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.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Epic Commuting

So this past Wednesday was Bike To Work Day. I have biked in part-way a couple of times in the past few weeks. But never the full distance. The full distance is 15 miles. My first commute on bike was to drive in about 1/2 way (7-8) miles and ride in with friends through a state park. I avoid most of the traffic, and don't get too winded going in. I had a great time...
The second (and maybe third) time I biked in, I would bike to the light rail station -about 11 miles away- and take the light rail to work. This was a good distance, and I was a little worn out after the ride. But still not too bad. My times door-to-door were around an hour to an hour and a quarter.
On Bike To Work Day, I decided that I would like to go the entire distance on human power. I wussed out a little, and biked to the light rail on my trek into work, but decided to "go the distance" on the return trip. The first few miles flew by. I was going downhill, feeling good, and listening to my exercise mix. --On a sidenote, I need to update my mix. It isn't as inspiring as it was when I first made it. --

The aerial photo shows about 7 miles of my route going home. My route follows the purple or the blue going in a southwest direction, and then the red or brown to the south. The problem is that the trail ends for a few miles and I have to go by street, before connecting to the trail again. I had looked and looked at the route, but not well enough apparently, because I got lost!!! Now I need to qualify my "lost" statement. I knew where I was if I was driving home, but I could not find the trail. I hunted around, hopped a fence, and ended up at our local garden center without any trail going south in sight. This is somewhat discouraging, especially when I have been following the GDR. The Great Divide Race goes along the rockies from northern Montana to Southern New Mexico. Contestants have to be self sufficient the entire time. I have read about how this rider was lost for an hour here, or an hour there, but it is in the wilderness, with no other trails around. I am riding in a large city, and can't find a bike trail. :( Well at least I knew where I was. I ended up taking a heavily trafficked road for several miles, but made it back to familiar territory. This time, the trip took two and a half hours. I estimate I went about 30 miles that day. I was pretty sore the following day. Now I just have to gear up for our alpine loop ride in September of 60-90 miles.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Specialized Helmet Replacement Program

It's a little known fact that Specialized has a helmet replacement program. I bought my first one in 1995 (albeit grudgingly for a mountain bike class in college). It developed several nicks and dings over the years and eventually suffered a fatal blow during a crash. I went into a dealer and they swapped me out my old for brand-new one.

Now things are a bit different. If you own a Specialized helmet, simply call the main switchboard at (408) 779-6229 and ask about the helmet replacement program. They'll get your information and mail you out a 20% coupon.

I'm now the proud owner of a new Chamonix Specialized helmet.


Here's to the folks riding the GDR and Tour Divide. Helmets off to you folks. Listening to your call-ins and watching your SPOTs fills my mind with crazy notions of following you in your epic of epic rides.

Good luck to Geoff, Mary, and the rest!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Wardsworth Creek, Revisited

Riding Time: 1.15.01
Actual Time: 1.54.41
BPM Avg: 155
Miles: 6
MPH Avg: 4.7
Elevation Gain: ~1100 feet

In an effort to recover my lost pump from my last foray on Wardsworth, I decided to invite my brother-in-law for a quick ride. Maybe, I thought, I'll not only get in a great ride, but recover my awesome pump.

Yes on the former, no luck on the latter.

I'm not entirely sure my numbers were accurate on my last ride. I had some issues with my HRM and my computer (inadvertent button pressing, etc.) One thing for sure was the distance. I was seriously this close to the top last time when I turned around - only .15 miles away.

Maybe it was the fact that I was with another rider, but I felt I pushed myself a bit harder this time than last. It was validating to be on a ride with someone who bikes a whole heck of a lot more than I do and, for the most part, keep up with him. I still have tons of work to do before doing an epic, but at least I know where my starting point is.

Me earning the climb.

Riley tries to hold a line on the uphill.

Riley on top of Everest Wardsworth. 

This time I made it!

Though there was still some hike-a-bike areas, I was on my bike much more than last time.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A little ridin' fun

On Saturday, I went for a fun ride. Most of the trail in my neck of the woods is concrete, but there are a few stretches that are dirt road and/or single track. On this particular ride, I had about a mile or so of dirt road. It was out a bit in the country, and I thought of where I grew up. It was a relaxing ride. While driving south I saw two pheasants running within 20 feet of the trail, 10-15 cottontails hopping around, a bunch of prairie dogs, and water fowl whose name escapes me at the moment.

I had left about 6:30 am, and made it about 8 or 9 miles. It was getting close to the time when I needed to turn around when I saw my single track. I wish I could have had my camera there with me. The trail led off the path, had a little dip, and then climbed up and over a small hill. Time to go off the beaten path...As I headed down the little slope, cherry creek stood in the way of me and my single track. I was listening to U2's "In The Name Of Love." I geared down and started to plow through the sand and the six inches of water. However, the sand bogged me down and before I could clip out, I tipped over and shorted out all the elecronics I had with me. That was the last song my Ipod played. Sigh.

As that scenario played out in my head, I decided that I wasn't a professional biker, and I really valued my Ipod. I hit my brakes before my tires touched the water. The single track was still beckoning to me, so I pulled off my socks and shoes, and forged across. The water was a little chilly, and I think that scenario would have come true had I really tried to bike across Cherry Creek.

On the other side of the trail, I put my socks and shoes on, and headed toward that hill with the single track winding its way up the side of its face. There was a small bowl about 10 feet down, and then 10 feet back up again. It was a little steep, I lost momentup, coaasted backwards, and tipped over. Stupid clips....I am still learning how to clip out quickly.

I brushed myself off, and headed toward that enticing single track. Again, I am not too good at technical, and had to walk my way of the hill. After those couple of hiccups, I had a good ride up and down a few hills. Coming back, I came to the top of my hill again, and decided it would be fun to ride down. My best guess is that this hill had about a 30-45 degree slope and a length of about 100 feet. About 1/2 way down as I was fishtailing and trying to stay upright, I decided this was a very bad idea. And then suddenly I was down the hill.

Good ride. I need to get a camera. And take it a little slower... =)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Wardsworth Creek

Riding Time: 1.25.01
Actual Time: 1.38.00
BPM Avg: 157
Miles: 5.7
MPH Avg: 4.6
Elevation Gain: ~1100 feet

Sometimes I wonder what in the schmack are we thinking attempting an epic?

I love the idea of an epic ride. I love to read about people doing the impossible. In my mind I see myself finishing the CT or, eventually, the GDR and totally bask in the idea. I want to be that person who fine-tunes their body, bike, and gear and then spends 5 days sleeping in the mud and eating twizzlers for breakfast. What could be cooler?

Then, my poor desk-jockey body slaps me back into reality and I seriously wonder what it will really take to do an epic ride. Certainly more than just dream about it.

Saturday afternoon I took a few hours and headed up towards Wardsworth for a ride. This was somewhat of a litmus test for me; I wanted to get an idea of where I was after years of riding a Herman Miller.

Here are the some of the findings:

  • I'm out of shape
  • After years of not riding, I'm still at a roughly intermediate level in my technical skills (it's kind of like riding a bike...)
  • My bike performed much better than expected. I'm getting the hang of the new geometry and the 29er effect
  • Having a heart rate monitor is both useful and distracting ("Okay, I'm coming up on my max BPM, better slow it down....Wait, that tiny hill caused my BPM to spike!?!)

Though it was a heavy dose of reality to find that an hour, 1100 feet, and 2.85 miles of uphill could be such a challenge, it wasn't all bad. If I had read the trail guide a little closer I would have made it to the top. I was only .75 miles and 300 feet from the finish. Though my BPM was a quite high, 157 isn't a bad average, right?. And while I did have to stop a lot more than I am proud to admit, was on my bike far more than I was off it.

It's a far cry from the 78,000 vertical feet of climbing the CT will demand, but let's just take this one step at a time.

All-in-all the trail was a lot of fun. It's intermediate-level rating, showed me that I need to work a little harder before I feel confident in placing myself in that range. I have to say that, fitness-wise, I'm on the lower end of intermediate; technical skills, somewhere in the middle.

The trail can be ridden as a loop or as an out and back. After an hour of granny gear and not knowing exactly where I was, I decided I'd better turn around. Before turning around I let my BPM return to ~100 before changing my mind and recommitting to finishing the ride.

Maybe I could go a little further.

I turned the bike uphill only to find that the trail had, again, turned into a stream. Nevermind, it was time to turn around.

The downhill was a lot of fun. Virtually all the creek crossings that had challenged me on the uphill were not a problem coming down. The single track was fast, but not too much for my disc brakes. I had ridden part of this trail last fall (beware of cow guacamole...) and found my rim brakes to be severely lacking.

At one point, I hit an unexpected uphill and lost momentum before I hit the top. I tipped over, rolled off my bike, and slid off a log into a bunch of sharp sticks. Without tearing my lycra, they scraped a chunk of flesh right off my bottom -- right on my sit bones. Consequently, sitting on my saddle was less than comfortable. I suspect in that crash, rather than at any other bone-jarring section of the downhill, is when I lost my brand-new $30 mini pump. Grrr.

With the exception of the small chunk of flesh I left at the crash-site, I came off the mountain none the worse for wear. I'm proud to say that my quads and calves aren't in the least bit sore. There are a few little-used muscles that are complaining (especially around my IT band, but other than that, I hope my body was reacting more to the altitude than the actual exercise.

Maybe I'll go back next week and see if I can find that stinkin' pump...

Springtime runoff would have made the first two crossings tricky had it not been for the "bridges."

A downhill section. It looses some threat in the photo. In real life those rocks loomed large.

Several small straight-aways made for a fun singletrack experience.

Too bad I didn't study the trail guide a little closer...

At times it got pretty technical on the uphill.

The "trail" to the left wasn't really the trail. The real trail was under the stream. The actual stream bed lies where the downed logs are. 

End of my uphill. A few meters up the trail was yet another trail-stream. Time to turn around. I found out later that I was very close to the top.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Letter to My Rockhopper

Last night my little brother came over and claimed my old Rockhopper as his own. After purchasing the Cobia, I really didn't have a need for the Rockhopper and, while it isn't in fantastic shape, it is still ridable.

Last week I swapped out some of the components that I wanted to keep, including seat, pedals, and other accessories, replacing them with new stuff from the Cobia. After I got it all fixed up, I took it out for a little spin. It was a short ride but the entire time I thought about all the fun times I had on that old bike. It's sad, in a way, to give up something that has been such a part of my life.

So, in the spirit of Jill Homer, I write you, beloved Rockhopper, a farewell letter.

Dear Rockhopper -

It was in the Spring of 1995 that I first laid eyes on you. Back then you were a lovely powder blue sitting on the floor of the Specialized dealer in Ephraim Utah. Having a front shock was such a gloriously indulgent idea that I almost felt guilty bottoming out your 60mm of elastomer goodness during our test rides.

As I am wont to do, I visited you often. I became obsessed. I swiped copies of the 1995 Specialized catalog from the dealer to pine after you until I could scrape up enough cash to purchase you. Eight-hundred dollars and change is an enormous amount of cash for a poor Snow College freshman to save. So to show the dealer that I was serious about my purchase and not just coming around for free test rides, I gave a few hundred here and a few hundred there to the dealer until, at last, I could bring you home.

I couldn't have been happier with you. You rode like a thorough-bred, flew like a bird, and climbed like a mountain goat. Others didn't share my enthusiasm and couldn't see how I justified my purchase. In a letter I received from my older brother after I shared with him the news of the purchase, he famously quipped, "An $800 bike!?!? Does it come with rockets?"

Nope, but I still have the letter, Mr. $1100 HKEK.

Our first real trail ride was in Log Canyon and it was there that I realized that my riding skills were sorely lacking. My efforts in developing them while riding my Mt Tek steed were in need of some serious help. It's nice to think that we never once endo'd while riding.

During that first year I took you on many-a-trail. Green Dirt, or Mill Road, being an oft-traveled favorite.

You took me on my first race where I lost. Painfully. But I still enjoyed the ride. I never raced again.

For two years, while I was in Germany, I stupidly hung you by your top tube in the attic. While there I received a letter that sent me into panic. It read, in part, "...Dad's fine after his fall. I guess he just wasn't used to riding your bike." Later I found that it was a joke at my expense and you were fine, still hanging in the attic. I was relieved, but only after the joke was explained a month later.

The two years spent in alternating extreme heat and extreme cold took a toll on your top tube and when I returned home I noticed you'd developed a crack. The subsequent swap-out of components to a new, and frankly uglier, 1998 frame lead to the question: Do old components on a new frame constitute a new bike or was it still the same old Rockhopper I've come to know and love? The latter tends to give me more comfort. For years I missed your beautiful powder-blue frame.

After Germany we rode many miles. I often found myself haunting the old Bonneville Shoreline trail. While it pales in comparison to Green Dirt in both rideability and accessibility, we made do.

As life changed, I turned to you less for fun and more for utility. Your sad whitewall tires began to show some serious wear and were soon replaced with a new pair of hybrids gave you less roll-resistance for the many, many hours we spent commuting but also allowed for some fun off road when time permitted.

Commuting began first to Winger's where I could eat as much as I wanted and never gain any weight, thanks to you. Later to UVSC as I worked toward my schooling. I bought you racks, panniers, and a more comfortable saddle for yet another commute—this time to a horrible job. One thing that I really appreciated about you was that after a long day of work dealing with a ridiculously stupid company and bosses, we could take a 10 mile ride home to blow off some steam. It was a liberating experience. It was therapeutic. It was good for me.

Slowly, commuting with you became less and less feasible; you began long stints hanging upside down from the garage ceiling—this time from your tires rather than your frame. I had less and less time to ride and a job that was an impossible 50 miles away instead of a doable 10.

A few years went by with very little riding.

Slowly, life began to stabilize and a renewed desire to get out and ride began creep in. After a conversation with my older brother about us finally training for our long-time dream of biking across Colorado, I realized that you, my beloved twelve year-old bike, wouldn't be able to make the trip. Though your frame is in fine shape, your once plush shocks are gone - victims of their own outdated technology, your drive-train has seen better days and often will gobble up chains if cranked too hard. In short, my friend, I'm afraid you're a bit long in the tooth. I need to put you out to pasture. You won't be making this ride.

So, I'm passing you onto my little brother. He's getting ready to start college. He needs a good commuting bike. He needs something he can ride and blow off some steam. And, every once in a while, he'll need to hit a trail or two and have a little fun. (Please make sure he wears a helmet—we may have never endo'd, but that's no guarantee for him!)

Last night, as he came by to pick you up, all shiny and clean from your recent tune-up and wash. He said you looked great. We snapped a few photos, commented on our good times together, and watched you walk out of my life forever.

Good luck, old buddy -


Monday, May 12, 2008

Riding the Cobia

I've never owned a 29er before. And while I like the bike, the geometry is something I need to get used to.

The first thing I noticed was the huge difference between the handlebar height. I swapped my seat and peddles out from my old Rockhopper because my Cobia didn't come with SPDs and the saddle was pretty solid. I prefer my posh gel-filled seat.

After I swapped out components, I took my Rockhopper for one last ride before I pass it onto my little brother.

As I said before, the geometry is very different. Both frames are 19", but the Cobia's down tube meets up with the top and head tubes much sooner than my Rockhopper. Additionally the top tube has an upangle (as many bikes do these days) which makes the stand-over height change as you move forward on the bike.

Because my Rockhopper's headset was much lower in comparison to the seat than the Cobia, my position was much more hunched over. This made for numb fingers after a long ride, but made for excellent climbing position because a lot of my weight was over the front tire.

During my ride on Saturday, I noticed that, because I was in more of an upright position, my technical climbing ability was limited. My front wheel tended to lose traction and sometimes lift off the ground. I maybe looking at adding some bar-ends before too long.

On the technical uphills, where my Rockhopper would climb, my Cobia would scramble.

This was somewhat disconcerting as I'd just dropped over a thousand bucks on the thing.

But, as I thought about it, I reminded myself that this bike wasn't purchased for technical climbing. It was purchased for steady climbing, cross country rides, and long hours in the saddle. The geometry, while not suited for mountain goat-like climbs, is perfect for the slow and steady sort of trails I intend it take it on. I imagine the tingling fingers so familiar when on the Rockhopper, will be gone with the Cobia.

I just need to accept that there will be some hike-a-bike episodes on the technical uphills.

Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

Friday, May 9, 2008


It's amazing how much it takes to get a bike around here. Maybe I should specify. It's amazing how much effort it takes to get a 2008 Gary Fisher Cobia with a brake upgrade. Nobody around here seems to be able to hack it.

I had a quote from Trek of AF on a Cobia with a brake upgrade. They said they could do it for a reasonable price, but just to check it out, I gave Mad Dog Cycle of Orem a call. They had matched the price of a brake swap quote and threw in a year of service to sweeten the deal. I assumed that from that speedy response that their level of service was top-notch.

MDC said they had one in stock and brakes at another store. All I had to do was pick it up and they'd have it ready for me by Thursday.


Thursday rolls around and I go down to pick it up, but it wasn't ready. It was somewhere in the back of the store unbuilt. Nobody seemed to know what was going on. Nobody seemed to really care. "Come back tomorrow and we'll have it built."

Meaning: no bike on Thursday.

So, I came back Friday. I was a little put out by the day wait, but not really a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

When I arrived I noticed they'd already done the brake swap for me (without a down payment even). It was really ready to go—I decided to take it for a quick spin to make sure it was what I really wanted an to give it a good look over. Everything looked good; it rode well. At one point in my test ride, I stopped to really look it over.

I noticed there was a nice big dent in the top tube, hidden under the logo. When I brought it back and pointed it out to the sales guys, they tried to explain it off. It wasn't until we compared it to other Fisher bikes that they realized it had been damaged in shipping. "We'll need to claim a warranty return. We'll get another shipment from Trek (Fisher's parent company) and have it in for you — built and ready to go by Wednesday."

"No if, ands, or buts - built and ready to go by Wednesday?" I asked. "For certain," they responded.

Meaning: no bike on Thursday or Friday.

Alright, fine. I was a little put out by having the bike I'd finally settled on snatched out from under me, but I understand that these sort of things happen. And, based on their willingness to immediately match the brake upgrade quote from Trek of AF, I assumed the shenanigans were a bit of a fluke.

Wednesday dawns bright and clear. Excited to get my bike, I'd loaded up my carrier into my trunk and made arrangements to stop by after work that afternoon to pick it up. After not receiving the expected phone call during the day, I finally gave MDC a call later that afternoon to inquire after the Cobia. They said there was no sign of it. They'd received a shipment from Specialized but nothing from Trek. "But," they said, "it should be in Thursday.

All their promises to deliver on Wednesday - for sure - were for not.

Meaning: no bike on Thursday, Friday, or Wednesday.

I called again on Thursday and the kid who answered had no idea what I was talking about. Because nobody wears name tags in the store or gives their name when I call, I had no answer for the repeated question, "Who were you working with on this?"

He said they had no record of a warranty request and if he worked on it today they could have a bike to me by the next Tuesday.

At this point I went off on the kid. Why hasn't this been handled? I expected this a week ago. MDC initially attracted me with an impression of good customer service but have since dropped the ball every step of the way. How are you going to win my business back?

He retorted that they can't be held responsible for false expectations and that it wasn't their fault the bike was damaged in shipping.

I frankly don't care what the problem was - I just want the bike - not a bunch of half-baked promises and shoddy customer service. And if you can't get me the bike, as promised, hook me up with some sort of consolation prize. Tell me you really want my business and realize this has been a huge problem. Give me a case of Power Bars or a free cycling computer or tell me the brake upgrade is free. Don't give me your lame excuses - that's not how you win back a customer. I don't care who screwed up, just make it right.

He apologized for the inconvenience but said he owed me nothing. The bike would be in Tuesday.

Meaning: no bike from Mad Dog Cycles.

After that phone call I started combing both Salt Lake and Utah counties for other Fisher dealers. Most people I spoke with didn't have it in stock, responding to my inquiry that it was back ordered until July, or maybe August, or I'd have to wait for the '09 model to come out.

I had a couple of quotes in my inbox, the only two stores that actually had bikes in stock - neither of them could deliver the brake upgrade for another week. After a follow up call to Golsan Cycles in West Jordan, I finally found a shop who actually understood what I wanted: a bike. Now.

They kid over at Golsan said he'd be happy to have a bike ready for me by 3:30p that day (Friday) - but the brakes wouldn't be in for another week. But he understood that I wanted it for the weekend and was happy to swap out the brakes next week when they came in.

"Just bring the bike back and I'll put the new brakes on and you can keep the brake pads you used. Since the pads are interchangeable it's not a problem."

Finally, a bike company that understood my desire to finally get the stinkin' bike in my grubby little hands that weekend and was willing to make it happen, posthaste.

I picked it up at exactly 3:30p - and it was totally ready to go, as promised. Check out was rapid and they even installed a computer for free. No hassles, no problems, no trying to up-sell me.

Of course having the bike last Friday than this week means I have to go in and wait around for them to put new brakes on. But I don't mind. They got me what I wanted, when I wanted it, and acted like their efforts were not a problem. Quick, easy, affordable, and in-tune with the customer. That's what I'm talking about.

Update! The guys at MDC called to tell me my bike was ready. The conversation started out poorly with a "We don't have your bike ready....just kidding!" and went down hill from there. After I told them I'd already purchased a bike from another company the kid seemed pretty irritated.

Hello? Don't expect me to be loyal if you drop the ball and refuse to take responsibility!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Another (sometime in the future) Epic

Check out the North Umpqua trail near Roseburg Oregon.

It's a 79 mile ride with 11 distinct segments. Including one called Dread and Terror. While I didn't see the total vertical feet listed on the site, the trail starts at around 1000 and tops off at 6000 feet above see level. Sounds like my kind of ride!

I've actually seen this trail while driving down the North Umpqua canyon on my way to my in-law's home. The canyon itself is a breath-taking drive. A white-knuckle drive if done at night.

In addition to the write-ups about the trail, the site is surprisingly well designed - especially considering that the BLM created it. I didn't expect the BLM to pull out all the stops and come up with such niceties as a Flash-based zoom-able map of the trail, or bother polishing the UI as much as they did. Kudos, guys.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Adios to my Dream Bike

Ok, I have to admit, my new Stumpjumper is pretty much my dream bike. Ever since I stared mountain biking, I've wanted a Stumpjumper. Everything from the solid components to the superfly design to the cool name, has made me want to own one.

I hadn't considered I'd ever own such a bike. I figured one of slightly less caliber would fit the bill. I'd planned to buy something that would fit my needs in my ride style, quality of components/frame, and ideally would fit within my budget.

This bike meets most of those needs and exceeds in some. So I think I'll take it back. It's just a little TOO much bike.

It was good while it lasted...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Clipless Crashes

I am not sure about these clipless pedals that I bought. For those of you unfamiliar with a clipless pedal, check out this Wikipedia entry. My bike is finally now in my possession after a two or three week wait. Once I had been fitted for my bike--I thought there wasn't much too fitting a person on a bike, but I was wrong 30-40 minutes of fitting and adjustments-- I biked home. I had my wifey drop me off at the bike shop. The clipless pedals took another 15 minutes of installing and adjustments. Anyway, back to the the clipless crashes story. I left the bikeshop, and made it about two blocks before I caught my favorite pair of pants on the front sprocket or whatever you want to call it, and I ripped them pretty good. I managed to clip out a couple of times before I stopped, and had not problems. Well I made it almost all the way home, and stopped at the crosswalk on the sidewalk. I pressed the button, and was clipped in on one side with my other foot resting on the pavement waiting for the walk light. I was a little too anxious and in my anticipation that it was about to turn, I hopped on my bike and started rolling forward. Well, the walk light never came. Instead, the light changed to green for the oncoming traffic. I realized this just before I reached the end of the sidewalk, and tipped over in sight of this big burly guy in a truck, who looked at me and drove on. I was still on the sidewalk, but my pride was a little injured.

I made it home without further incident, and that afternoon decided to go on a bike ride with the whole family. Well, I crashed twice within the first 5 minutes of the ride. When you have little girls who suddenly decide to stop for no apparent reason and you are right behind them, it doesn't give the unexperienced clipless peddler much time to "un-clip." So I biffed it on the driveway before I even got going. That was the worst fall because the handlebar scraped about 2 inches of skin off of my chest at the beginning of the bike ride. That hurt the entire ride, and received a satisfying gasp of horror from my wife when I showed it to her after the ride. I wonder how I am going to do on the trail...I guess I will start practicing on clipping in and out. :)

I should mention that I am way excited about my bike, and even had several of the employees at the bike shop tell me that I had a sweet bike. I had to special order it as, they didn't typically stock that model at their shop... I will keep you posted on more adventures as they come. Next up on the list is a bike rack that mounts to the trailer hitch of the van so that we can take the family to some less trod paths.

A True EPIC Ride

I was browsing CNN today, and came across this article. WOW!

This couple sold everything, and biked around a large portion of the world. 50 miles a day...4 years of biking. Some fun video clips too...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Mountain Biking Colorado

So I got the best Valentine's day present. My wife must truly love me! I got an awesome book called, "Mountain Biking Colorado" by Stephen Hlawaty. It has over fifty detailed write-ups of trails all over Colorado that include maps, elevation range, how to get there, technicality, etc. It also gives a little history of the area. So far, I am interested in a trail around Gunnison and a trail called Chutes and Ladders near Fruita. There is some good humor in the book as well. Here is a small quote from the book regarding the Waldo Canyon.

Waldo Canyon Trail, although primarily a hiker's trail, does invite gonzo-minded mountain bikers to strut their stuff. What makes this trail particularly appealing to tough riders is its steep climpbs out of creek beds and its fast and rocky decent....For those of you whose mentality is one fry short of a happy meail, try tackling the stairs on your return.

It also provides a hut-to hut guide from Telluride to Moab with information on how to obtain food and water along the way.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Its a good thing I am not a betting man...

Well, I had my $ on the Tassajara. The Reader's Digest version is that I am buying a Hoo Koo E Koo.

K, now the longer version (still abbreviated, though...the actual transaction and time in the bike shop was over 1 1/2 hours to figure things out). I showed up at Treads yesterday to pick the upgrade components on my Tassajara. I was going to put Shimano XT on the shifters and rear derailleur; and LX on the front derailleur. Oh, and add clipless pedals to the bike After finding the prices on all those components, subtracting the existing components, and then remembering to add a 10% discount on the new parts, my total was $913 or so.

A 2008 Tassajara with disc brakes (my original pick used traditional caliper brakes) started at $830. So I was paying about 150 extra to not get disc brakes (a upgrade basic kit runs around $400). So then I decided to go with the 08 Tassajara with disc brakes and clippless pedals standard, and upgrade the components. Total price was now more than stock price for a Hoo Koo E Koo that had comparable components and better brakes, and shocks for 30 LESS.

This all took about an hour and a half, and by then end of it, I was tired of shopping. So...My bike is on order, and I am looking forward to riding it.

And hey, Hoo Koo E Koo is kind of fun to say!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I've Got my money on the Tassajara

Well, I am one step closer to getting my mountain bike for our Epic Ride! Our local bike store is having a sale on 07 Tassajara's. The normal price is $650, and they are marked down $100. I have talked with friends at work, and folks at the bike shop, and it appears that the Fisher's provide better components for the money spent. I also like the Genesis geometry that the Fisher Bikes have. In talking with a friend at work, he convinced me to upgrade some components off of the stock bike. So I am planning on swapping out the shifters, and front and rear derailers with xt (shifter and rear) and lx for the front derailer. The estimated cost will be around $140, so it will have pretty good components for much cheaper than the latest Tassajara. In my mind, I am getting some sweet components for only $40 by going with last years model. I didn't go for the disc brakes, as I thought the rim brakes will do just as well, and the extra $200 in cost, I think I will take things just a little bit slower when I am going through mud or water.

So I put 10% down to hold the bike. They have to transfer it from another store. I should get a call this week when it is down in Parker. Then I will test drive it again, and probably pay for the bike and upgrade the components... The only thing I am wondering about is putting a better shock system on it. I don't know if my weight will be an issue with the stock shock system...Something to research.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Test Ride

I took the 14th off to spend some time with Caren. My life is pretty hectic these days which really limits any time we can spend together.

We were out and about running errands and decided to stop by Mad Dog Cycle and see if they stocked the bike I've been considering buying.

They did stock it, and I took a quick spin around the parking lot. With the exception of the brakes and the not-too-bad-but-could-be-better shocks, I was pretty convinced that I'd found exactly what I was looking for. They even agreed to upgrade the brakes for an additional $30 bucks. Before we left I asked about what Gary Fisher had in that same price range. He recommended the Tassajara which would give me a shock upgrade (from coil to air) as well as an upgrade to a hydraulic disc brake for almost a full hundred dollars cheaper! Now I'm starting to consider ol' fisher a lot more seriously despite my somewhat irrational brand loyalty bias I have toward Specialized.

He also confirmed my suspicion: if you're only going to pay $1000 for a bike, a full suspension would require severe component compromises resulting in a very sub-standard biking experience. *ahem* I'm not naming any names or anything...just sayin'.

No Number on the Knee

I saw a doctor of orthopedic medicine yesterday. Everything looks fine - all cartilage and connective tissue is intact. The doctor couldn't really pinpoint what the problem was - even though I could duplicate the popping and catching that caused this in the first place. He told me to keep wearing my neoprene knee sleeve, take lots of ibuprofen, and prescribed some physical therapy. Maybe I should have a visit with Dr. House - he always figures stuff out.

He also did a cortisone injection in my shoulder that's been acting up. The steroid supposed to kick in tomorrow or the next day.
The llidocaine that was mixed with the cortisone was supposed to kick in within 5 minutes of the injection but made absolutely no difference. We'll see how the steroid does...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Down for the Count

It always seems like whenever I get injured it always seems to be doing something mundane. Most people come off of injuries with at least a daring story.

Their stories generally begin something like this, "it was the fourth quarter with seconds to go...", "we were rappelling down El Capitan when...", or "when we reached 12,000 feet, I double-checked my parachute...". It seems like when someone I know gets injured, it's doing something awesomely cool.

Not me. My injuries are always mundane. Broke a finger playing catch. Broke a wrist with a simple fall. Most famously: broke an ankle by stepping off a curb. (My friends, who were there, didn't even believe anyone could break an ankle stepping off a curb and made me walk on it for six blocks.)

My latest injury is no exception. Nothing exciting, nothing daring. I'm not sure exactly what I did, but I suspect I hyper-extended my knee. Since it was 9:30p and I needed to hit the hay, I opted for a quick mile instead of a longer run. I hopped on the treadmill and within a few minutes had put in my distance. As I hit the 3 mph button to go into cool-down my knee caught and I felt it pop in a very unnatural way. Down I went, unable to even release the safety cord to stop the machine. I laid there in pain, my feet dragging on the still running treadmill.

I've now been limping along on it for five days and only now starting to wonder if I ought to see a doctor about it. When I tell him my story about this injury, at least I'll be spared the embarrassment of having to say "stepped off a curb" at any point in the conversation.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Iron Man Triathalon

I don't remember when I first heard about the Iron Man Triathlon, but I remember thinking that would be a really neat accomplishment. For those of you that don't know about this insane race, it is a marathon (26.2 miles), a 112 mile bike ride, and a 2 1/2 mile swim. ALL done in the same day!
One of my favorite stories about the Iron man is shown below. This is the background.

Here is a video containing footage from the race. Although it provides less dialogue and background, the images are pretty powerful. MUST WATCH!!

I get a tear or two when I watch this.

An article from CNN.

I recently received an email from Parker outlining an Iron Man Challenge that participants would finish within a 2 week time frame. I started laying out what I would need to do, and it would involve running 6 - 7 miles a day, followed by 25-30 mile bike rides, and 1 mile swims. It totals to 11 workout sessions over two sets of Monday through Saturday. For those that logged the triathlon in 1 week, they would get a special honor. Now I am definitely not in good enough shape to do this right now. Et Cetera's wife probably could, but not me.

My next thought was to put the challenge up on Epic Ride...exercise, practice and use out of the mountain bike that I am going to get soon, and a feeling of accomplishment. What do you think? I was thinking a month time frame...say March or April.

Someday I would like to compete in the Iron Man in one day. :)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hey, I did it!

Sixty days! I did it!

Saturday I climbed on the treadmill after pick-axing the driveway clear of ice (I've had no time to shovel the driveway since Monday's storm) and, using my fancy new heart monitor I received as a recognition award from work, proceeded to stomp out a good two miles.

With that effort I finished my 60 day task and will soon be off to buy a new bike!!

Woo hoo!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Exercising for the Soul

Last night Caren read an article from the January 2008 Ensign to me. She later did a little write up for her family and I thought I'd share.

[The article ] was a really good one about a woman who had long neglected her physical health and at 120 pounds overweight decided to finally do something about it. Her attitude was right in that she was focused on improving her health and making long-term lifestyle changes, not just losing weight or dropping sizes (though that came eventually too). And over the next few years as she made this physical transformation she realized how much these principles apply as spiritual lessons too. That everything that's true about taking care of our physical bodies is also true about taking care of our spirits.

These are the points that she shared:

  • Natural laws govern all things
  • Pacing yields endurance
  • Resistance builds strength
  • Lengthen your stride
  • Plateaus will happen -- continue anyway
  • Variety helps
  • Toning happens through correct form -- not just additional repetitions
  • Our natural state is not our best state

As she discusses each of these things and how they apply to getting in shape physically, she also makes great comparisons with how they apply to getting in shape spiritually.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Over the hump

Three weeks to go to hit my exercise goal.

As I've previously mentioned, I'm not the most consistent person in the world. Generally my efforts in achieving a goal start strong and finish early. Two to three weeks into it and I'm ready to move onto the next big thing.

I guess proper motivation really holds sway for me.

The other night, Caren and I were talking and marveling that this goal didn't end like so many of my other efforts do: prematurely. It's now easy (or at least easier) to exercise than ever before.

A couple of things have contributed to my success:

  • Proper motivation(Doesn't everyone say that rewarding yourself is an excellent idea?)
  • Not pushing myself too hard (it's much easier to want to hit the treadmill when I know I'll feel good afterward)
  • Focusing on being consistent, and not expecting physical results (which I have seen in endurance build-up. I've seen virtually no weight loss. That's a future goal.)

It's been an interesting um... exercise... in goal setting and achieving.