Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Reality Check

Warning - unusually somber post. Today was supposed to be a normal day. A day in which I spent the vast majority of my time drafting patent applications. It didn't go like that. Instead, as I checked my email on my leash (others call them Blackberry) on my way from the parking garage, I saw a string of emails. Jason Coles, a buddy from law school, was killed in a skiing accident. It's not so much that Jason and I were friends as much as we were friendly to each other and have close friends in common. He married a woman from our law school class and together they recently had a baby. It brought home the fragile nature of things. And brought me to the reality that my tonight would be better spent with my loved ones.

Monday, December 17, 2007

La Sabrosa Mas Linda

My Sabrosa is raging forward. Hand-built and lug-a-licious. And so does my part selection. I've settled on virtually all the parts list - which is as follows. Frame - Sabrosa Hand-Built, lugged Chromoly, single speed specific Fork - Sabrosa Hand-Built, lugged Chromoly, non-suspension corrected Stem - Sabrosa Hand-Built, lugged Chromoly All painted Sabrosa orange with blue lug outlining and detail fill Headset - King 1 1/8 ahead, Silver Wheels - King Classic SS, Silver, Bonti Mustang 32h, DT 1.8 Straight Crankset - Bonti Race SS, 32T Brakeset - Avid SL linear pull, silver Cog - 22T Surly Chain - SRAM PC-1 Tires - Maxxis CrossMark 29er Seatpost - Thomson 27.2, silver Seat - Bonti Race Pedals - Crank Bros., either Candy C's or Acid 2's Handlebar - Salsa Flat, 31.8.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Put the knife down, and step away.

The fear described in the last post about Arizona shocked me back into obsessing about bikes again. Or maybe it was a call from JonBoy. Yeah, it was the call from JonBoy. He'd mitered up the main triangle and was asking me to make some final decisions. Decisions he wanted me to make because it is my bike. Which brings me to my point. I'd written several long-winded pieces about how I try to value my friends and other wandering thoughts. I chose to write this instead. I've got a stable of absolutely first rate bikes - custom titanium or carbon being the predominant theme. A stable I've spent years collecting. Jon is building a bike for me, by hand and without personal gain . He's spent hours on minor details that he could have easily left out. Without a doubt, this will be the bike I value most. It's tough to know how to thank Jon for something so overwhelming. "Thanks, Jon" just doesn't seem to even begin to express it. But I'll start with that, anyway. Thanks, Jon. It means a lot. PQRS (a nod to Jon), you can follow the progress at www.sabrosacycles.com

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Wherein I Completely Lose My Mind

The other day the IT guy here, who just so happens to be one of my more consistent racing buddies, stopped by. He told me about a second Ironman Arizona race. It's a 'second' race because the 'first' race is usually held in April and the second race is being held in November. From now on, the race will be held in November, but for this year only there will be two races. It satisfied the criteria I had been looking for in an Ironman race better than the Florida races had. It's late in the year, so I'll have plenty of time to kill myself at work in the first part of the year so that I can slow up and have a little more time to train. It's close to a major airport that is easily accessible from Salt Lake, so air fare won't be ridiculous. It's geographically close, so the travel time will be low. There was only one thing left - who was I going to race with. The IT flat told me no. I called Mahana and he said he and Kalei would talk about. They called me back to tell me that they - three of the four members of Racer's Cycle Service Tri Team (Karl Jarvis being the other) had already signed up. So, without really thinking of the ramifications, I signed up. I figured I've already done three 1/2 Iron distances and a number of shorter races. Put another way, I've done enough races that I don't consider myself a newbie anymore. Then it started to hit me. The panic that is the open water swim. I always panic, it's just a question of 1) how severely and 2) how long it takes before I can get it to a manageable level. I always freak out because I can't see where I'm going. Add to that any number of people kicking and hitting you. With all that going on, I often forget to breathe correctly, my form goes to crap, and I start feeling like I'm suffocating. Then I think about quitting. Then I think about labelling myself a quitter. Then I put my head back in the soup, find a sustainable pace, and start playing fractional mind games with myself with a diaglogue. E.g. - That second buoy looks like it's about 2/3 of the way around the course. I'm 1/2 way to it, so 1/3 of the way around the course. It's a two-lapper, so 1/6 of the way done. Crap. 1/6 of 1900 is about 325. I've only been 325 meters? Crap. I'd better site again. It doesn't look like I'm any closer. Crap. Is this ever going to end? Roll. Site. . . . ." A recurring theme I have while I'm repeating the above process includes wondering why I signed up for that stupid race anyway. I can only imagine what 1:20 of that is going to be like, and that's if I'm lucky. That could easily drag itself into 1:30 or even 1:40. Then there's the bike. That doesn't really concern me. In fact, this would be a great reason to start a collection of bib and non-bib style Assos shorts. I'll let you know how those work out for me. No number of new shoes or training equipment can get me excited about running a marathon. And let's face it, I don't actually plan on running a marathon, I plan on running until I hit the proverbial wall and then walking. Hopefully, I don't end up doing that leg of the triathlon Andy Bernard style. All of these things were distant enough, until I thought of something realistic. I love to eat. I need to lose weight. That has to start now, which means I need to up my motivation to lose weight now. Once I start training for Hawai'i, weight loss will slow to a crawl. I've got three months to lose weight. Which means I need to start now. I really felt like steak tonight, may with a pepper-cream sauce. I guess it'll be grilled chicken and veggies instead. What have I gotten myself into? Another concern has popped up. Can I still say that I do triathlons, I'm not a triathlete if I've taken on the whole meal deal? I sure hope so.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


For some reason, cyclocross just didn't have the appeal for me this year that is has in years past. Even a G-Whiz new cyclocross bike couldn't get me excited for my traditional late-fall suffer fest. DR and I got out several times on the mountain bike for extra-innings rides, which were fun. But then it got wet and I didn't get around to trading my MTBs for my CX bikes. Instead, I have turned to knives. Kitchen cutlery, actually. My perseverations have focused on everything to do with razor sharp edges. From Forschner to Shun to Wusthof to Henckels to Global and back to Shun. The round trip also picked up some sharpening implements along the way. I finally settled on primarily Henckels for my wife and general use because they take a reasonably sharp edge and hold the edge reasonably well. I also settled on Shun for me because, well, because AB said so. That's not the only reason - it's just that his advertising was most compelling. Much like his scientific approach to cooking makes sense to me, his geometry/Rockwell hardness argument also made sense. So, Shun Classics it is. Now to move on to another perseveration. Hopefully this one will take me back to something fitness related. Knives are good for cooking. Cooking is good for eating. Eating is good for gaining weight.

Monday, October 08, 2007

How Old Am I?

In high school, I took things too seriously. I can admit that. I thought the entire trajectory of my life depended on the smallest things. Because of that, my classmates frequently did things to me for their amusement. A favorite was to call me "The Fat Hawaiian." It bothered me. One of the main reasons people did it was because it bothered me and they took joy in watching me get worked up. Calling out taunts during sporting events was another group's favorite pastime. All of those people knew how to push my buttons and did so at my expense for their amusement. Why wouldn't they? We were in high school and that's what juveniles do. That was then. At my 10 year high school reunion, several people mentioned to me how mellow I was compared to when I was in high school. I realize now it was because in large part I am more selective about who I choose to spend my time with. My philosophy about what it means to be a friend can be illustrated nicely with the analogy of a group ride. You have competitive group rides and friendly group rides. Both have their places and the competitive group rides are more like the business world. Everyone is in it for they and theirs and all strategems are employed to 'win.' And then there's the friendly group rides. The rides we choose to go on. These are rides where we all have fun together on a ride. We all move faster by working together. When I'm feeling good, I take a turn. When I'm not, I sit in. And so it goes. My friends are the people I choose to spend time and effort to maintain relationships. So with friends, I'll take my pull when it's my turn. I'll take long pulls and will pull as often as needed. But I expect that my friends will take their turn when the time comes. I don't have the patience to take pulls for people only sit in or for whom I am merely a source of amusement. This is now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Conversion and Reactivation

Last year, I started racing triathlons with an eye toward the Honu Half Ironman on the Big Island in June. I decided to do the California Half in March as a warmup for Hawai'i. I peaked for California and was completely burned out by the time Honu came around. I decided to switch to mountain biking when I got home from Hawai'i, especially since I thought I'd neglected it too much while training for triathlon. My first ride back, I high-sided into a tree on Joy while trying to race down after a sudden down pour. The crash ended my fitness for the year and I still haven't lost the weight I gained last summer or the fitness either. I basically gave up on mountain biking. This spring, my nephew Alika got back from his mission. When my brother was in the market for a bike for Alika's mission, I made sure we got him a bike that he could ride later as a 29er mountain bike. When Alika came up for school a few weeks ago, I set him up with a suspension fork and some knobby tires and we went out to ride. Since he's been back, I've taken him on Tibble Fork, Timpanooke (several times), South Fork, and Lambert Park. Each time I'm drawing him in deeper and deeper. Last night we had dinner together. We talked about how he really felt pressed for time between work and school. Then he asked me what time we were riding Saturday morning. I thought to myself, "It looks like we have a convert." And I realized, in converting him I've been reactivated as a mountain biker. So now it's time to spend some time practicing what we preach. Benny Creek anyone?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Derby, Baby! Derby

One of my favorite things from the Gourmet/Frank Days was derbying. Derbying is a game in which you attempt to force your fellow participants to dab - put a foot down. You could make a person dab by either cutting off their path and forcing them to stop in such a way that they can't pedal out of it or you could simply knock them off their bike. The basic rules were very simple. Hands were to remain on the handle bars and feet were to remain on the pedals. This rule added some measure of order to the chaos by capping the potential for violence to the dull impacts of a head butt or a shoulder shiver. Many a day did the shop employees and the lunch crowd pull a bike to begin the derbying. Everyone had their own style that was bracketed between two extremes. Jerome, JJ, and JonBoy were each masters of the finesse technique. Each of them were able to stop for extended periods of time and to shimmy the bike into position using trials techniques. I was on the far end, with initially only limited bike handling skills. I relied on the bull technique by which I would simply ride the smaller cyclists into barriers or knock them off their bikes. As I recall, Dug was a combination of speed and power with impeccable timing. When pushed into tight spot, Dug would pedal furiously out of it and hope for the hole shot at the corner. He also used this speed to knock one or both riders who were engaged in a pushing match. If you think derby sounds silly, you haven't tried it or else you just don't like riding. Maybe that's going to far. Since I hope this is something of a family forum, if you've derbied, share your best derby story.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Coming Clean

I'm coming clean with an experience which brings shame and self-loathing everytime I tell it, or worse, everytime Ben tells it. And no, it doesn't involve the Internet, a late night trip to a seedy convenience store, or buying a Cannondale. It's all about the Big Wheels. I talked Benson out of buying a 29er when he blew the load (of money) he'd been saving up all summer. He was in Boston doing an internship during law school and had the means to build up a dream bike. What's more, since he was in Boston, he had the rare experience (for us western dwellers) to follow the process of having a hand-built titanium mountain bike frame built by one of the acknowledged leaders in the craft, Independent Fabrication. It also didn't hurt that they're one of the coolest group of people around. So there's the short version, which also serves as a handy intro. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm becoming more of a foody every day. I love to cook and I love to eat good food. I've learned over the years that when you go to a restaurant, one of the best ways to get the most out of the situation is to trust the server, assuming you can determine whether the server is serious. If the server is serious about his job, he'll know the menu inside and out and will have tried everything. I'm not sure how to explain whether you know when you can trust the server, but you just know. It's like when I send people down to Racer. Everybody, from people who didn't know that adult bikes come in more than one size all the way to the guy who just dropped $1,000 or so on wheels to save 75g just seem to sense that Racer knows his stuff and that they should probably follow his advise. I almost always fall into this category as well. Except for when 29ers came out. I assumed I knew it all. I should have known that people who do nothing but build bikes for a living would have known what they were talking about. I'm talking about Matt Bracken, President and frame designer over there at IF. Racer was riding a 29er and said it was the best thing ever. "They roll over everything" he would say. Matty B suggested that Ben get a 29er. I talked Ben out of it. And here's how I did it. I was riding my Serotta custom Ti hard tail that I'd ridden for several years. I figured I didn't have any trouble going down hill, but the extra weight and bigger wheel size would make it that much harder to go up hill. I found myself begging the granny gear with some frequency and figured the last thing I wanted to do is effectively give up a gear on the lower end. I also discussed the likelihood of slow steering. Add to that the argument that the 29er thing was probably just a fad, and Ben was convinced. He went with the 26er. When he came out to ride it, the 26er wasn't ready so Racer let him ride a 29er demo Racer had. As I would later find out, Ben knew immediately that he'd made a huge mistake, but he masked it because he knew how bad I'd feel. Ben's a better man than I am. I admit it. Then he didn't say anything but how sweet his IF was once he got it. If the story ended there, it'd be fine. We'd both be on 26ers. Ben would know better, but I would have remained in blissful ignorance. I continued to tell the growing number of my friends who used 29ers that they were idiots. Until Devin let me ride his 29er Curtlo on the second loop at Lambert Park. I immediately came to the same realization Ben did. I simply had to have a 29er. If I was going to replace the Serotta, which I affectionately refer to as "Bessy", it'd have to be with something as good, but with big wheels. I got the go ahead from Racer and set us up as an IF dealer. I then proceeded to order myself up a 29er Ti Deluxe. It's everything I hoped it'd be. On my first ride with Jon Boy and the rest of the Family, it felt like I'd been riding it for years. There simply was no break in period where I had to build my confidence. It went faster from the get-go. "Point and shoot" I started calling its ride quality. And Ben languished on with his beautiful, but cheerio-wheeled, ti IF. Since he got back, Ben picked up a Felt 29er. While he's not riding his little brother's bike anymore, and while his Felt is a very able bike, it's just not an IF Ti. Until he gets one, my shame will persist. So there it is, in all its ugliness. I ruined Ben's once in a lifetime dream bike experience by talking him out of the 29er and then proceeded to buy exactly the same thing myself. Usually, coming clean makes you feel better. For some reason, the guilt persists. Sorry, Ben.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dan Nelson

The family tree is growing, at least in my estimation. The last notable addition was Harse. Then for a while Racer employed several people who treated the shop like another job. There's not anything wrong with that necessarily, but that won't get you an invitation to family reunions. Spencer was close, but before we could make it official, he up and moved to California. Which leads us to Dan. From my best estimate, Dan loves to ride. He'll pedal anything with two wheels. He's fast too, consistently doing well in the local races. And he seems to love being at the shop. On more than one occasion, he's stayed really late getting things done without nary a word of complaint. Instead, he remained enthusiastic. Add to that the fact that he's not afraid to show up and eat like he means it at a barbeque, and I've got to give him the nod. So for what it's worth, I'm considering Dan as part of The Family. There's only one thing - Dan needs something more for a shop name than just Dan. I mean seriously.

Hawaii 07

As a word of warning, this post is only nostalgic, not bike-related nostalgic. Follow on at your own risk.

My name often inspires the following dialog, especially at stores where they read my credit card:
Cashier: How do you pronounce that?
Me pronouncing the entire thing
Cashier: Is that Hawaiian?
Me: Yes
Cashier: What island are you from?
Me: I'm actually from Southeastern Utah.
Cashier: Silence accompanied with a confused look.
Me: Thanks (as I'm walking out)

So, as I grow older, I struggle to connect with my Hawaiian roots.

It was too expensive for my parents to take all seven children to Hawai'i with any regularity. We went a couple of times when I was very young and I only have faded memories of those trips. So, what I learned about Hawaiian culture, I learned from my dad. I learned to savor poi, kalua pork, cuttle fish, dried aku, haupia, kulolo, laulau, poke, lomilomi, and the other foods as I grew up. But many of the other aspects of the culture passed me by. My wife and I have been over twice in the last two years and plan to make it a yearly tradition. One of the things that makes the long hours at work worth it is that the job provides the flexibility and means to make the trip on a yearly basis, with my kids and my dad.

When my dad gets back to Hawai'i, it doesn't take him long to settle back in as kama'aina. My kids had a great time, too. So, for posterities sake, here are my favorite memories of Hawai'i.

1) We went to the heau at Honaunau on the Big Island. The heau is a state park where an ancient Hawaiian royal village and an adjoining sanctuary have been restored. As we were watching some sea turtles, I noticed that the rocks seemed to be crawling with black crabs. I know that the locals eat them raw. I've never had black crab, so I asked my dad how they prepared them. He said, "They're raw, but not really raw. What you do is you take them and crack them, and then you put a lot of salt on them. You leave them in the salt until they're . . . . I can't think of the word in English. Until they're miko."

2) The night before the race we were driving back down to the condo on the Queen K highway. The rain was coming down and the wife and kids were sleeping in the back. My dad was sitting in the front seat. I was listening to IZ's (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole) rendition of a traditional favorite, Kuhio Bay. My dad doesn't sing along to music, especially in the car. In fact, the only times I've heard him sing is in formal settings, like choir practice. I noticed him singing along softly to the song, which turns out to be, among other things, about the beauty of rain in Hawai'i.

3) On the way home, the first leg of the flight took us from the Big Island to Oahu. The flight is short and the flight attendants don't really give you a choice on the refreshments, they just run by and throw juice cups at you. The juice was a passion fruit blend. As I was finishing my juice, I heard my oldest daughter say, "This juice tastes like Hawai'i."

4) And finally - this:

If you can't tell, I'm island sick today.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Amos Exploration

I rode Saturday with Brently and his eldest, Dan, and B. Riding with Brent took me back to the days of following a pure descender - Stu. Stu picks as clean a line as any body you'll ever meet and then rides that line with a smoothness that defies description. Those of you who have followed Stu down a rock-strewn single track know what I'm getting at. And to my own personal loss, I haven't ridden with Stu in a long time. That's why this is a particularly nostalgic post. Stu was something of a guiding influence during my early days at the shop. Stu was the first to welcome me in to the intimidating and somewhat closed circle of The Family while he was hanging out at the shop during lunch or on breaks. He always had great advice. One of the most valuable and enduring things I learned from Stu was how to treat people with different perspectives. Another thing about Stu is that when it so strikes him, he can put together a flowing dialog of descriptive adjectives and thoughtful metaphors laced with a surprisingly-fluid (yet definitely liberal) dosing of profanity. I've often heard from those who object to profanity that the use of such language reflects a limited vocabulary. They obviously haven't heard Stu tell a story. I think the Ralphie in A Christmas Story had an idea of what I'm talking about. Stu used to live in Provo. Then he decided his commute simply wasn't long enough and he moved to Elk Ridge. One afternoon, Stu had a great idea. He suggested we go find some trails down his way. We called Brent and the group was set. Stu and I grabbed our bikes at the shop and headed to an outdoor shop to pick up a map. After finding a map with enough topographical detail to be useful, we drove on to pick up Brent and were off. Benny Creek had always been a favorite. But there was a vast system of trails to be explored apart from Benny. In fact, little was known about the "other" side of the road. So there we were, at a parking lot armed with a map and plenty of water we started off. It was a warm day and we had the mountain to ourselves. What we found was a great combination of new (to us) smooth winding single track with the signature Nebo area technical sections. It has to be ridden to be believed. Canopied oak stands transition between open stands of quakies. Descending that we felt like we'd discovered the New World. Like the great explorers of the past, we named the newly found dominion. Actually, we named the ride Amos because the dominant geographic feature that ties several sections of trails together (at least on the map)is called "Amos Backbone." I got a little out of hand following Stu and Brently down and ended up clanking through a downhill rock bed, which taco'd my rear wheel. Brent and I worked out our best caveman mechanic wheel truing by banging the rim on a rock until it'd roll in the frame and we rolled out. Besides that, my memories of that ride are of big excitement, big sweeping turns, deep rollers while wearing a shit-eating grin all bathed in the golden glow of a late summer afternoon. That didn't wear off for days. I'm wearing it now as I think of it. Alright Stu, quit messing around with the motos and join us for a ride.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I Do Triathlons, I'm not a Triathlete . . . Anymore

It's an ugly thing to realize something you've become always held in disdain and that you've drifted from something that brings you joy because of it. Tri-geek was always a dirty word around the shop. The negative side I saw was that people trained at the expense of the ride. Almost always. For example, not mountain biking because the ride profile spent too much time in HR Zones 4-5 on the climbs and then all the way back to below HR Zones 1-2 when I really need that time to be in zones 2-3. If you know what I'm talking about, you may already be headed down the wrong path. Not that some structured training might not help you out, but it was killing my soul. In order to stay in the right HR zones I found myself riding my trainer. A lot. Mind numbing and spirit crushing. I'd become an automaton. My wife and I recently completed the Hawaii Ironman 70.3 together. Our youngest turned 4 mos. old the day of the race. That race was worth it to run down the finishing chute with my wife. But that was when the triathlete that I'd become died and I got back to being me. I finished the swim a couple of minutes ahead of my wife and built a lead of around half an hour after the bike. Foot cramps and shin splints had me hobbling on the first part of the run until I sat down and worked them out. I could have pushed on and finished thirty minutes or so faster than I did. But why? I started racing to spend more time with my wife. Why not finish this thing with her, since she's stated this will be her only 1/2 for quite a while? I did and it was great. Last year my mountain biking season was cut short when I took a flier into a tree on Joy. This year, I'm determined to have a full mountain bike season and to not let training get in the way of enjoying the outdoors. A funny thing has happened since I made that determination. I've enjoyed my time outdoors, which so happens to be while I'm exercising. Runs are enjoyable. Swimming isn't monotonous. The mountain biking is lovely. With the Spudman grudge match pending, I should be doing some very focused training this Saturday. I've decided on a long mountain bike ride to Tibble with some of my very favorite ridding buddies - Dan, Brently Bob, B and we'll see if Ben can make it. I've got high hopes that this will be one of those memorable rides. After all, is there really such a thing as a really great trainer ride?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Welcome Home, Ben

I've decided to post this entry first as Ben and I had a nearly transcendental ride last week. There are several key factors that contribute to a ride being burned into my memory. First, the person or persons I'm riding with need to be people that I'd spend the time and effort to associate with regardless of whether we are able to ride together. I don't mind suffering up a climb. In fact, sometimes I intentionally seek out that kind of suffering. The saying that misery loves comes to mind. So, if I'm able to have an engaging conversation, the suffering aspect of the ride tends to be similar. Ben is one of my best friends, so this was a no-brainer. Second, trail conditions need to be right. After a while you start sensing when the trails will be good. There's been enough warm days that snow is melted. You can almost smell the recent rain storm that brings down just enough water to pack the trails down, but not so much that they're sloppy. The temperature starts hovering around the low to mid sixties in the hills. It was all there. Finally, riding ability needs to be fairly evenly matched. I hate riding with people when I'm clearly the anchor. I'm talking about those rides where I'm not just a weight in the boat that's making the boat ride lower in the water and slowing everyone down. It's the times that I'm the guy that is dragging the ride to a stop and all everyone really wants to do is cut me loose and go sailing on unimpeded. (Man, that was a long boat analogy for someone who avoids boating). Ben and I are both big guys that ride more than people think we do. The climb seemed to be a decent pace. The trail was grippy. Very few people were out. Just me and my dog Jesse and Ben and his dog Tsubo. South Fork was in rare form. The corners were smooth and grippy. The meadows were green, but not over grown. You could go as fast as you wanted and the trail would just lay out the line for you. We dug into the berms as we railed each corner. We couldn't miss. Ben's descending prowess kept him in nearly constant contact, so there was no real waiting at any of the intersections to make sure he wasn't bleeding somewhere up above. It was one of those early spring rides that makes you remember why you own mountain bikes and one of the best things about Utah. At the end of the ride, I was giddy. I was giggling like a school girl. Ben said, "You know, I haven't ridden that fast for that long . . . maybe ever." I gave him a hug and said, "Welcome home, Ben." After we were done riding, we watched the jazz game and put together a meal. Welcome home, Ben, indeed. I have a feeling it's going to be one of those summers that we talk about when we're old and gray. One of the summers that shapes our childrens' recollection of their childhoods. And that, that's a good thing.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Intro to Ride Nostalgia

Pro cycling is quickly losing its draw for me. There's only so many scandals I can take before I just give up on it. I thought the Puerto Plus developments had taken me to that point. The acid trip that is the Floyd hearing has taken me well past that point. I hear the Giro's on. So what. The Tour? I've been sick of the French for a while, boycotting the TdF just makes complete my avoidance of France. So, I'm drawn back to riding for the sake of riding. Before I delve into the rosy colored recollections that keep me going in such times, an introduction is in order. My wife, then my fiance, talked me into stepping into Gourmet to talk Ghrumpy into letting me work there - for free. Those of you who know my lovely wife will universally agree that I married way up. As the previous post noted, working at the shop led me to meet the people with whom I spend most of my free time. It also jump-started the money I have in the bicycle loop (more on The Loop) to follow. The geneology chart lists the core members of the cycling family. Many of my best rides happened with these guys. A few riding partners of mine haven't remained as closely tied to the shop as others, but are still the people I call on to ride. An incomplete list of riding buddies that were part of my best rides follows accompanied with one or two of my most memory rides with them, in no particular order: The Family Reunion - as the name implies, was with "The Family" Racer - One of three riding buddies in a whole summer's worth of perfect conditions, exploration, and good times - the Summer of Riding JonBoy and his Mrs. - White Rim DNS B - One ride of Fall Perfection - the rest he missed to his enduring loss. DR - The Trail of Tears. Twice. White Rim DNS. CX RAWROD. And Fall Perfection. Benson - Triathlon is Stupid 07, Several rides which were overcome by the memory of post-ride BBQ's Brently - Fall Perfection and Amos Exploration Stu - Hobble Creek and a Warm Rain, Amos Exploration Original Jared - Brianhead in the Rain. The Ring of Fire, pts 1 and 2 Red (and the apparition formerly known as Keller) - the other two who took part in the Summer of Riding. Prominently featured in the Summer of Riding was Joy, which is the only ride I take full credit for naming. Widmer - Fish Landing Doug (not to be mistaken with Dug of FatCyclist fame) The Trail of Tears (1X), Fall Perfection, CX RAWROD. Doug makes the list inspite of the last entry. While I'm over his part of CX RAWROD, I never offered him absolution. Yury - The Trail of Tears (once, on which Yury applied the name) Ghrumpy - The Wind with Two Heads Only a couple of these rides are epic, but all very memorable. Harse has been there often, but is almost always so far off the front with another group that I barely remember he was there. A couple of months ago, Harse, Thinner, and myself had lunch at a little polynesian place where Harse and I rejoiced in Benson's return. We immediately began planning a trip down south to pedal. While neither of us could promise Thinner it'd be fun, we could definitely promise him it'd be memorable.
Family Tree JonBoy is fond of referring to our group of cycling friends as a family tree. Here's the genealogy as I recall - It all started back with the Highlander. Brently Bob at least worked there and I think Ghrumpy worked there as well. Brently moved on to work as an industry rep, where he remains to this day. Highlander went the way of many small LBS's and Stu kept the ball rolling with Gourmet Bicycles. In describing Gourmet's location, the description almost always included the question, "Do you know where the Bamboo Hut is?" Many still know where the old Bamboo Hut was and thus remember where Gourmet was. Leatherby's is there now. Ghrumpy initially worked for Stu and then took over as owner. JonBoy, Jerome, and J.J. all worked at Gourmet under Ghrumpy's tutelage. Ghrumpy was known locally as the best wrench around. It was this reputation that took me to the shop and inspired me to work for free for several months in exchange for training as a bike mechanic. Several events led Ghrumpy to leave Gourmet and Jerome to take over management. During Jerome's initial tenure, the Tenacious (as in Tenacious D, JonBoy's wife) joined the shop family officially. Without commenting on the particulars, Gourmet folded and Frank's Bikes opened next door with Jerome as the proprietor. During that time, Racer, Jerome, Jared and myself were those holding down the fort. Frank's folded and Racer picked up the banner. Racer started in a storage unit with his tools, a bike stand, and eventually a QBP account. Everything was special order. He only did labor. Racer's brothers include Chucky and the WonderPony, both of whom are hammers in their own rights. Both Chucky and the WonderPony were often found at the new shop on University. As unofficial Racer's employees, they are, of course, part of the family. Throughout, there's been a loyal group of non-shop employees who are equally important to the culture of the shop as they are more enduring than most of the employees. A large portion of the core customers, sometimes referred to as the lunch crowd, include Fatty and his friends which are featured at www.fatcyclist.com. Widmer and his crew also feature prominently in the core group. These and the other core customers are lifers who are serious about maintaining their bikes and seeking to get others involved in cycling. Racer worked on their bikes as he built a base for his current shop. Racer moved from the storage unit to a small shop on University, where he began stocking selected inventory and also began to stock selected bikes. Harse, already a cousin through the Widmer crew, joined the family as Racer's first official employee. Later, Racer married Steel. Under Steel's influence, the shop moved to its current location at 159 W. 500 N. in Provo. Currently at the shop are Kelly, Shae, and Dan. Others are involved who are not quite employees, but more than customers. Those who have an affinity for the infinitely likable Racer (who's got to be the nicest guy on earth). Asinine definitely qualifies as one such member, as does Kenny. Benson and Wyatt also likely belong in this group. With such a large group, the numbers of those who call Racer their mechanic and Racer's Cycle their shop is large and growing. Long live the LBS.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Writing Down the Fat Kid's Interpretation of the Unwritten Rules of Riding When you're usually the weakest link, you develop a keen interpretation of the rules of riding with other people. You develop an especially critical view of how others violate one set of rules in particular: The rules of waiting for riding buddies, or the waiting rules for short. I have a keen understanding not only what the rules are, but of the intracacies and subtlies of each of them. I guess that means I spend most of my time off the back (OTB) thinking about such rules and how those I'm riding with are filthy vermon. The waiting rules generally relate to when, where, and how long to wait for the people you're riding with. The first rule of where to wait and for how long applies to those off the front of the group. I never have to worry about this on the climb, but on occasion it does come up on the descent. The first part of the rule is this - if you come to a fork in the road and you're not sure where you are going, wait for someone who knows. This should just be common sense. Once on an excursion with a mountain bike class, a couple of relatively new riders got in their head they knew the way. In Moab. In June. In the late afternoon. They didn't. We should have just left them for dead. We didn't. The second part of the first rule relates to the more often overlooked issue of consideration: if you do know where you're going, make sure that at least the person behind you makes the right turn. Thereafter, it's his responsibility to make sure the next person in line makes the turn as well, and so on. Without the second rule, people either blow through the corner and if you're the last guy, like I often am, you're left frustrated and wondering which way everyone went. If everybody stops, the rhythm of the ride may unnecessarily be disrupted, especially if there are a lot of turns to be made. The second rule applies to group rides. Group rides involve more than just you and another person you're riding with. If you know you're going to be the weak link and you honestly suspect that your shortcomings will hinder the others' ability to enjoy the ride, you have the responsibility to bow out. Use any excuse at your disposal. For example, recently Harse and Thinner decided to go out on a road ride during the middle of the week. Accounts of their previous ride involved terms such as hammering, nauseous, light headed, and the like to describe a climb up Traverse Mountain. Combine that with the fact that I was planning on riding the RAWROD with JonBoy and Thinner the coming weekend, and it looked grim. I flatly refused, noting there was no way I was going to go riding with that group. Thinner tried his best to convince me, so I was forced to use any number of lame bike excuses, which are made doubly lame by the fact that they both know I have multiple bikes. If you've done your best to apprise your potential riding partners of the grim possibilities of riding OTB, they then assume the responsibility to ride with you. This applies regardless of the shame they may experience by doing so. This has one exception - the end of the ride/top of the climb exception where they are free to go buckwild on a climb near the end, provided they wait for you at the top. Thinner did a good job of that during the RAWROD, even earning extra points for the ride from behind tactic. He let me lead for a good part of the ride. With that, there was no way that he would be guilty of leaving me, since I was ahead. Also, I was able to ride at my pace rather than blowing up to chase him. Definitely a nice gesture.