Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tibble Fork Picture Share

No time to write, but here are a few pics from yesterday morning's Tibble+Joy+Mud=Good ride:

Mark on the climb:

Elden in Tibble Meadow

Rick descending Tibble:

And although not from the Tibble ride, if you are night-riding in Glenwild, watch out for these bad boys:
Considering that we had at least 3-4 porcupine sightings and almost every one of us crashed at least once, it's amazing one of us didn't have a rather uncomfortable landing, followed by the removal of a hundred or so sharp quills.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tetons Race and Ride

Taming the Tetons is a race that was not initially on the heavily negotiated race schedule.  However, the week before the race, the misses decided to pack up the kids and head to Oregon to see their cousins, so I was living the bachelor life.  And I took full advantage.  Not only did I go on my peep-show ride, but I was able to hit the Crest for the first time this year, and even got double the pleasure (double the fun) one evening by pre-riding the Canyons race course and then hitting a Glenwild night ride.  

I was hoping to have some legs left over for the Tetons race, and I suppose I felt okay, but didn't have the upper end power for the climbs.  There were only 10 starters this week, and I finished in 4th.  I went back and forth with 3rd place for a while - he'd pull ahead on the climbs, and I'd pull back time or pass him on the descents - but he eventually landed the knock-out punch on the 3rd lap. I certainly can't complain about another visit to the Tweety Chair though.
(Thanks to Kris for the photo)

I drove up to Jackson with the Holleys, so I was their third wheel (or wheels five and six, to be more specific) for the weekend.  On Sunday, the Holleys, Keith, Tim, Dave Dean and I headed out for what ended up being an amazing ride in the mountains to the South of Jackson.  I'd ridden up there once before a few years back, but Kris hooked me up with a map so that we could find our way around. 

Everyone but the Holleys and I called it a day after 25 miles (what sort of pansy only wants to do 25 miles the day after a race?), so I joined the Holleys for another 15 miles of "Leadville Training" (hopefully I can put the training to another good use).  If you want to become a better descender, just try and follow Chris around for 5 hours.  During the few times you can keep up, you'll pick up a thing or two about maintaining flow and momentum.

Unfortunately I didn't take a single picture during the ride, but I can tell you that it would be tough to beat that ride in any way, shape or form (right KC?).

Here's a snapshot of the route:

If you want more detail because you were on the ride (or you're a tech geek or just really bored), check the ride out here.  Click on the "Player" tab, and it will take you through the map and elevation profile of the entire ride.  I forgot to start recording until 4-5 miles into the ride, but you'll get the gist.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


(I thought this posted last week before I left for the Tetons. Since it didn't, I've revised it and am posting it now)

I was recently accused of being Un-American by a friend from work. He caught me committing the ultimate act of anti-patriotism. I had practically committed treason. I had openly rooted for Alberto Contador.

He simply could not fathom how I could express any support for Contador when he was the arch-rival of Lance Armstrong. It was akin to supporting Communism in the 80's.

I went on to explain why I thought most of the complaints against Contador were unfair. (I was going to say that the Contador haters were full of crap, but I know that Mark is very sensitive and I didn't want to hurt his feelings. Ha).

The complaints against Contador started in earnest after his first attack on Arcalis. "Johan told him not to attack", people were saying. Well, if I were Alberto, I don't know that I'd be listening to Johan either, because he knew as well as I did who Johan's main pony was. The longer he was behind Lance, the longer he was second fiddle on the team.

"The attack on Arcalis was bad tactically. The climb was too short and windy to make up any real time", was the critique provided by the infinitely wise viewing public. Well, look who's laughing now. I'd say it was one of the best cards he played this tour. Not only did he gain time on everyone else, but he put himself on equal footing with his main rival going forward.

The Contador haters really came out when he "attacked Kloden" on stage 17. "What a horrible teammate!" What, you think he should be concerned with his team? The team that practically threw him under the team bus as soon as Lance happened to be in a split that gained him 41 seconds on the other GC'ers? The team that wouldn't give him a 100% commitment despite the fact that he'd won three of the past 5 grand tours (now 4 of the past 6) and is clearly the best stage racer in the world? Yeah, when given the choice between being a "good teammate" and winning the tour, I think he made quite a few good decisions during the tour.

Alberto's only mistake on stage 17 was that he slowed down after the attack. He hoped that Kloden would have stayed with the Schleks, but when he saw that Kloden got dropped he slowed down in hopes that Kloden would catch back on. He should have done what Lance would have done back in the day - not given a second thought to what happened to his teammate and gone on to win the stage. Contador was the clear team leader at that point and I don't think he should be faulted for wanting to win the stage. No gifts, right?

The other thing that cracks me up about the stage 17 fallout is that, as with almost every tour, people were complaining about the tour being boring because "none of the GC contenders are attacking." Contador finally tries something exciting and he's labeled reckless and a bad teammate. Mark recently wrote a funny article about how how none of the GC contenders were willing to throw down any attacks, as well as how all of the racers were whining throughout the tour. He forgot to include the fans amongst the whiners - they whined when racers didn't attack, and whined even more when someone (Contador) finally did.

And then, of course, there are the "Contadopers." Of course he's a doper. He won the Tour didn't he? Case closed. No more testing is needed. Yeah, maybe "they" will eventually prove that he's a doper. And maybe they won't, and he'll go on to win 5 more tours.

It seems to me that most of the Contador haters hate him because he had the nerve to actually want to win the tour, and then was un-American enough to go and do it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jungle Love

What would you do in this "hypothetical" situation:

You are 'just riding along' on one of your favorite trails (like Timpooneke, for example), enjoying the cool air and prestine singletrack. You come across a couple of WalMart bikes stashed along side the trail, and you start to wonder why two bikes would be sitting here without their owners nearby, since there are no other trailheads or landmarks around. In the corner of your eye, you see something moving around amongst the aspen and pine trees. As you ride by, you take a closer look. You are so shocked by what you see that it takes your brain a second or two to register what you are looking at:

Two people, both well qualified for the "Clydesdale division", one firmly grasping a poor and innocent aspen tree, going at it.

Yeah, that's right. IT.

I'm pretty sure that if Adam and I found ourselves in that "hypothetical" situation, Adam would yell "classy", and the only thing I could think up would be to yell at Adam to grab his camera (loud enough for the Clydesdales to hear). Then we would keep riding, because we'd be too sick to our stomachs, not to mention shocked, to think of doing anything else.

And then we'd spend the rest of the ride talking about what we should have done.

Oh, and while talking about how exactly a douchebag guy approaches his skanky girlfriend about performing such an act, Adam would yell in his loud and boisterous voice "Hey babe, I'm getting tired of riding these bikes. Wanna pull over and DO IT?", just as another rider (one of the only other riders we'd see all evening) would round the corner from the opposite direction. And then I'd try and explain (all too late) that Adam's comment was not directed toward me, but was instead a hypothetical conversation between said douchebag and said skank.

So again I ask. What would you do in this "hypothetical" situation? Because lets face it, anyone willing to perform such an act in a publicly visible area deserves to be mocked, ridiculed, and/or injured, right?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Solitude - ICUP State Championship

As expected, that was a really hard race. I didn't want to blow up, so I tried to go out easy. I started in about 15th place, and I still felt like I pushed a bit too hard up that new climb. The first lap of a race is the only time where it can seem harder to go slow than to go fast. That all changes after about 15 minutes though, and people started popping left and right. I kept a pretty steady pace throughout the day and slowly picked off riders.

On the top of the 3rd lap, I started feeling some potential cramping coming on. I started using granny LaBerta quite a bit more from there on out. What was really surprising is that the cramping actually came on even harder during the 3rd lap descent. Each time I straightened my left leg to make a sharp right-hand turn, my left quad would start to seize up. I eased up on the the DH a bit, started drinking a bunch more CarboRocket (Thanks Kellie for the extra handup!) and ended up fine on the 4th lap.

Perhaps I over-estimated, but I thought we started with around 20-25 racers - at least 2 solid rows. I finished and was hoping to be top 10, so I was surprised to see I finished in 4th. I think more people drop out of this race than any other, which padded my result a bit. I think that less than 15 finished.

It was nice to feel good for a change. And when I say "good", I mean that I suffered like a dog, but I at least felt like I could push for most of the 3.5 laps. I've felt like I've been in a bit of a slump over the past couple months, but finally started feeling good last week. The conditions worked in my favor as well. I don't necessarily enjoy riding in the heat, but i always seem to do better when it's hot. My legs just never seem to get the wake up call when it's chilly like at Deer Valley.

Thanks to Jim W (who in addition to being a strong rider is also a really strong CX ski racer) for documenting one of my rare visits to the tweety chair:

Splits: Lap 1: 39:30 (including initial shakeout)
Lap 2: 38:00
Lap 3: 39:00
Lap 4 (lower loop): 25:30

Friday, July 17, 2009

What does the Solitude race course need?

If you said "more climbing", then you are right, or at least Ed thinks so. ("more cowbell" would also have been an acceptable answer).

The new singletrack section starts out with a nice little twisty descent before starting the climb up to the top. As with any descent, it does not come without a cost. The new section does cut out some of the really steep nasty switchbacks that were part of the old race course, so the climb really doesn't feel much longer.

I prerode the course on Wednesday with Adam, Rick, and another Aaron. The pre-ride of this course is always one of my favorite rides of the season. Beautiful singletrack, technical descent, good company, etc. That last dirt road climb never feels too hard. The technical steep section after the dirt road is always cleanable. The descent is a blast.

And then I race it and everything changes. Somehow that dirt road gets 5% steeper. That technical steep section becomes rockier and nearly impossible to clean. The descent gets looser and more demanding.

Last year, I saw this course bring one of the fastest guys I ride with nearly to his knees. I don't know that I fared much better, but at least I had a granny gear to fall back on (thanks for being there for me, LaBerta). I can't wait to see how things play out in the morning.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Do Baggies Make it Better?

I mentioned that I got my clock cleaned a couple times last week.  What I didn't mention is that one of the clock cleanings was a first for me.  My first DFL.  I probably deserved a DFL or two in the past due to mechanicals or an otherwise bad race, but there was always at least one person a little suckier than me.  Not on Wednesday.  I was the suckiest.  At least in the otherwise non-sucky "Expert A" class anyway.

I sorta knew this was coming by looking down the list of "Expert A" racers.  So as I was getting dressed for the race, I made a conscious decision: if I am going down, I'm going down in style.  So I grabbed my baggy shorts off of the shelf.  

I think you had to look back in the staging area past all of the Expert As, all of the Expert Bs and at least to the Sports, if not the Beginners to see another pair of baggies last Wednesday.  So here's my question:  Does racing in baggies against all of the fast lycra-clad "Expert A" racers make my DFL any more respectable?  

If you saw how good I looked on Wednesday, I think you'd agree that it does.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cross Training

After getting my clock cleaned not once but twice last week, I knew I needed to do some serious training to get back into top form. So I decided to do the most intense training I know of. I took the kids camping. By myself.

If you have never taken a 2 and 4 year old camping by yourself, you don't know what intense training feels like. It's non-stop 100 miles per hour. 400+ watts all the time. Especially if you go all out with the dutch oven meals and everything:

Aubrie got a brand new fishing pole and she was excited to bust it out, and bust it out she did. She wasn't so excited about the prospect of kissing her first fish of the day though:

She had a respectable haul for dinner:
A few days earlier, I had some additional high-intensity training as well:
*Note that I am not wearing a white t-shirt or bike shorts under my life preserver/swimming trunks. That is the result of a hard-earned cyling tan (aka, the mark of the beast).

The family headed up for some waterskiing with some old friends. I forgot that with these guys, I should never jokingly suggest that we try something unless I really plan on trying it. I foolishly suggested to them that what the trip really needed was the waterskiing 3-man pyramid. Of course, that meant we really had to go for it. Here we are during the preparation:

The execution was a little... less than stellar:

After failing on no fewer than 15 attempts, we decided to place the blame on inadequate equipment. It couldn't have anything to do with operator error. It especially had nothing to do with the fact that this was my third time ever waterskiing.
With all of this high-intensity training, I am primed for Solitude this weekend, so watch yourselves!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tour Talk

I was about to post the same thing that Mark recently posted (minus the part about his big crit win), but since he already said it all, I've deleted my previous comments and started over.  Here are a few quotes from Lance that make it tough for me to pull for him this year:

1) "The (2008) Tour was a bit of a joke this year. I’ve got nothing against Sastre or Christian Vande Velde. Christian’s a nice guy, but finishing fifth in the Tour de France? Come on." What kind of punk says something like that?  I don't care if you're now apologizing.  You're still a punk for saying something so cocky and, well, just plain mean in the first place.

2) "Here’s a confession: I expected it to be easier."  I know you won 7 tours, but seriously!?  You thought that beating all of these guys in their prime would be easy?  Your ego is even bigger than I thought.

3) "I am not ok with that theory saying there can be only one team leader."  Ha!  I'd love to hear what Lance would have said if Hincapie would have made this comment back in '99-'05 (okay, he probably would have laughed because Hincapie had no chance, but maybe if Floyd or Levi or Vande Velde would have said it).

4) "One way or the other, it's not going to go according to somebody's plans. When that moment comes, there's going to be some emotions. Some hurt feelings. It's not going to be easy." For some reason I get the impression that when lance says "somebody", he means Contador.

Despite this, I too am torn.  I can't help but get excited about Lance nearly being in yellow again. Can he really pull off the impossible?  I want him to at least keep it close just to make things interesting.  Like I mentioned in Mark's comments, if Contador drops everyone on Friday, the tour is basically over.  But if Contador does put 2 minutes into Lance on Friday, will Lance start getting bottles for him?  If Contador attacks, does Lance chase him down (or vice versa) and risk bringing the other GC contenders with him?  And if either Lance or Contador can't hang, will Levi or Kloden put in a chase?  If nothing else, Lance has made this Tour interesting.

I do have several favorites this year, and Sastre is one of them.  In addition to forgiving Lance for dissing him after last year's win, I loved what he said about the situation back when it happened:  
"It’s his point of view, his words, his life. I’m not interested in anything about that. I think he’s a great champion, he won seven Tours, the world championship, he’s a great rider. But behind every rider must be a person, and in that respect, maybe he needs to learn something more."


You also gotta love the joy on Voeckler's face:
Back in his yellow jersey days, I have to admit that I sort of wished that Voeckler would just go away, but today I have a new found respect for this dude.  He certainly made today's stage worth watching.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Office Scare

The following sign was posted on my door the other day while my bike was sitting in my office:



Aaron Smith

You are in company violation

(Our Company's Landlord) has brought to our attention and to the attention of the Facilities and its Real-Estate team - YOU ARE IN COMPANY VIOLATION. According to our lease, storing bicycles in cubicles and offices is a direct violation. If it continues the Landlord has the right to retain your bicycles for 30 days of empundment [sic]. Your cost center has been charged $75.00 for this first-time offense. The landlord has requested for you to call so we can expedite this charge and record its violation on your employee record. (My Company) advises persons who ride bikes to work to lock bikes on the racks provided outside the building for storing and securing bicycles.

Your cooperation and compliance with this request is greatly appreciated in the future.

Corporate Facilities Team

My initial thought was that it was a prank. I certainly would have had it coming to me. In fact, I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner. But the usual suspects were rather convincing in their denials, so the distinct possibility that this was serious crept into my mind.

I stewed about it over lunch. I was rather furious that my perfect routine of mixing long road and mountain bike rides with my commute to and/or from work may have a serious monkey wrench thrown in it. I cussed out the facilities team while visiting the bike shop during my lunch hours. I spent the drive back to the office formulating a list of arguments I planned on using when I talked to the facilities team.

When I got back into the office, I nervously called the number listed in the violation notice. Sure enough, my coworker's name popped up on the caller ID of my company telephone. I immediately hung up and ran over to that bastard's office. He saw that I called so he was waiting for me and already getting a good laugh at my expense. He got me. He got me good. He saw where I was vulnerable and took advantage.  Let the office pranks begin!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Race Picture Share

Here are a few more pictures that I picked up from PrimeLite Photos:

Sundance - I'm going to bite my lip off one of these days:

Soldier Hollow:

That previous picture almost looked like I was smiling. It must have been taken before I crashed, because this picture is more in line with how I remember this race (in the pain cave):

Go check out some pictures of yourselves from these races on PrimeLite Photos. The photos at primelite seem to be of high quality, and they are very reasonably priced, at $2.50 for a 4x6.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wasatch Classic 2009

So close. I coulda shoulda woulda finished the Wasatch Classic. But I blew it.

The quick version: I started a bit slow, then felt amazing. Nothing could stop me. Except getting lost. Twice. I was going to run out of light and food so I had to cut out the Crest/Mid-Mountain loop and call it a day.

The illustrated version:

8 of us met in Midway at 6am, including Adam, Essam and John from Colorado, Rob from Arizona, Reed, Rich, Derrick and me.

Rolling out of Midway:

Derrick, Adam and I climbed the 5000 feet out of Midway together. Here is Derrick trying to conquer the WC on his single-speed:

The views back toward Deer Creek were spectacular:

I rode the singletrack up on Ant Knolls for the first time. It is some of the best in the Wasatch:
And then there were the views. It honestly does not get any better than this:
But these aren't bad either:

Adam on the ridge:
After Tibble (which has been entirely ruined by motos, in case you haven't heard), things started to get interesting. I was feeling great on the climb and made it to a Y in the road. I looked on my map, looked at the signs, and looked at the turn-by-turn instruction sheet, and was positive I needed to turn right. Well, after about 1000+ feet of climbing, I realized that I was mistaken. After cussing up a storm and nearly throwing myself off of a nearby cliff, I turned around and got back on route.

The wrong turn meant I was on my own for the rest of the ride. I thought I could still finish if I could ride strong until Catherine's pass. I made it to the top of Dry Fork and figured out how to start up Catherine's Pass.  Then I made like the pioneer children and walked and walked and walked. 

About half-way up Catherine's Pass (who is this Catherine Lady, anyway?  I was so sick of that bitch about half-way up. I wonder if she was related to Scott?  Have you noticed that Scott named everything in the Wasatch?  Scott's Pond (Sundance), Scott's Pass and Hill (Big Cottonwood), Scottie's Bowl, etc.  Man, what an egomaniac), the trail turned to snow, and I eventually lost the trail, as well as the tracks of the WC'ers that went before me. I didn't have a GPS, so I saw a pass that looked like where I needed to be heading and started hiking up.

Eventually, I was hauling my bike through areas like this (I told you Catherine was a bitch):

It was brutal, but you can imagine my relief when I got to the top of the pass. I looked down the other side expecting to see a trail down to Lake Catherine. My heart sank when I looked down and saw this:
No lake, no trail. After spending a while looking at the map and the peaks around me, and walking around another ridge, I realized that I had ended up at the top of Alta. I was tempted to slide down the snow banks to the bottom of Alta and call a ride to get home. But I realized that Adam would be waiting for me in Midway and I had no way of getting in contact with him. Rather than risk showing up on the nightly news, I spent the next hour or so walking across snowfields, rocks and cliffs with my bike (Damn you Catherine!):
I finally traversed over to Catherine's pass and made it down to Brighton (which was no easy feat either, by the way). Like I mentioned earlier, I didn't have enough light or food to make it around the Crest/Mid-Mountain loop, so I had to climb over Guardsman and roll down into Midway.  

As you may have guessed, during the hike over Catherine I swore that I'd never take a bike over her again. But I have to admit, it did make for an amazing and memorable adventure.  I'm pretty sure that I took my bike across sections where a bike has never been.  Not that that's always a good thing.  Plus it's not Catherine's fault that she's so steep and rocky, or that I got lost, so I should probably stop cursing her name.  

By the time I made it home, I had this nagging question in the back of my head about whether I could have finished if I hadn't spent so much of my time and food while lost. I'm pretty sure I could have, but there's only one way to find out...

P.S. I should mention that the Wasatch Classic is officially doable.  Reed finished it. And maybe Rich - I haven't heard what happened on his ride yet.  I should also point out that Reed only finished after making his first attempt last year and getting lost on the same road I got lost on this year.  So maybe it's a sign of good things to come.