Friday, May 28, 2010

Night Ride Race

Last night a bunch of us guys who are basically addicted to riding bikes showed up in Draper for the Thursday Night Race Championship, organized by Rick.  It was simply a good time all around.  The weather was perfect with a full moon.  Only 5 bucks to participate.  Race pace climbing. Lots of quality competition.  Post race raffle and then some breakfast and good stories at Village Inn.

Brandon took home the champions belt and pink purse full of our 5 dollar bills.

(photo by Miles)

Post race raffle:

Can't wait for the next one!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Father and Son Time

Friday and Saturday was our ward's annual father and son camp out, something my boys and I look forward to all year.  We camped outside of Oak City (southwest of Nephi) at Oak Creek.  We had a great time.  By far the funnest thing for the boys was playing with sticks in the fire and watching things burn (like cups, bananas, plates, pine needles, a toy lizard, you name it).  Friday night they had a movie playing on the side of an R.V. but my boys didn't want anything to do with that....they just wanted to play in the fire.  Sound familiar*?

*Speaking of sticks and fires....when I was a boy, I practically burned down my Dad's farm shop because I thought it would be cool to stick my wooden sword into the wood stove and then into a 5 gallon bucket of used motor oil.  Yup, the oil caught on fire, melted the bucket and the burning oil spread.  The fire department arrived and put out the fire, but not before causing significant damage.  Sorry once again Dad.

Bike Ride
On Saturday morning, we hopped on our bikes and rode up the dirt access road.  I was especially entertained by my five year old pedaling away on his little Trek single speed.  The grade on the road was about 5% in spots, so he'd have to stand up to keep his momentum going.  He was actually a pretty good climber, very determined.

We had to stop here of course to throw rocks into the creek.

We climbed for about a mile and then they were tired and ready to go back down.  Here they are on the descent.

Fun times.  It won't be long and I'll have some new training partners to ride with on the dirt.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Alpine Loop Update

Snow is clear on the AF Canyon side until just above Salamander Flats:

Check out this large tree that fell on the road:

A week ago NOAA's weather data site near the parking lot at the top of the Alpine Loop recorded 22 inches of snow.  Today it's showing 11 inches.  Any guesses on when the trails will be ready to ride up there? 2 weeks? 3 weeks?  Can't wait.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

ICUP Sundance Spin Race Report

Leading Up to the Race

Thursday night I raced the same Sundance course in the Weekly Race Series, leaving my legs fairly beat up from riding at race pace for near 90 minutes.  The next day, I packed the road bike to work with the plan of just going for an easy spin at lunch time to help recover in time for Saturday's ICUP.  As it turned out, I couldn't decline an invite from Rick S. to ride Squaw Peak during lunch.  I debated for a second on whether to go, as riding with Rick is usually the equivalent of a race for me, but I love riding Squaw and much prefer climbing to spinning* any day.

*Although I've read that doing a recovery ride where you spin easy is good for recovery, I really don't enjoy those types of rides.....feels more like a waste of time to me.

On the climb up Squaw, Rick was kind enough to keep the pace manageable, so we rode together, although  he was able to carry on an easy conversation, while I was limited to sentences of 10 or fewer words.  Before the 4 mile mark, I started to fade and he steadily pulled away.  Btw, Rick recently posted a time of 27:08 on this climb (i.e. he's fast). 

While we recovered at the lookout point, he gave me some encouraging advice.  He said, "you know, sometimes doing a hard, short effort before a race is the best thing you can do", or something close to that.

That night as I iced my sore calf, I kept telling myself over and over that Rick had to be right.

Race Day

It was an absolutely beautiful day for a race.  It sure was nice to feel the warmth of the sun on my face as I took my time getting ready to ride.  Here's a picture of the sky over Sundance (photo credit - my 4 yr. old son):

I made an extra effort to warm up my stiff legs by doing a dozen or so short climbs on the paved road.  I was one of the last ones to line up, but I felt pretty good after the warm up.  Rick's words kept playing over and over in my head.  I was just hoping he was right.

I was racing in the Sport 35-39 category with a total of 10 riders. Our race course was 2 laps, each approximately 7 miles and 1,000 ft. vertical.

Lap 1
At the start, Mark followed by Miles jumped out in front on the first climb up the paved road.  Here's Mark (center) and Miles (left):

I followed Miles in 3rd position as we started on the single track.  We chatted back and forth like it was the start of a lunch ride, while we pedaled the exposed trail at the south end of the course.  We had to pass several riders along this section from the group of racers who started ahead of us, which was a bit sketchy with the exposure on the passing side (I'm still working out the kinks on my passing skills).

At the steep double track after the chair lift (see below pic), I knew this would have to be my chance to put some time between me and Miles as I was pretty certain he'd gain some time on the windy descent. 

I was able to pull ahead on this climb and maintain a gap until the summit, although I wasn't more than 20-30 seconds ahead of Miles.  As I started the descent, I wasn't riding too smoothly around some of the sharp switchbacks, especially once I starting seeing Miles through the trees above and that he was closing on me quickly.  It wasn't long and Miles was riding my wheel and I had to let him fly by, along with Justin Thomas and one other rider.

Lap 2 and Finish

Just prior to starting lap two, I caught Miles and Justin on the paved climb, giving me a buffer going into the single track.  I felt my power starting to fade on the little short-effort climbs.  The steep double track was especially painful, even though I was in one of my smallest gears.  However, the other riders behind me must have been hurting too, as I was able to maintain my position to the summit.  I was grateful for a couple of fast riders from other categories that passed me as they kept my pace up as I tried to hang with them.

On the descent, I figured it was only a matter of time before Miles and Justin would catch me like they did on lap 1.  I starting planning in my head how I could battle it out on the last climb up the road to the finish.  I kept looking over my shoulder for Miles** but he never came.  Instead, Jason from Sport 30-34 blew by me at the bottom just after the dirt turned to pavement, partly I think because I'm such a pansy and was riding my brakes rolling onto the road and partly due to him leaving it all out there with a hard effort.  After he passed me, I was determined to catch him (for bragging rights I guess) before the finish line and turned myself inside out trying.  I passed him shortly before the finish.

**As it turned out, Miles unfortunately took a spill on the descent and luckily wasn't hurt other than some scrapes and bruises.  Despite the fall, he still hopped back on the bike and finished a strong 3rd.  Nice job.

Congrats to Mark on the strong ride and win.  He's going to be tough to beat the rest of the season.  And Miles all I have to say is this is going to be a fun season!

First podium for me!

Also, check out this guy's frame that broke in two spots.  Crazy!  Luckily it was while he was going slow on a climb (I bet it was on the steep double track).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Weekly Race Series - Sundance Report

At lunch today, I planned to just drive up to Sundance to check out the conditions in general, but I couldn't resist and ended up hopping on the bike and riding a lap.  I convinced myself this would be helpful for the race, given that I hadn't ridden the course before.  In hindsight, I probably should have conserved my energy for the race, but then again, I got the extra workout in and it was helpful knowing the length of the climbs and where the tricky downhill portions were.

I took a few pictures during the pre-ride that show the conditions of the course. 

This is one of the few muddy sections.  Not too bad and by Saturday's ICUP race, it'll probably be dry.

This little climb after the lift about halfway through the lap was short but steep.  On my first lap of the race, I kept it in the middle ring and grunted it out.  On the second lap, I wimped out and spun up it in the small ring.

I raced in the expert B category*.  I probably didn't belong, but at least I was able to ride two laps instead of 1-1/4 for Sport.  I found the guys in expert are fast.  I was mid pack after the first climb on the pavement, but then was passed by several guys once we hit the single track and spent the rest of the race trying to minimize the gap.  I didn't finish last, but was definitely near the back.

*Tonight they started the expert B and expert A groups at the same time, a total of like 25 riders.  I don't understand this, but then again what do I know.  Why not stagger the groups by 30 seconds like they did last week?  Then you can at least have some separation (not so much passing on the singletrack) and it's easier to identify where you are in relation to those you're racing against.  Just a thought.

Once again, the post race raffle had some good prizes, easily exceeding in value the $12 entry fee.  I won this Park Tool Digital Scale that retails for over $50.  People ask me all the time how much my bikes weigh....I guess I'll know how to answer that question with certainty from now on.


Monday, May 10, 2010


I spent Saturday riding down in Moab with a buddy from work.  In the morning we rode Sovereign from North to South (from Dalton Wells road) and after lunch we did a portion of the Slickrock trail.  Moab is such an amazing place to ride a bike (I know...such an obvious understatement).  No wonder why the group of 10 or so riders that we ran into from New York were on their 7th day of riding trails in Moab.  It's a mecca and I only live 200 miles from it.  I think I need to make that drive more often.

One of the upper Sovereign loops:   

The climb going North to South on Sovereign:

Lovin' the scenery: 

Some switchbacks on Sovereign:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Soldier Hollow Wed. Night Race

I had a great time last night racing up at Soldier Hollow. The atmosphere was great. A pretty good crowd of mountain bikers just out having a good time and enjoying a little competition.

It was my first time riding the course and I thought it was a good mix of short climbs, where you could easily pass, and fast downhill single track.  I rode in the sport category, flight A and did 3 laps (expert did 4 and beginner 2 laps). 

My group was maybe 12 or so riders.  At the start, this kid who couldn't have been more than 16 years old absolutely sprinted from the get go up the short climb on the paved road.  By the time he reached the single track, he was cooked and started holding up the whole lot of us.  Fortunately for the rest of us and unfortunately for him, 30 seconds later he laid his bike over going down a little dip and we were able to resume a reasonable pace.

I was about in 4th position going into the double track climb (the straight away on the far right of the course).  I was feeling pretty good, but decided to see what pace the other 3 riders would maintain on the climb.  Towards the top, I sensed that they were slowing, so I jumped on it and put some distance between us prior to the downhill portion.

I was a little worried about leading out so early, especially since I didn't know the course and wasn't certain how long each lap was.  I figured if I could just keep enough in the tank to go strong on the climbs and keep up the pace on the flats and descent that I'd be in good shape.  It worked out and I finished in first.

Here's me and Rich at the finish.  Rich took 1st in the sport B flight.

Phast Dan was there:

Free stuff for everyone at the raffle.  I ended up getting one of the insulated water bottles that was filled with Sport Beans packets and Honey Stinger gels, probably worth more than the $12 entry fee.

Monday, May 3, 2010

My 2nd most favorite road ride

After work, I headed up Provo Canyon to climb Squaw Peak, my first time to ride it on the road bike since last fall. The Alpine Loop is my favorite local road ride, hands down. I'd have to say Squaw Peak is number two.

The legs were still feeling it from Saturday, so the plan was to take it easy and not cause too much suffering. This plan held for the 1st mile as I spun at about 70%. Then I started feeling pretty good, so I turned it up a notch. At mile marker 3.5, I realized I was on pace for a personal best time to the four-mile much for keeping this ride mellow.  Even though I was hurting on the last mile, the pain didn't rise to the level that I usually experience on our lunch rides.  Sounds like today was no exception.

New Gear

Btw, I finally purchased a "real" cycling specific computer, a Garmin Edge 500.  I had been using a Garmin Forerunner 305 that I purchased back when I was running, but I never have time to go running anymore and I don't particularly enjoy running.  I've only used the 500 once so far, but I like it already as it's compact, easy to mount and has all the features I want, including the ability to use a power meter, which may be an option later if the prices ever come down.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

ICUP 5-Mile Pass Report

I wasn't nervous prior to the start, primarily because my expectations were pretty low in that I just wanted to ride hard, finish (this was my first mb race) and have a good time  It certainly helped too that I got there early, leaving plenty of time to register, warm up and get to the starting line.

About 3 minutes before Tiffany took the above picture, I realized I left my co2 valve in my car.  I had the canister in my Awesome Strap but of course it's worthless if you don't have the valve.  I didn't think I'd have time to run and grab it before my group started, so I rolled the dice that I wouldn't flat (wrong choice, read on...).

I took the start fairly easily and ended up towards the back of the pack.  After a few minutes I was feeling good, so I picked up the pace and started working my way through the field.  After the first section of climbs, I looked up and realized I was on Miles' wheel and in fourth position.  I was confused for a second as I'm used to Miles on his single speed Superfly from the lunch rides, but today he was on his geared bike.  At this point, we were starting to descend, so it worked out perfectly for me to try and stay with Miles* and follow his line through the rocky trail. 

*Lately on our UC lunch rides, we typically have Miles lead on the descents as he is fast and often has time to pull out his camera and take pictures before we reach him.

A few minutes later, just before the steep hike a bike, I crested one of the rollers and then heard the unmistakable sound of my rear tire getting slashed by a rock.  Sure enough, it was cut and certainly too big for Stan's to seal it.  I was sort of in shock and debated for a second as to what I should do next.  I had a spare tube I could throw in, but I wasn't sure if anyone would even stop to loan me a pump or valve so that I could inflate the tube.  I considered hiking back, but concluded I might as well put the tube in and hope someone would offer to help.  As it turned out, a teenager in the beginner category stopped and gave me his pump (what an awesome gesture) and I was back on my way.

As you can see from the picture, the rock wreaked havoc on my tire.  I've been running Conti Race Kings and they may work well for some but since this is the 2nd one I've slashed in one week, I'm going to try a different tire, probably something more durable considering that I'm a "bigger" guy (definitely not 150 lbs.) and probably put too much stress on this kind of tire.

The Rest of the Race

After the flat, it was difficult mentally to get myself back in the race.  I knew there was no way of making back the lost time, but figured that if I gave it my best shot, I could at least NOT finish last in my category.  So, I went as hard as I could. Seeing Tiffany and my 3 boys cheering me on at the end of lap one was a big boost.

Lap 2 was uneventful until it started hailing for about 10 minutes while I descended Bob Sled.  I could barely see out of my glasses and had to stop and wipe them off, but that didn't help much and I ended up throwing them in my jersey pocket.

On the last section before the finish, it was fun to ride hard against another guy that I think was in my category.  I don't know if he just let me on by, but it was satisfying to at least make it feel like a race at the end.

At the finish, I was glad to hear Miles took 3rd and Justin 4th.  The final posted results showed me at 13th out of 18.  Not the best place and certainly worse than what I was hoping for, but after looking at my Garmin and how long it took me to fix my flat, I'm feeling optimistic and looking forward to racing in the rest of the ICUP series.

Here are a couple of pictures:

Finishing up lap 1

Chatting with Miles at the finish.  Notice he's already in his street clothes........