I've been riding the full suspension BMC all week and didn't want to end the trip without riding the singlespeed. For some reason it just seems silly to transport a bike so far without riding it. In fact, that's the reason why I no longer bring my road bike to Arizona - I never rode it once I realized how good the mountain biking was.
So today I had to ride the single. One thing to consider was that, after 5 days of riding, my legs were tired. Tired legs, 1 gear, and a rigid bike I needed to select a trail that would be fun to ride with minimal climbing and, since my right wrist has been sore since my fall yesterday, it also needed to be relatively smooth. The answer? McDowell Mountain Regional Park. I first rode the Pemberton Trail clockwise, then did a quick Sport -> Technical Track loop, and finished after the sun had set with an even faster Sport loop. Totals were 1:51 ride time and 21.74 miles. My only regret is that I didn't have time to do the Long loop too. The singlespeed is definitely returning with me on my next trip.
The Pemberton Trail is more double track than singletrack, but the fantastic scenery and excellent flow keeps me coming back for more. It was a perfect match for the singlespeed.
The Sport Track is really, really smooth and very, very fast. My (then) 8 year old rode it with me December 26th last year and said it was like a roller coaster.
Here's one for the roadies. The road riding in Arizona isn't bad either. If the dirt wasn't so much fun I might actually consider bringing my road bike.
My previous attempt to ride the Pass Mountain trail in Usery Mountain Regional Park didn't go so well and ended with an early withdrawl. Two years later I returned to finish the loop and, while I certainly didn't ride everything, I was successful in completing the trail.
Yesterday, and last night, the area received a ton of rain. This was a good thing as it had been months since the last significant storm. This made for absolutely fantastic riding conditions and if not for the handful of puddles it would have been difficult to tell that a major storm had occurred in the previous 24 hours (unless you'd been riding the loose, dusty trails in which case the transformation was even more dramatic).
I had one fall on a mildly technical uphill climb where, for whatever reason, I was unable to unclip after stalling out on a rock move and fell to my left, landing on both hands and my left shoulder. Thankfully there were no cacti in the immediate vicinity for me to fall into. I view this as a minor miracle as, like most trails in the Phoenex area, Pass Mountain is full of cacti. The discomfort of my sore right wrist is nothing compared to the pain and discomfort associated with removing a couple of dozen cactus spines!
Adding a pair of tweezers to my pack would probably be a good idea, since you never know when you'll have a close encounter with a cactus. For example, after we'd finished Pass Mountain, and were riding the Moon Rock trail on the way back to the car, my rear wheel kicked up a piece of cholla that stuck to my right leg. Luckily it was embedded mainly in my knee warmer, but even so I ended up sticking my finger, and poking my calf, trying to remove it.
Some people (like Mike) get excited when they see a trail sign that says it's not recommended for bikes. Others (like me) get a bit nervous.
The trail lures you in with sections of flowing, smooth singletrack. Enjoy them when you can because they are the exception, rather than the norm for this trail!
Looks fun, doesn't it?
The views to the northeast on the backside are massive.
Looking at the east face of Pass Mountain.
This looks easy enough, but don't let the picture fool you. That rock is anything but smooth and there is a significant drop to the rider's right side. I walked this section.
This section of slickrock also looks easy, but is much steeper than it appears and is filled with gaps and folds waiting to suck in your tire. I walked this too.
Mike makes everything look easy. Well, at least the stuff where I was close enough to see him ride he made look easy!
My wish for rain has been granted, but now I'm worried that the area may get more than I'd hoped for. I started my lunch ride a little early this morning in order to avoid the heavier rain forecast for later in the day. When I rolled away from the house the roads were damp but it wasn't actively raining. That only lasted a few minutes, however, and from that point on it would rain off and on for the 1 hour and 40 minutes I was on my bike. Generally the rain was light, but as I climbed towards the Gateway Saddle in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve it would inevitably begin to come down harder (I rode both the north and south approaches).
I didn't mind the rain on the climbs as I could take off my sunglasses and see quite well. The descents, on the other hand, required that I wear the glasses to guard my contact lenses from the sand and small rocks my front tire would occasionally kick up into my face.
It was a fun ride and a unique experience to ride in the desert during a storm. I told my sister-in-law after I finished that I have a hard time leaving when it's raining, but if I get caught in rain after I'm on the bike it doesn't really bother me too much. Unfortunately for me, I was caught in a torrential downpour with only minutes left in the ride, ensuring that I returned home completely soaked!
I say 2.5 Bypass (which is nothing compared to the annual Quad Bypass ) because we rode to Windgate Pass, Bell Pass, and the Gateway Saddle in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Riding from my brother's house in DC Ranch, our route was Desert Park to Windgate to Bell Pass (with a quick out-and-back on Prospector to the scenic view) to Gateway Saddle and back on Desert Park. One of these days I need to try the climb to Tom's Thumb, but after reading Mike's report I think my fitness level needs to be a bit higher than it is right now.
The descent down Bell Pass was better than I expected. After climbing (and hiking...) it in the spring of 2008 I knew it was steep, loose and rocky, with a handful of relatively tight switchbacks. Given my tentative descending skills I expected to walk a few sections. However, while I did unclip in a few spots (just in case I needed to eject) I never had to put a foot down.
The trails are dry and dusty as it hasn't rained in a long, long time. A cold front moved in last night and there's a chance of rain Monday. I'm actually hoping we get some moisture to freshen up the trails. Temperatures are in the high 50's to low 60's which is cold from a local's perspective, but feels great to me.
Windgate Trail, before the real climbing began
Looking down on the Bell Pass Trail before starting the descent
I met my brother after work for a quick out-and-back on the always fun Desert Classic trail at South Mountain Park. We started late and finished in the dark with lights. Either my light batteries aren't holding a charge, aren't recharging to 100%, or my night vision is deteriorating in my old age because like last night, I was having difficulty seeing details of the trail. So I rode slow which was fine as my legs were tired anyway. The picture above was taken at the point we turned around to start the ride back to the cars.
After a 10+ hour day in the car (and one super lame speeding ticket for going 65 in a 55 just outside of Jacob Lake that the officer empathetically reduced from 10 over to 1 over so my fine was only $62 instead of $120) I wasn't feeling too energetic when I finally arrived at my brother's house in Arizona. However, he was adament that we do a night ride so at 9:30 PM I found myself riding the Gateway Saddle loop in the nearby McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Unfortunately, this first ride didn't go so well for me. Historically my first couple of rides in Arizona are a bit rough - literally! - as I reaquaint myself with the rocky, rugged terrain that is more technical than what I normally ride. Completing my first ride in the dark, after a long day in the car during which I skipped lunch in favor of pretzels and leftover Halloween candy, didn't make it any easier. In fact, it made it extremely difficult and frustrating as I found myself off the bike hiking quite a bit. Fast forward 15 hours and the identical loop ridden at lunch today was much, much better. It's amazing what a good night's sleep and good visibility does for my riding! Plus, I was able to enjoy the scenery which isn't bad either.
It's been a while since I had a lunch ride that tasted this good!
My new shoes came in the mail yesterday and I'm pretty excited. It's been a while since I've had any style on my feet and, judging from the reaction of my kids last night, the red sole alone on these should be an attention getter!
So I just heard that there will be a VIP event for the new IN-N-OUT Burger in Draper, Utah. However, what bothers me is that - as of the writing of this post, at least - I have yet to receive an invitation. Given my manypublicstatements of love for IN-N-OUT Burger (both on this blog and via comments on many other popular blogs) I am surprised that I haven't been approached to participate in the VIP event.
If you are in a position to fix this obvious oversight on the part of the IN-N-OUT Burger Sale/Marketing/Public Relations/etc. team feel free to contact me via the link in the right sidebar.
After four lunch rides in four days my legs are beginning to fatigue (yes - I will admit I'm currently not in the best condition!) but with such nice weather now is not the time to rest.
Today I rode up to the radio towers located on the west side of City Creek Canyon. It was breezy, but that's a good thing as most of the valley haze is gone. Also, the circulating air has allowed the warm, high pressure system to drop into the valley. This has resulted in even warmer temperatures which could very well set a new record for November (the current record high is 75 degrees).
Tomorrow I'm thinking of extending the lunch ride and driving to Mueller Park. Unless, that is, the trail is muddy. Does anybody know if it's good to go?
Back-to-back lunch rides to start the week. Yesterday I chased Mark A. and Jon S. up E Street to 11 Ave to Dry Creek and along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail to City Creek. Actually, I wouldn't even call it a chase as most of the time I couldn't see them, they were so far ahead of me. I knew I was in trouble when, as we began the climb up E Street, Jon kept it in the big ring. As he and Mark A. chatted, I hung on for dear life. At Popperton Park I politely excused myself from the group and watched them ride away. Occasionally they would stop to enjoy the view from scenic locations along the trail and I would catch up, if only for a minute or so.
There were tons of people out on the trail, all of whom were quite friendly, with one notable exception being a surly trail runner who knocked Jon off his bike and then polluted the air with a barage of expletives. Not cool, but I've encountered some angry, reckless bikers too so I'm not going to get down on trail runners. Luckily everybody rode and ran away without injury.
Today I rode solo up to the mouth of City Creek where I jumped on the BST heading west, climbing up to the overlook where I hiked last week (see the post below). For some reason the last couple of times I've done this section of trail I haven't felt like continuing up to the radio towers, nor have I been inclined to descend the same trail that I just finished climbing. This time I decided to explore, dropping down a rather loose, steep connector trail that eventually intersected the main Ensign Peak trail. I descended the last few hundred yards on the main trail (which was composed of a nearly continuous sequence of water bars) to the park, and then dropped through the neighborhood, past the Capitol to the bike/pedestrian lane that took me back to the mouth of City Creek and then back to the Avenues. A quick bomb down E Street and I was back to work.
On a different, but related subject, I'm not a huge fan of lycra and hairy legs. Unfortunately, my cycling drawer is currently full of the former, and my legs are quickly becoming the latter. The question I'm faced with is whether it's worth one final, late-season shave in order to fully enjoy the 2-3 remaining lunch rides this week? Normally I wear leg or knee warmers this time of year so the hair on my legs is hidden. This unseasonably warm weather pattern we're currently enjoying is throwing a wrench into my plans to have hair on my legs for the start of ski season.
Lately it's been harder and harder to get out on the bike. For example, this week (so far) I have done 0 rides. Hopefully that will change tomorrow as I have a nice window in which to recreate in the morning. To compensate, I've been avoiding the elevator and taking the six flights of stairs between the lowest parking level and my office on the fourth floor. In fact, some days I take the stairs down to the garage and back up to my floor each time I leave the office to use the restroom. It's not much, but better than nothing.
As far as "real" exercise is concerned, I did manage to get out on a hike Monday evening. Together with a client who was in town from Doha, Qatar, I went up the Shoreline trail on the west side of City Creek. We didn't have time to go all the way to the radio towers, and besides, the view from the overlook is better anyway (in my opinion at least, though you can't really tell from this blurry picture courtesy of my phone):
I was surprised how steep the switchback climb turned out to be. I knew it was a lung buster on two wheels, but for some reason expected it to be easier on foot. Not so, and it was cool to see the lines I normally ride from a different perspective. We started just before 6 PM so by the time we reached the top it was already quite dark. It didn't take long on the descent to switch on our headlamps and we enjoyed the hike down in the dark. Maybe I'm just a wimp, but hiking (or biking for that matter) at night isn't something I would do alone. However, with company it's super fun and I always come away asking myself why I don't do it more often. Given that the time changes this Sunday, which means it will get dark around 5:30 PM, I'm thinking that recreating in the dark will become more and more common.
I've decided to sell my backup wheelset. It's been a difficult decision because the wheels are a sweet custom build courtesy of Lyle at Spin Lite Cycling. However, now that I've converted my Ksyriums to a tubeless setup I don't see myself using them very often. Plus, I need some $ to buy a pair of bindings for my new powder skis!
Here are the details:
Rims: Velocity Fusion (black) Hubs: White Industries LTA (silver) Spokes: Sapim CX Ray (silver, 24 front/28 rear, laced 2x front, 3x rear drive side and 2x rear non-drive side) Skewers: Zipp titanium (black) Weight (front, no skewer but with Velox rim strip): 720 grams Weight (rear, no skewer but with Velox rim strip): 860 grams
Kris and I got out for a sweet 2 hours of riding in Park City this afternoon. If all fall days could be like this I'd be a happy, happy guy. With temperatures in the 60's, a bright blue sky, the earthy smell of fallen leaves and plenty of colorful leaves on the hillsides made for a near perfect day. Finish it off with a burger, fries and Coke from Five Guys and it doesn't get much better.
I hiked up the Bobsled with Mark A. this afternoon to re-visit the scene of his accident. It was a bit unnerving walking uphill on a popular high speed, downhill-only trail. I kept expecting a rider to come flying around a corner but luckily we didn't run into (pun intended) anybody.
He went down just above where this car sits off to the side of the trail, on an off camber section of loose surface on top of a hardpacked base. To the side sits a big, rather innocent looking rock that we assumed inflicted the damage to his arm.
No, I'm not talking about dentistry. I'm referring to a call from a friend that is hurt and needs help. This afternoon I received such a call. I won't go into any details (my buddy who called has a blog too and owns the rights to the first real post on the subject as well as the graphic image of the wound) other than to say he's ok. It's nice to have a hospital (LDS) just minutes from the office and trail, not that I plan to return anytime soon. This was my second time taking a friend to the ER after a cycling accident and it does make you think about the inherent danger in what we do on bikes. I'm just glad I'll soon be able to ride with him again. Be safe out there.
Seriously. It's all I drink on the bike when water just isn't enough. Well, I also like Coke but usually I only drink that when I stop at a convenience store post ride. Anyway, so today I discovered another use for the stuff that I want to share.
Last night both myself and my 7 year old daughter got hit by a stomach bug. Hard. She fared worse than me, and had thrown up 11 times by noon today. As you can imagine she was starting to get dehydrated yet couldn't keep anything down. She kept asking for water but I didn't want her to keep throwing it right back up. It was at that point, in a true moment of desperation, that I had the idea to mix a glass of CarboRocket (raspberry lemonade if you were curious what flavor) for her to drink.
Brad claims it's easy on the stomach and I'm here to tell you that he's not lying. I started with a spoonfull every 5 minutes, then 2, 3, 4 spoonfulls until I just let her sip it from the cup. At that point I was getting pretty stressed and worn out as my wife had come down with the same bug and wasn't able to help our 4 month old baby. I was completely drained and turned to two things for help: CarboRocket and my in-laws. Let's just say that both were absolute super stars and my family and I are feeling much better now.
I can honestly say that CarboRocket got us through a very difficult day. I love that stuff.
Last night I received an email from Bart Gillespie, local hero and working man's pro mountain bike and cyclocross racer. He had ridden his cross bike to Sandy and decided to give the Clarks TT a go while in the area. In his words:
I started very conservative and just upped the pace as I went, it made it so it did not hurt all that bad becasue I never got close to blowing up.
The result? 8:24! To put that time in perspective consider it's 58 seconds faster than the 2nd best time and 34 seconds faster than Bart's previous best time from 2008.
Can Bart be beaten? From his email it sounds like with slightly higher tire pressure, lighter wheels and less traffic on the trail there's a good chance he could go sub 8 minutes!
I'd really like to see Alex, Ali, Eric, Art, Reed and the other elite cyclocross guys give it a shot on their cross bikes. If somebody is going to beat Bart it will probably be from that group.
Again, in Bart's words, the "dirt is in great shape and the cool temps make it nice" so if you haven't done the tt in a while (or at all for that matter) now is the perfect time. Get out and ride!
When I last rode my bike on September 23rd it was in the afternoon, with SkiBikeJunkie, in very warm weather (the temperature was in the mid 80's). Today I did a similar ride, with SkiBikeJunkie, only the route was reversed (City Creek to Dry Creek) and the temperature was about 40 degrees cooler. What a difference 10 days makes!
However, given that fall in Utah is composed of extremes, and that the average temperature you see reported for October is just that - an average and not something that is normally experienced in real life - the fact that today's ride was abnormally cold wasn't surprising since the previous ride was abnormally hot. In fact, the average of 45 and 85 is 65, not coincidentally the average temperature for Salt Lake City in October.
And if you think that because of this abnormally cold weather the ski resorts will open early you'd be wrong, because again, fall in Utah is one of extremes. To balance out this string of extremely cold weather we'll probably be back in the 80's next week.
Another day, another 12 hours in the office. Well, all except the 70 minutes I spent riding the shoreline between Dry Creek and City Creek at lunch. Work has been super busy which is why I'm doing lunch rides in the brown foothills while everybody else is up high enjoying the fall colors. Oh well, if it ends up that I miss the spectacle completely at least I can take comfort in the fact that ski season is fast approaching! That and the knowledge that the colors of Moab are always in season.
It's been a little more than 48 hours since my last ride in Moab and I'm still on a high. My worry that the whole Moab experience would fall short of expectations was completely unfounded. I had an absolutely fantastic time. Even now, thinking back on the 2 days, I can't help but smile. And laugh, as I watch Kris' slow motion endo over and over and over again.
Slickrock was a complete mind trip. I still can't figure out how it's possible to ride a bike up what look to be near vertical faces. Basically I just turned off my brain and followed Kris and Paul wherever the white dashes led us. Tons of fun.
After putting a foot down on my first attempt at climbing Cogs to Spare I cranked the volume on my iPhone, queued up Eye of the Tiger, and fought my way to the top. Survivor, it's not just for boxers anymore!
Sovereign was awesome too. I wasn't able to ride everything we encountered on the trail but couldn't get enough of the mixed terrain that was both technical and flowing at the same time. The huge slickrock field at the top was incredible. Riding without boundaries was another first. Picking our way up the slope without painted dashes or a defined trail to follow was a unique experience. What made Sovereign even more enjoyable was the fact that it rode like a completely new trail on the way back. Much respect to whoever designed and built that trail. Well done!
Klondike Bluffs and Baby Steps, while not as impressive as Slickrock or Sovereign, were still awesome rides. I really enjoyed the change of pace the short hike into Arches National Park provided as mentally I was getting a bit tired from all of the technical riding.
Watching the sun set over the Slickrock Trail while lightening flashed in a distant thunderstorm was a dramatic way to end the trip. We only had time for the practice loop and an out-and-back to the Wooly Gully but those 30 minutes ended up being some of my favorite moments of the trip. My brother Paul had tried to ride the Gully crossing the day before without success and predicted that if we returned he'd be able to do it. Well, it took him 4 attempts but he was able to make good on his promise to ride it without dabbing. It doesn't look as impressive on film, but trust me when I say this was some of the most impressive riding of the trip. The approach is intimidating and the ledge on the far side is tricky as it angles away from your rear tire. For a dentist who doesn't get out on his bike very often he sure knows how to ride!
After a quick baby wipe "shower" in the parking lot we were on our way home but not without one last first for me: A bacon cheeseburger at Ray's Tavern in Green River.