Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I almost forgot...

...about the best pics from the RAWROD weekend.

Aubrie has no fear of lizards. If you zoom in, you can see that by the looks of this lizard's stumpy tail, this isn't the first time he's run into the likes of Aubrie. Ever since our stop at Canyonland NP, she's been asking for a pet lizard:

Here is Aubrie enjoying lunch in Price on our drive home:

Good times.

Check back tomorrow for my e-invite...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ride Around White Rim in One Day, '08

First, my ode to Vitamin C. After being surrounded by sick kids for over a week, I awoke on Thursday to a sore throat. Friday it was worse, so I ingested no less than 10 thousand milligrams (or 10 grams - I need a geek check my math here) of vitamin C. Saturday, I woke up feeling good, so the overdose was worth it (even if it is just a placebo effect).

I headed down with my 3 yr old daughter on Friday afternoon, and set up camp with my sister and two nieces. Our campground sucked, but we had some good times nonetheless. RAWROD was great, but the laughs shared with my little girl over the weekend were just as unforgettable. I was able to sneak away on Friday night to hang out with friends and eat some brats. I've been looking forward to the ride since last year's epic RAWROD with Fish, and this year did not disappoint. To summarize, I clocked 101.1 miles, 8:35 ride time, and a lot of sitting around an hanging out time. In addition to quite a few solo miles, I rode at least half of the route with Ryan, and also had some shorter stretches with Mad Dog Kieth, Rick, and a bunch of others. You'll find a bunch of good write-ups out in the blogosphere, but here are a few of my observations.

People say that clockwise is easier, and they might be right if you were to start at White Crack Campground, pound out the three major climbs early, and then ride on cruise control for the last 65 miles. However, riding Murphy's, Hardscrabble, and Horsethief in the last 35 miles is brutal.

My legs felt like they were going to cramp from mile 1 to mile 30. I thought it was the effects of fighting off a cold, but I'm pretty sure it was just the chilly weather. My heartrate was quite a bit higher than my perceived level of exertion for miles 30-80, and I'm still pretty sure that this is due to fighting off a cold and lack of sleep the night before.

The last 13 miles from hardscrabble to the camp were about the toughest I can remember on a bike. The only thing that may compare was when Chad and I road home from Deer Valley via Mid Mountain and Crest after doing the race last year. I tried blaming my difficulty on the wind, the lack of sleep, etc., but realized it was really because my longest ride of the year up to that point was 3 hours. Duh. Thanks to Ryan for pulling me to the bottom of Horsethief. I got a little grumpy during those last few miles, cursing whoever it was at the top of Hardscrabble that said we only had 10 miles till the camp, when in reality it was over 11 miles just to get to the bottom Horsethief where the fun really begins.

Here are some pics from the trip, mas o menos in chronological order:

Ryan and I before the Shafer decent:

Musselman Arch:

Ryan and Rick:

Fish and Me... I didn't ride enough with the Fish this year. Last year, Fish and I rode just about the entire loop together, and that ride scored a 10 out of 10:

I had never seen one of these in the wild before RAWROD '08:

Great vistas were not hard to come by:

I'm pretty sure this is from the top of Hardscrabble:

This is what I look like after getting up early and riding till dinner. Piece of cake:

Here's Chad bringing it home. I've never actually seen Chad take it easy like he did during RAWROD. I actually was doubting that Chad actually knew how to take it easy during a ride:

I thought this pic was interesting. The day after RAWROD, we visited Canyonlands by car. This is the view from the top, looking down on the White Rim. You can faintly make out the trail meandering next to the cliffs:

Stay tuned... Within the next day or two, I'm going to give you an invitation you won't want to miss...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy #1:

Within one hour of commenting on Chad's anti-bike entry that I've been breaking my company's landlord's no bike policy, the building admin stopped by and commented that I can't be bringing my bike into my office. Fortunately, I was at lunch when she stopped by, so I only heard the remark via a messenger. Big brother is watching.

Conspiracy #2:

I'm pretty sure my family is conspiring to get me sick before RAWROD (warning, link contains potentially offensive content, but it seems to be a pretty accurate description of this weekend's ride to me). My kids have either coughed, sneezed, or rubbed snot directly in my face 429 times this past week. So far I've resisted their attempts to make me sick, but I'm afraid my defenses are getting weak.

Friday, April 18, 2008

cold weather + moving to new house + travelling for work + eating crappy + sick family = slow

Over the past two weeks, I set out to prove the above theorem. We finally moved into our house in north Orem last weekend. The day after we finished unloading, I took off on a trip for work (Wesla loves how I time those trips), and ended up eating out almost every meal for a week. I told Wesla that she'd better have all of the boxes unpacked by the time I got home, or there would be hell to pay. She actually did better than expected, considering that she's already working overtime watching Finley and Aubrie (Wesla's the best). As soon as I got back, the entire family (except for me) got sick.

I finally got out on a few rides last week. During my first few rides I felt slow and sluggish as expected. Friday evening I threw in some efforts on the mtb up on BST and felt pretty drained. The next morning I hooked up with Chad and Ryan for some climbing on the road, and I expected to be in the hurt locker after the efforts of the previous evening. We did Suncrest and then AF Canyon to Tibble, and I actually felt pretty good, so I'm not sure about the above theorem after all. What I am sure of is that I never know when I'm going to feel good. Sometimes I'll have perfect preparation for a ride/race and feel crappy, and other days (like this past ride), I'll go into a ride expecting to be slow and actually feel pretty good.

On the way down from AF canyon, the adventure started. I was riding 3rd wheel at the time when the fellas in front pointed out some rocks on the right shoulder. I veered to the left and ended up slamming my front wheel into another good-sized rock sitting in the middle of the road. Fortunately I stayed upright (I was going close to 40 at the time), but my front tire instantly flattened. I yelled to the guys in front but they couldn't hear me (or maybe they just wanted to be rid of me) and ended up riding to the bottom. I checked my supplies and realized that somewhere between my ride the evening before and now I'd lost my CO2 cartridge, so I was S.O.L. I was already cutting things close with the curfew set by my wife, so I hopped back on my bike and started riding on my rim. It turns out you can ride okay without any air in your front tire as long as the road doesn't slope too much to the left or right. Chad and Ryan eventually climbed back up and looked relieved that I wasn't dead. After a couple failed attempts to fix my tire, Ryan thumbed me a ride with a pickup truck filled with more Mexicans than I ever realized could fit into a pickup truck (the Spanish came in handy). I jumped into the truck bed and got hauled back to where my car was waiting. Considering that the rock could have sent me to the hospital, I'd say the ride turned out okay.

I was hoping to get a ride in this morning in preparation for RAWROD, but instead I'm at home watching my sick little girl while my sick wife and son sleep in. I'll admit that after looking at the chilly forecast for today, it didn't take much arm twisting to keep me home. I just hope that I can avoid the bug they have until at least after RAWROD this weekend.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

More Hell Raising in Heber

This weekend, my 9 month old was getting fussy enough that my wife thought it was time to take him to a kid insta-care to get him checked out. The closest clinic to us is in SLC, about 45 miles from our place in Midway. So I did what any good father would do in this situation. I helped the wife load up the kids, sent them off to the doctor, grabbed my gear, and went on a ride.

I mapped out a route on Google Maps that took me from Midway to Francis, up and over to Lake Creek Road, through Heber, and back to my place in Midway. I wasn't sure if I'd find a paved route leading out of Francis, so I decided to take the mtb. On my way through Francis, I ran into a guy and his son who were out on a stroll. I asked the guy if he knew of a way I could ride over to Heber. He thought for a while, and said that most of the roads are covered in snow, but I could head up to "Wolf Creek Resort" and take a right. He explained it would be a big climb, but it would eventually take me over to Heber. He also said something like, "on a day like today, there shouldn't be anyone there and you can ride right through."

I was all set. I followed his directions to Wolf Creek Resort and found a gate, a guard station, and a no trespassing sign. I looked in the guard station, and sure enough, nobody home. I briefly considered turning back, but instantly came up with numerous justifications for why I should keep going:
1) That guy was a local. Surely he wouldn't tell me to break a rule/law, right?
2) There are a lot of gates that block canyons in the winter. Mill Creek, Big Mountain, Alpine Loop, etc., but none of them are meant to keep bikes out. This gate was probably just like those (except that it happened to have a "no trespassing" sign).
3) Speaking of no trespassing signs, I've ridden other places that have no trespassing signs without blinking an eye. The last time I was up on the saddle between Draper and Alpine, I saw a bunch of no trespassing signs, but I'm pretty sure they just mean that you shouldn't leave the dirt roads, since everybody rides up there.
4) Haven't I heard of a "Wolf Creek Pass" bike race? That race must be over this mountain pass, being that the resort shares the same name. If they have a bike race here, they surely must welcome cyclists throughout the year. (I've since confirmed... I mean found out... that the aforementioned bike race doesn't use this particular road at all).

Being that I have all of these solid reasons for pressing forward, maybe I'll just head up the road for a mile, and if I see someone I'll ask if it's okay to ride through. Well, since I haven't seen anyone after a mile, I may as well go another mile until I find someone. Hmmm... I've already climbed quite a bit up this road and haven't seen a soul, so I guess I'd better just keep going till I get to the top.

It ended up being a pretty good climb, with the added bonus of having zero traffic. The climb eventually came to an end, as they always seem to do, but this time I got to a 'T' in the road and I started to worry. It was already past 5pm, I was out of food, almost out of water, and damn cold. It looked like there was a sign, but the information was covered in a 12 foot snow drift. The main road seemed to go left, but going right seemed to be a more direct route home. As any cyclist knows, heading downhill in an unknown trail or road always opens the possibility that you'll need to turn around and climb back out if you pick the wrong route. So I hesitated.

During my hesitation, a pickup truck pulled up from the same direction I came from. He rolled down his window and asked how I got up here. I knew what he was getting at, but said (trying not to sound like too much of a smartass) "on my bike." He went off about how I was trespassing, I could end up in jail, etc. I gave him a few of the excuses I'd previously thought up, but he still seemed pretty pissed that I was ruining his otherwise pristine mountain (the gas emissions on my mountain bike are even worse than I thought). In the process of the little altercation, I was able to find out from him that that heading right indeed was the fasted way back to Heber. I managed to ride off without him calling the cops on me, so in a way, it was a fortuitous encounter.

The descent was a blast. High speed corners with no worries about traffic. I can't believe how stable I felt on the 29er Paragon, even if it was just a road ride. I could tear around the corners without even considering touching the breaks. I was pretty blown by the time I hit Big Pole Road, which leads to Lake Creek Road, but the ride back to Midway wasn't too bad. I love rides like this where for most of the ride, you wonder if you are on the right route as you navi-guess your way around each corner, until you finally see a familiar sight and you know that you're golden. This was an awesome loop, and it's a shame that you need to break some rules in order to pull it off.

Man this was a long post. Damn lawyers don't know when to shut up.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


For the second time in the past 1.5 months, I'll be moving on the same day as a race. On March 1st (the day of the St. George race), we moved out of our SLC house and into a temporary place in Midway. I was so disappointed to miss the "Desert Rampage" race that I considered having all of my family and freinds show up to move our stuff while I went down to race, but for some reason my wife thought I should be there to help with the move. Whatever.

I recently found out that we'll be moving into our new place in the U.C. on April 12th, the same day as the Cholla Challenge in Hurricane. Even though I think that the Cholla race course is about as interesting as watching paint dry (with the exception of the first mile), I was really hoping to test out the race legs, but I guess I'll just have to wait.

Since I can't race down south on my mtb, I've actually been considering checking out the Hell of the North race this weekend. It may not be a mountain bike race, but hey, it has a stretch of dirt, right? My main hesitation is that I've never done a non-hillclimb road race, and I'm not sure if racing slick tires on a gravel road with a bunch of cat 5's and citizen riders is the best introduction to road racing. Has anyone done this race that can offer some insight as to how much carnage this race involves?

In other news, this past weekend was too cold and snowy to ride, but not cold or snowy enough to get any good skate skiing in. Rather than get on a trainer (which I'm incapable of doing once I get my first taste of outdoor riding in the Spring), I pulled out the snowshoes and checked out the backcountry behind our temporary condo. My buddy Chad will likely ridicule me for doing so due because in his words, "why would you snowshoe if you could ski?" Well, I'll admit that Chad has a valid point here, but I do think there are a few decent reasons for pulling out the snowshoes every now and then. I think snowshoeing offers a unique workout that I don't think you get from skiing or cycling. From what I understand, us cyclists lack the "weight bearing" exercises due to the low impact nature of our sport. Consequently, many cyclists end up with weak bones and tendons. This snowshoeing trip seemed to provide a workout that is similar to running without being nearly as boring or shredding my knees. Also, I don't see getting my 3 year old on backcountry skis anytime soon, but I could definitely see her on a pair of snowshoes next year! Regardless, I'm sure I'll be wishing for a set of skis every time I get to the summit of a long trek on my snowshoes. Here are a couple pics: