Saturday, August 30, 2008

pain, suffering, and patio party part II

Although the artist, the cousin, and the robot, and I have all tried at different times this past season to climb Butterfield Canyon, for one reason, disaster, misfortune, or another, none of us had succeeded in our efforts. I only went along on one of the attempts, but we turned around about three miles up the canyon because we didn't have enough time to go any further. The others weren't so lucky. Tire blow outs, torrential downpours, and other prohibitive conditions thwarted each effort. So today we determined to climb Butterfield Canyon. I had read up a little on it a year or two ago when i was commuting to Tooele to see if it was a viable option to riding around the point by Saltair, but nothing i read prepared me for what i encountered, and last time i rode the first three miles i didn't think much of it. I didn't realize that we had turned around right before the grade kicks up to 16-17%. I had heard that there were some steep sections, but i didn't realize how steep, how long.
Today i was tired (stayed up too late) and not feeling well (turns out that your body reacts pretty adversely to deep-fried food when it's not a regular part of your diet. I made some fried stuffed jalapeƱos last night, and they weren't treating me too well this morning). At any rate, the combination kicked my ass. After grinding up the 16-17% grade for a half mile i was ready to stop and turn around. Had there been even 100 ft. more of that grade i would have been done, but fortunately i made it to the switchback where it eases up a little.
"Ease up a little" is all relative, however, because the last three miles of the canyon are still a consistent 8-12% grade. I swore a lot, but stayed on the bike to the top, exhausted, beat, and hoping that i feel a lot better next weekend for Lotoja.

The Canyon crew was coming up just as we started down. Here a couple of them on the very last kicker before the top.

Finished out the day with Patio Party part duex. Judith's QuinceaƱera x2 (she turns 30) is coming up and i was nominated padron del salon. I accepted as long as some people agreed to come and help finish up the patio so the guests weren't tripping over stacked flagstones. We didn't quite finish, but we did get a lot done. After a few good hours of work we pulled peppers and tomatos from the garden and made chile rellenos. It's only been two years since i started the patio, but i'll get it done soon enough.

Thanks again everyone for your help!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The worst $4 quesadilla ever (and a proposal)


Today is the first day of the semester. Ms. Katydid emailed me to see if i wanted to join her after classes for something to eat, so i agreed and asked her where she wanted to meet. She was having a meeting at the cafe at the UMFA, so she suggested i meet her there, which i did. I was quickly reminded why i don't like to eat at the UMFA cafe—their food is mediocre at best and downright lousy at times, as was the case today.
I decided to try the quesadilla. Big mistake. This is what i was served:

Grated cheddar cheese on a green flour tortilla. No salsa. No cream. No tomatoes or lettuce. Bland and uninspiring. Nothing but .35 cents of grated cheese on a .02 cent flour tortilla. Four dollars is a hell of a markup for a .37 cent quesadilla (we actually called this a "cheese crisp" in the very white household in which i grew up, but at least we complimented it with Pace Picante sauce, diced tomatoes, and iceburg lettuce).

I asked one of the servers if i could get some salsa, but she said they didn't have any because it was too hard to keep.
"You can't keep salsa in the fridge?" i queried in disbelief.
"No," she replied, "it's too hard."
Cait was also not very happy with her cookie, which she said was undercooked.

So, i have determined to no longer eat mediocre food at the overpriced UMFA cafe. That leaves the problem, however, of finding food on campus since i'm not real fond of the Chartwell monopoly on everything else.


Taco venders! For $1.00-$1.50 i can get a carne asada taco with all the fixings at any number of taco vendors in the Salt Lake area. For $2.00-$3.00 i can get a quesadilla with my choice of meat, salsa, and all the fixings at these same vendors.

My proposal is to bring taco vendors to campus. There are a number of places they could set up and provide students and faculty with an economic and tasty alternative to the lousy Chartwell monopoly. I'm not sure what the terms of Chartwell's contract with the university is, but i aim to find out, and do what i can to bring real food at reasonable prices to higher ed.

$5.00 of tasty food from Tacos Conchis, one of my favorite local taco stands located on 2oo s. and about 450 w. It's amazing, given the UMFA cafe's difficulty keeping salsa, that Tacos Conchis offers a number of salsa varieties, and without a fridge at that.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

How to keep bugs out of your ears or 101 uses for a pair of headphones

This morning i went for a nice mtb ride up to Dog Lake with a dear friend (who will remain anonymous at her request).

It was a great end-of-the-summer ride. Perfect temperatures, clear blue skies, not too much traffic on the trail (even for a sunday morning). Not far into the ride, however, my anonymous friend was having troubles with her mp3 player, which kept sliding down her arm (she wears the kind that you velcro strap to your arm). We stopped for a minute for her to take her sleeves off (it was getting warm) and readjust her mp3 player, at which time she shared with me that she doesn't even care if music is playing or not, she really wears the headphones just to keep the bugs out of her ears.

In all my years of riding, i have never had a bug fly into my ear (bees in my helmet yes, but not bugs in my ears), but evidently they are drawn to my anonymous friend's ears because she also told me how the other day when she was riding she stopped to talk to someone, and then forgot to put her headphones in, and almost immediately the bugs started to swarm and threaten her very hearing (i may be taking some poetic liberty with the retelling, but not much).

Then she told me she couldn't believe she had said that out loud and made me promise to not tell anyone else. I'm sorry dear anonymous friend, it's just too good a story (I have, however, followed IRB protocal to conceal your identity. All files linking you to any identifying information will be kept in a locked cabinet accessible only to the primary researcher).

Anonymous friend taking in the view at Dog Lake

Of course this helps explain why a perpetually messy person like me gets nervous when a perpetually clean person like my anonymous friend comes over to my house to visit. "Oh No!" i think, "she's going to realize i'm really a very cluttered, messy person." She was impressed recently when I cleaned my house and she could actually see my table top and didn't have to pick a pathway through my front room.

This same anonymous clean person had a towel handy at the end of our ride to wipe down my water bottle mouth piece so that i didn't get any dust in my mouth. Very clean and very considerate. Thank you clean, anonymous friend for a great sunday morning ride (and keeping my mouth free from dust-borne pathogens).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"This doesn't feel like a birthday party!"

Ms. Caity wanted to throw a birthday party for me, but i wasn't having it, until...

she suggested we have a patio party, and by patio party she meant having people come over to help me level the patio i started a year and a half ago, but never finished. I was down with that.

So last night for my birthday Cait and Leti convinced some good friends to come over for a bbq—and a little manual labor. Not long into the patio project David keenly observed, "this doesn't feel much like a birthday party," but everybody else was already strategizing how they could get Cait and Leti involved in planning their unfinished home project/birthday parties.

Terry quickly took control and showed us how to do it, which was pretty gracious considering he just though he was going to a birthday party.

Soon enough the flagstones were going into place nice and level, and even though we didn't finish, we got a good start.

Best of all, we finished up the evening with carne asada and cait's special cake (which she said she died green to represent my green thumb and a few other things i can't remember). Guacamole and carne asada on corn tortillas are definitely in my top ten food favorites.

Throughout the day i also got phone calls, usually accompanied by lots of out-of-tune singing, from all my nieces and nephews. They're all stinking cute, even if they can't sing very well.

Thanks everyone for a great b-day!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A day at the office with Trigger

Trigger is a cowboy. He used to be a skatepunk vegan, but now he proudly works harder than most people i know to put American beef on the table of carnivores everywhere. On any given day he is fixing fences, clearing and repairing irrigation ditches, gathering cows from hundreds of square miles of range, or sewing up prolapsed cows (he'll happily tell you how he goes about this-less-than-pleasant task with nothing more than bailing twine and some willow branches).

I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days this week riding with Trigger gathering cows and pushing them to new pasture.

Some of my friends think i secretly want to be a cowboy, to which i reply, "who doesn't?" My desire to be a cowboy only increased when Trigger related to me that hot, european girls really dig cowboys (this observation is based on his short stint working at a dude ranch), though the chances of running into anyone, let alone hot, european girls, where Trigger works are pretty slim. The ranch house from where he works during the summer is a good hour down dirt roads from the nearest neighbor in any direction. But i digress, the reasons i want to be a cowboy are more closely related to the same reasons Trigger likes to cowboy:

1. fresh, clean air that smells of sage and pine (and occasionally cow shit).
2. the best office view one could imagine (and it's always changing)

3. the satisfaction of good, hard work
4. Wrangler butts drive me nuts
5. spending time on horseback (Trigger still does the majority of his work from his horse)

6. kipper snacks

Just kidding, i don't have quite the same love for kipper snacks that Trigger does. He considers them the quintessential cowboy food even though his wife was so grossed out watching him eat them one time that she threatened to never have amorous relationships with him ever again.

Trigger gets increasingly more conservative the longer he lives in Emery County ( i offered him an Obama '08 bumper sticker for his truck—he didn't want it). I guess i have to expect as much when the only thing he has to listen to on the radio is the local conservative AM talk station. I also offered to see if i could find him a bumper sticker with one of the most succinct takes on our current political and social situation that i have heard: "of course it hurts, you're being screwed by an elephant." He wasn't interested in that one either.

No matter how far gone he is, however, i do enjoy a day of work and conversation with my youngest brother. And to top it off he gave me some fancy new spurs for my B-day that came in real handy by the end of the second day.

Friday morning i managed to get in a quick bike ride before we saddled up and headed up the mountain. Sunrise over Capital Reef was beautiful, as always.

Monday, August 4, 2008

same result-just much more painful

I was bummed when the Mt. Ogden race got canceled, because even though it had some tough climbs, it looked like a great course, and i did not necessarily want to race the 170-mile Tour de Park City, which was being held the same weekend. Even after Mt. Ogden was canceled i was still debating whether i wanted to race the Tour de Park City. 170 miles in August temperatures did not sound like too much fun. But with a little persuasion from Dave C. i eventually decided to sign up. I'm still not sure how i feel about it. By far the toughest race i have done, and i was far more spent at the end of the race than i ever have been, even after Lotoja.

The race started out mellow enough, everyone was saving energy for the long climbs and long miles. We had a group of about fifty (for some reason they raced the cat 5s and cat 4s together), but when we hit the dirt road section at mile 75 i kept my pace up rather than slow down and that split the group up. Going into Evanston we had about 20 people, which was good because from Evanston to the climb we had a nasty headwind, so having a good-size group was helpful, though there were a couple of times when our paceline fell to pieces and no one wanted to work in the wind. Dave C. attacked once we started up the final climb to Ruth Lake and i jumped on his wheel. We opened up a fair size gap, but it wasn't too long before a chase group organized, and knowing we still had 60 miles to go with lots of headwind going down the canyon Dave and I settled into a steady pace and let them catch us. About six guys caught us right at the Ruth Lake pass and so we rode the quick descent and then up to Bald Mountain pass and started the long descent together. We reeled in one other guy who had gone off the front and another, Rich B., bridged up to us, so fighting against the headwind down the canyon there were about 8 of us. The wind was brutal, far worse than the climbs.

Even though the long climbs were behind us, i knew the two final climbs out of Kamas and then past Jordanelle were going to be painful (they just look like little blips in the elevation chart compared to the Bald Mtn. pass climb, but i assure you, they were painful after 150 miles). Sure enough Justin W. and Jason S. moved to the front and pushed it hard up the first climb. Luckily for me they rode right inside the white line (we had a good size shoulder) and so i had enough space to sit in a little pocket just out of the crosswind and kept pace. At that top of the Kamas climb we had reduced the group to five. On the descent to Jordanelle we lost two more and were down to three, but one of guys, Alex from Spin, caught back up on the final climb. By the time we hit the top of the final climb i was spent. I had relied on the neutral support and they had only supplied water at each feed zone, rather than any gatorade or electrolyte-replacement drink. I had taken some GUs, some Cliff blocks, and some food bars, but i was starting to feel completely fatigued. My body had used up all my energy sources.

As we rode the last ten miles i was doing everything i could to just hang on to the wheels of the three other guys. I was seeing stars and felt like i might fall asleep on my bike. I gave it everything i had to stay with them to the end and managed to just keep on their wheels. I had a few thoughts about sprinting the finish, but those ideas were quickly vanquished by the fact that i was having to put everything i had into just staying with them for the last two miles. I had the interesting sensation of standing to sprint to get back onto the wheel of the group, and immediately feeling pure pleasure and contentment when i finished the effort of the short sprint and sat back down in the saddle. It was unfortunately short-lived, however, as i had to immediately keep up my pedal stroke.

The other three sprinted for the win, but i had nothing so just rolled across the finish. Once i got my feet on the ground i could barely speak or think. I was fried.
So there it is, another 4th place finish. I'm getting really good at those.

A few minutes later Dave C. rolled across the line and we found a place next to a cooler to lie down on the pavement in the shade of the Suunto tent. I remember turning to Dave and telling him i was so tired i think i could fall asleep right there. "You were already snoring," Dave replied.

Coming in 4th i won enough money to almost pay for my registration fees, but best of all i got this awesome tan.