Thursday, April 29, 2010

5-Mile Pass Course

After work today, I was able to ride a lap on the 5-Mile Pass ICUP race course.  In summary, in case you haven't been on this trail, it's full of lots and lots and lots of loose rocks and enough rollers to make you feel like you're on a bumpy roller coaster that never ends.  It seemed pretty challenging because I had to really focus energy on the terrain due to the countless loose and jutting rocks, gyrating hills and frequent turns.  The course was dry too and it looks like we may catch a break in the storm on Saturday morning.

I'm pretty excited as this will be my first mountain bike race.  It should be fun.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Alpine Loop - Anyone have a good snow blower?

Saturday I only had a couple of hours to ride, so I headed up to Pine Hollow with the mountain bike with the plan to do some intervals from the gate to where the snow starts.  I was hoping the point where the snow covers the road would be higher, but it turned out that there was still a foot or two about 1 mile up from the gate.

It'll probably only be 2-3 more weeks before the road is clear, but in the meantime, it sure would be nice to enjoy the climb for those extra weeks while the road is closed to cars.  Someone with a blade on their ATV or a beefy snow blower should just go up there and clear a path.  I'd definitely chip in some money to support that effort.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Garage Ceiling Bike Rack

If you're like me and like bikes, you need a place to store them where they won't get banged up, they're easily accessible and not in the way.  My solution is to simply hang your favorite* bikes by the saddle on a galvanized pipe fastened to the garage ceiling, or your bedroom ceiling if you're single and so inclined.

*I've concluded that only the "nice" bikes qualify for hanging from the pipe.  Kid bikes and heavy steel cruiser bikes that weigh 50 lbs. won't be on this pipe.

I wish I could take credit for the idea, but I'm not that creative.  I first saw this concept in my brother-in-law's garage, who claims he got the idea from a bike shop in San Francisco.  My brother-in-law has many more bikes than I do and a smaller garage and he hangs most all of them from a pipe.

Here are the parts you'll need to build this rack, all purchased at the local hardware store:

1.  qty. 2 -  3/4" X 18" galvanized pipe**
2.  qty. 2 -  1/2" X 72" galvanized pipe
3.  qty. 2 -  3/4" to 1/2" galvanized elbow
4.  qty. 2 -  3/4" threaded pipe flange
5.  qty. 1 -  2 X 4
6.  qty. 8 -  4" Hex lag bolt with washer
7.  qty. 8 -  3-1/2" wood screw

**Depending on your ceiling height, you'll want to adjust the length of these pipes accordingly.  My ceiling is 11-1/2 ft. high, which results in the bike's front tire being about 65" off the ground....low enough where I can stand on my toes and put the bike on the rack and high enough that the bikes are not in the way.

As you can see, I'm currently hanging 3 bikes, but there's easily room for two more:

Make sure you're careful about finding the ceiling joist and then predrill holes for the lag bolts.

Simply hangin' by the saddle:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I know where the militia trains

Saturday I decided to do some exploring and ended up riding to the top of Lake Mountain, which is part of the range to the west of Utah Lake. The route begins on a dirt road that heads west from hwy. 68 (Redwood Road). The turnoff is about 17 miles south of Lehi Main, just look for the stop sign and that's the road you want to take.

Starting Point (note stop sign*):

*I point this out as there are many, many dirt roads running off into the foothills along HWY 68, but none of them have a stop sign like this one.

The first 5 miles is a good warm up on a well-maintained gravel/dirt road. It's mostly all uphill with one downhill, but the grade is never more than 5 or 6%. Then for the next 5 miles, the grade turns to a steady 7-8% with really no flats. The road also turns more rocky and uneven. Near the top, I ran into some patches of snow and some runoff, but it was manageable.

Here's the last bit before reaching the summit where there are various radio station towers.

It ended up being an 11 mile climb and 3,100 vertical ft. It's a good, long early-season climbing workout, perfect for spring when it's not scorching hot and for when you don't feel like doing laps on low elevation single track.

The view at the top was pretty rewarding. I had prepped a really cool panoramic photo that I created using Adobe Photoshop that I was hoping to share, but for some reason it was giving me an error when I tried to upload to blogger, so here's the best I could do:

The descent was fast and fun.

A few miles from my car, I looked ahead and saw about 20 "soldiers" alongside the road dressed in full camo, boots and carrying assualt rifles*. They even had a big flag flying in the wind and it wasn't the stars and stripes. As I approached, one of the yahoos was aiming his rifle directly accross the road in the direction of the area I was about to enter. I slowed down and waited until his buddy told him to put down his gun. I passed by and said, "hey.....what's up?" and then hurriedly picked up the pace.

*pretty sure these were airsoft guns as they had the orange tip on the barrel, but they sure looked real, like this one:
Different strokes for different folks. I'll ride my bike up a mountain in the middle of the desert and you can practice shooting plastic bb's at your buddies.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


My last post was about the need to basically lighten my load on the bike if I'm going to reach my cycling goals for this season. It's common knowledge if you're a cyclist that your power to weight ratio is one of the most important factors in being fast on the bike. So, I've been focusing on that.

Yesterday the bathroom scale indicated 179*, so I've dropped five pounds thus far. Eleven more to go.

*yes, I even took off my wedding ring and socks....come on fess up, I know I'm not the only one that does this

Here's a summary of what I've been doing for nutrition:

Eat a good breakfast. I like to drink a glass of skim milk when I first wake up (assuming I'm not riding that morning) to get things started. Then when I get to the office, it's usually a bowl of whole-grain oatmeal, some fruit (I usually keep frozen blueberries in the break room freezer) or maybe a banana. I also typically eat some fat free plain yogurt (I get the huge bucket of Mountain-land) sprinkled either with a bit of brown sugar or fruit. Often I'll change up the oatmeal for other types of whole-grain cereal such as cracked wheat or more recently Bob's Red Mill Buckwheat Cereal*. For variety, I'll eat hard boiled eggs without the yolk with some Frank's hot sauce.

*I probably would never have thought to try this stuff, but believe it or not I grew a field of buckwheat each summer to raise money for college while I was working on my Dad's farm in Quincy, Washington, so I guess there's some sentimental value to it. My Dad still grows it as a second crop behind peas.

Eat some fish for lunch or dinner. Most people at work think I'm a bit strange when I crack open the can of Kipper snacks or sardines in the break room. I know the stuff smells pretty bad, but it's good for you, especially if you purchase the kind that's in water instead of oil. Lots of protein, Omega 3s, calcium (yup, you eat the little bones and all), iron, etc. Sriracha sauce goes great with sardines. Leftover salmon and canned albacore tuna are also good options for lunch.

Load up on veggies. I'm amazed at how you can eat a whole plate full of broccoli and it's only 50 calories and you feel full. Here are some of my favorites that I typically eat at lunch simply by cooking it up in the microwave for a few minutes:

**I like to buy the bags of these guys at Costco and take them to work. Each of these only takes a few minutes to cook in the microwave and then I'll pour on some vinegar and sprinkle with kosher salt flakes.

Drink only water, skim milk and CarboRocket. Okay, occasionally I'll deviate here, but not very often. CarboRocket I typically only use on the weekends on my long rides.

Whole Grain Bread. This one is tough for me as I love to eat white bread as much as the next guy, but funny thing is I'm now getting to where I honestly prefer the whole grain bread. The honey whole wheat at Costco is awesome.

Eat sweets sparingly. I've tried in the past to cut sweets out entirely, but that never works. Instead, I usually allow myself a small allotment each day, typically dark chocolate as Adobe provides it for free.

Count the calories. I like doing this. It's fairly liberating actually because you know within a reasonable margin where you stand throughout the day. For example, on days where I'm recovering from a hard workout (i.e. no exercise that day), I know I need to choose wisely as I won't have the buffer of 800 or so calories burned from a workout. I've also learned through this process that some foods are absolutely loaded with calories* and if eaten, it's highly likely you'll be consuming more than burning that particular day. Another benefit here is that you want to consume enough calories such that you're able to still recover from a workout and have adequate fuel for rides, yet have enough of a deficit that your body is forced to burn fat as fuel. I've been aiming for an average deficit of 500-700 calories per day and that seems to work well. If I go much higher, I start to feel sluggish.

*Milk shakes are a great example. I skipped eating a burger at In-n-out last week and instead just had fries and a shake. Later I found out I would have been better off just eating the burger instead as the shake had like 700 calories.

One more point here. You need to know your base metabolic rate, i.e. how many calories you burn without doing any exercise. I like to go to the "Bod Pod" at BYU's Y-be-fit office and get your body composition tested. It's only $15 and takes a quick 20 minutes. The report they give you includes your base metabolic rate.

Eat some good fats. I like to throw in peanut butter here and there, but be careful as two tablespoons is equal to 190 calories. Avocados, almonds, olives and olive oil are all good.

Chicken tenders. I love these guys. They are so easy to cook up quickly, they taste great, are low in fat and calories and have lots of protein.

Brown Rice.Brown rice is an excellent complex carb. I cook it up in bulk in a rice cooker as it takes forever to cook.

Don't over eat at dinner. This is tough as my wife is an awesome cook and makes a fabulous dinner every night. The good thing is she's pretty health conscious. As long as I don't keep going back for seconds or thirds, I'm in good shape.

Fruit. I try to eat a good variety, but my favorites are strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples, pears, bananas and mangos.

The final key for me is to ride the bike lots. There's no way I would have lost much of any weight over the past two weeks if I wasn't hitting the bike almost every day. Oh, and I should mention that the weekends are very tough, especially when we love to go out to dinner. What I'm learning is that it's best to plan ahead and decide what you'll eat at a restaurant by doing a little research. A few minutes of planning/research could be the difference between gaining or losing a pound.

So there it is. It seems to be working well for me, so I'm going to keep with it. I'm obviously no nutritionist or sports trainer, just a normal joe trying to be faster on the bike. So take my advice with a grain of salt as it may not work for you like it has for me. Good luck.

Oh, and here are a couple of pictures atomicmiles took on our lunch ride today. It was an absolutely perfect day for the mountain bike. Looking forward to tomorrow's ride.