Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Fun

Shoveling snow with my able assistant; Sabaka!
Hi all,
A very Merry Christmas to you all. This morning dawned with a beautiful sunshine and 4-5 inches of fresh powder snow on the ground. A quick check of the Snowbird snow log showed 14 inches of new powder at mid mountain. Yahoo! Great skiing of all disciplines for all! I guess this means I can head for Solitude XC Center this week.
It has been a wonderful day, spending time at home with Kathy, along with Jon and Amy here from Arizona.
As I write this, there are fun gifts to play with, new clothes to try on, and turkey in the oven. Utter peace, what could be better? Well, taking Brian around on the sled, but that will have to wait for next year!
Here are a few snapshots of having fun shoveling snow and other normal winter activities. (Well, normal to some of us!
Hope you all had a joyous holiday!

Look at that road, begging to be ridden!

Really, cycling is fun anytime!

Ok, No more Christmas Candy for Jim!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

"Too Late to Save Christmas..."

A lovely snow in our front yard...
"Too late to save Christmas." Quite possibly the most disturbing quote I have heard this Christmas season. I read the quote as a part of a Friday headline on MSN. It was in reference of course to the fact that the last minute weekend shoppers would not spend enough money to “save Christmas.” But, it was really upsetting to learn that Christmas needed saving!

A lovely sunset color in our backyard...
Last weekend on CBS Sunday Morning, Ben Stein provided a lovely editorial noting: “That nowhere in the Bible is the word shopping mentioned.” After being bombarded with last minute ads, and high-pressure advertising, it was a refreshing view. After all, would we enjoy the Christmas season if we never received a gift? Never gave a gift? Would we still appreciate the birth of Christ and what He brought to the world? Of course we would. It might actually be in clearer focus to us. Now, I am not advocating the end of gift giving. Not at all. In our house, there has been plenty of gift giving, mostly little things that we, or our loved ones need. The gifts are an expression of love and kindness. Sorry, but no 5 carat diamonds or 50,000 dollar cars under our tree! I even found joy and laughter in the lump of coal that I received as a White Elephant!
See! A Cyclist's Dream! I got carbon for Christmas!
Every year, I watch for Christmas to arrive. It rarely comes where I expect it. It arrives in some form of love expressed; love accepted; grace expressed, grace accepted; The love of family in our house, the love of family far away; The joy that we have health and home. One only has to read the adventures of a fellow cyclist; The Seattle Randonnuer whose house was flooded a month ago to truly appreciate all that we have. This fellow cyclist has found out in a thousand ways, that the world is actually NOT filled with angry and selfish people, and now, so have I.
Santa DOES exist..
Back to the search: This year’s search for Christmas was no different. I was working a graveyard shift the other night, and I came across a cartoon that another controller had (against facility policy) stuck to the wall. It was a wonderful expression of everything I am writing about today. Now, I am sure there is some sort of copyright law about publishing this cartoon on my blog, but I will take the risk. I really tried to find a way to make a link from the author’s website, but I failed in my efforts. For me, the cartoon crystallized what is important in our country, in our communities, and in our families. Please enjoy it here:

To all of you who take the time to read along with my cycling and editorial adventures on these pages, I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Season's End

Hi all,
Well, this week’s blog post brings a transition from the sublime temperatures of Hawaii two weeks ago, to riding and training in the winter cold. Yes, it seems we can’t stay on the islands forever; enjoying the warm ocean, the gentle breezes, and the everyday 80- degree temperatures. Enjoying the islands and the nice weather without actually having to work was truly the sublime part!
For the last ten days, I have been away from the bicycle and the weight room. In fact, I haven’t made time for any exercise at all. Between work, the winter weather, and the business of the Christmas season (note I said “Christmas,” not the politically correct euphemism: “holiday season”) 10 days flew off the calendar in the wink of an eye.
And this break was not altogether a bad thing. It gave my mind and body time to make a transition from the 2007 cycling season, toward the 2008 goals. A coworker asked me last week if I had marked my calendar for my long rides next year. And in actuality I had. I have peeked at the Idaho, Utah, and Arizona brevet schedules, and the 2008-century ride schedule in Utah, and at least marked some tentative dates on the calendar. Then last night my son, Paul even asked me what my mileage goals were for next year. He had a suggestion that if I set my goal at 2,500 miles, that I could draw the parallel that in meeting that goal I would ride the equivalent distance of riding from New York to Los Angeles!

So, with all this thought processes about riding in 2008, it was time to get out for a ride. Right now, I want to thank my new friend Mike from Salt Lake City, who came up to my neck of the woods to drag me out of the house to go for a ride. Mike is an experienced rider, but new to riding recumbent bikes. We had been talking back and forth on the Bentrider online forums for a few weeks, and finally our schedules and the snowy weather allowed for time to ride. Mike is a fine rider, and we had a great time riding the causeway, then up to Buffalo Point for a 20 mile loop. Yes, it was cold. 27 degrees and a brisk wind will definitely clear your mind! And of course, for the third time in three rides this month, I got the requisite flat tire!

Isn't that a lovely shade of purple!

Yours Truly, all bundled up
Mike is riding a lovely Bachetta Giro 20, and is already on the prowl for his next recumbent! He took a spin on my Barcroft, and I tried out the Giro, too. One thing I really liked about the Giro were the “U” shaped handlebars and the perfectly relaxed hand position. I am going to research the feasibility of converting the Barcroft to what is called an open cockpit style, with “U” shaped handlebars. Any ideas Bill?

That’s all the news for today. Next up, a post from the weight room and the pool.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Hawaii in November

Hi all,
Well, two weeks between posts means I went on vacation! Yes, we went to Hawaii for a family reunion of sorts. All in all it was a great trip; plenty of time with family, great scenery and warm weather, and lots of time spoiling my grandson, Brian! Speaking of warm weather, as I write this, it is 16 degrees with 8 inches of fresh snow on the ground here in Layton. No walking the beach here today!
Dusk on the north shore...
Enclosed here are a few pictures from our travels. I enjoyed using my Nikon D-50, taking 445 pictures in 8 days. Now, if I got 8-10 real “keepers” out of the bunch, it will have been a successful week.
Sandy Beach, looking towards the Blow Hole
I am sure I have made this quote in this blog before, but it bears saying again. My dad Austin used to say; “The most important tool in photography is a hungry trash can!” And he is right, only now in 2007 it isn’t the trashcan, it's the delete key! So, I just kept shooting; sunset pictures; grandson pictures; family pictures; and whatever came to the mind’s eye. Speaking of taking pictures, there is a manager at work who just purchased a new Nikon, and he has been pressing me on my techniques in taking landscape photography. One day he asked me in exasperation: “What buttons do you push to take all those great pictures?” I pondered this for a brief second before answering: “The big shiny one on top!”
The Chinaman's Hat on the north shore...
Enjoy a few nice pictures, and I will write about cycling and the snow on the ground next week. I would highly suggest "double-clicking" on these images to truly enjoy them at full size.

Sunset from Waikiki
Looking west from the top of Diamond Head

In the rain, hiking to Manoa Falls
Two opposing views from the 17th Tee at Ko'Olau Golf Course

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Bicycle Likes Me

My bicycle likes me. At least it appears that way. Yesterday I was enjoying a nice ride out to Syracuse and back on the Barcroft. After a minor navigation error around a construction detour, I ended up on the 3-mile bike path that runs parallels Bluff Road all the way from Gordon to 300 North in Clearfield. It's a nice multi-purpose path, with kids, moms, dogs, walkers, and most importantly this time of year: stickers!
Of course, I was the proud recipient of a flat front tire. No biggie, I’ll just switch tubes and head on my way. Wrong! Some idiot, who shall remain nameless, had put a new tube in the bag, and not paid attention. Imagine my surprise when I realized I had two 26-inch tubes, and no 20 inchers. Sigh. OK, step two; fix the tube! So far so good, put a self-adhesive patch on, inflate tube and be on my way. Not quite that easy. I pumped up the tire with my hand small hand pump, and intended to use the last few pounds in my CO2 pump to top off the tire.
Unfortunately, I sheared the top of the Presta valve off with the hand pump. (note picture on the right, of a normal Presta valve) Luckily the plunger stayed down in the valve! Usually when this happens the remains of the valve eject leaving the rider dead in the water with a valve-less tube. (note the picture to the left)
Quickly I placed the cap on the remains of the valve and gently, rode the 12 miles home. I took it easy; no bumps, no drastic turns, and I carried the bike over the railroad tracks on Gentile. The tire was probably around 60-80 pounds and just a little soft on the road. Amazingly, I made it home. 30 minutes later when I went to leave on errands, I came back out to the garage to find the front tire completely flat. My bicycle likes me. It waited until I was safely home before the valve plunger broke seal. Amazing!

One extra benefit from this ride was that I ended up waiting at the railroad crossing for the new commuter rail train to pass by. The Frontrunner commences service next spring, and will run from Salt Lake City all the way to Pleasant View. It has been great fun watching the construction of tracks, trains, and stations along my commute route. That was another part of the plan for a second bike.
The mountain bike will fit easily on the train, and I can commute to work without the car! The Layton station will be only a mile from the house, so it should be feasible to give it a try next year.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Reflections on the Dark Side

Hi all,
Well, another week of dual-discipline riding; 32 miles on the Barcroft, and 90 minutes on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, learning downhill riding techniques on the Cannondale. My recent dual-discipline riding has led to some questions from my friends at work. One fellow from Area “A” that I passed in Mueller Park said: “It’s about time you got off that stupid recumbent!” While another who enjoys reading this blog thinks that my transition to the Dark Side is complete, and that soon I will be addicted to mountain bike riding, never to be found on the road again. And of course, a third associate from work told me (What I already knew) that there is plenty of room in cycling for both.

Who is right?

Well, the third associate, of course! I will give special credit to respondent #2, since I actually am having a lot of fun on the mountain bike. There are plenty of ways to enjoy cycling. Racing, mountain biking, snow riding (Check out this blog for someone who is truly nuts), long distance brevets, casual bike path riding, work commuting, and many other disciplines all have a place in the world of cycling.

Am I on my way to the Dark Side? Of course not. What I am on my way towards is being stronger, faster, and a better rider on any bike I ride. I enjoy riding 60 miles; I enjoy riding a trail; I enjoy finding a 50 Mph canyon to scream down; I even enjoy riding to the Post Office! And that is the moral of this little missive: To enjoy riding!
Which, is what I am going to go do now before it rains.

I couldn't resist....
See you down the road, on whatever bike you ride.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Learning Curve

Well, I managed two rides this past week, 30 miles on my Virginia GT recumbent, and 2 hours on my new Cannondale mountain bike. You may notice that I don’t mention mileage when riding the mountain bike. Well, it is my hope to not become a data-starved techie when riding the mountain bike. Whenever I ride the mountain bike, my intent will be to enjoy the ride, the trail, the fresh air, the new scenery, and not track much of any data. Besides, on the mountain bike I’m too busy keeping the rubber side down, and the Jim side up!
As with every ride, I seem to always learn something; whether it’s something about riding fitness, technique, or how to compose a nice photograph, there is always something. This week was no exception, although all of my learning experiences this past week were on the trail in Mueller Park.

Mueller Park, on the foothills east of Bountiful, offers a great trail for a beginner. Long steady climbing, with few rocky sections, I climbed (according to the signs) about 3 miles to Big Rock, or as Bountiful locals refer, Elephant Rock. There is a whole second section to Ruby’s Flat and North Canyon that I will have to ride next time. Being the second time on a trail, I found that I have quickly adapted to new climbing techniques, and have figured out how to shift my weight forward to keep both wheels on the trail without the front wheel doing a “wheely” and the rear wheel from skidding out from under me.
Antelope Island in the distance...
I also learned that from a cardiovascular point of view, that climbing hills on a mountain bike will be very beneficial to my distance recumbent riding. For someone who has ridden nearly 2,000 miles this year, my heart sure was pounding as I climbed! I can only become a better climber/sprinter from this cross training.
All the leaves are on the ground...

What I haven’t learned yet, are my safety parameters on descents. You might infer from this statement that I may have had some minor “learning experiences” on the descent from Big Rock. Ok, so I had two learning experiences. First that I must gain more trail experience before careening at warp speed down the trail, and second that I shall not change my “plan” of attack in the middle of a downhill, hairpin turn. Ah well, the bruises are healing nicely, and I did manage to get the leaves out my helmet vents!
In the shadows, winding through the canyon...
That’s all the riding news from here. Finally, I would like to mention that there seem to be several blogs on my tab list that have become like lonely spider-filled mailboxes, a veritable wasteland of news. (You know who you are)… Keyboards broken? Cameras gathering dust? After all, with the Broncos at 3-4, Sunday afternoons are free for writing!


Sunday, October 28, 2007

50 Miles in 7 Hours

Saltair... 20 miles west of SLC
Hi all,
“Have you ever ridden a long ride with Scouts?” That was the question posed to me early Saturday morning as I prepped for a 50-miler with a local scout group. I had volunteered to ride along as an extra (the second!) adult rider with this small group as a favor to a gentleman I work with. I replied, “Not in the past thirty years!” The scout leader laughed, and told me that the day might be a bit longer than I envisioned. He was right. I had forgotten that these young men were not serious riders, did not have road bikes, and were merely fulfilling either a merit badge or distance award criteria. So, I had come along with the misconception that we would be riding at a decent pace, and make a quick day of it.
Before I go any further, I need to mention that five of our eight boys completed the day. They did a great job of riding a long distance, ate plenty of snacks, and except for some very tired legs and sore butts, had a great day. And when I took a step back and looked at their bikes, their experience, and the level of training, I became even more proud of them.
Our Intrepid Group...
The ride started early Saturday morning at dawn, with a temperature hovering around 42 degrees. Several boys rode up wearing jeans and a shirt, no hat, no gloves, riding old mountain bikes, and one boy rode a small-wheeled BMX bike! Clearly, at the offset, I was worried about how the day would go.

Ok, so we took a wrong turn on to the Wing Pointe Golf Course!
The day actually went just fine save for a rather pedantic pace, lots of stopping and waiting around for the stragglers, and of course plenty of restroom and snack breaks. The route was from Woods Cross, a suburb in Davis County northeast of the Salt Lake City Airport, through farmland and industrial areas, then south of the airport, past the international center, along the frontage road paralleling I-80 to the old Saltair Resort, and back the same way.
Waiting for the snack truck...
The route was almost perfectly flat, with a few small gentle grades. We enjoyed the bike path that runs on airport property, and makes a safe transition along I-80. The weather was chilly in the morning and eventually warmed up after noon.
The only major issue was ride safety. The boys were fearless, and seemed like they had little experience riding close the right side, and also we seemed to get spread out to quite a distance through the day. It was a much different experience than I have encountered on any group rode before. I spent the entire day looking furtively in my rear-view mirror to see how the riders were doing, while keeping an eagle eye on the ones ahead.
All in all it was an interesting experience. I learned that we as a community need to provide much more education on bike/road safety, that young teens have a much different perspective towards riding, and that I tend to take my current level of training and skills for granted.
I bet they could ride circles around me on dirt!
See you down the road.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Four Bits: Ride #1

Hi all,
Well, you missed an historic moment this afternoon; a recumbent rider on his first rookie mountain bike trail ride. Now, I have over 5,000 miles on recumbents, and have been riding bikes since I can remember. But, in one 45-minute ride, I was thrust back to the beginning of the cycling learning curve. Yes, I kept the bike on the trail, no, I didn’t fall on my butt. Yes, I had a fun, relaxing, and enjoyable time.
I am on a terrible work schedule this week that has kept me from any long rides before or after work. But, I did get off work today early enough to drive up to the Bonneville Shoreline trailhead (about 4 miles from the house) and spent an hour or so trying out my new mountain bike, Four Bits.

It was an education to say the least. I now need to start learning brand new riding techniques. In no particular order, I need to learn how to: Manage steep downhills; keep the front wheel on the ground on steep uphills; Learn how to use these new fangled trigger shifters; find an easy, safe, and accessible place for the camera; and finally, learn some trail etiquette about what trails I can ride, and how to stay out of the way of other riders.

I am sure this list will get longer, and more detailed, but for just my first outing, it was an eye-opening experience in learning how to ride something new. I shall never, ever, laugh at someone who wobbles on their first recumbent ride.
Sunset over Antelope Island

Looking to the southwest...

Happiness is the bike you ride. Enjoy the a few pictures from this afternoon’s outing.