Saturday, May 30, 2009

Butterfield Canyon

Each time I ride Butterfield Canyon I come away with three thoughts:

1. That climb is a total butt kicker.

2. At under 2.5 hours round trip from my house in Riverton, I should do this ride more often.

3. Who in the world are Colton and Josh?!

Of course, the reason why I don't ride Butterfield more often is because it is in fact such a butt kicker. Looking at the climb from a statistical point of view it doesn't seem so difficult: A bit under 7 miles and 2,300 feet of elevation gain. That doesn't seem bad does it? The problem is that you gain most of the elevation over the second half of the climb. And when it eventually does get steep it quickly becomes really, really steep.

In fact, the middle section of switchbacks is so brutal and unrelenting that if you're not mentally prepared for the inevitable pain & suffering you'll soon find yourself either walking your bike or flipping a U-turn. Think I'm exaggerating? Go ride it and experience it for yourself!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Half Throttle #1

Dang, bike racing hurts!

If I didn't have so much fun I might end my competitive season right now. Call me crazy but I'll be back for more. The Round Valley course is awesome with a nice dirt road climb to spread things out and fast, twisty singletrack to keep it interesting. I had a good start and entered the 1-track in about 5th or 6th place behind Mark A. who pinned it from the line. I stayed close to the front group on the fast tailwind section. Once we started climbing, however, I started to lose contact. It was at this point that Andy passed me and I began to realize that a pre-ride of the course would have been helpful as I had the mistaken assumption that the climbs were short. Because of this I tried to keep it in the big ring which eventually led to a massive blow-up. I suffered for what seemed like an eternity as probably 4-5 racers came around me (including Kris who beat me at the first race of the series last year but never returned to give me a chance to redeem myself - hopefully he doesn't do the same thing this year!) as I struggled to recover. Eventually I pulled it together and rode a good second lap, though I didn't pass - nor was I passed by - anyone.

The kids race is free and they race on some fun, flowy, non-technical singletrack. I'm hoping to get Alder out to give it a go before the venue changes to Solitude.

I scored a pair of Skullcandy Smokin Buds in the raffle which, due to their pretty lavender color, were quickly claimed by my daughter.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Family Ride

We hit the Jordan River Parkway Trail this afternoon for a fun 1.5 hour ride. This was our first family ride and given that Cami is 8.5 months pregnant I'm thinking a bike trailer will be a mandatory purchase in the not too distant future!

Kate has obviously outgrown her bike and will soon be shredding on a real mountain bike. Her Ibex Alpine 320K is on order and should arrive later this week. I'm curious to see her reaction to Lambert Park.

Alder is in good shape thanks to all the running he's done with soccer and is excited to hit the trails. He should have the legs to try some of the Draper trails (perhaps he'll soon become the youngest person to submit a time for the Clark's TT!) as well as move to some of the longer options at Lambert (thus far we've stuck mainly to River and High Bench).

The kids were a little disappointed that we didn't see any snakes or frogs but had fun nonetheless looking at birds and finding insects. If anybody knows of a place to catch tadpoles (if it's not too late in the season) and/or frogs let me know.

Snake Whisperer*

*That's what Kris called me after I picked up this cool Gopher snake for a few pictures. Snakes like this serve as motivation for my 9 year-old to get out and ride his bike with me. He's always disappointed when I tell him I saw a snake but didn't bring it home with me!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Timp Foothill Trails

I've been meaning to ride Kris' home trails for quite a while now and finally made it down this afternoon. It was nice to have a tour guide as I struggled to maintain my bearings - there are a ton of trails in those foothills!

Here's a quick summary of our route taken from Kris' blog:

We went up the Water Tank road, up Betty, up Lament, up Area 51, down the GWT back to the Altar, down Frank, Down Dragon's Back, west on the Union Aqueduct road, up the Race Course and back up to the Water Tank road, then up Betty again, half way up Crank, then down Ireland and Water Tank road then city streets back to my house.

We rode for 2:18 and climbed 2,799 feet. The skies looked threatening the entire ride but never produced any significant rain, thunder or lightening. In fact, the cloud cover provided a welcome relief from the sun and kept the temperature cool & refreshing.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Draper Social

I rode the Draper ICUP course this evening with Doug and Erich from Team Revolution. Not only were they a blast to ride with but both of them timed themselves up Clarks so I was able to post two new results to the official tt blog. I mention the time trial to most people I meet on the trail and in the Equestrian Center parking lot. They probably wonder who I am and why I care so much about the tt, but I figure most of the site's publicity comes via word of mouth so why not open mine and let people know it's out there if they want to give it a go. So far there have been 23 results submitted in 2009 for men and 2 for women. Given that Clarks has been open just over a month I'd say we're off to a nice start. I wonder if anybody will beat Bart's record 8:58 from last year?

The course was fun and we saw lots of racers out pre-riding which is a good thing as it's going to be a real challenge on race day. Not so much because it's a technical course (which it's really not), but rather because it's very, very fast. What's so difficult about fast you ask? Well, the trail surface is quite slippery. There are also a number of tight corners that tend to sneak up on you. And the trail is quite narrow in spots. Oh, and there's also a fair amount of exposure. Like I said, it's a fun course!

Speaking of fast, I wish there was a way to time people as they climb Clarks as I'm sure there will be some very quick times coming out of all categories.

Eat to Ride or Ride to Eat?

It seems that for me, lately, I've been falling more and more into the latter category. And while I certainly enjoy my time on the bike, I oftentimes find myself thinking of food while I ride.

For example, this Monday I commuted to and from work on my road bike. Each way I'm looking at just under 21 miles. Given that I've only been on the bike consistently for a month now, 42 miles feels like a big ride. However, I didn't do the full commute because of the miles. Rather, I did it because I wanted the calories. Specifically, I wanted a blank check to eat as much as I could at Mark's house where we had been invited to eat dinner that night. In fact, I distinctly recall thinking, while I took a long pull on 700 E, that because I was riding hard I'd be able to have a second piece of chocolate cream pie for dessert (I dare you to click that link). Which I did, guilt free, thanks to the ride home.

Another example would be the chocolate cake with olive oil gellato I had at The Wild Grape yesterday afternoon. I remember thinking that it was ok to eat such an indulgent mid-afternoon snack since I would be riding up Millcreek in just a few hours and would need the extra calories.

Or today, while I enjoyed a Five Guys burger, fries and coke, I felt good about it because of the ride I have planned at 6 PM to ride the Draper ICUP race course with a friend from the team.

And so it goes. Ice cream before bed? No worries since I'll be riding in the morning. A grilled brat for lunch on Saturday? Not a big deal since I rode earlier and need the calories for proper recover. Brownies and milk at 1:30 AM? It's just fuel for a ride later in the day.

Could I ride faster if I ate less? Probably. But at what cost? Currently I find the journey tastes too good to go without!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Millcreek Pipeline

I met Raul and Matt after work for an evening ride up Millcreek Canyon. Starting from the park-and-ride on Wasatch we rolled the pavement up to Elbow Fork. Well, at least Raul and I did. Matt was craving 1-track and left us at Rattlesnake Gulch to ride the dirt up the canyon. Raul and I jumped on Pipeline at the top and met up with him just above the switchbacks down to Birch Hollow. He flipped a U-turn and we rode back down and out Rattlesnake Gulch.

The trail was in fantastic condition which surprised me as I expected a fair amount of rutting due to impatient riders hitting it too early. I guess the people who ride Millcreek are more disciplined than those who frequent Corner Canyon or the Salt Lake Shoreline Trail as there wasn't a rut to be found. Either that or Pipeline sees so much traffic that any early season ruts have already disappeared or the soil is such that even when wet it doesn't produce much mud.

What also surprised me was how few riders, runners and hikers we encountered while riding down. For such a beautiful day and given the popularity of Millcreek I had expected much more traffic. Speaking of which, we ran into (figuratively speaking of course) Andy and Rhonda Hypio and Ken Costa. All three were looking lean and fast. Speaking of fast, Matt was ripping up the trail tonight. For a self proclaimed "rec rider" he sure can ride fast!

Unfortunately I left my camera in the car (which fortunately wasn't the victim of a smash and grab unlike the car that had, at some point in the not too distant past, frequented my same parking stall as evidenced by all of the glass on the ground) so I came away from the ride with no pictures. That's a shame as the canyon looked absolutely amazing.

Oh, and I rode the single speed which was awesome.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

First Place!

No, not me. My daughter finished 1st in her annual gymnastics studio competition this past Saturday. I had considered going to Moab the same weekend but decided to stay and watch her compete instead. Here's a quote from Kate as we drove to Chuck-A-Rama to celebrate her victory (it's her favortite restaurant):

Dad, I bet you're glad you didn't go to Moab since I got first place in my gymnastics competition.

I sure was! Moments like this are a good reminder of where my priorities need to be.

Here are videos of her four passes:

Pass #1
Score: 9.8

Pass #2
Score: 9.2

Pass #3
Score: 9.0

Pass #4
Score: 9.0

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lambert Park

Ripped around Lambert Park this evening with Kris for 2 hours and just under 2,000 feet of elevation gain (1,988 to be exact). Normally I ride Lambert in the early spring when everything is still brown so to see all of the color was a nice treat.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dirt & Road Weekend

Friday night I met Kris and Mark (a friend from my neighborhood, not to be confused with my other friend and co-worker Mark) for a continuation of last week's tour of Corner Canyon. Mark recently moved to Utah from Arizona (referring to the Mark from my neighborhood, not to be confused with the other Mark who recently moved to Utah from Idaho) and is in the process of getting to know the local trails. As much as I hate moving it would almost be worth the hassle and expense just to experience another season of first rides. On our first ride I took him up Clark's and then up to the top of Jacob's Ladder. It was about 10 seconds into the descent that I realized he was much faster than me on the downhill. After 30 seconds I lost sight of him. We'd regroup when the trail split but all the way down Ghost Falls and continuing back to the Equestrian Center he continued to rip.

Well, the same pattern repeated itself this Friday as we rode an out-and-back on the BST to Bear Canyon, then up the dirt road to Ghost Falls, down Ghost and over to Silica Pit to lower Clark's to the BST where we headed west to Spring Hollow. New trail or not, he was ripping the downhill. Once the Draper ICUP course is officially marked I need to take him out again so he can show me all the sweet lines!

I saw the small gopher snake in the picture above coiled to the side of the trail as we finished our out-and-back on the northern BST and couldn't resist stopping to pick him for a quick picture. My 8 year old son loves snakes (and frogs, lizards, insects, spiders, etc.) and would have never forgiven me had I not taken a picture!

Saturday I hit the pavement for a road ride up American Fork Canyon via the north and south sides of Suncrest. I met up with Mark (my co-worker and recent transplant from Idaho) in Alpine for a full gas attempt to chase down the small group he had left to join up with me. Unfortunately I didn't have the legs to help him chase and it wasn't long after we began climbing American Fork Canyon that I completely exploded.

I continued slowly to the Tibble Fork junction where I flipped a U-turn and headed back home. The descent out the canyon and west on the Alpine Highway wasn't bad but as soon as I began climbing the south side of Suncrest I could tell I was in trouble. My legs were fried but I resisted the urge to call my wife and request a pick-up and slowly made my way up the climb. At the top I again contemplated an extraction but figured it was silly to stop at the top of a big hill so continued on. In Bluffdale I was again tempted to abort once the long descent finally ended but given that I only had a few miles to go at that point I talked myself into continuing. Arriving home after more than 4,300 feet of climbing over the course of 3.5 hours I was cooked!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Reality Check

The Start. Next time I need to warm-up longer than 14 minutes and 57 seconds.

The view from the bridge. Looks easy right?


I did the Clark's TT this morning. Twice. Dang that hurts! It was also my first ride on the single speed this year and now my back is sore. I've been slacking on my core workouts this spring which hasn't been a big issue on the road bike or full suspension mountain bike. On a fully rigid single speed, however, the core plays a much larger role as I discovered today.

My times were ok. My first attempt was 14:04 and my second was 15:01. That's faster than my first go last year so given that I spent my winter skiing instead of riding I can't complain too much. Plus, I totally blew up on the first attempt, starting way too fast. By the time I reached the left hand bend at the top of the gully I was wasted and hanging on for dear life. I seriously wondered if I would make it up without stopping. Luckily I held on but man, having only 1-gear doesn't leave much margin for error!

I descended the dirt road to the top of Ghost Falls and took that and the Southern Trail back over to Clark's. Speaking of the latter trail I've got to say it pretty much sucked. Eroded along the stream and bulldozed at the bottom, it didn't have many redeeming characteristics. Next time I'll stick to Ghost all the way down.

On my second attempt up Clark's I paced myself better but didn't have much juice left in the legs so my plan to turn it on over the second half of the climb didn't amount to much more than survival. Also, I had to deal with 3 bikes descending Clark's and pass 1 other guy near the top. Finally (this is the last excuse I have) I should state that the trail is quite rough so once it smooths out I'm sure everybody will shave a few seconds off their current times.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dry Creek to City Creek

I read on the Utah Mountain Biking Trail Conditions forum that the Salt Lake BST was too muddy to ride in the vicinity of The Wall (aka Olympic Hill or Heart Attack Hill). That report was posted at 11:12 AM so Mark and I waited patiently until 3 PM to start our ride. We were pleasantly surprised to find that with the exception of a number of puddles, the trail was good to go. I should state for the record that I don't like riding in the mud, not even for a little bit, so when I say "good to go" I really mean it. The Wall was still a bit damp and the main track on the right-hand side did look soft, so we just rode up on the left side which doesn't see as much traffic (it's an old double track up the hill).

The front tire of my single speed has held air since I added more Stans last night. That previously flat tire had served as my excuse for not riding it thus far in 2009. Now that it's been repaired, I can't think of any reason why I shouldn't take it out for a spin at lunch this week. Mark made everything we rode today look easy on his single. Hopefully my fitness is up to the task!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Suncrest Time Trial

My friend Mark (aka SkiBikeJunkie) just created a blog to track times for the climb up the north side of Suncrest. For all of you pure roadies who have yet to summon the courage to attempt the Clark's Time Trial on your road and/or cx bikes this should provide a nice alternative.

Visit the official blog here. Currently the top spot is held by a dirty mountain biker. Let that serve as motivation to get out and hit it hard!