Squaw Peak Conditions

I live near the mouth of Provo Canyon, and on my way to run some errands I drove up to see how the Squaw Peak road looks for Kenny's ride tomorrow. It was around 20 F when I left the house 10:30 am. I was pleased to find:

The road dry up to the gate.

And past the gate it's covered with packed snow. The snow was solid enough that I couldn't break through it, even when I stomped on it. And I didn't see any ice - just grippy, hard snow.

And the lower parking lot is plowed.

I called Kenny to report the conditions and learned he rode his bike part way up last night. Kenny confirmed that the same conditions exist up as far as he rode. Conditions should be excellent for riding tomorrow. See you there.

I leave you with this:

It stands over 15 feet. Yes, those are 2x4 arms. The super-tall top hat is a nice touch.

My neighbor built it. He said he thought his back was going to go out lifting the 2nd ball on top of the bottom one. And it felt like he was going to have an aneurysm when he lifted the 3rd and 4th, even when he used a 2x4 ramp to roll the balls up higher before lifting. But it's a Dad thing: risk personal injury for your kids.

Jingle Bear Bells

I bought a bike accessory for Jolene and I as a stocking stuffer for Christmas - a bear bell.

TallSteve has one on his bike and told us about it. He rides solo a lot in American Fork Canyon where there have been a few bear incidents. And while a bike makes a fair amount of noise, a bell makes sure a bear knows you're coming so it can move away. A reasonable precaution.

But the bell is used more frequently to warn people. I can't count the number of times I've startled hikers as I've come up behind them on my bike. I try to make noise (cough, squeal the brakes, etc.) but they often don't hear me. Steve says hikers usually hear the bell and it doesn't startle them so the encounter is more pleasant.

I wish I would have had it for my bike ride yesterday as I came up behind 4 groups of people and none of them heard me coming. Their ears were covered and the crunching of walking on the snow was too loud. The bell is installed on my bike now.

This bell has some nice features:

  • The velcro strap attaches easily to handlebars.
  • The jingle bell makes a pleasant sound that is about the right loudness.
  • The mesh bag slips over the bell when not in use with a magnet at the bottom that attracts the clapper and stops it from ringing the bell.
This bear bell is made by Coghlan and I bought it for around $3 at C-A-L Ranch, but it's also available at REI and Campmor. Coghlan has another bear bell in colors that uses a strap for the magnet instead of a bag - seems like it should work for biking too.

Rolling Snow

My last ride was 16 days ago - seems like an eternity. And Mark's Arizona riding is agitating me to ride. It was a fairly nice day, so I went.

Hopped on the mountain bike, pedaled the mile on the streets to the gravel water tank road - went up and out to the end and back. The city plowed it not long ago so the riding was pretty good. Mostly snow-packed, with several spots of loose snow kept it interesting. I enjoyed the ride - it felt good to be on the bike.

It was 35 degrees when I left, 30 when I returned. The water in my CamelBak hose froze. Didn't need much water for a short (but sweet) 8 mile ride.

Looking over at Cascade Mountain.

Looking up at Timp.

A section of looser snow.

A winter wonderland.

A nice day, in a wintry way.

Around that corner I hit a patch of loose stuff coming the other way and slid out.

The luge run down.

Mark, see what you could be riding back home? Arizona's overrated.

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all enjoy the holidays.

The photo is from our Fish Lake vacation this year.

Our 2006 Christmas card was a picture puzzle - give it a try, if you like. The answers are hidden below. (Hold down the left mouse button as you move the cursor over the area below to highlight and see the hidden text.)

1. Kade is wielding a sword
2. Kara's shoes are blushing
3. Rachel's glasses are darkened
4. Jamie donned dangly earrings
5. Color changing eagle on the garbage can
6. There is a flag on the far right spire
7. Jolene is perched on the tall tower
8. "Krismas" spelling
9. Small window missing on the left tower
10. Dumbo soars in from the left
11. Kris emerges from the moat
12. Nosack symbol on the left banner
13. Mickey's golden ears grew!

Listening to the radio on my way to work this morning, NPR reminded me that 40 years ago today there was a live broadcast from Apollo 8 orbiting the moon that enthralled the nation. During this mission the famous Earth Rise photo was taken.

The poet Archibald McLeish wrote the following lines that were printed in the New York Times the next day (Christmas Day):

To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold—brothers who know now they are truly brothers.
Seems an appropriate Christmas message.

Tour de Christmas Lights

We tried to drive around and see Christmas lights yesterday, but too many city streets still had too much snow. The old van wouldn't make it up the hill to our prime objective. But we tried again today and made it to the Holdman Christmas light display.

This is no static light display - it's animated and set to music (tune your FM radio to 99.9 Mhz) and must be seen in action to appreciate, so check out the video below.

There are more videos - the techno Amazing Grace was pretty good.

The display is in southeast Lindon (northeast Orem) and will run through New Years Day. Read about hours, directions and etiquette.

After we watched the display for all 4 songs, we took a meandering route back home to see more lights. We went by Bruce Bastian's house (co-founder of Word Perfect) and stopped to gaze at his huge display. I know the guy who manages his properties and he said it takes weeks to put all those light up in the trees.

It's beginning to look (and feel) a lot like Christmas.

Swinging In The Snow

During the snow storm Monday the kids went out to play. For some reason they chose the swings. Looks fun.

Then Jamie and Kade built a snowman.

Rachel and Kara were in another neighborhood making a snow fort.

Even though the snow has made my drives to/from work more stressful, I have to admit the snow makes it feel more like Christmas. And it makes me happy to see the fun my kids had in the snow.

Just Another Blizzard

The storm today has been putting down the snow. The above picture was taken at 1:20 PM. It was snowing harder earlier today.

The wind packed 2 inches of heavy snow onto the dish for our wireless Internet, causing it to go out. I had to get up on the roof and remove the snow.

The drive home is sure to be a circus.

Here's a little video for Mark so he'll feel better about his riding in Arizona.

On the plus side I went out with Kade and Kara to do a little sledding Saturday. They were both on cheap vinyl tubes - the kind usually used as pool toys. These are usually faster than other sleds and tubes. The kids had loads of fun even though the hill is small. There was a small jump. I added some spicy by pushing them down the hill, then later I added a spin - they loved it.

Kasanova Kade

Our youngest, Kade, just turned 6. As far as we can tell he's a normal boy - rambunctious, likes guns and fake fighting, etc.

Occasionally he'll even do cute stuff with Grandma, like make Christmas cookies. (He kept ducking the camera, but my wife was finally able to convince him to allow a photo of him in action.)

But last week we learned that Kade has been kissing a girl at school. Out of the blue he tells Jolene, "Mom, sometimes when the other kids go out to recess I stay behind and kiss Hailey." Jolene asked him if she tries to run away and he said no. She was a bit flummoxed and didn't know what else to say. We're both a little surprised he'd volunteer this info. Perhaps this explains his rather cavalier expression as he sits by her at a recent performance at school:

He is so smitten that he risked embarrassment by getting help making her a Christmas card (he needed help spelling). Here's the addressed card on his backpack:

On the card he drew a picture of a Christmas tree and said "Merry Christmas. Do you want to be boyfriend and girlfriend?"

I'm torn. On one hand I'm proud that my son has skills with the ladies. On the other hand he's only 6 and perhaps getting ahead of himself.

I keep telling myself it's harmless, but I wonder if it's still not an opportunity to have a little talk to him. I'm not going into the birds and the bees, but just ask him why he's kissing. Good idea or just let it run it's innocent course?

Snow Bike

This is the snow bike I saw up at Brighton Wednesday. I saw the gal load it on the lift a few times and saw her riding it once - looked fun. Full suspension. Made by Geary (in Kaysville, Utah). Cost $900.

Brighton Ski Cheap

Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been hammered with Christmas stuff. I'll try to make up for it with a post about free music later today.

Do you ever do something you know you'll pay for later but you do it anyway? Maybe several times? Several times in one day? Keep this in mind.

I skew toward the frugal side. I like to ski. But with day passes all over $50 I don't ski at the resorts much. (I get my Winter kicks cross country skiing and snowshoeing and even some biking, if the weather allows.) So when Mark N. informed me I could ski at Brighton Wednesday for $15 with a donation to the Utah Food Bank, I was there.

I arrived at Brighton just before the 9 AM opening. The drive up the canyon saw the temperature drop from 20 to 0 F. It was cold, but clear and sunny and the snow was crunchy and pretty good for skiing with the storm the day before. I got my ticket and headed up the lift.

The first few runs were on freshly groomed corduroy. The trees were still flocked with several inches of snow (Alex has some pictures). After two runs I met up with Mark A., Mark N. and Timo and we took several runs and then got separated and it was just Mark N. and I.

We had fun hitting some fresh stuff, a lot of groomed runs, a few little jumps - just having fun.

The guys left at noon to get back to work but I had the whole day off and stayed. I don't mind skiing solo and with the resort packed from the $15 deal the Singles line got me back up the hill faster. Sometimes I'd chat with people on the lift, other times no. There was a gal on a ski bike riding down the runs.

So now I'll get back to the doing things you know you'll pay for. By about 1 PM my legs were feeling pretty worked by the time I'd get down to the lift. But I don't ski much, and it was a nice day, and it was a bargain, and I'm having fun ... OK, one more run. I did this over and over, with slight variations on the rationale, until 3:40 when I finally called it quits. I'm glad I went long, but I really thought I'd pay for it with extremely sore legs, but surprisingly I haven't felt too bad. I guess skiing uses a lot of the same muscles as cycling or I would be in serious hurt.

Getting out to ski did me a lot of good. I've been stressed with Christmas and other stuff and skiing let me forget about it. Now I'm ready to snowshoe and cross country ski.

Kade's 6th Birthday

Kade turned 6 today (Friday). He's the youngest of our four children and our only boy. He didn't make the transition from three to two wheels as early as I'd hoped, but he may still become a cyclist - at least he's OK with some of the fashion.

Two-fisted present unwrapping.

He got just what he wanted; a gun. It's the Hasbro Nerf N-Strike Firefly REV-8 (long enough name?). It's a fun toy. You load eight mini darts into the revolver-like cylinder, then pull back the cocking lever and pull the trigger to launch a dart. The cylinder rotates so the next dart is in position ready to fire (after cocking again).

But that's not all. The darts glow in the dark. And the gun flashes a light as the trigger is pulled so the dart is glowing bright as it leaves the gun. It looks cool in a dark room. The flying darts look like laser bolts in the Star Wars (and other SciFi) movies. (This review on YouTube shows the gun firing in the dark at time 6:15.)

Kade's been having a lot of fun playing with this Nerf gun. I've been shot many times. I've tried to interest him shooting non-human targets, but it doesn't last long.

Jolene made him a sweet Batman cake. Kade found it unattended and drove the Batmobile over the icing road leaving some nice ruts. Gotta love kids.

Kade also got a few other presents and a Hippity-Hop ball. Remember those? Of course you do, you probably have a scar to prove it. Every one I talk to who had one got some injury because of it.

Night Ride & Cookies

Night Ride

With Alex's forecast of the brightest full moon until next winter, I decided I needed to take advantage of these conditions with a night ride. Sure, my ghetto light system provides more than enough light, but having the moon light up the surroundings adds to the experience. I just needed to decide where to ride.

I told Rick I was considering the Draper or Orem trails and he indicated that the Orem trails were good to go (he rode them at lunch Wednesday) but that Draper was very snowy (thanks for the info, Rick!). I should have put together that the north-facing Draper trails would hold onto snow. So Orem it was.

When I arrived at home I got dressed and headed out. A short distance on the roads later I was climbing the water tank road above the Orem Cemetery. Unfortunately there was a layer of high clouds that blocked the moonlight most of the time, but the bright moon still added to the ambiance of the ride.

I went up Betty then took Roller Coaster part way down and took a minor trail back up the ridge to connect into Blackbird which I took up to Crank. Along the way I saw the leg bones of a deer in the middle of the trail. I swear it looked bloody and fresh. I kept riding but was now frequently scanning side-to-side and behind me. Becoming a meal for a cougar just doesn't sound like a nice way to go out.

I descended Crank. Even with it's north-facing it only had a skiff of snow and was fun to ride.

Back on Betty I took Roller Coaster and the minor trail again so I could go down Blackbird and connect with the bottom of Ireland to extend my ride a little more, and hit two nice little jumps.

I took the water tank road down, but couldn't quite call it a night so I did an out-and-back on the BST up to Dry Canyon. There were two "parked" cars there and I imagine I surprised them, but didn't pry to see if I interrupted anything.

I stayed pretty warm, but my left toes were the coldest. I lost my left toe warmer going down Crack Saturday.

It was a nice ride, but why do I feel worked over? This ride would have been a hardly-any-effort jaunt only a few months ago. Losing fitness is sad.


I'm impressed by the amazing culinary creations (mostly deserts, it seems) that Mark's wife creates. But my bride makes a few inventive creations that deserve credit. Check out this oddly shaped cookie:

Yes, that lump could be a lot of things, but what? Let's do a bite-cision and see if it helps us identify the mystery lump:

Any guesses? OK, OK, nobody likes a tease - it's a mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cup!

And believe me, wraped in a chocolate cookie the combination is incredibly tasty. Maybe I could auction or raffle some of these cookies off to raise money for cancer? Hmmm.

Eagle Mountain Bike Park

At lunch I drove out to Eagle Mountain (west of Lehi) to check out a bike park that's being built. OK, technically it's the Mountain Home Bike Park, but I think more people know where Eagle Mountain is. A lot of work has been done and it shows. This blog covers the progress and here's the location of the bike park courtesy of WAFTA (bottom map).

Jordan River Parkway Overpass

On the way out I stopped at the new underpass for the Jordan River Parkway (paved) trail and State Road 73 (Lehi's Main Street heading west) . It looks nice.

Before the underpass there was a simple crossing. With the heavy volume of traffic on SR-73 it was dangerous. Here's what it used to look like:

Those two white lines aren't much protection. I've crossed there a few times and it felt dicey every time.

Bike Park

As I drove out to the bike park I took a wrong turn. I called Mike at UMB and he set me straight (thanks, Mike!). I walked up to look it over.

The photo below shows the first 3 jumps of the jump run. There are 3 more jumps. As you can see, on the left is a big jump, the middle is moderate and the right is the easy line. The dirt for these jumps was moved in recently and it's still pretty soft. Some rain and shaping will make these smooth and sweet.

This photo show part of the pump track. I went back to my car and got my mountain bike and gave it a try. The bumps felt too close together and too tall - I couldn't get into a pumping rhythm. Maybe a shorter BMX bike would do better. Or maybe my full suspension was a problem. The bermed corners were nice.

There are also some skill ladders. Two humps, two banked curves and the thing in the background is straight with three drops. I half-rode the easy banked curve route and it was fun. Riding in my slip-on dress shoes on clipless pedals with only a little platform didn't lend itself to technical riding.

Up on the hillside I could see one stunt of the slope-style trail, but didn't go investigate.

The park is coming together nicely and should be a fun place to ride.

Taking On Cancer

Cancer isn't a fun topic, but I hope you'll hear me out.

Cancer has been hitting close to me lately. The president of the little company I work for has cancerous tumors in his brain (Glioma grade 4 - the worst). A guy in the next town who I see on the trail and ride with occasionally, his son has Leukemia and is going on his 2nd treatment. My father was treated for Prostate cancer a few years ago. And Susan Nelson, the wife of Fat Cyclist blogger Elden, is having a terrible fight with metastatic breast cancer.

Elden has been very open about Susan's battle and I've been moved several times by the awful reality of this disease and what it takes from people (and their family and friends). So when Elden announced his plan to raise the most money ever for the LIVESTRONG Challenge, dedicated to Susan, I signed up. I don't like asking others for money, but this is a good cause I believe in so I'm going to do it.

It should be pretty obvious why I care about fighting cancer. It's a nasty disease. It causes 25% of deaths in the U.S. and other developed countries. It can strike at any age. We should do something about it - and lots of people are - and now I am.

And I'm optimistic. I really believe better therapies for cancer are near. In fact, I fully expect most cancers to have cures in my life time. Medical science is advancing at an amazing rate. The human genome has been mapped and scientists are discovering it's secrets - some of which may lead to cancer cures. But it won't happen without effort. And that's another reason I'm in this fight - I believe it can be won.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation was started after Lance survived his battle with cancer (and went on to win the Tour de France 7 times). The fight is personal with Lance and you can see that intensity in everything the Foundation does. They support people with cancer, promote prevention and fund research. I've heard several personal accounts from people who tell how the Lance Armstrong Foundation helped them in important and meaningful ways. I am confident that the money I donate and raise will be used well.

There are two ways you can get involved: Raise funds for the Fat Cyclist Team, or donate to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

If you want to join the team, just select the LIVESTRONG Challenge event you'd like to attend: Austin, San Jose, Seattle, or Philadelphia. If you don't plan to attend, you can join as a virtual team member. You could even win some great prizes that were donated to Elden.

If you'd just like to donate money to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, CLICK HERE.

The cause is good, the war can be won, and you'll be helping people. That's something I can support, and I am.

First Cyclocross

The Cyclocross Race

I've been hearing people rave about cyclocross so I gave it a try today. The race was at Draper and the course is a good one for mountain bikes (I don't have a cyclocross bike). And with dry ground and sunshine it was a nice day for it (although cyclocrossers are known for their love of bad weather).

I arrived before 9 AM and took a lap around the course. I was familiar with most of it from the ICup race held there this Spring. At 9:20 I joined the other C flight (beginner) racers at the bottom of the hill for the start. I chatted up some fellow riders including fellow UMB rider Jason, Rob Sunderlage (Rick's brother, but probably not his real name either) and Josh. We received some final instructions and off we went.

I started slow, like usual. The folks on cyclocross bikes had the advantage going up this 0.3 mile paved slope so I just settled into a decent pace back with the back of the pack. On the dirt I pushed the speed since the wide, knobby tires and full suspension gave me an advantage. Unfortunately I couldn't capitalize on it much because all of the rough parts were single-track and usually downhill so I couldn't pass. I wised up and pushed to pass as many riders as I could before the rough stuff so I wouldn't be stuck behind them, but often this wasn't possible.

There was one steep-ish slope that I could take in middle ring and one run-up that wasn't too bad. I practiced dismounting, running up and remounting and it seemed pretty easy. I just followed the technique Andy told me he learned from the cross clinic. As I approached the barrier I clipped out and swung my right foot back over the rear wheel then brought it forward on the left side and clipped out the left foot to start running. Works slick. But I don't run much and that run-up worked me over. I was panting at the top every lap.

I was also stoked to see Mark and his son Alder at the top of the pavement climb and the run-up cheering me (and others) on. It may not have looked like it, but I gave a little more when Mark urged me on. Thanks for the support, man!

Working from the back of the pack I passed a fair number of other racers, and was only passed by a few. I didn't crash. I went through the weeds once to pass a gal who stalled on a steep little up. On the 2nd-to-last lap I passed Josh, which drew some words of (mock?) annoyance from him. On the last lap I had the dirt downhill to myself and was finally able to fly it MTB style. The last climb up the paved slope got my thighs burning and I passed a few racers but I didn't have much to give (my body thinks it's the off season). Jason says I finished 24th, which puts me mid pack - sounds OK to me.

Overall I liked it more than I thought I would. I expected the dismount, run-up and remount stuff to be lame, but it actually added some fun spice to the race. There was a good vibe as most racers just wanted to have a good time and weren't getting so serious as to be obnoxious. But mostly it just felt like mountain bike race - you go as hard as you can until the finish. And while I hanker for a race now and then, it doesn't turn me on like it does for others. I had a good time, but I didn't catch the bug. There's one last race in January - I may do it if the weather is good.

Crack Cocaine

Before the race I talked to Rob about wanting to hit the Crack Cocaine downhill trail. Rob shuttled me up after the race (big thanks, Rob!). Three DH guys headed down it just before me and I followed.

(Photo stolen from dug. That's Brad and Kenny in the hole.)

The first part is a bunch of switchbacks, then it crosses a dirt road and goes down an old, rocky double-track. The first stunt is a short ladder but I didn't have enough speed to drop the end so I bailed. Then I noticed the safety ramp at the end - I could have just blooped off the end. At "the hole" there was a new trail to the left that we checked out, but it's a section of the uphill trail that's still being built so we went back. I was a bit psyched out by the first little drop in the hole, but it went easier than expected. The rest of the trail had sweet, high-bermed corners, a variety of stunts and dips through gullies. I nearly ate it on one sharp corner that plunges downhill (after the sidecut we worked on in the Summer), but somehow rolled it out. It ends with some fast, cruising trail down to the road.

After Crack I went 30 yards or so down the road and dropped into the gully with the Maple Hollow trail. And who should I run into? Brad Keyes. He was heading for Clark's to meet up with the core team for a run down Crack. Not surprisingly, I couldn't keep up with Brad (only because I was blown from the race, yes, that's the only reason), but he waited for me to catch up to make sure I wasn't eaten by the Suncrest Chupacabra. After the last climb by Castle McMansion I was just able to stay with Brad. He's such a smooth rider and I tried to follow his line and learn from his riding. At the bridge we parted ways. I rolled down Corner Canyon back to my car.

Back to Cyclocross

I spotted Fox and watched him hand out some cash to the juniors. $5 and $1 bills mean a bit more to the young ones. Props to the #1 Utah cyclocross fan.

Starting 'em young.


Today I was eating lunch at my desk reading blogs when I followed a link from Mark A.'s blog to a post on his wife's blog about chocolate. As she described various chocolates and their tastes I developed a profound craving. So after finishing my sandwich I drove over to super Harmons to get a fix. I didn't find any Guittard chocolate so I settled for some Ghirardelli.

As I basked in the splendor of super Harmons I was drawn to the cheese. This is not your ordinary cheese selection (that's in the back), this is the fancy stuff and it's up front in a big display with cheese on all four side and cheese dealers in the middle. I wandered around looking at the wide variety (there was one cheese wheel the size of a small car tire). The friendly cheese purveyor asked if I'd like to try some so I sampled some Stilton and Roquefort (recommended by my boss). I'm not a big fan of blue cheese, and while these had the characteristic bite, they also had a much deeper flavor. I also sampled some Beehive Cheese (habenero flavored Promontory) - it was very good.

Next I tried a taste of Wensleydale. Does that name ring a bell? Yep, it's the cheese mentioned in two of the Wallace and Gromit movies. I thought the kids would get a kick out of it, and it is good cheese, so I bought some.

After dinner I opened it up. The kids were intrigued by the traditional red wax coating. Everyone liked it (more or less) and we polished off half.

Nothing big, just a fun little something different thanks to super Harmons. But I do have the urge to start wearing ascots.

Movies And A Ride

We rented two Miyazaki movies from the Orem Library. (Hard to beat $1 each for a week and they have a pretty good selection.)

My Neighbor Totoro - Miyazaki films always portray a sense of child-like imagination, and this film focuses on seeing the world through a child's eyes. As such there isn't much story and it wanders - just like a child's short attention span and sense of adventure and wonder about the world around them. Good art, but not as astounding as Spirited Away or Howl's Moving Castle (below). I enjoyed it, but the children in the movie were a bit much for me. Dakota Fanning does a good job voicing the lead character, but after a while the frequent outbursts of the two girls got on my nerves (but that's how kids are). My kids enjoyed the movie and laughed a lot. Once was enough for me, but a very good movie for kids.

Howl's Moving Castle - Wow! The art in this movie is stunning. Maybe even better than Spirited Away. It was fascinating to watch. I'm astounded to think how long it must take to hand draw animation of this quality to fill an entire movie. The story is odd, but that's Miyazaki and I like his out-there ideas. The story seems to ramble, but it all ties together and makes more sense as it goes on. There's even a point or message in the movie. I appreciate Miyazaki's creativity and imagination. Sure Miyazaki's films are kinda weird, but I get tired of the same old Hollywood retreaded ideas and these films are like a breathe of fresh air.

I went for a road ride with Mark today. He was working from home so we met up and rode around Herriman. As I layered up I questioned the sense of riding in the winter, but once I got on the bike I was happy to be riding. It was windy, but warm (for December). On the way back we got a few rain drops and it turned colder. I haven't been on the road bike in over a month and it felt good to cruise the black top. We chatted some as we went. A good 28 miles of rolling road.