Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fire Season

Smoky haze from the Royal Gorge Fire on Tuesday evening.
 This morning, the skies over Southern Colorado have returned to their light summer blue.  It's been a tough week for many folks around Colorado Springs.  Something along the lines of nearly 500 homes destroyed from a wildfire that began burning north of the city last week.  There was another that started about the same time just to the south of the Royal Gorge near Canon City.  
Fire damages the park at the Royal Gorge Bridge in June 2013
On Tuesday, I knew something was up when I walked outside around noon.  The air was hazy and you could smell the smoke in the air.  By that evening it had cleared up enough for an  evening bike ride, and as I rode out at the test track, the smoke from both of the wildfires in the area was quite visible, even from nearly 50 miles away.  Strong winds and high temperatures continued for the next several days which hasn't helped the firefighting efforts much.  The drought conditions that have existed in Colorado for the last few years have led to some devastating fires.  It's especially alarming so early in the summer.  If the heat and wind continues, there will certainly be more fires, and more destruction.
Even at over 50 miles away, the smoke from the Black Forest Fire can easily be spotted during an evening ride.
 The sudden loss of a home from something like a wildfire is horrible.  Apart from the financial devastation of losing a house and the belongings,  the psychological impacts are also significant.  Consider the time, effort, and satisfaction that people put into working on their homes, not to mention the fond memories that may have been created there over the years.  The very concept of "home" is associated with feelings of familiarity, comfort, and even safety.  To have that taken away in such a devastating way is traumatic.    In college, I remember a small fire at the house we were renting, which displaced us for a week, and eventually required that we move into a new place.  This was a minor event.  My roommates and I had lived there for only a couple of months and we certainly hadn't done a lot of home improvements.  Furthermore, most of the damage done was "smoke" damage, and none of us lost a lot of personal property.  But even at that, it was an unsettling experience, and I remember feeling very uneasy for several days after the fire as we figured out what to do.  What a tremendously difficult feeling for those who have truly lost something.
This blog is supposed to be about the things that I do for fun.  Mostly it's about my adventures as a very amateur endurance athlete.  In this sense, and on a much smaller and insignificant scale, the fires impact these adventures.  I am lucky in that they are only inconveniences, and not something more devastating to me personally.  For example, the smoke from the fires, along with the prevailing winds, can determine where and whether or not I'm able to train outside.  This weekend, I decided not to go to Colorado Springs for a bike ride up Pikes Peak, because I was concerned that there might be too much smoke in the vicinity.  Even at that, it was difficult figuring out a place to go riding with the fire to the west and some of the road closures (including the highway I rode from Pueblo to Cotopaxi a couple of weeks back) in place.  I finally settled on a familiar route up towards Westcliffe, but as I rode, the fires stayed in my mind.  Along the way, I kept an eye out for any smoke plumes that might be developing.  I wondered what I'd do if a fire were to develop suddenly in the canyon in which I was riding.
Smoke Free: The Rockies as viewed near the top of the pass on the way to Westcliffe
 Wildfires can also affect the races and events in the area.  While the vast majority of races go off without a hitch, it isn't always the case.  This year will mark my fourth year of triathlons.  During that time, I've participated in a total of nine triathlons.   Of those, one was delayed two weeks (Boulder Sunset Triathlon, 2010), one was moved to a different venue (HITS Fort Collins, 2012), and another had its bike course altered (Loveland Lake to Lake, 2012), all due to wildfires.  In other words, about a third of the triathlons that I've done have been impacted in some way by wildfires. I emphasize again that these things mean NOTHING in comparison to those folks that are losing their homes due to wildfires.  More than anything these fires cause me to count my blessings and to think about how fortunate I am to have what I have, and to be able to continue doing the things that I love to do.  

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