Thursday, June 25, 2009

First Day on 2 Wheels

Before I left on my trip, riding a bike without training wheels finally clicked for my 4 year old. It didn't come without a few spills though:

But she eventually got it:
She stole that cute little basket off of Dug's old Surly, by the way.

Here's a quick video of her pushing the big ring. You cyclocrossers can probably learn a thing or two about dismounts at :14 and at :38.
video

I don't know what made me more proud. The fact that she's on two wheels, or the fact that after one of her crashes, I asked her if she was done for the day and she whimpered "no, when we crash, we get right back on our bike." She clearly has a dad who has crashed a lot.

Here's a tip for any of you with kids on training wheels. If they are having trouble with balance, try getting them one of those razor scooters. Aubrie just couldn't figure out the whole balance thing, and I think she was too afraid of falling on her bike to give it a try. We put her on a scooter for a few weeks, which was a lot less daunting. The next time we put her on a bike was the day we took this video.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Touring the Cotswolds

After spending a day in Reading (think Reading Railroad, Monopoly) and a couple days in Gloucester doing work stuff, I had a day and a half to do some 'splorin' (that's a double apostrophe, not single quotes).  I was stationed right outside of an area called the "Cotswolds", which is filled with "cute" little towns.  My wife would have been in heaven.  But since she wasn't with me, I hired a mistress for a few days instead: 

The mistress was a Trek 3 series.  She wasn't much to look at, but she got the job done.  

Before the mistress and I headed out to the Cotswolds, we stopped by the local Gloucester cathedral:


While checking out the interior of the cathedral, one of the choirs was performing.  I recorded part of it, but the recording just doesn't do it justice, so I'm not going to post it here.  Just know that it was good enough that I contemplating becoming a Catholic for a while because of it.

Saturday morning, I headed to the Cotswolds and took the following route (more or less):
The roads were for the most part quiet, beautiful, narrow, and hilly:


There were also a bunch of equestrian trails that crisscrossed the area:



And even some stretches of nice single-track:


For the most part, I'd just navi-guess my way from town to town using the roads and trails until I'd become good and lost.  Then I'd pull out the GPS on my phone and figure out where I was.  If not for that technological miracle, I'd still be lost out there.  I must have passed through 20+ towns on Saturday, most of which came and went in the blink of an eye.  

Other than a few of the more touristy towns that were filled with cars, being in the Cotswolds felt like going back in time a few hundred years.  I felt like Robin Hood in the Sherwood Forest while traversing some of the landscapes and dirt roads:

Here are some additional highlights from the journey...

Snowshill - an "edible bundle of cuteness", according to my guidebook:


Church in Chipping Campden:


Many people think that J.R.R. Tolkien based his landscapes and drawings on the Cotswold towns.  This door to the cathedral in Stow-on-the-Wold is claimed to have inspired the door into Moria:

In Stow-on-the-Wold, they know how to work it (the sign says "Beer Garden & children's play area"):

Caught part of the local Cricket game (match?).  I can't figure this game out...

This little old church in Upper Slaughter was my favorite.  No frills.  And I loved the centuries worth of graves stacked on top of each other to the left.  By the way, I'm going to start pushing the local churches to convert the front lawns into cemeteries.  I think they add a nice touch.


Some houses down the hill from the church in Upper Slaughter:

All in all, it was a good trip.  For me, anytime I visit a far-away big city like London, it reminds me of how small my slice of the world is, but also reminds me how important things like family and friends are.  So I jumped right in with a good hike and swim with the family yesterday and a great ride this morning with team Draper/Alpine.  It's good to be home.

Friday, June 19, 2009

God Save the Queen

I'm rolling solo in the UK for a week for work.  Before heading into the office, I had the afternoon free, so I made the most of it in London.  Arriving at Paddington Station:



The bottomless Tube station:


No trip to England would be complete without some Fish and Chips.  Mmmmm... greasy...


Wesla and I visited England back in 2000, and although I'd gladly revisit many of the places we saw back then, I opted for the British Museum, which we missed the last go 'round:




In short, it was probably the best amazing collection of stuff I've ever seen, aside from the bike collections of a few friends.

I can only hope to leave half the legacy of this Egyptian guy:  



Seriously, nobody will remember me 50 years after I die.  10 years?  Okay, I'll give myself 2 years.  (except for my big sport-category win at Sherwood Hills last year - that will be talked about for centuries).   Here we are more than 2000 years later, and we're still admiring this dude.  When I die, please mummify me and put me in a museum.  Thanks in advance.

As my readers know (all 3 of you), there is no better way to see a city than on a bike.  So after the museum I went on a bike tour of London with "Fat Tire Bike Tours."  Here I am rolling in style:


The peleton:



We made a stop at Westminster.  I can't believe how many dead kings they can fit into these cathedrals.  As they say here in the UK, "loads."


Some important building somewhere in London:


During the bike tour, we stopped by a Princess Diana Memorial in the Kensington Gardens.  It's basically this man-made stream that circles around part of the park, goes down a few small rapids, and comes to a rest at the bottom.  Our tour guide (who was awesome, by the way) says that the river represents Princess Di's life, which had a few rough spots and some smooth spots.  Then some genius in the group says, "well, shouldn't there be some rapids at the bottom to represent the crash? Ha ha ha..."  Um.... Awkward...  I think the peanut gallery guy underestimated the esteem in which the English hold their queens and princesses, because our tour guide wasn't laughing.  I suppose the guy had a point though...

We finished off the tour and I "slayed" the sprint finish. Um, I mean I "slew" it.  Unfortunately I was going way to fast to get a picture of my big win.

A few things to love about the UK:
1) Their tendency to under/overexaggerate.  You say something they agree with and it's "brilliant."  Their grandmother dies and it's "a bit of a drag."  Their tea is bad and it's "ghastly."
2) The old English people. Love them.
3) Driving.  Love the small and zippy cars.  Love the craziness of driving on the left.  Love the flowiness of the round-abouts.  Love the drivers (in the US, people would be honking and flipping me off for the stupid things I've done during my adventure of driving on the left. Here, they just wave and let me get on with it).  I only hope that at least once before I leave I will remember to get into the right-side door so I don't have to look in the glovebox in an attempt to appear like I meant to open the wrong door before walking around to the other side. 

One thing not to love:
1) The food.  Everything they say is true.  When you're here, get the Indian food.  Trust me.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

ICUP Deer Valley 2009

After last year's perfect conditions after a June snowstorm in Deer Valley, I wasn't too concerned about this year's trail conditions. Sure enough, the conditions were good again. Perhaps a bit soft in places for a lap or so, but never too bad.

The race started and I just didn't feel great. I guess nobody does up Little Stick (which Brad has aptly renamed). I don't know if it was the cold or my preparation or what, but my legs just felt a little dead - not much spring to them. Like Rick, I was having bad thoughts on that first climb. I need to be less of a head case.

I was tentative on the first DH due to the wet conditions, but eventially found a good groove. The course will always be one of my fav's (other than doing Little Stick three times), because the two descents are just amazing.

Speaking of the DH, here is a picture from the race that I picked up from PrimeLite Photo that reminds me how much I hate racing with knee warmers (I spent most of the race wishing I didn't have them on): 



Scott from PrimeLite takes great pictures and sells them at a bargain, so check out his site to find your pictures from the past few races.

The results from DV were both good and frustrating. I think I've made an incremental improvement, but it's frustrating to look up the results and see a list of 10 people within 2-3 minutes and know that I wasn't able to catch any of them. Then there was a five minute gap between me and the next group of finishers. I'm right there with the group I want to be in, but I need to figure out how to get myself into the mix rather than on the tail end. I'm sure that sitting around and eating a ton of greasy food in the U.K. like I'm doing for the next week is exactly what I need to pull it off (more on that later). At least I'll have plent of energy stores for the Wasatch Classic!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Smoking the Pipe

On Monday, Adam and I beat the rain and got a great ride in up on the Timp Foothill Trails. Adam introduced me to the new Crank-to-Frank trail that many are calling "Kenny's trail":



Then on the way down, I took a hit on the infamous pipe up Dry Canyon:


And here I am smoking the pipe:



I should warn you about taking hits on the pipe. The pipe is an addiction. You're afraid to take your first hit, but when you do, you get this sudden rush. The rush makes you want it more. So you do it again and again, thinking each time that just one hit on the pipe can't hurt you, and that you can quit at anytime. But deep down, you know. Someday, that pipe is going to kill you.

And if the pipe doesn't, the Stairway to Heaven at the bottom will. Just ask Ricky.

A couple of trail updates and useful bits of information:

On Saturday, the ridge trail system was in near-perfect condition. I was expecting a lot more mud and snow, but there was no snow at all.  Jurassic Park, Joy, Pine Hollow, Salamander Flat, Willow Creek, Horse Flat, all great.  

There were a few patches of mud that were easy to walk through or around. Unless, of course, you're on a motorcycle, in which case you are apparently encouraged to give 'er full throttle, throw a rooster-tail 20 feet high and create a foot deep trench in the trail.  Love them.


The Timp Foothill Trails (Frank, Crank, Betty, Area 51, Dry, etc.):  I've heard a lot of people complaining about the rain lately.  I'm going to let you in on a little secret.  Once the Timp Foothill trails are dry, they stay dry.  All summer.  

Last night, I couldn't find anyone to ride with.  Everyone was bummed about the torrential downpour that had just finished. I took off alone at about 7:30 and road the dirt for almost 2 hours in perfect conditions.  Not a single puddle or muddy section.  My feet were soaked by the flowers and grass, but that really just added to how great the ride was.  

So unless we're in the middle of 2-3 days of solid rain (which only happens once every few years around here), the Timp Foothill Trails are good to go about 2 hours after the downpour stops.  

You're welcome.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pandora

If you don't know about Pandora, you're missing out. Especially if you sit in front of a computer all day like me. It's pretty much the biggest thing to hit the Webernet since, um, well, porn, probably. I love it (Pandora, not porn).

So I created a station on Pandora that includes the following bands (added using the "add variety" feature):

The Shins
Gomez
Elliott Smith
Death Cab
Guster
The Two Gallants
Radiohead
Wilco

The amazing thing about Pandora is that it actually knows about bands like The Two Gallants. Over the past few months, I've occasionally told the station the songs I like and don't like. By now, pretty much everything that comes out of this station is good. Granted, it still thinks I like Modest Mouse and Coldplay a lot more than I really do, but I'll let that slide. It has, however, introduced me to some cool artists like Nick Drake (how I lived my entire life without knowing about him is beyond me), A.A. Bondy and Iron and Wine.

Overall, the station is on the mellow side, which is good during work (the only time I listen to it), but I probably should add a little sum'n sum'n to spice it up a bit.

Now I just need to come up with a way to transmit my Pandora stations directly to my iPod. How sweet would that be?

So what bands are in your Pandora station? Or if you've been living under a rock, what bands would be in your Pandora station if you had known about it? And what bands are missing from my lineup?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Churro Challenge

I'd be crazy to challenge Chad in any other race, but you introduce guns into the mix and it's a whole new ballgame. When Paz, Ryan, Chad and I unite to race the Soldier Hollow Biathlon, there is always a lot more on the line than bragging rights. A whole lot more. What could make this race so important, you might ask? The last across the line buys churros at Tarahumara, that's what. And these ain't your Disneyland churros.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was a little worried going in since I'd be racing against the fast guys. I was happy not to be in last place going into the first shooting range, but my gun was having problems, so I had to get up and wait for another minute while another gun became available. I was last place leaving the gun range, but only missed one shot, so I caught a few guys who were burning extra calories in the penalty lap.

Next lap, I was on a roll at the range, but double-cocked the gun which wasted a round, so I had to ride another penalty lap.

By the way, have you noticed that when you say the word "cock" in relation to a gun, it sounds normal, but when you write it down, it still seems a little, um, weird? I digress...

The next three laps, I never missed another target. I was shooting the lights out. Paz was way off the front despite starting a minute after Chad and I (Watch out for Paz, Expert 30-39'ers - he's back), but I caught and passed Chad, who was literally getting so dizzy riding penalty laps that he lost count during one of his many visits.

The race was only about 9-10 miles (12-13 for Chad), but it was the hardest 9-10 miles ever since it is non-stop sprinting. Even after doing at least 11 fewer penalty laps than Chad, I only narrowly beat Chad and Ryan to avoid buying churros.

Speaking of sprinting, I pulled what you single-speeders might call a dirty move at the end. I came around the last turn and saw a single-speeder pulling out of a penalty lap. As you may know, the last few hundred yards is a flat paved section - a single-speeder's worst nightmare. I saw the gear-impaired rider was spinning his brains out and pounced to edge him at the line (which, in a Wed. night race is an imaginary line somewhere right before the tag-pulling lady, so maybe I didn't edge him out). Hey, in my defense, it was really just retaliation for all the times you 1-speeders put me in the pain cave as you pull away on the climbs. Kenny will certainly make me pay for that low-blow. So is it a cycling faux pas for a geary to out-sprint a single-speeder on flat pavement? The equivalent of punching a helpless old blind lady? (I'm not sure how many more penalty laps Kenny did than me, but since I was with him at the end, I'm guessing it was a lot)

Oh, and since we're on the subject of single-speeds, I may be in the market for one of those new-fangled contraptions. Give me a heads-up if you see a size medium on the market.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Expert A


If you are familiar with the Wednesday Night Worlds held at Sundance and Soldier Hollow, you may have heard (or received an email) that the big Expert class will be divided into Expert A and Expert B classes. Basically, they took the series point totals, drew a line through the middle, and put the top half in Expert A and the bottom half in Expert B.

The Expert A is filled with the really fast guys you'd expect to see there. You know, like Mitchell, Alex, Chris, Mark J, Chucky, etc. Oh yeah, and if you keep going down the list, way down at the bottom you'll see a guy named Aaron. Oh Sh!t! That's me!

Reminds me of one of my favorite songs:



Apparently, I made the mistake of racing two races rather than just one before the split was made. I suppose it makes sense though, because I certainly belong in the category above "the" Chad Harris. I mean, he may be a bonafide professional mountain biker, but we all know he pales in comparison to my mtb skillz (sensing a little sarcasm?).

Well, on the bright side, I would not have finished dead last in the Expert A category in either of my previous 2 Wed. night races this year. In my first race at Soldier Hollow, I would have totally smoked Tim H. So what if he finished 1st overall in last week's Wed. night race? And Kenny didn't even finish the Soldier Hollow race! Yeah, he'll come up with some lame excuse like how his belt drive snapped in the middle of the climb, but there's nothing that prevented him from Fred Flinstoning his way to the top and coasting down.

In my second race at Sundance, I would have finished ahead of pro rider Chris H. I don't even need to tell you how much faster I am than him. I'm sure mechanicals had nothing to do with this result.

Anyway, the email from the WeeklyRaceSeries folks said "I do not want to see people who are in the A category trying to jump down into the B category." I'm not sure why we don't just pick a category we feel comfortable with, but if that's the way it's gonna be, I guess I'll be in chase mode this summer. Fortunately I'll have slow guys like Tim and Chris to beat up on.

For the record, I'd race the Wed. night series even if it meant finishing 20 minutes behind everyone else. It's a great series, the people putting it on do a fantastic job, and I'm happy to race in any category, as long as we hit up Tarahumara after Shoot'em up Short Track tomorrow for some churros.