Summer’s here and the time is right…

This post is going to feature a surprisingly small amount of racing.  You’re welcome Mom.

I didn’t write after the last race, which was Michigan about 10 days ago.  That’s because we flew straight to Kentucky for a test, which is such a short flight I’m not even sure if the wifi came up.  Michigan was a frustrating weekend on the track.  We had a good car, and probably a 50/50 shot at the win, until 15 laps in when we spun while effectively leading.  Michigan has always seemed to be the kind of track for FRR for some reason.

It was a fun weekend, because as I’m sure you can imagine, it’s my home track.  I believe it’s about 2.5 hours from London.  As a result, I get to see people from home.  I had dinner with my Mom Thursday evening, a group of friends including my best university friends (Karin and Alex) came and camped for the weekend, and my cousin Jason and some of his buddies came down.  If anyone wants to know how to do a weekend staying at the racetrack, talk to Jason, he’s got it figured out.  Then on Sunday, I got to catch up with a guy (Tom) that I used to race go karts with many moons ago.  I always enjoy showing new people around, and seeing that look as they start to understand what it is that we actually do, and how much goes into it.

So after that we had a single day testing in Kentucky, which was fine if relatively uneventful.  That’s about the best you (I) can hope for from a test.  We flew back to Denver that Monday night, and I spent a few hours trying to get more settled into my new apartment before the afore-mentioned Alex landed in Denver for a mini vacation during my off week (last weekend).

The big plan for the week was to go white water rafting just outside of a town called Salida, which is a couple of hours south of Denver.  Alex is a car guy that enjoys driving, so I figured I should take him up Pikes Peak on the way there.  It being the week before the race, I figured there was a pretty good chance it would be open, and indeed we were able to get all the way to the top.  Unlike the other times I have been there, it was rather busy.  And this creates an issue when there are people going excessively slowly through the fun sections…suffice to say, this is the first time having a red car got me in a little trouble.  But we made it to the top (and then back down) and had a great time.  The view was stunning as always, and it was a beautiful day for it – about 40 F but sunny and clear, with a few piles of snow still lying around the top.  I always get a coffee when I’m at the top, partly because I feel like it will help me with the relative lack of oxygen, and partly because everything is supposed to taste better at elevation.  Sadly this time, they didn’t have any chocolate donuts…

From there we headed West and South to Independent Whitewater (IW), our camping and rafting destination about an hour or so past Pikes Peak.  I thought the drive was stunning, not just from the mountains that we crested and in the distance, but also for the valleys.  I read and really enjoyed the book ‘Into the Wild’ a few years ago (highly recommended) and this is the first time I can remember seeing the scenery that I pictured in my head when I read that book.

Upon checking in at IW, we headed into Salida for dinner and some supplies.  Salida is a very small little town in what feels like the middle of nowhere.  Downtown was kind of cool, the river flowed right through it, and they had setup some different types of water courses that could be observed from the bridge.  We returned to IW, setup camp, and had a camp fire.  While it was about 95 F all day (all of the last 9 days actually) it fell to about 40 F over night, which was quite nice for sleeping.

We were up early the next morning to begin our assault on Browns Canyon, the first planned rafting destination.  Sadly the second day target, the Royal Gorge, was unavailable due to too high a water level and flow.  Apparently we were about 2 weeks early.  But as it turned out that wasn’t a big deal, as we wore ourselves out the first day.  We rafted 24 miles from our drop in almost all the way back to our camp ground.  There were some great rapids, a ton of paddling, and some spectacular scenery.  But I think I can speak for all of us when I say we were glad to be picked up, driven back to camp, and able to crack open a beer.  We earned it.

The next day was a little quieter and much more relaxing, an 18 mile raft on the other side of Salida.  This allowed us to finish earlier, and get headed back in the direction of Denver in time to make trivia night at an Irish Pub that I hadn’t been to before.  My fingers are crossed for live music there…

Friday morning I went in to work for a few hours, there were a few things I had to get done before the weekend.  That afternoon, Alex and I did Ryan’s Rino Craft Brewery Tour: Our Mutual Friend, Ratio and Epic.  The beers were delicious as always, and we had a great time catching up.

Saturday we walked to my favourite local coffee shop (Carbon) for breakfast, and then up to my new local Brewery, Little Machine.  I hadn’t been there before, but it’s a great little spot with some delicious beer options.  We left with a growler to take back to the pool, and spent the rest of the afternoon watching the US open and swimming.  It seems like the pool will be a fun place to hang out on the rare occasion that I am able to.

Saturday night was planned to be a night out with the softball team which I was looking forward to.  We met at a place called Tap Fourteen, which is a cool roof top patio downtown.  From there we wandered to Howl At The Moon, which is a dueling piano bar, and just about my favourite place in Denver so far.

Sunday was a lazy day, just the way I would spend them given the choice.  We watched some of the US open, then wandered into town for lunch.  Then I drove Alex to the real airport to catch his plane back to reality.

And that’s most of the excitement to report.  I’ve been back to work this week, and working on settling into my new apartment otherwise.  It’s quite small, but it will work once I get it all sorted.  And now I’m on my way to Sonoma, California.  This should be one of the better weekends, I’m excited for a road course, and it’s quite a nice part of the country to have to work for a few days.  Fingers crossed it goes well…

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