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.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

A New Member of the (bike) Family...

Hi All,
Well, there are some changes in the bike department here in Utah. I am now the owner of a new bike! Yes, it’s true. But, it’s not a recumbent! Blasphemy you say! Heretic! Rebel! Non-conformist!

All true. After all, as I have said many times, the best bike for you (or me) is the one you will ride! Here’s a little background. In 2006 I hiked the mountain bike trail to Desolation Lake supporting the Wasatch 100 mile endurance race. As I hiked along, I met a dozen or so mountain bike riders, and the thought occurred to me that I could have just as easily ridden this route, rather than hoof along for 4.5 miles. So, that idea has been percolating for over a year to add a mountain bike to the garage and do some trail riding here in the Wasatch Range. Over the last summer whenever I was in the local bike stores, I would browse the mountain bikes, and check out their features and cost. In August, I had the opportunity to ride Pastor Bob Kaylor’s Specialized Hard Rock around the trail near Park City Community Church. What a fun bike! Light, responsive, and just the class of bike I needed.

Last week, the mail brought the final piece to the equation; the end of season clearance sale coupon! That was enough to send me over the edge. So, this past week, I became the proud owner of a Cannondale F7 Dual Disc mountain bike.
The shopping experience would have made my son Paul proud. It was a delicate dance around my requirements, the amount of money in my pocket, the size and features of the available bikes, and of course, the color too! The salesperson was quite helpful, walking me the length of the line of inventory that stretched from $250.00 all the way to $5,000 dollars! Eventually we settled on the Cannondale; the right size, a lovely color, a manageable cost, and the dual disc brakes a neophyte like myself should have.
What to call the bike? Well, that’s easy! The bike shall be called “Four Bits!” Named after where the money came from! You see, for years I have kept a small white box that I use to collect quarters. This helps me save pin money for bikes, and keeps me away from the soda and candy vending machines. Over half of the money for the Cannondale came from the little white box, hence the appropriate name!

So, now, I will train on the Little Red Bike for long distance brevets, use Four Bits to become a stronger climber, and enjoy the Wasatch in my backyard.
Now, if it will only stop snowing!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Hi all,
Yesterday, I crossed the last cycling goal for 2007 off my list, Little Cottonwood Canyon. This lovely road to the Snowbird and Alta ski resorts is one of the steepest canyon rides in the local area. Just 6.4 miles to Snowbird and 8 miles to Alta, it raises almost 4,000 ft!
Steep is an accurate description. Thank goodness it was an absolutely gorgeous day, and I had my camera, giving me an excuse to stop often and take pictures! Yesterday’s ride will go in the log as quite possibly the most beautiful ride I have had all year. The sky, the fall colors, the snow, the fresh air, simply amazing.
By the way, the descent was thrilling, too!
Enough said, enjoy some pictures.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Too Nice to Stay Inside

It was the perfect reason to go for a ride. I had been working in the garage, and sort of mindlessly watching the Broncos play mindless football. But, it had become stunningly beautiful outside, and I decided that since football is on every weekend in the fall, and since the Broncos weren’t actually playing football today, that I would go for a ride. After three consecutive Saturday’s with rain mixed with snow, this Sunday afternoon was beautiful. I headed west towards the island to enjoy the clear skies, and the snow covered mountains from a wide perspective, and get around 50 km in the log.
Kathy is in Chicago visiting our grandson, and she took my small Nikon digital camera to take pictures of Brian. This presented as choice. I could just enjoy the scenery and just bear with the fact of not having a camera along, or, I could find a way to carry my Nikon D-50. Usually, I would not have taken the D-50 on the bike, but I was struck by the beauty of the sky, and couldn’t resist the opportunity for great pictures. Ever the adventurer, and not wanting to admit defeat, I wrapped the D-50, and found a safe place in the bag for it to fit securely.

This turned out to be a great decision. I was out on the causeway, taking wide-angle pictures of the island, the mountains, and enjoying the perfect day. As I rode east towards the mainland, I saw in my rear-view mirror what looked to me like an airplane. Now, if you can see an airplane in the rear-view mirror of a recumbent, that airplane would have to be pretty darn low! So, I stopped the bike, looked west, and saw two ultra-lights flying down either side of the causeway!
As quick as I could, I grabbed the camera out of the seat bag and as well taught by my dad, just started “pushing the damn button!” I was rewarded for my efforts. Three years of riding out around the island, and I had never seen these to brave (crazy) pilots. They were flying east along either side of the causeway, and I lost them when they got over land. Don’t know where they came from, don’t know where they landed, but they looked like they were having fun!

Sometimes, you just never know what you'll see on the bike!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Mill Creek Canyon, the 2007 Edition

Hi all,
Fall is here, and with the advent of fall, comes early snow, fall colors, and canyon hill climbing.
Yesterday, I took the time to enjoy my first canyon hill climb of the season.
Mill Creek Canyon was windy, cool, devoid of many people, and full of fall colors. Now, if we stick to the main subject of this blog and talk about the technical aspects of the ride, this will turn into a very boring post about chain rings, spin rate and the like. But for now, I would rather help you visualize the peace and quiet, the stiff winds, the lovely color, and the joy of being able to be outside on the bike on a nice fall day.

This was one of those days where I really didn’t care about my average speed, didn’t care about my cadence, heart rate, or anything else. I was just out enjoying the day.

Snow. Yes, I even found some snow at the top end of the canyon. Not a lot, but off to the side of the road on the south side that never gets any sun. This weekend’s weather forecast is calling for more, and perhaps the gate at Mill Creek will close for the season. So, I am even happier that I was able to enjoy this ride before the proverbial door closes.
Wind. Yes, there was a lot of wind. Strong from the south, it swirled in the canyon, making for a very interesting descent in the afternoon.
Fall Colors. Beautiful hues of red, gold, green, and layers and layers of color.
Peace and Quiet; Mill Creek is especially peaceful on weekdays, I think I saw no more than 8-10 cars during my 8.5-mile climb.
Time. I spent more time stopping to take pictures, listening to the rushing water in the creek, and breathing the fresh air than I did concentrating on riding the bike.
As it should be.

Happy Fall Riding.