Mountain Dell Quick Ski

I drove up to Mountain Dell (a golf course by Summer, cross country ski venue by Winter) to see if I could catch the Wild Rose Fun Race. I was let leaving work and the travel was hampered by snowy weather near Parleys Canyon, so I didn't arrive until 4:45. I geared up as quickly as I could and went down onto the track. I could see a group gathering so I headed over. I arrived just before they took off, but it didn't sound like the fun race (I think it was the nordic training group). I tried to hang with them, but I was the only classical guy and they were all fairly fit skate skiers. I kept in sight of the last guy so I thought that wasn't bad. Believe me, waxless classical is a significant disadvantage to skate and at that moment I sure wished I had skate skis. It was snowing, lightly at times, a bit heavier at other times. I did the Main Loop, then ventured off into the Creek Loop (which had just been roughly groomed by snowmobiles), then hit the Lollipop Loop and crossed back to the Main Loop to head back to the car. A nice hour+ ski at a good pace.

(Sorry, no pictures - I was hurrying to get out on the track and forgot the camera.)

Funny FedEx Commercial

This is the funniest commercial I've seen in a long time.

Why I Don't Shave My Legs

In a previous post I had some fun probing the various reasons cyclists give for shaving their legs. A few more reasons were given in the comments:

  • As a way to "join the club"
  • To avoid the pain of pulled hair when pulling on the shorts
  • Because shaved legs are just so sexy
  • More comfortable post-ride massage
I can see the "joining the club" reason and I think Fatty covered it pretty well in his To impress other cyclists point. Shaved legs then are like a secret handshake that gives you instant credibility with other cyclists. You don't have to give a travelogue of local rides or be able to recite the last 10 winners of the Tour de France or explain the more arcane mechanics of bicycles in order to be accepted. The shaved legs do all the talking in an instant with one glance.

I have a different approach. I like to be the underdog. The Clark Kent. When I ride with new people they don't see anything impressive. My bike is not fancy, new or carbon. My clothing is functional, but not exotic or trendy (like J.C.Penny or maybe Old Navy, but not Nordstroms or Macys). And my legs are not shaved. Most people looking at me would assume I'm just another 40-something out for a joy ride. But once we get rolling, I let my riding do the talking. This is not to say I'm hot stuff - I'm not. But I think I'm an above-average recreational rider. I like to think that most people I ride with are impressed that: I can do a 20+ mph pace, I know what to do (and not to do) in a paceline, I don't just up and die on climbs, I make some technical mountain bike moves, and I really enjoy riding.

In some ways I admire you leg-shavers for being bold enough to announce to the world (through your hairless legs) that you are a serious cyclist. Perhaps it helps you go harder because you feel you have to live up to that statement. A gutsy way to go.

Maybe I'm just being a wimp for going low-key since it's easier to impress people and if I get dropped the humiliation isn't as deep. If so, that's not my conscious decision. For one I'm cheap so I just don't buy a lot of new or fancy gear - just the OK-looking functional stuff. It seems to work about as good as the expensive stuff and I'm happy with it. I bought my road bike used, and it's a bit worn, but it fits me like a glove and it has a good drive-train (Ultegra). My mountain bike is a bit nicer (2005 Cannondale Prophet), but it was also used and has it's share of dings and I'm slowly fixing it up, but I love how it rides. I'm pursuing cycling in my way - that's all.

OK, back to the list. Two reasons for shaving relate to reduced pain or discomfort. Well, if that works for you, but it seems weak to me. I'd rather put up with a little pain than have to shave every week, but maybe that's just me. Todd did note that he frequently receives post-ride massages and the shaved legs make the massage nicer - even I might shave if it meant frequent post-ride massages - hard to argue with that.

Because shaved legs are sexy. I'm not sure what to make of this one. Sexy in a general sense? Or the ladies find shaved legs sexy? Or other guys find guys shaved legs sexy? To not go too far afield, I'll assume sexy in general. Yeah, I can see that, but for this 40-something married guy, that just doesn't mean much to me anymore. Sure, everyone likes to feel attractive, but that's not enough for me to put up with the hassles of shaving more of me than just my face (which I use an electric razor in the car so it's as easy and uses my least valuable time).

So all you leg-shavers can keep your razors, cuts, razor burn, stubble and 15 minutes of life wasted each week. I'll stay au natural, thank you.

Unconventional Triathlon

I inadvertently did a strange triathlon today - cross country skiing, snow stomping, road bike ride.

Event #1 - Cross Country Skiing

DJ picked me up this morning at 7:30 and we headed for American Fork Canyon to ski the Alpine Loop road above the Pine Hollow trail head. The day was clear and not too cold. The snow was excellent - soft yet packed on the snowmobile tracks, powdery off track.

We set off at a good pace as we wanted to get a cardio workout today. It felt good to be cruising on the skis in the cold morning air, taking in the views of the mountains.

At one point I kicked it up a notch and started kick gliding (didn't glide much going uphill). I kept the increased pace for 15+ minutes before I got a side-ache and slowed down.

Near the top I heard voices and called out to a long line of snowshoers moving north along the ridge. Sure enough it was Stan and the Utah Velo Club on the return portion of their loop that took them up Pine Hollow then down into Deer Creek South Fork, back up to the ridge then back down Pine Hollow - pretty long hike on snowshoes!

We made it to the top in around 1.5 hours. Pretty deep snow at the Alpine Loop summit.

After having a bite to eat, we headed south uphill to see if we could find the weather Timpanogos Divide weather station. Out in the deep, fresh snow, it's a lot harder going. We took turns breaking trail and found the weather station within 20 minutes. Here I am following DJ.

And here's DJ out in the powder.

We had a good time (and laughed a lot) coming down. Cross country skis always feel unstable to me going downhill. I almost went down a few times, but somehow stayed up. DJ had some good falls. He said it was a weird sensation - the snow is so soft you can hardly feel it and it slows you down so slowly you wonder if you've stopped moving. His description sounded so intriguing, I considered crashing on purpose just for fun.

Back on the packed road, the going was less tricky, but I had to pole or kick most of the way (my waxless skis drag some going down). DJ coasted better with his skis once he removed the grip wax. While the moguls created by the snowmobiles are mostly annoying, I put them to good use by pumping on them (I'd crouch then stand up fast once my feet crossed over the top of the mogul - this propelled me forward). It was a nice cruise down the road back to the car and somewhere along the way I snapped this last shot of Timp.

Event #2 - Snow Stomping

After the ski, I went home and my wife and I went over to Lambert Park to help tromp down the snow on the Frozen Hog race course. The snow is really deep this year and without some compaction of the snow, it might be a long hike-a-bike through the snow race. In 3 hours we got a good chunk of trail stomped then came home.

Event #3 - Road Bike

With 1.5 hours of daylight remaining and 40+ degree air, I decided I had to get out on the bike, even though I was pretty tired by now. I layered on the clothing and headed out on the road bike. I went out 8th North then down University Avenue. It felt so good to be cranking the pedals again. I then took a little back-road route to 8th East to return home. I could tell my strength is down some, but all-in-all I did OK and had a good little ride: 13 miles, 45 minutes, 360 feet of climbing, 17.2 mph avg, 29.7 mph max.

No Leg Shaving For Me


Ever since our road rides last year, Mark has been bugging me to shave my legs. I have refused, even though his zealous nagging is similar to a dealer pushing dope.

Yesterday Fat Cyclist posted some Q&As about cycling, and leg shaving was the first item. After some discussion in the comments, I decided I should post about my anti-leg-shaving position.


I have to take a stand against leg shaving as I feel it's part of a larger issue.

As men we have it pretty good. We (generally) resist prettiness and the associated maintenance that comes with it. We’ve got better things to do like climb mountains, hunt, surf, explore jungles, run rivers, build business empires, and ride our bikes. Our message to the ladies is: “What you see is what you get”. OK, we may occasionally bathe, comb our hair, or wear clean clothes as a token gesture while dating, but we only extend ourselves so far. We like our low maintenance lifestyle. But this position only works if us men are united.

I’m troubled by certain trends that threaten the idyllic manly way of life. Metrosexuals are a dire threat. These pretty-boys are using the arsenal of beautification weapons employed historically by women. Many women like this pretty-boy look. If too many guys go metro, critical mass will be reached and we’ll all have to “pretty up” or never get a date.

Sure, leg-shaving is miles away from full-blown metrosexualism, but it’s a step in that direction. You disagree? OK, would Dirty Harry shave his legs? John Wayne? The Crocodile Hunter (Steve Irwin, RIP)? Need I go on?

So just like every raindrop adds to the flood, each shaved leg erodes manliness and moves us one step closer to the metrosexual apocalypse. You have been warned! Repent all ye shavers of legs!

Why Shave?

Fat Cyclist answered this question well - here's what he said:
OK, So Why Do Cyclists Shave Their Legs, Then?

Well, there are several reasons most cyclists will give you. They will say that it makes them more aerodynamic, which would be a good reason…if it were true.

They will say they do it because it makes it easier to clean road rash out of their legs. To which I answer, if you’re so confident you’re going to be crashing, maybe you need to look into a different sport. Like chess, for example.

They will say they shave their legs because of tradition. This reason actually does have merit, but it’s tantamount to proclaiming that you’re a lemming.

There are two — and only two — real reasons cyclists shave their legs:

  • Vanity: You’ve worked hard to get the legs you’ve got. Why hide them under a mat of hair?
  • To impress other cyclists: Once you’re on the bike, there’s not much you can do to hide whether you’re the alpha rider or a domestique. But at least while you’re hanging out at the bike shop, shaved legs say, "I’ve joined the club; I’m a serious cyclist. I am so confident of my manliness that I can wear a bright jersey, tight lycra shorts, and have shaved legs without feeling ridiculous in public."

You see, when you shave, the hair that hides your muscle definition is gone, making it easier for you to admire those quads in the mirror, and for other cyclists to admire your calves on the bike. And since you’ve worked so hard to get those muscles, you feel it’s your right to show them off in all their glory.

Some cyclists, when they're finally being honest, say they like how shaved legs feel - especially as they slice through the air while riding. Feeling good is OK, but since male cyclists usually focus on pain and suffering when talking to other male cyclists, I can see why this reason doesn't get mentioned much.

In a similar vein, many leg-shavers say their significant other likes the smooth legs - OK, but it sidesteps the fact that they started shaving their legs for cycling (which brings us back to the question of why) with the appeal to their partner as an unintended side effect (and more along the metrosexual line of thinking).

Akin to the road rash reason is the massage angle: the post-ride massage feels better with hairless legs. Is that really a reason to shave you legs? Seems like baby oil prevents hair pulling during a massage well enough. And, really, how many cyclists are getting post-ride massages?


So let's cut to the chase: Cyclists shave their legs because they like how it looks and/or feels. Is that so hard to admit? For a lot of men it is. They don't want to admit that hairless legs look good - because, that's why women shave their legs. They don't want to admit that shaved legs feel good, because that's not manly.

So will I ever shave my legs? 99.99% no (the .01% is the chance that I stupidly make a bet and lose). I don't want to shave my legs mostly because I'm lazy. I don't want to spend the time shaving - it's a hassle. It's so unnecessary and a waste of time. I've got enough to deal with in my life, why add something I don't have to? And I don't want to deal with nicks, cuts, razors, or stubble. God (or if you prefer, evolution) made me with hairy legs and that's fine with me.

See my follow-up post for more.

Family Winter Fun Day

Took the family up to my parent's house (up Spanish Fork Canyon) this afternoon for some fun in the snow.

My nephew TJ jumping off the porch into a big pile of snow.

Big man or little tube (or both!)?

Rachel slides the white stuff.

Kara cruising cool.

The little man (Kade) getting a ride thanks to Dad power.

Winter afterglow.

When the light faded we came into the house, peeled off the wet snow clothes and enjoyed hot chocolate and home-made chili. Winter play days don't get much better.

Millcreek, Mark And New Skis

Mark got word from REI that the cross country ski boots he ordered had arrived at the Sandy store. He's had the new skis and poles for almost a week - all he needed was the boots. We started talking about skiing tomorrow morning, but decided to hit Millcreek tonight to also allow him to try his new headlamp.

We left my work at 4:00 and arrived at Millcreek around 4:30. Mark's new skis are slick - literally. They seem to repel the snow. Needless to say they glide really good. And here I am with the only pair of skis I haven't waxed yet - doh!

Not far past the gate I spotted this baby Pine tree decorated with ornaments - not sure how I missed it before - probably because it was darker the other days.

We got up a mile or two before the daylight started fading fast. Here's a photo of Mark in the new gear:

Here's Mark making his way up the fairly steep slope right before Elbow Fork:

After dark the spotty clouds cleared to reveal the moon, which at a little past half full, provided a fair amount of light. Enough light that we didn't use our headlamps going up. It was a cold but beautiful winter night. The Pines and other trees were still flocked with snow, the amply snow covered the ground, the stars came out and shone brightly in the sky, and the pale moonlight illuminated the every-changing scenery as we skied along. I wish I had a better camera for taking night shots as I would have liked to capture those scenes to show here. Here's one of a snow-covered tree bent over the road:

At the 3 mile marker I expressed my desire to go all the way to the top, and kindly Mark agreed. There were a few steep-ish slopes along the way, but also more fantastic scenery. It always seems to take longer than you think to reach the end, but we were a bit surprised when we arrived at the Big Water parking lot. We skied the small distance further to the top lot and noticed the illuminated window and and top skylight dome of the yurt (PDF flyer). We had smelled the wood fire farther down the canyon and could now hear voices from inside. I thought about requesting a few minutes inside to get warm, but thought better of it. Mark and I put on more clothes for the descent - for me a windbreaker over my fleece jacket and another pair of gloves over my thin ones. It was startling how fast we got cold, so we got moving as fast as we could.

Going down was pretty fast and mostly fun. Even with a breeze blowing down the canyon, we were plowing a lot of cold air. We stopped 3 times to warm our hands. Mark's new skis were fast going down. I had to pole a lot just to keep up with him, which wasn't so bad as it warmed me some. There were several slopes we stayed in the tracks and got moving pretty fast. Cross country skis always feel jittery and on the verge of loosing control while going downhill to me. Mark took a few harmless spills, but I luckily had none. Good thing too as my thin "stretchy pants" would have been even colder after a fall. The ride down was simply fun. It took us 2 hours to go up, but only 37 minutes to come down.

By the time I reached the gate my hands were cold as I had not been stopping to warm them. The thermometer in my car read 12 degrees. I started the car, we loaded our gear and drove down the canyon, thankful for heaters.

What a fantastic Winter evening to be out in the mountains!

Chick Flicks That Won't Kill Guys

I enjoy good movies. And in a departure from my usual "what fun thing I did today" format, I'm going to review a few movies.

When I was a teenager movies were just an excuse to do something, anything on a Friday or Saturday night and we'd see whatever was out - I wasn't very discerning. In my 20s I became a little more selective, but not much. But in the 30s as my free time became more precious I didn't have much tolerance for wasting 2 hours of it on a dud movie. Yet deciding which movie to see still isn't an exact science even with all the internet resources at my fingertips. See, there's still the allure of the diamond in the rough movie. Maybe you were forced to watch it because the movie you went to see is sold out, or you liked the premise even though the critics hated it, or your friends dragged you to it. I'm sure you've all experienced the pleasure of coming across a movie you really enjoy by accident. So for this slim chance I'm occasionally willing to just jump into a movie with the hope it will be good. Of course I'm usually disappointed, but that's the price you pay for not always going for the sure-bet movie (which strategy also has it's share of disappointments).

So with that semi-related introduction, I present to you some films that I liked even though I shouldn't have. Movies that were advertised to appeal to the chick flick market but were surprisingly good - good enough that most guys with any appreciation for quality and an ability to venture from a steady diet of action films will probably enjoy (remember, this is not an exact science).

Dan In Real Life

Steve Carell (yes, Michael from The Office) stars in this real (OK, more real than most) relationship comedy. I really wondered if Steve could pull of a starring role (his track record hasn't been so good) and I was impressed that he gave a deep and fairly broad-ranging performance, only occasionally falling back on his Michael chops. The supporting cast was also excellent - you know it's working when you can't tell they're acting. I especially liked Juliette Binoche - she has such a bubbly and joyful presence on the screen she elevates pretty much any movie she's in (see Chocolate below). The dialog was smart, real and funny. The story isn't new and you'll probably see the twists coming, but it's executed so well I didn't care. The cinematography was solid, but the music got old for me. This is a great couples movie that won't have the guys running for the door. In this same vein we also liked Something's Gotta Give.


My wife and I both like this film. It's a fun story with quirky characters set in an idyllic French town. Juliette Binoche creates the lead character with her energy and passion. The supporting cast is rock solid - Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, and Alfred Molina (even Carrie-Anne Moss carries her weight). Some viewers may find it slow in parts, but I liked it's pacing. There's a message here, but they don't beat you over the head with it - it's just a natural part of the story.

The Princess Bride

Yeah, yeah, this one's a cult classic (is that an oxymoron?) but we both adore this movie. Sure it's cheesy, but it's so fun and playful - to hate it would be like hating kittens. No one has done a fractured fairytale better (Shrek is just a hack by comparison). The wacky twists and turns are delightful. The lines are a part of our family. So while trite, I have to include it. If you've never seen it and find yourself in the mood for something light and fun, I think you'll enjoy it.


Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver have some pretty good chemistry in the Presidential comedy. Not perfect, but definitely worth a watch. If you like Kevin Kline, we also enjoyed In and Out

Amazing Grace

Not really a chick flick, more a historical drama, but we saw it recently and I thought it was good so I'm including it. When I first heard about this movie - a story about the abolition of slavery in England, I had no interest in seeing it. Such a weighty topic would be hard to pull off in a movie, and few make these work. But guess what, they made it work! It's very much an actor's movie with lots of emphasis on the players, but they play their parts well and are engaging to watch. The period cinematography is excellent and a treat for the eyes. The story is a bit on the drab side, but it's largely true which makes it more interesting to me. This is a top-notch movie that I fear many people overlooked, just like I almost did.

About A Boy

This Hugh Grant movie came recommended, and it was OK, but it didn't do enough for me. A good performance by Hugh, and the screenplay tries to have substance, but I found it fell short. Most people will probably like this movie more than I did.



We Watched this film two days ago. It stars Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes, Sienna Miller, and even a cameo by Peter O'Toole. The lead is a relatively unknown actor, Charlie Cox, who does a good job as the awkward boy Tristan who finds himself through his adventures. Good special effects and a fun, quirky story, but for some reason this movie didn't wow me like it should. Maybe I'll watch it again to see if it sticks with me or is just another one of those god, but forgettable movies.

How about you? What are your favorite relationship movies that have some meat to them?

Not The Best Day To Ski Alta

The snow that hit around mid-day was welcome, but the single-digit temperatures and winds were not. Actually, the snow was a problem too. And to be fair to Alta, I strongly suspect the skiing anywhere along the Wasatch Front wasn't good.

Mark and I had planned to Ski Free After 3 at Alta. I left work at 2:15 with the wind blowing and the temperature at 27 degrees. The sign at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon warned that chains or 4-wheel-drive were required, but I ignored it and drove on. Near Snowbird the roads got snowy, but below that they were clear. I saw Mark's car in the parking lot. The temperature at Alta was 7 degrees! I parked, got my ski clothes on and skied to the lift at 3:02. I tried to call Mark, but no answer - no surprise - he latter confirmed my suspicion: there was no way he was taking off his glove to answer his phone. I met him at the lift after my first run so no worries.

It's nice that Alta has this Ski Free After 3 program, but they aren't fools. You're limited to one lift (Sunnyside) and the terrain there is not very exciting. I was surprised that the Sunnyside lift is a high-speed triple, but this is just so they can get paying customers back to the Sugarloaf and Supreme lifts, and better terrain. Still, it's hard to argue with free, but I'll try.

The first thing that got our attention was the cold. After the first run I went back to the car and put on my balaclava and another pair of thin gloves to go under my fleece ones. I should have put on my ski mask, but I (stupidly) toughed it out.

The next inescapable feature was the wind. It wasn't bad when at our backs going up the lift, but having it in our face on the way down was cold and slowed us down - way down. The runs down from Sunnyside are not steep to begin with, then add the wind and you could easily stop dead on the near-flats. Here's the data:

Month         Base   Base   Base   Base   Hour  Since
/ Day Hour Temp Dir Spd Gust h2o 0400
1 15 1500 8.5 13.6 12.2 29.0 0.01 0.06
1 15 1600 7.7 12.4 8.0 22.1 0.00 0.06
Wind 8-12 mph average with gusts to 29 & 22. And temperatures of 8.5 and 7.7 degrees - my car said 5 degrees when we left. The wind chill was -10. I humbly recommend higher temperatures and less wind for skiing.

Lastly, the snow. Skiers like fresh snow, right? Usually. But when it's drifted and blowing in your face, it's not so nice. Many times I'd be skiing down a run scraping the edges through an icy patch only to lurch forward as I hit a drift and nearly go over the front. One time a drift caught my right leg and wouldn't let go, spinning me in a circle and forcing (yes, the snow made me do it) me to fall down.

So it wasn't the day of skiing I'd hoped for. Still, we got to make a few turns for free and, from the initial reports, no one had any frostbite.

It was too cold to take pictures, but I snapped this one from inside the car:

So that was our 1.5 hours of free skiing. Here's Mark's report. I'd be willing to try it again and see if the experience improves with better weather.

New Snowshoes

The Red Feather - Hike snowshoes I ordered arrived yesterday and I took them out this morning for their maiden voyage.

I picked up DJ and drove up American Fork Canyon to the Pine Hollow trail head to join the Utah Velo Club group snowshoe hike at 7:15 AM. We arrived just as they were heading out, so we got geared up quickly and started up the trail. The bindings on these shoes are fairly basic, but cinched up fast and didn't need any adjustment all day.

The group had a pretty good gap on us so we upped out pace to try and catch them, and get warm. It was in the 20s this morning and partly cloudy with little snow flurries and sun off and on. The trail is good for snowshoeing. It's a good climb, but not crazy. There was side-hilling, flat stuff, straight-up climbs, and winding through trees - a really good mix. We caught up with the group just before the first meadow.

We continued up a section of Pine Hollow that is a good climb on the bike, but was no big deal on snowshoes. At the top we stopped at the second meadow for a group photo. I'm in the middle of this zoom-in wearing the red jacket and DJ is in yellow (click on the picture for the full group).

We continued on, generally following the Ridge 157 trail heading south back toward the summit parking lot. With snow cover and snowshoes you don't have to follow the trail and the leader picked a passable route that took us in the direction we wanted to go. Here's a view from the ridge toward the back side of Mt. Timpanogos - notice the wisp of a cloud in front of the minor peak.

Along the ridge we found this steep slope and several of us slid down it. It was fun to try and stay up on the sliding snowshoes.

Here's a photo of some folks threading through the Aspens - that's Stan, the group leader, out front.

At the summit parking lot, most of the group went on up to Horse Flat and down through the Pines, but DJ and I and a few others headed down the drainage along the road to Salamander Flat. The snowmobiles had been here so the going was easy on their tracks. At Salamander Flat we took the trail that connects over to the first meadow on the Pine Hollow trail. I've mountain biked this trail numerous times, but I was surprised how tricky it was to spot the path of the trail. I was in lead and meandered a few times before staying higher on the hillside and finding the place where the trail turns a corner into a Pine forested gully. It was more work, but fun to blaze the way and make first-tracks - and through such a lovely little spot.

Before long we arrived at the meadow and headed back down Pine Hollow. I thought these flocked Pine trees looked striking.

And here's a sample of what the snowshoe trail looked like.

It was a bit hard to get up so early, but the terrain was outstanding for snowshoes and the scenery refreshing. A wonderful day outside in the mountains.

Addendum: This afternoon we went to the Junior High near us for more fun in the snow. The kids tubed down the little hill they have there while Jolene and I did laps around the big ball field on cross country skis. I'm glad we're having a good, snowy winter this year. It's been years since we've had enough snow in the valleys that stayed for more than few days.

Cycling Plans For 2008

'Tis the season for making cycling plans for 2008. Here are mine:

Mountain Biking

  • I'm going to try tubeless this year. I had a rash of flats at the end of 2007 and I'm ready to give tubeless a try. The new wheels I'm building will be tubeless.
  • I resolve to mountain bike in Fruita this year. Fruita was on my list for 2007, but I didn't make it so for 2008 I'm moving it up to DefCon 5.
  • I resolve to get UTRider Mark to Moab. He started mountain biking 2 years ago and it is my mission to introduce him to Slickrock this year (was supposed to be 2007).
  • I plan to do a few ICup mountain bike races. Probably the St. George race because it gets me out riding early in the season, maybe Cholla (it chewed me up last year), and probably 1-3 more as I feel like it.
  • I'd like to try a 10 or 12 hour race this year.
  • Explore new trails. There's nothing like riding a trail for the first time. And even though I've been mountain biking in Utah for 15 years, there are still trails I haven't ridden. I'm sure I'll hit a few new (to me) trails this year. Gota hit Little Creek Mesas this year.
  • Ride some favorites. Blackhawk, Slickrock, Wasatch Crest (in a loop ride), Timp Perimeter (uphill this year?), Ridge 157, Millcreek, Mid Mountain, Gooseberry Mesa, etc.
Road Cycling
  • I plan to ride STP (Seattle To Portland) with a friend who moved out to Seattle and some other Utah riders. This would be my first double century. The ride looks fun, but the logistics are annoying (could be worse, could be LoToJa - zing!). I'd prefer to fly out to Seattle then fly back from Portland to save myself from the dreaded White Line Fever.
  • Ride a few centuries. Salt Lake Century for sure (it's a tradition), hopefully Cache Valley and Heber too.
  • More group rides. I've really enjoyed riding with the Utah Velo Club and plan to do more this year, starting with the February ride from Lehi out to Vernon and back - I hope the weather is good. I also want to try a ride or two with the BBTC.
  • Try a road race. I wanted to do this last year, but it didn't happen. Mark wants me to do Hell of the North so maybe that'll be it. Maybe a time trial too.
  • I've been out cross country skiing a few times this winter and was reminded how much I enjoy it. And with the good snow we've been getting, I plan to do more XC skiing and to do one race this year (I've been meaning to try a XC ski race for years).
So other than the above hit list, I plan to do about what I did in 2007 - ride mountain or road as the mood strikes me.

Snow Is The Word

Went cross country skiing up Millcreek with Mark after work. Conditions were good - soft snow, recently groomed track with classical tracks set, not too cold, and we got there early enough to ski during the last daylight. Mark was able to squeeze into the larger of my two pairs of boots. He did good for his first time - just the usual unsteadiness most everyone feels as they adapt to a new activity with new motions and different balance. We went up 2.5 miles or so then turned around. I think downhill is harder than up on XC skis, and Elbow Fork is on the steep side, but Mark did fine. Coming down it was snowing lightly. Just a nice evening to be out on the skis. Mark snapped this photo with his camera phone (Warning! I look particularly dorky):

Afterward we drove the few blocks to REI and looked at their XC ski gear. Mark tried on a few boots. Is Mark a new convert?

After my wife came back from carpooling the kids to school she told me we got a lot of snow overnight. We got pounded - at least 10", if not a full foot of new snow. It's been a good snow year here along the Wasatch Front, and for most of Utah.

Millcreek Ski & More

I had to run some errands today that took me near downtown Salt Lake City, so since I was in the area I decided to drop by REI then hit Millcreek Canyon for some cross country skiing.

REI is evil. I already spent a chunk of change on Christmas, and here I walk into a candy store for big kids (like me). And they had lots of stuff on sale. How does REI expect anyone to resist? They know they have me, evil capitalist pigs! What's that you say? I should have more will power? Hah, no one can resist the Siren song of outdoor gear on sale - it can't be done. Case closed. I will hear no more purely hypothetical observations - especially if they suggest I have some sort of weakness. On the up-side, I passed on more things than I bought - doesn't that count for something?

I left REI on a shopping high and headed to Millcreek. I made it to the parking lot around 5:30 PM so it was already mostly dark. I went with the light cross country gear instead of the beefier touring stuff so I could go faster - that was the theory. On my way up I passed around 10 people coming down - most had headlamps, a few didn't. I had my Petzl Tikka XP lighting my way (it's a good little headlamp). I was kick-gliding at a decent pace for the first mile, then I had to slow down. The slope turns a bit steep just before Elbow Fork, but the skis gripped OK and I was able to go straight up.

It was about here that I started feeling a pain in both heels. I knew what it was - my heel was slipping in the boot thus rubbing my skin. But I ignored it and kept going - I'd skied Granite Flat in these boots last week and been just fine. Ya, dumb. It's just like how I evidently must get a sunburn each year to remind me to wear sunscreen. I made it about 2.5 miles then the pain was just too much. I put a bandage on the right heel (it was worse), but it was too late - the top layer of skin was rubbed off and it was painful to any touch. So I headed down after snapping this picture (of dubious worth).

Going down was fun. I double-poled in the flat-ish spots and snow-plowed the few steeps spots. There were some good stretches where you could just straight-run.

This was my first time to ski Millcreek and I liked it. It gets a lot of use by hikers, snowshoers and skiers, and the snow was well packed, but only icy in a few spots (that may change with the weather). Hopefully I can drag UTRider up to Millcreek and introduce him to cross country skiing.

But the story isn't over. With two painful feet I was NOT happy with those boots. So I went to REI looking for solutions and I found two. I bought some heel inserts that will hopefully prevent the slipping/rubbing. And I bought some new boots that were on the closeout rack. Ya, I went nuts at REI today. So the REI haul was: new cross country ski poles, boots and gloves, a new long-sleeve cycling jersey, the heel inserts and an insulated tube for my CamelBak.

5 Things

Thanks, UTRider, for spreading the infection, and stupidbike for kicking it off because you were bored. My first impulse was to blow this off, but to slow my inevitable slide to grouch-hood, I'll play along.

1. I was born in the OC - Anaheim to be exact. We moved to Utah when I was 6, but my grandparents still lived there and us kids (my brother and sister and I) would go back and spend a month with them during the summer. It was great fun. We spent a LOT of time in the pool and playing pool (they had a billiard table), and catching snails. They lived a block away from Disneyland and owned a hotel. Many hotel guests would leave their unused tickets so my grandma would fill her purse with these leftover ticket books and we'd spend a day at the happiest place on earth (do I have to include a trademark to say that?). I think we drove her crazy asking for yet another E ticket, but what good memories I have of Disneyland. There used to be rolling, grassy hills and orange groves and strawberry fields in Anaheim. All gone now thanks to urban sprawl. But on a recent business trip to southern Cal, I was pleased to see some untouched hills and farmland - I guess some of the old SoCal still remains, that makes me happy.

2. When I was 16 I went to Maui to pick pineapple for 6 months. I've never worked AND played so hard in all my life. We went to the beach at least twice a week. I made a skimboard out of an old sheet of plywood and got pretty good at it. I got the darkest tan of my life. At the end we toured three other islands (Hawaii, Oahu, Kauai). I came home with a few hundred dollars, but the experience was worth the hard work.

3. I have a scar on the bridge of my nose, and every scar has a good story (I hope this one is good). I was about 8 when my friend got a boomerang for his birthday. We went down to the park to try it out. We took turns throwing it, but the stupid thing wouldn't come back. We got tired of running after it, so we got a good ways apart and threw it toward each other to save time/steps. This worked fine, but we still couldn't get it to return. I suggested to my friend that perhaps we needed to throw it harder. I think you can see this coming, just as I saw the boomerang coming right for my head at high speed. I had one of those cool, slow-motion moments where the boomerang slowed down, but for some reason I couldn't move fast enough to get out of the way. The thing nailed me right between the eyes and knocked me down. When I got up I could feel something wet on my face (blood). My friend ran over and looked terrified. I think he was sure he'd killed me. He helped me get home and my Mom drove me to the hospital where they stitched up the gash. This was a frightening and surreal experience. First, they had to inject some local anesthetic so from my point of view (my eyes) I see this shot needle coming right toward me (I don't like needles, at all!) as he pokes me a few times in a fresh, still smarting, cut. Then they come in with the needle (shaped like a J, like a fish hook) and thread and come down, poke through my skin on both sides of the cut then pull the thread through then pull it tight. I couldn't feel any pain, but I could feel the tug of the needle and thread. Still gives me the willies to think about it. It was all so cinematic, shot in the first-person perspective - and the memories are still quite vivid.

4. I had a few good friends in High School (in Spanish Fork). We did a lot of hiking, riding snowmobiles and motorcycles, playing basketball and general horsing around. One day we were down by the river lighting off fireworks. A bottle rocket was tossed up in the air, but the timing was wrong and the thing shot down to the hood of the old station wagon lighting the bag of fireworks and we all hit the dirt as bottle rockets shot everywhere. We scrubbed and scrubbed, but couldn't completely remove the stain on the hood. I think my friends, who's parents owned said station wagon, got in trouble for that, but the extent is lost in my decaying memory.

5. I was in Student Government at UVSC. The campaign was many long days of work. The other party we were up against ran a good campaign and I really had no idea who would win. It was quite a thrill to win. We got put to work right away and had the best advisors imaginable. We went on a few retreats that were incredibly fun: Rafting down the Snake River, snowmobiling in Yellowstone and visiting Washington D.C. We tried our best to be a good advocate for the students and provide some fun activities. Looking back now it seems so contrived and not really that important, but I learned a lot about working with people and that has been invaluable.

Well, that took a while, but it went easier than I thought it would. Sorry I went a bit long on each one - once I opened the memory valve it just kept coming. Now you all know me a little bit better (for better or worse).

How (Not?) To Start A New Year

I read several blogs regularly, and one of those is Fat Cyclist. When he posted about a New Years Day ride up the Squaw Peak road, I was intrigued. I posted a comment or two and basically committed myself to ride. I questioned that commitment when the temperature this morning was 12 degrees. I bundled up, loaded the bike and headed to the ride anyway. On the drive the temperature kept dropping, hitting a low of 6 degrees at the parking area. Soon a pretty good-sized group had arrived - including 2-3 who biked up the canyon.

The road was clear (pavement) about a 1/4 mile up to the closed gate, then it was packed snow the rest of the way. I'd guess the snow was 1-1.5 feet deep at the gate. The track had been packed pretty good by snowmobiles and ATVs (4 wheelers) so the going was pretty good, at first. Then came a section with some drifted snow that bogged me down, but it wasn't very long then it was back to fairly easy riding with good packed snow. But about half way up it got tougher. There would be rutted-up spots with softer snow. In total I rode about 2/3 or more, but walked that last mile or so to the top - it was steeper with deeper, looser snow.

Rounding the bend just before the final climb to the viewpoint I could see out over the valley. The air was clear with snow blanketing everything. It was a beautiful sight.

I pushed the bike the final yards to the top and joined the stronger riders who'd made it up in much better time. We waited for the last few riders to come up then took a group shot:

Getting up was a bit of a struggle (the riding and pushing the bike) but I was looking froward to the fun ride down. Well, it was fun, but it wasn't easy - at least for me. The bike was real skittery in the loose snow and a real bear to keep upright. The top was just too loose to ride at all, but it got better as we went down. And I think I got better at riding the snow too. At one point I hit 17 mph, which felt very fast on snow. I bailed many times when the bike go out of control and even went down a few times. One time I came very close to going down hard at 13 mph, but some how stayed up.

About 2/3 of the way down I tried to plow through a snow drift, but got bogged own and bailed. Looking down I saw some granola bars and a car key - turns out it was to Fatty's bikemobile. He was happy he didn't have to call home for another key.

For fun I took a little hop and some air off the hump of snow through the gate. Then finished with the ride down the pavement. Riders milled around a bit talking, then left. It was a good crazy way to start 2008. Thanks to Kenny for spearheading the ride, and Fatty for publicizing it.

Fat Cyclist, Brad Keyes and KC Holly also wrote about the ride.