Sushi, Spinning & Riding

Sushi - Sunday evening we made sushi with my sister-in-law and her husband and son. When we became sushi lovers a few years back, it wasn't long before we got interested in making our own sushi. You only need a few inexpensive "tools" and it only takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it. We're no sushi chiefs, but we sure enjoy sitting around the table assembling the ingredients, rolling the sushi then swapping and eating. It's very social and fun. It was so good I ate too much. If there's interest in the comments, I'll post more details about roll-your-own sushi. Bonus: we had enough left over ingredients we made sushi Monday night too (and ate too much again).

Spinning - Hit the trainer Monday for another 45 minutes of spinning to Biking Power. Yep, it still hurts.

Riding - Got out today at lunch for a nice ride. I thought about going all the way up the north side of Suncrest, but my legs were still a bit sore from spinning and I just wasn't feeling it. I went up to Mike Weir Drive and went east past the golf course and new temple under construction. Then flew down the to Highland Drive and went along the foothill rollers. Then west through Draper and back to work in Bluffdale. 1300' of climbing, 15 miles in 1 hour for a 14.4 mph average. It seems I've still got a case of LLS (Lead Legs Syndrome) - I felt anything but light on the pedals. Disheartening, but all I can do is keep riding and hope my form comes back.

Heading to St. George Friday to put knobbies to dirt. My wife is racing, but I'll probably just go ride the nearby Zen and Barrel trails.

Cycling Winter Jailbreak

Good 2 hours out on the road bike today. With temps over 40 it was go time. DJ called me around noon and we decided to just make up a local route.

I met DJ on 8th East in Orem and we headed west toward the sunshine (the clouds kept hanging around the mountains to the east). We took 4th North to Geneva Road then made our way out to Utah Lake and tried out the new bicycle/jogging path - smooth new pavement. Along the way we saw Josh and 2 other riders from the Utah Velo Club - we stopped and chatted for a bit. We continued south on Geneva Road then made our way east through Provo then took 9th East up around the Provo Temple then took University Avenue back home.

I was so happy to ride I pushed the pace. My legs started tiring the last 5 miles. But I was so pumped just to be out riding I didn't care. Fresh air, sunshine, cranking along on the bike - ahhhh! Here are the ride stats:

31.4 miles
16.1 mph average
1 hour, 56 minutes riding
866' climbing

After lunch Jolene and I went out for a quick spin on the mountain bikes. Nothing big, just over to and up a good hill climb then back home. Maybe a half hour. The mountain bike felt good too. I'm excited to be heading south next weekend for some dirt time.

I also spun for 45 minutes yesterday while I watched the BYU Men's Volleyball game (they played Standford and nearly lost which would have put an end to their unbeaten season). This was the first time I've not used a spinning DVD - I just made up my own intervals. I went 1 minute on, 1 minute off. I alternated between pushing a hard gear, then standing on an even harder gear, then high cadence on a fairly light gear, repeat. It didn't work me as hard as Biking Power, but I wanted to take it easy because I was hoping to ride today and didn't want to be fried.

You Spin Me Round

This is for Mark because he said I couldn't spin for 25 minutes:

Yep, tonight I visited an old friend: the Biking Power DVD at his home, the pain cave. I made it through the 55 minute workout, but I slacked off a few times and about half way through the last set (the race simulator) I stayed in the saddle on some of the standing sprints. I used to be able to get through the whole thing pretty strong. Time to buckle down or Mark won't want to ride with anymore because I'll be so slow. I tacked on some steady state spinning at the end to get solidly over 1 hour. So take that, Mark!

Wondering about the title of this post?

Linux Networx Remembered

I learned over the weekend that Linux Networx was purchased by Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) and on Thursday all the employees were let go and the doors to the building were locked. SGI made offers to re-hire some of the employees, but most were only given a small severance.

I worked for Linux Networx a year and a half ago. I had worked for Larsen Davis for 8 years out of college so the job change to Linux Networx was a pretty big one for me. My fears were put to rest quickly after starting work at Linux Networx. There was a very positive, energetic vibe that came mostly from the employees. I made some good friends and got to work on some fun projects. There's a lot more I could say about my time at Linux Networx, but I'm going to focus on cycling.

When I started at Linux Networx in January 2005, I was a recreational mountain biker. I was pleased to find several other mountain bikers at the company and started attending group rides. We had some great rides, including a very memorable trip to Moab.

Many of the mountain bikers were also road cyclists and they introduced me to it. I put slicks on my mountain bike and did a few rides - it worked OK, but definitely demonstrated that a real rode bike is the way to go. So after some looking, I found a nice bike on eBay that hadn't sold and the seller was in Utah and not too far away. Dave Olsen, my primary road biking mentor at Linux Networx, went with me to help evaluate the bike. That was my first road bike, a 2002 Schwinn FastBack Pro - Reynolds steel frame, aluminum fork, Shimano 105 - not the latest or greatest, but the bike had a great feel. We would do lunch rides 2-4 times a week riding all over the south end of Salt Lake Valley. We would also do some after-work rides - some mountain biking, some road rides. We also did a few century rides together and did spinning during the winter. In short, we had a good time riding together.

Sadly, it didn't last long. I was laid off August 2006, but since my new job was fairly close to Linux Networx I would meet up with them for a ride now and then. But people kept leaving and the riding group kept shrinking, and now it's gone.

I credit my stint at Linux Networx with greatly enlarging and improving my cycling. I became a competent road cyclist, I improved my mountain biking skills, I increased my cycling strength and endurance, and made many good friends. Jason has encouraged (bullied?) us to do the Seattle to Portland (STP) ride with him this year (I'm already regsitered), so that will be a fun reunion. And I'm sure many of us will get together at the Cycle Salt Lake Century, which has become a tradition. So while Linux Networx the company is gone, and I miss those days when we'd see each other at work each day, our friendships remain and we still get to ride together a few times a year. Thank you, each of you, my Linux Networx friends.

Update: Jason reminded me of some other good rides - here are some photos of the Blackhawk and Timpanogos mini-epic rides:

Pain Freeze

A few days ago Mad Mark invited me to road ride with him today. The forecast was for a high of 40, and 40 is my lower limit for road riding. I sensed danger, but agreed since Mark has gone along with some of my less sensible rides.

15 minutes before I need to leave my house, the temperature had just barely hit 30. I text Mark and asked if insanity runs in his family. He replies asking if wimpiness runs in mine. So I had to go, but I submit that I was entrapped.

Rolling off the Orem bench I was shocked to see the outside temperature read 24. This is not good. Fortunately it was only 21 at the ride start. I put on more layers than an onion and off we went.

The first thing we noticed was the cold air stinging the exposed skin of our faces. Then our hands got cold. Then my feet got cold and only got colder.

The route was nice, but the cold made it hard to get to into the ride. I had some fun and it was weird to be out on a day like today so that added some spice. But what concerned me most was how sluggish I felt. Mark seemed to have some spring in his legs - mine felt like lead. Could this be because Mark has been working out and I've been pigging out? Of course not.

We did a few hills over in Woodland Hills, but my legs hurt in a weird place - behind the knee, especially the two tendons of the hamstrings. It bothered me the rest of the ride. This is where we had the high of the ride, 36 degrees.

We made two stops - one near the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon, the other in Payson. My feet warmed up at Spanish, but even with vigorously rubbing my left toes they were still cold after leaving the Payson stop. On the long ride back my left toes got even colder and I couldn't feel them at all. To be honest I was concerned I had frostbite, but I kept going. I just wanted to get back to the car. With this motivation I did one fairly good pull going north out of Payson, but after that I followed Mark's lead.

It seemed to take forever to get back to the cars. When we arrived I took off my shoe and socks and felt my left foot - it was ice cold and white, but no weird discoloration so I felt relieved that my toes were probably OK. (They warmed up and I got feeling back 45 minutes later.)

When we left, Mark asked me to be kind to him in my blog. Did I really look that down? Probably. I was wiped out. My knees ached, my leg muscles were OK but I didn't finish strong, and my neck and shoulders were starting to hurt. I was pretty bummed out - how could I lose so much biking form so quickly. I guess I've been fooling myself that my little ski outings once or twice a week were keeping my fitness up. I could blame the cold or the bulk of clothes, but the sad fact was I rode like crap. I'll be bummed out for a day or two, but hopefully this will be a wake up call to get on the trainer and start working out. With STP this year I've got to get in form or it will be a miserable ride.

Ride stats:
52 miles
3 hours 25 minutes in the saddle
15.2 mph average speed
1400' climbing

Book: Lance Armstrong's War

Winter is a good time to read. My friend DJ read the book Lance Armstrong's War (excerpt, Amazon) and lent me his copy. The book as about the 2004 Tour de France with a focus on Lance Armstrong (in his quest for his 5th win) and the other key players and events of that race. I read it over the last month or so and here are my thoughts:

The author, Daniel Coyle, is a writer/journalist who seems to go where his interests (or perhaps assignments) take him. You get the distinct impression he didn't know much about pro cycling before taking on this project. I found it refreshing to see this world peeled open layer upon layer as Coyle digs deeper as he goes.

The book has an odd feel about it because it doesn't read like a historical account. Coyle generally follows a linear timeline, but he skips some events while focusing deeply on others. I believe his idea is to attempt to give the reader the feel of pro cycling rather than just a recitation of facts and events. To this end Coyle is quite successful.

Coyle began by moving to Girona, Spain to be near Lance and the Postal team as well as Tyler Hamilton who lived upstairs from Armstrong. As a journalist he went about his business of interviews and investigating. I enjoyed the many details he reveals that gives you a flavor for the sport and each cyclist - here are a few:

- Cyclists are always checking each other out to determine their current fitness. They will pull another rider close and pinch their midsection to judge bodyfat. They look at butts. A skinny butt, like that of a gymnast, is a sign of a cyclist who is in peak condition.

- Cyclists, like those in other sports, are superstitious. They believe just about any good luck, bad luck thing you've ever heard - and I few I hadn't heard of.

- Cyclist are also very wary of illness. I'd call them germaphobes, but this is not a psycholigcal condition, it's a reality of cycling - any illness slows you down. They try not to touch things with their hands and in short practice excellent hygiene to decrease the odds they'll catch some bug.

Of course Coyle spends a lot of words on Lance. Most people will know that Lance is a fierce competitor and very driven. But I found it interesting that he was so hyper about knowing everything. His Blackberry was always going - bringing him this news about a competitor, or that news about an on-going lawsuit. Everyone on Lance's team affirmed that it was very bad thing if you had info that you didn't pass along to Lance.

The book also covers the Postal team. Of course he talks about Landis, Hincapie, Coyle and the rest of the "Posties". But he also covers Lance's doctor (for want of a better title) Dr. Michele Ferrari, his mechanic Anderson. Add in the competitors, Jan Ulrich, Ivan Basso, etc., and you get a complex cast of characters that formed the drama of the 2004 Tour.

Overall it was a good read that gave me more insight into the nearly insane world of pro cycling.

Granite Flat Fun Ski

Jolene and I went up to Granite Flat in American Fork Canyon to cross country ski. The valley was socked in with clouds, but it was sunny up Tibble Fork. We parked and hiked up along the creek to Spike Loop before putting on the skis.

The trails weren't groomed, but it was still pretty good skiing.

Out on Barracks Loop we saw a moose laying down about 30 yards away. After skiing up Tree Army Loop we went exploring off in the untracked snow. We skied across a meadow then played around on the slopes nearby. I made a short run down this sidehill:

Then I played around on a picnic table piled with snow. I made it up on top and accidentally sliced off the end cap of snow like the heel of a loaf of bread.

I was going to try skiing off it, but the side collapsed and I fell down.

A little ways away we skied over a bridge that crosses a stream. Yeah, the snow's pretty deep this year.

Then skiing back we had a second moose sighting. We think it was the same one we saw earlier, but it could have been a different one.

We had a great time just skiing easy and doing whatever we felt like doing. And it was nice that the sun was out.

Mountain Dell Ski With Mark

Mark and I made plans to cross country ski after work today. Originally we talked about hitting Millcreek, but switched over to Mountain Dell to mix things up (Mark hasn't been there before - I tried it for the first time last week).

Mark got delayed at work so I went ahead and went down to the course to discover that Wild Rose was having their fun race. The organizer asked if I wanted race - at first I said no, but then decided to give it a try. I was one of only 3 classical skiers, and sure enough the skaters took off fast. I was at the back and pretty much everyone passed me, but half way along the first lap of the main loop I passed one guy. Oh well. I chugged along trying to keep my pace up - man, going fast is work! I was pretty tired after the first lap but kept going. Felt a lot like mountain bike racing - you're hammered but you keep going anyway. I was slower on the second lap, but still tried to keep the pace up. I climbed the last hill to the finish with a time of 35 minutes for the 5.1K (3.1 miles). I've always wanted to try cross country ski racing and now I had and it confirmed that I'm slow. I had fun anyway.

After the race I waited at the top of the hill looking for Mark. Within a few minutes he came into view. We buzzed down the hill for another lap to go see the moose.About half way along the main loop, there they were - two adults and one calf. Here's the calf and mama about 50 yards away:

We finished off the loop and headed for home. Except I had parked downhill on ice and could get the car out. We worked at it for a while then put some stuff down for traction and some other came to push and I was out. Trick learned for one of the fellows who pushed: use the floor mats under the tires for traction - worked great. Thanks for sticking with me, Mark (he needed to get home just like me)! Not the best ending, but it was still enjoyable to spend some time sliding across the snow.

Also, I went for a 1 hour snowshoe quickie up in the foothills above my house yesterday after work. It was a good workout! There was some light when I started, but it faded and I turned on the headlamp. It was a little freaky being up there alone. I had thoughts that my noisy tromping would attract a hungry mountain lion. After climbing for 35 minutes I made a small loop and headed back down. I called my wife from a good vantage point to see if she could see my light from the house - no go, trees were in the way. I jogged down and enjoyed the faster pace and added challenge of not tripping over my shoes - I didn't fall once. Back at the car I loaded up and started up the car - my headlights illuminated a couple dancing to their car radio. Oops. sorry about interrupting the romance (there's a nice view of the city lights from there). I drove the mile back home and warmed up by the fireplace.

Local Ultrarunner Davy Crockett

Davy Crockett (yes, he really goes by Davy) lives a few miles west of me in Saratoga Springs. I've never met him, but a while back someone (probably DJ) mentioned that a few people run up Timpanogos. Intrigued I searched the internet and found Davy. Here's his running story in bullet points:

  • In 2002 he was a 230 pound couch potato when he hiked Mount Timpanogos for the first time.
  • He began training through 2003 and had a few injuries.
  • In 2004 he learned about ultrarunning, entered his first race (50K, came in near last).
  • Other races in 2004: 50 miler - came in dead last, 100K - DNF and injured other knee, 100 miler - first bad bonk at mile 87 and DNF'ed.
  • Did more training, lost more weight and learned to run.
  • In 2005 finished seven ultras including two 100 milers, but DNF'ed two other 100 milers - ran his only road marathon in 3:44.
  • As of 2007: has lost 60 pounds, in best shape of his life at 49, has finished 30 ultras including 12 100 milers (and regularly finishes in the top 25%).
That's quite a transformation!

And while Davy enjoys the competition of races, he also loves long distance adventure runs - many he plans himself.

If you enjoy adventure, like I do, you'll be enthralled reading his Timp running progression all the way up to his 2006 "Quint" (ran up to the summit and back down 5 times consecutively! - that's approximately 75 miles and 23,500' of climbing!).

If that wasn't enough, last year (2007) in the Uintas he ran 70 miles along the Highline trail (never drops below 10,000') in 30 hours and another time ran across the Kings-Emmons Ridge to bag 7 peaks over 13,000' in less than 21 hours. Yeah, he does some pretty extreme stuff!

Of interest to mountain bikers who know of the grueling Leadville 100 race, Davy ran the Leadville Trail 100 (one of the 4 major ultramarathons in the USA which he DNF'ed in 2005) in 26 hours, 15 minutes taking 60th place. Amazing.

Bicycle Techno Blaster For Sly

As much as I dig Sly's McGyvered techno blaster, this bike iPod dock with speaker is pretty sweet for pumping the tunes while you ride. Here's the OhGizmo! review and the product webpage. It even has a handlebar mounted wireless remote. I couldn't tell if the speaker is amplified or passive, but the manual shows it takes 4 AA batteries so I'm pretty sure it's amped. Sly, buy one and give us a review.

Sheldon Brown's Last Ride

Sheldon Brown has passed away. I haven't met him him, but you surely get a sense of the man from reading his amazing bicycle technical website. It's obvious he lived cycling, and the knowledge and skills he collected was impressive. I used his excellent instruction to build up a wheel. And I refer to his site often to research anything bicycle related. I hope Harris Cyclery keeps his website up, but just in case I'm going to scrape a copy and keep it in my archives. Rest in peace, Sheldon.

UPDATE: the bike show has a tribute to Sheldon and links to the two interviews with him about fixed gear touring and English 3-speed bicycles.

UPDATE 2: Bike Snob NYC weighed in with a well written tribute to Sheldon.

UPDATE 3: WIRED's underwire paid tribute to Sheldon (included lots of links). Here's a Sheldon memorial blog. Cyclesmith (in Salt lake City, Utah) will have a memorial ride on Thursday.

Snow Riding Weekend

This weekend has been about riding in the snow.

Friday I left work a little early and headed to Lambert Park to help prepare the course for the Frozen Hog race on Saturday. When I arrived around 5 pm everyone was leaving - the work was done. So I joined my wife for one lap around the course. Except for a few soft spots, the course was hard-packed snow that held up the bikes and provided pretty good traction. But it was still rutted and slippery enough that I never felt completely stable riding it. I was tentative at first, but got faster as I went along. There were two climbs and it felt good to get the legs and blood pumping. One section (Zag) was very narrow and I was concentrating very hard to stay on line. We completed the 3.5 mile loop with not much daylight left. My hands kept getting cold (I should have worn my thicker gloves), but otherwise I kept warm. I fell over once, but the snow was so soft it just made me laugh. One aside: due to a miscommunication my wife didn't bring my cycling clothes so I had to scrounge what I had in the car which had me in road shoes, no chamois, and my road helmet - it worked fine, but I looked mismatched. I really enjoyed the ride - I just get a kick out of the unstable and off-beat feeling of riding snow.

Saturday I helped out with the Frozen Hog. I directed people at the registration tables, then took some photos of the race start and first lap, then called in rider's plate numbers as they came into the finish. Here's Jolene heading out for the first lap:

And here's the finish line:

Sadly, the course didn't hold up well to all the bikes and the packed snow crumbled into dry mush. The first lap wasn't too bad for the racers out front, but everyone suffered on the second lap. Well, I guess with all the snow we've had we should be grateful it was rideable at all.

Afterward there were the raffles and awards. Here's Elden (FatCyclist) thanking people for supporting the fight against cancer by buying raffle tickets for the Marin 29er bike you see:

Dan was the lucky winner and here he is being presented with the bike:

After helping clean up a bit, we went home and I considered what I should do for the rest of the day. I talked with Steve about snowshoeing, but my snowshoes were in the other car my daughter took to the rec center. I could do some cross country skiing. But seeing everyone ride got me anxious to go for a spin. So I jumped on the mountain bike and headed up into the foothills near Provo Canyon. I went up the service road above the cemetery. The city plows it, but it's still snow-packed. It climbs 600' at first then stays fairly after that. The climb felt good, although I seem to have lost some stamina. Once on the flats I put it in the middle ring and tried to ride fast. At the end of the plowed road I took this shot looking out to the mouth of the canyon and Orem, Provo and Utah Lake beyond:

And here's a shot looking up at Mount Timpanogos shrouded in cloud:

On the way back I tried to go faster and keep it above 12 mph. It felt good to open it up and push my legs. I hit 20 mph on one ever-so-slightly downhill spot. Going back down the climbs was fun, but a bit skittery. Back at home I took a nice, hot shower to warm up.

All-in-all a good time on the bike, in the snow - strange bedfellows, but it was fun to do something different.