Saturday, February 28, 2009

State Champ

Last Saturday, I raced in a skijoring race up in Park City. From the research I've done (about 1 minute of searching on Google), there is only one skijoring race in Utah. So I guess you could say (and I will) that the winner of this skijoring race is the "Utah Skijoring State Champion." Although I'd never been pulled around by a dog before, I set my sights on the state championship.

The Story:

Friday evening, Chad informed me that Racer's wife Maren was the promoter for a skijoring race in Park City on Saturday morning. Maren had some extra dogs, so Chad and Mags were going to give it a shot. I couldn't find anyone who wanted to do any backcountry touring, and I'd always wanted to be a musher, so I decided to show up as well.

Before the race got started, Park City TV wanted an interview with the two mushers at the forefront of Utah Skijoring. Since the cameraman was also acting as the anchor, I held the mic:

Chad in the background, dancing to YMCA:

And we're off:

Chad started off with a whole team of dogs:

Sora bringing it home for the win.

Sora and I celebrate sweet victory:

Since I am now the Utah Skijoring State Champion (according to my own definition), I feel qualified to give you some pointers on how you too can become a State Champion someday. It is actually quite simple. All you need to do is follow these easy steps:

1) Learn some basic cross country skiing skills
2) Register for next year's "IDidARace" (Utah's only Skijoring race (that I know of))
3) Call Racer beforehand and beg him to let you use his dog named Sora
4) Show up and let Sora pull you around the 2-mile race loop in about 12 minutes

That's it. If you do that, you too can be the state champion. But you'd better get started early, because I'll be asking Racer to let Sora and me defend our title.

I think I might write a book about my experience. It will be called: "It's Not About the Musher."

By the way, the pictures you've enjoyed today were taken by Julie Harman-Azares.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Tales from a Newby Splitboarder

I've been on a few touring sessions on the splitboard lately. Most notably, I went up Aspen Grove, which Dug wrote about a few days ago, and I headed up to Little Cottonwood Canyon this morning with Rick, Sam, Jon, Rob, and a couple of others.

My first time out reminded me a lot of the days when I've taken new mountain bikers out for their first ride. I'll pick a trail that has just enough tricky sections to be fun, but nothing too technical or hard. Within minutes of starting the ride the newby is out of breath. Then, the newby spends as much time walking as riding, and I start to think that the newby is hating every minute. Sometimes I'm right, but other times, the newby loves it all anyway and gets hooked.

On Thursday morning at 5:30am, I was the newby. Rick, Dug, et al. picked a loop above Aspen Grove that for them was a pretty typical day in the backcountry - a few tricky sections to make it fun, but nothing too technical or hard. Things started fine, but the climb eventually got steep, and I realized that there was a lot more to skinning than moving your feet back and forth. To make a long story short, I made people wait. For a while. As I flailed in the snow, I looked at where I had come from and had visions of me losing balance and rolling for a very long time. Nevertheless, I eventually made it to the top so that I could enjoy what may have been the best rides of my life. I lifted this one from Dug:

Here is one of Rick:

This morning was more fun up Little Cottonwood. We headed up across from Alta for a windblown and slippery climb. Here is Sam dropping into Days Fork on the Big Cottonwood side:

We climbed back out, and Sam and I headed back down to the car while the others turned another lap. Here is one more of Sam on the way back to the car:

And here are some of me:

So here are my thoughts thus far on the splitboard:

Skinning vs. snowshoeing: No question: skinning > snowshoeing. You don't sink like you do with snowshoes. You can slide instead of having to lift your snowshoe out of the post hole you just created. And best of all, you aren't carrying your snowboard on your back. That said, I'm pretty sure that a splitboard doesn't skin quite as well as alpine touring skis. I think that the greater width makes it a bit harder to get a good grip on the snow. This is especially true when things get wind-blown and when climbing at an angle, which is when I start to inconveniently slide sideways and/or backwards while the skiers forge onward and upward. I'm hoping that my technique will improve and I'll find out that a splitboard can climb as well as skis, but only time will tell.

Splitboarding versus alpine touring: For me, nothing can beat the ride down on a snowboard. However, splitboarding is more of a pain than skiing. The transition from climbing to descending is more complex (although it's still amazingly simple when you consider that you go from skiing uphill to snowboarding, without any extra parts). Like I said before, I think skis climb better. And if you hit a flat section on your board, you have to stop, dig out your poles, extend them, and try to push your way through the flat while your skier friends just keep going. I have to admit that if I knew how to ski like Rick and company (who make skiing look really good), I'd probably be on an AT setup instead.

In short, touring reminds me a lot of mountain biking. On the way up, you have a lot of good times, and you have other times when you wonder why you're doing what you're doing. Then you ride down and remember exactly why.

PS. My phone blew up today. So don't text me - I can hear it come in, but I can't read it. Voicemail and email are all that work for me right now...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Split Personality

What is wrong (or right) with this picture?

It has a big line down the middle, for one. And if you're not careful, the whole thing will just fall apart:

After I did another round of snowshoeing in and snowboarding out with Adam and Keith, I had splitboards on my mind. I had been looking for a used one for a while, but couldn't find anything that struck my fancy. Yesterday, however, I found a pretty new board that was the perfect size and the price was right. Since I have lost all ability to exercise self-restraint, I bought it.

And when you factor in all of the lift passes that I won't be purchasing in the future thanks to this board, I would actually be losing money by not buying it. Yes, I can rationalize just about anything when left to my own devices.

There are a few scratches on the top of the board, but the bases and edges looked new. The skins and all of the hardware look brand new as well. Now, instead of doing this:

I'll be doing this:

I took her out for her maiden voyage this morning. One of these days, I might get around to writing about it...


I picked up a cheap Bimbo today. The bimbos were lined up on State Street, all hot and ready. The nice thing about a bimbo is that they are so sweet and easy. I was afraid that they would only accept cash for the bimbos, but to my delight, credit cards were accepted. The only problem with bimbos is that they can often leaving you feeling a bit sick afterwards. If any of you are wondering where you can pick up a cheap bimbo in Utah County, stop by the Mexican Mercado on State Street in Orem to find a nice assortment of these: I could have gone on all day about these bimbos, but it just deteriorates from here (if that's possible). And to think that my mom used to say that I needed to "grow up." Pffft! I think we can all agree that 4 years of engineering school, 3 years of law school, and 3 more years of being a "big shot" lawyer have cured me of any proported need to "grow up."

And how is it that this company has not changed its name yet????

Monday, February 9, 2009


The Sundance Nordic Center is closed for the day due to weather (us pansie CX skiers can't ski in powder). At least a few of us will be meeting at the top of the Provo side of the alpine loop to do some snowshoeing tonight at 7:00pm. All are welcome to join us.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Skinny Ski Night

NOTE: See my most recent "CHANGE OF PLANS" post. No CX skiing tonight because the nordic center is closed. Come snowshoe with us instead at the top of the Alpine Loop.


(Outdated post):
Winter is not meant to be spend in your basement on the hamster wheel. So come join me on Monday evening for the "Full Moon CX Ski" - the winter version of a night ride.

When: Monday, the 9th, 7:00pm
Where: Sundance Nordic Center

Supposedly the moon and snow are bright enough that no lights are required. And hopefully once you're done, you will have found a good reason to spend a lot less time in the basement.

Meet at the Nordic Center parking lot at 7pm, we'll cross country ski for a while, and then we'll go grab a bite afterward. If you want to drive up together, give me a call or shoot me an email. CX ski rentals are available at the Nordic Center, but you may be able to get cheaper CX skis at BYU's outdoor rec center.

To get there, head up about 3-4 minutes past the ski resort. Just as you come around a gradual right hand turn, you'll see a sign on the left for the nordic center (if you get to Aspen Grove, you've gone too far). Take that left, drive another minute or two, fork to the right, and you're there.

Edit: I was at the nordic center and the track is nearly perfect condition. Should be even better on Monday. If it's cloudy, I'd recommend a headlamp (I'll probably be the dorky one with a bike helmet and a headlamp, because a helmet light is all I have). Also, you can get a ski pass and a ski rental for $13.50 at the nordic center, which is half price.

In other news, the kids and I spent some time throwing snowballs and laughing at the crazies who participated in the "run your bike as fast as you can" race at the Frozen Hogger. After that, I took my 4 year old skiing (the phat downhill ski variety). She's already a shredder (or whatever the ski version of "shredding" is. I only know how to pretend that I'm cool in snowboarding vernacular). She's moved on from the tow rope to the chair lift and can ski down the green runs by herself. I think we're going for some double blacks next week.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Camp Nails

Last weekend I headed down to San Jorge for the 31st annual Camp Nails. As was expected, we got off to a late start and didn't arrive till Saturday morning at 1am. We made camp and slept with images of red dirt dancing in our heads. And I found out that the 20 degree rating on my new sleeping bag is total bullcrap.

Here is team Nails (Kevin, Nails, Dan, Craig, and me):

Here is Dan learning to ride a mountain bike on Zen - not bad for a roadie. This is steeper than it looks:

Here is Craig on the way up. This is not as steep as it looks:

and Nails on the same little move:

And Dan felt the need to show up Craig and Nails (he's pretty upset that it wasn't called "Camp Dan"), so he decided to ride the move with one leg:

After this, I put them all in their place by sitting on my handlebars and riding it backwards with one leg and no hands. Unfortunately the picture didn't turn out very well.

We were joined by Sabrosa Jon and his buddy Rob for some riding on the race course and in the Barrel Roll area. Two broken spokes later, we came back for some additional race course and Zen goodness, until the sole survivors of Camp Nails were Dan, Nails, and me. I just about went into acute renal failure on the ride back to Jon's place. Those dudes are putting in a serious off-season, and are going to put the hurt on some poor duo team down in Old Pueblo in a couple of weeks, just like they did down in Temecula a couple of weeks ago, and just like they did to me at Camp Nails.

The most important development during Camp Nails was the naming of my granny gear. From now on, instead of dropping down to my "granny gear", I'll be dropping down to "LaBerta." My granny gear and my grandma LaBerta actually have a lot in common. Small, cute, ability to take a lickin' and keep on tickin', and not very many teeth. Plus, "LaBerta" is a lot more fun to say than my other grandmas named "Mary" and "Helen" (although they both are/were great grandmas as well). And yes, I've had three grandmas. And no, I don't come from a polygamous family.

Best post from one of the best blogs...

No, not my blog (despite what you may have thought). I've been reading this blog for a while. Today the post is too good not to share.

Time to get a single speed.