Provo Canyon Ski

I wanted to ski across (frozen) Utah Lake, but thought better of it and decided to do a little nordic touring up Provo Canyon.

From Timpanogos Park I started up the road heading for Roller Road. The lower road had been plowed and was mostly dry with patches of packed snow and ice, so I walked.

I took a snow-covered road up a gully and then up the trail that leads to the race course to reach Roller Road.

When I reached the Roller Road I was pleased to see it had not been plowed and was covered with 6" of snow. I clicked into the bindings and skied away. I noticed that a four-wheeler ATV had been up the road and I could see a set of mountain bike tracks (the intrepid Holleys?).

It's called Roller Road for good reason - it rolls up and down 2-3 times before climbing up to the top of the Dragon's Back trail.

I'm glad I was breathing the fresher air in the canyon instead of that gunk down in the valley.

The steep climb up to Dragon's Back.

At the top I headed down the Dragon's Back trail. I haven't skied it before, but I know from mountain biking it there were a few steep spots, and cross country skis are squirrely going down hill. Fortunately there were open areas and enough snow cover near the steeps that I could traverse back and forth to get down. I ran out one or two smaller downhills.

My attempt at an art shot. The wind sculpted snow.

Near the end of the Dragon's Back it opened up and I decided to run the remaining slope. I picked up more speed than I anticipated and wasn't slowing much on the flat as I headed for a snow drift. The snow had been mostly crusty but the drift looked like it might be powder. As I neared I guessed powder and leaned back, expecting my skis to punch into the drift and send me plowing into it.

I guessed wrong. It was rock hard and I launched up the nearly 45 degree slope and hung a moon (as my brother always called it). I rotated backward as my skis went out from under me and I landed on my butt. It caught me by surprised and happened so fast all I could do was sit and laugh.

I was about to head down the trail when I took a look around and decided to stay and play for a while. I was in Johnson's Hole, a small valley on the north side of Provo Canyon above Canyon Glen Park. It's very open with mostly grass and weeds and a few clumps of scrub oak - perfect for cross country skiing.

I headed down into the hole and was treated to a fairly high speed run (by cross country ski standards - the last half is in the video below). At the bottom I kick-glided to the northern end. Out in the middle I made a video of me skiing away from and then back toward the camera (also in the video below).

I've always liked that near-swirl in the rock layers.

As I skied back up the west side hill I noticed this early valentine to Tarah.

Back at the lip of Johnson's Hole I started down the trail. I skied a little ways, but it gets steep so I took off the skis and walked down.

At the pipeline road I put the skis back on and enjoy some long kick-gliding, aided by the wind at my back.

Unfortunately for me the road was plowed for the last couple hundred yards. I picked my way along the snow on the shoulder. Eventually there just wasn't enough snow so I walked the rest of the way back down to the car at Timpanogos Park.

With the walking and poor snow at the start I wondered if this venture would be a dud. Fortunately conditions improved and I had a fantastic time.

I plan to hit Johnson's Hole for more skiing. It's a fairly short hike up from Canyon Glen Park and a nice place to ski.

Crazy Stunt Or Fun Adventure ?

Last Winter I wanted to cross frozen Utah Lake after reading about Davy Crockett running across it once, twice (50 miles!), three times. Recently I read he did it again just a week ago (video) and it got me excited to do it myself.

Mark thinks I'm nuts, and my wife isn't thrilled either, but it sounds like an interesting adventure to me.

(photo Davy Crockett)

My plan is to cross country ski, which should be very safe since it spreads my weight over a larger area of the ice. And the ice seems thick enough right now. I'd like to ski from just south of the Lindon boat harbor across to Pelican point and back. That's 11 miles (5.5 miles each way).

I've also considered riding my mountain bike across. A bike would be faster than skis if the ice surface is good (not too much snow and not bald ice - unless you have studded tires). But it seems prudent to try the skis first and see what it's like.

I am taking some safety precautions. I'll wear an ice self-rescue device. It's simply two screwdrivers with a cord connecting them to be worn under the coat - a screwdriver in each sleeve. If you fall through the ice you pull the screwdrivers out of each sleeve, drive them into the ice and pull yourself out and along the ice. And I'll have a rope.

If Davy can RUN on the ice, I should be fine on skis.

So, am I normal or abi-normal for wanting to do this? Anyone want to join me Saturday morning?

Update: No one wanted to join me, and I was too nervous to ski across the lake solo, and people wanred me not to do it, AND my wife would have worried about me - so I did something else this morning. I'll blog about it soon.

Squaw Peak Evening Ski

LEGSHAVE Challenge

The donations have slowed down. Perhaps some people feel the goal of $750 is too high, so today I lowered it to $667 (2/3 of $1,000 instead of 3/4). That's only $250, or 25 people donating $10. I will probably never offer to shave my legs again so seize this opportunity. And you're supporting the fight against cancer. Double good. Offer ends Saturday so donate now.

Squaw Peak Road Ski

Today after work there was still daylight so I decided to cross country ski up the Squaw Peak road in Provo Canyon. I stopped off at home to change then headed for the hills.

This time I could make it up to the gate because the road was clear.

Yeah, last weekend I skied up Squaw Peak road. I had to start from the highway (my car couldn't make it up the snow-covered road). The snow was pretty deep and I was breaking trail, but at least there was hard-pack underneath. I only had enough time to make it to the Uinta National Forest sign. It was snowing pretty hard. Here's a video:

(The soundtrack [with the ironic song title] is for Brad, dug and various commenters - enjoy!)

OK, back to today.

Snowmobiles had packed down the track and there were a few inches of new snow, but I could go a lot faster than last time.

The trees and bushes are still flocked with snow.

This poor Juniper is carrying a heavy load.

At one of the middle switchbacks the sun was setting fast.

I made it to the overlook in 1 hour 10 minutes (was I faster on the skis or on the bike?). I set a decent pace on the way up and had no trouble staying warm. I even broke a sweat.

A nice winter sunset and city lights below me.

Self shot

After taking in the view I added a layer, put the headlamp on and headed down.

I assumed the top would be fast, but it was about the right speed. When the grade mellowed I had to pole or kick to keep moving. I was hoping for more coasting - maybe in different snow conditions.

A bit spooky solo in the dark. I'd whip my head around at any noise. Thoughts of becoming cougar chow haunted my mind. I was always looking side to side and turning around to see if a mountain lion was stalking me. (Thanks Alex.)

The storm had settled in Provo Canyon and it was a pitch black maw up the canyon. It looked very dramatic. I thought about trying a photo, but there was not enough light.

I made it down in 30 minutes. Loaded the gear in the car and drove 10 minutes to home.

It felt good to get out and stretch the legs. The air was clean and crisp, but not too cold. The snow added to the experience. A good evening out on the skis.

LEGSHAVE Challenge - Day 7

The first few days of the LEGSHAVE Challenge saw some good donations (thanks Mark A., Bob and JE). Enough to reach 54% of the goal. Thanks guys, it's good to know you care enough that you you want to force me to do something I don't want to do. (Probably not the best compliment ever written.)

But the last several days there haven't been any donations. I looked back at the leg shaving discussion and I noticed a few people who haven't donated yet. Come on people, put your money where your mouth is.

But perhaps you need a better visualization of what your donations will accomplish. Fortunately I found some image processing software that will predict what my legs will look like shaved, and this is what it came up with:



Pretty nice, huh?

OK, so I didn't use any fancy image manipulation software and that's not my leg. I just found a picture of some pro cyclist (I think he's famous or something) and used his leg.

(I hope Lance doesn't mind me using his image (and leg) to help me raise money for his foundation.)

Don't you want me to experience the wind, not through my hairy legs, but over smoothly shaved legs? The challenge ends Saturday so donate now.

Is there anything about this challenge that's preventing you from donating? Anything I can do to persuade / induce / coerce you to donate? Let me know in the comments.

The LEGSHAVE Challenge

I need to raise more money for the LIVESTRONG Challenge as a member of Team Fat Cyclist (read more about my reasons). But I'm not comfortable just asking for money - I like to offer something in return, but what? Then it hit me.

The KanyonKris LEGSHAVE Challenge.

Some of you may remember back in January 2008 I denounced leg shaving as silly vanity and I proclaimed there was a 99.99% I would never shave my legs. I held out a .01% chance that I would make a stupid bet and lose. For the sake of fighting cancer, I'm making that stupid bet right now.

If I reach my current goal of $750 $667 by the end of this month Valentine's Day (February 14th), I will shave my legs.

Here are the details: I will shave my legs within 2 days of reaching $667. I will take lots of pictures of the shaving and post them here. I will keep my legs shaved (at least every 2 weeks), and have them freshly shaved for the first Intermountain Cup mountain bike race (The Desert Rampage, March 7) and the first road race (Hell of the North, April 4).

(Ready to donate? If not, read on.)

I'll be honest, I don't want to shave my legs. As much as I want to raise money to fight cancer, I don't want a razor touching my legs, or feeling the loss of manliness, or eating crow after I made such a big deal about how stupid leg shaving is, or dealing with stubble / nicks / cuts / razor burn. But you can make me do something I don't want to do. I'm hovering over the dunk tank and you have the baseballs. And here's what's being wagered - manly, hairy, as God/nature intended, legs:

(See the two purple spots by my knee and the scrap by my ankle? That's the road rash from the DMV crit crash back in September that WILL NOT GO AWAY!)

Maybe you think I've set the bar too high, but note that only $400 is needed to reach the goal (thanks to previous donations from Alex and Gayle). You're essentially half way there!

I checked my stats and around 70 people drop by this blog each day. If 40 of you donate $10, or 20 of you donate $20, the goal is reached and I'm forced to reach for the razor.

See? The goal is not far and it can be reached pretty easily.

Wait, no it can't and you'll fail and I'll be able maintain my haughty "moral high ground" and continue to mock leg shaving.

Leg shaving is for sissies and closet meterosexuals! I'm taunting you now. Come on, take me down!

Many of you have praised the benefits and wonders of shaved legs - now's your chance to make me experience it.

(Are there any other psychological motivators I can employ here? I'm out.)

The fate of 10,000 leg hairs are in your hands. Donate now.

I Bought A 29er Hardtail

Saturday I bought a bike - well, most of a bike.

It's a 2005 Gary Fisher X-Caliber with a 2003 Bomber shock, Hayes Hydro brakes, Race Face crank and LX/Deore drivetrain. A modest bike but I'm excited to put some miles on this 29er hardtail and see how I like it.

I could have bought the wheels with it, but I want some wheels made for tubeless. I'm considering:

  • Buy a Bontrager Rhythm Comp TLR 29 wheelset - made for tubeless, most riders like them, not super light but light and tough enough for all-mountain riding, reasonable price.
  • Buy a Mavic C29ssmax wheelset - good wheels, pricey (so pricey I'd have to find them used and even then probably too expensive).
  • Buy a used 29er wheelset, preferably tubeless specific.
  • Build a wheelset with Stans rims and Hope Pro II hubs (or Shimano XT to save $) [I have some issues with Stans rims, but that's for another post].
Any other options I'm missing? Anyone have some 29er wheels they want to sell? I'm pretty adamant I want wheels that work good tubeless, but I will consider all options.

I need to get some wheels for this bike soonish or I may succumb to temptation and steal the wheels from my wife's 29er so I can ride this bike. And that would get me in trouble.

And what tires? Kenda Karma or Small Block 8, Continental Mountain King, Maxxis Crossmark or Ignitor, WTB ExiWolf or NanoRaptor? It's good there are so many 29er tires to choose from now, but makes deciding harder.

I'm also interested in upgrading the crank (the Race Face is burly and heavy) and drivetrain (SRAM X9 or X0 would be nice), but that can wait.

Kasanova Kade - Part Two

Do you remember this character?

It's Kade, our youngest child and only boy. He's 6 and in Kindergarten.

Back in December I blogged about him staying behind during recess to kiss a girl.

As if that didn't bring a little shock to his parents, this week Jolene was treated to this out-of-the-blue conversation:

Kade: "Mom, do you know what tongue kissing is?"

Mom: "Yes -"

Kade: "It's when you kiss and your tongues touch."

Mom: "You shouldn't do that."

Kade: "Is it against the law?"

Mom: "Yes it is."

I thought Jolene handled that pretty well, but she was obviously a bit flummoxed. Kade wandered off, his short attention span shifting to something else.

It was like a soldier pulling the pin from a grenade and dropping it, then forgetting about it and walking off - leaving his platoon to deal with it.

I was in the next room and only caught the tail end of the exchange, but our oldest daughter Jamie caught the whole thing and we were trying desperately to muffle our laughter.

But this topic was odd enough it made me wonder: Is it a harmless phase, or some early signs of a future womanizer? Will he become like The Continental, Fred Garvin, Deuce Bigalow, David Duchovny (or most celebrities)?

Why do I get the feeling we're going to have our hands full with this one.

2009 Will Be The Summer Of Skills

All but newbie cyclists know that the bicycle is the key to performance. Why else would we spend so much money on bikes?

With this in mind, I announce that 2009 will be my year of mad mountain biking technical skills.

I've always liked technical challenges, but I was never particular good at them. Above average, at best. But I've made a change to my bike that will elevate me off this plateau and have me shredding the stunts in 2009.

Here's how my bike used to be setup:

Now it's setup like this:

You see the change, right? No, it's not the flipped shock.

(Yes, I did flip the shock because I realized I'd installed it upside down back in October 2007. I discovered this mistake when another Prophet rider had his bike next to mine a few months ago. It ran fine upside down and I'm pretty sure the shock will operate in any orientation, but I figured it's better to run it the way Cannondale intended.)

What, you still don't see the change that's going to transform my riding? I promise this isn't as hard as dug's game of One of These Toilets Doesn't Belong. OK, let me zoom in:

That's right, I moved the shock mounting point from XC to FR. (That's Cross[X] Country to FreeRide, for the bike-tech ignorant.) I'm sacrificing a little speed for downhill dominion. Everybody knows that once you go under the magic 68 degree headtube angle your bike cannot be stopped by any obstacle; be it rock, ledge, log or junk car. I can't wait to discover this new world of riding!

The Real Story

A few Prophet riders recommended I try the FR setting. They said it makes the bike handle better without giving up much. It did lower the bottom bracket about 3/4", but it already has ample clearance so I don't think this will be a problem. I'll be interested to see if the bike feels different with this minor change.

Swinging Shower Head

While taking the picture for the caulk post, it reminded me of a useful shower accessory I installed a few years ago. The shower head swing arm.

It may not look like much, but it made the showers more functional. It installs between the shower head and the pipe sticking out of the wall. The arm enables the shower head to be 9 inches higher or lower.

You can probably already see how this would be useful, but let me list the ways:

  • Kids and short people - I initially installed the swing arm for our kids so they could reach the shower head and it works great. It also means we can transition them from bath to shower younger (when they are shorter), or at least with less hassle.
  • Tall people - I'm only a little over average height (6' 1") but most shower heads are too low for me so I have to duck under them. The swing arm lets me raise the shower head to a comfortable height.
  • Rinsing - The swing arm increases the range of motion of the shower head so you can use it to spray water on the walls of the shower to rinse off soap, shampoo, etc. It also helps for rinsing off your body.
I looked at other devices to give me adjustable height for the shower head. I've used a shower with a sprayer handle attached to a hose. The handle could be placed in a holder to act like a shower head, or removed for rinsing, etc. But the kids mostly needed a lower shower head and I wasn't excited about mounting 2 or more holders at different heights.

A variation of the sprayer adds a vertical rod the spray handle attaches to that, allowing it to be moved up or down. But it didn't look easy to clean and I didn't trust that it would hold up over time.

The swing arm is simple, cleans easy (and doesn't need to be cleaned often because it's out of the water spray) and works. The joint is secured by a thumb screw that loosens as it's moved, but it's easy to tighten and hasn't been a bother for us. It drips a little, but this is a shower so who cares about dripping water?

I bought the swing arm at my local Home Depot, but I'm sure you can get them at most hardware or plumbing supply stores. Google shopping turned up many on-line stores. They are available in a variety of finishes.

In closing I must say: showers are wonderful. Yes, wonderful. I wonder how I'd get along without them. The shower is my only morning stimulant - every day it gets me going. And in Winter a hot shower is a little slice of nirvana. I hear that people in Europe only bath/shower once or twice a week - I couldn't handle that, I'm a daily addict.

2008 Road Cycling & Miscellaneous Goals Review

Last week I reviewed my 2008 Mountain Biking goals, now it's time to finish by reviewing the Road Biking and miscellaneous goals.

Road Cycling

  • STP - My first (and possibly last) 200 mile ride. Seattle To Portland is a good route and I enjoyed the scenery and riding with friends (some I hadn't seen for a while). But the final 100 miles felt like the final 10-15 miles of a century repeated over and over and over. I wasn't hurting badly and it was a cool sensation to just keep riding, but the last 30 miles I was just sick of it and desperately wanted it to be over since it just wasn't much fun anymore.
  • Centuries - I only did the Salt Lake Century this year. I had planned to do the Cache Valley and Heber centuries, but they lost out to mountain biking or other road biking pursuits.
  • Group Rides - I attended a few Utah Velo Club group rides, but not as many as I thought I would. And no BCC (Bonneville Cycling Club, formerly BBTC - Bonneville Bicycle & Tandem Club).
  • Road Race - I did the Hell of the North (wasn't the best experience) and the Sanpete Classic (good experience). I also did a time trial and two crits (probably my last).
Of course I couldn't predict all of the notable things that would happen in 2008. Here are some of my favorites:

2008 Highlights
There's more, but I've already spent over 1.5 hours on this and I have to draw the line somewhere. Overall a pretty good summary.

Sometime soon I'll craft my goals for 2009. Not sure I'll call it goals - sounds so do or die. Perhaps plans or stuff I'd like to do.

Good Caulk Bead Tool

I've done several caulk jobs over the years and it's always been a frustrating experience to get a good bead. I've tried various tools, some worked better than others, but none of them did the job right. Usually I resort to dispensing the best bead I can then finishing it with a wet finger. It works, but it's messy and doesn't usually work right the first time.

The Chalk Finisher, and to its right, the DAP Cap don't work. The Hyde Caulk-Away tool (red handle with white tip) works.

I determined to recaulk the upstairs bathtub and surround over the holidays. The caulk was dingy and a few places had mildew.

A while back I saw an infomercial advertising a set of PRO Caulk flexible caulk bead tools:

The squeegee idea made sense to me and I was ready to order them ( even at $20 + shipping and handling) when I decided to see what Home Depot had to offer (since I had to get a tube of caulk anyway) - I found this Caulk-Away finishing tool from Hyde:

The white part of the tool is a rubbery insert about 1/8" thick. I reasoned that it should do the job so I bought it for under $10 in a combo pack with this Caulk-Away removal tool:

The remover worked OK on the caulk that was still soft, but not so well on the dried-hard stuff which I removed with a razor blade scraper.

After cleaning the joint areas I applied a bead of high quality mildew-resistant silicone caulk.

I used the Hyde tool as instructed and it worked very well. The instructions noted that angling the tools makes a smaller bead, and it did, to a point. There's only so much variation possible with the fixed radius of this tool. Perhaps the PRO Caulk tools with their variety of round and straight sizes would do better in this regard, but I'm not that picky about the bead size so I'm pleased with the beads the Hyde tool produced (and it was a lot cheaper and I didn't have to wait for it to be shipped).

Caulk bead finished with the Hyde tool.

It's a small victory, but I'm happy I finally found a tool that creates good caulk beads. It still takes a bit of skill and practice, but it's much easier and quicker than any other tools I've tried. And the price is right.

Tangent: I pronounce caulk as "callk". I know it's supposed to be "cock", but there are already multiple meanings for "cock" (some of which are vulgar) so why not un-silent the "L" to make it sound distinct so people know for sure what you're talking about?

2008 Mountain Biking Goals Review

At the beginning of 2008 I set out a few cycling goals - stuff I wanted to do. The list has been on the right sidebar all year. Overall I'm happy with 2008. I tried several new things and generally had a lot of enjoyable time in the saddle. Let's review:

Mountain Biking

  • Fruita - We finally made it, thanks to Andy and Rhonda as our guides. It was good, even though my expectations after all these years were high. I'm sure I'll go back.
  • Mark to Moab - I couldn't get Mark to Moab this year, but he's talking about going this Spring. This WILL happen this year.
  • Tubeless - I converted my bike and my wife's to tubeless this year. The conversion hit a few snags and I needed to add sealant more often than I expected, but overall it was a good move. I like the ability to run low air pressure without worrying about pinch flats. The improved feel and traction are welcome. The sealant has prevented all flats.
  • Wheel Building - I planned to build a pair of wheels, but only finished the rear. Kind of a good thing because now I know I want a rim that works good tubeless. I'm going to build a front wheel this year with a Stan's ZTR rim. The rear wheel I built works good, but I swapped it out for a lighter wheel I bought from Mr. Goate.
  • Racing - I raced a few times. Just enough to remind me how tough but strangely satisfying it is, but not so much that I got burned out. I tried a Tuesday Solitude race and a Wednesday Sundance Race this year - they were OK, but honestly I would have rather been joy riding a trail. I did three mountain bike biathlons - good fun. I did a few ICup races and will probably do the same in 2009. The St. George races are a good bet because it's a good excuse to escape the dreary cold of the north and get some warm and sun. The other races are more optional.
  • Endurance Race - I had my eye on the Perfect 10 in Park City, but I couldn't make it and as I read reports and thought about it, I've decided I'm not an endurance racer. Especially not lap races. Maybe I'll try the Perfect 10 in 2009, but only if I'm in the mood at the time. Not going on the 2009 goal list. Why would I want to spend hours going round and round when I could be riding miles of our sweet local single-track? Or cruising the White Rim?
  • New Trails - Riding a trail for the first time might be my favorite thing about mountain biking. I rode a pile of new trails in Fruita. A few in Utah (OK, more than a few), and even some in my own backyard. But I didn't make it to Little Creek - that's on the 2009 goal list - gotta do it.
  • Favorite Trails - I rode plenty of my favorite trails in 2008. Blackhawk, Slickrock, Wasatch Crest (in a loop ride with Mid Mountain), Ridge 157 and Millcreek. But I missed Timp Perimeter (uphill?) and Gooseberry Mesa. Oh, well, can't have it all.
Wow, putting together this review took longer than I thought! I'll save the road biking and miscellaneous stuff for another post.

Relative Temperatures

It was pretty cold (13 F) Saturday and even colder Sunday morning at my house (3 F). This got me thinking about how wimpy we are as humans. Compared to temperatures in space, we can only tolerate a narrow range. Graphics often help me understand things better (and Alex has shown me how effective they are) so I plotted a few temperatures:

On the cold side we have absolute zero, the absence of all thermal energy, at -273 C (-460 F). The coldest temperature on Earth was recorded at Vostok Station, Antarctica -89.2 C (-128.6 F). That's abominably cold for us homo sapiens, but absolute zero, essentially the temperature of space, is 3 times colder. Absolute zero is 5 times colder than the lowest temperature recorded in Utah -50.6 C (-59 F).

Trivia: What is the coldest place in Utah? A mountain peak? Nope, it's a depression called Peter Sink near Logan. As cold air fills Cache Valley it spills into Peter Sink (and the equally cold Middle Sink nearby) and can't escape so it just gets colder and colder. It never goes more than 4 days without freezing and is the coldest spot in the 48 States.

Now the hot side. There are amazingly high temperatures in the universe, like the surface of the Sun at 5500 C, but let's be a bit more reasonable. The planet with the hottest surface temperature is Venus at 462 C (864 F). That's hot enough to melt Lead (327.6 C) and Zinc (419.7 C). Temperatures on Earth aren't even close with the hottest recorded at Al 'Aziziyah, Libya 57.8 C (136 F) - Venus is 8 times hotter. The best Utah could muster is 47.2 C (117 F), in St. George (no surprise there).

So when it's a really cold or hot day, relative to space and Venus, it could be a lot worse.

First XC Ski Of The Winter

Last day of my Christmas / New Year vacation and I finally got out for a little cross country skiing. Jolene and I went up American Fork Canyon and skied around the Granite Flat Campground.

The day was sunny, but cold. There was a breeze in our face going up and it stung the face a little. It was 25 down in the valley, when we got back to the car I checked the thermometer and it was 13 - yeah, that would explain the sting.

This meadow with frozen springs looked lovely.

Making tracks around the campground with mountains all around.

My skiing partner, Jolene, following my rambling tracks.

Looking up at Timp.

We had fun, as usual, descending the packed (by snowmobiles) road and tubing hill trying not to crash. I made it this time, but had one close call. Jolene took one spill.

It was nice to get up into the mountains and enjoy the winter scenery.

Squaw Peak Snow Ride

(I'm in red in the back, 4th from the right.)

Kenny's New Year Squaw Peak Hill Climb went well this morning.

I left my house around 9:30 am on my mountain bike. The city streets were dry. It was cold (around 20 F), but I had on about the right clothes and layers so I wasn't uncomfortable.

At the mouth of Provo Canyon I realized I left my water bottle at home and I had no money to buy water at the gas station. Not a big concern since I don't sweat much riding in the cold. As I rode up the paved trail along the river I was surprised to see the drinking fountain still running - I stopped and drank like a camel.

Near Squaw Peak Road I trudged up a slope to a road that crosses the river - then crossed the highway to the parking lot. It was a few minutes before 10 am and a few others were there. I visited with Aaron, said hello to Elden, Mark A., Bob and a few others.

A little after 10 am we lined up, Kenny gave us some instructions and off we went.

The first mile was nice, dry pavement. Then we moved onto snow at the gate. The packed snow held up (for the most part) and the wind wasn't blowing so it was pretty good riding this year. It was overcast, and while I like to see the sun, it kept the snow from getting too mushy (and kept Bill's shirt on) so I say it was a good thing.

I rode with Bob for a while until we were passed and Bob latched onto the passer's wheel, but I was happy with the current pace so I didn't. I caught up to Heather and we rode together, traded leads, and walked in places that either the snow was too loose or the effort too high.

I was motivated to stay on the bike as long as possible. Partly from pride, but mostly because my cleats packed up with snow the instant my shoes touched down and it was a pain to clear them and get clipped back in again.

Eventually we reached the top as the group photo was assembling.

Adam lining up the shot with southern Utah Valley in the background.

The rider (uh, walker carrying his biker) is Bobby. He sold his mountain bike a few months ago and all he had to ride was his cyclocross bike. It worked OK down lower where the snow was harder packed and the slope not as steep, but about half way up his skinny tires were sinking in a lot. He hoofed it up the last slope 'cross style. Way to stick it out!

After the group shot, the downhill follies began.

The temperature had risen and the snow was starting to get mushy, but it was still fairly solid. The top was the most loose and chewed up, and I just bumbled my way down, but it got better below the Tee and I mounted up (and got clipped in after a minute or so banging my shoes and pedals).

At first I took it pretty slow, but a little ways down I got a wild hair and started going faster and faster. It was a gas! I just stayed loose and hoped for the best. I took it slower on corners and the really chewed up spots. I had one scare when the rear wheel slipped into a groove and sent me sideways, but I stayed with it and some how stayed up. On one fairly smooth, straight section I hit 25 mph. It was a mild rush going that fast on snow.

On the last sharp turn my luck ran out. I eyed what I thought would be a groove I could ride around the turn, but the bike found a different track and the divergence in trajectories caused the bike to slip out and down I went. The snow was more like ice here and I landed hard on my right shoulder and smacked my head (man, that would have really hurt without the helmet!). But I was OK and got right back up. Racer was kind enough to slow and ask if I was OK.

Regrouping at the end of the snow (photo from Heather)

I finished the last 150 yards of snow. I bunny hopped the hump at the gate to get a little air and land on pavement and stopped with the group. Everyone had big grins on their faces and we talked about the thrills and spills. When most of the riders made it down, we rode out the pavement to the bottom of the road.

Then we headed to Borders for some hot chocolate and coffee - Kenny's treat (thanks Kenny!).

After a nice cup of hot chocolate and chatting, I pedaled home for a total of 20 miles.

Sometimes snow rides are fun because of the novelty. But thanks to the good snow conditions and company, this was simply a good, enjoyable ride. It felt good to be on the bike and the snow riding was the icing on the cake.

Thanks, Kenny, for putting the ride together!