and they aren’t stocked in American supermarkets. Instead, Clif bars are in just about every store that sells food, and they are cheap. In Australia we might pay about $4-5 per bar depending on where you are, but over here you’re paying too much if you pay more than $10 for 10 bars. Taking into account the exchange rate this is still extremely cheap. Blueberries are also in season and very cheap by the punnet.

Altitude. This is an interesting one. I’m definitely starting to feel better riding at altitude than the first few days I arrived. Once you get over 2500m and start doing any efforts, oxygen consumption plays a huge part in how long or how hard you’re able to go. At the same time, altitude facilitates the consumption of extra food since your body is naturally working harder to achieve adaptations, so raiding the pantry and having an extra slice of bread with olive oil is acceptable. My bedroom is also on the top floor of the house and I’ve counted all 33 steps from the living room up to my bedroom many times.

Tour de France. Watching the Tour de France in Boulder timezone is almost perfect! The stages start a little bit too early, but finish at about 9am. I can wake up without an alarm and watch the last 50km whilst enjoying my porridge before kitting up and heading out for my own training ride. The owners of this house are also keen cyclists so naturally there is a good coffee machine to enjoy with fresh beans. Sharing a house with keen cyclists is also great because they know some of the great loops and bunch rides too. I’ve just become aware of “the Boulder Fearsome Five” which can probably be compared to a crucifix loop from the Dandenongs in Melbourne. It knocks off most of the major local climbs in an efficient manner, covering 160km with 4500m of climbing. Along with a couple of strava segments, this ride is on the list of things to do before heading over to race in the Tour of Utah.

Thanks for reading, BC IMG_3228

5 comments

  1. Beautiful part of the world mate and perfect for cyclists for sure. Stay safe (away from the Bears) and good luck with the Utah prep. Don’t forget to say hi to Sean Sullivan for me…. 😉

  2. Great read
    I think you missed one important topic …… Real Estate ………. whats going on there, whats a good buy and what do you think works for a good AU training camp !!!
    Chris

    1. don’t worry dad, I’ve been checking it out. The owners here are keen into real estate too, they’ve been telling me about nice places to purchase condo’s… places up near aspen that get very busy during winter and are rented out all during winter

  3. Nice read Brendan, and seeing the rides on strava. Good luck in Utah.

    1. thanks mate, looking to complete another big week here but unfortunately it’s Monday and raining!!

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