Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lift Race + Alpine Loop

I was hoping to put in a good effort last night, so I decided to do the Sundance race. After registering, I had time to do a quick 15 minute warm up before lining up. I started listening to the race instructions, and to my surprise, I learned that we would be doing the "lift race." The lift race consists of a quick shake-out loop up the paved road and down the twisty single track, followed by sitting on the ski lift to the top of the mountain, and then riding back to the base. It wasn't quite the type of effort I was expecting (longer and sustained), but I knew the intensity would be there. Most likely, the order you got on the lift would be the order you'd finish in, so the first climb was bound to be a lung-buster.

We took off at a high pace, as expected. The climb felt like someone was driving nails into my thighs and lungs, but I actually felt like I was climbing pretty well (for me). I'm not sure how long the climb lasted, but I'm pretty sure it was the hardest effort I've put in this year over that amount of time. I reached the top and came to a sorry realization. I suck at descending right after I'm completely red-lined. My focus is off, I have a hard time pushing through the flat and uphill sections, and I'm tentative on the turns. It didn't take long for one guy to zip past me on a flat open section, and for another guy to catch onto my wheel.

I was able to keep the guy from passing me on the way down, although I could tell he was DH'ing better than me. We hit the short stretch of pavement before a 3 foot rock wall that required a dismount to get up onto the grass before heading to the lift. He tried to pass on the dismount, but failed to account for my secret weapon. Last fall, I learned how to do a proper CX remount. While he was remounting like a normal person, I threw caution to the wind and jumped on with both feet, with nothing between the family jewels and the top tube but a 2 inch wide tip of a leather saddle. Somehow racing convinces us to do crazy things that would otherwise be completely out of the question. And we are willing to do it over and over again. Although this was my first attempt at a CX remount on a mountain bike, I landed successfully and comfortably arrived at the ski lift in front of my nearest competitor.

Keith arrived while we waited for the guys in front of us to get on the lift on load their bikes. The three of us shared a lift ride to the top, and Keith was kind enough to give me a swig of his beverage since I was too thick-skulled to remember to grab my bottle. During the lift to the top, Keith mentioned that there was an initial DH, followed by a climb, followed by a final DH.

We got off the lift, and I had a 10-20 second advantage due to my bike being loaded first. I started down the dirt road, and after a while, I remembered the instructions including something about a blind right turn off of the dirt road onto some 1-track that was easy to miss. I thought I'd missed it, so I slowed down to almost a stop, looked behind me and didn't see anything of interest, looked for tire tracks in front of me, and decided keep going. Sure enough, I saw the flags soon thereafter, and kicked myself for losing time.

I continued to DH rather poorly, and was caught by that same guy as the trail started to flatten out. No sooner did I let him by did the trail turn upwards again and I passed him right back. I was feeling good again and put a good gap on him on the climb. I finished the final descent ahead of him, but he was within sight of me again by the end. Time to learn to DH when I'm spent.

Alpine Loop:
Since the lift race was a bit short on shammy time, I decided to go straight into work, with a quick detour around the Alpine Loop. I thought I'd be joining Rick and a couple of his Omniture buddies at the mouth of A.F canyon, but it turned out to be quite the event. I'm guessing close to 15 people were in the group, including Brad (so it was a race for second), Dug, Elden, Jon, Sam, Kris, Tony, Dave, Dave, and others. I burnt all of my high intensity matches the night before, but was able to maintain a decent steady effort, finishing the climb within sight of Sam and Rick. Fortunately, if I worked at Omniture, I would not be buying apple fritters today. All of this riding and talk of donuts is making me hungry.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rockin' Out

Nothing new on the biking front, other than I considered the NORBA race in Deer Valley and then realized that it started at 7:30am. That means I'd need to be there at least by 6:30, which means I'd need to leave my house by at least by 5:30, which means getting up at around 4:30. Hmmm, a nice long mtb ride behind Timp on Saturday morning sounds reeeeally good right about now. Racing at Sundance tomorrow evening sounds pretty good too.

Last week, I went to check out my brother's band play. His band is called "Hearsay", and the show last week was a breakthrough for them, of sorts. They opened for the Mad Caddies, and if you listen to much new punk music, you've probably heard of them. If you have a Wikipedia article, you must have made the big time, right?

Here are a few pictures of Hearsay (my bro is in the middle):

Unfortunately, I didn't think about using the video feature on my digital camera till Mad Caddies came out. Here are a few clips of Mad Caddies. Their horn section is tops:

If you want to hear some music from my brother's band, check out their website: My brother is livin' the dream. I foresee a Hearsay Wikipedia article on the horizon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Motorcycle Rant

My non-riding SLC friends condescendingly ask how I like living in the U.C. I tell them that it has its redeeming qualities:

The main downside is that you have to put up with motorcycles on the trails, which is something I didn't have to put up with on the SLC 1-track:

By and large, motorcyclists suffer from the same problem my sister's favorite singer named "Mika" suffers from. This Mika guy has a dynamic range that Mariah Carey would envy, with the ability to sing notes that are so high-pitched as to be beyond the hearing capability of most human beings. The problem is that he's decided that just because he can, he should. All the time. He insists on incessantly singing notes that no male should ever sing, even after nutting yourself on the top tube. And it annoys the hell out of me. I'm not sure how my sister can take it, let alone like it. I love her anyway. Now, back to motorcyclists. They reach these sections of trail that are muddy and yucky. Instead of asking themselves whether they should ride through it, they only ask them selves whether they can ride through it. Of course, the answer is always "yes", and not only do they ride through it, but they throttle through it, chewing up the trail and creating a 2 foot mud bog in the process that will probably still be there in late July. Yeah, I realize mtb'ers are also guilty of chewing up muddy trails, but at least most mtb'ers that chose to ride through muddy sections will attempt to minimize the damage while doing so. That this rant was prompted by 3 A-hole motorcyclists that not only ran me off of Tibble Fork on Saturday, but did their best to leave a big cloud of smoke while doing so, just before throttling through one of the mud bogs above. I'm not sure which is worse: Mika, or motorcyclists. Just because you can, doesn't mean that you should.

Edit: No sooner did I post this did I notice on my RSS reader that Grizzly Adam posted about motorcycles about a half hour ago. He has a link with pictures of even more destruction. I guess I'm a copycat. Or maybe we both just love motorcycles.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My morning commute today was just miserable. With my recent move to the U.C., instead of sitting on I-15 for 35 miles, I can instead ride the Alpine Loop for 40 miles:

I hit up the biathalon at Soldier Hollow last night. I don't know how I finished, but I do know that I've never had so much fun during a race before. I think I did 6 penalty laps for missing the targets, but I think I also lost just as much time trying to steady the rifle enough to shoot. Finally on my last lap, instead of taking my time between each target, I held my breath and fired 5 quick successive shots and nailed each target. I hopped on my bike and rode toward the penalty loop just in time to see Richard finishing a penalty lap. I didn't know if he had another lap to do, and he didn't know if I had a lap to do, but our eyes met and we both knew that it was on. Fortunately, I was a little more fresh due to the lack of penalty laps, and I also had more momentum since he was still rounding the corner out of the penalty lap, so I was able to hold him off in the world's most unimportant sprint finish. Well, it may have been unimportant to everyone else, but after being outsprinted last week, I told myself that I was going to either win that sprint or die trying. I just about did both.

Chad, Mags, Paz, and I headed to Tarahumara in Midway afterwards, which might be one of the best Mexican restaurants around. Make sure you try the churros. If you do, you'll never buy a churro from anywhere else again. Of course, no trip to Heber Valley would be complete without listening to some old-school country music on Heber's local 1340 AM station on the drive home.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Shoot 'em up

Last week I was able hit up the weekly race series up at Sundance to wrap up what is probably the most I've ridden over a 5 day period so far this year. Probably because I hadn't gone 5 days without bad whether or travelling for work. I was peering into the pain cave on lap one because I didn't even have the strength to go all the way into the pain cave. Lap two was much better, until I got outsprinted at the line. I guess I should probably work on sprinting once or twice per year. My result was actually a little better than expected though, and it was good motivation to push myself quite a bit harder than I would have otherwise. Best of all was the laid back race atmosphere, hanging out before and after, and winning a new canister of CarboRocket in the post-race raffle.

Father's day was a good day. Slept in, and then heading back to Sundance for some quality grub. If you've never tried the Sunday Brunch up there, you're missing out. But I actually would rank Snow Basin's brunch even higher if you live up north. Anyway, each time I do this brunch thing (it's become a father's day tradition over the past 3 years), I always wonder if I'll be able to make the transition from eating french toast, omelets and bacon during round one to eating prime rib, turkey, and mashed potatoes during round two (and rounds three and four). It turns out that I have no problem making that transition, nor do I have a problem transitioning to the desert table during round five. My daughter pretty much just started and ended at the desert table:

She ate for free, by the way, but they're probably rethinking their policy after Aubrie cleaned them out.

We headed home, and Aubrie and I left to go on her first fishing trip. Tibble Fork looked more like a zoo than a lake, so we kept driving till we got to Silver Lake. After a bunch of near misses, she finally landed the big one:

I don't think she really expected to have a fish on the end of the line, because when we finally got this whopper of the water, she was more excited than I'd ever seen her, and let every person at the lake know that she had caught a fish. She was jumping around and screaming like a little girl. Oh wait... Needless to say, we'll be back fishing again sometime soon.

Finally, we went to dad's house for some bbq ribs and some cake. Since no ice cream was served, I remedied that when I returned home with a nice big bowl during the NBA finals. You're supposed to eat a lot the day before a race, right?

So, back to the title of the post. It's time to finally try out this "biathalon" at Soldier Hollow tonight. And by the way, can someone explain to me this inside joke of spelling it "biathAlon"? Is it just to distinguish it from the skiing version? Anyway, since I'm all about the art of intimidation, I think I'm going to try and dig up my old boy scout sash, which includes a rifle shooting merit badge, and wear it during the race. I figure that if people realize what a good shooter I am, they'll probably just give up.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

Last week, I went to Vegas for a few days for a work thing. Pretty much a bunch of lawyers patting each other on the backs and telling each other how great we are. Good times. I decided to drive, mainly so I could bring a bike along. Following the ways of Fish's recent post, if one is good, two must be better... so I brought two.

Although I'm sure your dying to hear the play by play of the conference I attended, I'm going to share a few stories about riding my bike during my trip instead.

The first contains some material that you can use during the next time you have the "cycling talk" with your spouse/significant other. You know, the one where your wife complains about the time/money spent on cycling, and you tell her that you could always look into different hobbies, like buying expensive cars, playing online video games, sport stacking, etc.

I was sitting around a table with some guys from a firm out east after some meetings. We were joking around and laughing, so I think the guys felt pretty comfortable with me. They weren't able to stick around for too long though, because they had some big plans to go to a "gentleman's club" for the evening. Since we were buddies now, they figured they'd invite me to come along. After all, what better way to develop new clients than to sit around watching a bunch of strippers together? Apparently, I'm not much of a gentleman, because I told them I was going on a bike ride instead. I think they thought I was joking at first, but soon realized that I indeed was crazy enough to pass on the strip club in favor of riding a bike around. A few awkward moments later (awkward for them anyway - I was thoroughly enjoying this), they got up and headed to the club. I headed up to my hotel room to grab my stuff and go for a ride. Ironically, while I was getting my things together I looked out my window, which overlooks the "21-and-older" pool/bar area, and I couldn't help but notice two girls dancing around topless in the pool. They were surrounded by some guys that appeared to be involved in a "flexing party." I never get invited to those. Anyway, I made it out for a nice ride in the Cottonwood Loop trail system outside of Vegas, which ended up being much better than expected. I guess you could say that between the view from my hotel room and the mountain bike ride, I unintentionally got the best of both worlds. But I'll tell you what. The next time I have the "cycling talk" with my wife, I plan on pointing out what non-mountain-bikers do on their business trips rather than riding their bikes. And I'm absolutely sure that if you aren't busy mountain biking, then you must be going to strip clubs - I mean, what else is there to do in Vegas?

The next day, I was able to get out for a road ride near the resort. The ride was pretty uneventful until just before I was about to wrap things up. I was stopped at a red light and was in the middle of a picture-perfect trackstand when a lady pulled up behind me and we had the following conversation:

Her: Does the law require you to wear a helmet when you ride a bike?
Me: I can't speak for Nevada, but I'm pretty sure Utah does not legally require you to wear a helmet (correct me if I'm wrong here, but last I heard, the effort to require helmets has not become a law yet).
Her: I used to ride bikes back in college.
Me: You should pick it up again.
Her: Yeah, it sure helps keep your butt tone.
Me (knowing full well that "your" meant humankind in general and not me in particular): Thanks! I'm glad you like it!

The light turned green, and so did she. I rode off while she tried to clarify, but it was too late.

Good times in Vegas.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Dear Valley, '08

I got up, looked outside, and got right back into bed. The devil on one shoulder had an argument with the angel on the other about whether to go to the race. Apparently the devil ended up winning, because I got back up and went to the race.

I'll admit that on the way up, I was half hoping to see people pre-registering for a rain/snow delayed race and going home (like Draper), but alas, the race went on. The race started blazing fast again, so I guess this is just the way the experts roll. My legs were hurting early because they were freezing cold, but I could tell that I had some good energy. The legs warmed up quickly, and I was able to hang onto a wheel through the initial 1-track, and quickly made 2 passes at the base of Little Stick. I caught a 3rd guy at the top of the climb, but couldn't make the pass before the decent. He was taking things really cautiously on the DH (can't say I blame him given the conditions), but on the little climb after the initial descent, I made the pass. I soon had a gap on the guys behind me, and I went into chase mode. Due to some travel this past week, I hadn't ridden at all since Tuesday, so once I shook off the rust, I was feeling good.

Then, my chain suddenly dropped off my rear cogs and went into my wheel. I fixed it, got back on, and it happened again. I went through this routine two more times, expecting different results (yes, I am clinically insane), but kept having shifting problems. I eventually noticed that my rear derailleur was bent toward my wheel (not sure how it happened), so I bent it back and kept going, and I luckily didn't have another shifting problem the rest of the race. Unfortunately, I'm a slow mechanic (ironically, this gets worse when I'm in a big hurry), and I didn't get going again until my entire class had passed me, along with most of the 19-29s, some of the 40-49, and SS. Even the pro women were coming up the trail by the time I was rolling again.

I was riding, but had no motivation. I considered pulling the plug for a few minutes, but realized the only reason for doing so would so that I wouldn't finish last, which is a really stupid reason, so I figured I may as well get a good hard ride in. I pushed the rest of the race and ended up reeling in a few guys in my class. According to my bike computer, my total rolling time was about 4 minutes less than my actual finish time, and I was able to complete the second lap over a minute faster than the rolling time of my first. I'd like to think that without losing my rhythm and motivation, I could have saved that minute on my first lap. I finished with plenty left in the tank, and wished that the race hadn't been shortened from 2 laps to 3 (I mean shoot, we're already muddy, so what's 1 more lap?).

The race was good and bad. It's a bummer to prepare for a race, feel good, and have a mechanical. If it's this disappointing for me, imagine the dudes that train their entire lives for the Olympics, and then have a false start, get sick, fall off the balance beam, or maybe they're even in the Mtb event and bend their derailleurs. Those dudes should be placed on suicide watch. Good thing this happened in the I-Cup, and not in a few months when I'm racing in Beijing. However, I felt good, and came away with some confidence.

Rick must thrive in the cold. He and I climbed Squaw Peak a few weeks ago in some cold rain. He cruised up to the top without me while I struggled to even turn over the pedals. He did the same thing in the cold today at D.V., landing himself a podium spot with the S.S. class. My pal Paz tore it up today as well in my class, pulling his first win of the season against some tough competition. Nice work, fellas.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

No more ribbons

Each time I come home from a race, I take my numberplate off my bike, write the details and results of the race on the nameplate (e.g., Draper Race, 05/08, 1st place - sport), and attach a ribbon to the numberplate if I placed in the top 6. I had them all hung up in my old garage, but since we recently moved, they are sitting in a box. Over the past year or so, I've been accumulating quite the colorful collection of ribbons while hanging out in the Sport class. This Saturday at Sundance, I decided to make the jump to expert. Let's just say that I expect my numberplate collection to be a lot less colorful for the next while. But like my buddy Ryan said about his move to expert a year ago, "who cares about another ribbon."

I certainly don't feel like an "expert", but I figured the sooner I made the jump, the sooner I'd start adjusting to the new level of competition. I lined up at the back of the group, which seemed huge after racing against 10-15 sports each week. I was getting a few looks from other riders, and they may have just been eying up the new competition, but I'm pretty sure the looks were because they didn't like the idea of a non-leg-shaver infiltrating their class.

The race started and I was immediately surprised by the fast pace. I'm not sure if it's this fast every week, or if it was faster this week because of the 1-track we were heading to that makes it tough to pass. I noticed that I was at the very back of the pack, with only Mad Dog Scott (my old pal from the sport class) behind me. I tried to step on the gas, and managed to go into the singletrack with 4-5 guys behind me.

There's not a whole lot else to say about this race, other than that Scott and one other guy passed me during the first two laps, and I passed one other guy just as the 3rd lap started. I was able to put 3 minutes between me and the guy I passed during the last lap, so I was glad to see that I had something left for the last lap.

Random thoughts:
*I finished behind about 75% of the expert class. I guess that's probably about where I should start after just moving up, so I'm not disappointed. I have a long way to go before I'm hanging with the top guys (3 minutes per lap, which seems like a ton), but if I can just shave 1 minute off per lap, I'd be finishing mid-pack.
*In a way, this felt like a 2007 sport race - 2 minutes behind Scott, 4 minutes behind Carson.
*About 2 years ago, I moved from beginner to sport, and I remember feeling the need to hold back on lap one just so that I could have something left in the tank for lap 2. If I didn't, I'd seriously end up soft-pedaling for a while during the race just to finish. By the time I decided to make the move this past week, I was able to push hard for the entire 2 laps (but felt dead by the end). On Saturday, I noticed myself holding back again on laps 1 and 2 because I was afraid I'd blow up if I didn't. Hopefully it doesn't take another 2 years before I can push it for 3 laps.