Thursday, April 29, 2010

Doing right by your sponsors

I’m sure you’re all following the SRAM Tour of the Gila with baited breath. I know I am. It’s one of those where if there were actually television coverage, I would have a hard time deciding whether to: a) avoid finding out results so I could see it unfold when I watch the recording later; b) find out the results as soon as possible because I just couldn’t stand to wait; or c) take the day off work so I could watch it live.

But since it’s not on TV (travesty, I know), I have to choose between: a) taking the week off work to go to New Mexico and watch; or b) getting the results on It was a tough decision, but I opted for b (incidentally, it doesn’t matter which b, since they’re effectively the same—see how clever I am?).

As confident as I am that all of you are as keyed up as I am about this race, I’m going to risk redundancy and tell you what the results were. Just in case you’re living in a cave and haven’t seen them blasted across all news media outlets, major and minor. Levi Leipheimer won today’s stage. I’m sure you’re as shocked as I was that one of the six Pro Tour riders racing in this domestic event took the victory. It’s almost as unexpected as a seven-time winner of Le Tour winning the Leadville Trail 100 against a stacked field bunch of weekend warriors and masters racers (after failing to do so in his first attempt).

But really, who cares that Levi won? I mean, the only name that matters is Lance Armstrong, right? So where’d he finish? 22nd, that’s where. 1:46 back.

Of course, Lance was working to help Levi win, I’m sure. Because really, it’s much more important for Levi to win than Lance from a sponsor standpoint. Because it’s the SRAM Tour of the Gila, and Lance has an ownership stake in SRAM. And they’re racing as team Mellow Johnny’s rather than Radio Shack, and Lance happens to own Mellow Johnny’s. So it makes perfect sense that Lance would take this opportunity to sacrifice himself for a teammate. Because that’s what Lance does.

Then again, maybe it’s just that the local competition—especially the Utah guys—was really tough. I mean Burke Swindlehurst has won this event three times, but he was all the way down in 11th place, a minute out of the lead and only 40 seconds ahead of Lance. Nevermind that Burke is riding this season as a team of one. Or that Lance has only had one more birthday than Burke. Lance did happen to beat Dave Harward. By about three minutes. That’s a fair comparison, because Dave is three years older than Lance and has a job besides riding his bicycle from which he has to take time off in order to compete.

If pressed, Lance will say this is all preparation for July. And we all know that Lance is the greatest bicycle racer of all time amongst bicycle racers who competed exclusively in the month of July. Contador, Cancellara, and Evans, meanwhile, are also lining up for races, monuments even, against actual Pro Tour riders rather than weekend warriors, and racing to win. The way the Cannibal and the incomparable Coppi did before them.

Seven is an impressive number. But it would be like Tiger* focusing exclusively on the Masters, winning it seven times, and then claiming that he was greater than Jack Nicklaus for having done so. Well 18 majors is more than seven, even if all seven came in the same event.

*Speaking of Tiger, I couldn’t help but think of him when I saw the podium girl on the right after Levi’s victory.

Merckx won Le Tour five times, also winning the points jersey three times and the climber’s jersey twice in the process. He won the Giro five times, winning all three of the overall, points, and mountain competitions in 1968. He won the Vuelta overall and points classification in 1973. Eleven is more than seven. To say nothing of an additional 29 victories at such events as the World Championships, Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Giro di Lombardia, and Super Prestige. Lance has all of seven major wins other than Le Tour.

If Lance were one of the great ones, he’d be racing to win at the great events. He doesn’t. But that’s not why I don’t like the guy. Because race wins are a nice but fleeting moment and have no correlation with one’s character. Yet how he treats his teammates, both on the bike, but more especially those working for his cancer foundation, has more bearing for me than any win at any race. Instead, he just shows that while you may be on Lance’s team, he’s never on yours.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Respect, dignity, and maybe just a bit of compassion

When I moved from Idaho to Utah, I didn’t think Utah politics would drive me crazy for the simple reason that there are so many right-wing nutjobs in Idaho that I didn’t think Utah could possibly be worse. Well I was wrong. Apparently it gets worse the further south you go, as Arizona has now become a full-on police state where you can now be guilty of trespassing for breathing in a public place.

In the immortal words of Jack White:

White Americans, what?
Nothing better to do?
Why don't you kick yourself out
you're an immigrant too.

The toilets and floors in my office building get cleaned every night by a couple of people who don’t speak much English. They’re thoughtful, hard-working, and polite. I don’t know if they’re documented, and I don’t care. I don’t want that job. I don’t know any natural-born citizen who does. They aren’t committing any crimes, they’re just working hard to provide for their families. Why do people get so worked up about that?

And while Arizona takes the cake for draconian discrimination against “immigrants” (who look more like the native people of this continent than those making the stupid laws—wonder why?), Utah is itself far from saintly and Good Samaritanish in this regard either. First of all, Representative Stephen Sandstrom (R-Orem), has indicated he wants to draft his own law modeled after Arizona’s.

Sandstrom claims "I don't want anyone to be under the impression that this is targeting a specific group of people. That's an aspect I want to make sure has nothing to do with this bill." Well then what, precisely, is your intent? Racism obfuscated by rhetoric is still racism. Makes me want to move into his district just so I can vote against him. Or even run against him, which I’d never considered until just now—not that a pinko-commie liberal heretic earn-your-turns tree-hugging bike racer type could ever get elected in Orem, but I’d still be tempted to run just on principle, I’m so pissed off.

Rebecca Chavez-Houcke (D-Salt Lake City), apparently one of the few voices of reason in the legislature responded: "Despite the fact that most constitutional experts believe SB1070 is very constitutionally problematic, for some reason Utahns have to jump on the bandwagon, posthaste." Is anyone really all that surprised at the bandwagon jumping?

Even without an Arizona-style bill that would turn local police into the intermountain west’s own KGB, Utah nevertheless has turned getting a driver’s license into an exercise in proving one’s legal residency. That combined with requiring the written test only to be taken in English has proven a huge burden to immigrants, including those residing and working here legally. No wonder we’re all supposed to pack up and walk to Missouri for the second coming—Jesus doesn’t have papers, so even if he came to Utah first, he’d get harassed like all the other immigrants and would have to leave on foot, having been denied a driver’s license.

While we’re on the subject of treating our fellow man with class and dignity, how about Vinokourov getting booed as he crossed the line at Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday? Tomika can snort all the coke he wants, and the Belgian fans turn a blind eye because “it’s not performance-enhancing.” Yet Vino can pass 30+ doping controls since returning from his suspension, and he gets booed for winning a race.

I’m not saying Vino is clean. I don’t know one way or another. But he can’t be any more dirty than Contador, Boonen, Armstrong, or the Schleck brothers. So how about respecting the great performances until we have reason not to? Vino is a great racer, and he’s as fun to watch as anyone who’s ever pedaled a bicycle. So respect that. It’s not like people are booing Dwyane Wade even though his shoulders are unnaturally large. Doping is an issue in all professional sports—it’s just that cycling actually takes real steps to try to control it. The big three leagues in the United States are too distracted counting their ticket sales, merchandising, and TV contract money to worry about who’s on HGH.

Finally, it’s not all rants today, though this last bit of news is not likely of interest to anyone but me. I got the following message in my inbox yesterday:

Dear [SkiBikeJunkie],
The following request to change your USCF category has been approved and processed by USA Cycling:
xxxxxxxx - 2010-04-26 13:21
Member: [SkiBikeJunkie]
License: Road Racer
Request to change category from Cat 4 to Cat 3

Coincidentally, I had 13 qualifying starts in five months of racing last year when I upgraded from Cat. 5 to Cat. 4. Since then, I’ve had 13 qualifying starts in five months of racing before upgrading from Cat. 4 to Cat. 3. Don’t think this is a trend, though—this is the last upgrade I am ever requesting. I’ve seen what the 1/2 guys can do, and I’ll have my hands plenty full getting spit out the back of the threes.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pickle juice


White Rim is always an event to look forward to. I enjoy the scenery:

I enjoy the time with friends:

Kudos to friends like Kris and Kenny, who can smile at the top of a long climb at the end of 100 miles rather than just grind their molars to powder as they get it over with.

I enjoy the stories, such as having both knees replaced last fall and still being one of the first guys done with RAWROD:

And this year, I also enjoyed the solitude.

There’s only one race that matters at RAWROD, and that’s being first to the bathroom in the morning. So I went solo off the front in an effort to make it to the john before there was a line.

For whatever reason, I found I had gotten into a rhythm at a nice, sustainable pace that was just right for an endurance workout. So I stuck with it and rode most of the day alone. I stopped for the group picture and then again when I realized I (along with several others who may or may not have been following me) had overshot the lunch stop by three or four miles. So a few of us doubled back to get our lunch and send a support vehicle up to the rest.

After filling a bottle at the top of Murphy’s, I realized I could probably make it to the end with two bottles. My legs had been feeling like they were about to cramp up to this point, but LJ had a jar of pickles, so I ate a couple pickles and drank a few swallows of pickle juice and didn’t have even a hint of cramping the rest of the day. Last year the revelation at RAWROD was putting mayonnaise on bratwurst. This year it was pickle juice. I need to remember pickle juice on race days.

I managed to pedal every mile of the trail without walking and without dabbing, a first for me. One of these days I’ll do the fast Friday version (Aaron’s result is the most remarkable). I was done in a little over ten hours, but my ride time was under eight. I’d be interested to know how much faster I was able to ride for having taken a few breaks.

Cheeseburgers at Ray’s on the way home are the perfect bookend to the bratwurst the night before. Last year, I felt so worked that I had a hard time eating and couldn’t finish it. This year I polished it off in record time and could have eaten another one.

Friday, April 23, 2010

He’s gone plaid

Want to know how to set up a sprint finish? Watch HTC-Columbia do it. With 1K to go, Hincapie pulls to the front of the field and sets a tempo hard enough to keep anyone from coming around. Then Renshaw pulls through and goes outside in on the final corner, cutting off his pursuers from coming underneath. Cavendish pulls around in the final straight and gives it full gas. Nobody else is even close. Renshaw has enough of a gap with the leadout that he holds on for second.

And while the field is way smaller, we’re riding way slower, and our tactics are way less sophisticated, that was exactly the model Cam P., Mike H., and I used on the last lap of the Miller Motorsports Park criterium last night.

The entire race was an absolute blast. The race track is perfectly smooth, you can pedal through all the corners, and it’s wide enough to make a move anywhere you want. It’s a perfect venue for criterium racing and perhaps the most fun I’ve had at a race ever.

Karsten S. put the hurt on us as he and another Spin teammate kept the pace at 30 or so mph for the first two laps. We settled down a bit after that, but Karsten still launched probably a dozen solo attacks just to try and shake things up. For some reason, he didn’t launch an attack on the prime lap, so I was able to take that without much of a contest from anyone else.

Nine of us were left on the last lap, so three of us working together was a huge advantage. Such an advantage that Cam had been openly discussing tactics as we raced.

With about 1K to go, Cam pulled to the front and set a hard tempo. There was a cross wind coming left to right, so we were on the far right of the track with just enough room for Mike and I to tuck in in an echelon. As we approached the final left turn, I pulled out from behind Cam with Mike on my wheel cutting hard left from the outside in to keep anyone from passing on the inside. Mike came around me in the straightaway and opened a huge gap on the field. He was going so fast that he turned plaid. I was able to hold on for second by less than half a wheel over Alex’s Wright Medical teammate Zach T.

The B Flight Podium—appearances to the contrary, we’re not standing on an actual podium:

Mike had a great motor last night. He said he wanted to go with 1K left because he felt so good he thought he could take it from there. But the real hero is Cam for playing the team card and setting Mike and me up for success. At 6’7” Cam creates an awesome draft to sit in. He’s capable of winning races himself but is as happy working for a teammate as getting his own result. To say nothing of the fact that he’s an awesome guy to hang out with before and after the race and is willing to stick around to snap the podium pictures. Thanks, Cam.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


A few ideas are bouncing around in my head, none sufficient for a real post. So you get some bullets instead. Too long to tweet, too short to blog. Hmm, wonder if there’s a business opportunity in there?

  • My road bike has an “aero” seatpost. I doubt it provides any real aerodynamic advantage, especially since my saddle to bar drop is maybe 2cm. But I think all seatposts should be aero for the simple reason that I don’t have to try and get the saddle straight. How can a job so simple be so hard? Now if only someone would figure out a solution for straightening handlebars…
  • Being fat is bad for you. I know, news flash, right? Nobody saw that one coming. Interestingly, though, recent studies show that obesity can adversely affect your mental as well as physical fitness. It should come as no surprise that the two are linked. Reason number infinity to eat right and get on the bike (or run or hike or walk or inline skate or whatever activity you like provided it’s actually active).
  • Seems like all the cool kids are doing the fast Friday version of RAWROD this year and skipping Saturday. Sounds appealing, but between the knee and the saved vacation day, It’ll be Saturday or nothing for me.
  • Speaking of the knee, I did an hour on the stationary bike last night. Minimal pain and then only for the first 15 minutes. Swelling stayed down after. Going to race tonight out at Miller. Circuits will make it easy to pull the plug if I have a flare up. If that goes well, I’ll do White Rim on Saturday.
  • If I pull the plug on White Rim, I may still try to salvage something from the weekend with the UVU race. Any flatlander roadies who opted out of East Canyon should give this one a go.
  • I’ve been a bit of a Cadel Evans hater in the past. Enough so that I was bummed to see him win the rainbow jersey. And enough so that Dug inquired about how I felt about him winning Fleche Wallonne yesterday. Surprisingly, I felt fine. He beat Contadoper, so that was a positive. And since winning the world championships, he hasn’t been whining—he’s just been riding his bike. Quite well in fact. I’ve always thought he was a bit of a head case. Maybe the world title and a new team has cured that. And simultaneously cured me of hating on him.
  • Speaking of Contador, he, like Cadel, may have bumped himself off the top of my list of most hated pro cyclists (hi, Lancehole). Because as the Rev points out, unlike LA, he’s actually racing his bike outside the month of July. And getting some real results.
  • As an amateur racer, I hesitate to focus my entire season on one event. Too much can go wrong. Not only that, but things can go right at races when you didn’t expect it. I’d rather do more events and have more opportunities for success. Wonder if LA will change his approach after he bombs at Le Tour this year. Or if he’ll again claim that beating a bunch of part-timers and masters racers at Leadville was his real priority. But I guess in fairness, Lance is also a masters racer.
  • Turbo pointed out a somewhat auspicious podium at the Giro del Trentino yesterday: Ricco, Vinokourov, and Basso went 1-2-3. If you believe in redemption, it’s something to be happy about. If you’re more of a people-can-change-but-they-don’t-always-do type, it’s at best ironic and at worst suspicious. My commentary probably says enough about where I fall on the redemption-suspicion continuum.
  • Arsenal suffered an embarrassing defeat at the weekend. Someone tweeted afterwards with regard to reserve goalkeeper Fabianski, “he should be sold for a bag of cement.” I would agree, but I think the guy selling the cement would be robbed. If Arsene Wenger doesn’t realize that he needs to buy some players to build a team deep enough that the stars aren’t forced to play every match and end up injured as a result, then he needs to go.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The crucial cruciate

So imagine you have this tall, slender vertical structure. Except unlike most tall, slender vertical structures, this one can move. Towards the base of the vertical structure, where structural integrity is critical, you’ve got four cables holding a moving joint together, enabling that moving joint to articulate in one direction but not others. Each cable is carefully bolted into place.

Now imagine you have a somewhat more short, squat vertical structure than the “normal” example I just described. Except in this structure one of those four cables that is carefully bolted into place has been detached, frayed about halfway up, and then reattached with duct tape instead of a bolt.

The first example is a normal person’s knee. The second example is my knee. And that frayed cable is my posterior cruciate ligament. Allow my to illustrate:


This is a way dumbed-down rear diagram of a knee*. The white parts are the bones above and below the knee joint. The green parts on the sides are the medial collateral (MCL) and lateral collateral (LCL) ligaments. The light blue part is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the one that gets all the press because it’s kind of important but relatively easy to damage. But it can also be fixed. The red part, behind the ACL but in front for us since this is a rear view, is the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).

*If the intelligent design crowd is correct, I’m going to have lots of questions for the all-knowing designer about why he or she designed human knees like this.

In the space between the white parts is meniscus and cartilage and what not, but you can’t see that because this is the dumbed-down version, and I only have so much patience for making really lame graphics.

Like the ACL, the PCL is also kind of important, as it stabilizes the knee, keeping it from hyperextending. It’s a larger ligament and relatively hard to damage. Unfortunately, situated as it is behind the ACL, pretty much smack in the middle of the knee joint, most surgeons think it’s not worth repairing if injured because so much damage would need to be done just to get to it.

A few years ago while playing soccer, I stepped in a hole while trying to slow down from a full sprint. My knee hyperextended, tearing the PCL from it’s attachment point and splitting it down the middle for about half its length and tearing some of my meniscus in the process. My orthopaedist told me it was quite a split, as that stuff usually isn’t visible on a MRI, but mine was. (In fact, he asked if he could reuse the images for educational purposes because he’d never seen a visible split in a PCL like that. Lucky me.)

The PCL tear and hyperextension allowed the synovial tissue that surrounds the knee to get pinched in the joint. The pinched tissue began to scar and inflame in a vicious cycle of increased scarring, inflammation, and sensitivity. The torn meniscus also had a loose flap that would sometimes get folded back on itself and was also quite painful. I tried to live with it for a while, treating it with ice and cortizone shots, but after it flared up about 40 miles into my first Lotoja back in 2007, I had had enough.

In October 2007 I had surgery wherein the scarred synovial tissue was removed and the torn meniscus was trimmed back so it was smooth. Nothing was done for the PCL for aforementioned reasons.

Since then skiing and riding bikes has been no problem. Hiking uphill is no problem since the risk of hyperextension is negligible. I’m always a bit nervous going down, though. But if I ski down, keeping my knees bent, there’s almost nothing to worry about.

So why am I bringing this up now? Well I had plans to race tonight and tomorrow. And to Ride Around the White Rim in One Day on Saturday. But last night UtRider and I took one of our clients hiking in Corner Canyon after work, and while stepping downhill onto one of the footbridges, I hyperextended my knee. It didn’t hurt much when it happened, but by the time I went to bed it was swollen to the point that it looked like someone had sliced a lemon in half and shoved it under the skin on the outside of my knee.

We’ll see how soon the holy trinity of ice, Aleve, and compression can get me back on the bike.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bagging sand

Aside from showing up for races and not eating burritos*, my only responsibility for team Revolution Cafe Rio is to file race reports on the team website. This is an easy enough job, since I obsessively check the results of every race I compete in as well as those I don’t. No big deal to check the other categories and write it down.

*Seriously, how cruel is it to have a Mexican restaurant sponsor your cycling team?

Since we’re not getting paid to do this, most of us race as a way to gauge progress against a goal. Most of the amateur racers I know work pretty hard at it and endure quite a bit of suffering* for the sake of trying to get a good result, however one chooses to measure it. Once good results are consistently earned in one category, it’s time to move up to the next and, as Mark T. puts it, try to break yourself against a different rock.

*Really what is bike racing if not organized suffering? And it’s not like the suffering is limited to the race itself. That’s just the acute suffering (and oh how acute it is at times). But there’s chronic suffering, too. Training is hard, but I’m talking about dieting in order to get down to race weight. Wanna know what I hear most from people who haven’t seen me in a couple years? “You look so skinny.” I just smile and thank them, knowing that “skinny” is a relative term compared to how I used to look, all the while dreaming of pie and ice cream and cheeseburgers and burritos that I won’t eat in hopes of dropping five more kilos so I can be really fast. Perhaps I’m making progress, though, as I’ve been told that one of the women on the team laughed when she saw I’d ordered a size small vest with my team kit.

The fear of being slow relative to a hard category is balanced against the shame of being a sandbagger. To illustrate, here’s an IM conversation I had last fall with Aaron:

me: trying to decide whether to continue enjoying results in sport category next season or to just make the jump to expert.


Aaron: Ha. That's always tough. I'm never one to push someone into upgrading...but... :) may be the first sub-9 [Leadville] finisher* to ever race in the sport cat.


me: fair enough.


Aaron: Here's my dilemma. If I show up to a cx race, which cat do I race in?


me: i know absolutely nothing there.


Aaron: I'll probably be on a mtb, because my cx bike is junk right now. I did a couple races 2 years ago in the C flight (the slowest) and didn't do all that well.


me: start in c flight. if you smoke the field, move up.


Aaron: ... but I'd feel a bit weird racing expert mtb and C in cx


me: cx is different. there's so much technique to it. i don't think they'd fault you for racing there once just to feel things out.


Aaron: Funny how I'm just as afraid of being called a "sandbagger" as being really slow.


*Can you imagine Chris Carmichael signing up for an I-Cup race as a sport? He made the Olympic team and rode in the Tour de France**, only to race as a sport after failing in his first attempt at the big buckle?

**Chris is also embroiled in a bit of controversy over his alleged actions during this period of his career. That being said, it would take a whole lot more than some EPO or bagging my own blood for me to make the Olympic team, so he has to have quite a bit of natural talent.

Nobody wants to finish dead last, but it seems there’s more glory in finishing mid pack in a harder category than in winning an easier one. Most people are anxious for an upgrade.

But while I was putting together a race report from last weekend, I noticed some familiar names sitting atop the Cat. 5 standings. Ryan Tanner and Liam O’Donnell are leading the season standings this year. Funny thing is that Liam was third overall in the season standings as a Cat. 5 last year. Ryan didn’t do much worse.

Last year’s top Cat. 4 is now racing in Cat. 3. Last year’s top Cat. 3 is now racing in Cat. 1/2. Last year’s second place Cat. 1/2 signed a pro contract for this season. A 5 to 4 upgrade is the only one for which you don’t need to place in any races. So what are these guys still doing there?

I can understand being fast but not being interested in racing. I get smoked all the time by guys who can’t be troubled to pin on a number or pay for the privilege of beating up on their friends. But Liam and Ryan are racing all the time without bothering to upgrade. Is winning in the beginner category really that satisfying? Especially when you’re not really a beginner?


Special thanks to the potentate for the awesome visuals.

Friday, April 16, 2010


One of my claims to fame is that I’ve been to a Major League Baseball game in roughly half of the cities* that have a MLB franchise. I can tell you that the hot dogs at Fenway are the best, the parking at Wrigley is the worst, and the fried calamari in San Francisco is better than any I’ve had at any restaurant before or since.

*Orioles, Dodgers, Angels, Padres, White Sox, Tigers, Cubs, Twins, Pirates, Mets, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mariners, and Giants in case you’re wondering. JunkieGirl has been to most of those with me.

Pittsburgh has the best stadium, but watching the roof close in Seattle is to witness an engineering marvel. The White Sox built a new stadium just over a decade ago, and it’s still a crappy stadium in a crappy part of town—if I were a fan of the south siders, I’d be pissed. Sitting in the cheap seats at the old Yankee stadium and cheering for the visitors as they won was a moment I will always cherish.

The worst fans are in Philly. New York fans are known for being harsh, but the Philly fans are like the New York fans fueled by decades and decades of frustration suffering inept teams (the 2008 World Series notwithstanding, that championship being somewhat of an aberration). If the opponents hit a home run, expect the ball to be thrown back. You may not want to touch it afterwards, either. They’re cruel to opponents, opponents’ fans, their own team, and even each other.

Spilling beer, cursing, and whatever else are de rigueur in a lot of parks. Max Hall may hate you for it, but it’s part of the experience at many venues. For better or for worse. Apparently one Philly fan, however, felt like he needed to take the disgustingness to a whole new level when he induced himself to vomit on another fan. And not just any fan, but an eleven-year-old girl.

The father showed incomprehensible restraint throughout, knowing that if he got arrested, his girls would be left alone. But any cop who arrested the dad rather than holding the puker so the dad could hit him should be suspended. Without pay.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Peacocks getting their feathers ruffled

I like stirring the pot a bit. I like getting people riled up and generating some good banter in the comments. I got that in spades yesterday. Thanks everyone for participating.

Yesterday’s comments were so good and brought up so many good points, that I wanted to do a post today that debates a few of them. In no particular order, we’ll start with Rick:

I know a lot of cat 5 road racers who could compete with the Cat 1/2 guys (They are called mountain bikers).
I'm just's kind of cool to be a cat 5 AND be fast. And it's cool if a cat 5 guy has a nice bike.
The numbers don't mean much to me.

Very true. As Rick also pointed out, Nate P. has won the overall at Lotoja riding as a citizen on a one day license. There are tons of blazing fast guys who are Cat. 5s or who have never even raced. Holding an annual license that has a category other than 5 only means that you have dedicated enough time to road racing to get your upgrades. Nobody is making value judgments about anyone else’s ability based on their racing category or lack thereof.

I will say, though, that the guys who have earned Cat. 1 and 2 upgrades are in a different league than most of the rest of us and by and large really have earned them*—those things are hard to come by and require a commitment to racing frequently and the ability to get some good results to earn the upgrade points.

*In most cases. Rumor has it that there are some guys racing with Cat. 2 licenses that somehow talked their way into a Cat. 2 upgrade because their team gives free bikes to anyone racing in that category. But these are just rumors.

And while there are some stupid fast MTB racers out there, racing MTB as an Expert isn’t like upgrading to Cat. 2 where you have to actually get results to earn it. Anyone who wants to can sign up for a MTB race and declare him or herself an Expert and race in that category. Why you would want to without being shamed into it, I have no idea. But anyone who wanted to could do it.

I won’t get into which of the two systems is “better” because frankly, each has its merits. And nobody is asking me to make a binding decision anyway.

As for Rick’s other point “And it's cool if a cat 5 guy has a nice bike.” Well, I agree with this too. If someone loves to ride bikes and wants to have the best one money can buy with no intention of ever racing it, that’s totally fine by me. But again, if you’re dropping the coin on the nice bike just because you think it will make you faster, you’re doing it wrong. It’s like when I was a little kid and saw the ad at the shoe store with a kid jumping over a mailbox. I had to have those shoes. And I was crushed when I got home and couldn’t jump over my mailbox in them.

Spending a bunch of money on a TT bike may make you marginally faster in a TT, but you still need to have the fitness. You can’t buy speed, at least not meaningfully. And I don’t understand why Cat. 4 and 5 guys even buy TT bikes since TT and GC results don’t count towards an upgrade at that level and there are only five races a year where you actually get to use the thing. Nobody buys a TT bike because he just loves to ride it—if you’re positioned right, those things are about as comfortable as a piece of 60 grit sandpaper on your chamois.

But I also think cigarettes, lottery tickets, and $300 jeans are stupid ways of spending money, and yet clearly some people disagree with me here because all three seem to thrive. Well except maybe the $300 jeans. So spend your money how you want. Your local bike shop/crack dealer thanks you.

Faceless Ghost said:

As far as I know, the UCI has few, if any, equipment restrictions in mountain biking (although downhillers are no longer allowed to wear lycra, lest they taint the sport's image). If that weren't the case, I doubt we'd see nearly as many full-suspension bikes or lightweight 29ers. (If one accepts the premise that racing drives development).

I’ll accept the premise that racing drives development, but who wins in that situation? Six or seven years ago, a top-shelf race bike, road or mountain, cost between four and five thousand dollars. Today a top-shelf race bike is between eight and twelve thousand dollars, sometimes even more. The bikes cost 100% more, but are they 100% better?

They’re lighter. By 10% or so. They’re stiffer and more aero. The suspension is more efficient on the MTB side. But for all the development, the bikes have actually improved by maybe 20%. Yet we’re paying twice as much for them. Doesn’t sound like much of a victory for the paying-his-own-way amateur racer to me.

True innovation would be improving the performance and keeping the cost the same. Or if the cost goes up, improving performance to a degree that exceeds the cost increase. So if the bike costs twice as much, it should be twice as good.

I know a lot of guys who ride rigid single speed mountain bikes. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the fastest-growing category in the mountain bike market. Fixies are similarly popular in the road bike market. Why are these things selling (aside from the fact that they’re trendy) if it’s not a backlash against the technology—a statement that I don’t need innovations to enjoy the experience of riding my bike?

Dave said:

Let's have fun and not be haters on a group we all belong to, or at one point in time, belonged to. If someone can afford to buy a TT bike and a road bike; good for them. Who cares if they aren't very good at it. At least they are having a good time.

And Kris said:

I can't help but compare with group rides. For instance the Alpine Loop. It's an unspoken race to the top. The riders naturally break into "categories". Getting to the top is a win. Congratulate the fast guys. Sprint to the shack. Good workout, friendly competition, no overhead.

That’s the nice thing about choosing to do this—we do it on our own terms. When it stops being fun, it’s time to either stop doing it or find a new way of doing it that makes it fun again. Sure I call people out on this blog—especially people that call attention to themselves. It’s like the guy out on a trail ride in full team kit—you have to chase him to see if he can back it up. But when it comes right down to it, we all look pretty frickin’ ridiculous in our brightly colored lycra and shaved legs. So if we can’t laugh at ourselves, who can we laugh at?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Peacocks and their plumage

The only reason stage races exist is so people can feel good about the six grand they dropped on their TT bikes without having to resort to doing triathlons.

At least that’s the case in the amateur ranks. Back in the day when time trials were invented, everyone rode them on their regular road bikes and just pedaled hard in the drops. The Cannibal Eddy Merckx never spent time in a wind tunnel—he just pedaled his damn bike as hard as he could until he reached the finish line. The great Fausto Coppi rode every race like a time trial—once he went off the front, he was gone, never to be seen again.

It wasn’t until Lemond put Scott aero bars on his bike in Le Tour that we began the dick dance that modern time trials have become. Now everybody has a TT bike and the UCI has an opinion on whether or not it’s legal. Driving out to Tooele on Saturday morning, Steve and I were behind a pickup truck that had a pro-level TT bike on one side, and a pro-level road bike on the other. The road bike had gold bar tape.

Needless to say, if you have gold bar tape, you better be fast. Really fast. Unfortunately, someone forgot to send Mr. Goldbartape that memo because he got spit out the back of the masters field in the circuit race. Perhaps it was intentional so the bling of his bike wasn’t obscured by racing in a pack. But I’d think soloing off the front would have been a more effective means of putting the pretty bike on display.

The collegiate racers have the best system—they have to ride regular road bikes in a TT. The intent is to keep the sport from becoming prohibitively expensive for poor college students. Pat owns a TT bike, but he couldn’t ride it, because he races for a collegiate team.

How about similar rules for amateur racers up to the Cat. 1/2 level? There are all of five races on the UCA calendar where you can actually use a TT bike. Yet Steve was the only Cat. 3 not on a dedicated TT rig*. Countless Cat. 5s were on TT bikes, and these are guys who haven’t even done ten races yet. Either everyone I race against makes a lot more money than I do, or they’re starving their kids in order to fund their bike racing habit. Either way, it’s absurd.

*Jon S. converted his old aluminum-framed road bike to a TT bike by turning around a setback seatpost and adding some bullhorns and aero bars. Entire conversion probably cost him $200. This is the only way of doing it that makes any sense at all. Jon placed 9th in the TT, less than 30 seconds behind the winner, and I think he “trained” on the TT bike exactly twice. If you can call a chatty lunch ride with me and commuting to and from work “training.”

Adding to the absurdity of Cat. 4 and 5 racers with TT bikes is that TT and GC results don’t even count towards an upgrade. I didn’t even contest the TT on Saturday for that very reason. What’s worse is that unlike the last stage race I did, where I was going all out in the TT, I didn’t finish DFL. (So if you finished behind me in the TT and you were on a TT bike, your shop owner thanks you for adding to his bottom line, but if your goal is to be fast, you're doing it wrong.)

I’ll be honest—I wish I had the money for a TT bike and a couple sets of Zipps. But if I did, I could also afford to light cigars with twenty dollar bills. And that is just stupid whether you can afford it or not. There are about 1,000 guys in the world who make their living racing bicycles. Only a fraction of them make enough that I’d want to trade paychecks. As much as I’d love to have one of their bikes, one need look no further than what Tyler S. and Alex were on when they went 1-2 at last year’s High Uintas road race—easily the toughest race of the year—to realize it’s not about the bike.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'd rather be lucky than good

Some time ago, a certain idiot called out Nate P. for being a sandbagger at Lotoja and not racing in the 1/2/3 field where he belongs. But in order for Nate to race in that category, he needed to do more races so he could upgrade from Cat. 4 to at least Cat. 3. The idiot who called him out reaped his reward for having such a big mouth this weekend when Nate signed up to race Cat. 4 at Tour of the Depot.

I knew I wasn't going to be a contender in the time trial, so my strategy there was to not overextend myself and save some legs for the circuit race, where I was hoping to place fourth or better and get the last of the points I needed to upgrade to Cat. 3*. Nate, on the other hand, is a TT machine and used it as an opportunity to put nearly a minute into his closest rival. On a 9 mile time trial no less. He started 9 places back from me with 30 second intervals and came just short of passing me at the line.

*I really have no idea why I'm doing this. If I bust my butt, I can often get a top 10 finish in the Cat. 4 races, but I'm by no means the guy everybody is watching. Wanting to upgrade so I can finish in the middle to back of the pack with an even faster group of racers defies reason.

With a substantial lead in the GC, I kind of hoped Nate would just defend it in the circuit race, which was the event I was really targeting. But on the fourth of five laps, he made a move with two others and quickly had a gap on the field. One of the two in the break was 16-year-old Keegan S., who managed to stay with those guys on a fast descent despite running junior gears with 45x12 as his biggest gear.

I was OK racing for fourth and figured I'd let others do the work, and if we didn't catch them, I'd sprint it out at the end. On the last lap, we weren't going to catch them, but two others made a move, so I jumped in with them, as did teammate Scott P. and two more. We got some separation, and it was six of us racing for fourth. I was hoping we'd stay all together and sprint it out, but the moves started coming with 1K to go, and I was forced to sprint longer than I had legs for and finished sixth overall, third in our group. Eric E. from UVU took the win, and Keegan outsprtinted Nate for second despite a downhill finish and junior gears. Scott took fifth.

I wasn't too concerned, as sixth or better in the road race on Sunday would still get me the upgrade points I wanted. As we drove to Tooele Sunday morning, however, it was clear that conditions would be less than ideal for the road race. Winds were blowing 40+ mph, and they shortened all the courses to keep us from spreading across the road where there were cross winds.

My hope was to get in a breakaway, even though I prefer not to race in breakaways, but nothing stuck. We rounded the last corner with about 5K to go. The wind was at our backs for the first time, and it became a drag race with Nate P. setting a blistering pace close to 40mph. With about 3K to go, he unloaded and just shattered the field. I knew I couldn't hold his wheel but fought to keep ahead of others. I was in fifth place as we approached the top of the finishing hill, or so I thought. As we neared the crest, it was the 1K to go sign, not the finish line. I was completely blown, and several racers went by me. I ended up 11th.

Nate P. showed us who was boss in every stage. If he doesn't petition for an upgrade after this weekend, those of us who had to race against him will do so on his behalf. Unfortunately, that means I'll get into the 3s about the same time he does (see note above). As if that weren't enough, Keegan, who weighs all of 115 pounds and makes everybody else look stupid on the climbs will probably be due to make the move right about the time the climbing-focused races start this summer.

Unlike our Sunday race, where we mostly just went easy into the wind, occasionally covering an attack, the Cat. 3s dropped the hammer from the get go, with Peter A. making everyone suffer. Steve and Matt B.* got popped off the back at one point, and when they rounded the corner as they tried to chase back on, the field was nowhere in sight. They kept racing, and as they approached the finish line realized that everyone else had made a wrong turn, and the two of them were alone on the correct course, racing for the win. Steve beat Matt to the line, taking the road race victory. Matt, having beat Steve in the TT, took the GC. The resulting points qualify Matt for a Cat. 2 upgrade and put Steve well on his way. But since they won partly as a result of suffering a beat down, I don't think either one wants to make the move just yet.

*Last I heard, Matt was dating Taylor W., perhaps the best female racer in the state to say nothing of the fact that she's pretty easy on the eyes. I asked someone at the race Sunday if they were still dating and was told they are engaged**. If it's true, then I'd say Matt's achieved the best result in the history of Utah bicycle racing. Congratulations.

**Totally unsubstantiated rumor. Matt or Taylor if you happen to read this and I'm wrong or should have just kept my mouth shut, then I apologize.

In the douchebag move of the weekend*, TJ--another junior racer--was advised by his dad, who for some reason was out on course, of the wrong turn. So before crossing the finish line, TJ backtracked to get on the correct course and was the only other rider credited with finishing the race, netting him 3rd place in the GC. To be clear, I don't fault TJ for going back and doing what he did--it required riding solo into a nasty headwind, so he had to earn it. But his dad is a total douchebag for telling TJ and only TJ and not doing the sporting thing and advising the other racers.

*A close second was the Masters A racer who went into Pat's wheel to "teach him a lesson" about mixing fields even though it was clear Pat wasn't trying to draft behind their group. Pat's now got an expensive carbon race wheel that may be damaged beyond repair.

Neither Steve nor Matt felt good about getting the result the way they did, but rules are rules, and they did nothing wrong. I hope TJ's dad feels awesome about his son's 3rd place in the GC. Because most people like seeing a young guy like TJ do well, but his relationship with many other racers may have been permanently soured.

The Cat. 3 field wasn't the only one that had difficulty staying on course. Turns out many of the Pro/1/2 racers also got sidetracked. About half of them never crossed the finish line but instead rode 103 miles (I think they were in Wendover and rode I-80 back to Tooele) trying to find their way back to the start area. Even in that wind, it took them all of five hours. It's hard to feel bad for people who are that fast*.

*And to think they're not even on the same planet with Fabian Cancellara. Three Sundays in a row now he's put the wood to Tom Boonen and a stacked pro field. As much as I love Tour of Flanders, the Paris-Roubaix victory may have been even more impressive since he just rode away from them on the flats. After what Nate did to us that day, I know exactly how Boonen et al must have felt.

My take after this weekend is that stage racing sucks. Three races in two days is ridiculous, especially when it's an hour's drive each way to get to them. I was absolutely exhausted by the time we were done. I don't know how the pros race like that every day for three weeks. Of course, they have people who take care of everything besides eating, sleeping, and riding, but still. That being said, it was all worth it just for the opportunity to witness the highlight of the weekend: the huge diamond stud earring in chief commissaire Gary B.'s ear. Awesome doesn't even begin to describe it.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Tomorrow is my first stage race* of the season. My second stage race ever. I am a bundle of nerves. I usually spend the day before a race visualizing key points out on the course, how the tactics might play out, and how I might respond. I get so worked up that my heart rate gets all the way up into the 60’s or 70’s, and it feels like it’s going to pound out of my chest.

*The Bikes for Kids race I did a couple weeks ago was an omnium, not a stage race. What’s the difference since both have stages? In an omnium, you’re not required to finish all the events to figure in the overall, and the overall winner is based on points awarded in the various stages rather than cumulative time for all stages. In a stage race, the overall winner is the racer with the lowest cumulative time across all the stages**. Thus, I skipped the TT portion of the Bikes for Kids omnium since I’m not well-suited to that discipline. Tomorrow I have to do the TT in order to participate in the other events even though I don’t really want to. Anyone who gets a mechanical in the TT will hate me, since those not finishing due to mechanicals are given the worst time plus 30 seconds, and I fully expect to continue my DFL tradition by having the worst time in the TT tomorrow.

**The Tour de France is the best-known stage race in the world. The Giro d’Italia is probably the second best-known, and was originally (1909-1913) scored like an omnium with the winner determined based on points from the various stages rather than cumulative time. Le Tour was also scored this way from 1905 to 1912. Both races continue to have a points competition today, which is dominated by the sprinters, but unlike an omnium, a racer has to complete all stages to figure into the points competition.

It’s hard to relax, but humor helps. Especially when it’s particularly ridiculous and not necessarily intended to be funny but is anyway. Thankfully, Rick and Jes posted two of the funniest youtube videos I’ve seen in ages. In case you missed them, I’m passing them along. Happy Friday.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Scarlet letters

We all have our scarlet letters, our demons to exorcise. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, right? Well in addition to the big red “H” for heretic that I flaunted in yesterday’s post (I sure scared off the comments with that tangent, didn’t I?), I also have the big “F” for fat that becomes glaringly obvious every time the race course heads uphill. It’s so obvious that I don’t actually have to wear a letter—people know it’s there when they see my butt. Does my butt make these bike shorts look big?

I’ve mentioned in the last couple weeks, twice actually, my efforts to reduce my weight for bicycle racing. I’ve gone to bed hungry pretty much every night for the last month and am down all of about a pound. In fairness, that pound puts me within a really satisfying bowel movement of where I was when I raced Leadville last year, but I think I need to shed at least seven more to be in the mix as a Cat. 3 at this year’s Tour DAY Park City.

A really friendly colleague who left these in the break room is not helping.

I took a picture but did not partake. Someone hurry and go eat those things. I would take them down to Temple Square to give to the homeless people, but I know myself well enough to know that they wouldn’t all make it there. And that would sort of defeat the purpose.

BTW, donuts are made with yeast. At least some of them are. If you didn’t go to Watcher’s blog and read my half-baked theory about yeast being critical for human evolution, go check out part 1 and part 2 of everything I didn’t know about yeast until last week.

Also, huge props to teammate Mike H. who soloed to victory at last night’s inaugural DMV crit. Evidently my brother took second but failed to mention it—I only just found out looking for Mike’s name in the results. My biggest competition this weekend, and perhaps all season, is going to come from my own team, methinks.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Science and storytelling

Last night on my way home, I listened to a Radio West interview with scientist and filmmaker Randy Olson. Olson posits that although scientists are doing some really cool stuff, they’re lousy storytellers and therefore do a poor job communicating their findings to the public.

When one considers that people still believe vaccines cause autism, climate change is a myth*, and that the earth was created in six 24-hour days, it’s pretty clear that either Olson is right and scientists are doing a crummy job telling their stories in a manner that people understand, or else there are a lot of really gullible people out there who have no critical thinking skills and lack the ability to make a rational decision based on the available evidence.

*As a freshman in college and a literal believer in the Bible, I was deeply offended when my humanities professor, who claimed to be a believer, referred to the creation story in the book of Genesis as a myth. Although the climate change skeptics use the word “myth” to make a value judgment implying that climate change is either untrue or not caused by humans, in reality the word myth simply means a story used to explain a certain phenomenon without regard to whether the explanation is “true” or not.

Since that time, I’ve become more comfortable with this definition of myth while concurrently becoming less certain of the historicity of the Bible. Adam was made of a lump of clay and Eve one of his ribs? Well what about Lucy, then? There was no death on the earth before the fall? Then what happened to the dinosaurs?

The ancient Greeks believed that the seasons came about because Persephone had to spend a season each year in the underworld with Hades, and while we know now that the seasons are a result of the earth’s tilt on its axis varying the amount and directness of sunlight as the earth orbits the sun, at the time, the Persephone story was the best explanation available. No intelligent person today would buy the Persephone explanation for the seasons, yet why do so many people believe the Jewish creation myth that Adam and Eve were literally the first humans and that the earth was created in six 24-hour days when so much compelling evidence exists to the contrary? Does it make the Bible any less valuable if viewed as an allegory?

My point in bringing this up is that I think one of the best scientific storytellers is not a scientist at all, but a technology research salesman, Alex. I spend a lot of time outdoors, and much of what I know about the things I’ve observed in the natural world I’ve learned from his blog. He does a great job using his real-life adventures, with which I can relate, to teach a lesson about science. And I think that’s awesome.

Not only that, but his influence on blog style is also worth noting. That embedded commentary above? I picked that concept up from Alex. It’s a great way to tell a story within a story, which is one technique he uses to make his science lessons more interesting. I’m not the only one who’s taken to using it, either.

So why am I bringing this up? To blow sunshine up Alex’s skirt? Because he owes me money and I’m trying to collect? Hardly. He doesn’t owe me money, and I’m not nearly that nice of a friend. I just wanted to point out that Alex is on vacation*, so while he’s sitting on the beach sipping umbrella drinks, I did a guest post on his blog. Actually two of them, since it’s in two parts, today and tomorrow. It’s nothing like anything you’ve ever read here because it involved actual research. If you’ve ever been curious about yeast, click on over.

*His brother Ray is house sitting and brought his vicious dog, so if you’re a burglar, don’t get any ideas.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Denial of service

If you’ve ever been to DEF CON, or rather, if you know what DEF CON is, you probably also know what a distributed denial of service attack* is. We had one of those this morning, except it was snow rather than robot computers that had us hemmed in.

*Weren’t on chess club or debate team in high school and therefore didn’t feel like looking it up? It’s when viruses infect a bunch of computers, turning them into drones or robots that in turn are all pointed simultaneously to a particular website or server, overwhelming its bandwidth/processing ability, and forcing it to shut down. Aaron makes his money filing patents intended to keep those pesky viruses off your machine. Ricky M sells that patented code to your company or PC maker. The Ukrainians employ the best and brightest software engineers they can find to try and circumvent Aaron’s and Ricky’s hard work so they can steal your credit card number and sell your children into slavery**.

**Just kidding about the selling your children into slavery part. Kind of.

If it’s possible to get too much snow, then this is too much snow. At 7:00 p.m. last night, Little Cottonwood Canyon closed due to weather. As of noon today, it still isn’t open. Big Cottonwood Canyon was open in name only. They had plowed one strip down the road in most places, and none of the parking lots were cleared. Because once the tourists are done importing their money on ski vacations, the state is done spending money keeping the roads and parking lots cleared out so that the visitors will have a good time. It’s like the snowplows are the fatted calf and the out-of-state tourists the prodigal son.

We meant to go park at Spruces and hike up in Mill D. I drove past the entrance to Spruces and couldn’t tell where it was. There was a three-foot-high snow bank where the entrance was supposed to be and two feet of snow covering the entire parking lot. We probably couldn’t get in; we definitely couldn’t get out.

Jordan Pines seemed like a place we could park, but the snowplows would undoubtedly have no mercy, and digging out the debris they would pile on would have taken longer than walking to the trailhead from the mouth of the canyon.

After about 47 U-turns looking for a place to park, I realized my window was closed since even if we found somewhere, I wouldn’t make it to my 8:00 conference call in time. Hopefully the roads will be clear by this afternoon. Thank goodness for daylight savings time.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Breaking news

The Tour of Flanders is my favorite race of the season. Steve and I have been planning for months to watch the race together and eat Belgian waffles. The waffle/race event trumped Easter dinner at my mom’s house, it was so important.

I love wikipedia, because you can find almost anything you want to know there. You can even find things you didn’t want to know there. Like yesterday morning when I was looking at the wiki entry on Tour of Flanders to get a better appreciation of the race history and course. At the end of the article is a list of race winners, which I scrolled through, noting all the Belgian flags next to the names.

The last two flags I expected would be Belgian, with Stijn Devolder having won in 2008 and 2009. But the last flag was Swiss. Which caught my eye. And then I saw the name next to it: Fabian Cancellara. And the year: 2010.

And then I remembered, just because race coverage started at 3:00 p.m. local time doesn’t mean the outcome wasn’t known at 10:00 a.m. local time. Duh. Thanks a lot eager beaver wikipedia nerd.

I had to pretend for the first hour of the broadcast that I didn’t know the outcome. The second hour, though, it was clear that we were just watching Fabu ride away with it. Because when he made his move, it was that decisive. What would it be like to have that kind of motor?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Life is like a box of chocolates

You never know what to expect. Sometimes, like this morning, you get up at 4:30, drive to the canyon, get out and start putting your boots on, and wonder what the hell you’re doing this for. Second day in a row of being up this early. Weariness aches all the way to your bones. It’s 12 freakin’ degrees, and the wind is blowing snow in your face at 40 miles per hour. Visibility is so bad that you leave the camera in the car, assuming there’s no point in having it.

For some dumb reason, probably because you’re already there and it would be silly to pack it in and go back to bed, you start hiking. But really you’re dreaming of pulling up a chair at the Original Pancake House and diving into something warm and sweet that you don’t have to work for. It’s dark, it’s cold. No living thing is naturally active in these conditions.

And then you stick your pole in the snow. It sinks 2/3 of its length before hitting something hard, and you realize that even if the wind is blowing and it’s cold and visibility is poor, this snow is too good to leave alone. So you slog away for two hours breaking trail through snow that’s up to your knees most places, and where it’s not, it’s up to your thighs.

At the top, there’s a huge, blank canvas of untouched white. The sun has come out, the wind has subsided. Most of the world is still in bed, wholly unaware of the bounty.

Three laps later, you still can’t wipe the stupid grin off your face. In fact, it’s frozen there from 3,000 vertical feet of continuous face shots in snow that’s as light as only something that’s 94% air can be.

(photos courtesy of Mike M. because of aforementioned idiotic move of leaving camera in car.)

As we started the last lap, Daren, who’s racing his MTB tomorrow, said “I don’t care how bad I do in the race tomorrow, this is totally worth it.” Um, yeah. There’s another 8-12” forecast for tonight.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Good thing I wasn’t there

I was supposed to go skiing this morning, but on my way down the hill, they hadn’t plowed yet, and things were a bit slick. I never made it to the trailhead. This is the scene from the road where I waited for the tow truck.

From what I hear, the skiing was great. At least for the first lap. There was a good-sized crew out, so my lack of attendance didn’t leave any partners high and dry. Mike sent me these pictures of Tanner and Jon S. getting the goods. Would have loved to be there for a cold smoke day like this instead of waiting for a tow truck.

On lap two, things started falling apart. Jon center-punched an untracked slope, and triggered a slide about 40 feet wide. It wasn’t huge, but it was enough to catch and carry him into some trees.

Fortunately, he wasn’t buried. Unfortunately, he hit the trees hard enough to fracture his left tibia. They were 2,000 vertical feet from the road, and he was starting to go into shock.

Mike and tanner used some webbing and cord to strap Jon to his snowboard and drag him the rest of the way down the mountain. From there, they loaded him into the car and drove him to Alta View hospital. The prognosis is good, but his timing was bad—he was supposed to leave this afternoon to spend spring break in Moab. He’s looking at six weeks with a cast before he can start therapy, so cycling season will be off to a slow start as well.

Jon and I both should have known to just stay in bed today. Bad stuff always seems to not really happen on April 1st.