The Pain Mill

OK, it wasn't that bad, but it was a pretty long evening ride with a fair amount of climbing up Millcreek.

The gate is still closed and Mark and I wanted to get in a ride before the gate opens next month and the hordes ascend.

Riding up the road seems to last forever.

We usually go up to Dog Lake first, but this time we started up Big Water then took GWT up to the saddle.

Mark rolling the single speed.

On the way up we had a Slysquatch sighting. I was so stunned I forgot to snap a photo. But Heather saw the creature on the Crest and got this picture:

And Kenny braved the danger and got this close-up shot:

Heather posted video of the beast ripping The Spine.

Strange things in the mountains this year.

We escaped with our lives and made it up to the saddle. Nice view into The Canyons resort.

On the way down we tried to judge if we had enough time to climb up to Dog Lake. I thought we did, Mark wasn't so sure. We went for it. The lake looked nice, same as always.

The descent was exceptional. We didn't see another soul the whole way down.

It was rather dark the last few miles of the Pipeline from Elbow to Burch. In the tree-shaded hollows I was riding by braille.

We made it down without incident and drove home in the dark. It was nice to slurp up every last ray of daylight for a good Millcreek ride.


Even a fabled and elusive mountain creature gets a toothache now and then.

Family Campout

Friday and Saturday we were camping with my wife's family at Bench Creek (a few miles east of Woodland). It's a lovely mountain location with lots to do.

Kara, Rachel and Kade rode horses.

Jolene, her brother James and I went for a short mountain bike ride up Nobletts Creek. It's a techy little trail (only 1.5 miles) with lots of roots, but after 1/2 mile we got tired of going over / around trees fallen across the trail so we went back.

Jolene and I tried the Log Hollow trail on the north side of the creek. It started off nice, but got steep. We turned around and had a nice downhill run.

Friday night we circled the campfire and told stories and jokes, and even sang a few songs. We slept out in a tent next to a pond.

Saturday Jolene, sister-in-law Paige and I went for a ride up Bench Creek. Wow, a very nice mountain trail. Steep at first, but mellowed out after the first mile. Gorgeous scenery and a very fun trail. We ran out of time and again got tired of all the deadfall. I want to do the full loop when the fallen trees have been cleared.

Jolene almost made it under this tree.

Mmm, sweet trail.

Coming down was vedy nice.

Later in the day the kids and I went for a ride on the 4-wheelers. Rachel was a bit nervous, being her first time. She went very slow at first but went a little faster towards the end.

On the way home we stopped at Dairy Keen in Heber for diner.

A very enjoyable weekend with the family in a beautiful location.

Aborted Books

Until last year I can't remember ever not finishing a book I started reading. I'm a sucker, I have to know what happens, even if the story stinks.

But last year I started Hawaii by James A. Michener and put it aside after 50 pages. It wasn't the writing, in fact the writing was quite good. It was the glacial pace of the story. Michener begins the book describing the creation of the Hawaiian Islands, and after 50 pages the first island had just poked up out of the water. I flipped to the last page, 960, and decided right there I didn't want to spend the time reading this book.

That was a breakthrough because now I've aborted several books. It might be I get into it a ways and decide I don't like it, or I'm not in the mood for a particular style/genre. Whatever the case it's been liberating, even though it's not easy to cut bait.

The latest book I'm dumping is Rabbit, Run by John Updike. It was on some best novels list I found somewhere. Updike is certainly a skilled writer. He's a master of picturesque prose. But where Tolkein needs to describe his fictional world so you can appreciate it, Updike describes the mundane - cars, streets, restaurants, apartments, clothing. True, he makes these everyday things soar, but in the end they are familiar and not very interesting. And while he's describing all this stuff the story drags. The characters are mildly interesting, as far as I can tell given the occasional glimpses Updike gives. So after 50 pages I decided I wanted to move on to something with a story that moves quicker.

I guess 50 pages is about what I'll invest to test out a book.

Now on to some books I did finish:

What Do You Care What Other People Think? - The 2nd biographical book about the noted and quirky physicist Richard P. Feynman. (The 1st biography is Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!) Some anecdotes were interesting, but it's kind of slow and very much a reflection of a logical, matter-of-fact person. You do get a sense of how he thinks and sees the world, which I enjoyed. The last third of the book is about his experience on the commission investigating the space shuttle Challenger explosion, which is pretty dry, but if that's a topic that interests you he gives a lot of detail. At the end is Feynman's lecture on The Value of Science, which had a lot of good thoughts (go read it, it's not long). I listened to this audiobook in the car during my commute and appreciated the work of the reader to make this somewhat dry book have more life. People who dig science or biographies may like this book, but most will find it boring.

Genesis - I liked this short novel (150 pages) by New Zealand author Bernard Beckett, but it's not a mass appeal book and even then you need to be in the mood for something meaty and science fiction. The setting of the book (an interview / examination) provides an interesting framework, but I'm not sure the detachment it created works. The philosophical debate I found thought-provoking, but others may find it esoteric. I liked it enough I'm considering reading Brave New World next.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid - Yep, another Bryson book. What can I say, his books consistently entertain me. I listened to this audiobook driving to work and laughed many times. The book is a fun memoir about Bryson growing up in the 50s. Good insights, funny stories, interesting observations and facts. Bryson noted that productivity doubled in the 50's, but instead of taking it easy, most Americans worked as much or more so they could buy more stuff. This book got me thinking wistfully about the 50s and my own childhood (in the 60s). I think most people will enjoy this book, although for the sensitive there are a few f-words and his boyish desires may be a turn off.

So Brave, Young, and Handsome - I really liked Peace Like A River so I listened to this next book by Enger. The writing is good, but not enthralling as 'Peace Like A River'. The story and characters are interesting and well formed, but didn't pull me in completely. Worth reading, but not a great book.

A Brief History of Time - The first chapters are the best overview of modern physics I have read. The chapters on black holes, Hawking's specialty, are bogged down with a few too many tangents, but there is some interesting info there. The final chapters are pretty good. Read the updated and expanded 10th anniversary edition, if you can. Or the more concise A Briefer History Of Time may be a good choice (haven't read it, but will soon).

Some day I'll do a review of the physics books I've read, but since A Brief History of Time was so good I thought I'd mention it now.

AF Canyon Repeat

I had such a good time Wednesday up AF Canyon, I came back on Saturday with Jolene. Conditions were even better - bright sunny day and dryer trails. The photos tell the story.

Corner Canyon Night Race

I had a good ride at the night race. Notice I said ride. I pushed my pace, and felt some pain like a race, but with so many fast guys I knew where my place would be, so I had a nice ride (and self-sorted).

It was a pleasant evening and kinda weird to start riding with it still light. I went for nearly a half hour before switching on the lights.

I was with dug and Sleepy up the road, but they pulled away when it got steeper up Ghost.

I rode with Karl the most. He's faster than me on the climbs and soon had a big gap. He hadn't been down Jacobs this year and because of this he got side-tracked with a few bad lines I caught him.

I almost ran over a whippoorwill on Jacobs. The bird stayed hunkered down right in the middle of the trail even as I got within 2 feet, then he finally flew off. Saw a few mice too.

It was a good route, I enjoyed the ride. All the descents were fun, Ghost was my favorite.

Brad finished 1st and won the purse and belt. Good he got the win, this will be one of his last Utah rides before he moves to Chicago next month. The Carborocket man will be missed.

Went to Village Inn with a few of the guys. I thought I'd just get a little something, ended up with a stack of pancakes, an egg and 2 sausages. I ate it all, easily.

I'm glad I walked away with the diet coke with lime last night, I've needed the caffeine fix this morning.

Kudos to Rick for organizing the not-a-race.

1st AF Canyon Dirt 2010

I like the foothill trails - Corner Canyon, Timp foothills, Lambert. I enjoy riding them, really I do. But they don't have views like this:

And the trails don't look like this:

Yesterday after work I headed up American Fork Canyon for a mountain bike ride. In the valley the wind was howling and the dark sky looked like rain. Arriving at the Timpooneke trail head I was happy to find no wind or rain. The air was cool, but I was OK with just a short-sleeve jersey.

For the most part the trails were in great shape. Just damp enough to be tacky. There were a few mud puddles / spots, but all were easy to avoid.

The wildflowers are going strong. I stopped and saw 6 different varieties right by me. Here are a few photos:

The highlight was the Joy (Deer Creek South Fork) descent. Joy it was.

Met TallSteve along the way and talked trails. I was supposed to meet up with the Bike Peddler crew, but they got a late start and I never saw them.

The mountains are open and prime - go get some.

Sezme Sesame Snaps

Bought a new snack for cycling at REI - a box of Sezme Sesame Snaps. Just honey and toasted Sesame seeds, made with care in Poland (I'm 1/8 Polish, yeah let the jokes begin). I like the taste and the high calorie count. Ask me for a sample next time you see me.

Wind Blown And Plan B


Monday Mark and I set out for a road ride after work. South seemed the best way to avoid traffic, construction and boring roads. Only problem was, the wind was blowing south.

We motored along the I-15 frontage road and hit 53 mph down the south side of The Point. It was a kick to roll that fast, but we knew we'd pay for it soon.

Turning west the gusty cross wind brought to mind the very real possibility of being blown into the path of passing cars. We were leaning to counteract the sideways force of the wind.

Then we turn north, into the teeth of the wind. Wow, it was strong. Had to be 20 mph or more. The wind clawed at us as it roared past. I was working hard and couldn't escape single-digit speeds. The worst was going up the hill to Camp Williams - double whammy, wind and climb.

Thankfully the descent on the north side allowed double-digit speeds.

24 miles in 1.5 hours.

For some reason my legs felt good and I was able to plug along with cramping. And strangely enough, I liked the ride. Something about adverse weather makes rides memorable, even fondly so.

Plan B

Today Mark and I planned to ride Glenwild. It's only been dry a week or two and word is it's in prime condition. But on his way over Mark saw an electronic highway sign warning of 50 minute delays up Parleys due to construction. We considered the odds and our options and decided to play it safe and ride Millcreek (we were already there).

It was hot riding up the road. At Burch Hollow we jumped on the trail - the shade was welcome.

Up the switchbacks and climbs then the relative flat last section to Elbow Fork.

We went up the road to see what the upper trail head looked like. We encountered snow on the road the last half mile. We had to walk across 3-4 snow piles. Quite a bit of debris on the road, doesn't look enticing for the road bike.

At the end of the road we went up the new Little Water trail. I guess it was put in last year. Pretty nice trail. We only got 1/2 mile or so before coming to flowing water down the trail. And just ahead was a raging creek crossing. We zipped back down the trail.

I tried to plow across the snow piles, but only made one, with some dabs. With snow and water on the road we got wet. And it was shady. And we were going fast. So it was actually cold going down.

Jumped back on the trail at Elbow Fork. It may be tame, but it's still a fun trail. Everything was green and the air smelled fresh and clean.

We dropped Rattlesnake Gulch. I flubbed one switchback. Otherwise a good descent.

Took the road back to Dans and the ride was done. 2 hours and 40 minutes. Plan B was very good.

Bonus: Stelvio

Adam recently asked, if you could win one race, what would it be? Being the race grouch I said I'd rather just go someplace cool to ride.

But I'm not completely devoid of racing spirit, so I first thought of the famous Alpe d'Huez climb. But over the last 2 years the Giro has made such an impression on me I did a little searching for famous Giro stages. I was blown away when I saw photos of the Stelvio, like this one:

(I found this photo here.)


That's my pick - to win the Stelvio stage of the Giro.

To see more photos of the Stelvio, look at this collection on the way up.

I dream of cycling in Italy. It used to be France, but Italy has won me over. A sizable windfall of cash right now would be fantastic.

How To Be Popular

Some people have natural talents or style that make them popular. I have to compensate with gimmicks.

1. Know Good Rides

When the Bike Peddler group was doing a ride in my backyard Wednesday, it was a good opportunity to make friends and influence people due to my insider knowledge of the trails. We rode up from Timpanogos Park through the race course then up to The Altar then 051 over to Dry Canyon and back on the BST. There's no getting around the elevation gain required, but I think they appreciated the route as the least painful way up. And I promised the descent down Dry would be worth it, and most agreed it was.

See, no talent or style involved - I gained favor only because I knew where to go.

2. Bring Treats

The small cost of the treats pays off huge in peer appreciation, as I demonstrated at the Friday morning Alpine Loop ride. Since I was passing by Daylight Donuts, I picked up a dozen raspberry fritters on the way.

(Hint: pay attention to things people like. In this case I learned about the fritters from dug.)

Most riders enjoyed the fritters.

Again, no savoir-faire, just goodies - kind of a social bribe.

3. Do Stuff They Like

Friday I took my boy to Fathers And Sons, even though it was at Five Mile Pass (ugly, dusty, boring) and I wasn't excited about it. But he was. And he had fun playing in the dirt, finding shell casings and airsoft pellets, chasing lizards, discovering cow bones, and roasting marshmallows over the fire.

He was also excited to sleep in the van. How do I know he was excited? Because he kept asking to go to sleep before it was even dark.

We hiked up the little hill east of camp. He liked how small the camp looked from up there.

He insisted on bring back a souvenir - a Bud Light bottle. His mother was thrilled.

We had a good breakfast the next morning then packed up and went home.

At noon he had his 2nd coach-pitch game. He did OK and had fun.

OK, this isn't the best example because Kade is my son and he likes to do things with Dad. But I still think the principal is sound.

Well, that's all I got. Which explains why I'm not beloved by all. I need more gimmicks.

Memorial Weekend

Saturday morning was Kade's first coach-pitch game. He hit the ball each time up to bat and had a good time playing ball.

In the afternoon I went out for a short road ride to the end of the South Fork of Provo Canyon. Only my 2nd time on the road bike this year (been having too much fun riding the new mountain bike). It was refreshing to be back on the road bike, it feels smooth and fast. Here's looking down South Fork - Spring is here and it's GREEN.

Monday Jolene and I went to the Draper race. She raced and I joined Karl B. for a ride around Suncrest. I went up Clarks and met Karl at the top. Then we took Eagle Crest west. Along the way we briefly saw a bright yellow bird in the trees. I'm pretty sure it was a Western Tanager, as seen in this photo my wife took Friday at South Fork Park.

But it may have been Yellow Warbler (also seen / photographed by my wife on Friday).

My wife also saw a Black-headed Grosbeak and took this photo.

Perhaps we've just been lucky, but it seems there are a lot of interesting birds around right now - especially if you get out of the city. Around the house we've seen the usual Sparrows and Robins, and also a few Blue Jays. And a Mourning Dove that has been hanging around the neighborhood cooing - I wonder if it's a male looking for a mate?

Back to the ride. Then we went took the Downhill trail and rode the BST back to Corner Canyon. I went down to join my wife for the end of the race while Karl climbed Clarks to get back home.

It was a big turnout for the race - over 400 racers. In my category, Sport Men 40+, there were 43 starters and 37 finishers. I heard the start was a massive jam. And then there was this crash:

Needless to say, I did not regret going for a ride instead of racing.

I did enjoy seeing friends and people I know. Lots of good people in mountain biking. Watched many of them get on the podium and get their ribbon. Hung out at the UMB team compound to chat and eat a burger.

A beautiful, sunny Spring day to ride and hang out.