Saturday, April 28, 2007

Maybe I'll race beginner...

Mountain biking up Payson Canyon this morning was sweet: Lots of good singletrack climbs, fun descents and a good portion of doubletrack that, according to Jesse, is similar to the course at 5-Mile. Speaking of Jesse, all I can say is that dude is fast. Uphill, downhill and flat to rolling terrain, he just rode away from me. My legs felt good but I just couldn't hang. Given that we're in the same age group, I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't start out racing beginner. Thing is, I figure I can do two solid laps so the thought of only racing one leaves me feeling like I'm getting shortchanged. Since I'm just out to test myself and have fun I suppose it really doesn't matter if I'm at the bottom of the Sport field. At least that's what I'll be trying to convince myself this week! Many thanks to Jesse for letting me tag along today. I'm looking forward to more rides this year as the higher elevation trails like Bennie Creek and Blackhawk open up.

So after today's 3 hour ride my legs are pretty smoked. It was a solid week and I'm glad to finish it healthy. As far as weather goes I couldn't have asked for better. These past few days have been fantastic: Sunny, blue skies and temps in the 60's and 70's. Very nice. Let's hope it continues!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Playing in the Dirt

Since I'm thinking about racing 5-Mile Pass next Saturday I've been riding the mountain more than I usually would. On Wednesday I rode a quick loop at lunch of Dry Creek, BST and Bobsled, using the new connector trail to get from the BST into the Bobsled. This new trail is much better than the steep, loose, rocky trail that is the "official" entrance. While the new trail is still a bit steep, it has none of the other trail's characteristics and is actually fun to ride. One other noteworthy event of the ride was my entering Dry Creek at full speed. This resulted in a bit of air which was fun. No big deal to most of you but for me it was another small step forward as I become more comfortable on the mountain bike.

Today I rode Yellow Fork after work and was pleased to find the entire loop not only rideable, but dry! In fact, there wasn't even much "green mud" on the trail. I rode it counter-clockwise (Well, I rode everything except for the final section of doubletrack that takes you up to the ridge. I'd say that is basically unrideable right now due to the big, loose rocks and rough, post-holed mud.) which was good as I didn't see any horses on the climb (it's more difficult to pass them than it is for them to pass you). However, I encountered four separate groups coming up as I descended the other side. All were very polite, thanking me for getting off my bike while they passed. The lead horse in group #4 was a bit skittish, refusing to approach me on the first two attempts. I asked the gentleman on the horse if I should lay my bike down but he said no, it was the first time his horse had seen something like me and he needed to learn how to deal with it. Luckily he appeared to be a skilled rider and didn't have any trouble controlling his nervous, spooked horse. Eventually his horse calmed down and walked past me with the others following calmly behind. Friday evening probably isn't the best time to be on the trail (at least not when the weather is sunny & warm) but even with the horse traffic it was a fun ride.

Tomorrow I'm driving to Payson to ride with a friend up Payson Canyon. I'm not sure what trails we'll be riding but given that he finished 2nd overall in the ICUP 19-29 Sport division last year it should give me a good idea of my fitness level compared to the riders I'll face next week. He's now in the 30-34 group so we'll be racing together this season before I graduate to the 35-39 category next year.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Big Pain

Yeah, climbing Big Mountain hurt. I kept thinking of what Art said, that when he's rolling good he maintains at least 10 mph up the climb. Well, it should come as no surprise that I fell short of that standard, averaging 7.8 mph. However, lest you think I had more to give my average heart rate was 181 so it was pretty much a full gas effort. Now you can understand why I'm trying to build more power... If you know any secrets you are able to share please pass them on. I need all the help I can get!

I was joined today by Kris who put the hurt on me climbing Emigration. He'd never been up the canyon before and was feeling it today which meant I was doing good to hold his wheel! The weather was great except for the COLD descent off of Big Mountain. It was cool (no pun intended) riding while the road was closed but all the debris was a bit tricky to navigate on the way down. I'm glad Hell of the North is flat.

Tomorrow is a quick, intense lunch ride on the dirt and then I'm off for a day (or two). I'm not racing East Canyon so need to come up with a cool ride to do Saturday.

Monday, April 23, 2007

PowerStarts & Going Big

I did a bunch of PowerStarts on today's ride. They're actually pretty fun to do and given the wind this afternoon it was a nice workout. The new saddle was good though I may need to tweak the fore/aft position a bit. However, I'm going to give it another ride or two before I make a change. It seems that no matter how many measurements I take of the old saddle I can never completely recreate my previous position.

Tomorrow evening I'm riding up Emigration to Big Mountain with Kris. If anybody else wants to join us shoot me an email (use the link under Contact Info to the right). Hopefully the forecast is correct and the rain, clouds, and wind will move out tonight. Unfortunately, sudden weather changes are the norm in Utah this time of year. It's not uncommon to go from sun and temperatures in the 70's to rain/sleet/snow with gusty winds and temps in the high 40's to low 50's. Case in point: The last few days we've had scattered showers, wind and temperatures in the low 50's. This weekend we're looking to hit 80 under sunny skies. Throw in a healthy dose of airborne allergens and you've got spring in Utah. Good times for sure.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Rolling Easy

Today was tough in that I wanted to ride more than the 2 hours I had scheduled. However, since I didn't want to jeopardize my quick recovery from the cold that hit me on Sunday I stuck with the plan. Steady endurance was today's theme and while the pace was mellow it was great fun to just be out riding. Speaking of colds, for me I've found that Airborne + rest = a speedy recovery. It's probably a placebo effect but as long as I keep bouncing back in 3-4 days I'll keep shelling out $5.99 for a box or two. Pink grapefruit is the best flavor in my opinion. While on the subject of drinks, I stopped by Contender this afternoon on the way to the zoo with the kids and grabbed another container of EFS.

I've tried each flavor - Lemon Lime and Tangerine. Both are good but for me Lemon Lime goes down easiest. EFS is currently my favorite energy drink for one simple reason: It's not too sweet like all of the other energy drinks I've tried. Of course, First Endurance is also a Salt Lake company that takes great pride in their research and sponsors local pros Dave, Jeff, Burke and Levi (well, he used to be a local)!

As part of my ongoing quest to find the perfect saddle I mounted one of these bad boys this evening:

Thankfully it doesn't look as strange as I'd feared on the bike. My 15 minute test ride was good so I'll give it a try for a couple of weeks and let you know what I think.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Congratulations to Jeff Louder of HealthNet

Salt Lake City local Jeff Louder ripped it up in Stage 3 yesterday at the Tour of Georgia, finishing 6th in the stage (after throwing down a pair of massive attacks at the end) and sitting 5th on GC. Nice work! Keep it rolling today in the TT and tomorrow on Brasstown!!!

Speaking of Brasstown, for those of you unfamiliar with the stage it looks something like this:

Looking at the profile you'd assume the final climb requires some serious watts. Generally that's true, but as Mario Cipollini illustrates in the photo below, there are alternative means of climbing!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Do Sick Days = Rest Days?

So I was planning to take a few days off after my efforts of last week. However, my body decided to force the issue and I woke up Sunday with a sore throat. I say sore throat but the pain is behind my tonsils and not really in my throat. Anyway, yesterday I felt like total crap with body aches & chills. Today, luckily, I am starting to feel much better. So my question is this: Since I was going to take a few days off the bike anyway, do my "sick days" count as "rest days" or should I take a few additional days off? Of course, if the weather forecast for Wednesday and Thursday is accurate I probably won't be riding until Friday anyway...

Given that I pretty much suck at climbing, would East Canyon and/or Buffalo Stampede be a waste of my time & money? I am inclined to say yes, but since I've never actually ridden either of the courses I thought I'd ask the question.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Palmer Loop Race

Well, it wasn't really a race but to me it felt like one! Uhl invited me to join him on his standard pre-race workout and man, did it hurt. That guy can generate some watts! I was able to hold his wheel most of the time (he was kind enough to give me a heads up before he started each effort) but got popped twice on the return trip as he punched it up a couple of gradual rises into a headwind. Hopefully the ride served its intended purpose and he'll be flying tomorrow. As for me, I'm looking forward to a few days off the bike to recover from 6 consecutive days of riding!

Friday, April 13, 2007


Today I rode to the forest service sign up Bogus Basin Road. This is the halfway point of the climb which, according to my computer, is 7.85 miles from the 3-way stop at the school (the official "start" of the climb). My wife joined me and we rode out Hill Road together at a comfortable pace. When we reached the school I started an interval that I hoped would carry me to the sign in record (for me) time. Well, it started off well but after 25 minutes my legs were screaming and I had to ease up. My goal was sub-40 minutes (I realize that's not fast but by now anybody who follows my blog will know that I can't climb!) but ended up with 42:05 at an average heart rate of 174. I hung out at the sign and waited for Cami, eating two energy bars and finishing my water. On the way up I was hot, but once we started down I realized in a hurry that it was going to be cold. This was one of the few times that I actually looked forward to the two, short uphill sections on the way down as they gave us a chance to warm up!

We rolled easy on the way back and finished up with close to 3 hours. Even with the mellow pace to & from the climb my legs were toasted from the hard effort and the previous 4 days of riding. However, I couldn't let tired legs keep me from enjoying the beautiful weather so after lunch I loaded up the family and visited the MK Nature Center, Memorial Park and the Boise Train Depot.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Riding to Grandma's House

When I was a kid the "big ride" was to my Grandma's house in Caldwell. Back then we'd go straight down Ustick Road all the way to 10th Ave. It wasn't too exciting riding a dead straight road for 20 miles but at the time it was the quickest and safest route. I remember doing the ride as an out-n-back for the final 50 miler needed to earn the Cycling merit badge. My cousin and I rode out Ustick, ate a big breakfast at my Grandma's place and rode home. Those were some of the best tasting scrambled eggs (my Grandma is old school and scrambles her eggs in bacon grease!), bacon, breakfast cake, fresh fruit and orange juice I've had the pleasure to consume in my life. Until that ride I'd completed all of the others on my trusty BMX bike. For the big one I rented a 10 speed from a local bike shop. Yeah, it was a big deal!

Nowadays Ustick Road is fairly busy and the shoulder hasn't grown any wider over the years so my route to Grandma's house has evolved. Today I rode north to Eagle where I hooked up with Beacon Light, Foothill, Middleton and Hwy 44 before cruising into Caldwell. There was a strong wind from the west so I decided to do a tempo interval into the headwind. I ended up with 45 minutes at 151 average heart rate before I had to turn south. Since I'm trying to develop more power I kept my cadence between 75 and 80. If I go much lower than that my knee yells at me but anything above 75 seems ok. Considering today's original forecast was for rain/snow I'm pleased with my 1:42 even if it was windy!

I don't have any pictures of the ride but here's a shot I took this morning of Alder trying to sneak up on some quail in the backyard. In another few months that dirt will be filled with tomatoes, squash, melons, corn, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, onions, rhubarb, carrots, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, peas and beans. My mom spoils me big time when we visit and this trip is no exception. Her goal is to bake 1 homemade pie each day. Yesterday we had apple and today is rhubarb. Tomorrow will probably be cherry and Saturday is raspberry. If I didn't bring my bike I'd probably gain a few pounds each trip!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hometown Roads

Drove to Boise, Idaho this afternoon with the family so the kids can spend time with Grandpa & Grandma before heading back to school on Monday. After unloading the car I headed out for a quick ride. I did a nice loop out Floating Feather to the golf course then back on Beacon Light. For some reason the big feedlot full of cattle on Beacon Light and its accompanying stench always makes me feel at home. I've been riding by that place for the last 20 years and look forward to the next 20. With all the new development in the area it's nice to see a familiar landmark from my early days.

Hopefully the rain/snow forecast for tomorrow will clear up by the afternoon so I can get out. Friday looks to be the best day and I'm planning to ride up to Bogus Basin. I'm hoping for a Uhl sighting while I'm in town. I figure if I run into him on an easy day I might even be able to hold his wheel and say hello. Of course, based on his blog it doesn't appear he does many easy days!

Good luck to all of the Utah riders who will be racing at Sea Otter this weekend. My money's on Fox for the win in Semi-Pro short track on Saturday. Results, when available, can be found here.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Dry Creek to City Creek

Another quick lunch ride today on the dirt. I finally managed to find my way to the City Creek singletrack and enjoyed the change of scenery. The trail is quite rocky in sections which was fun to ride. I did have some trouble navigating the two tight switchbacks (the first of which is pictured below). I need to develop better balance on the bike. One of these days I'm going to do this ride in reverse and climb up from City Creek and drop down Dry Creek.

After the ride I dropped my bike off at Contender for some annual maintenance and to be fitted with new UST tires (I don't have a compressor). I was going to buy another pair of Hutchinsons since my current pair (Pythons) have performed well. However, Reed recommended I try either the Maxxis Ignitors or Continental Explorers as I wanted something with a little more bite. I put a pair of Maxxis Courchevels on my Ksyriums last night so I decided to go with the Ignitor. Now I'm rolling Maxxis rubber on both the road & dirt.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Race from Hell

Yeah, so I really sucked today. Big time. What's funny is that heading into the dirt on lap #1 I actually thought I would have a good race. After 1.25 miles of dirt I still thought things were going well. Unfortunately, the last half mile of dirt killed me. That was the section with no good line and lots of thick, soft gravel. The guys in front of me started sliding, somebody hit their brakes, and I had to slow down, then we all accelerated. The first time that happened I was able to stay in touch but after the second slow down & speed up my legs were shot and less than a minute after thinking all was well, I was gapped. So with 1 lap completed and 4 to go I was basically done. I kept riding - totally pissed - and worked with some other guys to pick off a few stragglers but any hope of a decent finish was gone. I didn't stick around to see the results posted (Note: this turned out to be a bad decision as I'm listed as DNF and told there's no way to change it at this point) so don't know my final placing, not that it really matters. Pretty lame way to start the season...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Hammering the BST & Hell of the North

I pounded up Dry Creek to BST to Bobsled then dropped in a for a fun downhill run to 11th Ave then back to Popperton on the pavement. Not a bad lunch ride. Did it all in a combination of the middle and big rings which hurt as I climbed the switchback out of Dry Creek and later when I hit the Wall. However, I wanted to work on power and in that regard it was a very successful ride. I caught a lady up on the BST who was pounding and had absolutely ripped legs. I followed her for a while and then passed her on the Wall. Not sure who she was (I think she was wearing a VMG jersey but I didn't look back to see the front when I went by. Subaru was the most visible sponsor on the back of the jersey) but she was hammering. The Bobsled was fun and for a first run I think I rode it ok. Those burms are HUGE!

After looking at hotels in Hurricane and experiencing a bit of sticker shock ($80-$100 a night for the Travelodge?!) I decided to renew my USA Cycling license and register for Hell of the North. In 2006 I was 12th out of 23 riders (Cat 5. Yeah, I pretty much suck) so hopefully I can improve on that placing this year. I'm bummed about not doing the Cholla as I feel like I'm rolling pretty well on the dirt but I figure there will be other, much closer opportunities to race the mtb. Hopefully RB's racing age is 30 in '07 so I can line up with him unless he bypasses Sport and jumps straight to Expert.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Lambert Park

Spent 90 minutes this evening cruising the trails at Lambert Park with a friend from work. The trails are in great shape with no residual mud from the storm last week. One noteworthy event was my taking the little kicker on Rodeo Down. That was fun. Another was starting to fall over in a tight, uphill section of Middle Spring only to have my butt lodge against a scrub oak trunk and keep me upright!

Tomorrow is BST at lunch with another session in the middle ring up Dry Creek and a first descent of the Bobsled. Should be a good time.

Not sure if I am going to race Hell of the North or the Cholla Challenge on Saturday. Right now I'm leaning towards the mountain bike...

Monday, April 2, 2007

Bart ripping up the desert in the NOVA Pro XC

Here's a shot of local pro Bart Gillespie tearing up the desert in Sunday's 40 mile XC race in Arizona. In semi-pro Fox won the Short Track race Saturday night and placed 3rd in the XC after sleeping in his van so he could attend a bike swap Sunday morning in Tucson! Stupidbike turned in a fine performance in expert and Kathy Sherwin rode strongly in pro women.

Full results can be found here.