Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Shredding a Flying Dog

Well, at least Kris shredded the Dog. Me, I was just doing my best not to lose his wheel! This was our first time on the Glenwild trails in Jeremy Ranch and while the ride didn't start out too well when I discovered 1 minute after leaving the parking lot that my CamelBak and keys were locked in the car, it turned out to be a fun ride regardless. Luckily I had my cell phone in a jersey pocket and was able to call my wife who agreed to meet us later with a spare key! At that point I still didn't have any water but another biker who was waiting for a friend in the parking lot loaned me a water bottle. Saved again! So we headed out the second time and since we'd just lost 15 minutes of ridetime Kris, as is his natural tendency, took off like a bat out of hell. What made this particular flight especially painful for me was the fact that the trail immediately began climbing. It wasn't a steep grade, and in fact none of the climbing over the course of the ride was difficult, but as many of you know, if the pace is high the climb doesn't need to be hard to inflict pain!

So if I remember the route correctly we started on Glenwild and then jumped on the Preserve Connector which dropped us off at the top of Flying Dog. We shredded the Dog (at this point, and on this particular downhill, I was riding well and stayed right on Kris' wheel) back down to Glenwild and then decided to do a quick run on Ant Farm. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you are and from what perspective you view mountain biking!) neither of us are downhillers, me even less so than Kris, so I was grateful there were no armor clad, low seatpost, full face helmet riders around to observe our making a mockery of their beloved downhill run. Thankfully (again, this is entirely dependent on one's perspective!) the trail ended quickly and we began the climb back to Glenwild and returned to the parking lot where Cami and the kids were waiting.

We were a little apprehensive about the weather but as it turned out we only encountered a few rain drops and heard thunder from a nearby storm that seemed threatening but never moved close enough to be scary. For me the cloud cover and cooler temperatures were a lucky break given my single bottle of water. Even so I ran out of water after an hour and rode the final 70 minutes dry. My legs started to run out of steam as I finished the run on Ant Farm and I'm not sure if it was due to the lack of water or if I just needed to eat something. I had a Cliff Bar, but without water I wasn't in the mood to force it down a dry throat. So looking back I suppose I experienced a little of what Fox feels on most of his long rides. Of course, he doesn't really start to feel it until he's ridden at least 4 hours whereas I started feeling it after 90 minutes!

Thanks to Kris for snapping some pictures of the trail. I need to get back in the habit of bringing a camera.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Bike Commute Day 2

Riding to work in the morning has been nice: The temperature is pleasant and there always seems to be a light wind blowing out of the south to push me along. Coming home, however, is a completely different story. Last week I was skirting the edge of a thunderstorm with gusty winds and intermittent rain. Today on the way home I was suffering in 100 degree heat and a steady head/sidewind. I drank two large bottles of water and could have used a third! I weighed myself before showering and saw 161 on the scale. Normally I'm at 162-163 first thing in the morning so I lost 1-2 pounds of water over the course of the ride. I don't know how everybody managed to race on Saturday without a neutral feed. Riding in the heat is tough, racing in the heat must be pure suffering.

Speaking of Saturday, in an effort to get Cami ready for the upcoming ULCER century we drove to Payson and did a nice ride out to Goshen and then back via Mona, Santaquin and Benjamin. We ended up with 56 miles and Cami rode at a nice, steady pace to finish strong. Towards the end of the ride I did a 3 mile TT on 5600 W which runs along the east side of West Mountain. It's a nice flat section of road with no stop signs and very little traffic. My time was 7:18 which happened to be a new personal best (of course, I haven't done a TT along this stretch of road since '05). Ideally I would have recovered and done a second effort on the same stretch of road but given that I was riding with others I didn't have a chance. Unfortunately I wasn't wearing my HRM strap so I don't know my average HR.

In other news, I was notified today that I had won the Hornet's Tour de France competition! That was a nice surprise and I can now look forward to a 6-pack of my preferred beverage.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Beautiful Ride

Given the threat of thunderstorms in the mountains this evening, what had originally been planned as an after work ride was transformed into a late lunch/early dinner ride. I met Kris at the top of Millcreek around 2:30 and we rode until just before 5. We headed up Big Water to Great Western to the Ridge Connector to Mid Mountain. We did a quick 3 mile out-n-back on MM to the top of Holly's and then headed back the way we had come. With the recent rain from last night's thunderstorms the trails were damp but not muddy - perfect conditions. And while the humidity was high it wasn't oppressive and served to magnify the natural smell of the woods. Best of all the dust was gone, both from the trails and the plants that line the trails. Everything looked, felt and smelled clean. And while there was a chance of more thunderstorms today, the weather cooperated and we enjoyed the cooler temperatures and partly cloudy conditions. All in all it was a fantastic ride.

One more thing I forgot to mention. I picked up a pair of the small Ergon GP1 grips this morning from Contender. My initial reaction after one 2 hour ride: Amazing. Yeah, those grips pretty much rule. Eventually I need to get a pair of the sweet green GX1 grips.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bike Commute Day 1

Yeah, so I pretty much suck at commuting to work via bike. Compared to Forrest I've got nothing. It's funny 'cause each time I ride to/from the office I think to myself, "You know, I should really do this more often" but for some reason it never seems to happen. Oh well, in my defense (and it's a weak defense I know) I drive a Honda Civic as opposed to some big, gas guzzling beheamoth of a vehicle. Poor justification I know. Anyway, door-to-door I'm looking at 19.5 miles each way and while the route isn't the most scenic, all things considered it isn't bad.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Second Hand Smoke Sucks

One of our local riders once said that he doesn't trust air he can't see. Well, for the past week our valley has been filled once again with smoke from surrounding wild fires. Combine the poor air quality with temperatures in the low 100's and you have the makings of a beautiful summer. Not really, but it does serve as another reminder that Utah is a state of extremes. It wasn't long ago that we suffered through a long stretch of below average temperatures during the winter months and now it seems we are doing the same this summer. Luckily my mountain bike provides a nice escape from the heat without which I'd be tempted to call it a season.

With regards to the Tour I'm not sure what to think. On the one hand it's certainly been an entertaining race thus far and Contador's relentless attacking has been nothing short of amazing. That Rasmussen was able to respond as well as he did today leads me to believe that he could very well ride into Paris in yellow. It's almost as if we have two races carried out at two different speeds: The race for yellow between two riders absolutely flying who so far haven't fallen victim to a bad day, and the race for the final podium position carried on by the crowd who seem unable to do anything besides follow wheels and complain about being left alone at the end of the race. On the latter subject, I must admit I was warming up to Cadel Evans after his solid TT and willingness to suffer in the mountains. However, his comments after today's stage turned me off:

"Twelve km from home and I am on my own, what am I supposed to do," the Australian complained. "Today I rode to conserve a little. Unfortunately the team hasn't got the budget to hire a rider who can close those gaps for me."

Uh, maybe it's just me but if you can't take care of yourself during the last 12km of a 196 km mountain stage perhaps you're not cut out to be a team leader? If Cadel had been fetching bottles and taking care of teammates the entire Tour like Chris Horner's been doing I wonder if he'd be in the lead group with 50 km left in the stage?

One other observation: Is there any meaning to the fact that, if Rasmussen hangs on to win the '07 Tour, the last two winners came from a mountain bike background? Throw Cadel in as a possible podium finisher this year and it seems that riding trails is the path to later success on the road!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Upper Millcreek to Mid Mountain

This evening's ride was a recon mission that whet my appetite for more time on the Mid Mountain trail. I rode with Ed, a friend from work, and since today was his first of 2007 on the upper Millcreek trails we started by knocking off the climb to Dog Lake via Big Water. We didn't both to actually drop in to the lake, instead dropping directly onto Little Water for a quick run to Great Western. We rode up Great Western to the overlook and began our exploration by taking the Ridge Connector in search of Mid Mountain. It didn't take long before we hit the first of many Mid Mountain signs and soon found ourselves at the intersection of MM itself. Due to time constraints (Ed has 7 kids and is always late for something...)we couldn't ride much of MM other than 5 minutes in each direction to check it out. Next time I'm up Millcreek I plan to drop down and spend some quality time heading north on MM. Today we climbed back to Great Western and headed down. Ed took Big Water but I opted for Little Water. While he was dodging hikers and slow riders I pretty much had the trail to myself.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Chickens can be mean

How'd you like to have a teammate say this about you? The Chicken wasn't too happy with his (former?) team leader Menchov today...

"I am very happy with today," said the skinny Dane. "Now there is no doubt about who is the captain of this team is. I stayed close to Valverde because he had another teammate up there. I felt like it was a victory for me to be able to fight back the 25 times Valverde tried to attack. I felt very clear in the head today seeing the tactics of the race. It was disappointing that Menchov couldn't get his ass over the Galibier. I think it's a climber's Tour."

The above quote was taken from today's Velonews Tour Summary report.

As far as my riding is concerned I tried to imitate the Chicken by doing the Suncrest double (climbed the north side, descended, then rode back up the south side) this morning. Unfortunately my performance was nothing short of dismal. For some reason I just can't climb fast. Maybe I should just accept this as fact and stop wasting my time. The problem is that for some strange reason I think climbing si fun. Well, fun in an extremely painful sort of way. Today I started and ended my ride with the guys from Team Inertia. Curt is finishing up his pre-tour training before jumping on a plane later this week for France. Thus far he has yet to secure a contract but given the current size of his calves, and the relative ease with which he completed intervals at 280 and 310 watts this morning, any team possessing a few grams of common sense would swap him out for one of their existing, lagging riders. With a little work, and a few gold chains as accessories, he could look like any number of European pros!

Monday, July 16, 2007


Remember when I said I used to be fat? At work today I came across this sweet picture of me taken back in the day and it cracked me up. I'm no Chicken mixing it up in the mountains of the Tour but yeah, I've dropped a few pounds over the years. I'd love to drop an additional 10 pounds but given where I started I figure I'm not doing too bad. Check it out...

Sly snapped this picture of me at the Draper ICUP in May:

Here's a shot taken of me at work sometime in 2002. I bought my road bike the fall of 2003.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I'm a wimp

Originally I had planned to race the Snowbird ICUP today but after my pre-ride Tuesday evening I pretty much decided to skip it. You see, the course just wasn't suited to my abilities. Not that I really have any abilities, but the few things I can sort of do ok on a mountain bike were not well served by this course. Basically you're either climbing or descending with a small amount of semi-technical singletrack thrown in to make you feel like you're not spending all of your time going up or down a cat track at a ski resort. Also, I should add that the downhill flat out sucks. I'm still learning to appreciate riding my mountain bike downhill but even with my limited dirt experience I know that the downhill at Snowbird is no good.

Anyway, my intention wasn't to dedicate this post to self-justification as the real reason I didn't race was alreay stated in the title. Let's just leave it at that.

So what I did do today was ride the Nebo Loop with Kris. I lived in Payson for 7 years, and while I only rode for 3 of those years, it was enough to make the move to Riverton painful. As RB can confirm, the riding in Utah County is fantastic. Each time I return to Payson I'm reminded of what I left behind. If it wasn't for the small fact that I work in downtown SLC I'd still be there.

We managed to get an early start, heading out from the church near the mouth of Payson Canyon at 7 am. We rode the loop clockwise, which meant we climbed first and finished with a hot 26 mile return to Payson via the frontage road along I-15 by way of Nephi, Mona and Santaquin. While the climb hurt (at 5,000+ feet of elevation gain I had no chance of avoiding pain!) our early start time resulted in very pleasant, cool temperatures on the way up. On the way down we ran into Kenny Jones and a group of other riders from Racer's in Provo heading up. I've never ridden the loop counter-clockwise but the thought of finishing with a nice, long descent is appealing. However, the climb up the south side, while a bit shorter, is much steeper and thus far I haven't had the courage to give it a go. Maybe later in the year...

Overall we managed to complete the 68.5 mile loop in just under 4:30. Kris' computer reported 5,500 total feet of elevation gain which sounds about right. If anybody with a GPS unit has ridden the Nebo Loop from the north I'd be interested to know the exact total elevation gain as well as the maximum altitude of the climb.

After the ride I pounded down a large bottle of chocolate milk which was good for a cool, refreshing 800 calories. However, I'm already hungry and am trying to figure out what burger joint I want to hit up for dinner. Nothing like a long, hard ride to bring out the craving for a burger, fries & a coke!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Who's riding outside?

I just read a report on KSL that states "...people should not be exercising outside -- period." You can check it out here.

Are people still riding outside? To be honest this kinda freaks me out. Is the air cleaner at higher elevations? I rode up AF Canyon yesterday and will be pre-riding the Snowbird ICUP course tonight. Hopefully I'm not doing any permanent damage...

Does the iPhone really exist?

I haven't seen one yet and neither have any of my co-workers. I'm beginning to wonder if somehow the iPhone craze is a big conspiracy to get people into Apple and Cingular stores... Let me know if you've actually seen and, better yet, used an iPhone. For the people in the latter category (if any are out there), do you like it?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Friends Don't Let Friends Break Collarbones

Unfortunately I failed in this regard today as my buddy Goat went down on the Great Western trail up American Fork Canyon this morning and broke his collarbone less than 10 minutes from the end of our ride. When it happened he was feeling good, enjoying the fun singletrack in the trees and catching a little air off of the many small root drops. All was good until he caught a bit too much air ahead of a slight left hand turn in the trail and landed in the soft dirt along the outside edge. When he tried to correct in order to stay on the trail his front wheel stuck and he caught some air himself as he flew over the bars. He assumed his collarbone was broken which was confirmed by the x-rays. Luckily (if any part of this experience can be considered the result of luck) the break is on his left side and he's right-handed. It's also a clean break though the two pieces of his collarbone overlap by 4.5 cm. The ER doctor at American Fork Hospital felt that the bone would heal naturally though to be safe he referred him to an Orthopedic Surgeon tomorrow for a second opinion.

For a couple of inspirational collarbone recoveries check out the stories of Dave and Lynda.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Boise Weekend

This weekend I managed to get in a little more than 4 hours riding the network of trails in the Boise foothills with my wife and brother. I was pleased that my health and legs were much better compared to the first half of the week. Overall the riding was mellow, but some of the trails did involve a fair amount of climbing. I was definitely working, but at a good, sustainable pace.

As always the food was fantastic with a dessert menu consisting of homemade apple and rhubarb pies (served ala mode of course!), raspberry cheesecake, chocolate cake and chocolate chip cookies. I'm not sure if my trips to Boise are helpful or detrimental to my training but man, they are sure tasty!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Riding at 11 am on July 4th is HOT

This morning Cami participated in the annual Tour de Riverton bike race. I say race because it's listed as such in the community schedule of events but really it's just an organized ride for fun. The course was a 25 mile loop contested by a wide range of cycling abilities. She rode strongly, mixing it up with the faster guys at the front. It's funny, normally she's pretty mellow, but when you put her in a group situation - especially with guys who think they are fast (you know how some rec riders can be!) - she can be competitive. Anyway, she had fun beating guys up the hills and scored a free breakfast afterwards.

What that meant to me is that I didn't start my ride until close to 11. I wasn't feeling the road bike and was debating between Upper Millcreek, Big Cottonwood (an out-n-back on the Crest or Solitude) or Little Cottonwood Creek. Since there was a fire burning on the Sandy bench I scratched the latter and for whatever reason didn't feel like driving to the top of MC or BCC. So I decided to stay close to home and ride some of the Draper trails. After reading Team Rico's report on conditions up Millcreek I'm glad I didn't head up any of the major canyons. The one drawback to Draper is the low elevation and lack of shade. I parked at the Equestrian Center and did a shortened version of the racecourse. I'd planned to do a full loop, even considering doing two, but midway up the fire road climb I came to the realization that it was extremely HOT and my 2 hour ride quickly became less than an hour. It was just too hot, dry and dusty to be really enjoyable. So to make myself feel better I ate way too much food at the afternoon family bbq. Gotta love the 4th of July.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Upper Millcreek Loop

Not sure if tonight's ride was really a ride due to a few sections of hike-a-bike. Since neither Kris or I had been up Little Big Water we parked at the top and jumped on the trail. Unfortunately it wasn't too far before I was hopping off the bike to start pushing... That climb is extremely steep and rocky! After reaching Great Western we headed up to the Crest. On the way we ran into Bart who was giving a group of summer interns a taste of Utah mountain biking. He mentioned that Little Big Water is a fun downhill so the fact that he didn't talk about riding UP the trail made us feel a bit better about our effort. Great Western was good as was the Crest. At the Desolation Lake overlook we dropped down to Mill D. Tonight was my first time on that section of trail and I think if I wasn't following Kris I'd have jumped off and walked a couple of the more technical sections. As it was I had a good wheel to follow and managed to descend in one piece and without putting a foot down. Many thanks to Kris for the good, accurate coaching from up front! We then headed up the trail to Dog Lake and soon found ourselves hiking again. That trail is STEEP and very loose with numerous water bars and exposed roots. At Dog Lake we jumped on Big Water but then turned onto Great Western again and climbed to Little Water for the downhill run back to the car. In terms of mileage the ride only came out to a little over 12 miles. However, with all the hike-a-bike total ride (and push) time was 2 hours.

For my first real ride in a week I felt pretty good. The start was rough up Little Water (I felt like crap on that section) but once I got warmed up I was ok. My cold is about gone and I'm hoping today's ride doesn't result in a relapse. I picked up some Airborne this afternoon and will take a few over the next couple of days.