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, September 15, 2013

And the world will have less butterflies

This year has seen some extreme weather for our state.  Early in the summer, the area was plagued by devastating wildfires and it seemed that we would be confronting a long summer of drought.  I was certain that the devastation caused by the fires would only get worse.  It was hot, but the fires subsided after a few weeks, but not before hundreds of homes were destroyed.  Then last week, much of the front range was hit by unprecedented amounts of rain, which resulted in some of the worst flooding that the state has ever seen.  Several areas north of Denver including the City of Boulder, and the Big Thompson Canyon (I rode the canyon last summer) have been hit hard.
Entryway into the Big Thompson Canyon
We were very fortunate in my Southern Colorado town not to suffer the severe rain and damage that the rest of the Front Range has seen.  The area around Fountain Creek was inundated, but that's about it.  Still, it's strange to turn on the T.V. and see pictures of the devastation around CU, my Alma mater.  Here's hoping we've reached the end of it for the year.
Students were tubing through this tunnel the night before!
Maybe it was turning 42 years old on Friday the 13th, but Saturday morning I woke early and decided to add an additional three miles to my long run taking it from 12 to 15 miles.  I got my hydrapak ready and loaded up the iPod with a couple of pod-casts including one called "Talk Ultra," which, at nearly 4 hours in length is the only one I would really need.  Shortly after 6:30, I set out the front door at a nice steady 10:00/ mile pace.  The weather was cool and the miles just seemed to glide by.  In no time, I was turning around and heading back towards town.  During the last five miles, I decided to push the pace a bit harder and dropped it to about 8:30-9:00 per mile.  Although I felt pretty good, I was plenty tired and just a bit sore when I was finished.  I hit the sack early on Saturday night and got ready for my long ride the next day.
Last Sunday I rode west from my home and found the shoulder of the road to be a bit of mess.  There was debris all over the place ranging from wire, to broken glass, to pieces of tire.  Not the best for riding I discovered, when about 25 miles out, I managed to hit a discarded staple which put a nice hole in my tube, despite the thorn resistant tubes and flak jacket tires.  I spent a good 20 minutes on the side of the road working to patch it, but the only thing that was restored was my faith in humanity (I had no less than three people stop to offer assistance).   The tube lasted about 10 miles back towards town before I had to call Melisa for a pickup.  Bless her for doing this.
Last week's Strava entry says it all!
So this morning I decided it would be better to instead head east towards the test track, which really isn't a test track, but a nice quiet road just outside of town.  It gets its name from a DOT facility where they do something with trains (the word on the street is that they simulate train crashes which seems like a really fun job to have).  Given that there was much less traffic, I reasoned there would be less junk on the road as well.  I wouldn't have guessed what I'd find on the road instead!
It takes about 35-40 minutes to ride from my house out to the track. The annual Corporate Cup Ride was taking place this morning, so I was surprised by the number of cyclists and vehicles at the start of the road.  No matter as it looked like the event was winding down and I seemed to be the only cyclist heading east.  As I rode out onto the newly paved road something caught my eye.  I looked down and saw a fairly large yellow and black caterpillar just to left of my wheel.  Hadn't seen one of those in a while.  Then I saw another one.  And another.  Then five, then ten.  Before long there were literally hundreds of them, crawling back and forth across the road.  Sadly, the riders from the corporate cup seem to have taken a toll.  Fortunately, they only lasted about a quarter mile and as I climbed the short roller in front of me, they seemed to disappear altogether.  For a while, anyway.  Shortly after descending the second hill, I came across another patch of them, but this group must have lasted a good 4 miles.
You do not want to run over one of these things . . . but you may not have a choice!
They were everywhere and while I did my best to avoid them, let's just say, it was impossible.  Trying to miss was an exercise in concentration.  I would look forward about 10 yards and choose a line that I thought was safe.  Unfortunately, although caterpillars move slowly, are still a moving target.  I would see a small space a few inches wide between two of the little suckers, but as I rode closer, the gap would narrow, and under my wheel, I would hear the sickening squish of another victim.  Looking on the road however, I realized that the damage that my 700x28's were doing was nothing compared to the carnage being delivered whenever a car passed.  Worse still was the fact that this was an out and back route so I was going to have to traverse this all over again.
Glad there weren't thousands of these on the road!
Except for the death and destruction taking place on the pavement, the rest of the ride was uneventful. I made it past the caterpillars and even saw another not so little, multi-legged critter crossing the road.  I wondered if maybe all of the rain was to blame for this strange migration to the roads.  Perhaps the flooding triggered some sort of response that sent the caterpillars scurrying for higher ground?  I don't know, but I do know that after today, there will be fewer butterflies in the world.

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