Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Skewered in Oakley

Looking west, towards Mt. Timpanagos, and Soldier Hollow
This past Saturday brought the fun and adventure of Heber Century. This was to be a great ride. The Heber and Midway areas are quite scenic, plus the added fun of riding to Soldier Hollow (the Nordic ski venue for the 2002 Winter Olympics) where riders were invited to shoot at the Biathlon range. The forecasted weather was for mild and sunny early, turning stormy, windy and rainy after lunch. The forecast turned about to be very accurate.
Fall colors near Wasatch Mountain St. Park
This ride had the possibility of being very educational, and I was looking for the opportunity to evaluate my level of cycling fitness and skills in certain areas; climbing, and riding in rain and high wind. Of course, if one plans for certain challenges and learning experiences, the ride always seems to result in completely different, spontaneous, and unpredictable learning experiences.

This of course, is what happened. Yes, there were high winds, and yes, there was rain in the afternoon, and of course there were several long climbs during the ride. But what I didn’t plan for was a mechanical issue that brought an early end to the adventure. And the funny thing was that on the surface, it seemed like such a minor issue, but it slowly ended up being a factor in ending my day at 82 miles.
Shooting "clean" at the range
A skewer; the front skewer to be exact. Somehow, sometime, the threads on the front skewer that fastens the wheel to the front fork became ever so slightly stripped. The issue that brought the ride to a halt is that the front wheel would not stay true and straight in the fork. So, I would dog down the skewer, the wheel straight and rolling free. Then, after a few miles I would notice that my pace was very slow, and taking a lot of effort. Checking the front wheel, I would find it rubbing hard against the brake shoe. So, I would repeat the process and start again. 2 miles on, 2 miles off.

The offending Skewer
So then I had the idea that I would unhook the front brake and ride to the finish. But, it occurred to me that there was a huge downhill from the Jordanelle overlook back down to the Heber valley, and that I would be riding 45-50 mph in rain, with only one brake. Ummmm…. Dumb idea. So, after all the wheel issues, 2 flats, helping with another, the wind and rain, I called Kathy from the Oakley rest stop, and said: “Come and get me.”
The new rear fender
I did learn a lot on this ride. First and foremost, the Heber valley is gorgeous with the resplendent fall colors. From a technical standpoint I learned that:
I still can shoot straight at the Biathlon Range at Soldier Hollow.
I can climb big hills, just slowly.
I rocket down big hills – top speed for the day: 48 mph.
I wore the right clothing for the day.
My new rear fender worked great.
I drank plenty of fluids, and ate well.
Mechanical issues suck.

So, what’s next? Getting a new skewer is obviously first. But, what about the rest of the year? I am not sure I am up to the climbing of the Zion 200 km Brevet on December 1st. A fellow rider on the Heber ride mentioned steep switchbacks up to Zion. So, I need to ponder and decide if I will be up to it. After all, long training rides will be few and far between in November. Other than that, it is time for some rest, and then some canyon riding.

Happy Fall Colors!
Snow on the mountains this morning!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday News

Photo from my friend, Dorothy, of the UK.
(Jim, off the designated trail, again)

Happy Monday All.
I am writing this week’s edition while waiting for the sun to come up before my usual Monday ride. Today’s ride is a bit ironic as I am riding down to Farmington to pay my car registration at DMV. Wouldn’t be grand if cars were unlicensed and we had to wait in long lines to get our bikes registered? The rest of this week’s riding will be low miles and low intensity as I am riding the Heber Valley Century this coming Saturday. I have this rare but odd hope of sort being rested before the ride. To that end I spent this past weekend off the bike, eating well, and getting lots of sleep. Hopefully, the rest of the week will be mellow and I can launch off the start line rested and energetic.

In other news, I have been asked to participate on the Davis Bike Advocacy and Advisory Committee. I was contacted my Mark Kennedy, proprietor of Saturday Cycles, a small but very nice custom cyclery shop in Centerville. I had finally made it down one Saturday to visit and ogle some fine bikes in his shop. He also had some nice racks and Arkel saddlebags. The two items that caught my eye the most were the Shimano hub generator, and a lovely Redline 925 single-speed bike. I have toyed with the idea of a mountain bike, or a single-speed for off-season training, cross training, and perhaps to ride a trail or two. The Redline was a lovely little bike with fun mustache handlebars. Luckily for the budget's sake, the Redline was a 54 cm frame, and a bit too small!

Isn't it cute?
After my visit to the shop, Mark wrote me an E-mail asking about DBAAC, and I have accepted his invitation. Bicycle advocacy in Davis County is most definitely necessary, and perhaps I can help in some way. I am open to any and all advice from any readers who are involved in advocacy!

Note the Shimano Hub Generator.
And finally, one of my readers mentioned to me that he reads a lot of blogs just for the pictures! And it occurred to me that writing this blog has always been a challenge to either tell a story using photography, or to paint a picture through language. Perhaps in a later edition I will try both. One post with only photographs, and the next one painting pictures through language. An interesting thought, isn’t it?
Speaking of photographs, enjoy this last photo of some giant peaches we found at the grocery. I bought 5.5 lbs, of peaches and there were only 5 in the bag! Mmmmmm cobbler….

Yummy Peaches!

Have a great week.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Chasing Numbers

3,000 miles.
Yesterday evening, riding back from the Bridger Bay Campground on Antelope Island, the odometer on the Little Red Bike ticked over 3,000 miles.
It is an amazing number to me, 3,000 miles; roughly the same distance from San Francisco to New York City. In long distance endurance cycling, it is not an especially big number; about 1/3 of a riding season for my friend Pete in Australia. But to me however, it is quite a milestone.

It seems like just yesterday I unwrapped the Little Red Bike (the Barcroft Virginia GT) from its boxes, padding, and bubble wrap. On that exciting November evening, I even took the bike for a short spin in the dark! Who could’ve just put the bike in the garage until the next morning! Now, 115 rides and 22 months later, I find that the bike and I have had quite an adventure. From southern Idaho, to my first 200 Km Brevet to Tropic, Utah, to the top of Emigration Canyon, and of course every inch of asphalt on Antelope Island, the bike has taken me many places. I never even dreamt that I would be writing a blog about my adventures, or that folks as far away as Qatar and Australia have taken the time to read my missives.

I realize that cycling is more than logging miles, and assessing goals. But chasing the numbers seems to be part of my make up. A mileage goal for a year; how many days to retirement (note the ticker to the right!); what is my average speed today? How many miles per month am I riding? Tracking the climb ratio on my GPS, always putting my miles on the header, and entering the miles into the Excel Spreadsheet… it goes on and on.

I sometimes wonder if I would be any faster, more efficient, or perhaps even happier if I had not tracked a single mile, logged a ride, or even never put a cycle computer on the bike; Just to simply ride the bike. Ever watched a child on a bike? They couldn’t care less; just the wind in their faces is enough for them…Hmm, something to ponder, isn’t it?
I wonder what will the next 3,000 miles bring?

PS: I just added some new links on the right hand side of some great blogs from other Randonneurs. Also, take note of Tandemania's blog, too. He has been a loyal reader, and has left comments here, so the least I could do is add him to my list.....JFR

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Why Have Just One?

Hi All,
A few loyal readers have asked about the caption in the previous post regarding one of Utah’s little known treasures; Polygamy Porter. Locally brewed and bottled by Wasatch Brewery, it is a fine dark beer that is perfect for those warm evenings after a 50- mile bike ride.

But where did the term Polygamy Porter come from? What’s the gag? For those of you who may not know, Utah and the early Mormon culture have roots in polygamy. In fact, there are still enclaves of polygamists hiding (?) or at least far, far away in extreme southern Utah. And, even though we have had some legal actions off and on over the years enforcing the obvious laws against polygamy, our reputation of being a pretty weird state is still prevalent.
Over the years, Wasatch Brewery has had a great time marketing their beers; hence the local label: Polygamy Porter and the fun slogans therein: "Bring some home for the wives" and "Why have just one?" They have cool Polygamy Porter T-shirts too. Trust me, they are definitely conversation starters when waiting in long lines! So, that’s where it came from, an ingenious ad slogan, in a funny state, with an odd culture. It’s a perfect fit. Oh yes, by the way, the First Amendment Lager is delicious, too!

If you have been following my blog for a long time, you might notice the dropping water levels of the Great Salt Lake!
In cycling news, this morning I enjoyed a standard 32-mile ride to start the month. It is auspicious only in that today I surpassed 1405 miles, which was my total mileage for 2006. I am still on track for my 2007 goal of 1800 miles.
Some birds, standing in the very shallow water..
In a couple of weeks, I will start my Monday schedule of riding the canyons east of Salt Lake City. Standby for posts from riding City Creek, Emigration, Mill Creek, Big Cottonwood, and the steepest ride; Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Lots of scout groups and families ride the causeway on Saturday...

Happy riding all,