Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hey, Wake up! It's 2007!

One more from Austin's Collection - 1968
Happy New Year!
2006 is coming to a close with the regular assortment of riding goals met; riding goals failed, and riding goals ignored. On the whole it has been a great year. More miles than any calendar year, and I rode a lot of new and exciting routes. Were there any goals ignored? That goal of a double-century was probably out of my reach to start with. I am not quite ready for that yet. Were there any failed goals? Well, I never did ride Little Cottonwood Canyon, but hey, something for next year!
Most cyclists would agree with me that they each ride for different purposes. Some ride purely for fun, never knowing or caring what miles they ride, just that they enjoy doing it. Others are true mileage geeks that track every mile of every ride, and all of their riding is results, results, results. Some riders are commuters, taking great joy in not using their car. I could go on forever, the list is endless.
But, how does one assess and quantify yearly goals? And I don’t mean just riding goals; our lives are filled with small and large goals every day! But, let’s just talk about riding. If my friend Pete reaches his goal of 12,500 miles for 2006 (really, I am not making this up!) But ends the year burned out, exhausted, and feeling no joy in riding, was his goal a worthy pursuit? I think not. (Not that he is burned out or tired, I am just using his goal as an example. I don’t think he ever gets tired!)
For me, I ride to tackle new challenges; to become more physically fit; to stay healthy; to sometimes commute; to enjoy the fresh air and the peace of riding; and lately to take pictures. I do however, track miles and rides. I keep a log, and sometimes record a comment about the day’s ride. And on especially gorgeous days, I may tape over my cycle computer, and ride off into the world without a care about any statistic. One of the benefits of recumbent riding is the view why not enjoy it!

So, let’s look at the 2006 achievements, and compare them with previous years.

This has been a great year for the Little Red Barcroft
1405 miles; I feel like I transitioned from bike rider to cyclist, I had a better bike and a healthier body to ride it. I rode bigger and longer hills, and never felt “burned out” wanting to shelve the bike. The season actually left me energized for 2007.

602 miles; A year of dead legs and doldrums; I never got emotionally geared up to ride, and didn’t start logging miles until mid to late summer. I did however, ride commute to and from work in the same day for the first time, a 52 mile round trip!

Me and my trusty Burley Limbo, where else, Antelope Island!
1175 miles; My coming out party. I broke 1,000 miles and rode my first ‘bent century, riding a Burley Limbo.

Finishing my first 100 miler, I darn near passed out about 30 minutes after this picture was taken!

992 miles, I rode my first century on a 1982 Raleigh racing bike I bought for $60.00! Believe or not, I actually sold the bike back to its original owner, he missed having it!

Cycling at Bryce Canyon - 2003
675 miles, the first year I started actually working at riding. I seem to recall that I trained most of the summer to be able to ride my age on my birthday. (45 at the time)

It works out to be 4849 miles in the last 5 years. It seems more amazing to me just looking at the number, and it is sometimes hard to visualize the almost 5,000 miles just looking at the bike in the garage. Oh, the places we’ve been!
What’s on the docket for 2007? Well, the usual ideas come to mind. 15% more miles; longer training rides in the 50-60 mile range, and my first 200k brevet. (Oh yes, and Little Cottonwood Canyon to Snowbird, too!) I think these are reasonable and attainable goals. It’s going to be a great year! Come along with me and enjoy the ride!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas to my few, but dedicated readers…

This Christmas Blog post is written in part on behalf of a distant blogpal, Emma Muhlack, from Adelaide, Australia, (who) recently mentioned in her diverse and interesting blog that:

“Christmas (at least in my immediate family) has always been a celebration about Jesus' birth. Church Christmas eve and Christmas Morning, nativity scene, angels on the tree”

Well, I just wanted to share a few pictures with you of our Nativity scene, and of the Christmas trees that make this season special for us here at our house in Utah.

After all, being able to “Elf Yourself” and generally being very silly as we stuff ourselves with Christmas cookies is great fun, but let’s not forget the real reason for the Christmas season. Now, I am really not trying to get up on my editorial soapbox here. I just felt like sharing a little of the Christmas spirit from our house to yours. Here’s to you and yours this Christmas.

From the book of Luke:

…And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David :) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Amen to that!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Photography of the Past

Hi all,
This is not a post about recumbent cycling, or even about riding some steep canyon, or the repairing and configuring of the Little Red Bike. The subject of this post is photography. Primarily, it is about the history of photography in my family during the last one hundred years. You may have noticed that every past blog post has been accompanied by at least one photograph. In fact it is almost a requirement for me to include a photo to help tell a story or to share a landscape that you might appreciate.

The history of photography in my family dates back to somewhere around 1898 or so. My grandfather, Tad was an avid photographer, taking pictures of his adventures and travels in the Lake Louise, Banff areas of Alberta, Canada, and throughout the rest of his life. Tad passed on his love of photography to my dad, Austin, who as it seems, was never, ever, without his camera. Austin, spent a lifetime enjoying taking pictures of landscapes and of what he used to call “typical Americans” doing normal and typical things. He was a master of the candid shot, composing and framing people with their natural smile. He also rejoiced in sending lovely sailing pictures like the one at the top of this post, to his relatives in New York and New Jersey in the dead of winter! Austin then passed his love of photography to his children, and all four of us either enjoy taking pictures, or just appreciate the pictures of the past. I have fond memories of working in the darkroom with Austin, learning the important tricks of the trade like: “Get closer, Get Closer!” and of course the famous line in our house, “What are you waiting for! Push the button!”

This is Austin, with his Speed Graphix, in 1968.
But how do all these pictures from the last one hundred years or so survive? The digital world of course! When dad had leukemia in 1998, he spent months scanning Grandpa Tad’s old negatives, transcribing written notes and descriptions and creating digital files and HTML thumbnails. My brother-in-law, Dana has continued the task for the last eight years, running 35 mm rolls of film through a machine scanner, and storing the images on external hard drives. At last count, my external hard drive showed approximately 31,000 images! And Dana has advised that he is ready to upload another several thousand! Sometimes it’s hard to let these numbers sink in and truly register as to the enormity of the task that has been accomplished.
The true treasures of the collection are the scans from glass negatives dating back to around 1898. With the help of Adobe Photoshop, Austin was able to recover images from the glass that were barely discernable to the naked eye. The pic below is from a glass negative; Grandpa Tad (On the right) circa 1900.

Tad, (on the right) In Alberta, 1913.
Of course the other treasure is the photographic account of our lives. Every roll of film is a small thimble full of what life was like growing up as a family. I have included a few old photographs for you to enjoy. Back to riding and other exciting news about weddings and grandchildren next week.
My new 1968 Schwinn 3-speed. I rode this bike for years, commuting all over Goleta and Santa Barbara.

Cyclist Austin with that "Push the button" look!

Monday, December 04, 2006

"Chain"-ging of the Seasons

It doesn't look cold!
Well, December has brought colder weather, and I think it’s time to change my training/riding habits. I went for a chilly 25 miles out to the Antelope Island causeway yesterday. Starting temperature was about 28 degrees with hazy sunshine and I never really warmed up and got loose. Wearing a pair of shells inside a pair of XC skiing gloves left my fingers still cold for the first 15 miles! I am always amazed at the difference in riding at 30 degrees vs. riding at 40 degrees. So, I am thinking about being more selective about my winter rides. (That’s a nice way of saying I am wimping out about freezing on the bike!) On colder days I will head to the gym and work on both upper and lower body strength, and spin on my Cycleops Fluid Trainer in the garage. Also, I plan to head to Solitude Nordic Center, or Mill Creek Canyon to enjoy some cross-country skiing.
And if I really get desperate, I will head over to the pool for some lap swimming. Many years ago, when I was young and crazy, I was a fairly decent 500m swimmer. I actually swam all freestyle events, but enjoyed the 500m the most. I still enjoy a good swim, but the idea of serious training to race just isn’t there anymore. Am I still going to ride? YES! But, with a few caveats, like not starting late in the afternoon and making sure there is nice sunshine to keep me warm! Yesterday, I started after 2:30 PM and the sun got rather low on the horizon on the way back east to Layton.

Not saying how old this photo is, but the 38th President was in office!

In other news, I am continuing to think about how to configure the Little Red Bike for the longer events in 2007. One issue I am addressing is the size of my chain rings. I currently use 53/39/28 and I find that I spend all my time on flat terrain using the 53t (big ring) and about the middle of the 11-34 rear set. Conversely when I am on a long steep downhill, I find that I run out of gears to spin. That is to say that I spin using the 53t/11t and can’t get any more speed out of the bike at 90-100 rpm. So, what to do? My thoughts are to perhaps change the bike to 54/42/30, adding more gears in the mid-range to spin, and a little more gearing at the top end for going fast. The other reason for this discussion is that I inadvertently broke my front derailleur. My right pedal cleat disengaged while working hard up a hill, and I kicked the front derailleur into the chain ring. So, I would like to replace the derailleur and change chain rings all in one shot. Any suggestions/recommendations for a derailleur to replace the Shimano 105?

I know, I know, time for some solvent and dirty work..

Here is where you get to help!!! As I am a neophyte when it comes to the technical aspect of bike configuration, I would very much appreciate your comments/ideas.

And lastly, lately I have been enjoying my digital camera in black and white mode. When I was a young boy, I spent many a fine evening with my dad, Austin, developing and composing in black and white. Here are a few recent images. Enjoy!

Happy riding, skiing, or whatever fun you can find to do outside!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

November in the Desert

Hi all,
Just back from a quick trip to Tucson to see family. Where the cycling season here in Utah is all but done, the riding season in Arizona is just now peaking! Lovely weather all weekend. I saw cyclists out riding everywhere I went. Here are a few pictures from the Saturday morning trip to Saguaro National Park. We also enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at the University of Arizona's football game with the University of California. A stunning upset as our guys won! A great way to spend an afternoon; football, pageantry, enthusiastic fans, and a great marching band!
Enjoy these few photos.
While Arizona is basking in sunshine today, I am spinning on the fluid trainer in the garage watching it snow! Sunshine returns tomorrow so I can get back out on the road.
Happy riding all,


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Big Day, Big Cottonwood!

Happy Birthday to the Little Red Bike!
That’s right, this week marks the arrival one year ago of my little Barcroft Virginia GT. I have had great adventures riding the bike. From the top of Trapper’s Loop, to the small towns of southern Idaho, delightful sunrise rides to work, to screaming down steep canyons in the Wasatch Mountains, it has been a great season. The bike has proven to be everything Bill Cook (Owner and proprietor of Barcroft Bikes) promised it would be. Light, fast, comfortable, it has met my requirements to a “T”. Back in 2005, Bill and I spent a long time just matching the bike to my requirements. It sure has paid off. Remember, as one poster on the Bentrider forum has so eloquently stated: The best bike for you is the one you ride!

Now, 63 rides and almost 1500 miles later, I feel like the adventure is just beginning. I finish (are cyclists ever really finished?) this riding season not feeling weary and burned-out, but with a renewed sense of excitement and readiness to tackle bigger and better goals in 2007. While the snow flies, it will be time to hit the weight room, an occasional lap swim, some cross-country skiing, and hopefully a few rides if the weather permits. And, that’s not all! There will be spin training on my Cycle-Ops Fluid Trainer in the garage. Thanks, Kathy!

I leave you reader, with a few pictures from possibly the last big climb of the fall; Big Cottonwood Canyon. Stretching 14 miles, it is a long and steep from the base at around 4,800 ft, to over 9,000 ft. to the Solitude and Brighton Ski Resorts, and then to Guardsman Pass. For me, I made it 10 miles to the Upper Mill D Trail Head at around 7,800 ft. I would have continued the last 3 miles to Solitude, but I was starving! (Stupidly, I had forgotten to bring snacks) and I had to head down the hill for work! It was a lovely morning, temperature a very mild 50-55 degrees, and wonderful light winds. After the long 10 kph climb, the 35-40 mph power descent down the steep grade with tight “S” turns was a real treat. It was about as much fun on a bike as a cyclist could have!

Happy Riding All.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Brevets are not Hats

Fall Colors in Emigration Canyon
Greetings All,
Well, for it being the end of October, the weather continues to be better than expected. Cool, dry weather has made for some outstanding riding conditions. There have been a few early (cold) starts to the day, but for the most part, with the right layers, riding has been fantastic.
Speaking of layers, I recently purchased a Patagonia merino wool base layer. It was expensive, but so far seems to be well worth the cost. It is light, warm, soft, and performs better than any base layer I have used so far. It keeps me warm, and I don’t overheat after the temperature rises later in the day.
This week I am bringing you a different facet of cycling; long distance marathon cycling, specifically, randonneuring, or brevet riding. I have searched the ‘net far and wide for information, and most of the data below is excerpted from the Alberta and British Columbia Randoneuring sites.

Looking west, down Emigration Canyon

What is Randonneuring?
Randonneuring is ultra-distance, endurance cycling. Riders challenge their physical and mental abilities by riding set distances in a prescribed time frame. The most common type of Randonneuring event is a brevet, referring to the certificate (brevet) the rider receives upon successful completion of the event. Typical brevet distances are 200km, 300km, 400km, 600km and 1000km in distance. Longer events known as randonnées can range from 1200km to 3000km in distance. The most famous of these and longest running cycling race/event in history, is the 1200km Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) which first ran on September 6th ,1891. In 2003, there were over 4000 riders in PBP from 28 countries. Fast times are not the primary objective for all Randonneurs. Finishing an event within the time limit is the most important goal of Randonneuring. Riders compete against the clock, themselves, terrain and environment (especially the weather!). Being first is never the paramount goal and participants certainly pair up or group together during the events. However, it is not unheard of to see riders pushing themselves and each other to see who can clock the fastest time or be pushed to a personal best for an event. Provided one finishes within the time limit for the event, Randonneuring permits cyclists to "do the ride at the pace of their choosing". Whether you are an avid cycling tourist looking for the next challenge, an Ironman-Triathlete or competitive road racer looking for options to enhance your training, or you are just a little bit eccentric and obsessive about cycling, Randonneuring may be your next big challenge.

Looking south from the top of Emigration Canyon, Interstate 80 and the Mountain Dell Golf Course below.

You need not be fast to be successful; in fact, the best Randonneurs are steady, consistent and know how to budget their energy. Riders are encouraged to work together as they compete against themselves, the weather and the route. The theme of Randonneuring is to promote individual health, goal setting and personal achievement.

The various series of official brevets begin at 200 km and proceed to rides of 300, 400, and finally 600 km. First-time randonneurs must complete a 200 before moving on to a 300, a 300 before moving on to a 400, and so on. Riders looking for bigger challenges can then, if they wish, move on to the 'ultra-marathon' distances: 1000 and 1200 km

There are minimum and maximum times for the completion of rides at each distance. These times include all stops. The maximum times are listed below:

· 200 km. (125 miles) in 13.5 hours
· 300 km. (185 miles) in 20 hours
· 400 km. (250 miles) in 27 hours
· 600 km. (375 miles) in 40 hours
· 1,000 km. (621 miles) in 75 hours
· 1,200 km. (745 miles) in 90 hours

(I know that a lot of you reading this right now are thinking, "Is he nuts?")

In searching the web, I found a great “links” page with tons of local pages from randonneurs worldwide. Enjoy this great resource here. Also, check out the Ultra Marathon Cycling web page, along with Randonneurs USA

So, are Brevets next in my list of things to do on the Little Red Bike? Hopefully, Yes! But there is a long list of things to consider this winter before I get to the start line.

Happy Riding, All

Thursday, October 19, 2006

New Links to Read

Greetings All,
Well, another busy week with not a lot of riding. The weather folks and my work scheduler are still not on the same page! Here’s to spinning on the fluid trainer in the garage. (That’s another post down the road).

This week I decided to add some new links to the sidebar. Please check them out. First is Joe Keenan’s blog about recumbent riding in Shanghai, China. I just found this blog, and already I am smitten with the fine photography and writing. Next up is a site about riding Brevet’s and serious long haul riding. The Long Haul comes from Michael Wolfe of Portland, Oregon. As you read his blog, take note of the distances he is riding on these Brevet’s. Also check out "Concerning Bikes", another fine Brevet Blog.

By the way, “Brevets” will be a featured subject maybe next week when I get around to writing it. I am beginning to get the itch to complete my first Brevet in 2007.

And as it is against tradition to post without a photo, meet my good friend Pete from Australia. Pete has been mentoring me down the road, providing encouragement and advice as I expand my cycling horizons. The photo was taken during a 1,200 Km Brevet from Perth to Albany, back to Perth two weeks ago. Way to go Pete!

Happy Riding, All


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Climbing Again: Mill Creek

Greetings all,
This week I enjoyed yet another canyon on the Wasatch front. Monday, I rode up Mill Creek Canyon which is just east of Salt Lake City, and south of Parley’s Canyon. Mill Creek is a widely used canyon for mountain bikers heading to trailheads, hikers, cyclists, and cross country skiing in the winter months.

Mill Creek offers 8-9 miles of steady climbing, from a base of about 5,000 ft. to the end of the road at around 7,500 ft. A profile map is here:

Taking off around noon from below the pay station, I took my time, enjoying good steady spinning up the canyon. I am still not that good of a climber, but I keep working on it as I enjoy these canyons. Hopefully there will be a payoff and I will see an improvement in my overall strength and spinning technique. I just keep trying to find a nice comfortable gear and spin at about 70 rpm up the hill.

Visually the canyon didn’t seem that steep, but my legs sure noticed! Also, when I turned around from above Elbow Fork, I sure got to 30 mph in a hurry, so it’s steeper than I thought. It took me about 58 minutes for me to ride 6.5 miles above Elbow Fork, and only 14 minutes to come down! I was fairly conservative on the descent. There was quite a bit of vehicle traffic (it was a holiday) and along with the damp leaves on the road, I didn’t let the bike go FAST until a mile or two from the bottom. At that point I did manage to get to 47.5 mph! Of course by that time I was almost to the pay station with their inane directions for bikes to “Stop, but not Pay.” This just meant I had to lean on the brakes and get the wheels back on the ground just long enough for the attendant to say: “Ok, you can go on through.” Sheesh, Bureaucrats! I would like to mention that during the fast descent I saw a few mountain bike riders struggling up the hill. They sure looked surprised as I zipped by them at 35-40 mph.

As for enjoying fall colors, things didn’t work out so well. Heavy rain and snow last weekend knocked a lot of the leaves off the foliage in the canyon. It is most assuredly fall, and soon the gate will be closed and it will be time to wax the skis!

Next canyon: City Creek

Happy riding, all


Monday, October 09, 2006

Kids in a Candy Store

Hi all,
Sorry for the delays in posting, been a busy time! Recently, I was down in Tucson visiting family, and Jon, Amy and I took the time to visit Ajo Bikes. They have a fairly good inventory of recumbents, trikes, along with most other types of bikes.

Jon and I, along with Amy had a great time test riding a few bikes. Jon fell in love with a Catrike Road, and enjoyed several spins around the lot. He got that "Triker's Grin" almost instantly! Amy took off on a Rans Cruz crank forward bike that seemed to fit her style of riding quite nicely.

Jon has the "Grin!"

I was inside oogling the latest in trike technology, a Catrike 700. Built for speed, and painted an old retro Bronco metallic orange, it is a lovely machine! I really wanted to ride this beauty, but it was tucked away in the back part of the shop, and I got the subtle non-verbal impression that unless you were serious with money in hand, that it was to stay inside. I found the laid back position very comfortable, and as soon as I sat down, the bike felt like a shoe that fits perfectly the first time.

All I want for Christmas.....

Of course, owning this bike poses several limitations to actually enjoying it. 1: The bike is 81 inches long from nose to tail! Since it doesn't fold, I can't transport it anywhere! 2: I am leery about commuting on this bike, what with all the dips in the road, speed bumps etc... The bike frame at its lowest point, is a mere 2.5 inches off the ground! So, I wouldn't mind owning a trike that I could enjoy out on Antelope Island, or on quiet bike paths. If I never had to deal with automobile traffic, I could see myself riding a trike all winter! Oh yes, and #3: It costs almost $3,000 bucks! That's quite a limitation too!

The men try to figure out where Amy hid the credit cards..

I too tried the Rans Crank Forward model. I enjoyed a lap or two around the lot, but what I really need for a good test is to get out and RIDE for about 10-15 miles. A nice riding machine, though.

The moral of this story really rests on the subject of how to buy a recumbent bike. Along with my past experiences in buying a 'bent and from what I've read in recumbent forums, the most important task is to ride as many 'bents as possible before spending your money. Another factor is to determine your requirements; what kind of riding you want to do, what the area/terrain is like where you want to ride, and how much money you want to spend. And of course: Research, research, research. The 'net is a wonderful place to learn about recumbents, read forums, and talk to people! Find out why they hate/love their bikes. is a great place to start.

For me, I think I need a fleet!

Bike #1: My Barcroft Virginia GT. What I ride today. My all-purpose touring/commuting/everyday ride.

Dream Bike#2: An Optima Baron: My SPEED machine, for chasing roadies on centuries.

Dream Bike#3: A Trike for bike paths and quiet places like Antelope Island, along with riding in the winter.

Dream Bike #4: A beater mountain bike, something to explore a few trails in the Wasatch, and just be the Mud Bike.

Is that too much to ask? Oh yes, and a BIG garage too!

Happy riding all.