Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sweet Potatoes and Snow Biking

Sweet Potato

In an effort to improve my cycling performance, I've been watching my diet pretty closely, at least during the day at work when I can closely control what I eat. When I get home, it goes downhill as the cupboard is stocked with the likes of Oreos, Dark Chocolate Pomegranate* Toblerone, etc. So, I've been frequently eating at lunch one of the best foods you can eat: sweet potatoes. I used to hate sweet potatoes but now I love them. Here's the deal. This is the number one vegetable you can eat. Why? Here's why:

  • It's packed with vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A or beta carotene (tons of it...4X the daily recommended allowance). Vitamin A is great for proper eye health. Vitamin C equal to 42% of the daily recommended allowance. Vitamin E and B6 too. The sweet potato also is a good source of manganese, copper, potassium and iron.

  • Low on the glycemic index making it a "good carb".

  • Lots of fiber. Be sure to eat the skin and it has more than oatmeal.

  • No fat

  • 26 grams of carbs, including only 5 grams of sugars. As a cyclist, carbs are the fuel you need. In fact I may test these on a long ride.

  • Even some protein (2 grams)

The sweet potato is easy to prepare too. You just poke some holes in it with a fork and toss it in the microwave for 6-8 minutes. I like mine with brown sugar and a little butter. If you don't want butter, it's still tasty with just salt and pepper. Be creative and try it with different toppings. You'll be surprised at how good they taste and how they will satisfy your hunger for longer than normal.

*You've gotta try these. If you love dark chocolate, you'll get addicted. Costco has it.

Snow Biking

Now.....changing topics. If you were to look at the forecast this week, you'd plan on riding the trainer every day. As it turns out, the weather has been quite nice. At least down in Orem, the snow has been falling at night or in the morning and then during the day, or at least at lunch time, the weather has cleared up and it's beautiful. Not too cold either. I've been taking advantage of the light 2-3 inches of daily new snow in the Timp Foothills. Yesterday I was doing laps up the water tank road until my chain broke. I was disappointed as I had one more climb in me. Today, Jonathan from work joined me and we road up the water tank road to the top of Dragon's Back and then dropped down the Alta Aqueduct Road to Timpanogos Park and back to our cars at the shooting range via the Parkway trail and through the streets of Orem.

I'm discovering it's a ton of fun riding in the snow. A whole new experience. I thought I'd get bored, but I actually really enjoyed riding the flats of the water tank road from above the race course to the top of Dragon's Back. The snow gets deeper the further you go, which provides some resistance and makes it a more challenging ride than if there were no snow. The descents are fun too, although you have pay attention and watch out for ice underneath (make sure your tires have low pressure for traction....I think I'm running around 20 psi tubeless).

I should mention I attempted the singletrack last week (Betty) but it wasn't that fun. The snow is too deep and hikers' tracks make the ground too uneven, although maybe with some practice and more tires smoothing out the trails, it may work. So, get up there and ride! It's a good time.

Here's Jonathan descending the Alta Aqueduct Road:

Also, I saw another Bald Eagle today soaring above us while we were on the water tank road. Here's a picture (I know, crappy picture from my Blackberry):

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Alta Aqueduct Road

Yesterday at lunchtime, I went exploring. I started at the bottom of Provo Canyon on the Provo River Parkway then turned off onto the gravel road at Mt. Timpanogos Park and started climbing. The Parkway trail was a slushy, miserable, wet mess, but once I was on the double track it was nice as there was about 2-4 inches of new snow covering the packed snow and ice underneath. I didn't know where the road I was on would lead me and just kept climbing. As it turned out, it ended up at the gate at the top of Dragon's Back. I later discovered this road I was on is called the Alta Aqueduct Road. Not a bad choice if you don't have enough time to climb Squaw Peak.

Looking down across Provo Canyon towards Squaw Peak:
Here's a map with the GPS:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Watch out when in Provo

Saturday I rode for about 3 1/2 hours along the route in red:

As I made my way south on 9th East in Provo, I stepped up the level of alertness about 5 notches. You see, I lived in Provo for about 4 years and I know what type of drivers roam there. It's a good thing I was on heightened alert because seconds later a little Honda Civic buzzed by me with only a foot or two to spare. It wasn't 20 seconds later as I was approaching 820N that another student waiting to turn left on 820 N while on 9th E cut right in front of me. Again, lucky me that I was anticipating such a move and I braked hard to slow down enough to avoid a potential collision. I'm not sayin' all drivers in Provo are like these two, but there are certainly enough to warrant paying extra attention if you have to cross through this area on your bike.

I really enjoy riding the roads on the southeast side of Provo Lake (very few cars and long stretches of country roads where you can maintain long consistent efforts), but to get there from northern Utah County you don't have many options that don't involve navigating through lots of busy roads and stop lights. In the past, I've hopped onto Geneva Rd. from Vineyard to 600 S Provo, but Geneva Rd. has too many trucks, the shoulders are narrow and speeds are high. This time I took 400 S from Vineyard all the way east to Canyon Road and then south connecting to 9th East. It's actually a good route with the exception of the 9th East section that runs by the BYU campus (where I almost got ran over....). I think next time, I'll detour the 9th East section by going up behind the Provo temple along the bench on 1450 E.

Also, Miles has again made some awesome video of the lunch rides, this time on snow. Here's the link. And yes.......that's me who turfs it at the top of Squaw Peak. Thanks Miles!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Riding with the Local Legends up Squaw

Yesterday I was with a group of 9 guys that biked to the top of Squaw Peak at lunch time in the snow. The conditions were amazing. I was afraid it was going to be icy but it wasn't at all. It was packed powder all the way, fairly grippy and similar to riding on dirt. I'd never really ridden in the snow, so this was a fun, new experience.

We had Rick, Kenny and Brad battled it out on their single speed 29ers to the top. I of course didn't see the finish as I was far behind, but I heard Kenny made it to the top first followed by Brad and Rick.

Here's a short video taken at the lookout point (you'll appreciate my awesome video skills):

Squaw Peak from bjchild on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Saturday road ride

It's been a while since I've done a long road ride, so it felt great to get out for 3 hours on Saturday. It was 21° F when I started, yet I stayed warm the entire ride with the exception of my left foot, which for some reason went numb (right foot was fine). I tried loosening my buckle to allow better circulation, but that didn't help. I think I'm going to have to purchase some new neoprene toe covers as mine are worn through on the bottom. I ended up duct taping the vent holes and that certainly helped. I figure with some new toe covers plus some Craft 3mm neoprene booties over top will do the trick. With this setup, I'll hopefully need only one pair of Smartwool socks, leaving more room inside my shoe.

Here's the map of my ride:

I wasn't planning on climbing the south side of Suncrest at the end of the ride, but I ended up meeting and riding with a cool guy named Davie (like Davie Crocket) while riding through Alpine and he convinced me to ride to the top with him. It's amazing how much more fun it is to ride with someone versus solo. Davie told me how he's a trail runner but had to give up running and took up cycling due to issues with his IT band. He said he likes cycling but would rather run any day. I don't get how one could prefer running over cycling, but I felt bad that he had to give up his favorite activity.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Snowshoeing in the Cascades

I spent some time in Leavenworth, WA with my family over the Christmas break. About 8 miles from Leavenworth is the Chiwaukum Creek trail head that leads into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, some of the most beautiful and pristine forested country I've ever seen. When I was in Scouts growing up, I went on 2 or 3 backpacking trips in this area and those experiences left a deep impression on me. So, it was a real treat to go snowshoeing there one early morning. I only wished I would have had more time to explore. Here are a few pictures I took on the hike:

Chiwaukum Creek: