That's what I had for lunch. I worked late last night with two other guys so we ordered pizza from The Pie for dinner. Today was busy and while I had planned to get out for a ride, the opportunity never presented itself and I found myself instead eating slice after slice of yesterday's pizza.
Today I was joined by Mark on my lunch ride and we climbed up to the radio towers on the west side of City Creek Canyon. Now that the available daylight is rapidly decreasing I'm looking more and more to a quick, hard 1-1.5 hour ride at lunch for my endorphin fix and mental reset. This morning was full of stress (why must Monday always be like that?!) but after my ride I returned to the office ready to hit it again. And so I did, not arriving home until 9 pm. If this keeps up I may need to incorporate a dinner ride into my work schedule!
I met Kris and Jolene for a grand tour of Draper's fantastic trail system this afternoon. Up Clark's, down Jacob's, Ghost Falls and Gas Line to the BST over to Oak Hollow and Maple Hollow before I dropped the road back to the Equestrian Center.
Another quick lunch ride this afternoon. I left the office and immediately started climbing up D Street through the Avenues to 11th Avenue. Hanging a left I made my way back over to City Creek Canyon where I jumped on the BST heading west. My goal was the radio towers and I came up a bit short due to time constraints. However, I was able to check out the sweet views from the southern overlook.
According to the Suunto T6, elevation gain was 1,234 in 4.5 miles. The trail was narrow, steep and loose which made for a fun climb and interesting descent. In the above picture (click it to view full size) you can see the trail mid-way between the homes and the rock outcropping on the hillside. I was surprised how all the switchbacks I had rode on the way up seemed so sketchy on the way down. Climbing I only touched down once when my rear wheel spun out in an especially steep and loose section. Going down I put a foot down probably 3 or 4 times as I hacked my way through the tight corners.
Work has been INSANE for close to a month now with no end in sight until the end of October. Riding my bike is the best way I've found to shed stress and anxiety so after a hectic Tuesday with no release I had to do something today. Originally I'd planned to ride in the evening but when I was given the opportunity to ride at lunch I jumped on it which was a good call as had I waited there would have been no ride.
I hit the BST between City Creek and Dry Creek with Ed who straight out of the gates proceeded to work me over. Not only has the excessive amount of work been bad for my mental state but it's not doing anything to help my fitness level either! Last year I mentioned to Ed how someday I'd like to try riding up City Creek instead of always heading up Dry Creek and descending City. He tried it, hated it and said he'd never do it again.
Well, today I discovered that route has become a favorite of his and I had the pleasure of experiencing it myself. All I have to say is that I hated it and will never do it again! At least not for a week. And probably not on my single speed. It hurt really, really bad. Did I mention how my fitness is rapidly disappearing? The City Creek climb isn't very friendly. However, I suffered my way up and was proud to make it without putting a foot down. I had a few close calls on the rocky switchbacks but managed to keep the pedals turning and survived.
Riding down Dry Creek was fun, but given the fact that the trail is composed mainly of sand over hardpack it's a bit difficult to stop for all the oncoming traffic without skidding at least 3-5 feet. And that when I was riding really slow to begin with. It's definitely a better ride up in my opinion. Next time I feel like punishing myself I think I'll ride up City Creek and drop down the Bobsled.
Kris invited me to shuttle the Wasatch Crest with him and some friends this morning. Alder's early morning soccer game that I had promised to attend, however, prevented me from making the 8:30 AM start. So, instead of riding the Crest, I drove part-way up Millcreek Canyon, parked at the winter gate, took the road to the Big Water trailhead where I jumped on the dirt, meeting Kris at the top of Great Western.
On the way down he asked if I'd like to do a quick out-and-back to Dog Lake. I said sure and we took off. On the way we hooked up with my friend and co-worker Ed for a bit who was out for a ride with his two older boys. The younger of the two - Spencer - was riding strong and hung with Kris and I for a while. That dude needs to start racing for sure as not only is he good on the climbs, but Ed said he can really rip the dh too.
After we had circled the lake and climbed back up to the trail it didn't take long to reach the junction of Little Water and Big Water. Knowing that the group was now in front of us and wanting to test my downhill skills, I made the choice to take Little Water down. We ripped it from top to bottom, exiting at the upper parking lot. Compared to Big Water (the more traditional route) it's a steep, rough ride with lots of water bars. It's a fun trail - if you ride down it. I've only attempted to ride up it once and have no plans to try it again!
At this point we blitzed down the road to Pipeline where I left the group at Birch Hollow. I'd climbed over 3,500 feet and my legs were toast. Early in the ride I'd entertained thoughts of riding to the end of Pipeline, exiting at Rattlesnake Gulch and then climbing back up the canyon to my car. However, the climb to Dog Lake made it clear that my legs were smoked. I wasn't cramping but my quads were screaming at my to stop. While riding all of Millcreek Canyon would have been cool, it's much more enjoyable on a road bike compared to a single speed mountain bike. Speaking of which, did I mention that I chose the 1-gear for today's ride?
Yesterday I had every intention of taking my full suspension BMC. I replaced the worn disc brake pads after work, cleaned off the cow manure from last Saturday's Blackhawk ride, and lubed the chain. It was on my rack and ready to go. The only problem was that I just wasn't feeling it. For some reason, in the back of my mind, I kept wondering what it would be like to do a longer ride on the single (before today's 2.5 hours my longest ride had been 1.5 hours when I rode Millcreek with Kris a couple of weeks ago). Could I handle the climb on the road up to Elbow Fork in my 32x20? Would I be able to make it up the initial steep, punchy climb on Great Western without putting a foot down? What if we decided to drop Little Water - could I handle it on a rigid bike? Trails I've ridden dozens of times seem so different on the single. It's almost as if they become new again.
Without a definitive reason why, but trusting my gut, I took the BMC off the rack and replaced it with the Rig. Looking back I'm glad I did. I only had to get off and walk the steep, rocky and rooty climb on Great Western about two-thirds of the way up. Other than that I rode everything without a problem. And as far as the downhill was concerned I felt really, really good. Fast even. I don't know if it's because I'm beginning to trust my 29" wheels' ability to roll over obstacles, I'm picking better lines, or that I'm no longer holding onto the bars with a death grip, but I actually enjoyed the downhill. So much so that I'm going to postpone my plan to buy a suspension fork and convert my wheels to tubeless first. Maybe once I start running low pressure (with tubes I'm running both front and rear at about 35 psi and would like to drop that to the mid 20's) the need/want for a squishy fork will disappear.
All in all it was a really fun ride. I walked away with a few cuts, scratches, bruises, a severely ripped pair of shorts that are destined for the garbage (all of that is a story for another day...) and an even greater appreciation/understanding of what can be ridden on a fully rigid mountain bike with 1 gear.
I am slowly gaining confidence on my single speed. Today I took it to Corner Canyon for the first time and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to ride everything I normally do. For some reason I thought having only 1 gear would limit what I could ride but happily I am finding that isn't the case at all. In fact, I seem to be riding faster on the single speed. That still seems counterintuitive to me but hey, who am I to argue with success?
Case in point being my time up Clark's this evening. It's been a while since I last attempted the Clark's TT. I wanted to see if I could make it up Clark's on the single without exploding and figured I might as well time myself while I was at it. There were a few moments when I found myself on the edge of a blow up as I climbed up to the gate but I held it together and surprised myself with a new personal best of 12:44 - 46 seconds faster than my previous best time set on my full suspension BMC! I'm thinking that going sub-12 will be one of my 2009 season goals.
If you haven't done the Clark's TT yet now's the time to hit it. Road, cross or mountain bike it's all good. Just get yourself to Draper and ride! The trail is in great shape and the weather is fantastic.
I've wanted to ride the Blackhawk Loop in Payson Canyon since I bought my mountain bike 3 years ago. Many thanks to Jesse, his wife Patty and brother Jeff for inviting Cami and me to join them this afternoon. Now that I've finally done it the thought running through my mind is "What took me so long?!"
The trails were awesome: Tight, rustic singletrack running through some of the most scenic country in the region. The views were massive and with the exception of two hunters at the end of the ride we saw nobody on the trails. Rides like this make me question why I ever left Payson!
Mark A., aka SkiBikeJunkie, is running a contest on his blog through the end of September. The rules are simple: Find him a job that he likes and if he gets hired you get a years supply of Diet Coke. Or, a new suspension fork for your mountain bike. Or, a new XTR crank. In other words he'll buy you pretty much whatever you'd like (within reason) as a reward for helping him find employment.
To save folks the hassle of locating the various 2008 LOTOJA ride reports I've created a list of those that I'm aware of below. If I've missed a report let me know and I'll update this post accordingly. Congratulations to everybody who completed the ride this year!
My leg was Montpelier-to-Afton, with the Geneva and Salt River climbs and downhills. The auto route we were required to drive from Preston to Montpelier took longer than expected so I didn’t get to warm up at all. But, since we weren’t “serious,” I kept telling myself this wasn’t a big deal.
It has now been 5 days since the 2008 edition of the LOTOJA road race. The body has had time to recover and enough time to reflect on the day without the short term emotions that come from abusing the body without the expected results. I’m not much of a writer, however after reading several of my fellow riding friends stories, I feel determined to put my thoughts of the day in print.
I am sorry to say that my LOTOJA was pretty uneventful. There was a breakaway as soon as we made the turn to head north, not far from where Dennis broke his arm two years ago. Anyway, I was determined to catch that group because I knew I could suck wheel all the way to Preston.
Somewhere between Logan & Preston the Unmanageable 80 (45+ peleton) bridges to the 35+ thus making the Hardly Safe +100. But wait there’s more, lets throw in the relay group that started behind and the fun riders that started first making up the Ludicrously Dangerous +200. “Oh cool, that guy just flew over the handle bars and landed in the ditch just like the TdF advert. I wonder if that’s a part of the ‘Fun Ride’?” Thereafter my hands are glued to the brakes and eyes to all wheels in front of me so I can’t eat or drink until sometime after Preston.
My knee was pissed on Strawberry and I wasn’t able to climb out of the saddle the whole day. It didn’t hurt in the saddle, though, so I wasn’t worried. However, the stomach issues started on Strawberry and didn’t subside until I made it to Teton Village. From Montpelier, I was only taking one mile at time - taking Tums and just trying to stay positive.
For me, it was another day of Gregtopia - sure, there was the morning discomfort that sent Terese scrambling for Imodium, the continued GI discomfort on the bike that resulted in eating and drinking way less than I should have even for a ride half the distance, and the inconvenience of a neuroma in my left foot (surgery on Monday to fix that bad boy!!). But on the balance, I had a great day!
I started seriously (as seriously as a middle-aged, fat, habitual under-achiever can be) cycling last year. I spent the summer getting dropped on the Wednesday night rides but I was just stupid enough to keep coming back. The thing that I enjoyed though was the camraderie and encouragement I received.
I am in the 1,000 mile club! I think we have all earned every mile of it. It was fun to get to see everyone again. When it comes to the Lotoja - you love it and you hate it at the same time. It is always better when you are finished.
It’s now 48 hours since I rolled across the start line with almost 70 other Cat 4 cyclists on my way from Logan to Jackson. I finally have a few moments — before I start playing taxi driver for the kids — to pop a few ibuprofen and blurt out a few thoughts.
After missing my feed in Montpelier and having to stop for 3 minutes to grab neutral I left with Denny toward Geneva Summit. As we rolled out Denny told me he was done that he was cramping and it was all over. I took the hint and dropped him to catch some riders. As I rolled toward the climb I was surprised how much easier it was this year without having to navigate the construction.
I left the Alpine feed zone in a hurry trying to catch the tandem group that just left. I caught them after a few minutes and did my best to hang on. My legs were gone though. I could power through the flats and the descents but on the short hills I was dropping down to 13-14 mph. I finally let go and thoughts of quitting entered my mind. I kept thinking if my wife drove by I would just flag her down and quit since I wasn't even close to my time goal and I didn't know how long I could ride with no legs. Group after group rode by and I talked to a few riders and received a lot of encouragement.
I'll get this out of the way right up front--I am doing my race report in two parts. I am doing it this way for one reason and one reason alone: the final eight miles or so and the immediate aftermath when we crossed the finish line were so delicious that they merit their own post, which I will publish tomorrow.
My conditional goal for the race was to finish in under 11 hours. This goal was conditional because I know that the weather (Snotoja '05, for instance) or a mechanical can have a much bigger impact on my finish time than my preparation ever would. So I wasn't going to beat myself up if I came close and didn't get it due to circumstances beyond my control, including just plain old feeling like crap (which is how I felt for the three days leading up to the race).
I wanted to share a brief recap of my LOTOJA experience. I rode in the "fun ride" category which I thought was an oxymoron. It was nice to start at 6 am as the first group out. The first 25 miles had a lot of accordian action as the field was nervous and it was still dark. The peloton even made a wrong turn at one point.
So while this post has pretty much nothing to do with the natural world, I can’t really do a post like the last one and not follow up. Especially when it affords a final opportunity of the season to brag about race results.
First off, the feed-bag hand-offs went perfectly. “Jason”- who in his 3rd year is a seasoned hand-off veteran- performed flawlessly in what is the most dangerous part of LOTOJA.
I couldn’t wait to start my first 331 km race, and it finally came today, although not with that much luck. I wrecked my rear wheel 80 kms into the race, and it took more than 30 minutes to get another wheel from the neutral support. There I was just standing on the side of the road with my bike on one hand, and my wheel on the other one watching everybody ride pass me…
This evening we enjoyed our annual hike to Cecret Lake as a family. However, now that Alder has discovered that salamanders live in the lake this might become a more frequent event! The salamanders were cool to watch as they swam beneath the surface, rising occassionally for a breath of air before diving back down. This was the first time any of us had seen a salamander in the wild and Alder remarked that he could "watch them all day it's so cool!"
On the return hike we watched a deer graze for a while and then, as we approached the parking lot, we saw a HUGE bull moose. He too was grazing and even though we kept our distance we were all a bit nervous given his size. Finally, to cap off the evening, we saw a hawk circling above the car that let out a cry straight from the movies.
If you haven't ridden upper Millcreek yet after the rain on Monday you need to do it soon. Big Water is in great shape and Great Western is prime. Cami and I rode to the Canyons Overlook this afternoon which, by the way, is when you want to ride Millcreek on a Saturday. There was very little traffic except on the drive down the canyon where we encountered a ton of vehicle and foot traffic heading up as the Wasatch Front 100 passed through. Now those are some crazy racers!
Just a reminder to take advantage of your season-end form and throw down on the Clark's Time Trial this month. Regardless of whether you have a result posted or not, now's the time to record a personal best for the season.
Here's the current (as of September 5, 2008) top 10:
8:58 - Bart Gillespie - June 23, 2008
9:44 - Todd Neumarker - July 1, 2008
10:02 - Brad Keyes - June 17, 2008
10:20 - Danny Van Wagoner - July 2, 2008
10:23 - Jamie Pogue - June 16, 2008
10:27 - Eric Rasmussen - July 7, 2008
10:38 - Brad Pilling - May 20, 2008
10:38 - Peter McMullin - August 5, 2008
10:50 - Kenny Jones - September 3, 2008
10:57 - Rick Sunderlage - May 19, 2008
It should be noted that Brad (3), Jamie (5), Eric (6), Kenny (9) and Rick (10) were riding single speeds.
The following local riders have yet to submit a time (yes, I'm calling you out!) this year. I would hate for the 2008 riding season to end without these folks giving it a go:
Met up with Matt and Ed for a quick 1 hour ride on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail this afternoon. Starting at the 11th Avenue Park (on Terrace Hills Drive) we rode east on 11th to Dry Creek where we took the BST west to City Creek and then back to the park on 11th again.
I was surprised by how tired my legs were 2 days after my single speed adventure with Kris up Millcreek. They were burning up all of the climbs - especially when we hit The Wall. And don't interpret my "burning up all of the climbs" to mean that I was hauling ass, but rather that there was a large amount of lactic acid circulating through my legs. In other words, my legs HURT today!
Another surprise was how plush my full suspension BMC felt compared to the rigid 29er single speed. Well, I suppose that isn't really much of a surprise. However, given that Tuesday's ride on the fully rigid single speed was fresh in my memory, and the fact that today was the first time I've ridden the BMC since the last Solitude race in July, it was quite the contrast. And while I'm on the subject on contrasts, the BST was quite the opposite of Millcreek. Rough, rocky, dry, brown and hot. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun ride, but the scenery is much better in the spring.
Good luck to all of you racing/riding on Saturday. Speaking of which, Mark A., who's in town for LOTOJA, stopped by the office to talk with our CEO and V.P. of Product Management about potential job opportunities. Guess what the first question of their mouth was after meeting with him? Yep, you guessed it: Why wasn't I doing LOTOJA! There's no escape from that monster.
This evening Kris and I turned the clock forward two months and ripped to Dog Lake and the Canyons Overlook in a shockingly cold and snow trimmed late fall wonderland. What am I talking about you ask? Remember that really big, wet, 35 degree colder than Saturday storm that arrived Sunday evening and hung around for half the day on Monday? That's what I'm talking about. Perhaps we rode a day or two early, but even so the trails were in great shape and any hint of dust or heat were nowhere to be found. And it was cold, very cold. As in I can see my breath when I exhale cold. Oh, and I rode my single speed. My rigid single speed. Maybe that explains why my legs are toast and my hands/arms/shoulders are extremely tired. Anybody have a 29er suspension fork they want to sell me? I love climbing fully rigid but man, descending can be tough on the old body!