I've been waiting for the Zazoosh photos before posting about Saturday's ride but decided I should at least publish the story and add the pictures when they become available. Speaking of which, I have high hopes that they will turn out great. How could they not given that we were sporting two of the best looking jerseys on the road. You see, Cami and I both chose to wear our Fat Cyclist jerseys instead of those we had received from our team - Lifetime Fitness. Based on the comments it seemed that people really liked them, my favorite being directed to Cami by a guy who remarked, "You're not fat!" I was a little offended that he didn't say the same thing to me, as I assumed his silence implied that I was. Of course, he also may have been trying out a new pick up line and didn't realize until he rolled past me that the two of us were together, at which point he was too embarrassed to open his mouth again!
Astute readers will have realized that the official distances for the 2008 MS Best Dam Bike Ride were 40, 75 and 100 miles. Cami and I, however, completed 87 miles. Based on how the 100 mile route was configured I wouldn't be surprised if we weren't the only people who cut it a bit short. As the 75 and 100 mile routes diverged, we decided to go for 100. However, after two consecutive stretches of extended, uninspiring, straight road we found ourselves at Rest Stop 5/6. By now it was getting hot, and my stomach, which had bothered me since we started, was really starting to react poorly to food. Basically I felt like puking after eating anything other than bananas. So besides a Sprite and Larabar I forced down at the lunch stop, from this point on I ate nothing but bananas. And it was at this point that we decided to skip the short out-and-back section and continue towards the finish. You can see the "lollipop" section of the route in the upper-left corner of the map that we missed.
Prior to embarking on the century-specific route the temperature had been cool, scenery green and varied, roads varied and smooth. We also rode much of this section with Dion, a friend and co-worker. This was his first experience with an organized ride and he put in a strong effort, finishing the 40 mile route in under 3 hours. He also scored big in the donation category, raising more than $500 for the fight against MS. His parents live in Logan so we were able to sleep at their house Friday night and return following the ride for a shower, snack and quick nap.
Here's a picture of us before we drove to the start:
After that point it seemed that the road surface deteriorated, the surrounding country appeared dry and parched, and the temperature soared. Looking back I'm not sure if the difference was real or perceived due to my growing discomfort or the heat. Regardless, if I had the chance to do it over I would have forced myself out of bed earlier to make the 7 am start. As it was we ended up leaving closer to 7:45 am which didn't seem like a big deal at the time but once it got hot and we still had a couple of hours remaining we realized our mistake. Luckily I had no difficulty taking in fluids and took full advantage of the Honey Buckets at all but one rest stop. Considering the MS ride had a stop every 10-12 miles it's clear I was able to stay well hydrated! For lunch they had a few different varieties of sandwiches available. Cami chose ham and remarked that it actually tasted pretty good. As I mentioned earlier, I skipped lunch due to my stomach hitting rock bottom at this point. Maybe the Sprite calmed things down but at all subsequent stops I was able to eat bananas with no discomfort and finished the ride feeling pretty good.
As far as our bikes were concerned everything worked great with our only mechanical being a flat rear tire that I suffered not more than 100 yards after leaving the lunch stop. This was my first flat of the year and while it proved somewhat annoying, there was a shady section of lawn just off the road so I was able to change the tube in relative comfort.
Towards the end of the ride I noticed a photographer positioned up ahead on the side of the road. I motioned Cami to ride up beside me and we rolled past him together. To that point Cami had ridden the majority of the distance on my wheel, though whether she was actually close enough to realize any benefit from drafting is debatable. However, once we approached the finish she kicked in the afterburners, shifting up a few gears and hammering out of the saddle after stop signs and lights. It was fun to see and kept me on my toes as I worked to stay with her. I think the surge was due partly to a gal who, as she passed us, yelled "Go Fatty!" to Cami. I'm sure she meant no disrespect by the comment, but it served to energize Cami as she accelerated to stay close to the lady.
We finished with a time of 5:47 which worked out to an average speed of 15 mph for the 87 miles. There was 1,262 feet of elevation gain (according to my Suunto T6) and my average heart rate was 129 (if it wasn't so long it would have made for a nice recovery ride). Cardio wise I felt fantastic. Physically I suffered a bit, with my hands, triceps and sit bones all rebelling after 4 hours. Cami did great. Her contact points were sore too, but given that her longest ride was the Saturday before and just over 3 hours I'd say she did great. In my opinion organizided rides aren't about hammering anyway, if you want to pin it you should be racing. Next year we're talking about skipping the MS ride to avoid fundraising burnout (thanks to my generous friends, family and co-workers I was able to raise $250 for me and $310 for Cami) and do the Cache Valley Century instead.
Wow. I never realized how popular Elden's blog really was until he included a link to my site as part of his triathalon post. Thus far today I've had 410 people visit my blog, the majority of which were referred from Fat Cyclist. Check it out:
Yeah! The Solitude Series rocks. Seriously, come out next Tuesday and try it. I'd be willing to bet you'll get hooked. Speaking of which, what is it about racing that keeps you coming back for more? In all honesty racing is painful. Tonight I was dying on the climbs, especially the section of narrow, rocky singletrack that criss-crossed through the ski run. Dang, that stuff hurt! Yet, when the race was over I almost immediately started thinking about next week and what I need to do differently. The course doesn't really suit me with the long, technical climb and rocky, loose, narrow, twisty downhill, but for a training race it couldn't be better. It directly addresses my weaknesses and thus provides the perfect opportunity for improvement. My time tonight was 1:02. Look for that to improve each week.
Many, many thanks to Elden (aka the Fat Cyclist) and everybody else who helped with, and participated in, Saturday's festivities. As far as triathalons go I'm pretty sure this was a good choice for my first event. Unfortunately I ended up with a DNF due to my DNS in the second event, descending the Sliding Rock. Yeah, if you haven't figured it out already, I can be a little tentative on the technical downhills! Having said that, now that I know what to expect I can work with my coach to create a training plan specifically designed for triathalon dominance in 2009. We are doing this again next year aren't we?
While the official results haven't been posted yet, from my perspective - and based on feedback from the other observers - Kris totally owned the Sliding Rock. I mean seriously, what can compete with this?
I fared much better in the other two events, completing the Everything and a Bag of Chips ride and polishing off two brats & bread, a large serving of potato salad, potato chips (salt tastes so good after a long, hard ride in the sun), cookie and Diet Coke with Lime.
The ride was good fun and impressive not only for the great turnout but also the high percentage of riders rolling 1-gears. This was my first time seeing Elden, Kenny, Adam, Rick, Dug and Eric (aka Sleepy) riding their singles and dang, those guys sure make it look easy. Brad was also in attendence and as always seemed to just float up the trail. Speaking of Brad, he was kind enough to fill the free bottles that Bob, acting on behalf of Team Revolution, gave away with CarboRocket. I scored a sweet pink bottle and don't know if I would have survived the heat (the high temperature Saturday was 98!) if not for the CarboRocket.
Hog Hollow was warm, Jacob's Ladder loose, New Ghost Falls rough, Clark's hot and the Chute death defying. What a great 2 hours of riding, made all the more enjoyable by the many other riders with which to share the experience.
And last, but certainly not least, was the final event. I think all rides should end with brats! Tasty, tasty, tasty! Again, I was rather new to this competition and only managed to consume two brats. Weak. However, next year I plan to double my intake and throw down at least four. I'll incorporate brat eating into my weekly training plan to ensure I continue to build on Saturday's effort. The raffle was awesome even if I didn't win anything. Matt had better luck and won a sweet 2007 Fat Cyclist jersey (limited edition pink) that Elden had planned to give to Floyd Landis at last year's Leadville 100. I did not leave empty handed as I scored a sweet boomerang, another Revolution water bottle, some stickers and a cool little Banjo Brothers pocket messenger bag to carry my loot back to the car.
This morning I needed to complete a set of 5x30 second intervals so decided to take the scenic route to work. My plan was to do the intervals up Millcreek Canyon so I picked a route that took me over to the east side of the valley. Starting north on 1300 W I dropped 5400 S to 700 W to Vine Street. I rode Vine St east until it curved to the south where I turned onto 5600 S to continue east. 5600 dumped me out on Highland which I exited via Walker Lane. When I saw that Walker would dead end I turned onto Cottonwood Lane which led me to Holladay Boulevard. I rode north on Holladay and picked my way through the neighborhood to Lincoln Lane. East to 2300 E to 3900 S to Wasatch. After my interval up Millcreek I continued on Wasatch to the bike path over I-80 and then stayed on Foothill to Sunnyside to 1300 E to 200 S to 400 E, finishing at South Temple.
A convoluted route for sure but it's always fun to discover new roads.
Changing subjects, Alder and I had so much fun at the RSL soccer game Wednesday night I decided to buy season tickets for the remainder of the season. I found a guy on KSL Classifieds that had just adopted twins and was looking to unload his tickets. The price was right and the seats are great: Section W12 (mid-field, on the west side, in the shade) and Row 10.
This morning I set off for the office with my mountain bike and associated gear so I could go straight to the Wednesday night race at Soldier Hollow. However, it wasn't more than an hour after leaving the house that I fell victim to the racing curse placed on me by Warren. You see, yesterday, while chatting about the possibility of leading a group of IMBA members on a ride this weekend, I had mentioned my plan to do the Wednesday night race. At the time I didn't realize the consequences that would result from such an innocent comment. Now, looking back on our conversation after my experiences today, I'm beginning to understand that talking to Warren about a race will set in motion a sequence of events that will prevent me from participating. In fact, it wasn't 5 minutes after I'd finished a quick conference call with a client that a friend (who also happens to be a co-worker) asked if I'd like to go to the Real Salt Lake game tonight at 7 pm. He was stuck attending a wedding and wouldn't be able to use his two season tickets. It is relevant to note that his seats happen to be located on the 40 yard line, in row 3. Obviously I had no choice but to accept his generous offer. My 8-year old son was super excited to go with me, having just finished his first season of city league soccer. So the race was off, the soccer game was on, and all that remained was to figure out what to do with all of the mountain biking stuff I had with me in the office. After a quick chat with Kris that issue was soon resolved: We would meet later that afternoon to ride the Deer Creek South Fork loop in American Fork Canyon. After the ride I'd jet home, shower, grab a bite to eat and drive to the game. A plan that I'm happy to say worked out perfectly.
There's a neighborhood park near my parent's home in Boise that features a small pond. Last year we tried unsuccessfully to catch a frog. I told Alder we could try again on this trip so today (after days of him asking me when we were going frog catching again...) before lunch we drove over to give it another go. Not 5 minutes after arriving we spied this monster sunbathing and managed to scoop him up in our net! This is by far the biggest frog I've caught and the kids were beside themselves with excitement. We took him back to my parent's place where Alder released him in the ditch that runs through their pasture.
Today goes down in the history books as my first official mountain bike ride on the singlespeed. What did I think? It was a ton of fun. Way better than I had imagined. Leading up to the ride I was nervous about my ability to get up the climbs. To be honest, the combination of a fully rigid bike with a single gear was very intimidating. I was nervous and worried.
Boise is home to a great network of trails in the lower foothills. Most are non-technical, with a surface of hardpacked dirt covered with a fine layer of sand/small rocks. Climbs are minimal, at least at the lower elevations where I rode today, and while some are steep, they are short, not lasting longer than a minute. It was that combination of slippery surface and steep grades that I feared. Since I'd be climbing out of the saddle I was worried about 1) Not having the strength to pedal up the hill, and/or; 2) Losing traction with my rear wheel and spinning out. In reality I was pleased to find that neither of the above proved to be an issue. I had no trouble turning the cranks and enjoyed great traction. In short, the climbs were almost easy. That seems counterintuitive given the large (compared to what I'd normally use) gear I was turning, but for whatever reason climbing on the singlespeed just felt good.
On the other hand, going down was a bit of a challenge. While I wouldn't consider it a technical trail, Hulls Gulch has a few rocky sections and descending on the fully rigid bike was a new experience. Remember that nervous/fearful sensation you get in your gut when you're about to try something for the first time? It's been a while since I felt that on my mountain bike and today it was out in full force. Some sections I rode well, others I put a foot down and then forced myself to turn around and ride again. Riding those rocky sections made it clear that I need to convert my wheels to tubeless ASAP. Running at 40 PSI, I was getting thrown around as my wheels bounced off the rocks. Next time I'm going to try 35 PSI but ideally I'd like to run something in the high 20's.
Another fun aspect of today's ride was that I enjoyed the company of my Uncle Steve. And while we've logged many miles together on the road, today was the first time I'd ridden with him on the dirt. It was great fun and brought back a flood of memories from my youth.
Cami and I snuck out of the house to do some spectating at the Tour of Eagle Criterium tonight. The P-1-2 race was scheduled to start at 9 pm but didn't roll out until closer to 9:20 pm. On the first corner of the first lap there was a crash. Luckily it wasn't too bad and most of the field escaped unscathed. About 20 minutes into the race, however, another crash occurred on the same corner taking out probably 5-8 guys. Somehow Uhl had the magic touch and wasn't involved in either, riding strongly and safely to finish with the main field. Speaking of the finish, perhaps Uhl can comment and shed some light on the situation but it appeared that the group decided the race had become too dangerous and neutralized itself, rolling easy the last 2 laps. A Bob's rider was off the front and soloed in for the win. There were lights up on all of the corners but it looked as if the remainder of the rectangular course was pretty dark. A nice sized crowd was out enjoying the race and a live band was playing in a park that bordered the course.
Congratulations to Uhl for hanging in there and finishing the race in one piece!
UPDATE (from Uhl): It wasn't really a protest, there was a really bad crash (worst of the night) on turn one with 5 laps to go. There was still carnage on the ground when we came around again, and many of the riders were concerned about those involved in the crash. So it was the pack's decision to neutralized ourselves.
I think most of us thought we would get a re-start, but since Calvin pretty much had it won and Erik was still on the ground after we ran out the remaining laps, no one pushed for re-start. With Fun Days going on and the already delayed race, it probably wasn't even feasible.
Anyway, I was glad I used my strategy of always being on the inside in a 4-corner crit. That way there's no way someone else can take you out, and you always have an "out" by tightening your turning radius during the turn. It helps if you know how to counter-steer. :-)
Is it too early to bid farewell to Spring, who has long overstayed her welcome? To be honest I'm not prepared for Summer. Jumping from the 60's and 70's into the 80's and 90's in a rough transition for me. However, given the extremes we've experienced this year with the weather, perhaps it's the only way that makes sense. At any rate, it's warm outside and about to get hotter.
This morning I met Greg, one of my old college roommates at the Draper Equestrian Center for a conversational lap of the race course. He just finished dental school in Maryland and is on his way to Tucson for a year of residency. Even though Greg grew up in Pleasant Grove, today was the first time he'd sampled the Draper trail system and needless to say he was quite impressed. I think many of us take for granted how good we have it when it comes to outdoor recreation. Most of us can roll out of bed and be skiing, riding or hiking within 30 minutes. Get out and enjoy it.
Even though I was the only guy who showed up without his better half, I enjoyed the ride with Steve, Drew, Jim, Andy and their wives. We climbed Millcreek Canyon on the road until Elbow Fork, then rode Pipeline down to Rattlesnake Gulch and finished with a short stretch of pavement. The trail was in fantastic condition and we encountered a few, but not many, hikers, bikers and dogs. My new tires felt better, though today I discovered they're quite loud on the road at 40+ mph. They are non-UST tires mounted tubeless and I've had a difficult time getting my rear tire to maintain pressure overnight. Not wanting to end the ride with a soft tire, I overinflated it by 5 psi to compensate for any potential leakage. The good news is that it held air fine for the 2 hours. The bad news is that my rear tire was skipping around on the rocks due to the extra pressure.
I apologize for the lack of pictures. The scenery was amazing but unfortunately I left my camera at home. If you haven't ridden Pipeline yet this season do it now!
Today saw me take my first ever top ten in the Sport Men 35-39 category. Sweet right? Well, not really. Here's why not:
1) I finished in 8th place 2) There were only 8 riders in my category
So when put in the proper context, I actually scored my second DFL of the year. Yeah, not so great. However, I did manage a (for me) respectable start and actually hit the top of the initial climb to Little Stick within two bike lengths of Warren and Stephen. In fact, at that point in the race I actually thought I could manage a decent finish. So what happened?
Basically, to put it bluntly, I really, really sucked going downhill today.
This was my first race on a wet/damp/muddy/tacky course and I struggled with the perception that the trail was slick. At times it was, but more often than not it wasn't, yet I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that I could go faster. I started paying more attention to who was catching up to me (so I could pull over and let them by) rather than focus on riding. At times it got so bad that I would let one person by, see another close behind them and wait to let them by only to see yet another and wait a bit longer to let them by too. To say I was extremely courteous would be an understatement. I was probably the most accomodating racer on the trail today. If there was an award for good citizenship I would have won it.
Regardless, it was a fun race. The trail is sweet and under the right circumstances (i.e. good weather and with a few pre-rides under my belt) I think I could manage a respectable finish. And after leaving my shoes at home last year just being able to take the start today was an improvement!
As I mentioned in a comment on Todd's blog I have yet to actually ride my new single speed on a trail. However, in my defense, not only have I been sick, but I also suffer from a very finicky body as far as bike fit goes. So, to ensure that the inevitable strain on my knees inherant to riding a single speed is as friendly as possible, I have enlisted the aid of Dave Harward. See, not only is Dave super fast on a bike, but he's also dedicated an enormous amount of time over the years to the study of all things cycling: fit, coaching, nutrition, etc. I saw him earlier this year to get fit on my new Madone and will soon return to get fit on the BMC and Rig. Once that is done I'll be ready to take the new ride out for a proper introduction. Until then, I've been tweaking a few of the more personal components, namely the saddle and grips. As far as the latter is concerned, today I received a pair of Ergon GX2 grips and put them on the bike this evening. I've never ridden with bar ends before, but thought given the high probability that I will be climbing out of the saddle on the ss, they would provide a nice platform to hold onto.
Abbey that is. I don't know if he shaved his legs, but from the waist up these guys look a lot alike.
I was first introduced to the writings of Edward Abbey in an Environmental Policy class at BYU when Desert Solitaire was on the required reading list. I couldn't get enough and it didn't take long before I'd purchased and read pretty much all of his published works, in addition to several biographies of his life. In fact, at one point I actually entertained the idea of pursuing an advanced degree in English/Political Science with a focus on the writings of Abbey. My favorites are probably Confessions of a Barbarian, The Fools Progress and The Monkey Wrench Gang. If anybody wants to borrow a book let me know.
Finally! I've been meaning to ride in for a while now and this morning I finally managed to get it done thanks to a friend in the office who was also commuting. Assuming the weather is ok, and there isn't too much of a south wind blowing, I'll ride home. Otherwise I'll jump on TRAX. Either way I'm not using gas which is a good thing - it cost me $43 to fill up my Civic last week!
Forrest passed us at 400 E and 3300 S on his way to work. That dude is dedicated to the commute though tomorrow he may want to drive so he can shred the snow that is forecast to fall in the mountains.