Monday, June 21, 2010

American Fork Canyon - Pole Line Pass Loop

I got an early start this morning and rode up the North Fork Road* from Tibble Fork Reservoir to Pole Line Pass.  I don't particularly enjoy climbing on double track, but often it's the best option for a long, sustained climb on the mountain bike.

*One of these times I'd like to come up the North Fork (not on a weekend**), camp and explore some of the abandoned mining sites that are in this area.  From looking on a topo map, there are lots of them.

**Early Monday morning has got to be the perfect time to ride this road.  I didn't see one ATV the entire ride.  I imagine on the weekend, it's a mess.

At the top of Pole Line (at the spot of the above photo), I hopped on the GWT (Ridge Trail 157) and headed south.  The trail was in great condition until just north of Forest Lake where I ran into some snowy patches on a north facing forested slope and had to dismount to avoid the muck.

Here's Forest Lake as seen from 157 with Mary Ellen Gulch to the left and Mineral Basin to the Right

A bit further south on the trail I ran into more snow and it was back to hike-a-biking.  I was amazed at the determination of some trail biker, who was obviously hell bent on passing through this portion of the trail despite the snow, ice and mud.  I had a hard enough time crossing carrying my 20 lb. bike and couldn't imagine trying to make it on a heavy trail bike, especially given one slip on the ice would certainly result in a 100 ft. tumble, bike and all.

Once back on the sun facing slopes, the trail was dusty dry.  On the descent below Mill Canyon Peak, the trail bikes and runoff had chewed up/left a bunch of loose melon sized rocks on the trail that made the descent tricky.  Is the trail always in that condition or just early before trail work is done?  I would think a crew spending a 1/2 day could really improve this portion of the trail by moving some of the loose rocks.  Note:  I did my part and move a bunch of loose rocks from the middle of the trail.

I finished up the dirt ride by continuing on 157 to the Alpine Loop summit parking lot and then returning back down the road to Tibble

Friday, June 18, 2010

Great Western Trail - Altar to Dry Canyon

A while back I read Dug's account of riding around Timp and ever since I've been dreaming of doing that same ride.  Before I do the whole loop in a day, I'd like to pre-ride portions of the loop that I haven't ridden so that I have a better idea of what to expect.

After work the other day I rode up to the Altar and then continued on the Great Western Trail (GWT), making my way up to the saddle of Little Baldy.  I've decided this is one of my favorite mountain bike rides.  If you haven't ridden it, you should.  You'll love it too.  Here's why it's awesome.  It's a long, sustained climb on single track that alternates between rocky technical terrain, including quite a few sizable tree roots, to smooth, tacky dirt that winds up the mountain under a canopy of old growth pines.  There are some steep switchbacks thrown in the mix that I enjoy trying to clean.  And near the top, before the Little Baldy saddle, your hard efforts are rewarded with this incredible view (looking south to Provo Canyon and Utah Lake):

After the Little Baldy saddle, the trail continues to gain elevation as it traverses across the head of Dry Canyon.  The level of difficulty is high on this stretch due to many tree roots and the loose, narrow trail that has some exposure.  Expect to do some hike-a-biking.

I was hoping to have enough time that evening to complete a loop by dropping down Dry, but I was running out of daylight and wasn't sure how much further I had until the turnoff.  I ended up playing it safely and turned around just prior to where the GWT crosses over this wash* that empties into Dry.

*I later realized from reviewing my GPS track that after crossing this wash I would have had one more gully to cross and a bit more climbing before reaching the meadow where the Dry Canyon trail intersects with the GWT.  Next time I'll keep going and try dropping down Dry.  I've heard the upper Dry descent is sketchy in places, but I don't mind dismounting and walking the bike down in places if I need to.  If anyone has come down this recently, I'd be interested in hearing about it.

Going back down the mountain on the same trail I ascended was still really fun.  I was glad that most all of the hike-a-bike sections were rideable with the help of gravity.

Now, I'm even more excited about riding around Timp after experiencing this taste of the trail.

Oh, and here's a nice meadow that sits just below the GWT at the top of Dry.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Take a left instead...

This morning I wanted to try a new route, so I started at the Indian Hills trail head and rode on the dirt until I could hop onto Squaw Peak Road and then rather than staying right to go to the lookout, I went left and continued on the dirt until I had to turn around, a couple of miles past the Rock Canyon Campground where the road started to get messy from the melting snow.

Here are some pictures.  I can't think of many better ways to spend an early June morning.  Our mountains here along the Wasatch are simply incredible.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Guns, Bikes and Pain

Last night was the Soldier Hollow Biathlon.  It was fun to get out and try something new.   

The course started on the pavement for a short climb, followed by another short climb on some grassy double track before turning into mostly downhill single track for the rest of the lap.  At the end of each lap (we did 5 laps), you'd shoot five targets with the pellet gun in a prone position.  If you didn't miss any targets, you would then ride straight to the next lap, but for every target missed, you'd have to ride a penalty lap.  Typically I would miss one of the 5 targets but I think on one lap I missed two.

I have no idea how I finished as the race was fairly chaotic, but I certainly wasn't near the front.  I was still feeling sluggish and sore from the Monday ICUP race and multiple crashes (check out this video of my second one) and didn't feel like sprinting too hard off the line.  Plus, read on and you'll see my other excuse for not wanting to kill myself.

Here's the trophy* that each of the category winners received:

*isn't that a road bike? 

I got skunked on the raffle this time, although they had some great prizes they gave away including an ipod, a set of Crank Brothers pedals and a nice wooden/stainless steel floor pump to name a few.

Group Ride up AF Canyon

I won't go into much detail, but I will say it was a great morning for me on the Alpine Loop.  I rode with the fast guys and was able to hang with them until just after the Tibble Fork turnoff when Rick attacked and I was quickly dropped as we started climbing the steep grades up to Pine Hollow.  As the group pulled away, I just kept a good steady tempo right at my threshold.  I wasn't really paying attention to my time until at the last hairpin turn, I noticed I was in good shape for a PR.  I ended up at 58:04, six minutes faster than my previous best.

You'll have to check out the entertaining write-ups that Rick, Mark and Adam wrote on their respective blogs.

Here's the group at the top:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Video of my crash at Draper ICUP

With more and more bikers using cameras while they ride, there was a good chance my crash on Saturday would be captured on film.  Sure enough, it's up on youtube. 

Couple of observations on the video.  I mentioned the first rider came around on my left, but the video clearly shows he came on the right.  Don't know if it would have made a difference, but I remember him calling "on your left" so I was maybe moving right.  It doesn't look like either of us ran into the other, it just looks like we got too close and something (I believe it was our bars) got tangled up.  Also, luckily I don't believe the other guy was hurt and I'm glad the riders behind me were quick to react and dodge me or it could have been a big pile-up.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Draper ICUP Race Report 2010

In case you didn't witness it, there was a huge turnout Saturday at the ICUP Draper race at Corner Canyon.  We had 25 people that finished in my category, Sport 35-39.  Also, 28 were in the Sport 30-34 class that started 30 seconds ahead of my group and another 37 in the Sport 40+ that started 30 seconds behind my group.  Let me save you doing the math.  That's 90 guys bunched up on the first section of single track anxious to start racing.  The holeshot was of course fast, but then after the start lap we came to a grinding halt underneath the bridge and I noticed some ahead of me had to balance against the tunnel wall to avoid clipping out of their pedals.  To make matters worse, a bit further up the trail, there was a guy with headphones leisurely enjoying his Saturday mtb ride and as near as I could tell, he was completely oblivious to the fact that a race was on and that he was holding up everyone.

So, needless to say, I was rearing to go once we hit the first short lower fire road climb.  I geared down and  went as hard as I could, knowing I'd get enough of a recovery once the single track started again.  Despite my attack, Miles was right there following me and we passed each other back and forth several times on the first lap.

On the second lap, things were going really well.  I got into a good rhythm on the upper dirt road climb and felt like I was gaining some ground, but of course was only guessing*.  Shortly after dropping down from the outhouse, I took spill #1 (yes, there's more) over the bars as my front tire hit a rock.  Luckily I wasn't going too fast, so after concluding the damage was only skin deep, I quickly hopped back on the bike.

*Don't you hate it when you don't know where you're at in a race?  I need to pay better attention and be sure I stay with the leaders next time from the start.  Then at least if I get dropped, so be it and I'll know it.

Miles and I met up again and traded passing each other back and forth.  It was honestly a ton of fun having that friendly rivalry going on**.

**I haven't mentioned this before, but Miles and I have a common experience in that we both have gone from being out of shape, fat, etc. before we started biking to dropping 50-60+ pounds and now we're racing mountain bikes this season for the first time.

Anyhow, as it turned out, I couldn't hang with Miles at the bottom of the lap and he went by me after the Silica Pits. 

Once I realized I wasn't going to catch Miles and there wasn't much racing left, I decided I just wanted to hold my place, not go down again and finish with my best effort.  The only problem was there were a handful of guys behind me that wanted to pass as I came out of the single track just below the holding pond.  I heard "on your left," but definitely no "on your right" as this other guy tried to pass me on the right at the same time, just I was turning right onto the gravel.  Pretty sure that will cause a wreck every time.  Sure enough......our handlebars got tangled up and we both went down. 

I ended up finishing 7th.  Even though I crashed twice, they weren't too much of a factor in my finish as the guys ahead of me simply rode stronger.

My wife took some good pictures.  She's been really supportive and has come out each week with our 3 boys to watch me ride despite being 9 months pregnant.  A big thanks to her.

Note on this first picture how Darren Harris (I think), who won my category, really wasn't very far ahead after the first start lap.  This is interesting, as I thought the leaders did their damage at the start, but maybe that wasn't necessarily true.

Some more random pictures at the start:
Expert men 19-29

Single-speed (Rick, Nick and Dave)

Expert men 40+

Sport Men 30-34