Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Millcreek Canyon: A true fountain of youth

After riding Millcreek last Wednesday with Kris I knew I had to return for at least one more ride before the winter gate opened on July 1st. The trails are so good that the opportunity to enjoy them with minimal (if any) traffic is impossible to pass up.

Looking at my schedule for the coming week, I realized Monday would be my only chance. It should be noted that while Monday was the 29th day of June and the upper Millcreek trails are only open to bikes on even numbered days, the rule isn't really applicable until the gate opens. I mean seriously, how many people are willing to hike 4 miles on the road (each way) in order to reach the trailhead? Yep, you guessed it: Very few. Or, based on my experience: None.

So Monday it was. Kris was in and so were Mark A. and Alex. This was my first time riding with Alex and I have to say that I came away very impressed. Not only is he an extremely intelligent, pleasant, articulate and friendly guy, but he also happens to be super fast on two wheels! To illustrate my point consider that Kris and I rode a slightly shorter route last week yet finished Monday's ride more than 13 minutes quicker. I'm glad Mark was there so that Alex had somebody to talk to as he rode. Me, when I was close enough to be heard, I couldn't talk because I was breathing so hard!

If we had encountered many other people on the trail I'm sure they would have wondered what triggered the stampede of clydesdales:

Thankfully we did stop occasionally to regroup and take in the scenery.

Here I am enjoying one of the many spectacular views:

Image courtesy of KanyonKris

One thing that's cool about my blog (in fact, perhaps this is the only cool thing about my blog) is all the people I've met because our paths crossed online. On the ride I mentioned to Mark that I'd met all of the guys - Kris, Alex and himself - through the blog. He said that the same was true for him. Which brings me to the title of this post.

Cimbing up to the Little Water trail from Dog Lake we encountered Jared and Eric. I was familiar with both of them from their respective blogs but had never met either in person. After introducing myself, Eric remarked that I was much younger than he'd imagined me to be. Apparently he had been under the impression that I was a 60 year old guy. I laughed at the time, but now I wonder: Do I really seem that old? :)

I finally get to meet the SLC Samurai and Faceless Ghost in person:

Image courtesy of KanyonKris

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Millcreek Canyon

Big Water Trail:

Image courtesy of KanyonKris

Dog Lake:

Image courtesy of KanyonKris

At the top of Great Western approaching the Mid-Mountain Connector:

Image courtesy of KanyonKris


Image courtesy of KanyonKris

We're tentatively planning a repeat ride for the evening of Monday, June 29th.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Starting Over

Quick Stats
Name: Kai Vaun Nielson
Gender: Male
Born: Sunday, June 14, 2009 at 11:32 PM
Where: Jordan Valley Hospital, West Jordan, Utah
Weight: 7 pounds 8 ounces
Length: 20 inches


Life sure is different with a new baby in the house! I think all of us were caught by surprise at how quickly everything changed to accomodate the new arrival. A week ago I was under the impression that I had young kids. Not anymore.

At 7 years old Kate is already a mother in miniature, taking every opportunity she's given to help Kai. Whether it's changing a dirty diaper, choosing and dressing him in a new outfit each morning, rocking him to sleep or making sure his pacifier doesn't fall out when he's fussy, she's always ready and willing to lend a hand.

Alder, on the other hand, is already showing signs of manhood. At 9 years old he still has a ways to go before he matures physically, but after observing how he interact with Kai you'd think he was much, much older. Change a diaper? No thanks. Hold the baby when he's crying? I'll pass on that. Pick out an outfit? Nah, just grab something from the drawer. And so it goes. What he has done, however, is help around the house. You know, attending to the physical needs of Mom and baby. Taking out the trash, getting diapers down from the closet, teaching Cami how to use the baby monitor or showing her the features of the new car seat are all things he enjoys doing. And if the baby is happy, Alder is more than willing to hang out and interact.

Cami is an all star. Physically, she's nothing short of amazing. It's taken me more than a week to recover. Even now, as I type this, I still feel some lingering fatigue. Cami, on the other hand, is going strong. Feeling great. Adapting quicker than anybody to the new routines. She was doing simple core exercises the day she returned home from the hospital. When Kai cried from 9 PM to 1 AM this past Friday night, Cami was calm and composed as she comforted and eventually helped him to fall asleep. (I should note that this has been the only occurence of true colic-type behavior. Poor Kai was exhausted after he finally relaxed and pretty much slept for the next 24 hours!)

Me, I'm still amazed that I'm a Dad again. Often I find myself wondering how it's possible that when Kai turns 9, Alder will be 18. Or that when Kai is 7, Kate will be 14. For some reason that really throws me for a loop. It doesn't seem very long ago that Alder and Kate were babies and now that Kai has arrived I'm beginning to realize my time with them is passing much too quickly. Alder halfway to college? Kate halfway to high school? How is that even possible?! Where did the last 9 years go? Yes, having a new baby in the house has been a big adjustment on many levels.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A damp, but not very muddy, Flying Dog

Image courtesy of Forrest Gladding

I met up with Forrest for a quick session on the lower Park City (or upper Jeremy Ranch?) trails today at lunch. Initial reports from riders coming down the trail were that the lower stuff was good but the upper trails were muddy. We must have timed it just right since we really didn't encounter much in the way of mud. Sure, there were a bunch of puddles and a few of the boardwalk sections on Flying Dog had some mud leading into and out of them, but it was nothing you couldn't ride around, or walk over, without difficulty. In fact, the most mud we encountered was at the very end of the ride on Glenwild as we skirted the golf course through the meadows, but even that wasn't sticky, gunk up your bike stuff, just some wet, dirty soup. However, at that point it started to rain so, not knowing how long it would last, we decided to play it safe and finish up on the road.

Image courtesy of Forrest Gladding

Overall it was an awesome ride with Flying Dog - as is always the case - the highlight. That is just a fun, fun, fun trail to ride. The fact that the surrounding vegetation was incredibly lush and green, the meadows fully in bloom, dirt damp and tacky and our fellow riders few and far between, made it even better. Oh, and both of us were on our single speeds which is, in my opinion, how you should ride these trails. In fact, I'm pretty sure that this area was designed and built by single speeders as the trail flows perfectly, always rolling up or down, never so steep that you worry about losing momentum. It's just one big continuous loop full of silly grins. The fact that I haven't been on a mountain bike since last Wednesday's Full Throttle race made it even better.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

No Hands

For those of you who watch professional cycling on TV, have you ever seen a racer put on/take off a jacket, jersey, gloves or arm warmers while riding no handed? They make it look easy don't they? Have you ever been on a ride and decided to try doing the same, only to realize it's quite a bit trickier in real life than the pros make it look on TV?

Well, today I witnessed something similar. In the bathroom. You see, I drink a lot of water which requires me to pee a lot. Generally I find using the facilities to be quite routine. This afternoon, however, I witnessed something amazing. I entered the bathroom, turned the corner and saw that my co-worker - let's call him Tom - was standing in front of the urinal. Taking a leak. WITH BOTH HANDS ON HIS HIPS!

Before today I'd never thought seriously about peeing no handed. But now that I've seen it I can't help but wonder if I could do it too. In fact, I asked Tom how he did it. His response?

"Well, it's a big urinal."

It looks pretty small to me...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Full Throttle: Single Speed Magic

I don't know how I did it, nor do I fully understand why it happened, but for some reason the crazy notion to race my rigid single speed 29er at last night's Full Throttle race turned out really, really well.

All day at work I was nervous, staring at my ss leaning against the wall of my office across from my desk, wondering what I had gotten myself into. To make matters worse, I decided to bring my Salt Cycling 29 & Single jersey and Twin Six 6" Argyle socks instead of my Revolution team kit. So instead of blending in with the other racers (there are a ton of Revolution folks that show up for the weekly race) I would stand out. And standing out when you're slow isn't fun.

Luckily Mark A. (who has had a very impressive start to his Utah mountain bike racing career) had some friendly words of advice for me: If you can't be fast you should at least look good. He then pulled up his pant leg and flashed the knee high, striped, multi-color SmartWool women's socks he was wearing and explained that at RawRod he knew he wouldn't be the fastest guy there, but by wearing those socks, at least he'd be one of the better dressed riders.

His sage advice calmed my nerves and gave me the confidence to proceed as planned. One other thing I did differently this week was to arrive early and ride a lap of the course as a warm-up. On the single speed, which requires a bit more leg on the climbs, I think this was a big deal. If I had started the race with a shorter warm-up like I did last week I think it would have had dire consequences as the potential to blow up on the climbs would have been much greater.

I had a more conservative start due mainly to my gear limitations - I was spun out rather quickly on the double track. Same story on the initial section of fast, slightly downhill singletrack with the tailwind. However, I think spinning out was a good thing as it prevented me from pushing too hard, too soon, and smoking my legs before the climbs. Speaking of which, my legs were completely toasted at the top on both laps. You may climb faster on a single speed out of necessity but it's certainly not any easier nor does it hurt any less. If anything it hurts more since you don't have the option of shifting to an easier gear. Which, I think, may be the secret to my good performance: With fresher legs entering the climbs, and no option to downshift, I had no choice but to ride hard.

It will be interesting to see if this was a fluke performance or if I'll be able to replicate my good result (for me) next week. Assuming, of course, that my wife doesn't have a baby next week. Her due date is June 12th and, given that our previous two children arrived early, she could pretty much go anytime. Unlike yesterday, if the baby hasn't come by Wednesday, I'll probably be racing with my cell phone!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sundance Mountain Biking

Here are a few pictures I took while pre-riding the Sundance ICUP course last Friday with Mark. I had never ridden any of the Sundance trails before and was blown away by the beautiful surroundings and majestic scenery. It was absolutely stunning! And, I might add, very single speed friendly. Both of us had a great time on our rigid 1-gears.