The Alpine Hills

After work I met up with the Utah Velo Club for a ride up the hills of Alpine.

We had a small group of 8 and left from the Bike Peddler in American Fork and headed north to Alpine.

The first climb was all the way to up to the end of Grove Drive. It's mellow at first but gets steeper toward the end with some 12% grades. It was hot today (in the mid 90s) and I got a good sweat going. I was the first to the top, but I don't think it was really contested.

Down Grove we veered off onto Heritage Hills Drive and up Fort Canyon Road. It was pretty mellow and rolled a bit.

Coming back down we peeled off onto Meadowlark Drive which climbs steeply with a 16% grade. It looked like a wall. I was glad I had a triple. We ground up it and headed over to Highland Boulevard for a climb up to Suncrest, but first we stopped at a fellow's house to get water.

We started up and the other strong climber lead out and I followed. He held a good pace and I was working to stay with him. The plan was to only go half way up because it was getting late. When we reached the turnaround I asked what he wanted to do and he wanted to go on so I went with. On the second-to-last climb he stood up a few times and opened a gap on me. I tried to close it, but I didn't have much to answer with. I pushed the pace the best I could and just motored steady. On the last climb I took it up a notch and was closing slowly, but it was too little too late. It was a good climb.

We turned around and zipped down. We tried to catch the group, but knew it was a long shot with the lead they had on us. Highway 74 heading back to American Fork is slightly downhill and we poured on the speed in a 2-man paceline. We did 30 mph most of the time. It was a rush flying along that fast. That's a great stretch of road to bike. Even has a bike lane. Near the shop we saw two other guys from the group heading home. We didn't catch them, but it was still a good effort.

We said goodbye and I loaded my bike in the car and headed home for a delicious, home made burger for dinner - bacon, lettuce, cheese, grilled onions - yum. My sweet wife is good to me.

Last 2008 Biathlon

Tonight was the last biathlon for the season.

We (Jolene and I and all the children except our oldest daughter) arrived close to race time. Not much time to warmup. I started a bit fast, but pulled back after my heart rate and breathing spiked up. Going from the paved road into the dirt I was dead last. I made my first pass on the dirt downhill before going into the range.

My shooting was pretty good: lap 1 I hit all 5 targets, lap 2 all 5, lap 3 missed 1, lap 4 missed 3 (grr). And I was shooting pretty fast, I think - felt fast to me - slam in the clip, cock it, get the sights close, hold breath, sight dead on, pull trigger, repeat. OK, this may sound like a cop out, but I think the rifle on the last lap was low on air because I swear I had the sights dead on the target. I was shocked all 3 times they didn't go down - I really had them nailed. On the last shot I aimed at the top of the target and it dropped - I felt dumb I didn't figure this out sooner to save myself a penalty lap or two.

I rode pretty good. I wasn't feeling the racing drive at first, but as I got warmed up I started rolling faster and pushing harder. My OK shooting move me up the field most, but I did pass a few racers too.

Conditions were pretty good. The weeds and grass were taller, but the trails less dusty.

It was good to see so many familiar faces and talk a bit.

The raffle was good, but Jolene and I were toward the end so we missed out on the sweetest prizes.

After the race we headed into Heber to eat. On the way Jolene spotted my aunt and uncle walking along the road (they live in Midway) so we stopped to chat. We told them we were planning to eat at Granny's, but they recommended the Dairy Keen so we ate there. The kids liked the train running around the ceiling. We had the (recommended) Train Burger - a 1/4 pounder with ham and two kinds of cheese - delicious. Rachel and Kara shared a cookie dough shake (also very good) and Kade had a cone.

Overall a nice evening of bikin', shootin' and eatin'.

Crest Loop

Andy sent out the call - Super Crest Saturday. Mark was in, Matt too. I had to juggle the schedule but I was in too. Up Big Water and Great Western, down Ridge Connector then south on Mid Mountain and up to Shadow Lake via Powerline then up to Scotts Pass and up Puke Hill, then north on Wasatch Crest and down Great Western and Little Water.

We met at the top of Millcreek and started the ride. I wasn't feeling much snap in the legs going up Big Water and Great Western, but I dismissed it. Ripping down the Ridge Connector was fun. I have not done Mid Mountain this direction - it was OK, but the long rocky climb to PCMR got a bit old. But dropping into Thayne's Canyon was sweet.

It has been years since I climbed up the Powerline trail. It was a stiff climb and I was going slow. At Shadow Lake we climbed some more, up to Scott's Pass. I was wearing down, going slow and struggled to make it to the pass without stopping. I took a little rest and started up Puke Hill. I was hurting on the first slope. I plugged along, but just didn't have it for the full climb. In shame I pushed my bike up the last steep section to the top.

I'm not sure what it was today. A mini-bonk? I thought I was eating OK, but maybe it wasn't enough. Heat exhaustion? It was a cooker in the valley (100), but up high it was OK, but I was sweating like a big dog all day. Just an off day? Maybe. Fortunately my riding partners were understanding and supportive even though I was slowing down the ride.

I did OK on the downhill stuff, but each climb I just crawled along. No punch in the legs, just turning the pedals over. Down the Crest, GWT and Little Water was a blast.

Even hammered it was a great ride. Hard to find sweeter single track anywhere.

This photo stolen from Mark.

GPS track

Apricot Delight

Just a short lunch ride today. I could still feel Suncrest in the legs.

For lunch I had a sandwich and some apricots fresh off the tree yesterday. They are at the peak of ripeness (just about to fall off the tree) and the texture and sweetness are divine. Go find some fresh, local fruit and eat up.

Suncrest: Uneventful, Yet Not

I had a nice ride up Suncrest today at lunch. (Well, if you call grinding up 10% grades nice.) There was a south wind that seemed to be always in my face on the climb. The cooling was welcome, the pushing me back was not - the climb is arduous enough.

At the top I made a loop out of some of the side streets then headed back down. The wind was gusty and experience has taught me that cross winds on Suncrest are common and treacherous. So I took it slow. I still had a few blasts try to force me into the guardrail.

Looking out over the valley I saw this big thunder bumper boiling, with it's pure white popcorn heads churning and dark underbelly dumping rain.

This is how doppler radar sees it - looks like it's packing a good punch.

Update: Evidently it did dump rain - a lot of rain.

A Winder Dairy truck was off the side of the road with signs advertising free chocolate milk. I stopped and went to the back of the truck, but the dairy guy was talking to a man about their products and I felt it would be lame to butt in just to ask for a free chocolate milk, so I got back on my bike and finished the ride back to work.

In the parking lot I spotted a Preying Mantis scurrying across the pavement. Even though these bugs look creepy, they fascinate me. I grabbed a stick and transferred him to a bush - hopefully a safe place. He held still for the picture much better than my kids do.

So while this was just another ride, it occurred to me after I got in the building that I really experienced quite a bit. It reminded me to keep the sense of wonder and adventure alive.

STP Souvenirs

I'm sure you've all been anxiously wondering what souvenirs I got from STP. So rude of me to not show you. The first item is the "jacket". It's made out of Tyvek, that plasticy fabric, and is very colorful. It's a good choice since if it had rained it may have been useful. Even with no rain many riders wore this jacket to stay warm in the cool morning. I relished the cold and didn't even wear arm warmers.

Next up is the prized 1 Day patch. This was presented to me as I crossed the finish line in Portland. I wasn't expecting it so that was a nice surprise. A little memento of the effort I put in that day.

I added these photos to the STP report.

Hobble Creek Ride

This morning I met up with the Utah Velo Club to ride up Hobble Creek Canyon and back. I was not sure this was a good idea since I rode Millcreek yesterday evening and the pace is pretty brisk on these club rides.

Riding over to Springville was good. I stayed in the pack and talked with Drew, Dale, Stan and others.

I didn't know if I'd have the legs for the climb up Hobble Creek. It's not steep, but it rolls a lot and wears me down. The lead group got whittled down to 6 on the way up, but I stayed with them. With 3/4 mile to go one rider broke off the front and we let him go since he had done 2 fake attacks already. With 1/4 mile to go I was in the back and decided to sprint. I passed the other 4 guys but as I approached the break rider he looked back and saw me and stood up and sprinted. I couldn't catch him before the end, but I was only 5-10 yards back. I was happy to have enough juice for the sprint.

The ride down and back was nice. At University Avenue I peeled off and headed for home. I kept the pace up on the way home and was pretty tired when I arrived so I ate lunch and took it easy.

A nice 57 mile ride. It was good to ride with the Velo Club again - good riders and a fun ride.

P.S. I updated my STP report with more photos.

Millcreek Tour

Mark was riding Millcreek tonight so I got in on it. But since he had to go home to get his bike and pick up Fox, I had enough time to ride the Pipeline trail (which I have never done before - ya, crazy).

I parked at Burch Hollow and rode out to the overlook. I rode pretty fast. Amazingly, I only encountered one other person on the way out. Coming back there were 2-3 groups, but still not bad. The trail is mostly flat, and smooth, but it was fun to motor along it.

Back at the car I drove up to the top and was only there 2-3 minutes when Mark and Fox rolled in. We headed up the Big Water trail to Dog Lake, then back down and up the Great Western trail to the saddle. The trail was dusty - worse than I've ever seen - usually these trail are almost all hard packed. We need some rain.

At the saddle we took a short ride over to the ski resort signs and Fox showed us the sketchy little trail that goes over to Lamb's Canyon. Then we headed back taking Little Water down.

I'd say there were less than the usual number of people out on the trail. I've surely seen it more crowded. Some of the encounters are odd. The riders who said nothing when we said "hey" or "hi". A hiker who marched down the middle of the trail even though it was wide enough for us both to pass and it was a bike (even) day. And a biker who plowed up the middle of the trail, evidently asserting his rights as the uphiller even though there was room for us to pass if he would move to the right side of the trail. Whatever, we didn't let it ruin our ride, but it's just odd.

I guess Mark didn't want to be photographed. First he hides behind his camera, then a tree, but I finally got him with the zoom.

The view into Park City and Heber is nicer than Salt Lake (see hazy photo above).

That's Fox and Mark over there.

Fox tried to return fire with his camera phone even though I CLEARLY had him with a set shot.

It was a nice, mellow ride on some of the best trail in the state - just what I needed. Joy riding. In the car KUER had some jazz going and I chilled to it even though I'm not much of a jazz fan - it seemed to fit. A good dirt ride almost always puts a smile on my face.

The Racing (Mental) Game

The acidic wit of Bike Snob NYC makes me laugh. Here's my favorite excerpt from today's post:

Despite the fact we're still in the middle of the Tour, the fact is that road racing season's basically over anyway. The astute rider has already written it off and begun focusing his or her attention on cyclocross. The key to a successful racing season is to always live a minimum of four months in the future, mentally-speaking. That way you can dismiss your poor performances as simple preparation. Sure, you may not get anywhere near the front of the pack in a road race this summer, but you're just trying to get some intense mileage in so you'll be ready for cyclocross season. Poor mountain bike racing is even easier to rationalize--you're just doing that to improve your bike-handling. And of course once 'cross season does begin, you're still under no pressure to get results because, really, you're just doing it to maintain your form during the off-season. With the right attitude, you can surf an entire year of racing like a great big wave of mediocrity. Winning is for dopers and sandbaggers.
That's funny! If you can't find the silliness in the above quote, you might be too serious about cycling.

First Post-STP Ride

I've been really tired since STP. Not sure if it's after effects from STP or simply that I've been getting to bed late - probably both. Regardless, today I felt I needed to get out for a ride.

At lunch I headed toward Suncrest. I decided to start up and if I wasn't feeling it I'd peel off on Mike Weir Drive and do a lighter ride. On the climbs I was surprised that I could still feel STP deep in the legs. A dull ache. And my legs tightened up way too fast. So I peeled off on Mike Weir and explored some side streets in Draper. It was a nice, sunny Summer day and it felt good to be out riding.

Heading back I saw a rider ahead and the chase was on. At first I thought I'd reel him in easy, but he was moving faster than I gauged. I passed him on Highland then he came around me going up the last hill before the Chevron light and I kicked it to pull even with him. It was a fun chase. We chatted a bit at the light. Then flew down the hill back to work.

A nice, getting-back-in-the-saddle ride.

Seattle To Portland

Months ago Jason invited (challenged?) us to ride STP (Seattle To Portland) with him. I used to work with Jason at Linux Networx and we had a good cycling group there. The company is no more and we've all gone our separate ways. Jason went to Seattle for a job so he invited us out to ride STP. Four of us took the bait.

Wednesday I packed the van and Thursday after work I went to Kevin's home in Sugarhouse to pick him up and two other bikes (Robert and Anne were flying out). We drove to Nampa (just outside Boise) arriving around 11 pm and slept the night.

Friday morning we got up and drove to Seattle. Even though eastern Oregon and Washington are bland, I had never been through this area so I enjoyed taking in the newness. Dropping into the Seattle area we drove through thick pine forests down a canyon and past Keechelus lake. Rather enjoyable driving. We turned south before Seattle and drove down to Bonnie Lake where Jason lives. Off the highways the road winds all over following the hilly terrain. We got lost a bit, but found his home.

We settled in, talked, had a delicious pasta dinner (Jason worked as a chef for a few years and he can cook up a fine meal) then finally got to bed. I didn't sleep much.

At 2:30 am we got up and got ready. Jason cooked us a good breakfast of oatmeal pancakes and scrambled eggs. We loaded up the van, left the house around 3:30 am and arrived at the University of Washington (the start of the ride) near 4:30. We were dropped off by Spencer, who drove us and drove my van down to Portland - I'm very grateful for his help! We pedaled into the start area and lined up. We left around 4:55 am.

This event was sold out so there must have been nearly the limit of 9,000 riders. It's a huge event, but very well organized and executed.

Rolling out in the first wave of riders the dawn was just beginning and there was just enough light to see to ride. The morning was cool but it felt good to me. The mass of riders wound through the city streets making our way south.

We skipped the first rest stop but stopped at the second one sponsored by REI. Here's part of the crowd:

Out of the city the scenery changed.

Jason's happy to be riding.

Going through the suburban towns outside Seattle was OK, but slowed by all the stop lights. Somewhere along the way I got a flat. It was a slow leak so I pumped it up and rode on, making it to the next rest stop where it was mushy again. I checked the tire for thorns and put in a new tube.

Around 5 miles later I got another flat. A support crew stopped and sold me another tube, but it had a bad valve and wouldn't hold air. Another crew came buy and I bought another tube, but I was having trouble making it work with it's short valve stem and my moderately deep wheel. I ended up using the patched tube from the first flat. I wasn't happy about spending so much time with this flat and I was nervous that it wouldn't hold. But luckily it held to the finish.

Once we got out of the suburban areas and into the more rural, the riding was outstanding. At one point we took a bike path that was around 10 miles long. It cut through thick stands of pines and meadows.

At the end was a rest stop where we filled up on more water.

One rest stop was in a small farm town with one block of stores, railroad tracks, the coop and the worlds largest egg. It was a charming place.

We rolled on for miles down a country road that rolled up and over and around the hills. Often cutting through patches of pine forest that smelled so fresh and clean. You'd think a lovely place like this so close to a major city would be jammed with cars on a Saturday, but the traffic was very sparse. This was my favorite part of the ride.

Around noon we made it to Centralia, the apt half way point. 100 miles down, 100 to go. We ate some sandwiches for lunch, restocked and rested a bit then carried on.

The road was still quite nice and rural. Only a few miles out I noted that this was now the most miles I'd gone on a bike in one day. I was apprehensive about how this next 100 miles would go, but that was part of the adventure.

The miles seemed to go by OK. We crossed the mighty Columbia River over the Lewis and Clark Bridge. It's a tall bridge - 210 feet above the water. Two lanes for cars with a skinny lane on each side for bikes. The first part was a climb, and fairly steep for a bridge. Then mid-span it was trippy to look over the railing and see the water and boats so far down. The other side was a pretty good slope down.

After the bridge we got separated, but used the cell phones to regroup. We traveled along this highway that was not my favorite. The scenery was nice, but the cars whizzing by were distracting. This section seemed long, but maybe I was just getting tired.

We stopped at every rest stop to get food and water. We were slowing down, but still making good time.

At the last stop we were 30 miles from Portland. I have never had 30 miles go by so slowly. I wasn't sore or spent, I was just ready for it to be done. I looked around a bit and tried to enjoy it, but it didn't help. I kept looking for signs of the city, but saw nothing. Finally, 10 miles away, I saw some radio towers and I knew we were close.

We wound through some city streets, up and down some hills, over a bridge and then suddenly after one last hill there it was - the finish. There was a big balloon arch and a fenced corridor to ride through as the announcer called out rider's names and where they were from. It was a shock to be just trudging along and then suddenly engulfed in a boisterous finish. I suddenly felt happy to be done with the ride - to have completed it.

Here's the 1 Day patch / medallion they presented to us at the finish.

Jason's wife and daughter found us. Spencer and his family joined us too. We hung out and ate some food. Then we loaded up the bikes and headed for hotels. We dropped off Robert a few blocks away, then Anne down by the airport and Kevin and I not far away. I slept like a log.

We got up around 8 am, loaded the van and headed out. I was dreading the long drive home in one day, but it went OK, thanks to Kevin driving 2/3 the way (and the 2 hours I napped in the back) and being able to leave from Portland instead of Seattle (thanks again, Spencer!).

As double centuries go, this is an easy one. It's pretty flat and we had the good fortune of a tailwind most of the time. I was happy to prove to myself that I could do the distance, but I didn't get that much out of actually riding the second 100 miles. Now and then I'd think, "this is cool that I'm still rolling good after so many miles". But it's just more miles. I'm sure I'll always mix in some long distance rides, but I prefer the shorter rides where I can sprint and goof off and not have to worry about running out of juice with a pile of miles still to go. It was a good experience, but not a revelation that I want to do a lot of long distance riding.

Finally, big thanks to Jason and Carla for opening their home to us and playing host.

P.S. Jason posted Kevin's STP report on his blog.

P.P.S. Here's the STP 2008 jacket I received in my packet.

I'm Back From STP

After driving pretty much all day Sunday, I made it back home.

After I cleaned up it was too late and I was too tired to blog about STP. I completed the 202 mile ride. I'll blog about it tonight.

Teaser: Crossed this bridge over the Columbia River.

Ghost Falls With New Single-Track

STP is Saturday, but I couldn't help getting in one more ride - this time on dirt. I wanted to see the new single-track that was cut in a few weeks ago below Ghost Falls.

I started at the Equestrian Center and rode up lower Corner Canyon then took Clarks up to the top. I went easy on the climb and quite enjoyed it (unlike a TT effort). From the top I went down the road to the Ghost Falls trail head.

I'd heard the old Ghost Falls trail was blocked to discourage use - sure enough, piles of wood on every section - you'd have to be really determined to resurrect the old trail. But the new trail is pretty good so that's some offset for the loss of the old trail.

The new Ghost Falls trail is wearing in nicely, but still rough in spots. I had fun rolling down it.

I turned right at the T and crossed the little stream then left and over the bridge by the falls. I like this section of trail - it has some fun features and feels primitive. Near the end is the fork left for the new trail.

The new trail is loose right now. Loose sand, loose rock, loose dirt. The front wheel washed out in some sand, but otherwise it went OK. Except for the switchback around the rock. One guy reported that he rode it so I was game to try, but when I got there I bailed. Deep, loose rock. I have plenty more excuses for not trying it: don't want to get hurt for STP, the horses chewed it up too much, my front wheel is normally tubeless but it burped at Fish Lake so I'm running a tube and it doesn't have the same feel / grip, the place is haunted. The rest of the trail was more of the same looseness. It joined into an old dirt road and I went right and then peeled off left over the foot bridge for some more single-track action (I think it's the Gas Line trail).

At the junction with the BST I went back down into Corner Canyon, but I took a little detour down the road to jump the three humps then turned around to hit them again. They each have different but good shapes - good (little) air practice.

I tried to open it up down lower Corner Canyon, but lots of riders coming up slowed me down.

It was a nice, quick ride. The new trail is nice - better than the old road full of baby heads - but it really needs some rain to settled it down.

I've been preparing for the trip to STP. Did a little maintenance on the bike. I think I'm ready. Tomorrow after work I pick up Kevin and the two other bikes we're transporting and we drive to Boise to sleep. Then drive to Seattle in the morning. I'm staying at my friend Jason's house who lives nearby. Pasta dinner Friday. Then up at 4 am to drive to the University of Washington for the start. If all goes well I'll arrive in Portland and eat and crash for the night in a hotel there. Then drive home Sunday (if we can stay awake - if not we'll stop and sleep).

P.S. I was going to take some photos of the new trail, but I forgot the camera, again. I get too excited to ride when I get to the trail head. Mark would have remembered, so it's his fault he didn't ride with me.

Last Road Ride Before STP

This evening was my last road ride before the 207 miles of the Seattle to Portland (STP) ride.

I did 25 miles up South Fork of Provo Canyon and back home. I took it mellow up the paved parkway trail - pretty crowded tonight. But once I hit the gentle climbing up South Fork I just couldn't roll easy - I didn't hammer, but I pushed harder on a few pitches than I should have. I'm supposed to be tapering down. Oh, well, I gotta have fun on the bike.

I saw a moose 20 yards or so off the road. After climbing to the girl's camp, I flipped around and flew down - such a fun descent. I took the highway back (couldn't bear the thought of poking down the parkway dodging people). I got home just after 9 pm.

About STP. I'm pretty sure I can finish, and pretty sure I'll enjoy it. But 200 miles just seems kinda nutty. I am curious to see if I can do it, but beyond that I have no reasons for doing it. It'll be good to see Jason and the Linux Networx folks again. One reason I'm feeling ho-hum about STP is I just don't see myself ever doing a double century again. Just grinding out miles doesn't sound interesting or enjoyable to me, but I'll reserve judgment until after STP.

What does capture my interest is multi-day road tours. A guy told me about an annual 3-day ride he does in southern Utah - the route sounds fantastic. Each evening they hit a town and check into a hotel for the night - credit card touring. At less than 100 miles per day they have time to stop and take in the sights. I really want to try a multi-day tour this year.

Fish Lake Family Vacation

This weekend our family went to Fish Lake to have a family vacation with my parents and brother and sister and their families.

We left Friday around 11 am, after 2 hours of packing the poor mini van to the gills. There was a body in every available seat minus one, the back was filled to near overflowing, the cargo bag on the roof was jammed with soft and light stuff and the 4-bike rack held 6 bikes.

We rolled down the highway with the rear suspension bottoming out on even minor bumps and the bikes bouncing in way that made me flinch as I thought of the carnage that would follow if the rack broke. The 3 hour drive seemed short. We arrived and checked into our cabin - a cozy 2 bedroom unit (by cozy I mean it was small).

Once settled we went for a short bike ride along the Lakeside trail. We didn't go far and stopped to play by the lake. When we got back we had dinner and then rushed down to the lake for a half hour of shore fishing that was unproductive.

Saturday morning we went out on the pontoon boat my sister's husband, Brent, had snagged for us at 6 am (all the boats were reserved except for one first-come-first-serve). We went out and trolled across the lake then found Brent's brother who told us how to fish for the plentiful Perch that stayed close to the far-side bank. Soon everyone was catching almost as fast as they could reel them in. We don't fish much and my boy had never fished so this was a big thrill. Can you tell from the photo?

After fishing we went to the lodge for lunch and I had the double-quarter pounder Lodge Burger (which came highly recommended by a co-worker) - it was delicious.

After lunch Jolene and I went for a mountain bike ride. We considered the Mytoge Mountain trail, but felt it would be too long (this was a family vacation) so we decided to try the Pelican Canyon trail (map). It started off nice, but after 1.5 miles it turned steep and rocky and we pushed our bikes for 1 mile. At the split in the trail we went on the left fork a ways, then turned around because it was raining and we didn't know how long it would take to complete the loop over to Doctor Creek. We were able to ride down most of it even though it was wet and a bit slippery. Luckily the rain never got heavy or too cold.

After we got cleaned up we had a delicious dutch oven dinner of seasoned mutton, stewed cabbage, backed beans, potatoes and peach cobbler for dessert. At dark we sat around the fire and ate smores.

Sunday we took our time getting up. Then we packed up and checked out. We packed the loaded van and went for a short hike a ways up the Bowery trail that connects into the Pelican Canyon trail (Jolene and I had come down this yesterday). We got into the Aspens and had fun walking along the trunks of the deadfall, trying not to touch the ground. We did a little tree climbing, but Aspens are tricky to climb. Then we started breaking off the dead branches of the Aspens and just couldn't stop. It was one of the spontaneous fun activities that just happen. We karate-chopped them off, then kicked (trying to kick higher and with fancier moves, then hacking them off with "lightsabers" (aka sticks). We played in the Aspens for at least an hour - all of having fun. Eventually we hiked back down to the van and bid Fish Lake goodbye.