Saturday, December 31, 2011

Exploring Suncrest, Alpine, And Everything In Between

This year has been uncharacteristically mild in terms of snowfall.  The promise of snow, to those who wish for snow, is a fading hope.  Years ago, I was among those that anxiously looked forward to the first snowfall and the day there would be enough to carve some new turns in fresh powder.  Once the kids started to show up and our move to Colorado, where paradoxically, skiing isn't as convenient as it once was growing up in Utah, I put the skis aside.  Now that I am here again, I may venture into some backcountry skiing in the coming years.  But for now, the snow has not shown up for the winter party which leaves dirt ripe for riding and that's what I have been doing.  There are two trail systems close to my house, so close in fact that I don't need to drive to either of them.  This is a dream come true for a mountain biker.  The first trail system, Corner Canyon is literally just down street and within 5 min of my front door. The trails are fast and flowing and cater to the desires of riders of all abilities. There is plenty of up, down, and spectacular views of the Salt Lake Valley.  The only downside to Corner Canyon in the winter is the fact that all trails are on a north-facing slope and tend to hold snowpack during the winter.

A taste of Corner Canyon

The second trail system is Lambert Park on the east bench of Alpine Utah.  Lambert is a labyrinth of windy trails that intersect at random tied together by a few dirt roads.  While these trails are not as spectacular as those found in Corner Canyon, they do offer some good views of Utah Valley.  Lambert has one major advantage over Corner Canyon in the winter: the trails face south-west and tollerate moisture very well.  For the first few rides in Lambert, I took the pavement down the hill to Highland and then into Alpine following roughly the same path back up.  Fortunately, Adam was around my first trip to show me around Lambert.  We did a few laps around the park then set out to explore a possible route back to Corner Canyon on dirt roads.  Oh yea, there are a number of 4wd / 4-wheeler roads carved into the landscape between Alpine and Suncrest, the question is, which road if any connects the two?  Below was a pretty good recon mission but we ran out of daylight and legs to keep exploring.

Draper to Lambert with some bonus exploring.

A few days later I attacked the the problem from the top of the hill and found my way back to the loop we explored the day earlier.  Although the road is washed out in probably only ridable on the downhill in places it is ridable.  This opens up some great riding opportunities come this Spring.  Riding Corner Canyon and Lambert will offer 30-50 miles of quality mountain biking all on dirt and all out my front door.

Connecting Corner Canyon to Lambert Park

Monday, December 19, 2011

An Update

I've been traveling quite a bit for work since mid November.  I'm growing more forgetful these days and have to resort to taking photos of things like my shuttle stop so I will remember where I got on and hopefully where I need to get off and find my car a week later when I return.  While some may revel in the traveling-for-work lifestyle, the frequent flyer miles, the exclusive airport lounge, and first class seating,  I don't care for it.  While it is a short-term necessary evil for work purposes, it increases my chances of getting sick (yes, I am that guy that runs the air full-blast into my face on the airplane), throws off my daily routine, makes me eat unhealthy food, and brings havoc to any sort of structured training.

The pain cave has new meaning after two weeks of nothing but low-end stationary bikes and free weights to work with.  I've been experimenting with new things this year during base training (base 1) for the times I have a real bike to ride.  Last year I did a lot of hours on the trainer in HR zone 2 which boils down to low intensity and long duration.  I watched a lot of movies and got to know my garage really well.  I think this really set me up well for long miles (muscular endurance) but I was not really ready for the first few races.  I had little in the power department as expected.  This year I am planning to fix that to some extent with a little experiment building muscular force during base 1.  During my travel, I used a combination of stationary bike and free weights.  When home, I have been throwing a few sets of what Joe Friel calls Force Reps (which he describes in this blog post) along with my longer zone 2-3 rides and various interval sets.  So far they have been working out well and I feel like I get a lot our of a 45-60min workout without having to do a straight up weight room workout.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Winter Cometh

Utah snow making an appearance in undisclosed location.

There hasn't been much to write about on the old blog.  I'm getting settled into my new surroundings here in Utah just in time for the winter storms to start pounding my Suncrest ecosystem.  I've ridden the new backyard trails enough to have a good arsenal of MTB training routes lined up for the spring.  I also pulled out the Strava iPhone app to log some elevation profiles of the road up both sides of the Draper hill.  I'm told the Tour of Utah comes right up the hill by my house so It looks like I'll not only have some aggressive training terrain but also a front row seat to the race in 2012.  For now, I plan to put the bike time on the back burner for most of November (but I'll keep the burner turned on) and focus on less exciting but more important things.  Like always, I'll continue to obsess about riding and set up some sweet training and racing schedules.  I may try to catch one of the last few UTCX Cyclocross races.

Here is a little sample of my new best friend for hill intervals next spring.  I'm looking forward to the convenience of getting the LWCoaching workouts in without too much wasted travel time.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Riding Fruita Colorado

South of Grand Junction riding the Lunch Loops

I've been back and forth between Colorado and Utah over the past few weeks and fortunately for me my route has taken me right through Grand Junction and Fruita.  Not only is this a good half way stop between my destinations, I have the added bonus of having a friend living in Fruita who has been kind enough to let me stay for a night two weekends in a row.  Doubling as a host and tour guide,  he gave me a tour of some of the favorite trails in the area.  Having ridden them now and knowing the goodness contained therein, it's a shame I've been driving by year after year missing out on these amazing trails literally in some cases right off the freeway.  I've heard many times that Fruita is as good as Moab and after experiencing a sample, I'd have to agree.

Lunch Loops trail system.

Kokopelli's Trail Loops

Lunch Loops.  You'll find chunky drops like this one around every turn.  Moab has nothing on this place!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Checking Out My New Digs

A quick break at Ghost Falls  on my ride in Corner Canyon.  I think I can get used to this.

The view around every corner.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I have just given up my residency in Colorado for the second time in the past 11 years.  Last time the move was for a career-starting job in California.  It was a hard move for many reasons but the biggest one was simply that I (we) love living here.  Now years after my first farewell, I am again moving on for career advancement.  It is hard to drive westbound past that familiar sign on I-70 for  the last time with no certainty of return.  Over the years I've driven by countless times with little fanfare always knowing that I will soon be passing the east-bound sign welcoming me back to Colorado, back home.  Colorado has a way of placing a hold on it's residents that is hard... make that painful to break.  The state is rich in everything that makes life worth living and has given me experiences that will last forever.

Lloyd was in fact mistaken... John Denver knew exactly what he was talking about.

Stay tuned for my new adventures of riding fun as I mingle with the Saints one state to the west.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dawn Patrol

Dawn Patrol cockpit with optional "critter bell"

I pulled myself out of bed at 4:30am this morning.  Just like I have been doing regularly 3 times a week since late August.  With rare exception (today being one of them) I have been riding the same route every morning on my single-speed.  With the kids starting back to school the first of August I had to keep riding time on a tight leash.  It also felt good to have the training pressure off and drop back into a holding pattern of sorts, almost mechanical in nature, and something I could repeat with timely accuracy to keep my spirits up, legs fresh, and family routine on schedule.  I have grown to tolerate early mornings over the past 2 years.  I say tolerate because I do not enjoy getting up anymore than the next guy but I do it out of necessity.  Over time it has become mechanical and sometimes I don't remember the specifics of leaving the house, just that I'm on the trail riding.  My body comes alive and faculties engage.  There is a relaxing simplicity in riding without shifting gears,  taking the same route, no need to think too hard, just pedal and drift off where the mind wonders.  Indeed, I've had some of my best mind sessions cranking away with headlights showing just enough of the trail to keep going.

It's therapy for me, the sun yawning as the first light crests over the horizon,  Deer eyes reflecting in my headlamp,  Coyote howl, and the winding trail.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Binary Logic

There is a common tactic in sales when a sales person want's to close a sale.  To get the deal done they must maximize efficiency and remove unnecessary confusion for the buyer.  That is to limit the number of choices for a buyer to choose from.  Limiting to 2 or 3 rather than 10 makes it much easier for a buyer to narrow it down and make a decision. When there is only 1 choice it is all the better as the buyer is left to decide between buying and walking away, doing or not doing.  I'm no salesman, far from it in fact, I'm an an ADD plagued computer geek.  If there is a shiny object,  I'll be the first one to drop what I'm doing and check it out.  Give me 10 or 20 choices and I'll waste a lot of time getting to the bottom of the decision.  Now to the photo above.  Choices? One.  Actually that's not true.  Before setting out on the trail I had 3 options at my disposal: 17T, 18T, and 19T.  Once on the trail, I was left with 2.  In some cases those were "pedal" or "push" and other times "stand" or "sit".  The whole riding experience was reduced to binary logic: On or off, do or dont, 1 or 0.  Contrast that with the riding experience on a geared bike and you are now up to 20+ choices of gearing alone (2x10 drivetrain).  My Superfly 100 has been torn apart in the Garage ever since my last STXC race in August and I've been riding the Niner shown above regularly since then.  I can't say I miss my geared bike, in fact, I am seriously considering dropping gears all together for 2012.  Why? I've been drawn in by the illusion or reality of simplistic bliss that comes with one gear.  On a single-speed I don't have to think, just ride.  If I can't ride, I walk.  If I walk, it is probably too steep to ride anyway.  Really those walking times are rare.  There is one secret the geared-bike-riders-that-have-never-ridden-a-single-speed types don't know... but I'll give you the inside scoop now.

It's not as hard as everyone makes it look.

That's right, those big hills you see ss'ers mashing up at 10rpm hunched over the top tube?  They aren't working much harder than you are,  just slower.  I constantly surprise myself with what I can climb using only one gear.  I'm starting to think one is all you need... I'm (almost) sold.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Crazy Flying Dreams

For as long as I can remember I have had at least one or two dreams a year about flying.  Most of the time I am soaring over forests, through canyons, and over valleys but occasionally I'll be "flying" under water (isn't that called swimming?).  They usually end with me loosing altitude and floating to a standstill.  I always wake up a little disappointed that it was all a dream and I really don't have super-human flying / swimming powers.  I'm not really sure what all of that means but this video pretty much captures the essence of those dreams. This one is pretty crazy as well.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dropping A Few Gears

Wednesday's short track race was probably my last competitive race this year.  Reluctantly, I am going to have to pass by the Park City race in September due to my work schedule ( if you want in, please let me know!).  Disappointed? of course I am because it is an awesome course and I've been racing pretty well this year.  The singletrack is amazing and the organizers are top notch people.  In fact, I remember seeing Jay Burke, the big man himself, out on course last year asking each racer how the course markings were as we rode on by.  Clearly this is the mark of someone committed to providing the best race experience possible and I am sure that will hold true for this event.  I'm also disappointed I won't have a chance to ride with Adam, Keith, and the rest of the Utah riders I've made friends with over the past year or two.  This year has taken a lot out of me with training, racing,  job changes, and a multitude of other things so I'd be lying if I didn't admit to some degree that I am ready to throw in the towel on structured training and competition this year.  I'm satisfied with the Hundo, and Breck 100. Short Track is a new found addiction, and I get to do it all over again in one capacity or another in 2012.  So just like that, my Superfly 100 is retired, hung up in the garage, and  waiting a good overhaul.  My Niner SS is enlisted back into service and on the bike stand getting a face lift.  After throwing on some new Stans ZTR Crest wheels and swapping out a light seat, seat post, and bars I almost have it down to racing weight.

Racing weight?  Ok I may have one more Winter Park race left in me... but it will be on my SS.  I'm dropping a few gears for the rest of 2011.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

CU Short Track and Strava

I finally made it back to some high intensity racing/training Wednesday for the 2nd to last CU Short Track race series.  The last two races I attempted were canceled due to rain so I was determined to race this week and talked the student organizers into letting me race the men's B and the men's A.  Crazy I know but there was no way I was going home empty handed this week.  I raced conservatively in the B race finishing up in 10th place.  After a 25-min rest and a quick spin around the course again, I lined up at the back of the A race.  I put in a strong effort but burned out on the last few laps failing to reach my one and only goal which was to avoid getting caught and lapped by Mike West, Bryan Alders, or Brady Kappius.  Last time I succeeded, this time I didn't.  In the end I pulled off 14th place.  

In other news, I've been using for over a year now as a way to store, manage, display, and track the metrics from my Garmin Edge 705.  I ride with this device and a HRM almost religiously and it has been a great tool to compare training and racing but there were a lot of things missing from the Garmin website.  Enter  I have had my eye on this site for a few months but I was initially turned off because you had to pay in order to upload more than 5 rides a month.  Until now.   They opened the site up and uncapped the upload limit so I uploaded some rides and took a closer look.  Here are a few things I found that I love about it.

My Men's A race.  Notice the 170w average power?  I don't have a power tap!  Strava calculates an estimated power output based on HR and other available data.  Pretty cool.

Ever wonder how you stack up against other riders on the same trail?  Here you go!

And if you want to watch yourself race the fastest guy on the course?

Or up Boreas Pass on the Breckenridge 100?

Thursday, July 28, 2011


A few photos of my recent family reunion camping trip to Southern Utah.  Lots of sitting around, fishing, and eating food... and rednecking (see below).

Reese with her 2 cousins.

Reese hiding behind a log railing.

My initials carved into Fish Lake Lodge.

Plenty of Aspen trees with stuff carved in them.

Photo of the family photo.  2 of 3 kids in view showing the "stinky eye".

Pulling Jaxon around the lake redneck style.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

2011 Breckenridge 100

My race bike taking a rest after a hard day of flawless service.

I had been looking forward to the Breckenridge 100 all year and the it did NOT disappoint.  It was every bit as challenging and rewarding as I hoped it would be.  For anyone that has ridden the Park City Point 2 Point and would consider that a 10 on the scale of difficulty, which I do, the Breck 100 turns the dial up a notch to 11.  Both races share a common theme: climb, climb, climb, and when you are done with that... climb.  They also share some of the best single-track I've ever ridden, not just a few miles, but in 20-30 min stretches.  For me the dial goes up a notch in Breck for 2 reasons.

  1. The climbing is intense and steep in places but the trail is much more chunky on those climbs / descent.  There are huge root sections stretching 20-30 feet, "baby head" rock gardens on steep grades that can stretch for 1/4 mile, and small boulders thrown in for good measure. The trail was rarely smooth so it was a constant fight for each foot of altitude.  There was no shame in using the little ring.  This year there was even an added bonus hike-a-bike through 2 snow fields on Wheeler Pass.
  2. The race *starts* at 9,600ft and reaches skyward to 12,320 feet on Wheeler Pass.  The highest point in the Point 2 Point race is around 9,200 feet.  The elevation was noticeable and forced me to dial it back a notch in order to survive the whole 100 miles.  
With that said I still love the P2P and can't play favorites on the overall race experience.  They both have earned a well deserved place in the NUE series.  I rode a strong race, felt great, didn't cramp, and finished in 10 hours taking 6th in a stacked 30-39 group and 22nd overall.   Take a look below for some specifics on the race and some photos of the day.

Elevation profile and HR data. Check out the full ride on or

The climbs I remember really putting on the hurt.  There were more but these are the major ones.

Peak Road climb up to Wheeler Pass.  We had to traverse a number of snow fields (see below) towards the top of the climb. I pushed it a little hard on this one from the start to clear as many riders as possible. The descent off the back is very technical and I wanted to make sure I had a clear shot back down.  Thankfully I did and rippin' that single-track was a welcome reward for the effort up the front side.
This little section of the Peaks Trail was one of the many chunky climbs rolling endlessly back to Breckenridge to complete loop1. There were rocks, roots, and some sweet single-track sections.  I rode pretty conservatively on this section opting for a smaller gear over mashing the pedals up all of those punchy climbs.

Loop 2 starts off with more climbing right out of Carter Park.  The first is up Barney Ford Hill to Sallie Barber, a short downhill section on the road then the trail unleashes Little French Flume shown above in blue.  "Little French" as it's called is steep, rocky, and unmerciful but it is ridable and I managed to make it up without touching down.  Again, the course hands out some sweet downhill after Little French to reward a hard effort.

This is the North Fork and Colorado Trail section of Loop 2.  The climbing was rough, just like you'd expect from the Colorado Trail.  Descending off of Kenosha Pass one would land just up trail from the green arrow shown above.  I knew from a pre-ride last year that there is some really sweet downhill of the back side but it seemed to take forever to get there. Climb, climb, climb.  I saw a few people starting to crack on this section.  I tried to maintain a good pace but was still not hammering any of the climbs yet.

The blue line is Gold Run Road.  It was an 18% grade in places and sucked. The hairpin section my Mineral Hill in the middle of the map unleashed an awesome single-track descent with swooping turns and a number of sweet little jumps.  Almost fun enough to make me forget the road section I just suffered through.  Again, the course dishes out pain followed by reward.  A love-hate relationship at it's best!

Loop 3 starts off again with more climbing, big surprise.   The line in blue is a steady climb that gradually increases in grade and rough terrain right before it drops riders off onto Boreas Pass Road for the first crossing of Boreas Pass.

After reaching Boreas Pass the course takes a right (your left) and starts the descent down into Como.  There is still a fair amount of up and down climbing on the trail but to offset that is some of the most fun and interesting sections of single-track I've ever ridden (in the red on the left).  You'll have to check it out! Once I reached Como I was ready to unleash all that I had for the second ascent of Boreas Pass.  Looking at the elevation profile in preparation for the race I realized the race really ends at Boreas Pass because everything else, with a few short punchy climbs, was literally down hill.  I was feeling good leaving Como and had just downed my 2nd bottle of CarboRocket 333 for the lap and swapped the 3rd onto the bike.  That's 666 calories and the equivalent of 2 cans of Coke working it's way into my system.  I was ready and my legs were willing so I put it in the big ring and started hammering out of the saddle.  I managed, to my surprise, to reel in 2 or 3 riders up the pass and pushed over the top with empty bottles on fumes.  I recovered just enough on the downhill to make it over the last little kicker, down the single-track and into Carter Park with a smile. Success!

Some Photos.  I'll add more once they become available.

The trail working it's way up to Wheeler Pass. Photo: Les Handy

A very steep "cary-a-bike" section. One slip here and it's all the way back to Breck.  Photo: Les Handy

Wheeler Pass looking north-west. The highest point of the race. Some steep and technical single-track just beyond the horizon.  Photo: Les Handy

How much food does it take to fuel a 100-mile endurance race?  About this much.  Chris Baddick and I split this pizza the night before the race.  It's called the "Gigantor". 

Wheeler Pass on Loop #1

Colorado Trail on Loop #2

Boreas Pass Loop #3

More Photos:  Loop1, Loop2, Loop3

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

2011 CU Short Track #9

Post Race Team Photo
We raced 11 min today due to lightning... probably a good thing with a big race for me this weekend.  Given most of the pros are out of town for the Mountain Bike XC National Championships the A race was very thin and they decided to run the men and women together.  At least the course was fun.  Plenty of turns with a  really steep kicker (top left).  I'm pretty sure Chris had something to do with this... and the rain.

On the way out of town I hit the trails on Marshall Mesa for an hour.  I've never ridden there before so it was fun to check it out.  Plenty of good views of Boulder and Eldorado canyon.

Eldorado Canyon in the background.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hydration Pack or Bottles?

I'm contemplating my hydration plan for the upcoming 100-miler this weekend and am faced with the choice of using a hydration pack or bottles or a combination of both.  I have a bike with only 1 bottle cage available so regardless of which option I choose, I'll have a little water on my back.  For The Bailey Hundo this year I opted for a pack swapping out a pre-filled bladder 1/2 way through the race.  For last weekend's race I used bottles and had a teammate 1/2 way through each lap hand off a fresh bottle in addition to a stash at the start.  So based on my experience here are some reasons for or against using a Hydration pack.

Hydration Pack Pros:
* Easy to grab that little hose and suck even when in technical terrain. This makes staying hydrated easier.
* You can cary a little more water and save time passing up aid stations.
* A little more room for an extra vest, tube, food, etc.  You don't have to stuff that jersey to the limit.

Hydration Pack Cons:
* Weight, you have to cary more weight on your back rather than on the bike with bottles.
* High center of gravity, almost a guarantee the pack will slosh around and throw you off balance at some point.
* Hard to know how much water you have left.
* Takes a long time to refill.  Bottles are much faster to swap out and / or refill.

I know each pro / con doesn't cary equal weight and the terrain of the course, frequency of aide stations, etc can swing the pendulum one way or the other.  Still with that said, I'd love to hear your input on the topic.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

2011 40 In The Fort

It was a tough call to choose between the Winter Park Point-to-Point race and the  40 In The Fort put on by the Overland Mountain Bike Club in FT Collins, CO this weekend.  Although I love the WP race series, I thought I'd give this new one a try.  I had only ridden in the FT Collins area one time before back in October 2011 for the first annual Ergon Monster Ride.  The race was on trails in both the Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Park.  We did two 20-mile loops which covered the gamut of conditions: smooth singletrack, chunky technical climbs / decents, hike-a-bike,  and 20+% road climbs.

It  felt something like this:

It was a true mountain bike race.  If you don't have technical dirt skills, you'll be walking a lot up and down and probably will hate the race.  If you like technical (rocks, roots, water bars) climbs and decents, you'll love the race course.  I had a pretty good race unofficially finishing 10th in the open classification.  I had one issue with my front shifter that prevented me from using the big ring the 2nd lap but as you can see from the elevation profile above, the big ring was used sparingly.  Thanks again to all that helped out and put this event together.  A big thanks to my teammate and one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. Jim Fu.  He and his family put me up the night before and made me feel very welcome on and off the course.  I'm looking forward to returning the favor sometime soon.

Rippin' Fast Downhill

One of the many big drops in Horsetooth.
Top of Bacon Hill or whatever that evil road is called.
Fu Dog making sure I make it back to a warm shower and awesome meal. That white sticker says "FU".
The lower trails were plagued with endless mud puddles.  Glad I used the wet lube.