Thursday, July 10, 2008

Did you get any riding in?

Several friends have asked me how my vacation was last week. The exchange usually goes like this:

"How was your vacation?"
"Did you get any riding in?"

At which point, I tell them about the several wonderful rides I got to do while in Utah last week. The first ride was the Alpine Loop, once in each direction, with my brother and Kris. Kris did a nice writeup about it, so I won't really elaborate, other than to comment on some of the oddities of Sundance. I really like Sundance--it's one of the prettiest places in the world. But I get really annoyed with environmentalist hypocrites, like Al Gore and Robert Redford. Both live in palatial homes that consume heaps and gobs of energy and burn fossil fuel traveling all over the world. In Gore's case, it's all offset by green energy credits. In Redford's, they have hybrid SUVs to haul their employees and guests around the resort.

Seriously, Sundance has a fleet of Lexus RX400H hybrids. As if that's doing any good. The RX400H has a V6 gas engine mated to the electric motor to get a whopping 26 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway. Why not put your money where your mouth is and just have a fleet of cruiser bikes scattered around the resort that employees and guests can use to get from point A to point B? Between the hybrid SUVs, the $3.00 16 oz Gatorades, and the disgusted looks we got for cooling off in the stream, I came away from the 15 minutes or so we spent at Sundance just laughing at the whole situation.

Later in the day, Steve and I saw Brad and Racer finishing the same ride. Brad stopped to talk for a bit and mentioned the Soldier Hollow biathlon coming up on Wednesday night. We were going to be in Park City Wednesday, and I had read Grizzly Adam mention what a good time the biathlon is, so seemed like an ideal way to spend the evening.

Before I talk about the biathlon, though, I'll just comment that as good as the riding choices are in Boise, I can't think of a better place to live and ride than the north end of Utah County. We stayed at my sister's house in Cedar Hills, and it was literally four minutes from her driveway to the mouth of American Fork canyon. Having the Alpine Loop as a viable option for a morning or after-work ride is just unreal. Same could be said for living in Suncrest, Alpine, and where Steve lives near Thanksgiving Point. Steve can incorporate Suncrest into his commute, and he's also got great access to some of the steep roads in Butterfield Canyon. I rode the AF side of Alpine Loop on Tuesday afternoon, and it was 90 minutes door-to-door. Talk about great access!

I thought Brad would make it to the biathlon on Wednesday, but Kris was the only person I knew who was there. I also recognized KC Holley from RAWROD and said hello, as she, Kris, and I were starting in the same wave (sport men + expert women). Turns out my wife and KC's mom were getting acquainted from the gallery at the same time.

I didn't arrive early enough to do any warmup laps, so when the race started, I figured I'd just get on KC's wheel and let her pace me through the first lap. I had ridden with her group for a good chunk of RAWROD, so I figured that would be about the right pace. KC went out hard, and I went right behind her. On the pavement before the first hill, we passed most of the pack and then hit the hill strong. By the time we got to the top, it was KC and me at the front. I passed her right as we crested the hill and began the descent and was in the front for the rest of the first lap.

Then we got to the shooting range. I missed three of the first four targets, and my gun jammed on the fifth. After four of five penalty laps, I was immediately out of contention. My new goal was just to pass Kris. Unfortunately, on lap two I missed three more targets. I was really behind. On lap three, I slowed down before coming to the shooting range to let my heart rate come down, then I took my time shooting. Five for five. I could see Kris up ahead. Last lap, Kris is still ahead of me. Five for five again. Kris missed one. I passed him as he did his penalty lap.

It was a great time, and the raffle was awesome. There were about 70 racers who showed up and nearly that many prizes. When my name was called, I grabbed the Park Tool barbecue set. Used them to turn some fourth-of-July brats on Friday, and they will definitely be coming to RAWROD so Elden and Kenny don't burn their fingers grabbing and flipping sausages.

Friday was my last day in Park City, so I figured I better get out on the local trails. Rick suggested hitting the Glenwild trail, but we were staying right at Park City Mountain Resort, so I opted to ride from there instead. I rode Spiro to Mid Mountain and then continued on Mid Mountain for a few miles before turning back. It was unbelievable. The trails felt as if someone had gone out and raked them that morning, they were so buff. I don't know how they manage to have steep trails with tight switchbacks without braking bumps all over the place, but they do. And I like it.

On Saturday, Steve and I rode the first 70 miles or so of the Lotoja course, including the nasty climb over Strawberry Summit. Steve absolutely smoked me on the climb over Strawberry summit. The last couple climbs we've done together, I've beat him to the top, so on Saturday when he was going strong, I figured I'd stay within myself until he cracked, at which point I would catch up. He never cracked. He's been using Hammer Perpetuum on long rides lately, and I can't help but think that was the difference. Every ride where I've been faster has been a shorter ride, where on-bike nutrition was less of an issue. I was running on Clif bars and Coca-Cola, while he was religiously following the Hammer program. I'm going to have to give it a try. I'm probably fooling myself that I'll be able to stay with him, and he really is that much stronger on long climbs. But it's worth a try.

Once over Strawberry Summit, we headed towards Bear Lake, where we met up with my parents, who had ridden a lap around the lake. The four of us then rode from the north beach to Garden City, where the girls and our kids met us for milkshakes and burgers at LaBeau's. I had a burger and split a shake with my wife. I was so hungry from the ride (at that point about 105 miles and 4000 feet of climbing) that I could have easily eaten that much again more. I was thirsty enough that I ended up going back for a 44 oz diet coke. It was barely enough.

After lunch, we did a family ride with the girls and the kids. My son fell asleep, while my baby didn't like the bumps. So I turned around early and sat in the shade waiting for the rest to return. Good thing, too, as the entire time I was pulling that trailer, I was nervous that the clamp was going to crush my carbon chain stay. I don't think I'll pull the trailer behind the road bike again.

It's probably a rhetorical question when asking an obsessed cyclist whether he got any riding in on his vacation. In my case, with my brother and now my parents spending a good chunk of their free time on the bike, when that vacation involves visiting family, it's not a matter of "if" but "how much."


  1. i hate sundance.

  2. Good post. I enjoyed riding with you and Steve over the Alpine Loop.

    Sundance used to be more laid back and friendly, but it's snobsville now.

    The biathlon was fun as always. I knew I'd have my work cut out for me to stay in front of you, and when I missed that target on the last lap, I knew it was game over. Good times.