I Am Not a Doper!

About a month ago Mark had a Vuelta de Espana contest. I follow pro cycling a little, but I'm clueless compared to Mark and other true fans. But, I thought, it doesn't hurt to enter. So did a little web searching, read a few pre-race articles and picked some names I liked. Checking his blog yesterday I was shocked to learn I had won! I selected some Izze beverages and thought that would be the end of it. But then Forrest had to throw down this little gauntlet in the comments:

I claim foul, Kris is doped.
Of course I had to answer this accusation! And this is my official statement:
With regard to the recent doping accusations, I attest that I operated within the parameters of the contest and have not been proven guilty. No one has shown that my winning wasn't simply a rare stroke of good luck, even though it falls outside my historically low WLR (Win-to-Loose Ratio). And I deny the allegations that I used a luck enhancing substance. The French newspaper report that I ordered HLA (Hyper Luck Amplifier) from an internet store is false and I am considering suing them for libel. Thank you, that is all.

In other news, I've been sick since the Try-athlon. Nasty crud. My wife caught it last week and is still weak and coughing. I took Monday off work and was in bed all day. Every day this week I go home and collapse into bed. Every day gets a little better, but this is one stubborn bug. I miss riding my bikes.

Lastly, I got an e-mail from the Kokopelli Triathlon organizers. They expressed regret at having to cancel the event and cited safety as the main reason. They offered $75 off the Pumpkinman Triathlon in Las Vegas October 14. I was interested, even though it's a longer drive, but my two neighbors can't go so that's that. They also offered $30 off the 2008 Kokopelli Triathlon - I'll have to see if I'm interested when it gets closer. For now my plan is to make the Salem Triathlon my first - it's only a few miles away and it's cheaper.


I tried to do my first triathlon (Kokopelli Triathlon) today, but it was cancelled due to weather.

On Thursday the weather forecast was looking grim - heavy rain for St. George, and pretty much all of Utah. But when I got up this morning at 6:00 am the ground was dry. I drove out to Sand Hollow with my wife and headed to the staging/transition area. The water was warm (last report was 75 degrees) and I considered going without the wetsuit, but I put it on and it wasn't too restrictive so I kept it on. The sunrise was nice and I was getting excited to go. They started the first group of intermediate distance swimmers at 7:30 (was supposed to be 7:00) and then they started the first group of short distance swimmers around 8:00. But then the storm front hit bringing strong winds and rain. Evidently the water safety people were concerned about their ability to monitor and help swimmers in the chopy water with the wind blowing the boats around, so the race director made the call to cancel the event. My mind was set on this race and it took a while for it to sink in that it was over before it began. I was disappointed. But slowly packed up my gear and headed back to the car. My wife was suportive and disappointed as well.

I'll probably try to do a Triathlon again, but probably not until next year. I'm still a bit annoyed that they didn't postpone to see if the weather would improve. And I'm not happy about spending $90 for no race. In general this is yet another instance in support of my growing dislike of organized events. When it's just me, and maybe a few buddies, we can usually do a fairly fun plan B even if plan A doesn't work. But with these events it's all or nothing, go or no-go. Sure, I like the comraderie, competition and palpable energy of events with 100s of participants, but I'm leaning more and more to the low-key, small rides for the convenience and purity (i.e. just ride, no other fluff).

Blogger Hacks

So far I'm impressed with Blogger. They make blogging and changing the layout and look of your blog easy, yet they give you access to the "guts" if you want to tweak. Recently I removed the Navbar, added my own search, added stats, and changed the favicon.

The Navbar is removed (hidden, would be more accurate) by adding some code to the Template. From the Dashboard click on Layout, then Edit HTML then look for the body { line in the template code and add this code before it :

** **
**/ #navbar-iframe {height:0px;visibility:hidden;display:none} /**
** **
The Navbar has a search function, so with the Navbar gone I created my own. Click on Page Elements, then click on the Add a Page Element link in the area you want the search to be. Select a HTML/Javascript element and name it Search and put the following code in the box, but change "kanyonkris" to the name of your blog:
<form id="searchthis" action="http://kanyonkris.blogspot.com/search" method="get">
<input name="q" size="15" type="text">
<input value="Search" type="submit">
Save and View the blog and the Navbar should be gone and a Search box should appear.

Adding stats (Google Analytics) takes a bit more work, but is still pretty easy. I followed these instruction.

Changing the favicon takes some work, but it's a nice addition. The favicon is that little image next to the website address. Here's the favicon for Blogger:
First you need to create the icon. There are many ways to go about this. There are some web-based favicon editors, but I used Paint.Net to start with a 64x64 pixel blank canvas and created the image with the tools available. Then I converted the image to the icon (*.ico) format using FavIcon from Pics, which also gave me an animated version. Then I uploaded the images to some webspace I have and added some code to the Template - here's the code I used:
<link href="http://www.somesite.com/favicon.ico" rel="shortcut">
<link href="http://www.somesite.com/animated_favicon1.gif" rel="icon" type="image/gif">
If you don't use an animated icon, just use the top line. Replace the URL path above with the one where your icons are stored and you should be set.

Mountain Biking - Then and Now

I'm in denial that time has past. In my mind I'm just a year or two older than 24. Even though the logic side of my brain notes that the ages of my children make this impossible, I still feel like a young man. But nothing slaps you out of this delusion like a relic from the past - undeniable proof that you've changed. And so I present a photo of my wife and I mountain biking the Moab Slickrock trail for the first time - the year, 1990:

There's plenty to laugh at, so let's start with the clothing:

  • No helmets (what's a helmet?)
  • T-shirts (OK even today, but there are better alternatives)
  • Jeans (I'm sporting acid washed, no less!)
  • Pant leg clip (don't want any chain grease on those sweet jeans!)
  • Tennis shoes (actually OK for Slickrock, but still ...)
  • Sweatshirts tied around the waist (I call it urban yuppie)
  • Gloves (we got something right! Technically road gloves, but the only full-fingered gloves back there were purchased at the IFA)
  • Glasses (I look like the smartest guy on the trail)
OK, let's move on to the bikes:
  • Schwinn Mirada (both - we match, isn't that cute!)
  • 1.5" wide knobby tires (that would be great for cyclocross today)
  • Above-the-bar thumb shifters (friction on the front, indexed on the rear)
  • 8 speed (who needs more gears?)
  • No suspension front or rear (well, you're rear, legs and arms were the suspension)
  • Reflectors (check)
  • Cantilever brakes (if you have forearms like Popeye, you'll stop, but not if the rim is wet)
  • Toe clips (was there anything else back then?)
  • One water bottle each (it's not like it gets hot in Moab)
That was then, this is now:

Dressed up and ready to roll on our full suspension bikes. (OK, full suspension is one tiny sign I'm getting older and not into taking a hardtail beating anymore.)

I look at that old photo and cringe. But you know what? Even with that primitive gear we had a great time riding. And we still do today, but in bit more style and comfort. :-)

Update: Todd posted his own "way back" photo and recollections.

Three Good MTB Rides

I'm still writing up some of the better rides I've done this year - this time some mountain bike rides:

Mid Mountain Double-Dip

Thunder Mountain

Blog Style Change

The first style for this blog was an HTML template I found. I liked it, but as I looked into Blogger's new Layout system and how easy it made customization, I had to switch to it. I think this style looks OK and it has a number of functional improvements. I'll probably tweak a bit here and there, but I doubt I'll make another big style change.

Springville to Mona Loop

This morning I rode a 70 mile loop with the Utah Velo Club. We started at the south Springville exit of I-15 and rode around West Mountain then south through Genola and Goshen to Mona then north through Santaquin, Payson and Spanish Fork back to the start (map). It's a good route with plenty of lonely roads.

The forecast last night mentioned wind and I feared the worst, but it turned out to be an excellent day - moderate temperatures, some cloud cover, and no wind while going out then a nice tailwind coming back. Yea, pretty sweet. We did have a good number of flats on the ride - I had one from a Goathead thorn in Genola. I tried to stay with the leaders at times and pushed into anaerobic on a few hills - it hurt but I didn't get any cramps. For a 70 mile ride the pace was pretty brisk.

A friend, DJ, showed up and we rode together at times and chatted. DJ took some backroads in Santaquin and missed the pack stopped at a gas station. Stan, the ride leader who was the sweeper, told me he didn't see DJ coming in. I got worried and stopped at my brother's house in Payson and we went back over the route to the last time I'd seen DJ, but we didn't find him. When I got back to my brother's house DJ called my cell and told me he was in Spanish Fork (I'd tried to call him, but he didn't have his phone on then). So I rode to Spanish Fork and met him and we rode together back to the start.

A few mishaps, but overall a really nice ride and a great 4 hours on the bike.

While I was out riding, my wife took some of the gals she raced with up American Fork Canyon to ride some of the sweet single-track up there. They all had a great time.

Notable Road Rides

Since I just started this blog, I thought I'd catch up on some good road rides from my recent past. In August I finally got around to doing the full Alpine Loop, and I climbed Little Cottonwood Canyon. I did the Nebo Loop in July. In early Spring I started from Kamas for a nice ride. And in October of last year I did the Moab Century. I've had some great road riding!

Blog Style Tweaks

I made a few changes to the style of this blog. I added the banner image - yes, it's the Moab Slickrock trail, 2005. I created the bike chain pattern you see on the sides - it took a while, but I think it turned out pretty good. This template was one I found - I've made a few modifications to it. I'm having fun tweaking.

Lunch with Mikey

I had lunch with Mike (aka Mikey) today. We talked about bike stuff. He told me about LoToJa (it was Saturday) and The Whole Enchilada (the weekend before).

LoToJa went pretty well, even though they had some bike problems (broken spokes, of all things). At least the weather was good. He finished in just over 12 hours. I enjoyed listening to him tell about it and asking him questions.

The Whole Enchilada is a series of trails strung together for a 27 mile romp starting up in the LaSal Mountains at 11,200' and dropping down to the Colorado River at 4,000'. Mike raved about it. I guess I'm going to have to get down there and try it, though I might skip Burro Pass to save time and the nasty drive to get in there, and start at Warner Lake instead.

I also picked up some brake pads from Mike (he runs the UtahMountainBiking.com shop), since I finished off my rear pads on the Timp Perimeter ride Saturday.

Salt Lake Valley climbs: Completed

Early this year I decided I wanted to do all of the classic Salt Lake Valley climbs. I'd heard other cyclists talk about them and I wanted the experience. This evening I completed the last climb. Here is the list (in the order I climbed them):

  1. Butterfield Canyon
  2. Suncrest
  3. Emigration Canyon (to Big Mountain)
  4. Millcreek Canyon
  5. Big Cottonwood Canyon
  6. Little Cottonwood Canyon
  7. City Creek
A few comments:
  • Although Parley's Canyon is a worthy climb, I have no interest in cycling along a freeway (I-80) with the associated traffic danger and noise. There is a grass-roots effort to put in a bike/foot path up Parley's and if it gets built I'll climb Parley's.
  • I climbed Butterfield last year and I'll probably do it again soon so I will have climbed it in 2007.
So this evening was City Creek. I read a bit about it (here and here) and purposely put it last so it would be the desert. I rode with Mark and Craig - and while climbs are solitary by nature, it still helps to ride with friends.

We rode from near Trolley Square (where Mark and Craig work) to get the legs warmed up. Pedaling up the (fairly steep) Avenues my legs felt sluggish - not good. I felt better on the down-sloping 11th Avenue and the gently climbing Bonneville Blvd.

City Creek starts mellow and rolling averaging 3-4% grade. We handled the few steeper spots pretty good. I was spinning good and kept it in the middle ring all the way past the water treatment facility, but I was forced into the small ring as I approached the lower Rotary park. Mark joked that once I dropped into the little ring I would be left behind so I tried to keep it in as high a gear as I could. I was breathing hard, but the legs weren't going anaerobic so I kept myself in the pain cave. At one point I got a side ache - that's only happened to my while running (from the impact), never while cycling. I was a bit alarmed, but kept pushing it.

Those nasty 10%+ grades hurt, but I tried to keep my speed up. For some reason I thought the road ended not too far past lower Rotary - I was wrong - it just kept going with more steep spots to boot. At each little picnic area I hoped it would be the end, but it wasn't.

By spinning up to a fast (for me) pace and focusing on the climb, I realized about half way up that I had opened up a gap. So as I hit the tough stuff and slowed down I kept waiting for one of my riding partners to pass me. I knew Mark was strong on climbs (he smoked Little Cottonwood and beat me to the top by 6 minutes) and Craig had pedaled solidly up the lower section. I pushed on, but felt my energy draining.

Finally, I spotted what I hoped was the end and heard a cough behind me. I was so lost in my own masochistic world I was oblivious to most of my surroundings so the cough startled me and I did some sort of spastic jerk and let out a little "oh!". Yea, it was Mark, he had caught me - but the end was near so I kept pace and finished it. Mark said he thought about sprinting past me, but feared he would blow a gasket. I think he was being a gentleman to let me finish first for this last of my SLC climbs. If he would have sprinted I would have tried to answer, but it would have been weak and I doubt I could have held him off.

I was pretty worked over. It was a tougher climb than I anticipated, but it felt good to work hard for it. The canyon is pretty with a little stream and plenty of shade. Being an odd day there were no cars (OK, one truck going down) so that was nice. The descent was refreshing, except when I let on too much speed down a steep spot that ended with a sharp right turn - thankfully Craig was showing me the line and I woke up in time and got on the brakes so I didn't go off the road. Some city riding back to the cars and that was it. City Creek was a good finale.

Timpanogos Perimeter and the MTB Time Machine

Mark had a rare experience Saturday: He got to take a time machine ride. But I'm not sure he realized that's what it was. I think to him it was a rough mountain bike ride where he had to push his bike a lot. But it reminded me of mountain biking when I started riding 18 years ago.

Back then there were no websites like UtahMountainBiking.com where you could browse a list of good trails, take your pick and be rewarded with a fine ride. Back then we just had topographic maps and trail ideas from hikers and horse riders. (I'll bet all you veteran riders are already having flashbacks of "epic" rides you've been repressing all these years - I apologize for the emotional distress you are now feeling, but I must continue so MTB history may be appreciated.) Sometimes a ride would start like this: "Billy Bob rode his horse on this trail and he said it would be a great mountain bike ride!" Or we'd pull out the USGS topo maps and look for the dashed "Pack Trail" lines. Then off we'd go with visions of sweet single-track. But of course 2nd and 3rd hand stories and maps more often mislead than inform and we had many an epic "adventure" as we attempted to make a bike go on trails fit only for hooves or feet. Perhaps one relevant example would be useful:

Around 15 years ago my brother and father and I set out for a ride across the front face of Timp. We took the dirt road in and started on the trail at Big Baldy (broke a chain along the way - not a good omen). Sadly, we missed the trail and pushed our bikes up the gully to the saddle on a hot Summer day. At the top of the saddle we then went down the most horrific trail I had ever encountered. It started out OK, but quickly turned into a trench more than a foot and a half deep. And it was so steep we were clear off the back with our stomach on the saddle. It was a game of "don't snag a pedal on the side of the trench" combined with "use all the brake you can without skidding". I remember one or more sections where I had maybe 10% more brake to give and then if it got looser or steeper it was going to be runaway train time ending in some sort of crash. Somehow we made it back to civilization - exhausted from the effort and stress. But it's all just a happy memory now - except for those nights I awake dripping in sweat with my hands clenching the imaginary brakes ;-)

Mark coming to a switchback early in the ride.

Back to today's ride. We started at the Timpooneke trailhead and veered right onto the Great Western Trail. It starts right off with a stiff climb then circles around the upper campground - not too bad so far. Then we headed up the trail leading to Julie Andrews Meadow and it was ugly - lots of loose rock, steep and it just kept going. We rode a few short stretches, but it was mostly push-a-bike. We'd been warned that this section would be bad, but we had to see for ourselves. My advise is to skip it by exiting the trail and taking the road up to the next trail crossing. You can even do a short out-n-back if you really want to see the meadow. Well, we made it to the meadow, but being Fall it wasn't awash in wildflowers as it would be in Spring, just nearly dead tall grass. But at least the trail was better.

Julie Andrews Meadow in the Fall - not as spectacular as Spring.

After the meadow the trail was nice as it passed through thick stands of trees. Then we crossed the road and enjoyed a nice descent into Rock Canyon, then some semi-rugged trail and a good climb back up to the road for the second crossing. From here the trail climbs steeply to the high point in the trail after which it rolls up and down but stays fairly level. Soon we had gone around the north end of Timp and were rewarded with a nice view out over Utah Valley. Then a long descent down a pretty good trail to the third road crossing at the top of Grove Creek canyon. The trail was rough on the descent, but OK as it sidehilled heading south. At one point I missed a turn in the trial that went down, but luckily as I continued along on one of the old CCC terraces it met back up with the trail coming up and we were spared some unnecessary climbing. We made our way over to the top of Battle Creek canyon, and here's where the "fun" began.

This is Battle Creek - nice, huh?

Battle Creek is steep and more than rugged. The trail started right off with a bang - a steep chute loaded with loose rock from marble on up to basketball sized. We rode some, walked some. By now it had already been a pretty tough ride and I just didn't have the moxy for rock surfing, even with Mark's goading. It was a pretty awful trail, from a mountain biking persepective, but we finally made it to the turnoff for the Curly Springs trail. Sadly, this meant going up, steeply. We pushed much of the first steep slope, but then came a section we could ride then one more push to the top. I'm not sure what Mark made of this bike unfriendly section, but from his neutral-ish replies I had hope he wasn't plotting my "accidental" death (but perhaps that's because I was his only hope of getting out of here).

The Altar - nearing the end of the ride.

After we topped out of Battle Creek, we had a pretty nice ride on a good trail down to Curly Springs. Just past the springs we turned left and took an OK trail into Dry Canyon. From here we had a choice: descend Dry Canyon down to my house, or take a trail that climbs out of the south side of Dry Canyon. Mark was game to try the climb-out trail. I've come down it 3-4 times and knew it was steep in spots, thankfully it wasn't too bad to go up, even though we had a walk a few times. Once at the top we had a nice ride back to the Altar at a 4-way trail intersection then down to the dirt road and finally into Orem near the cemetary.

From the GPS track it was 20 miles with 2700' climbing and 5300' descending with a start to end time of 4 hours 45 minutes. Here's what it looked like in Google Earth:

Mark has a short ride report and more photos on his blog, UTRider.

The blog begins

I have done a lot of cycling with UTRider this year (mountain and road) and he encouraged me to start a blog. I guess he thinks I have something of value to say, so I'll give it a go. I'll write a lot about cycling, because that's what I'm into these days, but I'll probably post about other topics that strike my fancy. Well, here goes...

Mid Mountain Double-Dip

This Labor Day weekend I did a double-dip on Mid Mountain trail in Park City.

Saturday was the guy's ride. Mark, Todd, Ed and I drove up to the Park City Mountain Resort and started off with the Spiro trail for a nice 3.5 mile climb. Climbing takes effort, but Spiro makes it almost painless as it entertains with switchbacks, forests of Maples and Aspens, and grade that doesn't kill you. Ed continued up Thayne's Canyon heading for the Wasatch Crest and Mill D trails, while the rest of us went north on the Mid Mountain trail. This section of Mid Mountain is 14 miles to The Canyons resort. I love this trail - it stays near the 8,000' elevation, but has plenty of variety and scenic views. Todd had decided to go up the Ridge Connector trail and also take the Crest (southbound) and Mill D like Ed. The Ridge Connector is so nice, Mark and I accompanied him up so we could enjoy ripping down it. Back at Mid Mountain we went out Hunters trail which had some really nice riding. We rode out to where we could look down on Pinebrook and met a hiker coming up who told us that the trail connected to a paved road that we could take through Pinebrook and make our way back to Park City. We were tempted to finish off Hunters, but I had never been on Rob's or Colin's trails and wanted to go back and ride them. Fortunately riding back up Hunters was pretty mellow and soon enough we were back at the top of Rob's. Rob's and Colin's are fairly new trails and they're still a bit rough. This is one long, raucous downhill. I usually can't get enough downhill - it's what I do all that climbing for - but for the last half mile I was looking for the end. Colin's dumped us out on a road and we made our way back to the car. A 35 mile ride of some of Park City's best single-track.

Conditions were so nice on Saturday, that Monday I went back up to Park City with my wife. We also went up Spiro (after taking the Silver Spur connector trail) to where it intersects Mid Mountain. This time we did an out-n-back north up Mid Mountain to the viewpoint above Thayne's Canyon. Upon returning back to the intersection with Sprio, we went south on Mid Mountain to the ridge where the Payday and Town lifts terminate. From here we went down one of our favorite trails - John's. It winds through a big, thick grove of Aspens as you snake through tree trunks and bounce over roots. This trail always puts a smile on my face - it's just plain fun. And for the second time ever, I completed the trail without a dab - not a difficult feat, but a fun game. Then it was on to Sweeny Switchbacks as the trail switches to a good trail with several rocky technical spots. And just like last time I took the wrong turn and we ended up on a steep, sketchy trail. So much for navigation memory. Overall the trails were damp and tacky with no dust and the weather was cool - MTB nirvana! After the ride we ate at a BBQ joint and relished the tasty food.