Monday, May 14, 2018

Less Than Four Weeks!

Tour Divide Rig is Dialed in and Ready to Go
Geez it’s been almost a month since last posting and less than four weeks until the “Grand Depart”. A lot has happened in the last four weeks, and I thought I’d never say this, but I “think” I am ready for the Tour Divide. “Think” because, really, I have no idea what it is to be “ready” for a race like this. Anything can happen; however, I’ve done all I can do to prepare; trained like an obsessed mad man, tested my equipment over and over, had my wisdom tooth pulled, finger surgery, and finally got a saddle that works. One of my heroes, Tony O’Keeffe; RAAM, Ultra Ironman, Fighter Pilot, incredibly nice guy, among many amazing feats, gives a great presentation in this video.My take away from this, is Tony gets his confidence by ensuring he has done everything he possibly can to be successful before getting on the start line. I feel that’s what I’ve done. Although super nervous about the whole event, I am really beginning to get edgy and just want to get going. With work, training, High School Mountain Bike Team, Coaches Summit, logistics, household duties, running a business, and general life, things are pretty crazy.  I’m looking forward to being able to focus on eating, sleeping, and riding.
I Feel So Lucky to Live Here
Generally training is as follows: Strength training on Monday and 100 push-ups Wednesday and Friday. I learned from the Kokopelli adventure that I lack upper body strength. So, I’m really working on my core and hopefully improving that aspect. Tuesday and Thursday are rides with the High School Team. These young men and women are fast. We go 1.5 – 2 hours of hard fast riding that has me red lined. Some of the days I ride from work to practice, about one hour, 2 hours of pushing to the limit with the team, then an hour ride home. Sandwiched between those workouts is a Wednesday morning bike commute of 2 – 3 hours, then another commute home of 1 – 2 hours in the evening. 
Morning Commute
Friday, an easy recovery ride of low gears, high cadence. Then comes the weekend. 8 – 12 hours each day, with as many hills as I can find. Two weekends ago, I rode three hours before meeting the high school riders for a fast-hard loop on the Falcon Trail, then continued for another two hours after riding with them. I felt strong at the end and definitely could have ridden more but had commitments that afternoon. 
High School Team Ready to Hammer
The next day, with a fully loaded bike, rode 100+ miles and just under 10,000 feet of climbing in 12 hours. I feel pretty good about that. 

100+ Miles of Mountain Bliss
This past weekend just under 9,000 feet of climbing on Saturday, then another 6,000+ feet, mostly single track on Sunday. Saturday’s ride, during a climb up Gold Camp, a guy with two prosthetics from the knees down blew by me like freight train. No Excuses! 

My Back Yard - Blodgett Peak
Passing through the "Garden"
Overlooking Manitou Springs

I can’t explain this, but the more I ride the more I want to ride. Even when I’m tired, hurting, hot, cold, wet or just plain don’t feel like riding, I still want to find the next hill and climb it. I know on the Tour Divide there are going to be long sections that I will be miserable and hurting from every fiber in my body. I won’t feel like riding. That’s what I’m training for; to be able to push through those periods. It’s starting to get routine and I’m absolutely loving it. To be out in the mountains all day with friends and alone is truly a joy. Every day, I count my blessings and reflect how grateful I am to have this opportunity and ability to do what I truly love. And not only that, doing what I truly love to help those in need. Our Children’s National project for families with children’s heart defects is taking off and donations are coming in. I can’t thank everyone enough for supporting these kids and their families. As I’ve mentioned in the past, my employer, Plus3 IT Systems is matching donations up to $2,500. 

And through it all - Still find time to run with my bestest running buddy - Max

Just over three weeks to go. It’s going to be a great adventure!

Thanks for reading and your support of Children’s National.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Different Kind of Strength and Endurance

Last week’s Kokopelli Trail ride was very enlightening and much was learned. Things like adjustments to packs, packing things a bit differently, how to keep stuff dry in the rain, what food works and what doesn’t were all valuable lessons. The biggest take away however, was the amount of strength it takes to ride and push a fully loaded bike up steep mountain trails. This is a different world from riding an unloaded bike. It can be very exhausting pushing an unloaded bike up climbs that are too rocky and steep to ride. Pushing that same bike with an extra 20 lbs or so is incredibly hard. After 45+ years of running and biking, it is obvious I don’t have a lot of upper body strength. This was certainly evident during the hours of pushing my bike last week. With over 200,000 feet of climbing in the Divide race, and less than 8 weeks until start, I’m pretty nervous about that.

Sebby and Jamison Two Brave Kids with Strength and Endurance
But today, I want to bring to attention a different kind of strength and endurance. The strength endurance parents must go through when their child is born with a heart defect and must spend months in intensive care. The strength and endurance that doctors and nurses display, as they work day in and day out to save these kids, console parents, and always appear upbeat and positive. These are the real super heroes in my book. As I’ve mentioned in the past, in addition to doing everything I can to finish this race, I am also working with my employer to raise awareness for children with heart disease and money for Children’s National. The money is to help families who have to endure the long painful and expensive ordeal when their kids are fighting for their lives. Again, my employer, Plus3 IT Systems, is matching dollar for dollar up to $2,500 in donations, as well as giving me the time off to embark on this adventure.

With that, I would love for you to read a journal entry from a mother who has two sons that have spent the better part of their young lives in Children’s National, and how much the heroes of Children’s National have cared for the kids and parents alike. She really nails what strength and endurance is all about. I can’t read this without tearing up.

So, I have decided to dedicate this race to Jameson. He will be going in for heart surgery shortly after the start. I’m hoping to meet him before hand and he has made me more determined than ever to finish. When the suffering gets intolerable or the mind just thinks the body can’t go on, I’ll think of Jameson, his family, and all the other kids and families that depend on strength and endurance for not just days, but months and years.

Training this week:

Monday: Rest and recovery from Kokopelli

Tuesday: Cheyenne Mountain High School Club Practice – Forgot my helmet – Duh – Didn’t ride (think I needed another recovery day anyway).

Wednesday: Early morning MTB ride with Sunrise Striders. Start 5:30 am. Rode from home left at 4:45 but took 50 min to get there. Missed the start and had to catch up on the climb up the Chutes. Good hard ride: 2 hrs 42 min, 26.4 miles, 2,490 ft Climbing

The Sunrise Striders
Thursday: Cheyenne Mountain High School Club Practice – Legs were dead so worked with the less experienced riders. 2 hour ride with the kids then another hour on my own: 3 hrs 13 min, 19 miles, 2,677 ft of climbing

Friday: Recovery spin on indoor trainer: High cadence spinning to flush the lactate out of my legs: 1 Hr 2 min, 18 miles, Climbing N/A

Saturday: 3 mile Run with Max the dog, then four-hour ride in horrendous wind. Bob Seeger’s “Against the Wind” played in my head a lot: 4 hrs 9 min, 45 miles, 4,475 ft climbing

Sunday: Long Hilly MTB Ride: Rode for 1.5 hrs on trails up Blodgett Peak, then met Tom & Kevin for 4 hours of fast hard mountain biking with lots of climbing. Once they destroyed me, they went home and I continued to ride for another 4.5 hours, climbing everything I could: 8 hrs 55 min, 67 miles, 9,383 ft of climbing.

Riding with the "Boys"

Total for Week
22 hrs 13 min, 194 miles, 19,918 ft climbing 

Thanks for reading and your support for the kids and families at Children's National

And thanks to SRM Power MetersProCcyling, and Plus3 IT Systems among others for all of your support and positive encouragement!


Monday, April 9, 2018

Kokopelli Trail Fruita, Colorado - Moab, Utah

I’m going to start off by saying, “I severely underestimated how hard the Kokopelli Trail is. It is a legitimate test of will, stamina, and equipment for the Tour Divide Race”.

The Kokopelli Trail has been on my bucket list for quite some time. However, I never really researched it and assumed, other than Mary’s Loop, Lions Head, and the Troy Built trails, out of Fruita, the rest is all dirt roads. Boy was I wrong. There is some hard-technical riding throughout the route.

One of the best things that happened on this ride was hooking up with my friend Travis Ekenberg. When it comes to hard, epic rides, you couldn’t ask for a better riding partner. Travis was always positive no matter what went wrong, never even considered throwing in the towel regardless of how hard it got, and was just fun to experience this ride of a life time with.

Heading out with Travis on an Epic Ride

Without Travis, I may not have been able to complete this ride on my own. Travis researched the ride quite a bit and decided to cache water at three points along the route. I thought I could do it with two camelbacks and three water bottles, then find water to filter along the way – WRONG! Travis also downloaded an app that helped immensely with navigation which resulted in huge time saving. I planned on using maps.

Finally on the Trail

20 Miles of Technical Riding

Travis Enjoying the Trail

Trying to Keep Up with Travis

We started from Fruita at around 3:30 pm Thursday afternoon, with the goal of reaching Rabbit Valley before night fall, where Travis had cached water. Thirty miles – piece of cake. Except that thirty miles included 20 miles of some very tough technical mountain biking that was made all the more difficult with fully loaded bikes. 5 ½ hours later we finally arrived and it was dark. This made finding a campsite a bit difficult as we rode in circles looking for a designated legal campsite. Eventually we found one and it was approximately 11:00 PM before we finished setting up camp, cooking, and eating dinner. I can’t say enough good things about the freeze-dried backpacking meals. High in calories, nutritious and tasty.

Morning at First Campsite

Friday was a big day. We started out on fast fire roads that had us thinking we would be pulling into Moab later that evening. We weren’t even close. The rest of the day pretty much threw everything mountain biking can throw at you, except water crossings. Technical single track, deep sand, long rocky climbs, long rocky descents, and hike-a-bikes, which made for a long hard day. This was back country paradise; the scenery was amazing and we were loving every minute of it. We barely saw another soul until later in the afternoon when we approached the Dewey Bridge campground.

Travis Motoring Along

After being in the desert this seemed like a jungle

We realized after several hours that we were not going to make Moab the same day. We could see the LaSalle mountains in the far distance and knew we had to cross them before diving down to Moab. 

Knowing we still had the LaSalles  to cross - we weren't going to finish today

By the time we got to Dewey Bridge campground, about the halfway point, it was late afternoon and we were out of water. This is where what we call trail angels come to play. One of the campers at the campground came over to talk with us and of course asked if we needed anything. Next thing we knew, our camelbacks and water bottles were filled.

The Old Dewey Bridge - Now what?

We decided to push on from there. We faced an enormous, steep, rocky, long climb. By this point I was feeling it. Travis is much faster than me, even on his fat bike, and I had been pushing hard, and failing miserably, trying to keep up. This climb was the low point for me. Up until now, I was reveling in gratitude that at my age I can do rides like this. Now my thoughts turned negative and my-self conversation was more like “who do you think you are doing things like this? You’re too old for this stuff. What are you trying to prove anyway?” This climb was brutal and my back was starting to spasm from my heavy backpack. I tried to get myself out of the negativity. I thought of the low points in 100 mile runs, I’ve always manage to come out of them and this would be no different. I thought singing would help so I started singing quietly in a very strained voice “I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name, in the desert you can’t remember your name cause my legs are so F*****g tired I can’t turn the pedals any more”. Well that didn’t help, so the only choice was to keep going.

Travis Heading up the LONG, Steep, and Rocky Climb

This was my low point, climbing this at the end of a long day with a fully loaded bike

And it never seemed to end

I reached the top just before dusk, Travis wasn’t there but I could see his tracks going down the other side. The descent was every bit as rocky and technical as the climb. It didn’t take long before it was dark and I got to REALLY test my new Exposure high beam headlight. It works well. Finally, I came upon Travis, hiking up the hill looking for me. We both agreed that continuing to descend this trail in the dark was crazy and we would camp at the first flat spot we find.

The Next Morning Camp #2
View from Camp

Camp number two turned out to be an awesome location with incredible views the next morning. It rained a bit, which was an opportunity to test my bevy. It passed. After packing up and a quick breakfast of energy bars we continued our descent. We made the right decision, as it was probably at least another 30 minutes or more of steep rocky descending that would have been incredibly dangerous at night. Plus, we would have missed the incredible scenery!

Continuing our descent from the night before
This descent took us down to Fisher Valley from which we began our first climb into the LaSalle mountains. This was a very long climb that brought us into the snow line. It was not technical or super steep, just long. We ran out of water at some point. We searched the map and found a creek a quarter mile off the trail and down a hill. We rode down only to find it dry as a bone, with a small puddle here and there. Even though we were both out of water and dehydrated, we somehow knew that something would come our way. Stay positive, never give up. Earlier in the climb a group a ATVers passed by cheering us on with encouragement like “You’ve got this”, and “Way to go”. They were some of the very few people we saw on the trail the entire two days. It wasn’t long after our dry creek disappointment that they were coming back. They not only gave us water, but electrolytes, and offered us food. Trail Angels again. Ironically, shortly after getting re-supplied by our trail angels, we came across a stream. Since we still had another big climb and carried our water filters all this way, we stopped and topped off our camelbacks.

Trail Angels just at the right moment
Once we reached the top we had a fast-incredible descent that reminded me of riding in the Alps. Absolutely gorgeous! Once down, we immediately started our last climb. Of course, we both wondered why we couldn’t have just stayed up there, but that’s how the trail went. This climb started out on a newly paved road that eventually turned to dirt. It was a long climb back up to the snow line and I think it was the strongest I felt the whole ride. I even kept up with Travis for most of it!

Climbing the LaSalles

Close to the Top

Top of the first Lasalle Climb only one more to go! 
Finally, we came upon the final descent into Moab, which is part of one the epic rides of Moab; “The Whole Enchilada”.  We descended to where it intersects with Sand Flats road and headed down an incredibly fast and scenic descent all the way to Moab.

Coming out of the LaSalles - Now just one long descent into Moab!
 Once in Moab, Travis’s friends were waiting at the bottom of Sand Flats Road. They had been tracking us on the Spot Tracker and knew exactly where we were. Travis loaded up his bike, we said our goodbyes, did a couple fist bumps, and they headed back to Fruita. My plan was to ride back to Fruita.

It was late afternoon. I rode to a grocery store and bought some apples and bananas. Travis talked of apples and bananas during the ride and that was all I could think about. On my way out of town it started to rain. I stopped by the Poison Spider bike shop to re-supply with energy bars and electrolytes. My intent was to ride the road, about 35 miles to the Dewey Bridge campground, camp for the night, then hit the trail back from there. This would cut out the LaSalle Mountains. The shop guys told me that the weather forecast was severe thunderstorms through the night then clearing in morning. As I left the shop it began to pour. I debated checking into a hotel, then decided, camping in a rain storm would further test my equipment, so I checked into the Slick Rock campground.

Setting up and keeping my stuff dry in a downpour was a challenge but good experience. At least this campground had a hot shower which I took advantage of. I left my camp stove with Travis to reduce weight, but since the campground had hot water, I was able to make a decent dinner, then tucked into my bevy in the pouring rain. It kept me dry, and as predicted, the rain abated early morning.

I even had a picnic table!  
Putting on my smelly wet riding clothes in the morning was a challenge. At least I could go in the campground bath house where it was much warmer than outdoors!

With the exception of a very unlikely coincidence, the ride back to Fruita was non-eventful; which is good for a road ride. The trail I intended to ride near the Dewey Bridge campground was un-ridable. Due to the all-night rain, and the clay like mud, it would only take five feet before the tires were so full they couldn’t turn any more. So, I continued down highway 128, then through the “town” of Cisco, and approximately 40 miles on Interstate 70.

The "town" of Cisco, Utah

It really wasn’t bad, a huge shoulder and light traffic made it sorta/kinda pleasant. About three miles from Fruita, one of my best riding buddies, Tom Turney and his wife Peggy, were stopped on the side of the interstate. They were on their way back from Las Vegas and couldn’t believe it was me out there on the interstate just riding along. How about that for a perfect end to a great adventure?
Coming back into Colorado on I70

Tom & Peggy "Just happened to be driving by"

All in all it was a great experience. Under other circumstances I would consider this to be a highlight or goal ride for the year. With Tour Divide it is "only" a training ride. I think it was successful. A lot of lessons learned, I gained confidence in my equipment, and see where I need to make adjustments. Oh and the saddle is done. This was its last chance to get broken in. On my ride back from Moab, it was the only thing that was causing pain. It's had its chance and blew it. Time for a new saddle.

Finished another Epic Ride

Ride Stats 
Kokopelli: 154 miles, 17,024 feet of climbing, 21hrs, 52 min ride time
Back to Fruita: 90 miles, 3,379 feet of climbing, 6 hrs, 55 min ride time

Thanks for Reading


Monday, March 26, 2018

First Overnighter

Stepping up TDR preparation to the next level requires getting out on some overnighters to test physical and mental fitness as well as equipment. This weekend was the first of hopefully several overnight bike-packing trips. Perfect for learning what works and what doesn’t. I chose a 160-mile route of rugged canyons and climbs that I could do straight from the house.

Heading Out for an Overnighter
 My plan was to leave at 7:00 am and make it to Canon City by 5:00 PM then find a place to camp along Shelf Road heading toward Cripple Creek. As I was packing up and getting ready to leave, Max the dog, gave me his “you’re not going without me, are you?” look. I couldn’t bear it so I took him for a ~5-mile run/hike. Also had a work thing to follow up on, so my 7:00 turned into a 9:00 start.
Couldn't Leave without Taking Max on Run/Hike
I began with the steepest climbs I could find to test my gear choice. My bike came with a 32-tooth front chain ring, but I thought that was too easy so changed it to a 34. With the extra weight of all the equipment, I wasn’t sure this was the smartest decision. So right off the bat I headed up Rossmere Street, which is a street I often use for steep hill repeats on my road bike. Slow going, but no problem. Next – High Drive. Felt great, even passed two other mountain bikers. On both climbs I never used my easiest gear. I think I’m good.

Climbing High Drive

Once up High Drive, I started the long grind up Gold Camp to Victor. Although I’ve ridden Gold Camp more times than I can remember, the scenery still blows me away. I can’t help but appreciate this amazing place right outside my door, every time I’m up here. After about four hours of mostly climbing I stopped for lunch at a scenic spot overlooking Colorado Springs. Peanut butter sandwiches are so good during long rides. I have my riding buddy Kevin Cahn to thank for that revelation.
Stopping for Lunch Overlooking Colorado Springs

No Matter How Many Times I Ride Gold Camp I'm awed by the scenery
After seven hours I reached the final climb into Victor. It’s a steep pitch that tops out at 10,200 feet. I thought that the climb was pretty hard and at first, I attributed it to seven hours of mostly climbing and all the extra weight. Then I realized, “Well duh, I’m at 10,000 feet. It’s supposed be hard”.
The Air is a bit Thin up here
After a quick stop in Victor, headed down Phantom Canyon. An approximately 25-mile descent through incredible scenery. Pictures or video cannot even come close to doing it justice. You just have to see it. The feeling of cruising down the canyon on a bike surrounded by such wonder just cannot be adequately described. It’s incredible. I wanted to make Canon City before dark, but I couldn’t help but stop and take pictures. But there is so much to photograph, I’d still be there trying to capture it all. I got a few, but it was getting dark, so had to keep moving.
Heading Down the Canyon at High Speed is Exhilarating!

One of Several Tunnels along the way

Some Rough Country
Pulled into Canon City around 7 PM just as it was getting dark. Stopped at a gas station and bought a couple apples and orange juice. About the only things they had that I consider edible. With that I took a break, ate a little bit, then started up Shelf Road toward Cripple Creek in the dark.

I was still feeling pretty good at this point and felt I could ride for at least a couple more hours. My lights have not come in yet, so I was using my low powered commuting light which only has a battery life of two hours. As much as I felt like continuing to ride, I decided to look for a place to camp, for two reasons; one, the limited life and light of my headlight, and two, I didn’t want to get too high up the climb, because the higher I got the colder the night would be. Actually, there are three reasons. I didn’t want to miss out on all the amazing scenery.

After a few miles I found a place alongside a creek that seemed plenty isolated. The rush of the creek was soothing and view of the stars incredible. I’ve always loved camping in the mountains or desert. The view of the stars without the light pollution of civilization should be experienced by everyone at least once.
In the morning, I found it a bit tough to get out of my bevy and get started. With the temp around 28 degrees F, it was a tad cool. I also need to re-think this bevy thing. At least in a tent one can get dressed inside. In a bevy there is no room to maneuver, so you have to get out to get dressed. On the divide there will be mornings (and nights) that it will be raining or snowing. Gonna have to think about this a bit.

Campsite turned out pretty nice despite finding it in the dark
Filter Water for refills and Oatmeal
After refilling water bottles and making cold oatmeal with the filtered creek water I was on my bike at 7:30 ready to take on the 19-mile climb to Cripple Creek. I am so glad I decided to wait until daylight to ride this climb. The scenery is stunning! Again, pictures cannot do it justice. I could have stopped every 100 feet to take pictures but needed to keep moving. After a day of riding and all the extra weight, this climb was both beautiful and brutal. I love to climb, but I have to admit, after about three hours my fun meter was pretty much pegged. It seemed the last 5 miles were particularly steep, but again, I’m sure the altitude, approaching 10,000 feet had something to do with that.
Starting the Climb up Shelf

One of Many Awesome Rock Formations

3 Hours and still Climbing

Are We There Yet?

View from the Top

An Old Mine - First Sign Cripple Creek is Near
Finally Cripple Creek
Finally, after just under four hours I came upon Cripple Creek. I planned to stop and eat lunch there but decided to keep going. It was a pretty good climb out of Cripple Creek on pavement to Victor, where I stopped for lunch. I couldn’t find a good spot out of the wind, and at just under 10,000 feet the wind is cold. So, I kept going. After a few miles on Gold Camp, I found an old abandon cabin that provided good shelter from the wind and an awesome view. Perfect spot. Another peanut butter and Jelly sandwich, the rest of my orange juice, an energy bar, and I was set for the final push home.

Heading to Victor

Lunch Break
The rest of the ride was pretty easy, once I hit the high point of Gold Camp it was pretty much all downhill into Colorado Springs. A bit of a wake up coming into the Cheyenne Canon/High Drive trailhead where there were literally hordes of people and cars. Riding through Colorado Springs among the traffic and noise after two days of peace and quiet reminded me that I was back.

To my amazement I was feeling really good on the climbs going toward my house. I decided to take a hillier route home, and when I got home, I was feeling so strong, I did a couple ½ mile hill repeats for extra credit. Granted they were slow, but they felt good. Must be the lower altitude!

So, I consider my first overnighter a success. I enjoyed it beyond description. I felt like I could have ridden for hours more each day. However, this was also a learning experience. Some lessons learned:
  • My water bottle setup needs improvement. One of them started to come loose, so I’ll have to do a little more fiddling to get it to last multiple weeks. 
  • My Garmin doesn’t seem to work well in “battery save” mode. I got about three miles into the start and it showed zero miles, as the Garmin was still trying to “acquire satellites”.  This happened several times, so I left in in normal mode. 
  • Backpack is not a good idea. Although, it wasn’t terrible, it was heavy and started to wear on my shoulders the second day. I still have bike packs on order. This will alleviate the backpack issue.
  • Need to re-position Garmin and bring the right size hex key. Couldn’t disconnect the spare battery for re-charging. Didn’t have the right size hex key to take off the holder. Luckily the battery lasted the entire ride. 
  • Keep baby wipes in their own plastic bag. Otherwise they dry out. 
  • Saddle still not broken in. This was the only source of serious pain during the entire ride. If this thing doesn’t get comfortable soon, will need to consider a different saddle. 
  • Freeze dried camp food is pretty good, even with cold water. Just have to let it soak a little bit. Didn’t have a stove. It’s also pretty filling.

Ride Stats: 161 miles, 13.645 feet climbing, Total Time: 31hrs 57 min, Actual Moving Time: 16hrs 54 min, Avg normalized power 143 watts.

Completing a ride like this makes me feel a deep sense of gratitude. Grateful that at my age I can still do stuff like this, grateful that I live in Colorado with this giant playground right outside my door, and grateful that I can follow my passion and use it to help support a good cause. And finally, one does not do this alone. There are so many people and organizations that are helping and supporting this adventure. First and foremost, my employer Plus3 IT Systems for their support and promotion of Children's National, ProCycling, SRM, friends and family. I could not do this without you.

Weeks Training Log 19 - 25 March:

Monday: Rest Day
   AM: Trainer Ride with Sprint Intervals - 56 Miles
   PM: Commute from Work - 6.5 Miles
   AM: Commute to Work - 7.5 Miles
   PM: Commute from Work (Long Loop) - 23.5 Miles
   AM: Commute to Work - 25.5 Miles
   PM: Commute from Worm - 15 Miles
   AM: Commute to Work - 7.2 Miles
   AM: Run/Hike  - 4.7 Miles, Overnight Bike Pack - 161 Miles

Week Total: 287 Miles, 19,245 feet of climbing, 31 Hrs 22 min

Thanks for Reading - larry