Friday, September 19, 2008

Stinkin' Flat Tire

I've been working like crazy the last few weeks and have had nary a minute to ride. I'm gaining all my weight back and I'm having a hard time sleeping (I've found that lack of exercise causes 'restless leg syndrome').

Last night I had the opportunity to go out and do a little riding. It was dark out but I figured I'd be in well-lit residential areas and could keep my risk to a minimum.

I only had a half hour so I got all geared up and headed for the garage. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered my front tire was flat! It likely would take ~15 minutes to repair which effectively killed my ride.


Instead I did the dishes. How's that for a downer?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

1/2 Epic

We came, we rode, we bonked.

But we did it. Last Saturday Mike and I packed up the bikes and did 16 miles of the Blackhawk trail. It was a warm day starting out in the 70s and ending up in the 90s.

The goal was to get out and test our skills, our aerobic fitness, and evaluate our plan. Keep in mind that we're both deskbound during the day and fathers of four at night. More often than not riding ends up on the back burner.

That said, this is how it went from my perspective:

Blackhawk is a nice ride. It's anywhere from 16 to 20 miles of amazing singletrack. Curvey, skinny, beautiful singletrack. When you come out in the open the views are amazing and when you're under the canopy you're riding among huge pines and slender aspen. The first 10 miles of the ride were far and away the nicest. After being on the trail longer than we had intended, we decided to forgo dropping down into Holman Creek which in hindsite was a good idea for reasons I'll go into shortly.

From the trailhead to Blackhawk campground the trail was a pretty smooth ride as you can see by checking out the topo. We dropped down into the campground and refilled our waters, grabbed a bite to eat and then fumbled around on the tarmac until we picked up the trail heading toward the area above Beaver Dam Creek. The trail guide indicated that this was the most difficult part of the ride, but wouldn't agree with that. The trail, for the most part, ran parallel to the topo lines and therefore I didn't find that part of the ride to be all that aerobically strenuous and wasn't all that bad technically. We ran into an old cowboy who was riding the trail with two horses ("so one doesn't get too tired.") He proceeded to give us a breather by giving us some unsolicited statistics about the mountain we were riding. Bless him.

After Old Timer let us go we were passed by six bikers going in the same direction. Mike struggled a bit with this part of the trail and encouraged me to go on up and we'd meet at the pavement before continuing on. I rode on and caught up with the other six riders who were fixing a wheel that was having some trouble. I chatted for a minute and then doubled back to catch up with Mike. Turns out his chain broke and we spent the next half hour rigging it back together. (Have I mentioned how much I hate the only chain tools available on the market? Yeah, they are retarded.)

We finished the last of our food, calculated we had roughly another 6 miles to go and proceeded to head up to the next trail head: Rock Springs.

I expected that most of the trail would be down hill but was sadly mistaken. The first two miles were a rocky downhill that gave our lungs the rest they needed. We leap-frogged our way down until we found ourselves climbing again. At this point we were pretty much out of gas. I'd left our PB sandwiches in the car (doh!) and we both ran out of water. Combine that with the toasty sun beating down on us and we both hit a wall.

Rock Springs was far and away more difficult than the trail above Beaver Dam Creek. The don't call it Rock Springs for nothing. I swear every basketball-sized rock the world over made an appearance. Not until we reached the Jones Ranch Creek intersection did it let up. A small climb over a last hillock and we made it.

Ok, I didn't quite bonk, but I knew I was getting close: when we got back to the car, it took me a full ten seconds of looking at my key ring to figure out which key opened my car.

All-in-all it was a great trail and a good time hanging with my brother.

Next year I think we'll better align our expectations with our eventual goal: which is to make a long distance ride, not a long technical ride. I think that translates into more doubletrack, jeep trails, and a smattering of plain old dirt road. We'll pick a ride we can put in some serious miles. We both decided that the CT is likely out. The Telluride to Moab trail is certainly on the short list.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Topo Maps

I'm sure a ton of people will scoff at what I consider a major find, but I'm so crazy excited about this that I had to share.

Check out USGS's Map Locator. Navigate to your map, drop a locator pin, click on the pin to get more info and then either download a super high-res PDF or order a paper copy for $6.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fireroad 51

Total distance: 28.2
Average Speed: 9.3
Total Time: 3:39:18
Average Temperature: 101°

In an effort to save a little gas and not have to drive up the canyon twice today, I threw my bike on the back of the van and prepped for a long ride before we headed out for the Ward Campout breakfast. (We're not camping with a newborn.)

This was my first long-ish ride and I learned a lot of things.

  • I can drink a lot of water when it's hovering around 100°. I went through close to 5 liters of it.
  • Warm water is nasty to drink and takes longer to be absorbed into the lining of the stomach than cold water does. (That last bit I learned from a book, not from my ride today.)
  • A PB&J sure makes things seem better. I felt stronger after downing a half of a smashed sandwich.
  • Even better than a PB&J is a bunch of Fig Newtons.
  • I need to figure out how to carry more water. I kept myself properly hydrated (I weighed almost the exact same before an after my ride.)
  • Fireroad are boring!
  • Fireroad decents are dangerously fast and include oncoming vehicles. Yuck.
  • Riding up to a single track is a lame. It's hard to be excited to ride the fun part when you know you still have 20 miles of tarmac to push after you're done. (My Dad always suggested we ride the 30-ish miles to the mountains rather than him drive us up. Bad idea then, bad idea now.)
  • Ibuprophen.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Ergon grips.
  • New gloves.
  • Always have something to filter water. Iodine flavored H2O is much better than giardia. (I turned around for my downhill run right as I got close to running out of water. But, I thought how bad it must be to run out of water when you're in the middle of nowhere and there's a clean looking stream just feet away.)
  • I have a lot of crappy music on my Shuffle.
  • Riding up a mountain isn't all legs and lungs. There's a big mental game involved too.
  • If at all possible, I'm going to get up super early next week to ride. 100° heat isn't any fun.

There you have it. I imagine there's a lot more for me to learn when I begin biking in the snow, rain, or just cold weather. I'll cross those bridges when I come to them. In the mean time, this was an educational, albeit somewhat mundane ride.

Though I didn't end up riding the trail I'd set out to ride (another 30 minutes and I would have reached the trail head), it was rather satisifying to hit the summit. There's a great feeling of accomplishment when you reach the top of a pass and know that it was your legs, lungs, and mind that got you there.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hat's off to you, Felix Wong

I went out for an easy distance ride the other night. Apparently the chain suck I was experiencing the other day had nothing to do with a lack of lubrication. Apparently I unknowingly dinged it on a rock and subsequently weakened the chain so that during a moderate crank I snapped it.

This was a small problem and I had all the tools I needed on-hand. I even had a random paper clip that stood in as a chain holder. (Over the years this poor paperclip rattled around in my bag but every time I dumped out my tools and saw it there I'd think, "What am I going to do with a stupid paperclip." And then I'd quickly answer my own question, "You never know.")

In any case, this was a small matter handled in a town only two miles from home with people nearby that I knew and could give me a lift home if needed. But my relatively small knowledge of chain repair left me stranded for a half hour while I fumbled with my chain repair tool in the waning light. As I made the repair, my thoughts turned to the Tour Divide and how many mechanical problems poor Felix Wong ran into over the course of the race. He battled everything from a broken pump, cyclometer, to multiple flat tires. All in the middle of nowhere with no help even available. I can scarcely imagine the frustration he must have experienced as he fought to keep going despite the setbacks.

After that I thought I ought not to grumble about such a small inconvenience two miles from home.

Monday, July 21, 2008


It's not lack of equipment. It's not lack of motivation. It's not physical ability. It's time.

Lack of time is easily the biggest roadblock for training for this first (of hopefully many) epic rides.

I've got trail prep down to a science. I can gear up and be on a nearby trail in about 30 minutes. Or at least be ready to do some easy distance riding in about 15 minutes. Add an hour for riding and another half hour for bike clean-up and a shower and suddenly it's two hours. If I come home at 7 pm and am training for two hours that completely cuts out any family time. Mornings are out. I've got to be on the road at 6 am or my commute time doubles.

Weekends are usually full as well. This week's supposed long ride ended up being a quick 40 minutes to the store. At dusk.

So when, exactly, am I supposed to work in 4-6 hours of training into my already busy schedule?

While Mike is lucky enough to live within biking distance to his place of employment, I'm 50 miles away. Not exactly biking distance. I'm trying (and mostly failing) to work in a few workouts a week.

The only way I can fit in a regular easy-distance ride is if I can move closer and begin riding to work. I can't tell you how badly I want that to happen.

A demanding job, a 100 mile a day commute, four kids, and a home to sell and my training log begins to show some serious gaps.

Here's to hoping my house will sell and I can begin to do part of my commute on two wheels. Either that or we'll have to change this fall's 1/2 epic to an easy ride around the block.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bonneville Shoreline Trail — Provo Canyon Section

Two weeks ago I decided to take Saturday morning and ride a trail I'd never ridden before. Instead of parking near the trailhead, I parked several miles down at the mouth of Provo Canyon. The trail guide I'd read gave misinformation but after a little confusion I found the trail and began the mile-long climb. The guide says it's "only 500 feet but it feels like more" and that's the truth. It was a medium-intermediate technical singletrack that eventually turned into a fast sometimes single- sometimes doubletrack with almost no climbing for the other 5 miles.

There was some beautiful lookout points and a wicked downhill to top it off.