Friday, August 31, 2007

Anybody looking for a sweet job?

If you have experience with any of this...

- java
- javascript
- xml
- xslt
- oracle
- bea weblogic

...from either a developer or DBA perspective and are looking for a sweet job shoot me an email using the link in the Contact Info section. You can check out the company here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Vuelta de Espana Podium Contest

Give me your picks for the podium of the 2007 Vuelta and the person with the most points wins a 6-pack of their choice. If the chosen beverage is alcoholic in nature I will need to see ID. :)

Submit your entries via a comment to this post no later than Monday, September 3rd. Points will be assigned for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place (3,2,1) for a total of 6 points. The person with the most points wins. Only one entry per person. An anonymous comment can't win. In the case of a tie the person who submitted their team first wins. Good luck!

The Hornet Delivers!

I returned from lunch today to find a 12-pack and 2-liter of Coke sitting on my desk courtesy of the Ballistic Hornet. That was a nice surprise but I'm bummed I wasn't able to meet the legend in person. Maybe I'll do a Tour de Espana contest so I can return the favor to somebody. Anyway, thanks man for the beverages!

A bad day up Millcreek is still a good day

Too bad Fox couldn't join us tonight as I was doing my best to shred the downhill and would have been interested in his feedback to see if I've improved any since May. I was struggling on the climbs so figured I might as well try to go fast on the downs. For some reason I just felt weird tonight: Upset stomach, sideache, fuzzy head. I think it's due to either allergies and/or stress from work but regardless, it was still fun riding the trails. Like I said in the title, a bad day up Millcreek is still a good day!

Kris invited a friend from the racing team, Todd Nuemarker and man, that dude is fast. Here's a perfect summary of the ride: I led out on the trail to Dog Lake. Todd had never ridden Millcreek before so we wanted to give him the grand tour. I should note that Todd had ridden his bike up Millcreek on the pavement and met us at the upper parking lot. Anyway, I'm riding the middle ring, feeling pretty satisfied with my effort, heart rate is probably in the 160's, when Kris and Todd start talking about HR monitors. The conversation naturally shifts to our current heart rates where I discover that Todd is rolling at 122. Yeah, he's chilling at 122 while I'm busting it in the 160's. That was demoralizing to say the least. So we do a quick lap around Dog Lake and then drop Little Water to Great Western. At this point Todd rolls into the #1 position and 30 seconds later I'm all alone. So I make my may to the Canyons Overlook and regroup with the guys. On the way down I take the lead and do my best to impersonate a Fox (right - like that's possible!). At the intersection with Little Water I turn right and go for it. For me that section of trail was redemption for how sucky I'd felt on the ride. When we got to our car Todd stopped for a minute to chat and then kept riding down the canyon. Did I mention that dude is fast? And strong? He currently races Expert at the ICUPs but I wouldn't be surprised to see him lining up with the Pros at some point.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bike Commute Day 5

Just a one-way commute in to work this morning. I've been laying low the past 3 days, taking it easy, napping and catching up on some odd jobs around the house. I was surprised how tired I was after Little Cottonwood and Butterfield last week so decided to play it safe and recover. Work is pretty stressful right now too as we prepare our final release of '07 for deployment this fall.

Looks like Millcreek is on the menu for tomorrow evening. I was going to ride City Creek (can you believe I've never been all the way up?) until I learned that bikes are only allowed on odd-numbered days.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Like a hot knife through butter

Well, to be honest climbing Butterfield Canyon this evening with Warren felt more like sticking a hot knife in my legs. That climb is tough! It was funny because all day I'd been dreading the 1/2 mile section of switchbacks where the grade hits 14%. However, that section seemed much easier than I remembered yet the final stretch of climbing at 7-8% seemed much longer and more difficult than I anticipated. Overall the climb went well and it was fun riding with Warren. That guy is strong and fast both up and down. While I was riding the brakes all the way down the narrow, rocky, sandy upper section he was just ripping it. You'd have thought he was on a mountain bike given how fast he was going over the poor road conditions! I felt a bit silly as he had to wait for me at least 3 times on the descent and on the second half my high gear of 50x12 resulted in my spinning out a few times. It was a fun ride and we couldn't have asked for nicer weather. Pictures were taken by Warren at the top.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Don't Believe the Name

Ok, let's get one thing straight: Little Cottonwood Canyon is not little. As far as climbs go this baby is huge, massive, enormous. Just ask the finishers of the 2006 Tour of Utah what they thought about Stage 6! Once you hit the main climb it's game on until the top. Sure, after Tanner Flat is behind you the grade calms down to a manageable 6%-7%. However, you need to remember that the reason 6%-7% feels easy is because you just finished dealing with 8%-10%! The reality is that this climb doesn't ease up at all. There are no flat spots and no gentle downhills to catch your breath. It's game on from start to finish.

Given that I'm not much of a climber I was quite pleased with my effort. I started timing at the intersection of South Little Cottonwood Rd and Wasatch and stopped when I reached the pay station just before the pavement turns to dirt at the top of Alta. My time today was 1:13:20 which, compared to my previous best time of 1:18 set last fall, is nearly 5 minutes faster. It's nice to finally see some proof that I'm actually improving!

Kris put in a consistent, steady effort to climb Little Cottonwood for the first time. It's an intimidating canyon and he was excited to check it off his list of cycling "To Do's". Unfortunately, it doesn't get any easier the second and subsequent times up! However, understanding what is required and how to measure your effort does make a huge difference. The first time is always difficult as you don't know when to go hard and when to conserve.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Millcreek Triple Date

Millcreek trails are always sweet but tonight, after a pair of morning and mid-afternoon thunderstorms, in the cool evening temperatures, they were absolutely amazing. Conditions were perfect: Damp and tacky with no mud. The ride split up on the way to Dog Lake with the boys leading the way. We were riding easy, chatting and enjoying the trail as the women did the same a few minutes back. At Dog Lake we sent the ladies back down Big Water while the guys took Little Water and Great Western back to the intersection with Big Water. After regrouping we decided to head up Great Western. Craig and I kicked it up a few notches and cruised up to the Canyons overlook. Mike, who had set a new PB at the Snowbird Hillclimb this morning, rode this section with his wife while Cami and Kim climbed together. On the way down we spread out with Cami and I bringing up the rear. Cami, while still tentative, descended much better than she did 2 weeks ago which was a good thing as the light was fading quickly. We hit the parking lot around 8:15 after a fun descent in the shadows. I think Team Rico's on to something with his Millcreek night rides. Anybody have any light recommendations? I imagine the trails take on an entirely new dimension when ridden after sundown.

Many thanks to Great Grandma for keeping the kids well entertained while we were up the canyon. For sure they had as much fun as we did!

Oh yeah, one more thing: Happy birthday to Art. Nice to see someone who can still humble the young guys with his full repertoire of bike gaming skills. Road, mountain or cross, he can mix it up with the best. Well, when he keeps the longboard in the closet that is!

Friday, August 17, 2007

AF Canyon Road

Climbed to the summit of American Fork Canyon this morning with Kris. It had stormed not more than 20 minutes before we started riding so the road was wet but no rain was falling. Riding immediately after a storm is fantastic as the normal mountain scents are intensified by the moisture in the air. Nothing smells better than a damp pine forest. Laundry detergents and air fresheners may claim to be "Mountain Fresh" but once you've experienced the real thing there really is no substitute.

Our time was limited due to commitments at work (unfortunately for me this is only going to get worse over the next few weeks...) so we had to do an out-n-back. However, this is definitely a road I need to experience more fully in the near future. Next time I'd like to drop down to Provo Canyon and then climb back up from the Sundance side of the mountain. That should be good for close to 6,000 feet of elevation gain. At some point I'd like to attempt Fatty's Alpine Guantlet route but that may need to wait until next year.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bike Commute Day 4.5

Did the full commute today. I was a bit worried about riding in the heat on the way home but thankfully there was good cloud cover. Now seems to be the preferred time of year for road construction/resurfacing. No matter what route I try there is some sort of road work to deal with. At least none of the city roads are chip sealed. That's probably the one and only aspect of riding in Payson that I don't miss!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

10 Year Anniversary

Today Cami and I celebrate our 10 year anniversary. That seems like a long time but as soon as our kids arrived on the scene time started absolutely flying. Not that it was dragging for the first 3 years but you know what I mean. The current plan is to go out and eat some raw fish (aka sushi) tonight and, assuming the weather cooperates, I'd like to ride some dirt together this afternoon while the kids are in school. I'm a pretty lucky guy to have a wife that understands my addiction to riding. Now if she could just understand my need for new bikes & components... Speaking of which, maybe I'll pick up a pair of new bikes for us to ride - that should cost as much as diamonds, the traditional gift for 10 years!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Deer Creek South Fork Loop

This evening Ed and I left work and headed up American Fork Canyon for his inaugural ride on the trails. So far I've only learned one route: The standard blue "lollipop" as outlined on the Deer Creek South Fork trail description courtesy of Utah Mountain Biking. As always (this is my third ride on this route so far this year) the trails were fantastic, even with all the dust. Perhaps sensing our dislike for the abundance of soft dirt, small rocks and dust that layered the trails, the weather gods sent us our own personal thundercloud. As we finished the Deer Creek South Fork descent it started to rain and continued to rain until we reached the summit road. It never developed into a full scale downpour, but was definitely more than a sprinkle. We didn't see any lightening but heard the rumblings of thunder as the storm passed overhead. The moisture cut down on the dust but also made the rocks and roots quite slippery. As we jumped on Ridge 157 at the summit we took the intial descent fairly easy as it was still damp. By the time we reached Pine Hollow the trails were nice & fast. Speaking of which, Ed was ripping the downhill sections as if he'd been riding these trails all his life.

This is Ed in motion:

And this is Ed waiting for me to catch up:

Luckily for me Ed is racing the XTERRA this coming Saturday so he was taking it easy on all of the climbs. Unfortunately, while he said he was going to do the same on the downs, I had a hard time keeping him in sight! Maybe if I had a 6" travel bike I could shred faster. Well, probably not...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Portable Snacks & Hunting Grasshoppers

This evening I rode 5 miles with my 7 year old on the Jordan River Parkway. A nice, easy 45 minute recovery ride. Tonight was Alder's first ride in his new Pearl Izumi kids jersey. It has 3 pockets in the back, just like a standard adult jersey, and he packed 2 granola bars and a cliff bar, one in each pocket. As we rode along he ate, while riding, finishing the last at the end of the ride. It was pretty funny to watch as he thought it was the coolest thing ever, to be able to pack snacks in his shirt and eat them on his bike! Another fun aspect of the ride was the abundance of winged grasshoppers. As we rode down the path they would rise up in flight only to land again a short distance away. He tried, unsuccessfully, to catch one but couldn't get close enough without sending them into the air. Finally, I suggested that he lie down on his stomach so as to create a lower profile which, hopefully, would allow him to escape detection. He looked at me and asked, "Are you serious?" to which I replied, "Yes, try it." As luck would have it he was able to catch a grasshopper on his very first attempt using my recommended technique! Yeah, that Entomology class I took in college paid off big time tonight. I rode with the grasshopper to the car, he held it while I drove home, and it is now in his bug aquarium in the garage. I don't recall ever enjoying a recovery ride more than I did tonight. :)

Happy Birthday Fox & Adam

These dudes have two of the more entertaining blogs devoted to riding on the web. I'm not sure how old they are but I do know their bike skills are getting better with age. Head over to Fox's and Adam's sites to wish them well.

Thanks guys for all you do for Utah cycling.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bike Commute Day 3.5

I'm tired today and it's all because of this book. You see, my wife started reading it before me which means she has first priority for reading in the evening. Thus, I don't get a shot at it until she's ready for bed. So I've been staying up 1-2 hours later than I normally would reading. I was ok riding in this morning (it's hard to feel too bad since I treat my commutes as a means of logging some easy, endurance miles) but this afternoon I'm totally beat. So I'm catching a ride home with a friend and leaving the bike at the office. Weak I know but hey, at least I'm finally starting to listen to my body right?

Thanks to those who shared opinions on my Coaching post. I'm making good progress in my research though if any of you have additional thoughts please feel free to comment.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Bike Commute Day 3

Not much to say other than I had a tailwind this morning and a headwind this evening. The temperature has cooled to the low 90's but I still have a hard time staying hydrated on the ride home. I weighed myself before showering tonight and I was at 160 where I'm normally around 162 first thing in the morning. I drank two big bottles yet still lost a bunch of water weight. I'm not sure how the pros handle their late starts in the summer!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Millcreek Date

I can't get enough of the upper Millcreek Canyon trails. This afternoon Cami and I dropped the kids off at Great Grandma's house and headed up for a fun 2 hours of riding. After the rain we've had this week the trails were in top notch condition. We headed up Big Water to Great Western and rode up to the Canyons overlook. I gave Cami the choice of riding the Ridge Connector to Mid Mountain, riding up the Crest for a while or returning to Big Water and climbing to Dog Lake. She chose the latter so we dropped down and rode up to Dog Lake.

It was a nice change to ride these trails at a relaxed pace as it gave me a chance to finally take some pictures. Given how little Cami has been on her mountain bike so far this year she rode really well. Her descending is still slow and tentative but she climbed like a champ. I know it took me a good year before I actually started to enjoy riding my mountain bike down the trail.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Coaching Question

For those of you who train with a coach, who do you work with?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Wildest descent of my life

You know that crazy thunderstorm that hit the valley this evening? The one that completely obscured the mountains to the east? Well, Kris and I were lucky enough to have the privilege of descending Big Cottonwood Canyon in that monster. It certainly provided an epic finish to Kris' first ride up Big C!

We met at the parking lot at the mouth of the canyon at 5 pm and headed up. The climb was good, extremely hot and humid in the beginning but after the switchbacks it cooled down. The sky was overcast and dark, but since I'd checked doppler radar before leaving work and seen zero activity on the east side I figured we'd be ok. And we were for 13.8 miles until it started raining as we approached Brighton. Luckily the store was open so we parked our bikes under the front entry and went inside to wait out the storm. A Pepsi and cookie later the rain was tapering off and we were feeling good about our chances. We put on our jackets (man were we glad we'd brought them with us!) and headed down. I had assumed, based on past experiences with high mountain storms, that after a mile or so we'd encounter dry roads and warmer temperatures. Unfortunately, in our case the rain only intensified as we descended lower until we found ourselves in the middle of an epic downpour accentuated by some of the loudest thunder I have ever heard. It was so loud that I got to the point where I'd brace myself after each burst of lightening for the bone shaking thunder that would immediately follow. It was seriously crazy but the thought that kept going through my head was that it couldn't be too dangerous since the Tour of Georgia had encountered similar weather in 2005 and the officials allowed the race to continue. What was hard to manage was the rain. It was pounding so hard that at times it was difficult to see. Plus, the road was completely covered with water. In some spots mini rivers full of debris were flowing across the road. I just let the bike keep rolling, braking well in advance of the corners since my stopping power was somewhat limited. I kept thinking that at some point I'd leave the storm behind but it stayed with me right up until I turned into the parking lot. I'm glad Kris was a ways behind me so as not to hear me whooping like a crazy man. Looking back I probably should have been more concerned but for some reason I was grinning like a madman and thoroughly enjoying the ride.

When I returned home my kids told me about the crazy storm with thunder and lightening they had experienced. According to the news, South Jordan received .70 inches of rainfall! My wife told me that the kids were scared and prayed that they would be ok and that I would be safe riding my bike. Never underestimate the power of a child's simple prayer. Maybe that's why I wasn't worried...

It was definitely a descent for the personal record books.

Kris drove a few miles up the canyon afterwards and snapped a few pictures as the weather cleared. Pretty cool shots.