Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gotta go negative

Labor day weekend, Saturday September 4th, 7 AM. Only 157 days until this:

Which means that if I want to finish this in the time I have in mind:

Then I need to lose some pounds between now and then. My goal is to get down to 168 and as of today, I'm 184, so you can do the math: 16 pounds needs to go. I'm not sure why I picked 168. Why not 165 or 167? I don't know. 168 just sounds like an obtainable yet challenging goal, that if met, will make a significant difference climbing the 14K vertical feet come September 4th.

With that goal in mind, I'm planning to ride the bike lots and watch my nutrition closely. Nutrition is where there's a fair amount of room for improvement. I've found that tracking my diet on a spreadsheet each day works as well as anything for me. Maybe it's because I'm a bean counter by profession and dealing with numbers make sense to me. I'll admit it's tedious and takes some extra discipline, but it forces me to focus on not only the quantity of calories but also the quality. And I can easily see the days that went well and those that didn't.

Today I got off to a good start. Breakfast was whole grain oatmeal*, plain yogurt and a banana**. Lunch was sardines, a pear** and a glass of skim milk**. Then I had an apple** and some dark chocolate** for a snack. Dinner was broiled asparagus and chicken from Costco's rotisserie chicken plus a boiled egg for a snack. Subtract off the calories I burned from riding the bike and I'm definitely in the negative today.

*Oatmeal is great. I eat it most every morning. I buy the big box at Costco for like $6 and it lasts me easily 6 months.

**All of these items are provided for free by my employer. I like free food.

Anyhow, we'll see how it turns out. Stay tuned. If I don't post anything about my progress, you'll know it's not going as planned.

Lunch Ride Report - Timp Foothills

Yesterday many of the usual lunch crowd showed up for an hour of pain and suffering. It really ends up being a race as we all ride at our limit up the climbs and try to keep pace with whomever is at the front, trying frantically not to get dropped. On this day, Rick S. led out, so I knew right away that the pace would be brutal. Fun times.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dragon's Back, Betty, Belt, Etc.

Saturday I rode up Dragon's Back and it's in great condition. I cleaned the steep, rocky bottom portion for the first time. There are a couple of wet spots at the top, just before the junction with the Alta Aqueduct Road. It's cool how this once doubletrack trail is slowly filling in as singletrack. I love how this climb has 5 or 6 steep pitches, each followed by a flat that allows you to barely recover before the next climb.

I then made my way over to Betty:

The horses have chewed up Betty pretty good on the steeper spots and it was still wet (but not mucky) on the north facing downhill slopes.
Here's the junction of Betty and the Belt Route:
I didn't expect to get very far and so I was surprised I made it to the top without a problem. Near the high spot on the Belt Route, icy snow patches start to block one side of the trail, but the other half was rideable thanks to the sponge effect provided by the leaves, grass and deer droppings (I think the deer really like this trail).

Once on the downhill side, it dried out again until the section where you wind through the dense scrub oak prior to linking up with Frank. Then the trail was swallowed up by 1-2 ft. of snow and lots of drooping-onto-the-trail scrub oak. I ran into another guy later in the day who took Betty all the way to the Altar without problems, so I think that's the way to go to the Altar until the Belt Route dries out.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Commute on Dirt

Ride to Work

Today I tried something I hadn't done before and that was riding the mountain bike to work instead of the road bike. I live in N Lehi, so I drove to the start of the BST in Cedar Hills. The first several miles of the trail along the bench from Cedar Hills to Grove Creek and then to Battle Creek are all double track. There are quite a few branches off of the main road (mostly due to offroad vehicles tearing up the mountain) but as long as you're heading north/south it's easy to navigate. I saw probably over 100 deer along the way during this stretch. It's a nice, peaceful trail with minimal traffic (no motor vehicles of course). I think I'm going to bring my boys out to ride this portion of the trail as it's mostly rolling terrain with no exposure. It'll be a good way to expose them to riding the dirt.

After Battle Creek*, you climb some fairly steep, loose double track and then it turns to single track, then more climbing on single/double track and finally it's all single track the rest of the way to the shooting range.

*I wasn't going to mention this, but I crossed Battle Creek at the wrong spot, so I ended up having to cross the water while carrying my bike and unfortunately I slipped on a wet, icy rock and fell into the water up to my knees. It made for a cold rest of the ride.

Some trail between Battle and Dry near the high point.

In case you're wondering, this took me about an hour of ride time from Cedar Hills to 1600 N in Orem. Once I get the route dialed in, it'll be probably closer to 50 minutes.

Here's the GPS track:

Ride Home with a Detour

After work, I met Kanyon Kris at the shooting range. In the parking lot I saw this trailer that looks like it can carry 20 bikes. I like the design, just what were they thinking on the color?

We rode from the shooting range north past Dry on the BST and hit some side trails. We ran into Chris Holley and stopped and chatted about the awesomeness of the timp foothill trails. We all agreed we have something special in our own backyard.

As we continued on, Kris asked me how long I've been mountain biking and I confessed it's only been several months. He on the other hand has been doing this for 20 years now! I'm sure I could learn a thing or two from him.

As we finished up, I went my separate way north back to my car in Cedar Hills. What a great day of biking. The only thing I'm missing is a lunch ride!

Monday, March 22, 2010

More BST: Orem to Pleasant Grove

I rode the BST trail again tonight after work and it's drying out quickly. There were only a few very small patches of mud the entire ride. This time I had enough time to drop down to Battle Creek. I was sort of disgusted at how torn up and littered the hillside is as you get closer to Battle Creek. I should of taken some pictures of all the trash, beer cans, shotgun shells, ruts, etc. There was this one steep grade where it looked like some yahoos had taken their dirt bikes and had a contest to see who could climb the farthest, leaving an ugly scar on the slope and damaging the single track.

It would be great if a group of us locals could get a work crew together one of these days and help improve the BST. Even just some simple trash pickup would go a long way to making this part of the trail more enjoyable.

Speaking of locals, I ran into Kanyon Kris on my way back. I've never met Kris, but I read his blog regularly. I gather he probably knows the trails around the timp foothills better than anyone around. As we passed each other going opposite directions, he asked if I knew Rick in reference to the Adobe Kit I was wearing. I confirmed and then acknowledged I recognized him to be Kris. So, I'm thinking in 20 years when I'm old and grey (no reference to you Kris as being old and grey) that I'll run into random people on the trail and they'll recognize me. That'd be cool. I think.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

BST North from Shooting Range

It was great to get out in the sun yesterday on the mountain bike, get a little mud on the bike and start working on my cyclist tan*.

*Dad, if you're reading this, in a few months we should compare tan lines. Your awesome farmer's tan versus my cycling tan. I've always been impressed with my Dad's almost perfect farmer's tan. Growing up, and I'm sure this is still true, he would wear the same style of short sleeve work shirt every day. He tans easily and spent lots of time outside being a farmer and all, but would rarely wear shorts or take off his shirt in the sun. So, when he'd take off his shirt that one time at the lake water skiing, it was an awesome sight indeed. White as white everywhere but his arms and neck!

I started at the shooting range in Orem and headed north on the BST, past Dry Canyon and almost to Battle Creek Canyon before I ran out of time and had to head back. The trail was rideable for sure, but still fairly muddy in 2 or 3 stretches where the snow next to the trail on north facing slopes hadn't yet melted. In some spots that are now dry, the horses had chewed up the trail quite badly, leaving deep pock marks. It made me wonder if horse trail riders (is that what they are called?) have a network of local blogs like the cyclists do here locally. I think I'll look into that, do some google searches you know to see what I can find and maybe post some "constructive" comments about not riding your horse on the trail in February when the dirt is just beginning to thaw into a mud bog mess.

Also, way off topic, but it was a wonderful day today after BYU beat Florida in double OT. I'm excited for the game on Saturday against Kansas St. I think they can take 'em, especially now that they have that losing steak monkey off their back and first game jitters should be gone.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Fever

It's not quite officially spring but it sure feels like it. A group of us (Miles, Rick, Nick, Brandon, Dave and Ryan) left from the Adobe parking lot at lunch and rode (raced?) out to HWY 92 and back. Unfortunately, about 3 seconds after taking the above picture my front tire popped after I hit a rock. I tried to repair it and my crappy thin spare "race tube"* got a hole in it too. Thanks Tiffany for coming to rescue me.

*I will never buy another such tube in my life to save on weight. It's not worth it. They puncture too easily.

I also got to ride to and from work yesterday, so 3 rides in one day. Today I brought the mtb for my lunch ride. It's going to be pushing 60 degrees and sunny. Hopefully the BST won't be muddy.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

New Details on Tour of Utah "Ultimate Challenge"

On Tuesday, I questioned whether the 1,000 Warriors road race would continue in 2010. As it turns out, it looks like the equivalent of last year's 1,000 Warriors will continue as an organized ride called the "Ultimate Challenge." Check out the Tour of Utah's website for updated details. It won't be an official race but the route will be the same, beginning in Park City and finishing at Snowbird after climbing the Alpine Loop and Suncrest (96 miles and 10K of climbing).

Here's my GPS track from the 2009 race:

So, mark your calendars for Saturday, August 14th. I think it will be a great training ride for PCP2P and Lotoja.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oxygen Deprivation

Today after work I did some intervals on the water tank road in Orem above the cemetery*. 2 min. 15 seconds each going pretty much as hard as I could handle. It was painful. The type of pain where your lungs burn, your front teeth tingle and even after you stop, there's about a 15 second period where you basically collapse on the handlebars and gasp for air. Then there's the nausea.

*For the locals, the road is in good shape (not muddy) until just before the last steep grade before the top. After that it starts to get soft and rutted from trucks going through the mud. I wonder how much longer till we'll be riding the single track? Next week's weather will hopefully hurry that along.

I was surprised at how hard it is to sustain an intense effort for just over 2 minutes. You see, in my mind, prior to doing these intervals, I was thinking and maybe trying to convince myself that two minutes is so short when compared to the long rides on the bike. The reality is that when you're anaerobic (without air), 2 minutes seems like an eternity.

I read an article the other day in which a cycling coach said he believes that the best cyclists are those that can tolerate pain the most, specifically referring to the pain that's inflicted when completing these intervals. Makes sense. If you don't ever put in the hard work, you'll limit your level of fitness and ability on the bike. On the flip side, you have to make sure you don't over train. I like that.

We'll see how it goes for me. I'm planning to do some sort of structured interval training at least once per week and hopefully twice per week as I get stronger and as the season progresses.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

2010 Tour of Utah - 1,000 Warriors Dead?

Yesterday, the Tour of Utah issued a press release on the dates for its 2010 stage race. It'll begin on August 17th with the prologue and end with the Park City to Snowbird stage on Sunday, August 22nd*.

*I may just have to sneak out the back door of church to see the pro peloton zip by on the climb up Suncrest. Actually, the best place to watch would be on the descent of the Alpine Loop at that first hairpin turn below the summit. I'd like to see how fast they can handle that corner.

And regarding the related infamous "1,000 Warriors Race" that I rode in last year, it looks like per the release that there are more details to come as to what type of race (or ride?) this will shape up to be:

"The Tour of Utah will also include a non-competitive ride for enthusiast** cyclists the Saturday before called "The Ultimate Challenge." Detailed information for The Ultimate Challenge will be released soon."

**What's up with the use of the word "enthusiast" cyclists. Come on! Give us more credit than that. How about amateur racers? That sounds much better. When I think of enthusiast cyclists, I think of the ladies that sign up for the 20 mile annual AF donut ride or whatever it's called.

Anyhow, based on the name, "The Ultimate Challenge" I'm assuming/hoping it will be something similar to last year, except that if the route includes the Alpine Loop, I'm confident that this year the organizers and UDOT will be smart enough to close the road for a couple of hours. I did notice that has a "Tour of Utah Amateur Criterium" on its calendar for August 21st, but I can't imagine a crit being described as "The Ultimate Challenge." Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Bike

I finally took the plunge and bought a high-end road bike. I've been riding an enthusiast level Trek with a triple crank for the past 2 years. It served me well but it was definitely time to upgrade. My new ride is a 56" 2009 Specialized Tarmac S-Works SL2 with SRAM Red. The wheels are Roval Fusée SL E5's (1,450 grams in case you're interested), the crank is the S-Works FACT carbon 53 x 39t and the pedals are Look Keo 2 Max Carbon. I'm a little concerned about the 11 X 26t cassette paired with the 53 X 39t crank, especially when I like to climb and I weigh 185.....okay, I lied I'm really 187 but soon I'll be 185 if I could just stop eating so much on the weekends. Fortunately, I already have a Dura Ace 7900 12 X 28t cassette that I picked up on eBay that I'll probably swap out. I'm pretty sure I'll need the extra 2 teeth about the time I'm climbing past Mutual Dell on the Alpine Loop.

This all ads up to bike weighing a mere 15.4 pounds! I know, I know, it's an expensive way to drop four pounds when I could instead pay a really good trainer to help me shed 20 pounds from my gut. I guess now with a nice bike, I have no more excuses for being slow.

I took the bike out yesterday for a long Saturday ride. This was my fourth time on the bike and by the end of the ride, I was finally becoming comfortable with the aggressive geometry of a race bike. My first ride was earlier in the week up the south side of Suncrest and on the descent I was very tentative as I wasn't used to being so low in the drops. Overall the bike has a very fast, stiff, crisp and responsive ride feel and I'm looking forward to many good rides on it this season.