Monday, March 31, 2008

Add This To Your List of Rides This Year

There are a few rides that I really look forward to in 2008.

  • Leadville

  • KTR

  • Fall Moab

  • The Gantlet Supreme

The Gantlet Supreme is especailly cool becuase I can do it from my driveway and recover on my couch.

  • 7 climbs

  • Just over 90 miles

  • 10,000 ft of climbing
(pic taken from Fatty's site)

It's a huge ride yet it has plenty of bail out options and stays close to gas stations and the Sundance Resort just in case you need something (like a bag of Cheetos and Diet Coke.)

I think 2008 should be the year we make this ride an event and award KOM points, sprint points, and overall top finisher.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Trail Report

I rode the lower "Frank" trail yesterday after work. It's totally dry all the way up to the saddle (where you take a sharp left and start the climb up to Dry). It was nice to get a little higher than the BST. My watch showed the high elevation at 6,200 ft.

Does anyone (Dug) know where the trails goes if I go straight instead of hang left at this point? I climbed the trail for a little ways until it started to get sloppy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"I have No Strength"

It's March. It's 65 degrees outside. It's sunny. The trails are dry and in great shape. It's also the end of Quarter and I happen to work in Sales for a large software company. Not exactly the best time to think about riding. But I'm weak. I'm easily tempted. So yesterday, I had my head down and was burried with work and then it happened. Sometimes it's an email. Sometimes it's an IM. This time it was an IM from Dug. (Warning- Dug and I are both over the age of 30 and we tend to use full sentences and punctuation in our IM conversations).

Dug -"There is talk of a ride today at 4:30 at the EQ"

Me - "Not going to make it. I'm slammed"


Me -"who is going?"

Dug - "Sleepy, Elden, Brad, Sam, Banks and Jason"

Me- "Maybe I should get one last ride in this week before the weather turns"

Me - "Afterall, I deserve it. I've been going hard and could use a break"

Dug - "Pull the trigger man. You've earned it"

Me- "I'll see what I can do"

5 minutes later, I'm texting Dug from my car going 70 down the freeway telling him I'll be there and to wait.

It doesn't take much to push me over the edge. I hate the idea of missing a group ride. The only thing worse than missing a group ride, is listening to the conversation after the ride and pretending to be interested as they describe every detail.

This morning I got to work and the IM popped up again....

Dug- "Wanna do Scottie's Friday morning?"

Dug- "Supposed to get 6-10 inches of new"

I'm thinking of not signing into my IM for the rest of the week.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Networking in the Wasatch

My first real Corp job required that I get a set of golf clubs and take a client golfing every now and then.  It was also a "great" way to network and get some face time with the boss.  I never did like golf and still don't.  Golf is silly.  It's expensive, it requires no fitness, and takes half the day. 

If I have 6 hours to go do something, I'd much rather spend it on the bike.  Lately, I've been able to meet new people and even do some business while cycling.  Today for example, I met another local cyclist who also works for a large high tech company in Utah County.  We exchanged emails a few times and finally connected today for a post work ride on the BST above Orem.  It's funny when you first meet another cyclist.  Small talk starts while trying to catch a glimpse of their legs and arms to gage their level of fitness. You can tell a lot about a cyclist just by looking at their legs. I knew within seconds that Aaron, who I just met, was a hardcore cyclist.  

We rode for about an hour and talked along the way.  It turns out we know some of the same people.  The cycling community in Utah is tight and if you talk to someone long enough, you can usually make a connection.  

Cycling should be the new golf.  I think I'll make a bumper sticker.

By the way, check out the 2008 Omniture kits that arrived a few weeks ago.  I think they turned out great.  These will make you 10% faster and 5 lbs lighter. 

Friday, March 21, 2008

If You Are Fast, You Can Wear Anything

I found this pic on "creepyfriendly's" site- Member of the BKB team. You've got to be fast to pull this off (and I'm sure he is).

It's always the guys on single speeds that mix it up. We need more of this.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Jersey Collection

It's out of control. I have, at this moment, 14 cycling jersey's with 2 more on order. Some of them have been washed more than 50 times, crashed in several times, and still look brand new. What are these things made of? I have more cycling jersey's than I do work shirts (which isn't a bad thing). But still, why so many?

2 of them are from Racer's Cycle Service (gotta support the local shop. Which is why I still need to get my hands on a Revolution jersey for the days that I am in SLC.)
2 Fat Cyclist jersey's- one pink, one orange
5 DNA jersey's- the core team
2- Omniture jersey's (it's where I spend most of my time, why not think about work while cycling too?)
1 sleeveless- which I never wear cuz I lack the girth in my arms.
4 misc jersey's

These jerseys have been through a lot. Hours of suffering during races, epic rides with friends, early mornings spent in spin class, late night rides, one attack by a mountain goat, countless trips to gas stations for the post ride meal (hot dog & 44oz drink). But they all share one thing in common. they stink. One ride can ruin a jersey forever. They seem to retain that stench no matter what kind of laundry soap I use. Has anyone else noticed this? Can't they figure out a way to make a jersey that doesn't retain the nasty smell?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Now My Wife Won't Ride

Tony sent this to me tonight.  I'm guessing he took this pic today during a ride. There are two of these signs posted in Corner Canyon (Draper).

My wife had a babysitter lined up for Sat so we could get a mountain bike ride in close to home.  
Now she's not so interested in riding.

Maybe we'll go to Bed Bath and Beyond instead...Home Depot if we have time.

Thanks Tony.  

Monday, March 17, 2008

New Shoes

I'm going to pull the trigger on some new MTB shoes this week. I want something really stiff. In fact, I've been thinking about getting a road shoe instead of a MTB shoe. For long rides like RAWROD & Leadville my feet are what give me the most trouble. I'm tired of hot spots.

Any suggestions? Would a top of the line MTB shoe with a carbon sole do the trick or would it be better to get a road shoe?

These are my questions.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Skiing in the Dark

My alarm went off at 4:30am. I don't remember turning it off but I do remember waking up at 4:51 in a panic. I knew I had to be some where but couldn't remember where. Then it hit me....crap. I was supposed to meet Dug and Ben at 5:15am at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon.

I had my truck all packed up with my backcountry gear and a change of clothes (work clothes) the night before so I'll I had to do was throw in my contacts and grab some fuel. I made the mistake of eating a Clif Bar that I found after digging around in my cycling bag. Who knows how long it had been there. It could have been left over from any number of rides I've done over the past 3 years (along with 3 or 4 Gu packs and a handful of Shot Bloks that have been there forever). The Clif Bar would come back to haunt me later.

With the recent cold front that hit SLC (or as the kids say..the "801"), we gambled that Friday morning would treat us to some fresh powder. We were right. About half way up the canyon, the roads were covered in snow and it was dumping. Our original plan to ski something off of Superior changed to something more mellow in Days Fork. Superior is nasty with low visibility and with the recent snow and wind it wasn't the best option.

The good thing about getting to the trail head early in a storm is the fresh tracks factor. You can pretty much ski any route and not have to fight for first tracks. However, this comes with a price. It meant we would need to break trail. I traded turns with Ben breaking trail up to the Flagstaff ridge and that's when the Clif Bar started knocking on my door. I almost made myself vomit so I could get it out of my system. I'm not sure if it was the Clif Bar or the pace but I was feeling it. Ben is a mountain goat. He can climb fast and do it for hours. Just once I'd like to get Ben out on a road bike and race him up Suncrest. I wouldn't be surprised if, on his first road ride ever, he could drop me or anyone else I ride with.

About 3/4 the way up the climb, another group caught us (it's much easier to climb with a skin track already cut). No surprise they were BlackDiamond employees. It seems most of the people I see early morning backcountry are BD people. We chated breifly then they went West and we went East along the ridge. With DST, we didn't take into consideration it gets lighter later, so we knew that the first shot would pretty be skied in the dark with our headlamps on.

We dropped a cool steep northeast facing shot into Days and then climbed back out to the ridge. Dug and Ben would do another shot into Days and I took off down the South side to the car so I could get into work before 9:30.

I don't ever want to move. I love that at any time in the year (depending on the weather), I can access some of the best backcountry terrain in the country in a matter of minutes. There are miles and miles of cool single track for mountain biking that starts 30 seconds from my driveway. And I live at the top of 2 really good road ride climbs (North or South side of Suncrest).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Early Season Riding

It's not the most exciting ride but if you are looking for some early season dry dirt (all single track), this is a good option.

I rode it starting from Orem yesterday after work. Only a couple of sloppy sections but 95% of it is dry.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Daylight Savings = Post Work Rides

Losing one hour of sleep is a small price to pay for an extra hour of daylight in the evening. The warmer temps, melting snow, and extending light in the evening are all good things (Dug- yes, this means I am losing interest in backcountry and getting more and more excited for mountain biking. Deal with it).

Yesterday after work, Jamie, Tony and I met for a mountain bike ride in Corner Canyon (Draper). We rolled out of Jamie's driveway by 5:45 and rode for about 1.5 hours.

I was surprised how dry the lower trails were. We only had about 5 or 6 snow patches to navigate and they were only about 20 feet long. The rest of the trails are in great shape.

I lost another sprint to Jamie at the top of the jeep road climb. One of these day's I'll learn how to knock him off his line before I put the hammer down.

With the temps this warm, I'm thinking more and more about breaking out the lights.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Palm Desert Day 3

The guide books say that Palm Desert has the best mountain biking in So Cal. If you would have asked me if I agreed with this statement on day 1, I would have spit in your face and laughed.

Ask me after day 2 and I might have agreed. But if you asked me after day 3, I would have given you a "Hell Yeah".

Day 3 started out with Jamie and I making a quick trip to the local Kinko's to print out a full 11 page description of the trail complete with color photos (which actually came in handy because the first trail sign we came to was laying on the ground and had 2 arrows pointing in different directions. We actually found the picture of that sign on the print out and figured out which way it should be facing). We also printed 2 pages of topo maps with GPS coordinates. As we drove to the Kinko's in our golf cart, we let a local mountain biker draft off us as we picked his brain about the trail we were about to ride. I remember him saying...."it's probably not a good idea to go up there without a local showing the route. It's easy to get lost". Gulp.... Great, I thought. Better find a way to carry a 3rd water bottle this time.
We ignored the local's advice and decided to ride the trail anyway without bringing a local. My memory is already starting to fade but I think the trail we rode on day 3 was called "Palm Canyon". It was described as mostly single track that rolled along about 30 miles and dropped us into Cathedral City. We asked Jill (Tony's wife) to drive us about 20 miles up highway 74 and drop us off at the top of the trail head. I'm normally against any kind of shuttling but the route was described as having a lot of downhill with about 2,000 ft of climbing. So it wasn't like we were getting off easy.

Immeditaley, we found the trail and started to realize what a great day this was going to be.

This trail had it all. Tight single track, switchbacks, river crossings, technical rock sections, and amazing views. The trail was fast and not knowing what was around the next corner made it totally exciting. But the best part of this ride was when we saw the only other mountain bikers of the day. They were on freeride bikes and one guy was missing half his front teeth. We stopped and talked for a minute and realized one of the guys was the same guy we saw in the bike shop on Day 1. He was trying to get us to hire him as a tour guide for the weekend and kept mentioning something about him being a "Freeride Champion" and a pretty big deal over in Germany. We ignored him and figured that was the last we would see of him.
When he saw us on the trail, he looked down at the single speeds and said "Dude, you guys are hardcore. Look at you....all in shape and everything".
The trail eventually dropped us into a wash and turned into a 3 mile sandy climb. It was like riding on the beach but uphill. It was hard because you had go fast enough to keep the momentum in the sand. If you stopped, it was hard to start back up again. Head down and legs burning, we made it up the climb and back onto the Dunn Jeep road. I knew what was ahead. The Hahn Trail. I pulled up along side Jamie and made sure he knew it was a race to the top of the jeep road. I'm pretty sure I'm 1 for 50 against Jamie when it comes to a sprint finish to the top of a climb. I think we have about the same gearing on our SS but for some reason, he can generate twice the speeed.

After 3 days of desert riding, I was amazed that none of us had a flat yet. The trails were lined with cactus and thorns. We were all riding tubless with Stans which was the right way to go. We tried not to talk about it but eventually it happened. With about 7 miles to go, Jamie flated, then Jon, then Jamie again. Between the 4 of us, we had enough tubes and CO2 to fix the flats and make it home to the wives. Just in time for diner and a movie.

Special thanks to Tony and Jill for the invite. Good times!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Day 2 - From Hell to Heaven

Note: If you plan to ride mtb in Palm Desert, I highly recommend arm warmers and leg warmers for protection against cactus & sharp bushes.  My arms and legs looked like I got into a cat fight. 

Note #2: Despite running out of water on day 1, Tony still refused to slap a second cage on his bike.  (Tony, check your mailbox, I'm sending you something).

Note #3: If you don't have tubeless, stay home.
Day 2-
Needless to say, the next morning, we were very cautious with our route selection.  None of us were up for another epic day in the heat and our legs were still burning from the effort the previous day.  But more importantly, we couldn't let the wives see us get lost again.  We spent most of the morning hydrating with Diet Coke and water and more Diet Coke.  I was just trying to get to the point where I could pee again.  I must have lost 5 lbs of water weight from dehydration from day 1. 
With Jamie as our guide, we looked over the maps & guide books and mapped out a shorter ride that only had a 2.5 mile climb on the jeep road before it turned into single track.  2.5 miles?  that would be a piece of cake, right?
The day before, we were so anxious to ride that we left right from the house and rode from town on our single speeds up the pavement to the trail head.  This day; however, we threw our bikes into the mini van and drove to the trail head.  I'm not a big fan of mini vans but I'll admit they are very handy.  4 guys and 4 bikes all inside the van and enough cup holders for a small army.
We found the trail head and started the ride. within minutes, we found ourselves on a steep, sandy, nasty climb that had us second guessing ourselves.  The thing is, in Palm Desert, every ride begins with a grunt.  I guess it's how they roll in So Cal.  These grunts seem to weed out the weak and spoiled which is probably why we saw only 5 other bikes the entire 3 days of riding . 
After 1.8 miles of lung busting climbing, we noticed a trail head which could have been what we wanted (Goat trail I think is what it's called) but we decided to keep climbing until we got to 2.5 miles (as described in the guide book) just to be sure we didn't take another wrong turn. The problem was, we never saw another trail until mile 4.  After working our way to the 4 mile marker, turning around seemed silly.  We topped out at the "oasis" where we made the critical decision yesterday to go left instead of right.  I couldn't help but laugh.  To think we could have stayed right and had 4 miles of downhill into town instead of 27 miles of hellish climbs.

After Jamie and Tony double checked the maps, we decided to gamble and try the Hahn Trail which started from the Oasis at the top of the climb.  We had no idea where the Hahn trail would take us but it looked pretty good.  

The Hahn trail took us on a short climb to an overlook.  The overlook revelaed a huge single track downhill loaded with switchbacks. We weren't exactly sure where this huge downhill would take us but it would have been a sin to not ride it.  Every few minutes we would stop, regroup, and look down at the valley floor below and shrug.  Someone would throw out the comment "I'm sure if we had to climb back out, it wouldn't be that bad" or "look at all the tire tracks, this must be a popular ride.  We should be okay".  Not knowing if it was a mistake to go all the way down.  It would have meant a brutal climb back out despite our attempts to rationalize.  At one point, we had stopped to discuss our options again, and we noticed there were only 3 of us now.  Jon couldn't help himself and he took off downhill and never looked back to see if we planned to follow.  I can't blame him.  I think we all felt that we had earned the right to some sweet downhill after all the climbing we had logged.  The rest of us watched him go down and down, weaving back and forth in and out of switchbacks until he disappeared into the valley below.  At that point, we were all committed.   No turning back now.
We got lucky.  The downhill dumped us into a wash which rolled along the valley floor until we hooked back into the Goat Trail (our original planned route for the day).  We eventually connected back to the jeep road.  Jamie wanted more and he went exploring while the rest of us worked on our sun tan.  5 minutes later, Jamie came back and we coasted down the road back to the car.

The Hahn trail would make its way into day 3.  It was THAT good. 

The Definition of Epic

This is a guest post written by Tony Parkinson

I'm guilty of using the word epic to describe 2+ hour rides up American Fork Canyon or the mountains of Park City/Deer Valley. Both areas I know very well, and plan my rides accordingly with plenty of food and H2O.
This past weekend, the true meaning of the word epic was revealed to me, and has forever changed my perception of what an epic ride consists of.

I enjoy the benefits of having in-laws that have a vacation home in paradise, otherwise known as Palm Desert, California. Frequently during the winter months there is an open weekend that I can enjoy a boys trip, or as the case was last weekend, a couples trip with my wife and a few of our close friends.
I frequently had traveled with my road bike down to the desert to spin out the winter cobwebs from my legs. However, it wasn't until I read an article in Mountain Bike Magazine regarding some great trails in Palm Desert and Palm Springs, that I had thought about riding my mountain bike in the hills that border the cities to the East.

Rick, myself, Jamie Pogue and Jon James thus endeavored to explore a few of the trails most mentioned in the article. One in particular, was the Art Smith Trail, which is an 8.5 mile one-way, or 17 mile out-and-back that includes some steep terrain, awesome views, a palm oasis or three, and gnarly trail features. The trail head began at 307 vertical feet with nowhere else to go but straight up. See the attached photos for a visual depiction of the trail, (ie; gnarly trail features, palm oasis and awesome views.) You thought I was embellishing?

After two hours, 8.5 miles and 2,000 vertical ft, we found ourselves at what was a critical junction in our ride. The Art Smith Trail "T'd" into a fire road which is known as Dunn Road. We had a decision to make which would be the defining moment of the day. The results of which would lead to the inspiration of this post.

We had 3 choices: 1) Ride straight onto the Hahn Trail, which is a beautiful single track. (More on this trail later in a post by Rick.) 2) Go right on Dunn Road, which unbeknownst to us at the time, descends only 4 miles into Cathedral City, where we could have simply called our wives to come pick us up; or 3) Go left and follow Dunn Road back to Hwy. 74 where we started. Sounds like a no brainer right? Well, had we known that the fire road which led us back to Hwy. 74 was a 27.5 mile, 2,000 vertical foot climb, we would have gladly chosen another route. Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for you the reader, we chose to ride the Dunn fire road back to Hyw. 74.

Every climb in the remaining two and a half hours of our ride was marked with anticipation that just over the pass would be civilization. Did I mention that there were at least a dozen more climbs, for a total of approximately 2,000 more vertical feet in elevation? Long climbs that would taunt me by disappearing over the horizon. But each time I approached what appeared to be the summit, I found a false flat or a quick descent into a sandy wash with another steep climb following. Pffff! That was the sound of the hope leaking out of my soul at every false summit.

No man uttered curse words like those out of our mouths that day. I was out of water long ago with only one water bottle cage on my bike. I took both drink and food from Jamie and Jon, and still needed more. Rick and I began to recall various episodes of Man vs. Wild and suspected that we may have to put the lizard/scorpion/beetle eating scenes into play. Jon was cramping bad, which required him to sit down frequently. We were all happy to wait with him and walk beside him, despite being anxious that we were burning precious day light. To be fair with Jon, we all probably walked as much as he did as we were all on single speeds. Although I don't have any evidence, Jamie walked too. Don't let him tell you any differently. Things were bad with no end in sight.

With the day expiring quickly, I pulled out my cell phone to call my wife and tell her that we were lost, but thought we knew where we were headed. I made sure that she knew we were on Dunn Road and expected to come out on Hwy. 74. Techno-geek Jamie went one step further by telling his wife our coordinates from his Garmin, hoping she could find us with the GPS unit he had left at the house. Little did I know that the sound of my voice, in addition to the knowledge that we were out of water, and quickly closing in on dusk, worried my wife enough that she and the girls began seeking advice from Coachella Valley Search and Rescue.

Finally, it appeared that our luck had turned as we began to descend without another climb in sight. Like a literal oasis in the desert, we rolled into a rural subdivision and desperately sought evidence of someone home via an open garage. We rolled up to a worn woman and her child in their yard and must have startled her as she held back her barking dog. Her husband who closely resembled "Dog" The Bounty Hunter, came out to greet us as we described our desperate situation and asked for some water. At least a dozen water bottles later, and a couple of photo opportunities for his kids who wouldn't believe "the day the mountain bikers visited", he pointed to the exit of the subdivision and said the most beautiful words I'd heard that day yet: "1 mile to Hwy. 74".

Once on Hyw. 74, we descended rapidly back home. We had called our wives earlier upon descending into the subdivision and they met us and followed us home in their mini vans full of damp towels, water bottles and trail mix for their weekend warriors.
As I said to begin this post, epic has a new definition in my vocabulary after this ride. Epic rides must include cramping, fear, the lack of provisions and fluid, and the stakes are doubled if you become lost. Never again will I be caught using that word for any Saturday morning rides near home.

P.S. I'd like to thank Rick for making my dreams come true by being his first guest blogger! Good times bro.