Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Road Ride

Since I bought my Superfly in October, I've been riding on the dirt non-stop. I wanted to ride the "Turkey Trot" on Thanksgiving morning, but it ended up not working with the family schedule (am I the only one with this issue?). Instead, I dusted off the skinny tire bike and left the house at 7 AM for a climb up the south side of Suncrest, with the thought of returning before the family rolled out of bed.

I'd forgotten how much I hate the pain of the first 10 minutes of the steep part of that climb. I live close to the base of the climb, so despite my efforts to try and warm up and get my blood flowing before the grade ramps up, it never seems to be adequate and I end up gasping for air. Once I was in a good groove though, I just enjoyed the rest of the climb and didn't push it too hard. I made it to the top in around 25 minutes, which is a long shot from my TT personal best back in August, but like I said, I wasn't pushing it. Actually, to be honest, I've gained a few pounds lately and it felt like I had lead in my wheels.

As I was going back down, I had to stop and take this picture of the sun rising over the mountains.
I'm thankful for many things*, but on this Thanksgiving ride, I couldn't help but to be grateful for the beautiful mountains and valleys here in Utah and of course for the bikes that I get to ride through/up/down/across them.

*At Thanksgiving dinner later that day we each had to say what we were thankful for. I really wanted to say I was grateful for bikes, especially my new Superfly, but I showed restraint and expressed my gratitude for more important things.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Got my fix

I went to the BYU vs. Airforce football game Saturday night with my father-in-law. It turned out to be a decent game. I was glad when BYU was up big at the end of the 3rd quarter as I was planning to bail early in order to beat the traffic and fit in a mtb ride before my "committed time" to be home.

I should have just left at the end of the 3rd quarter, but as it turned out, Airforce scored 2 touchdowns in the fourth, so I stayed around longer than planned.
I've never left a football game in such a hurry. I pretty much jogged the whole way from the stadium to my car.
Once on my bike, starting at the firing range, I rode up the water tank road and took this picture of Orem and Utah Lake at the top of the climb above the race course.

I headed up Betty, then turned onto Crank. I love climbing Crank as there aren't too many rocks, yet there are some steep enough spots to make it challenging and fun. By this point it was dark, so I turned on my headlight. Most all of Crank didn't have snow except for this stretch of 50 or so yards:

Shortly after taking this picture, I startled some animal that was about 5 ft. from the trail. It was probably just a bird or a small rodent, but it jumped and I jumped too.

I finished the ride descending on Ireland and back down the water tank road. It was a short but fun ride. Probably one of the last of the season.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pinewood Derby

A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to get an idea from my oldest son Austin of what type of pinewood derby car he'd like to build. We looked on the Internet for ideas and saw an abundance of different car designs. There was one shaped like a hot dog, another one like a pencil and so forth. I asked him if he liked any of the designs. He said, "No Dad, I don't really care what it looks like...... I just want to win.....I want the trophy."

Wow! Nothing like a little bit of pressure to put on the old man. I mean, I learned a trick or two from my Dad when I was a cub scout and we built some pretty fast cars back in the day, but that was 25+ years ago (yikes!! I'm getting old).

Well, I'm happy to report that we (I mean Austin) did not disappoint. His car won every heat. It really wasn't even close. What can I say, it was a blast to win. Austin was beaming ear to ear the whole night. Okay, I admit, I was beaming ear to ear too.

Here's a pic of the cars we built. The pink one is Austin's and the purple is mine (actually now, my younger son Isaac officially has title to it as I "gave" it to him).

You're wondering why two cars? Since I'm a den leader, I had the opportunity to build a car too. For the most part, I used my car as the "guinea pig" or test car. For each step of the build process, I'd do the work on my car first and let Austin watch. Then, he'd work on his car. Believe me, we worked together hard and pulled out all the stops to build the fastest car. On the wheels and axles alone, we spent probably two hours grinding and sanding and polishing until late at night.

My pet peeve is when it's assumed that I built the car and that's why it won. Sure, I was very influential and involved in the build, but Austin was there at my side participating in every step of the process, including the initial design discussions, driving around 1/2 of last Saturday together to purchase the supplies we needed, measuring, marking, sanding, painting, grinding, straightening and baking (yes, we did bake and it's a secret that I won't reveal....sorry).

Anyhow, we both really enjoyed the time we spent together building the car, learning together and to see the hard work pay off with a win was very rewarding. Sometimes in life hard work doesn't always directly translate into a victory, but when it does, how sweet it is!

(no trophy, but Austin wasn't complaining about the 1st place cert.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Belated Tour de St. George Century Report + Encounter with a Scorpion

I'm not entirely sure why, but I didn't post anything on my blog during October. It wasn't that I didn't have anything to blog about. I think maybe it had to do with Adobe's acquisition of Omniture and sort of being in a funk not knowing what my future would hold. During that time, I was able to escape with the family down to St. George for a long weekend where I rode in the Fall Tour de St. George. So, here's my long overdue report on the ride.

The Start
Getting ready to ride:

I should mention that a few minutes after this picture, I was riding through the parking lot and this guy swerved hard left right in front of me. I pretty much locked up my brakes in order to avoid t-boning him.

I was with a friend and his wife at the start and we decided to let the hoarded mass of people pass through and thin out before we even began pedaling. This may sound like a smart thing to do on a century ride, as one would think you could avoid participating in a potential pile up caused by nervous and inexperienced riders, but in reality it wasn't a good idea and I don't recommend it. The issue is these century rides have several hundred entrants, a good portion of which haven't before ridden on a group bike ride. These types typically are riding one of the shorter 10, 20 or 50 mile options rather than the full 100 miles. Anyhow, it was nuts navigating through all of these people on mountain bikes, beach cruisers, etc., especially when they'd ride 4 people wide and you'd have to cross the center line to pass them. I bet within the first 5 miles there were 4-5 separate incidents of people going down from crossing wheels and the like. Luckily, I avoided all the carnage. Next time I'll be at the front, even if I'm not planning on pushing the pace.

The Route
I'd give the route a 8 on a 10 scale. I particularly enjoyed the first 60 miles of the ride and not just because I was fresh. It had some nice, smooth roads with generous shoulders and a good mix of short climbs and downhill. I particularly enjoyed riding around Sand Hollow Reservoir (including the climb on the east side) with the beautiful red rock scenery and also motoring through the country roads south of Hurricane. After Hurricane there was more climbing here and there and then a long, gradual descent towards and past Quail Creek Reservoir. This section of the road was fairly rough and bumpy. Any discomfort from the road was offset by the thrill of the downhill ride. If UDOT would resurface that road, that downhill stretch (the frontage road parallel to I-15) would be a joyous stretch to ride.

The back half of the century was highlighted by the long climb up to the top of Snow Canyon. It was a challenge, especially with the temperature on that day above 90. The descent through Snow Canyon was rewarding, except I couldn't really enjoy it as I getting dehydrated - see more below.

The Rest Stops
The quality of the stuff (food, water, energy drinks, etc.) at the rest stops seemed to be adequate. I didn't stop, except for water, until the lunch stop at mile 60 and then once again at mile 90. The lunch was a sandwich, cookie and I believe fruit? (can't recall exactly). I mostly relied on my oatmeal for breakfast, CarboRocket and a handful of gels. My biggest complaint for the ride organizers was the fact that they didn't have an aid station at the top of the Snow Canyon climb. About a mile from the top, both of my bottles were completely dry. I thought, no big deal, I'm sure there will be a station at the bottom of the canyon. Not so. The aid station was another 5 miles after the bottom of the canyon and it wasn't flat getting there. In fact, I was so parched, I came a hair away from knocking on some one's door and asking for water.

Post Ride Food
Not much to report here. There was no "real" food at the finish line, just sodas and some fruit, which isn't a big deal for me as I'd rather go get something to eat at a restaurant of my choice after taking a shower and cleaning up.

All said, this century was my favorite of the 3 centuries I rode this year (Zion to St. George and Tour De Cure were the other two) and I'll most likely be back next year.


Scorpion Encounter

While on the above noted trip to St. George, I found this little bugger in the bathtub of our condo in Hurricane. I of course didn't tell my wife about it and quietly took this picture. Then I forgot to tell her about it. Two weeks later I got a call at work frantically asking about this picture and where it came from as she'd seen it on the camera.

Anyone know what kind of scorpion this is? I know nothing about scorpions. I imagine they are common in Southern Utah.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bad weather tomorrow

Do you find yourself checking the weather to see what time the storm is supposed to roll in with the hope of stealing one more ride hours before the bad weather hits? Here's the weather forecast near my home for tonight:


Okay, so mid 40s is definitely rideable weather in the morning. Just throw on the bike light, arm warmers (probably leg warmers too) and you're good to go.

Here's the forecast for tomorrow (Thursday):


A "chance of rain" feels like maybe a 25% chance? That means a 75% chance of no rain in the morning and if it's mid 40s, I'm on the bike for sure.

So here's Plan A. Set the alarm clock for 5 AM. Be on the bike by 6 AM. 7:30 AM finish ride and shower in time for 8 AM meeting.

Plan B (assuming storm comes early) is to head to the gym for a spin class.

Hopefully it's Plan A and I can steal one more ride.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Erratic Steering

Today I went on another awesome lunch ride in the Timp Foothills with some guys from work and some other friends. We took advantage of the beautiful fall weather while it lasts (no arm or leg warmers needed).

By the way, I wore my new Twin Six jersey for the first time. Now I have exactly 2 jerseys that fit me and exactly 2 that don't. I need (want?) more cycling clothes, but after buying the Superfly last month, I better lay low for another month. Besides, the cycling season is all but over, so maybe I'll save it for a trainer (buying a trainer is so depressing) or maybe some snowshoes.

Back to the lunch ride. We climbed up the normal route past the water towers, up Betty and then East on "Kenny's Belt Route" (I think this is the name), which starts out fairly mellow and then there's some fairly steep climbing. My heart rate over the first 4 minutes on the Belt Route tells the story: 122 (right after taking a breather at the trail fork), 128, 133, 137, 141, 146, 149, 152, 158 (okay, starting to feel it), 159, 161, 161, 162, 166, 169, 170 (can someone put me out of my misery?), 169, 168, 167, 168, 167 (trying to recover by pedaling slower to ease the pain), 168, 169 (grade picks up again), 167, 166, 165 (the worst is over as the trail starts to flatten out).

During the period when my heart was at 165+ (and probably for a while after that), the two guys behind me were probably wondering if I'd ever ridden a mountain bike before as I was weaving all over the trail. I'm hoping that as my riding skills improve, I won't be spending so much wasted energy trying to keep my bike straight on the trail.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Jacob's Ladder

Saturday was my 2nd time riding / exploring the Corner Canyon trails in Draper. I drove 5 minutes from my house to the top of Suncrest, parked and hopped on the still muddy jeep road that runs into Suncrest Dr. near Eagle Crest Drive. The road was deeply rutted thanks to the off road vehicles that ignored the posted no motorized vehicle signs.

I made my way to the bottom of Jacob's Ladder via Brock's, the upper part of Canyon Hollow and then down the dirt road. I started climbing Jacob's Ladder and hadn't gone 100 yards through the scrub oak when a guy who yielded to me muttered something as I passed by. I thought he said, "one-way dude" but wasn't sure. The next biker I saw descending was a lady and I asked her if it was a one way trail and she said "not that I know." So I kept climbing. It wasn't long and the trail became pretty steep as it headed straight up the spine of the sharp ridge. I struggled to keep my balance on the steep grade as I grinded it out in my granny gear and ending up bailing several times. It was definitely a challenge, but I really enjoyed it. The steep upper part of the trail is a mix of banked bobsled-like chutes and unique rocky limestone outcrops.

I made it to the top and could see that everyone else climbed from the other side of the mountain on this double track.

As I caught my breath at the top, I met a few really nice guys (Brandon, Erik and Mike) and they explained that most people do Jacob's Ladder as a downhill ride (of course). They invited me to join them on the descent.

These guys had high-end full suspension bikes that you could tell they'd ridden hard and often. I let them lead out. I enjoyed the ride down, except that I found I'm pretty timid on the hairpin switchbacks. I'll have to practice. After Jacob's Ladder, we rode down Ghost Falls and some other trails that I'm not sure of the name. I finished the ride by climbing up Clark's and then back to my car.

Friday, November 6, 2009

New Drug and I'm Hooked

A few weeks ago I purchased this beauty:

It's a 2009 Gary Fisher Superfly 29er. I've been having so much fun with it, that I've been riding both in the early morning before work and at lunch time. It doesn't help that 5 minutes from my work are some awesome trails in the foothills of Mt. Timpanogos.

Here's a map of the trails I've been riding (thanks KanyonKris for making this map, it's very helpful):

Today being Friday, 67 degrees (is it really November??) and the bossman out of the office, I took a little bit of a longer lunch ride*. I climbed up the gravel jeep road past the water tanks, then hopped onto the single track trail Betty straight up to the Altar, a place where the trails intersect near a cairn. I've noticed my climbing skills are getting better (still pretty weak) but at least I wasn't bailing on every steep section of the trail. Just before the Altar, there's a very steep and rocky section that I hiked. It looks like there's short bypass trail that you can take to avoid that section. I'll have to try that next time (I hate hike a biking).

*Technically I think you're only supposed to take 1 hour for lunch. Usually lunch rides end up being more like an 1 1/2 hours. Today it was 2 hours. Bossman: In case you read this, I did stay late to make up for it.

After Altar, I then headed west on Lament, which is a nice trail through some meadows. There are 3 or 4 steep spots on this section. I did better than last time but still had to hike twice. I'm finding that balance, momentum, steering and keeping your center of gravity in the right spot are keys to climbing.

After Lament, I descended on Crank, then connected over to Blackbird and then back to the water tank road.

There are so many things I love about riding the mountain bike. For one, it reminds me of my childhood days riding dirt bikes on the farm. I've also enjoyed the new challenge of learning to climb on the mountain bike. Not only does it require excellent fitness (just like on a road bike), but it also requires some technical skills, of which I have very little at this point. Plus, there are so many awesome trails to ride and explore in the beautiful mountains close to my home. I've only scratched the surface, so I think I'm going to be doing this for a very long time.