Tuesday, July 28, 2009

are you *@#!&#! kidding me?

This morning T-dub and i got out good and early to ride the Alpine Loop. We were hoping to do it in five hours so we could get back by eleven and she could get to work by noon. We were making good time until we started to head up Provo Canyon. We had a bit of a head wind, but i felt really slow and sluggish heading up the bike path to Vivian Park. As we pulled off the bike path i realized the reason was because my front tire had gone low. It hadn't flatted, but just lost a bit of air, so i put some more air in and hoped it would seal. We started up the canyon and made the turn up towards sundance. On the first two miles i realized the tire was getting low again, so we stopped at sundance for me to change tubes. Because i've learned my lesson the hard way, i did the "bloody finger test" and not finding anything put the new tube in, inflated it, and we were on our way. Not more than 3 k up the road i heard the tell tale hiss of another flat.

Dang! i couldn't believe it. I sat down in the road and fixed this one as well, and then we were off. We were nearing the top and enjoying the aspens when, hissss, thump, hissss, thump, hissss, thump.
"Are you kidding?" i thought. "Again?!" T-dub and i were each carrying one extra tube (i usually carry two, but had given one to my brother the other day when he flatted and forgot to replace it), but we had gone through my original and both replacement tubes at this point. I got off and started to walk as i tried to figure out what to do. T-dub checked her saddle bag and found a small patch kit, so we sat down and i patched one of the tubes. Fortunately i had loaded up on CO2 cartridges the other day when we were heading out for a CX ride through the desert. Even though we only had two extra tubes, i had 4 CO2 cartridges, so we patched the tube and got moving.

Flat tire no. 5 (counting the "no work" patches)!!

We reached the top and started the descent when i felt the front end get mushy and heard the hiss and thump repeating again. "No F#$@*^! way! Again!?! F#$@*!% unbelievable!" Unfortunately the patch kit was a "no glue" patch kit, which really means a "no work" patch kit. I know because i tried two patches on two tubes and neither held. Yes, that was the foreshadowing to tell you that i patched another tube, inflated it, and started out, but got no further than ten feet before it went bad. I had one cartridge left, and tried to fix the tube, but the cartridge wouldn't thread right onto the inflater thing, so there we were at the top of the Alpine Loop with no cell phone service (not that anyone would have driven all the way up there to pick us up anyway) having gone through three tubes, two patches and three cartridges (four counting the one that wouldn't thread) .

The cartridge that wouldn't thread!!

We started walking down, hoping someone with a truck would offer us a ride. One of the great things about riding the Alpine Loop on weekdays is there's not much traffic. One of the lousy things about riding the Alpine Loop on weekdays when you've flatted three times and gone through two patches and all of your cartridges is that there's not much traffic. Such was the case today. Seems like the only cars that passed us were Lincoln Towncars full of retirees. One guy on a motorcycle did stop and offer to ride to the bottom of the canyon where he could get cell reception and make a cell phone call for us. We thanked him, but told him we'd hope for a ride from someone.

Could have been worse. At least the view was nice.

Not much later we saw a guy walking his bike up the canyon. "Looks like you're in the same boat as us," i said, but turns out he was just tired and wanted to walk to stretch his legs. He had a pump and we gave it a try, but the tube wouldn't hold air, so we kept walking. Finally after about a mile or so of walking (not something i recommend in cycling cleats) a group of guys heading down the canyon stopped and offered us a tube and cartridge. We gladly accepted and soon thereafter were on our way. Needless to say, what i hoped would be a five hr. ride turned into seven and T-dub was quite a bit late for work.

Big thanks to the guys who provided the tube and cartridge. Sure beat walking the rest of the canyon or even hitching a ride in the back of a pickup!!

Trying to keep up with T-dub just before flat no. 3!

A whole lot of three

Last year as a cat 4 i finished up the Capital Reef Classic in 3rd place GC (that's 3 no. 1). I put in a hard effort on the TT and felt good on the climbs, hanging in the lead pack. This year i upgraded to cat 3 (that's 3 no. 2), for which the CRC would be my first race. The TT starts around 9 am on friay morning, so the plan was to get out of the valley and head out early thursday afternoon. Unfortunately, i had a whole list of things to get done before i could get out of dodge, so we didn't hit the road until around midnight. After a 3 hr. drive (3 no. 3) we pulled into Torrey around 3 am (3 no. 4). I only got about 3 hrs of sleep (3 no. 5) until a bunch of people in the rooms above us started to make a bunch of racket packing and leaving. Despite the lack of sleep, I fared pretty well in the TT, middle of the group, and was feeling ok about the race. That quickly changed after the circuit race and even more after the road race. The circuit race consisted of 3 laps (3 no. 6) of a beautiful loop with a 2 mile climb. I made it over the climb the first lap with the group, but on the 2nd lap, i got dropped about half way up. The artist had also dropped, so we rode together til we caught DC (who was also dropped, just not as early as us), and we rode the rest of the race with a couple of other guys we caught. My result was ok, but not great. My real demise came, however, with the road race, an 80 mile loop up to Fish Lake and then back through Loa. The ride tops out at just over 9000', and covers some really beautiful land. I know, cuz after i got dropped within the first click of the climb i had plenty of time to take in the view.
After i waved the artist on as we came through Bicknell (he had graciously ridden most of the race with me), i came in a not-so-comendable third to last (3 no. 7). From 3rd place last year to 3rd to last this year. what a drag. Regardless, it's a great race: well-organized, great course, beautiful red rock and high mountain landscapes. And now i know what i need to improve to be a little more competitive next year.

A crazy thing also happened to me on our ride back to the car after the TT: a bug flew into my ear! I know a certain anonymous friend of mine has taken a lot of flack from me for insisting on stuffing her ears with whatever she has on hand to keep the bugs out, but i want to publicly apologize for giving her a hard time (though i'm still not going to start stuffing my ears with cotton every time i ride).

(Thanks to Ty "the robot" for the CRC pics)

After the race we headed over to the Baker Ranch to spend some time with Trigger and his fam. the artist and his girls all came over too and killed lots of things with Trigger.

T-dub got to play cowgirl for a day on her birthday, and did a great job considering she had never ridden a horse before. Trigger's a baptize-by-fire kind of guy, and he did not disappoint. Even though it was her first time on a horse, T-dub put in a good 7 hrs. in the saddle, ate kipper snacks, and helped castrate a calf. Trigger and Regi also made her a great dutch oven pineapple upside down cake for her birthday.

Trigger believes a true cowboy lunch consists of kipper snacks. He packed enough tins for all of us, but T-dub "accidently" dropped most of hers out when she was trying to drain the oil. Imagine that, if you hold a tin of herring upside down and shake it they will all fall out on the ground.

But even Dally the dog wouldn't touch the Kipper snacks (notice the kipper snacks in the bottom left of the pic untouched by Dally) . . .

. . . until Trigger forced them in her mouth. Once she got a taste for them, however, she loved 'em. T-dub never loved them.

Leaving the Baker Ranch on the road to Emery we were treated to a cloudburst which left "chocolate milk" rivers streaming down all the canyons, and some incredible plays of light on the wet landscape.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

back on the bike

After the hypothermia classic, i was feeling a bit burnt out about the bike. In fact, even before high uintah i had been feeling a bit burnt out, which i can't quite figure out because i wasn't putting in long training hours, nothing more than last year, though i have certainly had less structure (yes, Tommy, you helped me keep structure, something i'm sorely lacking this year). So, i determined to do what anyone who is feeling sluggish, slow, and unmotivated should do: i increased my training hours and intensity. Just kidding. i took a good week and a half off the bike. It worked out well because i was going to Houston, TX for a conference and it is far too humid and hot in Houston to do anything but wish you were somewhere other than Houston.

I did do one short ride while at the conference: the Tour de Hood. This cat has an incredible program to get young urban kids on bikes, and help them recognize the assets in their neighborhoods, complete with fresh fruit.

We got a great tour of some of the areas in the 3rd ward that were historically settled by freed slaves, but are now undergoing significant gentrification. Interesting to see $300,000 condos and "private" parks across the street from rowhouses.

After Houston i eased back into cycling here by trying to get some miles in. I rode the Alpine loop for the first time this year last friday, and was again amazed by the beauty of the ride. This one never gets old.

And even though i'm a few pounds heavier than i was last year, and not climbing as well, i did manage to beat UCA state point champion B.Parry over both the alpine loop and suncrest, probably the only time in my life i'll manage that, so i relished it.

Saturday the artist and i got out for a bit of mountain biking. The new Ghost Falls descent is great fun.
The artist, DC, and I all recently upgraded to cat 3. I'm glad about that, but not too excited that my first race as a cat 3, the capital reef classic, may be raced with the cat 3s and 1/2 fields all combined if the fields aren't bigger than they were last year. That will not be fun.