Alpine Loop Again

There was an ICup race at Sundance today. And even though it's a great place to mountain bike, I don't like racing there because it's so hard to pass - and being in the largest category (Sport 40+) makes it worse. But my wife was racing so I devised a plan to road bike over the Alpine Loop again and arrive at Sundance in time to see her finish.

I left the house at 8 am and quickly made my way north through Lindon and Pleasant Grove. I usually take the back roads, but I took State Street and it was fast and a good route. I took the Manilla Highway to the mouth of American Fork (AF) Canyon even though I don't like it for the high speed limit and bad shoulders.

I started up the canyon feeling pretty good from the 10 miles of warm up. Cranking the middle ring I was able to keep my speed up. I tried to keep my speed in the double digits up to the Tibble Fork turn off, but failed twice as I struggled to find my rhythm.

After Tibble Fork it turns steeper and for a mile or so I didn't do well. But after the gate I got rolling. Here's what it looked like near Altamont campground:

After I snapped that photo I decided to try a self portrait like I've seen Jeff Kerkove and others do:

When I got home and looked at that photo on the big computer screen I laughed out loud. A blank expression with this tinge of pain in the eyes. I didn't feel like I was hurting here, but I guess my face says otherwise. Next time I'll try to smile or look serious or put on some expression so I don't look so dorky. Funny.

Down by Timpanogos Cave I had passed one other cyclist. Just past Salamander Flats I passed another. I made a wild guess that he was with another rider who was up ahead and this helped me pick up the pace to finish the climb with a good push. There were some other riders at the summit, but I don't think they were with the rider I passed. The snow is gone from the summit:

Compare that with this photo from the ride last week:

I lingered a few moments at the summit then head down the Provo Canyon side. It was a nice descent. I could have taken it faster, but felt mellow so I took it easy. Just look at the scenery I had to enjoy:

I made it to Sundance and headed up the short stretch of road to the start / finish. The race course goes up this road too and I was expecting to see racers on the road, but didn't see any. At the start / finish I talked to some other team boosters and learned that the race had started 15 minutes late.

I parked the bike and took a place along the road to cheer the racers and take some photos. I enjoyed watching the team and other racers come through - I recognized many of them. Here's Jolene finishing:

Pretty nice setting for a race, huh?

After chatting with a lot of racers and teammates, I got back on the road bike to finished the loop.

Yes, that's the new Fat Cyclist jersey out for it's first ride.

I flew down the road from Sundance to Provo Canyon following a big van and hitting someting over 40 mph.

I intended to take the highway down the canyon, but there was a good head wind so I took the paved parkway trail to get out of the wind and take it slow. Back on the roads I kicked up the speed back to my house.

It was an incredibly good ride on a near perfect day with warm temperatures and sunny skies and one of the most scenic routes in the state - and no cars since the gates are still closed. Hard to get much better.

Suffering. Pain. Anguish. And For What?

I didn't know how the Draper race would go, but I had hopes I'd ride strong. But I got the first warning signs of trouble going up the first single-track climb. My heart rate was high, breathing heavy, and I felt like I was suffering more than I should be - even with the pace not really high because I was behind a line of other racers. Last year this section was almost restful in the line of riders. This year I was working too hard for this easy section. And it didn't get better.

And most of the field of Sport 40+ was ahead of me. Way ahead.

On the long climb up the dirt road I just had no zip. And when the pitch kicked up a bit, I dropped from the middle to the little ring. Shameful, but I just couldn't crank the middle ring today. Last year I could. But I did pass a few other racers. And snaked a few guys to get onto Clark's ahead of them.

Flying down Clark's was fun. The bike handled well and I rode fast, for me. It's such a good trail to descend it's nearly impossible not to enjoy it.

But then it was the BST section with it's rolling nastiness. It's not really nasty, it just tends to chew me up. I actually did OK in this section.

I flew down Spring Hollow and felt good on this downhill too. And even motoring along Highland I felt OK.

The half lap was not too bad. I was warmed up now and actually felt a bit better climbing. But I wasn't fast, by any means. The BST and Spring Hollow went about the same as the first lap, just a bit slower. Here I am finishing.

I finished down in the bottom third of the field - 14th of 19 racers.

It doesn't sound like a bad race, but it was for me. I felt like I just couldn't go fast. I was working hard, mentally trying to push - but it just wasn't happening. It's one thing to suffer to go fast, but I felt like I was suffering more than last year's race, but going slower. That bugged me.

The course was OK, but there were some annoying moments when I couldn't get around people or they bailed on climbs and forced me to bail too.

And my mouth was dry, cotton-mouthed and coated with mucus / loogie the whole race. I'd drink and spit. And my nose was running. And of course sweat running down into the mix too. I felt gross. I blocked most of this out to keep focused on going fast, which I wasn't, but it was just another thing that made me feel icky about this race.

Then after the race I'm hacking and coughing.

In short, this race pissed me off. I'm not fast right now, yet I pay money to prove that to myself. Stupid. I'm done racing for a while. It's just not doing much for me. I'm going to ride for fun and forget about racing for a while.

Update: I wrote the above last night after the race. I've mellowed a bit this morning, but I'm still committed to laying off racing for a while, except for the MTB biathlon coming up next week at Soldier Hollow that I really enjoyed last year.

A good part of the evening was talking to so many mountain biking friends. Of course it's always fun to hang with my UMB teammates. And as I walked to and fro I talked with a lot of people. Even the quick greeting is pleasant, and having a little conversation even better. Lot's of good people in mountain biking.

I could also appreciate the victories of others. Brad and Tasha (husband and wife) took 1st place in their categories. Elden raced Sport 40+ on his single-speed and placed 5th (thanks for checking my body fat as you passed). And my dear wife came in 4th (may have held onto 3rd if not for 2 crashes).

So it wasn't all bitterness. I just wasn't happy with how poorly I performed.

My mind has been on some local trails I want to explore. And I want to hit the Alpine Loop again while the gates are closed.

Update 2: My productivity is taking a hit because of the day-after-race fatigue. I'm sleepy and want a nap badly. Maybe weekday races aren't for me.

Update 3: I keep looking at race photos and finding good ones of myself and Jolene, but I think I'm done now.

One Of Those Days

Went to bed last night with plans to do the Draper race in the morning. My mind got going and I didn't sleep well. Then I listened to the rain coming down. After 7 I called Mark to see how the weather was up his way, closer to the race venue - not good news. The course would surely be a muddy mess. Debating: go, don't go. Mark calls back with news the race has been postponed to Wednesday. I went back to bed and got some rest.

Got up intending to get on with some projects around the house when my brother-in-law calls. He dropped the truck keys in Lake Powell and needs someone to bring the spare key down to Wellsville (near Price). My day already shot I say OK. Other than the high price of gas, it was kind of nice to take a drive, although the rainy weather made it less of a happy summer drive.

Three hours later I get home in time to shower, eat something and head to my sisters for a birthday get-together.

Mark comes over to show me his new 29er, fully rigid, single speed ride. Nice bike, but that's a big jump to single speed, me thinks. But it will be fun to play with.

Then I notice the front tire of my wife's bike is flat. Mike at UMB helped me convert her wheels to tubeless. The rear has been fine, but that front has been a pain. First it went flat on Mike, then the bead wouldn't seal again so we put on a new tire and it sealed right up, and now it flatted again. With Mark's help I tried to inflate it again, but no go - the sidewalls had crinkled and the bead had big gaps. So I threw a tube in it and went to my sister's for the party. I came home and couldn't get it to go with the floor pump, but the CO2 inflater did the trick. Now it's on suicide watch - hoping it won't flat again.

And I didn't get in a ride today.

Pretty much a waste of a holiday. Ya, it was one of those days.

Alpine Loop + Cascade Springs

On Friday I got an e-mail from Kenny announcing a ride up the Alpine Loop. This is one of my favorite road rides right in my "backyard". Reports indicated that the road is clear with maybe one patch of snow across the road. The weather forecast kept getting worse, but Kenny was still going so I decided to give it a go.

I woke up earlier than I anticipated but got up and got ready anyway. I left at 8 am and riding to the meeting place, this is what Timpanogos looked like:

Our ride takes us behind that mountain. Ominous looking weather, to say the least.

I made it to the parking lot by 8:25. We were to meet there at 9 am. I texted Kenny to let him know I was starting early. I know Kenny and his friends are strong riders and didn't know if I'd be able to keep up so I thought it wise to get a head start and let them catch me. It also meant I could go my own pace.

The ride up the Provo Canyon parkway was pleasant. I took it easy, rolling around 15 mph. It passes Bridal Veil Falls:

After the parkway trail there's a short stretch along the highway then I turned off for the climb up to Sundance.

The segment from Provo Canyon up to Sundance includes some steeps sections (around 10% grade). I made it up OK and kept going. The lower switchbacks are also steep, I had to drop down to 2nd gear. The rest of the way up to Aspen Grove was a nice climb. I passed through the locked gate (the road is closed during winter) and passed two guys in camouflage carrying a bow and a shotgun. I'm not sure what they were doing, and didn't want to ask.

There was some debris on the road, but it wasn't bad. The road climbed steeply along a side hill, then mellowed out. I love this section -winding up through the Aspens.

Interestingly, at mile post 20 the Aspens were leafing out nicely, but a mile later up the road not even a bud could be seen. My guess would be the temperature difference is keeping the higher trees dormant still.

I made it to the top in 1 hour 5 minutes and spent more time in 3rd gear than other rides up this road. My altimeter measured 3000' of climbing so far.

I was the only person at the summit. I went to the bathroom, ate some food, put on my jacket and warmer gloves, made a little snowman I put on the road then laid down to rest. The sun would shine between the clouds now and then. It was very quiet and peaceful with only birds to be heard.

After 10-15 minutes I heard a sound - I looked up to see Elden roll in. He was the only one coming up from the American Fork side so we headed down the Provo side to meet the others who were coming up. We stopped at the Cascade Springs turnoff and had only waited a minute or so when Kenny rode up, followed shortly by Kevin, Larry and Adam.

Kevin was short on time so headed back. The rest of us decided to add a down and back to Cascade Springs. I wondered if I should just head back too, but I've wanted to try the Cascade Springs road so I went for it.

I could tell by how fast we picked up speed going down that it was steep. The decent was also cold and I was glad I had brought so much clothing. Even with my insulated gloves a few fingers went numb. I lent Adam my thin full-finger gloves as he only had cutoff-finger gloves.

After turning around at Cascade Springs it was immediately obvious this was going to be a stout climb. I did OK at first, but about half way up I could feel my legs starting to slow down. There were two stretches that hung between 9 and 11% grade for a good distance. I even serpentined a few times to have a little break from grinding up this thing. Kenny was on a fixed gear bike and I was doing 3-5 cranks to every one of his - I don't know how guys like him can push these big gears. Impressive. Needless to say, I was glad to see the end of this road. Here's Larry and Adam topping out:

Kenny, Larry and Adam went back down the Provo side with a planned stop at Sundance for some refreshments. I wanted to complete the loop so I went down the American Fork side with Elden.

The road was clear with some debris - a few sections covered in pine needles were a bit loose. A few miles down we met Rick who decided to go down with us. We flew pretty fast down - I hit 41 mph. Below the Tibble Fork turnoff we road together, and when the road got flatter we did the slingshot paceline to keep the speed high. I turned south at the mouth of the canyon and said goodbye to Elden and Rick.

I cranked up the hill there and felt my legs hurting and even some cramps coming on. I slowed down and rolled easy to the top then picked up the speed on the downhill side. I took the backstreet home and did OK, but I was pretty tired and in no mood for any kind of hard efforts.

6000' climbing, 54 miles, 4 hours of riding time. An incredibly enjoyable ride.

P.S. Our FatCyclist jerseys arrived today (after I'd left for my ride, of course). I'm in orange, my wife in Pink. She wore hers today for a short mountain bike ride.

Draper Pre-Ride

After work I met my lovely wife over at the Draper Equestrian Center for a pre-ride of the Draper race course (the race is on Monday). The Titus rep was on hand for demos. Ryan from Revolution set me up on a RacerX 29er and off we went.

Matt Ohran had just come in from the course and he reported that the top of the dirt road was a muddy mess, what with the rain and grading. So we decided to do a half lap by going up the Corner Canyon trail then jump on the BST to finish the 2nd half of the course.

The start includes crossing the Corner Canyon Creek that was running pretty high. I didn't think much of it until my front wheel dropped 10" in the middle of the flow. I was surprised and cranked the pedals hard hoping to power out of it. I made it but soaked both feet up to the ankles. I shouted to Jolene, "it's really deep", but she was still surprised at how deep it was. She made it, but got wet feet too.

The RacerX rode pretty nice. The 29er wheels roll over the rough stuff easy. It climbs good, but felt heavy. For a demo before a cross country race they should have set it up with lighter tires than those Kenda Nevegals at 830 g, but the bigger wheel also made it feel heavier. The bike handled well and even did OK on switchbacks. I had to steer it more actively, but it railed the corners. Overall a nice bike, but the rotational weight of the big wheels made it feel sluggish. Perhaps lighter tires would solve that issue. If I needed a new bike I would look hard at 29ers, but my Cannondale Prophet serves me pretty well right now and I just didn't see enough advantage to the 29er to switch.

The ride was nice. Jolene was annoyed that her legs didn't feel snappier at first, but they loosened up about half way out. I pushed the pace in part in prep for the race and also to put the RacerX through it's paces. I did the finish around the pond. The start and finish is a bit convoluted so I'm glad I rode it.

After the ride I talked with some UMB teamates and some folks from Revolution. It was nice to hang out with other mountain bikers.

I Dig Popping

I don't care what anyone says, I find popping (a type of street dancing often erroneously called break dancing) very entertaining. Check out this dude from So You Think You Can Dance (I hope you can stand the maniacal laugh of the female judge, shudder):

And here are two more contestants from last year:

But this early video of Elsewhere in 2001 really blew my mind:

And this similar but more refined performance in 2004:

He's done commercials, like this one for the Apple iPod:

And music videos:

There are competitions called battles where dancers face off 1 on 1 or teams, like this one:

I tried to learn a few moves way back when. I could do an OK wave through my arms, but that's about it. I can't imagine the time it would take to refine these moves to the point where they get this fluid. Cool stuff.

Clark's TT - Denied

I've been off the bike since the century Saturday. I was getting jittery, like a junkie going cold turkey. So even with the rain that poured down today I changed into my bike clothes at work and drove over to Corner Canyon to see if I could do a time trial (TT) on Clark's and better my time.

I started at the Coyote Hollow trail head for a change. It looked pretty wet, but I thought it worth a look. A bit soft going up to the Tee, I went west on the BST to warm up and did OK until one spot with clay soil that stuck to my tires. I went up to above the McMansions then came back down. Most of the mud flipped off. At the bridge I started my stop watch and hit it. But I didn't get 30 yards before I had 5 pounds of mud on my tires. No way would I get a fast time in these conditions, and I didn't want to mess up the trail, so I turned around.

I still had some free time so I went down and took the BST east across the dirt road. The grader has made it's way down this far and it was a dug up mess, but I made it across and continued on the BST to the first gully crossing. The stream was roaring pretty good. I turned around and headed back. I took a little detour up the Gas Line trail then back to the car. All of these trails have sandy soil that drains real well - no mud and only a few puddles.

I pushed the pace but felt sluggish. Hopefully just blowing the cobwebs out of my legs. I'm hoping for a break in the weather so I can ride tomorrow or Friday to pre-ride the Draper race course. I'd rather not ride hard on Saturday.

On another note: Commuting fun this morning was dodging a mangled ladder in my lane.

Update: Tonight I finished converting my mountain bike to tubeless. I had gone over to the UMB shop to help Mike with the front wheel for my wife's bike (the rear wheel is done, but we didn't get the front to seal). And while I was there we added rim tape to the front wheel of my bike. At home I took out the tube, installed a tubeless stem, and added 4 ounces of Stans sealant. I don't have a compressor, but thought I'd give the floor pump a try - it worked! It helps that the sidewalls of the Continental Vertical Pro tire flex out nicely so it sealed up pretty easy. Some shaking and more pumping and it was holding air. Hopefully it will hold air overnight, but I'm confident it's done.

My Hans And Franz

Recently I've found a trick for riding more aggressively. No surprise or secret - just a fast tempo, head-banger song from the ROAM film. The song for the North Shore segment gets Todd going, and it's a good rocker, but the song "Rookie" by Boy Sets Fire playing during the Whistler segment gets me way pumped up. Take a listen:

I'm generally anti-poddie because I like to be aware of all the sounds when I ride, but I'm tempted to borrow one of my kids MP3 players and put this song on loop for a ride. Don't worry, one earphone only - I don't want to be one of those oblivious dorks you yell at on the trail and they still don't hear you. For now just replaying this song in my head gets me pumped up and pushing the speed.

P.S. Congratulations to Rio's Rider who again did very well with the 2nd song intro game.

Salt Lake Century 2008

My 3rd Salt Lake Century in a row. It's become a tradition. The first one was with the guys from work (the now defunct Linux Networx) who got me into road biking.

This year Jason Schildt came down from Seattle, and several others from years past joined us this year. The party started on Friday as we met at the Gallivan Center downtown to pick up our packets then went out to eat at The Bayou. Many of these people I hadn't seen in quite a while, so it was fun to hear what everyone's been doing.

Saturday I got up at 5:30 AM and drove up to the Utah State Fair Park. I was there early so I took a little spin on the bike and met Jason Schildt and Jason Lowry parked on the street. When they were ready we went over to the start and met the others in our group.

Bruce, Jason Lowry, me, Jason Schildt, Anne, Robert, Kevin.

The ride started at 7:25 and this year the pack seemed to thin out more quickly than in the past, but you still had to be on your guard to avoid a crash.

I was feeling mellow and rolled easy (18 mph) with Bruce to the first rest stop while the others rode up ahead. It was just such a beautiful day. Clear blue skies, no wind, cool but not cold, and lots of green. It seemed a shame to waste a nice day like this with head down staring at the pavement so I was up looking around, soaking it in. I'm sure the long, cold Winter we had this year had something to do with my delight with the day.

I rode mellow to the 2nd rest stop too, but Jason requested we stick together from here on out - a good plan. We cranked along the Hooper loop at 20 mph rolling a good pace line.

The ride out to Antelope Island and back is the highlight of the ride for me. There is almost always wind, but this year it was dead calm and few bugs - amazing! As we rode across I tried my hand at taking some pictures while riding - most turned out.

I got a flat about half way across. I got it fixed pretty quickly with a new tube. A 3/4" length of thick steel wire had gone right through the tire. I met up with the group at the marina and off we went around the island. Here's the group at the top of the loop:

I keep hoping to see some buffalo out on the island, but this is as close I got:

Back at the 2nd rest stop we ate lunch. From all the fixins, the turkey sandwich I made hit the spot.

We rode together to rest stop #1, with the occasional sprint for climber points at the top of even the smallest hill. Jason Lowry asked me if I was just taking it easy on the ride, and I said I was. Then came an overpass and Jason Schildt took off the front and Jason Lowry took off after him so I joined the chase. Schildt was gone, but I was able to pass Lowry half way up. Later, with a quarter mile to rest stop #1, I sprinted away from the group - Schildt wanted to chase, but he was boxed in when I took off.

At rest stop #1 I was still feeling pretty good. I was wearing 2 pairs of bike shorts to see if it reduce the literal pain in the butt I feel after 80 miles, and it seemed to be working. I'll go double shorts for the Seattle To Portland (STP) ride in July.

And I couldn't help play on the mini skate park.

A few miles into the home stretch, Robert disappeared. Schildt was sure he was up ahead. We stuck together for a while, but with no Robert in sight we wanted to catch him before the finish so we kept cranking up the speed. The other riders dropped until it was Jason Schildt, Anne and myself cranking along at 23-25 mph. We passed group after group, but no Robert. I asked Jason if he was sure Robert was out front - were we chasing a ghost? He seemed pretty sure so we continued the pursuit. As we ended the long run south to turn east, we saw him. Jason signaled us to be quiet so we could fly past him in surprise. We took the inside line of the turn and flew past, Robert spotted us and yelled at us. The pack he was towing encouraged him to give chase. We pulled back and chatted with him as he caught us. But after a few blocks I said to Jason, let's finish this thing in style, and we sprinted away. Robert tried to give chase, but he had spent a lot of energy pulling the last several miles. Another guy tried to stay with us, but eventually dropped. We had one scare at a stop sign where we had to wait for traffic, but we sprinted off and rolled to the finish. I felt a bit bad robbing Robert of the finish after he'd worked so hard, but it was pretty thrilling for Jason, Anne and I to catch him. A good chase.

We ate some juice popsicles at the finish and waited for everyone in our group to roll in. Kevin got a flat which put him last coming in. Jason asked if I could do another 100 miles right now - I felt like I could so that's a good sign for STP.

As per tradition, we met at Squatters for lunch where we met up with Cameron, another LNXI guy. It was a good lunch with good conversation.

Few things are better than riding with friends. The Salt Lake century this year proved that to still be true.

Corner Canyon Mixer

Met Mark, Matt and Fox for the Corner Canyon tour.

Climbing up the dirt road we happened upon Elden (FatCyclist) who had just finished Jacob's Ladder which was where we were heading. He was game for another lap so he joined us - sporting the new FatCyclist jersey no less.

Mark, Matt, Elden, me. (Thanks for taking the pic, Sly!)

I wasn't anywhere near 100% recovered from the cold I had on Monday and Tuesday. My legs felt weak, but I motored along. I'm glad Mark was in go mellow recovery mode or I may have turned back. I took it easy on the access climb to Jacob's Ladder and did OK, but the legs were lacking any snap and I was breathing way harder than usual.

Elden had his geared SuperFly today but had it in a high gear and stood up and rowed it up the climbs. I asked if he was stuck in single-speed mode. He grinned.

At the top we let Fox lead out and make his first DH TT attempt on Jacob's. He was gone in a flash. I went next, but with Elden close behind I felt like I was holding him up so I waved him past and he tore down the trail rolling smooth. Being the 2nd time on Jacob's, I DH'ed better and liked it more this time. I rolled the rock knob this time (last time I panicked when I saw it and stopped).

At the bottom we regrouped and rode back up the road to ride down Clark's, but Elden headed down Hog Hollow for home.

We let Fox, the DH master, lead down Clark's. Mark was behind him and hung close for a while, then Fox lit the afterburner and was gone.

We regrouped at the bridge and rode the rest of the race course (BST then down Spring Hollow and back along Highland Drive). My legs felt better for the last half, but my lungs felt burned.

It was a good ride with good riders. The weather was sublime with 60 degrees, clear blue skies and sunshine and lots of green coming on.

Blue Vader

The after effects of the cold are lingering so no cycling today (but hopefully tomorrow!). So I present this:

Song Intros - Part 2

Since part 1 of the song intro compilation was fun, and since I'm sick with a cold (and hence not riding), it's time to roll out part 2. Here's the drill: I collected the intros of all the songs I like and put them together in sequence. Here is part 2 with artists S through Y at just over 4 minutes in a 5 meg MP3:

Song Intros part 2

So, who's up to the challenge this time? List the artist and title of each song in the comments.

(OK, the name of the artist of the first song technically doesn't start with the letter S, but the second word of the title does - close enough).

And as if there was any question, Rio's Rider essentially named all the songs of part 1 - good job!

Spring Road And Dirt Saturday

It's been weeks since I've been on my road bike so I joined the Utah Velo Club for a ride around West Mountain (south end of Utah Lake). I arrived early so I wouldn't miss the 8:30 sharp start. It was a sunny but cool morning. I wore arm warmers and two jerseys which was a little cool for the first 10 miles, but perfect after that. I joined the sprint for the 10 mile mark and tied with the lead guy. Others asked "What was that about?", to which I replied "Just boys being boys". The road around the north end of West Mountain is deteriorating and as I followed the paceline I got led right into a pothole that jolted my bike so hard it reset my cyclocomputer - I lost my odometer (I was over 5,000 miles) and the temperature was in Celsius. Without my mileage I misjudged the distance to the 20 mile mark sprint and ended up in the pack. The stretch heading into Genola is my favorite with smooth pavement and a slight downhill. But the group was only doing a mellow pace so I took off out front. I was solo for a while, but the pack caught me at the bottom of the hill. Just having fun on the bike. Most of the group was going on to Mona (72 miles), but I needed to be back home around noon so I split off with two other guys to circle back on the 47 mile route. We picked up two other riders a few miles later and had a nice 5 man paceline going and averaged 21 mph. One guy dropped and his buddy went back for him so we finished with 3. I went into the gas station to buy a recovery drink (chocolate milk) and talked with the rider who broke his handlebars. He was hopping a cattle guard and came down and the right side snapped off. Luckily he didn't crash by quickly grabbing the stem and braking with the left hand. Yet more validation of my warning that carbon handlebars and seat posts are a bad idea.

At home I puttered around cleaning up stuff around the house. My oldest daughter Jamie was out on her "pre-date" - a helicopter ride around the south end of the valley.

Jolene and I decided to go for a mountain bike ride. Nothing fancy, just the BST, but it was a nice day and a good ride marred only by a flat (not me, Jolene's bike this time - another dang goathead thorn). We did the climb up past (north) Dry Canyon then turned around. The valley below looked more green. On the way down I tried to work on my cornering. I leaned into some turns and for a few short moments felt the tires hook up and rail me through the turn. It was a thrill! I'll keep working on it. The new tubeless rear wheel and tire felt great. The tire is noisy on pavement, but it grips the dirt good and didn't feel heavy or slow.

When we got home Jolene helped Jamie do her hair and get ready for prom. She looked beautiful. Kevin came to pick her up, they exchanged corsage and boutonnière and off they went. Can I really be this old?

With 47 miles on the road and 10 miles on the dirt, I was tired and kept falling asleep if I sat down. Went to bed and slept like a rock - felt great.

Bonus: The above image was created from two shots taken by my digital camera and merged together with AutoStitch - the best free panorama software I have found.

Tubeless Is In Da House

... and on the bike. I knew I wanted to go tubeless - it's one of my goals for this year. And after flatting both tires yesterday with goathead thorns, I was motivated to get it done. (Mark's "encouragement" also helped.) So today at lunch I went down to the shop hoping Mike would have some time to help me finish the tubeless conversion of my FSA XC-300 rear wheel. We added a bit of rim tape near the valve hole, put in a valve stem and added some Stans sealant to the tire. We had to work the tire as the compressor shot air in, but eventually we got a seal and the tire inflated and the bead locked. At home the tire had deflated so I shook it to slosh the Stans around and pumped it back up, then mounted it on the bike (after I swapped the cassette over and added a disc brake rotor). Hopefully I'll get a chance to test it out tomorrow on some dirt.

Mike likes this Panaracer Fire UST so I'm giving it a try. It's a bit heavy at 730 g, but that's about the same weight as the Continental Gravity (675 g + tube) that I've been running. If I want to drop some weight in the future I'll try a non-UST tire.

The front wheel is next up for the conversion to tubeless.

Draper West Side: Sweet and Sour

Today was a good day for mountain biking: Sunny, 72 degrees, no wind, no dust (thanks to yesterday's rain). I met Mark at the Draper Pool and we cranked up Oak Hollow - I made a tight switchback I've never cleaned before and another one up higher. On the downhill out to the Flight Park I was flying - feeling solid on the bike.

Mark crossing the little bridge before we went through the culvert that goes under the Suncrest road.

But then came the first mar on an otherwise good ride. We decided to go watch some para/hang gliders take off so we made our way around a construction area and noticed that our tires were loaded with goathead thorns. I should have known better and that annoyed me. Mark picked out the thorns and then let the Stans do it's magic on his tubeless setup, while I changed the rear with a tube I bummed off of Mark (I was out of good tubes). I told Mark to go ahead and I'd catch up. I got it fixed but it didn't have enough air so I roamed the neighborhood to see if I could find a floor pump. I spotted a car with a LOTOJA sticker and bikes in the garage and sure enough they had a pump. (Yes, I'm aware that I've railed against LOTOJA and here I am using the sticker for my own gain - the hypocrisy is not lost on me.) I left the thorns in the front tire and it seemed to be holding.

I cranked up the trail and headed up the Maple Hollow trail and made it up a few hundred yards before I met Mark coming down. We headed down intent on going east on the BST, but by the water tank my front tire gave out. I said goodbye to Mark as I worked on it. I loaded it up with a tube that has a slow leak. I thought about just going back to the car and calling it quits, but it was such a nice day I went east on the BST too.

I always seem to forget how this section of trail works me over. It just has all these short steeps that chew me up. But it's still fun. I made it to the bridge at the bottom of Clark's and turned around and went back the way I came. I was starting to feel fatigued, but pressed on - albeit with less speed.

About a 1/4 mile from the car the front tire had gone low enough that I stopped and pumped in more air. I wanted to drop the switchback I had made going up, but I panicked and aborted.

I rolled back to my car as Mark was loading up his bike - he had taken the road back as it was getting late. Mark informed me that he did the Clark's time trial in just over 14 minutes. I was happy for his quick time, but not happy about my barely sub-16 minute time. My mind wondered how I could shave of 2 minutes. I knew the answer: go deeper into the pain cave. But it hurts! Crap, I'll have to do it some day - I should be able to get 14 something.

So, a marvelous day for riding marred by a few mechanicals and a few hits to my ego. That's life.

Corner Canyon Play Time

I can't seem to get enough of the Draper trails. Today I met Mark at the Equestrian Center to ride some Corner Canyon trails.

We rode up the Lower Corner Canyon trail then took the BST north/east out to Bear Creek. I really enjoy the flow and speed of this section of trail, and the view is pretty nice, especially on a nice Spring day like today. We even saw two snakes on the way up.

We then reversed course and rode up the road and down Ghost Falls. With some encouragement from Mark, I finally rode the narrow ladder bridge across the stream. We took the right fork and stopped on the bridge to admire the falls.

After Ghost Falls we took the Silica Pit trail up to Clark's. I wasn't feeling energetic, but Mark prodded me to time trial it to see if I could beat my previous time. I was going pretty good for a while, but just didn't have it today and dropped into the little ring to grind it out. Part way up the trail I saw Jim Wedge and we said a few words (sorry Jim, I should have stopped to talk since I was having a crappy TT anyway). I flailed my way to the top fully expecting to have a worse time, but to my surprise I was 10 seconds faster (15:50).

I rested at the top and it didn't take long for Mark to arrive. We headed down Clark's and Mark was railing the DH. But I was all over the trail and just couldn't get it together. I rode much better last time. Mark opened up a good gap and I finally started to roll better when I closed the gap rather quickly. Huh? Mark caught up to a gal riding fairly slow. Mark even asked if we could pass, but no response. Yep, another poddie. She had a music player going and couldn't hear us.

Hey all you folks who ride plugged in: since you can't hear, be sure to look around more to be aware of what's going on around (and especially behind) you!

Time was running out for Mark, so we zipped down the Lower Corner Canyon trail back to the cars (rolling the stairs, of course - it's tradition!). And who should I see? My beautiful wife all lycra'ed up and ready to roll with the girls (Tasha and Rhonda)! We chatted a bit then they rode off and I drove back home to the kids.

One serious note: Ever since reading about Susan's bad news, I've become more aware of how precious life and health are. As a result, the rides have been sweeter to me lately. Thank you, Susan and Elden, for reminding me of how much I have to be grateful.

For Susan

There's a grassroots movement to display / wear the pink FatCyclist WIN jersey as a show of support for Susan (she is battling with cancer). Count me in. Here's some info about the jersey.

The reports posted on May 1st and 2nd have been pretty grim. I've been deeply affected. Susan and Elden and their family have been on my mind a lot today, and in the prayers of our family.

Kenny has setup an account for those who wish to donate to Susan.

Birthday: Rest, Gadget, Crank, Sushi

It was my birthday today - on a Saturday, no less. I didn't have many set plans, but it worked out to be a nice day. I'll start with this photo of the tree in our front yard - I hope this means Spring is here.

After the good ride on Clark's trail (and others) yesterday I was looking forward to resting Saturday morning. Just slept in and relaxed. I helped (a little) Jolene get ready for the 5-Mile Pass race at 10 am. Then just hung out at home with the kids.

A few days ago I (finally!) received my government $40 coupons (more info) for purchasing a digital TV converter. I decided I'd buy one today and have fun playing with a new gadget. I did some research and found the Zenith DTT990 recommended as a good converter with decent features. I was tempted to buy the Digital Stream DTX9900 with it's longer program guide, but reports of it chopping off the bottom of the picture turned me off. I picked up a DTT990 at Radio Shack.

On the way home I stopped at MAS Computers to ask about home theater PCs (I'm going to build one soon) and general look over the computer gear and geek out (LCD monitor lust growing).

At home I hooked up the DTT990, and thanks to it's easy setup wizard, was watching the digital channels in minutes. The picture is noticeably better, essentially DVD quality. And there are more channels. KSL 5.3 is a nice local weather channel. KUED and KBYU, the local PBS stations, have 3 and 4 channels so I'm happy to have more of these programs available. qubo is on 16.2 so the kids are excited to have more cartons to watch. Nothing really exciting, but hard to complain about free (well, the converter box after coupon as $23).

After Jolene got back from the race I went for a ride. I haven't been on the road bike for a while, but the call of the dirt won out. I headed up into the foothills near my house with only one plan: to find and ride the Crank trail. I went up the service road and turned off on Betty. Last time I wussed out and stopped in the trench not far from the altar (pile of rocks), but this time I toughed it out and made it up without stopping. At the altar I turned left and kept going - making it all the way to the turnoff for Crank without stopping. I had a pretty good idea where the turnoff for Crank was, but I wasn't sure and kept looking left to make sure I didn't miss it. I spotted a trail and lots of tire track and figured it was Crank. I get a big kick out of riding new trails and this was no exception. It's a nice descent on some less than buff single-track (I like the rugged trails). There were several trails branching off, but I stayed general left. At a fork I went left hoping it would take me down through a few small meadows on a trail I had biked up a few times - it did and I enjoyed cruising down it and arriving back at the top of Betty. I'm looking forward to revisiting Crank and exploring some more of the branches.

Looking down Betty with the service road and cliff trail in the background.

I decided to go down Betty since I believe I've only come up it. Arriving back on the service road I spotted a trail going down and decided to take it. It brought me down to the race track so I took a lap. I could have bailed out and taken the Provo River parkway trail home, but I wanted some more riding so I went back up to the top of the race track and climbed up to the road via a different trail (to the east).

Looking down on the race track.

Then I took the road back to Betty and up to Reverse Frank. This section of trail flows so nice, I enjoy riding it. Back on the service road I decided to try a different way down. I'd spotted this thin trail off to the side on my way up. It was a nice downhill ride and dumped me out near the Cascade Golf Course. I took the city streets home, ending a really fun ramble of my backyard trails. Ride stats: 2 hours, 14.6 mile, 2,300' of climbing.

After I took a shower, we went out to dinner - Jolene, my two oldest daughters and myself. We went to Yapona in American Fork for sushi. We had 6 very tasty rolls - Vegas, Citris, Sundance (my favorite), New York, Spicy Tuna and California.

It turned out to be a nice birthday.