Wednesday, December 21, 2011

UTCX Finale

Saturday wrapped up cyclocross season. After a decent result in UTCX #1, my results were pretty lackluster, and "success," as it were, was limited to occasionally finishing ahead of my friends. In the last race of the season, I managed my best result of the year. In fact, my fifth place finish was my best result in a UTCX race ever.

That result was a by-product of a certain amount of luck. I was fifth into the first turn. Trying to hang with the four fast guys in front of me seemed a surefire way to guarantee an implosion, so I let them go. Peter, Seth, and I were bunched up together and took turns on the front for the first several laps until Peter decided to attack and split us up.

Finishing order probably would have been Peter, Seth, then me, except that Peter had a flat, so I passed him in the pits. Then when he caught up, I sat on his wheel and got a free ride back to Seth. On the last lap, Peter stumbled in the barriers, so I got a gap that I managed to hold to the end.

Fifth place was good enough to move me up a couple spots in the season standings from 11th to 9th (thanks in large part to a couple guys not showing up for the last race, which was double points). And I should be happy with 9th, except that 8th would have meant a callup at the first race next year. Seth got 8th, by a two point margin. The number of points I dropped when Rick beat me to the line two weeks ago? Three. Which makes Seth's comment about that race all the more poignant: "sometimes you're the hammer, sometimes you're the nail."

I am already making plans for next year.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Timberline Middle School Choir Christmas Concert

Last night was my daughter's Christmas concert. A few observations since then have stuck with me.

Middle school can be a tough age when kids with any reason at all to feel awkward are made to feel more so, and it was a highlight of the evening to see an autistic student in the girls choir clearly welcomed into the group. It was a credit to the students and to the choir director to see her up there performing.

A neighbor of mine recently lost his wife to cancer. He was there, alone, watching his daughter sing. When I got home from the concert, I learned that another friend just lost his dad to cancer. That insidious disease is no respecter of persons or season. I am grateful to have seen Jen and Matt make it through treatment and begin racing again. My heart breaks for the families of those whose treatment wasn't successful.

While learning the songs for the concert, my daughter said they were learning a Christmas song in Hebrew. I laughed and told her there was no such thing as a Hebrew Christmas song, which prompted a discussion about various belief systems and cultural traditions. Further dialogue revealed that it was a song for the "festival of lights"--a Chanukah song. And while the selection of this number may very well have been prompted by the almost entirely one-sided feeling of kinship the local majority has towards Judaism, multiculturalism on any level is a good thing.

Perhaps this is a by product of growing multiculturalism, but as I have read various reactions today to the death (also to cancer) of Christopher Hitchens, I've been pleased by how positive the comments have been. I'm a Hitchens admirer, but I suspect the list of people who agree with everything he has said or written is quite short. Perhaps his polarizing dialogue was a tool to get people to think. Perhaps he was that adamant about his viewpoints. Regardless, he was a great thinker, a great writer, and yes, a great human being. Humankind would have been better off had Hitch been afforded more time to contribute to our intellectual traditions.

I'll wrap up this post with what is my favorite Christmas song at the moment. Regardless of the significance you ascribe to this season, I suspect you'll agree with the message.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The one true burrito

Saturday's Clammy Cross #4 was my last chance to win anything on the bike this season, and I came up short. I didn't win the race, and I didn't beat Ben Brutsch, which I needed to do to take the season points competition. Congrats, Ben.

I won't whine and complain about going through a season without winning anything. That's just the nature of bike racing. For most racers, victories are elusive and rare. Perhaps that's part of the draw. And unlike running, a PR isn't really a relevant yardstick in most cases, not that I set any of those, either.

Instead, I'd like to turn your attention to helping me win something that's not nearly as fleeting as success in a bike race. Specifically, I'd like to win free burritos for a year. Of course, I'd share the spoils with my collaborators*, Aaron and Chris. Please take a moment to click on through to the Mountain West Burrito page on Facebook and show this photo some love. Or rather some "like." I think it's deserving.

*Honestly, I'm not sure what my contribution was. Aaron came up with the idea; Chris executed it. I just posted it to Facebook. But if they're cool with that...

And if you live or work in the UC and haven't been to Mountain West Burrito, you should correct that forthwith.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On the righteousness of winning football games

Tim Tebow prays before each game that Jesus will help him win. He apparently believes this is a righteous request because Tim, after all, believes in Jesus, and because Tim is a high-profile believer, his own belief will presumably lead others also to believe. Tim goes on to win football games because he is a feakishly good athlete and a uniquely determined competitor. But because Tim prayed to win, he attributes the victory to Jesus rather than his own remarkable result in the DNA lottery. Because Tim believes Jesus helped him win the last time, he prays again that Jesus will help him win the next game. When he wins again, his belief that it's Jesus helping him and that his request that Jesus will help him is indeed a righteous request is reinforced.

This pattern of belief is an example of the logical fallacy, post hoc ergo propter hoc.

To be clear, I am not claiming, nor is it even necessary to prove, that Jesus is not helping Tim Tebow win football games. This is a logical fallacy even in the absence of contrary evidence. (As an aside, in no way do I believe Jesus helps anyone win football games.) The logical fallacy exists when a claim is made that because one event occurred after another, it's because of the preceding event that the subsequent event occurred. If there is no control, there is no way to prove causality one way or another, therefore a logical conclusion cannot be reached.

Tangent: When Tim Tebow is interviewed after the game and gushes about his lord and savior before answering a question, there's nothing a journalist can do about it. When journalists take non-stories that are examples of the same thing and put them on the front page, however, especially when there's no alternative plausible explanation offered, that's simply irresponsible. The irony here is that most people in the United States don't trust the media, but I somehow doubt it's these sorts of supernatural stories that sow the seeds of mistrust.

Of course you can't ignore the placebo effect. If believing that Jesus is helping him causes Tim Tebow to perform better, it doesn't matter whether Jesus (however you like to imagine him) is actually helping or not. And that's good enough for me. Because when the division standings are calculated at playoff time, Jesus-assisted wins count the same as non-Jesus-assisted wins. Go Broncos!

Monday, December 5, 2011


Saturday was state CX championship. Fort Buenaventura with hero dirt, so I figured we all may as well skip the race, give T$ the medal, and drink a beer to celebrate. But that's not really how racing works. Besides, Seth, Adam, Rick, and I had to sort out who was the state champion amongst us.

Turns out it was Seth. He dropped the rest of us on lap one. Adam made it clear he wasn't going to let it come down to the end about halfway through and opened a gap I thought I could close but couldn't. I managed to stay away from Rick until he caught me on the last lap. I figured if we were together at the end, I could outsprint him.

I figured wrong. Rick made a move going into the last turn, and there wasn't enough room between the last turn and the line to do anything about it. Not sure I had the legs to do anything about it anyway. Well played. I would have done the exact same thing.

So the race was an utter failure. I didn't beat any of the guys I can reasonably expect to beat. I didn't do anything remarkable. I don't particularly enjoy that course. And yet, I still had a blast. Racing cyclocross is perhaps the most sisyphean thing I have ever done. Week after week I train, I compete, I do no better, and I somehow still come away anxious to do it again. Go figure.

Congratulations to cross-obsessed friends Daren, Rico, and Sara for winning their respective categories. Nicely done.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sign the petition

Talisker Corporation, parent company of The Canyons ski area, is trying to make an end run around the public approval process for ski area expansion with the support of Utah's congressional delegation. Please click the link and sign the petition to tell Congress to stop.

If you want a little more in-depth about what's going on, Andrew McLean has a thoughtful description. Save our Canyons have also offered their perspective.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Muscle Works

I should have known something was up when the receptionist asked me if I needed any gym shorts. For a massage? I'm comfortable enough with my own bare ass that a towel is just fine.

Then I walked into the room. There were no candles, no mood music, just a softball on the bookshelf and some posters from Bob's company showing what the various muscles in the human body are named. The blinds were open, the lights were on. I began second guessing my decision not to accept the gym shorts.

A couple minutes later, Stacy came in with a clipboard in her hand and asked me about problem areas. I explained that I had crashed in a bike race and landed on my head and now my neck hurt. I also told her I have chronic back spasms from an auto accident but that those had disappeared for some reason after my crash.

She explained that they don't mess around with full body stuff, they just go to work on the problem areas. And then she proceeded to beat the shit out of me for 45 minutes. She didn't tell me to relax or to stop crying or to hold still. When she saw that it hurt, she just made it hurt more. Which kind of sucked at the time, but now I feel much better.

Enough better that when she said I needed to come back on Friday, I didn't even hesitate. I've been led to believe I'll be ready to race on Saturday.

Monday, November 28, 2011

36 out of 37

Saturday was Clammy Cross #3. Josh, the promoter, indicated that there would be prizes for hopping the barriers. I am not typically a barrier hopping kind of guy, so I figured I'd skip that competition. Until I got to the venue, that is.

Josh had set up five barriers--two short barriers in sequence with a brief gap before two more short barriers, and then a slightly longer gap before a 40 cm, UCI regulation height barrier. The gap between the first two sets wasn't enough to be worth remounting. Remounting between the fourth and the fifth made sense, but hopping the first four and dismounting for the fifth seemed like it would be the fastest way to go. In practice I attempted the shorter barriers with enough success that I decided I'd give them a go during the race if I was feeling good.

I got my typical fast start on the first lap, second into the hole shot, then got around the leader on the first technical move only to have Rick and one other racer pass me on the climb. I held their wheels on the climb and descent and into the grassy turns, then came around before heading into more technical goodness in the woods.

I had a decent gap on the field without digging too deep. This was uncharted territory for me. Usually if I'm on the front after a lap, it's because I've been pinning it and am well into oxygen debt and ripe for an implosion. The barriers were situated at the end of the lap near the start/finish, and I decided to try hopping. I cleared the first four cleanly and with little effort. I made the mistake of thinking about the glory of hopping the fifth.

In the brief seconds I had to dismount before the 40cm, repurposed steel scaffolding barrier, I thought of nothing other than the glory of hopping the big one as well. I stayed on my bike.

Momentarily, at least. I got my front wheel up and over only to be catapulted into the air when my rear wheel struck the barrier. I saw my bike fly over the top of me before I landed squarely on my head and heard a crunching sound in my neck.

I was surprised at how long it took for the field to catch and pass me while I picked myself up, put my chain back on, and remounted. In hindsight I could have put that gap to good use on the ensuing laps. Instead, I was playing catch up and dug a pretty deep hole in that process.

Nominally, I had my best result ever in a cross race - 5th place (likely would have been one place lower had Rick not ripped a sidewall). I was hoping for a top five going in, so I should be pleased with that. I cleared all four short barriers on each of the subsequent eight laps. 36 barriers is 36 more barriers than I've ever hopped in a cross race. I should be pleased with that. Instead, all I can think of is how good I felt on lap one and what might have been. I'm also left with a nasty case of whiplash, bruised hands, scabs on my forehead, and a broken helmet. At least the X-rays were negative.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Two races left

At the beginning of the season, I bought the eight race pass for the 12 event UTCX series. I didn't buy the 12 pass because I figured there would be some weekends when I wanted a break. So far I have missed one race, day two of the Halloween double cross weekend, and that was only because I had an all-day class on Sunday. I would have preferred to skip the class and race.

We have two races left, and the only question is whether I will limit myself to just one race per day at each of the last two. The decision is a matter of affecting my result in the 35A race in order to double up and race single speed. I probably won't do it. Perhaps I'm taking things too seriously. I'm sure nobody but me thinks of eighth place as being much different than tenth place, but it feels like progress. And progress is a big part of what makes racing fun.

Speaking of progress, Saturday's eighth place was one short of my best placing of the season. I felt like I raced well and felt especially good the last two laps. It was muddy for the third week in a row, and I was in the top 10 for the third week in a row. I love racing in the mud. I also benefited from two guys having mechanicals that otherwise would have finished ahead of me. But that's 'cross--crashes and mechanicals will get you for a couple positions one week, so you take the positions back when you can.

There's been a fair bit of discussion about sandbagging, much of that driven by a very tight three-way race in the team competition. Some of the people that are consistently winning or placing in the lower categories feel as though they can't move up because their team needs their points. When I was a junior in high school, I really enjoyed winning JV football games.

I really don't care who races where, as we're all doing this for fun. All I know is that I have a lot of fun racing with the group of guys I race with, and it's only become more fun since Grizzly Adam joined us. Thomas and Tim lay waste to the rest of the field every week. They are a class apart, to the point that there have been suggestions that they try racing A rather than 35A. One of them will likely win the state championships next weekend. And the overall for the season will probably come down to double points in the finale. If either changes categories, it takes something away from the other and from the rest of us who have been chasing them all year.

Friday, November 11, 2011


One of my pet peeves in the popular cycling media is the misappropriation of the word "PRO" (in all caps, no less), especially when one uses that term to describe one's self for having accomplished the singular task of donning expensive Italian-made clothing for the Sunday morning group ride. Perhaps my annoyance derives from the implication, intentional or not, that the career cat. 3s using this term are just one degree removed from actual professionals just because they've managed to minimize the unsightly bulges in their snappy red, black, and white kit.

While I will be the first to admit that a nice looking kit and a fast looking bike provide motivation to get out and ride, let's not fool ourselves into thinking that top shelf stuff puts us anywhere near the status of a true professional. In the first USGP event of 2011, Ryan Trebon averaged 472 watts over 60 minutes en route to victory. No kit in the world will even put you in the same area code as that kind of an effort.

"Pro" should be used to describe actual professionals, whether that's the journeyman domestic pro who doesn't know if his team will even exist next year, the rookie that blazed through the amateur ranks en route to his first contract (congratulations, Nate!), or the reigning world champion.

But "PRO" should be reserved for the type of athlete who, while holding both yellow jersey and rainbow stripes of world champion, provides the leadout for a teammate. Or who, while marked by every team in the race, manages to solo to victory anyway in two consecutive monuments. PRO athletes are the guys and gals that transcend their discipline, the people who are admired by pros within their sport and others, the athletes like Kelly Slater.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Saturday we raced at Wasatch County Fairgrounds. It snowed a couple times during the week, so I was excited for a race that wouldn't be on a fast, dry course. When I arrived at the venue and pre-rode the course, I was even more excited--lots of turns and very punchy with no long straights of more than 200 meters or so.

I got a decent start, fourth place into the first turn and the muddiest section of the course. I gave up a couple more spots as the lap went on but never went too deep and was feeling good. Over the next couple of laps, I lost a few more spots until I finally settled into a back and forth with Seth.

For the last half of the race, Seth would pass me on a paved section, and I would pass him back on a 180 in the grass. Neither of us managed to gap the other until the last lap when, in his usual passing spot, Seth got a gap of about five seconds. I tried to bring it back, but the best I could do was hold it steady into the final turn.

In the final straight, I went as hard as I could hoping I could catch Seth. With about 50 meters to go, Seth looked back again and realized I was getting close. He got up on the pedals, but I had the momentum. I got around him with about 10 to go.

Sprinting it out at the end of a race is always fun--regardless of outcome, it's one of my favorite things about racing. But the outcome in this case had no bearing on how much fun I had racing. Between the course setup and the conditions, I don't think I could have possibly enjoyed myself more. And while 10th place may not be anything to write home about, it was my best result since UTCX #1, so I'll take it. It came after my first week of quality training since the beginning of the season. Wonder if there's any correlation?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

96 minutes

Spent 96 minutes riding the trainer last night. That equals two episodes of Breaking Bad. During that 96 minutes, I had two flat tires. On the trainer. I know.

Lemme 'splain. My road tubulars are shot. Like almost down to the casing shot. So I have been riding them on the trainer. Last night the rear finally gave up the ghost. So I grabbed my clinchers from the garage, which are currently acting as my spares for cyclocross, which meant either riding a 'cross tire on the trainer or swapping to a road tire. I swapped. And in my haste didn't check for a pinched tube. Which worked its way flat in about 20 minutes.

I had about 15 minutes left and ordinarily would have just called it a night. But here's the thing about Breaking Bad--it's so good that I had to finish the episode. And if I was going to finish, I may as well get more ride time. So I put in a new tube and kept pedaling. The only question is whether this is my secret to maintaining fitness over the winter, or if I will just get lazy and watch Breaking Bad without riding once cyclocross season ends. Place your bets.

Friday, October 21, 2011


My first race of the weekend is a little less than four hours away. My stomach has a pit in it that feels like it contains a significant portion of the universe's dark matter. Doesn't matter the race or the venue, I feel this way every time I pin on a number.

You'd think the nerves would go away after a while, but they don't. I mentioned said nerves a couple weeks ago to Peter, whom I've raced against since we were Cat. 4s. He said "the fact that you get nervous every time is probably one of the reasons you race your bike."

And I suppose he's right. I realize that nobody else cares how I finish. But I care. So I will be nervous until that feeling is replaced by adrenaline and fatigue.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cross racers and child molesters

UTCX #4 this weekend takes us to Weber County fairgrounds. Weber is one of my favorite courses, with one exception: the log barriers. In addition to the artificial barriers, the Weber course takes in part of the equestrian course where there are some logs that aren't big enough to give horses any trouble but that can be problematic for a cyclocross bike, especially a bike ridden by someone with no bunny hopping skills.

Only guys with exceptional skill, such as Bart and Rico, can successfully hop the big log (1:09 in the video). But pretty much everyone else can nail the smaller log (1:24). Everyone, that is, except me. My routine was to manual my front wheel up and over and then smash it with my rear. Which is not particularly smooth. And in cyclocross, you have to be smooth to be fast.

To remedy this lack of skill, one of my training objectives this week was bunny hop practice. So I grabbed an obstacle and my CX bike and headed to a park. I laid the obstacle down in the grass and just rode back and forth, practicing hopping over it until I felt like I had it nailed. Then I propped it up a little taller and tried the higher setting. After a few rounds, I got this pretty well too.

Good thing I wasn't flailing, because this park is near a high school, and I happened to be there right as school let out. Turns out the high schoolers like to hang out at the park after school, so I had a small audience. I'm sure they thought I was pretty weird for riding in the grass on what from a distance appears to be a road bike, jumping over a camp propped up with a pair of shoes.

If I didn't seem weird enough at that point, I'm sure I sealed it when I changed back into my street clothes, an act I performed as I have so many times in my car. And of course during the critical few seconds when my bibs were off but my boxers were not yet on, a car pulled up two spots down and a 16ish year old girl got out. I just hope nobody called the police.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Horses for courses

"It's one to one. I'm keeping track."

That's what Rick said to me after UTCX #1, which, incidentally, was my best ever finish in a 35A race. I'm wondering now whether I'll equal that result all season (my best result last year and highest finish ever was 6th in the 35B race at UTCX #1). I'm now 1-2 against Rick, after he and nearly everyone else in the field put the wood to me in UTCX #3. The photo below (thanks, JDub) was taken on either lap one or two. I was never that close to Rick again the entire race.

Ever the optimist (can you race a bike and be otherwise, considering how rare it is to win a race?), I think I'm figuring some things out. Last Saturday's course at Ft. Buenaventura is a favorite for some. Not for me. The long power stretches where you're on the gas for 60+ seconds at a time are popular, but for whatever reason, I am good at efforts of 10 seconds or less or 6 hours or more. Anything in between, I struggle. I did fine in the turns and in the technical sections, but as soon as we hit the straights, I was attacking off the back.

I think part of my problem is with my starts. Cyclocross leaves you no opportunity to recover. So if you go anaerobic in the first 30 seconds, you may never get out of that hole. Winning the hole shot at UTCX #2 and trying for it at UTCX #3 were my undoing in both races. But it's a catch 22. If I'm not in the lead group on lap 1, I'm not going to catch up later. My best results have come when I've started strong and limited my losses from there.

But I guess that's what I love about cyclocross--there's so much more to it than just pedaling your bike. And of course there's the race within the race--even if none of us ever see the podium, throwing down with my friends for seven days worth of bragging rights is what really matters.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I don't know how he sits down

By now you've probably seen the video of Danny Hart's world championship-winning DH run. Just in case you haven't:

The riding is in a league all its own. To corner like that in those conditions is remarkable. The commentary, though, is at least as entertaining. The last statement of the video certainly describes Danny, but it also describes someone else I know.

The other day, I ran into Matt B. at the bike shop. We were both picking up some odds and ends for our 'cross bikes and chatted a bit about the upcoming season. It somehow came up that when we race 35A, neither of us races to win simply because that's not a realistic expectation. Instead, we race not to be last. In Matt's case, however, that was his objective before he lost his leg to cancer.

At UTCX #1 today, Matt lined up in the 35A field. If you're thinking of pinning on a C flight number for a cross race, take a good, long look in the mirror and think about if that's where you really belong.

In Matt's case, to quote the World Championship announcer, "I don't know how he sits down with balls that big."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The rest of the day should go smoother

My very first day at my current job began much as you would expect it to begin when working for a Fortune 500 company: I walked into the main lobby and spoke to the guy sitting at the front desk. Or at least I tried to talk to him, but I was shushed. He was listening to General Conference on his computer, and apparently, I had walked in during a really riveting part*.

*Having listened to more than a few General Conferences over the years, I'm not sure what could have been so captivating four months after it was originally broadcast. I mean, it's not like when in 1978 God changed his mind about black people.

So I patiently waited until he had heard the part he needed to hear and was free to give me his full and undivided attention. In the intervening months, I have seen him maybe once or twice and interacted with him not at all, since my office is in a different building, and if I go in his building, I go in through the back door.

This morning, however, I had just finished a meeting (OK, fine, I was just chatting with Aaron about things not work related) and stopped in the restroom on my way back to my building. As I'm washing my hands, who should walk out of the stall but the front desk guy, whom we'll call "Jamie."

I'm not typically chatty in the restroom--it's a get in, do your business, get out kind of environment as far as I'm concerned. But since General Conference wasn't on, Jamie seemed to want to talk. He tried kicking off the conversation with some small talk:

"Well that makes things a little better."

By "that," I could only infer he meant what he had just "accomplished" in the stall. I steadfastly focused on washing my hands.

Undeterred, he continued:

"The rest of the day should go smoother now."

Uninterested in how this act would lubricate the remaining hours in the day, I remained focused on rinsing my hands and began drying them so I could make an exit.

"Is your day going OK?"

If by "going OK," he was asking whether or not I had already "made things a little better," I wasn't in the mood to satisfy his curiosity or to clarify his intent with the question.

"So far, so good," I said with my back turned, heading for the exit.

I was relieved that he didn't cut the hand washing short in order to continue the conversation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Clammy Cross #1

I remember reading last year, before I had ever done a cyclocross race, T-money's description of the first race of the season:

The thing I have learned over the years is the first cross race of the season is a shock to your system. It’s not like any criterium, time trial, road race, or mountain bike race you have done in the last 9 months leading up to cyclocross season. It hurts way more, and no matter what sort of form you thought you had, after the gun goes off, you feel like the biggest pussy until you settle in and claw your way into the midway point of the race. Then it just plain sucks, because you are only half way done.

I lined up for Clammy Cross #1 on Saturday with the intent of getting that shock to the system out of the way. I lined up with another motivation as well. Specifically, my good friends Adam, Rick, and Daren would all be racing in the same flight. We all typically race in different categories in UTCX, so I was looking forward to the throwdown.

The first lap went about as well as could be expected. I lined up early enough to be on the front row (no callups in first race) and was able to get the hole shot. I stayed on the front through the first few turns and into the technical features in the trees. Then on the first anaerobic climb, Peter, Keegan, Cody, and Joe got past me. Going into the second climb, Joe spun out in the loose dirt, so we were all forced to dismount and run the hill.

I wasn't concerned about Peter, Cody, or Keegan getting away. I wasn't going to beat those guys anyway. Towards the end of lap one, Daren came around me, and I was content to follow his wheel for as long as I could hold it.

That plan lasted about 500 meters. While approaching the first climb of lap two, my chain somehow dropped between my ring and my chain catcher. It was stuck. I had no choice but to dismount and wrestle with it until I got it out. Which meant watching the entire field ride away from me while I sat there helpless.

After what seemed an eternity (but was in reality probably a couple of minutes), I managed to get my chain back on and took up the chase. At this point, I was just racing to catch someone, anyone, to avoid being last.

I felt like I was riding pretty well, but then I hit a bump and dropped my chain again. In the process of getting it out from behind my chain catcher, my chain catcher had moved enough that it was no longer doing its job. Over the next couple of laps, my chain dropped several more times before I finally stopped in the pits for a screwdriver so I could adjust it to get it working once again.

With a working machine, I managed to reel in one racer. I could see Adam and Seth hitting the bottom of the descent as I was starting the climb and knew I wasn't catching anyone else unless that person had some really bad luck.

And that's how things finished. Daren raced great, finishing fifth. Rick was sixth. My result wasn't what I wanted, but it was the shock to the system that I needed. The great thing about cyclocross, though, is that as seriously as you take the racing while you're racing, it's not about results. You suffer so you can feel like you've earned the good time. Every week, it's as if someone threw a party and a cyclocross race broke out.

Looking forward to UTCX season kickoff with a double cross weekend at the State Fairgrounds. And you can bet I'll be back for the upcoming Clammy Cross events. Those guys put together a fantastic course.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Green tea for weight loss

I was at the mall last night with my kids. One of the kiosks was selling "green tea for weight loss." I noticed, while stopped looking at the directory (for I am a hunter, not a gatherer at the mall), that the girl staffing the kiosk was offering free samples.

On our way from our first destination to our second, we walked past this kiosk, directly in the line of fire of the sample offerings. My lack of racing has resulted in a lack of discipline, which has resulted in a September weight that I am more accustomed to seeing in January. In other words, I'm feeling a bit plump. And yet, as I walked past the kiosk, I received no offer of a free sample, even though I would have gladly accepted it. The couple behind me was offered and declined.

I decided to pause for a bit to verify that there was a pattern. There was. Apparently I didn't meet the criteria. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Not racing, racing

I've been doing a lot of not racing lately.

Which means I have no idea where my fitness is. We'll find out on Saturday at Clammy Cross #1 in American Fork. Only three categories, which means I get to throw down against friends that usually race a different category at UTCX. 'Cross is in the air--can you smell the tubular cement?

Friday, September 9, 2011


Rick has warned us about this:

Makes me think twice about the night rides, especially when road racing, according to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, offers such a compelling alternative.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Book of Mormon

I can assume since you're reading this that you also have Internet access, which means I can probably also assume that you have heard that one of the most popular plays on Broadway right now is The Book of Mormon. Rachel and I recently returned from a trip to New York, where we had the good fortune of seeing the show.

I find it interesting that a great number of people have opinions about this show without having actually seen it. The irony here is that many of these critical opinions are along the lines of "the show ridicules Mormons without knowing what Mormons are really like."

Since my opinions of Mormons, Mormonism, and The Book of Mormon (both the book and the play) are all based on first-hand experience, I thought I would share my reaction. And while my opinion may not be yours, I don't think you can argue that I don't know whereof I speak.

The writers of the show know quite a bit about Mormons and what Mormons are really like. Consider the song "I believe," which was performed at the Tony Awards.

Mocking? Yes. Inaccurate? No. I don't see anything that's contrary to what I learned and later taught at the Missionary Training Center or have read or heard in General Conference. So is the problem that it's not presenting those beliefs in a flattering light? I'll concede that point, but let's consider the claims for a minute.

"The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur" is not all that different from "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me....When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air."

If you believe in the latter, you have to admit that, to an outsider, it doesn't sound too different from the former, especially when you throw in the part about digging up gold plates in your back yard but not being able to show the plates to anyone except with their "spiritual eyes."

And certainly, the Book of Mormon musical doesn't shy away from accentuating how ridiculous some of these claims might sound to an outsider. But that's not all the show has to offer. The play is set primarily in Uganda, a country where for the majority of residents, life is pretty terrible. Warlords, AIDS, and female circumcision are everyday hazards. And if someone from a whitebread, comfortable, first-world existence shows up and tells a bunch of fantastic stories and tells people how much better life will be if they only believe those stories, it rings a little hollow.

Believing a story will not cure AIDS. The stories about AIDS being cured by having sex with a virgin are proof enough of that. The real message of the Book of Mormon musical is that whether you are a literal, metaphorical, or non believer in a given belief system, it doesn't really matter. What matters with any belief system or philosophy is that you use that belief to be a better person and to improve the lives of the people around you. In many cases, religion is as much about community as it is about belief, and what the community believes is less important than what the community does.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Racing to win

In 2007, I rode Lotoja for the first time. The guys who raced it were on another level, or so I thought. After conquering the distance, I wanted to go faster. To go faster, I needed faster people to ride with. So my brother and I signed up as Cat. 5 annual license holders. We went faster. We wanted to go faster still, so we signed up as Cat. 4 annual license holders. Problem was, we weren't Cat. 4s yet, so we needed to race enough to get the upgrade. Steve finished on the podium but before that happened, we discovered there were a lot more worthwhile races out there than just Lotoja. Last year he convinced me we should race to win not just our category but the whole thing. I finished on the podium. Had a few things played out just a little differently, either one of us could have won. And having tasted that, if I race again, I want to race to win.

Problem is, Steve won't be racing this year. This was going to be our fifth year. We'd get out Lotoja 1000 and I'd be done with the race (not sure about Steve). Without Steve, I'm having a hard time mustering the motivation to race. My fitness is good. I think I could be competitive, if I could just get my head in a place where I want to compete. It's not, nor am I sure it will be.

Friday, August 12, 2011

An update

Busy week between work, chasing down insurance companies*, working on some professional development, family, and trying to follow a bit of the Tour of Utah, but given that many of the people asking about Steve are people that read this blog, taking a few minutes for a post now may save a few minutes more down the road.

*Remember in The Incredibles how Mr. Incredible, before he returned to super hero life, got fired from his day job for actually paying out insurance claims? Well I have been dealing with a real-life person who would probably be the ideal employee at Mr. Incredible's fictional company. I don't think she realizes that the more resistance she puts up to making a claim, the more committed I become to ensuring that they pay the claims. Even if it turns out that her company is only on the hook for $1.00, I'll see that it's paid.

Steve went home from the hospital on Monday. He's still in pain and needs a lot of rest, but he's improving day by day. Not sure when he'll get back to work, and even though he's shaved his legs, I suspect he'll be a while getting back on the bike. Which is good, because I still need to get his bike put back together so he has something to ride.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


The blog has been a little quiet, or rather a little more quiet than normal, lately. My apologies. Last week I was on vacation, which was awesome, and which is what I really want to be writing about today.

My second day back from vacation, Tuesday, I met up with Alex for an after-work dirt session in Millcreek Canyon. I had thought about racing RMR to help get my legs ready for the Bikes4Kids stage race this weekend. But Millcreek with Alex sounded a lot more fun than riding circles at RMR, so that's where I went. Unbeknownst to me, my brother, who doesn't really like the RMR course and usually skips it in favor of DMV, was out there racing.

The ride was pleasant enough. Humid from the recent rain, but lots of flowers blooming and nice tacky trails. At the top of the saddle above Park City, the one place in the entire canyon where you get a phone signal, my phone started ringing.

It was my teammate Adam. Steve had been in a bad crash at RMR, and they were trying to reach his wife. Details were scarce, but I called her, gave her the number of the other teammate who was with Steve and would know what hospital he had been taken to, and then I made a B-line down the canyon* to the hospital.

*Sidebar rant: Millcreek Canyon has the highest asshole quotient of any trail network anywhere I have ever been. Not once but twice on my descent, after I had either slowed and pulled to the side or come to a complete stop and moved to the side to yield to uphill traffic, I had riders change course to move in my direction, the one when I had stopped actually making contact, both of them clearly overdoing it on making their point that downhill riders are supposed to yield to uphill traffic. It was enough to make me wonder how they intended to get down if not by the trails. Even though I was in a hurry to get to the hospital, I delayed my descent to give them the right of way. And yet, somehow I didn't delay quite enough for their satisfaction. I wonder if they realize that such behavior makes me less inclined, not more, to be as courteous as possible to other trail users. The experience still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I got to the hospital to learn that Steve had collided head on with the Tuff Shed that is on the course at RMR at about 50kmh. His ribs and sternum were fractured, but the internal injuries to his organs and brain were the real concern. After quite some time in the waiting room, we were allowed into the ICU to see him.

During these few hours, I watched a community spring into action. Aaron and Chantel went back to RMR, sans car keys, but assuming they'd figure something out, and got Steve's car and brought it to the hospital. Cam and Jake sat patiently waiting well into the night, not to see Steve, but just to be ready in case anyone needed anything. Alex sent me tidbits providing additional context for Steve's injuries. Daren and Dave H. called to see how Steve was doing and what we needed, and I remained busy in the waiting area fielding phone calls, text messages, and emails.

Steve made progress through the night, and at about 2:00 a.m., the nurse told us to go home and get some sleep. I brought Marco back in the morning, and although Steve was still asleep, they had removed the breathing tube. His neurologist updated us on his condition: the brain injury was not as bad as originally feared, and he was optimistic Steve would make a full recovery. Big sigh of relief. He's got a long and painful recovery ahead of him, but he's steadily improving and will get there with time.

I cannot count the various offers of help and expressions of concern we have received from other cyclists. It seems the guys we work the hardest against in the races have also been the most anxious to help. I'm happy to report that Steve's immediate needs are being met--he is receiving excellent care at the hospital, and his wife and kids are taken care of and in good spirits.

Rachel and I often joke that going to a bike race is like going to a family reunion because we see so many people that we love and care about. The outpouring we have received since Steve's crash has prompted us to drop "like" from that comparison. Thank you so much for your care and concern.

Friday, July 22, 2011


I'm not exactly the kind of guy that strikes fear into his competitors when I throw a leg over my cross bike. Yet something about racing on that bike seems to lead to an inordinate amount of attention in the media.

It started after Cyclocross Nationals when this picture was featured in issue 02 of Peloton Magazine. You have to be pretty familiar with the back of my helmet to know that it's me, but it's on the same page as Katie Compton, so I'll take it.


Shortly thereafter, Cyclocross Magazine published this shot of my lower half (as their centerfold, no less) in issue 12.

Then just this week, Velo News ran an article on The Crusher in the Tushar, including a full results page.

The first two were just dumb, random luck. The last perhaps the best and only perk of racing with the big boys rather than racing for placing in my age group. Regardless, I'm sure that the stories behind each one and the descriptions of my performances will become infinitely better by the time I have grandchildren.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Whiners and winners

This year's edition of Le Tour has been a good one. Instead of Contador running away with it the way he did the Giro, he's been trailing since the outset and has demonstrated both his mortality and his dominance while opening the door for some other contenders to showcase their mettle. Can't wait to see how it wraps up.

Although to date, we haven't had a chaingate, certain riders have found no shortage of controversy--contrived or otherwise--to complain about. Others have chosen to STFU, HTFU*, and show what it means to be a bike racer. Some examples:

*Hoogerland The F*ck Up, for those not familiar with the term. The replacement of the first word in this acronym needs no commentary.

Tyler Farrar
Tyler finally lived up to his promise by winning a stage and paying tribute to his late friend, Wouter Weylendt. You'd think beating Cavendish would get that monkey off his back, but it hasn't. I don't know why it isn't obvious to the sprint teams, but the way to beat Cavendish is not to sit his wheel and try to come around him after he accelerates. That approach just doesn't work--his acceleration is too fast, leaving you with too much ground to make up.

Instead, teams need to get their train lined up behind HTC, force them to work during the chase, then in the final K, come to the front and let your guy make the first move. Force Cav to make up ground. He's the fastest guy over 25 meters, not 250. Go at 250, force him to use his 25 meter kick catching up, and then keep driving it from there. Farrar went first when he won, Greipel went first when he won. Why then would you not go first every time?

Most importantly, though, Tyler, no matter how suspicious you are about what Cav did to make the time cut in a mountain stage, don't whine about it the next day after he beats you. Implying that Cav shouldn't have made the time cut and therefore shouldn't have been in the race to beat you tells us exactly where your head is: even though you've beat him, you still don't believe you can.

Thor Hushovd
Hard to believe that for all the sniveling Farrar had done, he's on the same team as Thor. Farrar whines about Cav making the time cut, but Thor didn't utter a word of complaint when he lost his spot as his team's marquis sprinter when his team merged with Farrar.

Instead of whining, Thor led his team across the line in the TTT, wore yellow for several days longer than anyone expected, and then once they finally tore it from his back, he went on to win two mountain stages. Thor doesn't seem to care that his own team isn't giving him a crack at the sprint stages because he knows he's hard enough to get over the mountains with the breakaway specialists and then just ride away from them in the final kilometers. Farrar need not even leave the team bus to learn what it means to be a hard man.

Andy Schleck
Le Tour is not an uphill time trial, it's a grand tour. And that means going down the hills that you go up. The thing Andy seems to forget in the midst of all his bellyaching over the treacherous descents is that he had already lost time before they started descending.

As if not being able to ride down the hills in the team bus were not enough of an inconvenience, Andy also bemoaned the fact that he had to do two doping controls on one day, the second in a restaurant while he was eating dinner. I am somewhat hopeful that his naivete around the second control's purpose--ensuring he didn't microdose following the first control--is an indication that he's clean. Either way, his reaction is a clear indication that he's a crybaby. Not surprisingly, his sponsors have silenced his twitter account, so now he only gets to whine in interviews.

Thomas Voeckler
If Hinault was The Badger, then Voeckler is The Honey Badger. Not supposed to be a GC contender? Honey Badger doesn't give a shit. Watching this tenacious Frenchman race his bike has only been rivaled by watching his no-name, low-budget team ride at the front of the field as if their presence there is the most natural thing in the world. As brilliant as Cadel has been, I hope Tommy V. holds onto yellow all the way to Paris. Even if he doesn't, it's going to take a lot more than a cobra bite (or a pistol shot) to wrestle it away from him.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Crusher

If you're wondering what I was alluding to in my Up to Something post last week, I was gluing tubulars for the inaugural Crusher in the Tushar. Actually, I was not gluing tubulars specifically for this race, rather, I was gluing tubulars on which I intend to race cross this season, but on which I also chose to race the Crusher. I just now have my tires glued two months early. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

There was much contemplation and consternation over various and sundry equipment choices for this race. So much so that Ryan at Revolution told me he was starting to feel guilty about the amount of money people were spending prepping their bikes for this one event.

My approach was a little different. I looked at the course profile and figured that fire roads and pavement would probably go faster on my cross bike, so that's what I decided to ride. I became a little apprehensive after hearing the course recon stories about the super sketchy descent. The descent turned out to be a graded dirt road as wide and nearly as smooth as my driveway. It was steep, but nothing technical and nothing dangerous. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

My super-secret stealth training program consisted of riding my bike most days for as far and as hard as I felt like riding it. Some days that was pretty hard and pretty far, like hundred miles of nowhere. But most of the time I either commuted to work on my road bike or did a lunch ride in the Orem foothills or a lap or two in Corner Canyon on the MTB. If I didn't feel like riding, I went to the pool with my kids and worked on my suntan.

When we got to Beaver for packet pickup on Friday night I got the idea that I should change categories, and rather than race the 30-39 age group, I would race with the pro men. The genesis of this idea was the guidance given regarding categories that Pro/1/2 or A flight road racers should race pro. But I had ignored this guidance because amongst those signed up in the pro category were six-time national cyclocross champion Tim Johnson, MTB legend Tinker Juarez, Giro d'Italia veteran Jeff Louder, as well as Tyler Wren, Zack Vestal, Evan Hyde, and Paul Mach, amongst others. Throw me into that mix and one of these things is clearly not like the others.

Nevertheless, when else would I have the chance to race against* (not just on the same course as) the aforementioned pros? So I changed categories.

*In this case, "race against" means "have my ass handed to me by."

Saturday morning, Bruce, the race announcer, made us all feel confident about what was ahead when he told us "no matter what bike you chose, at some point you are guaranteed to have been absolutely wrong." That was comforting. And then we were off.

Caught up as I was in the celebrity of the field, I quickly pulled to the front, telling Tim Johnson as I went by "I have to at least be able to say I took a pull." Peter Archambault and I traded work on the front for a few miles until the road kicked up. The big guns attacked, and I went from first to last just like that. I rode in a small gruppetto for quite a bit of the first climb, but when that broke up, I figured I was on my own for the rest of the day.

I also figured the age group riders would catch and pass me, and sure enough they did. Start order was men 20-29, 30-39, and then 40-49. The first rider to pass me was T$, who would go on to win the 40-49 group. That means he rode past the 20-29 fields and 30-39 fields in their entirety. Wow.

When I reached the aid station at the top of the first big climb, I heard my teammate Pete McMullin call my name. He said he'd been following me for quite a while. He was near the top 5 for the 30-39 age group, so I wanted to try to help him on the flats at the bottom of the hill.

Problem was, he went down the hill quite a bit faster than I did. I got caught and passed by two more riders on the dirt descent, but once we hit pavement, I really opened it up and brought one back. I caught the other two--Pete and Zach Terry--on the flats, and the three of us rode together for a while.

When we hit the dirt again, Pete punctured a tire and was delayed, so it was Zach and me. Zach was complaining about the heat, and I started telling him how I like racing in the heat because it seems to have more effect on other people than it does me. As if on cue, Zach fell behind, and I was on my own again.

The second big climb was the same road we had descended. It seemed steep but not that steep going down. Oh how steep it felt going up. My low gear was 39:27, and I think I was turning it around as slowly as I possibly could without falling over. Nevertheless, I caught and passed quite a few racers on the climb, and as I neared the KOM, I saw Evan Hyde up ahead. I'm sure Evan found this annoying as hell, but I was gaining on him, so I kept pushing it and crossed the KOM just ahead of him. He returned the favor by riding away from me, never to be seen again, moments later.

With about 15k to go, my legs started cramping. I thought I just needed some water and was close to the last aid station. Water helped me feel better for a while, but then the cramps came back. Peter A., whom I had passed on the climb, caught and passed me. I tried to stay with him, but the cramps flared again, to the point that I had to stop twice and get off the bike to stretch them out.

Shortly thereafter, Slyfox pulled up to me on his scooter and said that the women's leader was getting close. Six time Olympic medalist Clara Hughes was the next to pass me, but this time I managed to keep her in sight. As we approached the final climb, I figured if the road ever leveled out, I would pass her. It never did.

I crossed the line right behind Clara (nevermind that she had started eight minutes behind me) and promptly laid down on the pavement. Tyler Wren had finished over an hour ahead of me, with Zach Vestal, Benjamin Blaugrund, Jeff Louder, and Paul Mach rounding out the top five. Local hard man Reed Wycoff finished sixth, just eight minutes behind Tyler. I was 19th in Pro Men, and I'll be honest, I feel pretty damned good about that result.

A few minutes after I finished, Bruce announced Pete M. After four minutes of effort, he got the puncture to seal and ended up fourth in 30-39. Right after Pete was Grizzly Adam. I never saw Adam on course, but we must have been close all along. Adam was easily the best-prepared racer, and it paid off.

Racers continued trickling in, including the Suncrest crew, Jonnie J, JW, Sam, Evil, Bright, and GRust. My teammate Alex Kim, who refers to himself as a fat crit racer, and to whom I had insisted that 'cross bike gearing would be plenty low, came across 11th in the 40-49 category.

Amazingly, everyone had a look of agony at the moment they crossed the line, but within minutes, it was all smiles. The reason for the smiles was that Burke did a fantastic job organizing the race. Burke is a racer, and this was a racer's race. You could tell he's done a lot of events over the years and knows the characteristics of a quality race. Enough cannot be said for the volunteers. The aid stations were staffed by some of the friendliest people I've ever met, and the public safety officials who were dispersed throughout the well-marked course were full of smiles and encouragement.  As Adam said, this race is an instant classic--be ready at registration next year, because it will fill and fill quickly.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Wasatch Omnium

Last weekend the Four for the Fourth Terry McGinnis Memorial Crit Series ran as an omnium to reward the most consistent riders throughout the four races. I got a late start* to the competition so decided to create a weekend omnium of my own.

*Because mentally I wasn't ready to race crits. Last Wednesday there was a crash at the DMV crit that resulted in a fatality. Then, on Friday night in the Midvale crit, Sleevie crashed after winning, fracturing his elbow. I wasn't sure I'd race at all until Saturday when I watched the Lehi race, which was conducted on a safe, wide-open course where there were no incidents.

Stage 1: Alpine Loop lunch ride
Met up with Elden for a road ride around the Alpine Loop from the Sundance side, which I rarely ride. So, so nice, as it always is.

Stage 2a: Mountain Biking in American Fork Canyon
Aaron, Adam, Chad, and I met up Saturday to ride mountain bikes on the trails near where I'd ridden my road bike the day before. The inevitable question is if you had to choose between riding mountain bikes and riding road bikes in American Fork canyon, which would you choose? Thankfully, no such choice has to be made, and we can do both.

Stage 2b: Lehi Criterium Spectating
Great race on a great course. Steve took third behind Dave Harward and Evan Hyde. He rode strong all night. Fun to watch, enough so to remind me how much I love racing crits.

Stage 3: Bountiful Criterium
Sunday was ridiculously hot. Which is great for me--I ride well in the heat. Given my lack of confidence, I opted to race Masters. Still feeling a bit skittish about being in the midst of a group and wanting the race to be as hard as possible in hopes that a few contenders would expire in the heat, I hit it hard from the gun and went off the front for three laps.

Once I got caught, there were several counterattacks. Of course the one that I wasn't able to cover was the one that stuck. The chase was pretty much just Dirk Cowley (FFKR) and me. We rode hard--hard enough that the break was whittled down from five to four to two, but not hard enough to catch the two.

With two to go, Jess (RMCC) went to the front, then on the last lap, Norm Frye (Ski Utah) took a flyer. I held Norm's wheel, which provided the perfect leadout, and was able to come around him to win the bunch sprint and third overall. First podium of the year, and I won a prime lap besides, so I was pretty happy with the race.

Stage 4a: Baldy Main Chute
If you can ski on the 4th of July, you should. There's still a lot of snow up there, so we did.

Looking down on our objective.

But before skiing, we had some donuts to eat.

And some other festivities.

And then some skiing.

Stage 4b: Holladay Criterium
With as good as I felt Sunday and as much as I like this course, I had high hopes for the Holladay Criterium. The Ski Utah team, however, also noticed that I was feeling good. Every time a break went up the road, I chased onto it. Every time I got on, they chased me down, even though they had a guy up each time.

Coming into the last lap, Jess had taken a flyer off the front. Even though we're not teammates, Jess is my friend, so I wasn't willing to chase. I sat in while Ski Utah chased, and that little recovery meant my legs felt great. I got on Rich Vroom's wheel, because I knew he'd go on the hill and try to get a gap. I figured I could follow him and come around at the end.

The problem is that we were racing in the rain. And when crosswalk paint gets wet, it gets slick. And even though we'd been racing on the slick surface for nearly an hour, a certain racer somehow forgot it was slick, was too light on his rear wheel, and went down in the first corner of the last lap, taking Rich with him. I was behind the two with nowhere to go and went down, along with Cam from Ski Utah.

I have never been more confident I could win a race, and instead I came home with a scraped elbow and knee and some chewed up bar tape. Winning two primes took out some of the sting, but I'm still bummed about the result. Justin and Steve took third and fourth in the P/1/2/3 race, so that was some redemption. And my result notwithstanding, the city of Holladay deserves a huge shout out for putting on a fantastic event.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The biggest race of the year

The biggest race of the year* is coming up this weekend. Have you made plans to attend? Even if you're not racing, you should still get out and watch.

*Biggest race of the year applies to the communities of Midvale, Lehi, Bountiful, and Holladay.

Of course I'm not talking about that race in France where some 60 kilogram Spanish guy will have his way with all comers, and the only drama will be the race for second place or the number of times Paul Sherwin wrongly picks Juan Antonio Flecha to win a stage. I'm talking about good old American crit racing. Laps around a city block. Fast, spectator friendly, cheer for people you actually know kind of racing.

The organizers have done a great job selecting courses, so racers and spectators alike should be in for a treat. If you've never raced or watched a crit, it may just look like a bunch of guys riding in circles., which is essentially what it is, but it's a little more nuanced than that.

Chances are that someone who doesn't like his chances in a big bunch sprint will try to establish a break. Teams that do like their chances in a bunch sprint may put someone in the break, either because their guy is a better sprinter or just so they don't have to chase. If one or more teams don't like the composition of the break (they don't have a guy in it or they do have a guy in it but don't like their chances against someone else in the break), they may chase it down and force the cycle to start over again. It's difficult for a small break to stay away if the main bunch is working together to chase it down, but it's rare for the main bunch to work together. Many riders will either let it go because they have a teammate up or because they know if they work to chase it, they'll burn what matches they have and get an even worse result than if they just sit in and save something for the end.

If it is all together at the end, the last few laps will be the fastest of the race. It's rare for a break to get away at the end, but that doesn't mean people won't try. The field will be strung out single file, and the sprinters will be looking to get to the front, ideally with some help from teammates to provide a leadout. Well-organized leadout trains like you see in the pros are almost nonexistent in amateur racing. The more likely scenario will be sprinters following the guys they know will try to make an early move and trying to get on their wheels for a leadout.

Whether spectating or racing, you should have plenty of chances this weekend, with racing from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Midvale and Lehi on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively, and racing from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Bountiful and Holladay on Sunday and Monday, respectively. Will you be there?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Please excuse any typos

I've noticed a trend amongst mobile device users to add automatic footers to their email messages along the lines of "please excuse any typos, sent from my mobile device.*"

*The only one of such messages that I will exempt from the forthcoming diatribe belongs to the Zeph, because his, "if this message looks like I typed with my elbows..." is at least humorous.

Now I get that typing on a tiny little touch screen is more difficult and perhaps makes one more prone to typing errors (though with the autocomplete feature, such an assertion is debatable--more likely than spelling errors are autocompleting an unintended word errors). That's fine.

But does reading from a little screen prevent you from reading what you wrote? I mean you just read the message you're responding to and seemed to not have any problems. So why can't you read what you wrote to make sure you spelled everything right. Don't you do that anyway? And especially don't you read what you wrote if you're sending a "reply all" to something like 2,000 employees* of a major corporation?

*Another topic from which I'll spare you my rare but fun rants is the tendency at my current employer to send "reply all" messages to release announcements redundantly reiterating the congratulatory message of the original. It seems that there is a direct correlation between one's perceived relative importance and one's propensity to send such a response. But I'm guessing that nobody is keeping track of whether all the VPs and the most self-important of the directors have sent such a response. OK, I guess I didn't spare you the rant and you got a tangential rant instead. Moving on.

I think I'm going to make a new footer that says "Please excuse any typos. Though I may or may not have sent this from my mobile device, I was too lazy to proofread my massage."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An open letter to the Fat Cyclist

Dear Fat Cyclist:

Since you're my friend, and I care about you, I thought that the best way I could talk to you about something very important was to put it in a public place where tens of people, but quite possibly not you, will likely read it.

Like me, you tend to obsess about certain things. In particular, you tend to obsess about upcoming bike races. In general, when one puts pressure on one's self to have a good result (however one chooses to define that) at a bike race, a bit of obsession is a good thing. But too much obsession is not, as you may lose track of the real objective while pursuing the intermediate details. Not to mention that too much pressure and obsession and chatter will inevitably lead to disappointment.

Since I know you are just under two months from your main objective of the year decade better part of your adulthood, I thought the timing was right to offer up a bit of advice, however unqualified I may be to offer it. [For those not in the know, the objective is the big belt buckle at Leadville.]

My advice is quite simple: stop obsessing about weight. You are light enough, and if you do the right things in training and put the right kind of fuel in your system as you get ready for the race, you will come into the event at the "right" weight, whatever that is. You are not Chris Horner, and this is not the Tour de France.

In the Tour, Chris has a team that will ride in front of him for five hours, leaving him on his own only at the very end of the stage for a blistering climb of all of about 20 minutes or so. At Leadville, you will be on your own for [hopefully under] the entire nine hours. Whereas Chris needs to be as light as possible for that crucial effort, your objective is a matter of survival over pure speed.

Yes Leadville has a lot of climbing, but these are not Clark's TT sorts of efforts. They are survival climbs. Many of them require walking your bike. And no matter how well you climb, climbing is not your cycling superpower. Your greatest advantage as a cyclist is the same as my greatest advantage as a cyclist: you are able to keep pedaling at a relatively high intensity for pretty much as long as you can keep fuel in your system. Play to that strength.

By now you probably know the course well enough to know what your splits need to be to make nine hours. But just in case, print the splits on a piece of paper and tape it to your top tube (but do not tape gel packs to your top tube, as such is an abomination). If you are ahead of pace, relax a little on the climbs to conserve some energy. Use that energy to go fast on the flats and descending. Going hard on the flats won't take the same toll as going hard on the climbs will.

The best way to train for racing is racing. Do the midweek races as well as the PC50 or the Crusher or the Tour of Park City (or all three).

You've got all the right tools--your new Superfly 100 (with XTR!) is the perfect bike: light, efficient, built to take the edge off the rough stuff to avoid fatigue and help you make up time on the descents. Of course your other Superfly would have been fine too, and it's proven to be up to the task, but I would ride the Superfly 100 if I were you, too. Physically, you're lean and training to peak at just the right time. Mentally, you have wanted this far too long not to get it. This is your year to put it all together. Now go and get it. You can't get fast and get skinny simultaneously.

Good luck!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Holladay Holiday Criterium

July fourth is a great time to be on the bike. Last year, the city of Holladay put on a great race to honor the late Terry McGinnis. From my post last year:
Independence day may be about barbecues and fireworks, but you gotta earn your cheeseburger. Which means as much time on the bike as possible over the holiday weekend. Saturday, I signed up for the Terry McGinnis Memorial Criterium in Holladay. Terry was a fixture of Utah bicycle racing for many years who passed away of cancer last year. I never knew him, but his friends and family should be proud of the event the race organizers and city of Holladay put together in his honor. The course was excellent, as was the community and sponsor support.

This year should be better still. In addition to the July 4th event in Holladay, three other cities, Lehi, Midvale, and Bountiful, will be hosting races. Holladay has pulled out all the stops to make this a signature event to showcase their city. Racers will appreciate that the city is inspecting the race route to make any necessary road repairs. And while they're not going as far as the Italians do for the Giro and laying down fresh tarmac, repairing potholes will be an improvement from the orange spray paint treatment we are used to.

In addition to being racer-friendly, it's also a spectator-friendly course, making laps around the park. Perhaps the best part is that if you stick around until dark, you can watch the city's fireworks display from the same venue.

For more information, you can check out the event's Facebook page. You can register here.

Full disclosure: obviously I'm trying to get the word out about this race. So what's in it for me? Free entry. Which for a lot of events wouldn't be enough, but this really is a well-organized race on a great course.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Running versus Cycling

My wife is training for a half marathon and has spent the last few weekends doing long runs to prepare. I decided to keep her company on yesterday's run, which led to the inevitable comparison of running versus cycling. Here it is by the numbers:

Running: shorts, socks, underwear, shirt. Total cost=$200. $250 if you're a woman and need a quality bra.

Cycling: shoes, bibs, socks, jersey, helmet, gloves, glasses. Total cost=$775. A little foam padding in the bibs makes them cost five times as much as a pair of running shorts and underwear even though they're made out of essentially the same materials.

+1 running

Running: shoes. Total cost=$125. $250 if you also want a pair of trail running shoes.

Cycling: bicycle. Total cost=$4000. That much again if you also want a mountain bike. That much again if you also want a TT bike. Half that much again for a cross bike.

+1 running

Running: watch. Total cost=$35-$400 depending on whether you want a Timex or a top-of-the-line Garmin.

Cycling: computer. Total cost=$50-$3000 depending on whether you want a wired Cateye or a top-of-the-line SRM. Multiply by number of bikes you own.

+1 running

Running: you can run pretty much anywhere you can wear shoes. Want to run on a business trip? Pack some shoes and a pair of shorts in your carry-on.

Cycling: you need to find a suitable road/trail and a way to get there. Want to ride on a business trip? Either arrange for an expensive rental that will require an extensive dick dance to get it to almost fit or else purchase a very expensive travel box for your bike and be prepared to pay the equivalent of a second fare when you inevitably fail to convince the airline agent that it's a "trade show display."

+1 running

Likelihood of desperately having to poop at some inopportune moment during any event of 90 minutes duration or greater:

Running: >80%
Cycling: <0.1%

+5,000 cycling

Final tally
Running: 4
Cycling: 5,000

Credit where credit is due to The Oatmeal for his similar comparison of the pros and cons of a man sitting down to pee.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A life of its own

Andrew McLean talks about the importance of saying "yes" when invited on trips, because when you accept an invitation, you're more likely to be invited a second time. Kris and Alex are both great about saying "yes," so when I got the idea to go to Price* for some trail riding, I figured they'd be up to it.

*I was interested not only in trail riding, but also stopping at Fuzzy's Bicycleworks to get a sticker for my crappy hippie Subaru that says "Crappy bikes make Baby Jesus cry." Unfortunately, when we got to the shop, they were sold out.

Alex and Kris are currently unencumbered with the drudgery of a 9 to 5, so when talked of going to Price, the conversation soon evolved into "if we're going that far, we may as well do an overnighter and..." Which led to the trip taking on a life of its own that included taking the day off Thursday to ride trails, hike a slot canyon, then ride mountain bikes back to the trailhead, with a little more slickrock riding thrown in for desert. It was the best possible outcome.

It was a jam-packed 36 hours. I got home thoroughly exhausted, saddle sore, and with a grin I can't seem to wipe off my face. Here are some photos of the canyon.