Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'd rather be cycling as you can see by my grass

Work has been busy lately with quarter end accounting activities making for long working days and the last 3 Saturdays I've done long bike rides, the kind of rides that take up half your day even when you start as the sun is coming up. The last thing I want to do after a long day at work is mow the lawn and the last thing I want to do after a long ride is fire up the mower at the hottest part of the day.

Today I had good intentions. I decided I needed to do some work around the yard (like mow the lawn), so I climbed AF canyon and then pretty much came straight home. The plan was to mow the lawn while it was still cool. Instead I ended up watching the DVR recording of the Mt. Ventoux stage of the Tour de France. Pretty amazing how Lance at 37 was responding to all of the attacks by the Schleck brothers. It's good motivation for me who's making my own comeback of sorts.

On a side note, is it just me or is the team RadioShack announcement by Lance sort of anticlimatic? When I think of RadioShack, I think of going to the mall in Wenatchee, WA when I was 8 years old (in the early 80's) with my older brother Brent who was really amazing with electronics. He'd buy lots of transistors, wires, solder, etc. and it usually took forever for him to pick out all of the little various parts. So when I think of RadioShack, it just isn't that exciting. Is that the best sponsor they could get? I mean, why not try to land a flashy company like Google or Goldman Sachs or maybe Wells Fargo Bank to go along nicely with the Rabo Bank and Saxo Bank sponsors?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Butterfield Canyon

Back in the spring I was hunting for new climbing rides and came across Butterfield Canyon, which is near Herriman and the Kennecott Copper Mine. I attempted the climb but ran into snow on the road about halfway up. Since then, I've wanted to try again as I was curious whether the top half of the climb is as tough as rumored.

From the turnoff of HWY 111 to the top, it's about 6.9 miles and approximately 2,300 vertical feet with the summit at 7,786 ft. (per my Garmin). The first 3-1/2 miles are uneventful but then it really gets steep for the next mile. It was so steep that I was in my 30t front ring (yes I have a triple and on this day very glad to have it) and 25t rear cog and either standing up to keep my momentum going until my heart rate redlined or sitting in the saddle grinding it out until my heart rate came back down. After this brutal stretch, the road flattened out a bit for a half mile and then ticked up to 8 or 9% for the last 2 miles.

It definitely was a very challenging climb. I was disappointed that the road had quite a bit of rocky debris on the last 2 miles (see my picture below) as it made the descent pretty sketchy. The thing I like about it though is the approach ride from Utah county is pretty nice, the view at the top is great and it's a nice change of scenery to keep things fresh.

Kennecott Copper Mine (Butterfield Canyon is on the left of the mine in this picture):

Lots of rocks on the road in some sections near the summit:

View from the top looking NE down the canyon road:

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Smoothie the night before my long ride

On Friday night I made this smoothie, hoping it would give me some good fuel for my long ride on Saturday. It's made up of fresh peaches, banana, fresh blueberries, skim milk, 2 scoops of protein powder and one scoop of vanilla ice cream (slow churned Dreyers).

Johnny P. and the Nebo Loop

This morning I was halfway up the climb to Payson Lakes on the Nebo Loop Rd. when all of the sudden a car pulled up beside me and the driver said "Hey how's it going...great to see Omniture out on the road," or something like that. Immediately I recognized the driver of the car to be John Pestana, the co-founder and current Board of Director of Omniture, commonly known as "Johnny P". I was wearing my Omniture cycling kit in case you're wondering how he recognized me.

I've always thought highly of Johnny P. He made himself a small fortune when Omniture went public in 2006 in one of the most successful IPOs of that year. Our stock price went from $6.50 out of the gate in June 2006 to almost $40 by the end of 2007. Despite his wealth, which sometimes ruins people, he's always had a level head and been humble and approachable, at least from my observations. Before he left Omniture as an employee to pursue other interests, I used to run into him ocasionally in the office. I remember one time he was using the copier at the same time I was and he started up a conversation and we chatted for a minute. Just a great guy.

It was no different today when I ran into him on the road. It was pretty sweet as he was driving his yellow Lamborghini Murcielago like this one:

When he pulled up next to me, I could hardly carry on a conversation with him as my heart rate was close to 160 from the climb. He said he and his buddies were driving the Nebo Loop and then he said goodbye and sped off. His buddies were following, one in a Ferrari and another in a Dodge Viper. Pretty awesome!

I hadn't climbed more than another mile and I ran into Jay Beck with a couple of his mountain bike friends that he grew up with in Goshen. I work with Jay at Omniture in the accounting department. He's a good guy.

Continuing on, I made it to the Payson Lakes. Here's a picture:

Overall, I liked the climb. At the bottom of the canyon for the first few miles there are quite a few undulations in the road, which was an added challenge having to switch from short climbs to short sections of flats/downhill. I noticed the road at the bottom was pretty beat up (especially noticeable on the descent when I wondered if this is what riding on cobblestones is like). The grade ticks up after mile 3 with the toughest sections of 7%-8% coming between miles 5 and 6 and then again between miles 7 and 10. To Payson Lakes, it's about 12 miles and 3,100 vertical ft. If I would have had more time, I would have loved to continue on the Nebo Loop Rd. and finish the climb to the summitt and drop down into Nephi, but since I rode from Lehi, that wasn't an option (next time I'll drive to Payson).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

To pass or not to pass?

A couple of days ago I was riding along through Alpine on my early morning ride at a steady pace of around 20 mph when two other guys on bikes came up on my wheel, kindly greeted me and then passed me on the left. This was all fine and dandy until 10 seconds later they dropped the pace down to a leisurely 17 or 18 mph. I thought okay, I don't want to pass them right back as if I'm trying to show them up, so I dropped my speed down too. I figured they'd be turning a different way than my planned route within a matter of minutes and then I could pick up the pace again, no worries.

Well, as luck would have it, I found out after following them for another 5 minutes or so (including 3 turns) that they apparently planned the exact route that I planned! So what do you do I pondered? They probably think by now that I'm stalking them, since I'm following their every move. I probably should have just peeled off on a different route, except my problem is that when I decide on a specific route, I don't like to change mid ride. As I was debating what to do, the road turned to a short hill and then a short descent. I decided this is enough. No more tailgating and soft pedaling. I went into the drops, passing them on the little descent, settled back into my planned pace and didn't look back.

I guess the moral of this story to me is that if you're out cycling and you pass a stranger, it's poor cycling etiquette in my mind to then immediately drop you speed down a notch unless you're truly spent from your hard effort to make the pass.

Instead, consider one of my favorite things to do when you see a "carrot" riding in front of you, especially if it's a male rider on a road bike who is reasonably fit. Note: mountain bikes and girls on bikes don't offense intended, it's just a general rule as I'm sure there are plenty of folks in both classes that could drop me in a heartbeat. So, you see the carrot up ahead and you make a hard effort to catch the carrot, and then lay off the gas as you approach closer, matching the carrot's pace and recovering from the hard effort. If it's a climb, I especially like to then observe their form and wait until they are showing signs of weakening. When the time is right, you turn up the tempo again, only slowing slightly as you pass so that you can cordially say "hello" or "hey." Then it's goodbye for good. Definitely none of this pass and then slow down crap.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

More reasons to climb...

The other day on my blog I posted about my top 5 reasons for my preference of climbs over the flats. Well, this morning I decided I needed to hit the flats for a change and it didn't take long for the flat route to remind me of another big reason for climbing.

6. Stop signs / Stoplights - I hate it when you're on the flats, you get into a good rhythm, pedaling hard, heart rate is up, you're moving at 23 mph and just then you hit a stop sign or a stoplight and you're forced to brake, shift down, etc. At least with a stop sign you can quickly move through, but with the stoplights, sometimes you get stuck waiting for it to turn. And since you're usually riding on a less traveled back road, the light won't turn green for an eternity (arrrghh).

Here's a little trick I learned to speed up the light change on those stubborn lights that take forever to change. Pedal on over to the crosswalk and hit the button! I've done this the last couple of times on the stoplight at the intersection of busy HWY 92 and the road that goes up to Suncrest and within 2 seconds the light changes.

So back to my point. With a mountain climb, you never have to deal with these intersections. It's so much better.