Double Play Saturday

This morning I went skiing at Sundance with Mark. The snow was good, no lift lines or crowds anywhere, the weather nice and the price was right. (Through the end of the season Facebook friends of Sundance ski for $20 any day.)

I tried to ski some chop, but didn't so so well - I did get a bit better by the end of the day.

I had a nice crossed-tips crash that twisted my ankle before the binding released - it was OK to ski on, but after I got the boots off it kinda hurt. When I got home I popped some ibuprofen.

Mark about to drop into Grizzly Bowl.

We skied until about 1 pm then had some Thai food in Orem for lunch.

The foothills looked dry so Jolene and I headed out for a bike ride. We rode the BST from above the Orem Cemetery north past Dry Canyon and turned around before it drops down toward Battle Creek Canyon.

No mud and only a few squishy spots. Thankfully my ankle felt OK on the bike.

Jolene cranking up the BST.

I like double play days.

LEGSHAVE Update, Etc.

LEGSHAVE Challenge Update

Saturday I shaved my legs for the 4th time. (It still seems creepy to me to say "I shaved my legs".) Before I shaved, my leg hair had grown past the stubble stage and was not prickly and my legs still looked clean and un-hairy, unless you got close. That stage was OK. As is the freshly shaven stage, but it only lasts 2 days before I'm into stubble and the associated itchiness and roughness.

Shaving is still a chore and annoying. And frankly, feels wrong. But I'm trying to keep an open mind.

I've got at least one more shave to go - right before the Hell of the North race on the 4th of April. Even if I don't race, I'll shave - as promised.

I'm ambivalent about the Hell of the North race for several reasons:

  • My road biking fitness and form are sub-par
  • The race costs $10 more because you have to have a timing chip now
  • The Cat 5 pack is too big for such a narrow course
  • I could do Masters B, but that's 7 laps instead of 5
I'm going to pre-ride the course next week (weather permitting) - that should help me decide.

29er Wheels

These are the wheels on my 29er hard-tail - Bontrager Rhythm Comps (purchased from Racer):

(Also seen is the SRAM cassette and Avid rotors I put on the wheels.)

So far I like the wheels, but I'm not using them correctly yet. They are tubeless wheels and I'm running them with tubes. I called Racer last week and the rim strips still aren't in. Maybe I'll break down and tape them up and run them tubeless without the strips for now.

I'm also anxious to pull off the old, worn-out Jones tires I have been running and install the new Crossmarks that are just sitting in my garage, still in their package. It's almost more than I can take.

The 29er rides pretty nice now, but I'm sure it will be nicer tubeless when I can run lower pressure for better traction and squish on the rear and better cornering grip on the front.

But it's all moot until this snow goes away. Maybe I'll break out the skis again.

Good Dirt Saturday

Another excellent Spring day for cycling. After watching Jamie at the track meet, Jolene and I rode up into the foothills near our house for some trail time.

We went up the Water Tank dirt road and met Emily as we were about to head up Betty. Emily races Expert Women and she rode with us up to the Altar. I felt good on the climb - seems like last ride wasn't just a fluke.

Emily bombed down Frank while Jolene and I took it easy.

Back on the Water Tank road we went west and back up Betty then down Roller Coaster to the overlook where we turned right and went up the ridge to connect into Blackbird. We climbed up Blackbird - I made all the climbs except the last, really steep one.

At the junction with Crank we went down Ireland. We explored a side trail then enjoyed the remaining downhill and returned home. The photos below are Ireland.

Lots of people out on the trails. We missed Kendra and Steve, and the Mad Dog gang - but we did see many of the Racer's guys touring the area.

Until the mountain snow melts this is the place to ride, especially for Provo / Orem locals. I like this trail network better than Lambert Park (Lambert is good but smaller) and it's a tie with Draper.

And now here comes a rain / snow storm for the week plunging us back down into the 40s. I'm glad I got a bunch of riding in while the weather was warm. The sun and warm will be back, perhaps not soon enough for me.

A Good Mountain Ride

I had a good ride up in the Orem foothills tonight.

A really good ride.

I always enjoy riding these trails in my "back yard". But what made this ride really good was my form was back. I'm still slower than last year, but I was climbing pretty good and rolling on the bike. Unlike the last few MTB and road rides where I've felt thrashed and clunky.

So to feel good on the bike tonight made me happy and reminded me why I love cycling.

I started from my house after work and rode up the water tank road, then up Betty to the Altar. Good conditions, just as Karl and some informants from UMB said. Still a few patches of snow, but the trail is clear.

I tried to go west on Lament, but only went 30 yards.

So I went down Frank (east from the Altar). It was in pretty good shape. Rocky, like always, maybe a bit more due to the Spring thaw.

Back on the water tank road I went west and dropped down to the Race Track and did a lap then climbed back up to the road.

Went up Betty again. Met Chris Holley and had a quick chat (daylight was fading) then rode Roller Coaster back to the water tank road and home. These pictures are from the top of Roller Coaster.

All the trails are in good shape. Betty is actually getting dusty in a few places - crazy. The water tank road is hammered from horses, very bumpy. But the trails are OK.

Lots of riders out tonight, mostly on the Race Track. Seems some clubs were there - saw a few Timp Cyclery jerseys and I think team Mad Dog had at least an informal get-together.

The ski guys may not be happy, but I'm loving this Spring weather. Yay!

Jazz Game With The Kids

A thoughtful friend (thanks man!) gave me 4 tickets to tonight's Jazz game. (If you want to see an overloaded website that visually assaults you, try the Jazz website.) We took the two youngest since Andrei Kirilenko visited their school two weeks ago and they were interested to see him, and the rest of the Jazz, play.

Kade was overloaded at first and wasn't too happy about the noise. But after the team intro and tip-off, the noise level dropped and he got into the game - well, as into it as a 6 year old boy can.

Kara liked the sights and sounds. I explained all the numbers on the scoreboard to her. A nice fatherly moment.

They both liked playing "where's the Jazz Bear?" and watching the various time-out and half-time entertainments.

It was clear the Jazz would beat the Wizards (or is that Willards? sorry, couldn't resist the Seinfeld joke.) by the 3rd quarter and we considered leaving early to get the kids home and in bed since they have school tomorrow. But we stayed til the end.

A fun evening out with the young'uns.

Lunch Ride

I went out for another ride today. It went better than yesterday and I felt a bit of form come back. Still slower than last year, but I felt better on the bike.

2009 Cycling Plans

2009 is already 2.5 months old and I'm finally getting around to writing down my cycling plans for the year. The warmer weather has me thinking cycling.

But first, a review of last year:

  • #1 Have fun riding - YES! (2008 was a good year for cycling)

  • Get Mark to Moab - NO (He promises we'll go this Spring)

  • Ride Fruita - DONE (Good trip - thanks Andy and Rhonda!)

  • Build a pair of wheels - half done (I have the other wheel built now - just needs to be trued)

  • Complete STP - DONE (Good trip with friends, now that I've done 200 miles I don't plan to do it again, bo-ring.)

  • Go tubeless - DONE & DONE (I'll be making the 29er tubeless when the rim strips are available.)

  • RAWROD (White Rim) - DONE (Good trip - thanks Kenny and all who made it happen!)

  • Do a road race - DONE (Sanpete was good, I plan to do it again this year.)

  • Do a criterium - DONE, OUCH (No more crits for me, crashing on pavement is not my idea of fun.)

  • Do a Time Trial - DONE (TTs are the real pain cave.)

  • Do a 10 or 12 hour MTB race - NO (After reading reports, I don't think these long lap races are my style.)

OK, now to 2009. I'm feeling mellow about cycling so far this year. Maybe I'll catch the fire once it warms up and I get out riding more frequently. But I have a feeling I'm going to be doing less cycling and more with the family and other outdoor stuff like hiking, camping, canyoneering, climbing. So this year I have few real goals, just some plans of things I'd like to do.

  • Little Creek - I've been wanting to ride it for years; 2009 has to be it.

  • Park City - I wanted to ride more new (to me) trails in Park City last year. I'll redouble my efforts this year.

  • RAWROD - If Kenny will have me, I'd love to ride this again. It's a long day in the saddle, but the scenery and company are well worth it.

  • Moab with Mark - This is the year I get to introduce Mark to Moab. Like kids in a candy store, this will be fun.

  • Ride with Alex - Probably a mountain bike ride. I've got to meet this guy; the great mountain biker botanist.

  • Some Road Riding - I'm sure I'll do some road riding, but I'm just not feeling it yet. I doubt I'll race much, I don't think I'll be anywhere near fast this year so why race? If I'm in OK form I'll do Sanpete again this year.

  • Complete a full Triathlon - I've tried two triathlons: one was canceled, the other was shortened because of weather. I'm not that enamored with triathlons so maybe I should bail on them, but I stubbornly just want to complete a full one of these things! I'm already registered for the Salem Triathlon. This is it. If this one doesn't work out I will give up on triathlons.

Modest plans, but I'm feeling like just going where my interests take me this year. Am I missing anything?

First 2009 Lunch Road Ride

Windy, but it was warm and sunny - I had to ride. Sadly, yet another confirmation of my lost fitness. "That hill didn't hurt that bad last year."

Todd was going the other way on Mike Weir Boulevard and stopped to chat. He's looking forward to road racing this year as a new Cat 3.

Coming home my car thermometer said this:

Which meant this:

Riding BST On Sunshine

The weather was sunny and warm Saturday, so Jolene and I did an out-n-back on the BST. There were a few spots of shallow mud on the north faces. But overall conditions were good.

I ride this trail a lot and riding it now, in early Spring, is a bit sobering as it clearly shows me how much fitness I've lost. But the sunshine and fun single-track easily won out and we had an enjoyable ride.

Bonus: I was watching an episode of Scientific American Frontiers about Cars That Think. They mentioned a fascinating phenomenon called the McGurk Effect which demonstrates that watching a speaker's mouth augments what we hear. In the episode, IBM researchers are increasing the accuracy of speech recognition by adding visual information via a camera aimed at the speaker. Watch the video below to see The McGurk Effect in action - it took me by surprise and freaked me out a little.

When Dilbert Nails It

I read Dilbert almost every day. It's in the local newspaper I read at breakfast. Dilbert has slipped a bit from it's heyday, but Scott Adams (and team Dilbert?) still has frequent hits. Here are two recent Dilberts that made me laugh:

The Chocolate Milk Crisis

My wife Jolene loves chocolate.

She's most pious about chocolate milk. It's a ritual. She has a glass of chocolate milk (usually cold) every morning with buttered toast (butter, not some imitation). Chocolate milk is a staple of her diet.

When she was single she settled on this breakfast choice and it's been relatively unchanged since then.

For her, Hershey's is the only true chocolate milk. Nothing else will do. Nestle's doesn't taste as rich. The syrups are no good either. And while there are many gourmet hot chocolate mixes, few work cold. Bottled chocolate milk works in a pinch, but it's an emergency measure.

Two months ago the can of Hershey's was running low (running out DOES NOT HAPPEN!), but when Jolene went to get a can from the usual aisle, same shelf where it has always been, there was no Hershey's. The spot was empty. Even the shelf tag was gone.

OK, Macey's probably just ran out - but the missing tag was troubling.

Harmon's didn't have it either - uh, oh, this isn't good.

Albertson's - no dice.

Smith's - also no, panic setting in.

Jolene called her Mom and told her if she found any to buy it all. Her Mom found 3 cans at Buy Low and bought them. Jolene picked them up the next day. (I'm not going to make any comparisons here about her behavior and those with addictions.)

So Jolene e-mailed Hershey's and asked them why she couldn't find any chocolate milk mix in our area. A few days later she received this reply:

Thank you for contacting The Hershey Company. Your comments about HERSHEY'S chocolate milk mix are important.

We are sorry to disappoint you, but HERSHEY'S chocolate milk mix is currently not available. This product is not being produced for nationwide retail distribution at this time and we are unable to provide you with details as to when and where you might be able to obtain this product. We apologize for any inconvenience and assure you that your comments will be shared with our Marketing Department.

HERSHEY'S EXTRA DARK is the first chocolate bar to earn the respected Best Life seal of approval from Bob Greene. To learn more about HERSHEY'S EXTRA DARK please visit

We also invite you to visit for current promotions, coupons, seasonal recipes and decorating ideas.

We appreciate your loyalty as a consumer.
The passage in bold above was, putting it mildly, NOT welcome news. Until the e-mail we just thought it was some temporary supply or delivery issue, but the thought that Hershey would stop production of their Chocolate Milk Mix was always discounted as wildly improbable. Sadly, the unthinkable was true.

Jolene got through the grieving process pretty well. But neither of us wanted to know what withdrawals would be like, so we turned to the internet where all things can be found. What we found was good and bad. The good news was you could still buy it, the bad news was it was going to cost more. I found a few stores selling it for over $20 a can.

Fortunately I found a store in Wisconsin that had 7 cans for sale at around $6 per can (after adding in shipping). I bought them all. Sadly, one can broke open in shipping, but she's happy to have the six surviving cans.

I found another case of 6 cans for a reasonable price, but we both know no matter how much we hoard, it will run out eventually. Hopefully we have enough so she can wean herself off Hershey's and onto something else.

Anyone have suggestions for a good cold chocolate milk mix?

The Opposite Of Desert Rampage

While everyone else went to the Desert Rampage mountain bike race in St. George, we stayed home (but I did shave my legs, as promised). We wanted to go, but one thing after another came up (Jolene getting sick was the last straw). So instead of riding my bike on dry dirt in short sleeves, I went snowshoeing.

DJ picked me up, we met Tony and carpooled up American Fork Canyon to Pine Hollow.

As a side note, I went to college with Tony and hadn't seen him in years. I enjoyed getting caught up with him.

I expected more fresh snow from the last storm, but there was only 2-3 inches and the old snow had a crust hard enough to walk on. In fact there was a lot of dirt at first and we carried the snowshoes. After half a mile it was obvious we wouldn't need the snowshoes so we hid them behind a tree and continued to boot it up the trail.

Pine Hollow is, true to it's name, thick with conifers (or PLTs - Piney-Looking Trees). I tried to identify the trees from Alex's guide, but couldn't remember what feature went with what tree. Still it was fun to examine the features of the cones and twigs I found on the ground. Consulting the guide at home I see that most of the PLTs there are Douglas Fir with a few Englemann Spruce.

Once we got out of the hollow a bit, we were treated to this fantastic morning view of Timp. I love living near this magnificent mountain.

We hiked up Pine Hollow then went out on the Ridge trail a ways where I took this picture.

And a little farther along the trail I took this one. Timp just looked so good covered in snow with the thin, low clouds floating by I couldn't keep my eyes off it.

We considered going farther out to the Mud Springs trail, but time was short so we headed down a ridge that joined back to the Pine Hollow trail. The Utah Velo Club group caught us and went down that way. The descent was fun as we jogged down, slipping and sliding.

A little snow had been coming down off and on, which you can see in this photo I took almost down to the trail.

It felt good to get out into the mountains. With the recent thaw I was reminded that Winter is on it's way out so that helped me savor the moment. Now many months from now we'll have a 90 degree day and I'll think back to this day and how refreshing the snow and cold was. The contrasts of the seasons are one reason I so enjoy living here.

P.S. The reviews are mixed for the Watchmen movie making me even less interested in the movie. I'm sure the visual effects are good, but I'd rather keep the images in my head from reading the book. In fact, I may read it again soon to see what details I glean from a second pass.

First Ride On The 29er

Back in January I bought a 2005 Gary Fisher X-Caliber sans wheels.

I bought some Bontrager Rhythm Comp TLR Disc wheels from Racer not long after but upon building them up with rotors, tires and a new cassette I discovered that the rear tire hit the front derailer. Huh?

I called Racer and he told me the older style Shimano front derailer that was stock on the bike was more compact and, obviously, didn't hit the tire. So somewhere along the life of this bike the derailer was changed and it was made into a commuter running smaller slick tires that didn't hit the newer, bulkier derailer. Instead of trying to find the older style derailer, I bought a new top mount Shimano derailer. It arrived two weeks ago and I installed it last Saturday. There's less than 1/2" clearance, but it does clear the tire so it works.

Today at lunch I took it for a spin on the Corner Canyon trails.

I've been on a full suspension bike for more than 5 years and I was expecting this hard tail to ride really rough. It didn't. The larger wheels and big tires did OK in the rear. Of course the Corner Canyon trails are pretty smooth so that helps. It was fun to ride a new bike and to feel the hard tail ride again.

I had a fun ride, even though my fitness is lacking. I rode up the Lower Corner Canyon trail. The dirt road section is much better than last week when it was a muddy mess in places. I took the left (east) fork and hauled the bike over the dug up berm along the side of the road and hit the trail that crosses the stream over a bridge.

I rode up to the North Ghost Falls trail until the snow patches got too frequent then turned around. At the switchback around the granite boulder I had to take this photo, inspired by Alex:

How sweet it is to see dry dirt this time of year. The newly built Draper Temple is in the background left.

They're building some concrete water diverter or somesuch down in the east fork. The trails are blocked off so don't go the way I did, go BST north then take the Gasline trail over to get to the North Ghost Falls trail.

I finished the ride by taking the BST north to the Draper dirt road, then reverse course and back down Corner Canyon to my car at the equestrian center.

The Lower Corner Canyon trail is still a bit rough and I did notice the jarring from the hard tail, but it wasn't bad. It would get old on a long, rough trail, but for everything else the hard tail ride is OK.

The 29er wheels rolled nicely. They rolled over the few rocks OK. I'm looking forward to seeing how they do on more technical terrain.

I think I'm going to like this bike.

Watchmen Review

LEGSHAVE Challenge update: I feel I owe an update to those who donated. Since the first leg shave on February 15th, I shaved again on the 20th for the trip to Arizona. It was kind of nice to ride with smooth legs, but I didn't notice it that much. It was a bit easier to clean the rash on my knee after the crash with shaved legs - but cleaning wounds with hair isn't that bad so I still don't count this as a good reason to shave. The stubble on my legs is long enough now it isn't prickly or itchy, but they still look clean. This weekend is the Rampage race so I'll be shaving soon as promised.

I first started hearing about Watchmen about a year ago when the movie was in production and some teasers came out. I foundlearned that Watchmen is critically acclaimed as one of the best graphic novels (aka comics) so I bought it and started reading.

This is essentially my first graphic novel. It was an interesting experience. Like half way between a book and a movie. I mostly focused on the words but noted the illustrations as I went along and noticed the details and nuances that served the story.

I must say the artwork is fascinating. Expressive and bold. And there is a LOT of it - I'm amazed one person could draw so many frames. And it's not just quantity - every frame is loaded with detail and expression.

The writing and story has that pulp feel (there is sex and graphic violence), but not so strong as to repel the casual reader like myself. Plenty of depth with multiple intermingled plots, some fun twists and strong ties to the cold war era. It's weird that I've forgotten so much about how the cold war felt and Watchmen brought a lot of that back for me.

The characters are fascinating (if superheros aren't interesting, something's wrong). They have depth and humanity - they weren't just larger-than-life, one-dimensional do-gooders.

Ironically I'm less interested in the movie having read the book. It would be fun to see these characters and scenes "made real", but Watchmen will be difficult to adapt to film and frankly I doubt it can be done in a satisfying way. And Hollywood doesn't have a great track record with intricate fiction like this.

P.S. I took the book with me to Arizona and read it for 2 hours at the airport and on the plane. I admit I was self-conscious about reading a "comic book" in public.