Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Happy Median

In my opinion it's best to avoid extremes. And despite that, I'm about to haul off on a rant, so apparently I don't practice what I preach. Anyway. I don't actually mind driving in the snow. I grew up driving in the snow on slick roads. The plus side to growing up in a really small town is that you learn to drive on slick roads that aren't full of people. What I don't like is driving in snow with other people. It drives me nuts because the extremist drivers end up screwing things up. On one hand, you have the idiot in an SUV that doesn't seem to have a basic handle on common-sense, much less a grasp of basic applied physics. They don't realize that the ability to get an object moving is an entirely different set of issues than getting that same object to stop. On ice. So, since their 4WD gets them moving well in the snow and ice they seem to forget that stopping that huge weight isn't quite as easy. How does that slow me down? These are the self-same idiots that go barreling into a traffic, lock up the brakes, do some reckless swerving with the brakes locked up, and get into an accident. That accident then chokes down traffic and I end up waiting. Forever. Then you have the idiots who are so freaked out by the possibility of sliding that they meander down flat, straight, open roads at 10 m.p.h. They only want to travel at speeds where they can lock up the brakes and still skid to a stop in 15 feet. These people are the ones who usually get hit by the speeders. Like yin and yang combining to drag all traffic to a standstill. Even if they're fortunate to avoid a collision with the other extreme, I still end up stuck behind them somehow to crawl to whereever I'm going. If you're that freaked out by the snow, you should probably get a doctor to write you a note (hopefully before it snows) indicating that you can't drive in the snow. When it snows you can send the note to work and take the day off. Or maybe I'll just take the day off next time it snows so I don't have to deal with them.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Call for Info

I love to ride bikes, but don't like doing so when it's bitter cold outside or while it's snowing - both of which tend to happen in the winter here in Utah. In years past, I snowshoed in the winter on the bad days, but haven't done so in a while. I'd like to remedy this, but don't want to waste time driving up AF Canyon until the snow is deep enough to bother. So, have any of you been up there since the last snow? If so, is it deep enough yet?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Special Needs

Last night I attended my first master's swim class at the AF Rec Center. I figured it was a cheap way to get some coaching - which would hopefully keep me motivated and help improve my form. After all, it's only 25 bucks per month - you read right - per month. The tri-geek in me has justified much larger outlays that even at their best had questionable benefits. So, I finally dragged myself to the pool, overcoming my self-consciousness and just getting to it. There were three groups swimming - a group of collegiate level swimmers (I know because one of the girls just finished at BYU, where she was on the team), a group of intermediates, and all the rest. At first, the coach put me in the slow lane. Where I belonged. After we warmed up he moved me to the middle lane. At first, I thought it was because he thought I was fast enough to hang with them. Not so much. He put me there because there was no chance of me screwing up the swim order with the other two swimmers in my lane, especially since we were only swimming fifties. 30 of them. Hard. It was awful. I felt like that guy who showed up to a group road ride on a mountain bike. You know the guy. And like the fellow on fat tires with a flapping T-shirt and a bottle of root beer in his cage, I suffered mightily just to keep up. I made all the splits within the times, but not without pain. And then, to keep things interesting, after 2000+ yards of high effort swimming (not fast, just painful), we did a 100 yard test swim. Nice. One of the guys there wearing baggy board shorts swam the same time I did. He complimented me on a nice job and then asked why, since I was the new guy, I decided to start the class. I told him that the swim is my weakest portion and the one I could really only get better at with some help. After asking with amazement if I did triathlons, he commented that I was doing pretty well, for a first timer. Yeah, thanks. Now I'm getting my ass kicked by the guy on the mountain bike as well. The next step is to get humbled by an old guy on an adult-sized trike. Perfect.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Favorite Jonboy Quotes

If you read this blog, there's a decent chance you know Jon. And if you know Jon, you know he's a lot of fun to be around. He and I seem to be on the same wave length and I really laugh at his sense of humor, which can be biting at times. One of my favorite stories Jon tells is of a trip he made to Costco. Jon may have some corrections in the comments, but here's how I remember it. Costco, despite all its progressiveness, did not provide bike racks. I don't know if they still do, Chad will have to weigh in on that. But at the time, they didn't. So, when Jon stopped by on his bike to pick up some things in bulk, he had to lock his bike somewhere. He locked his bike to a shopping cart in the parking lot and started to make his way in. He'd scarcely made it a few feet when the shopping cart attendant threw his bike in the shopping cart and started to take it into the building. As he hauled Jon's bike off, he began muttering about how stupid cyclists were, etc. Jon, not one to take that lying down, responded. I forget everything he said, but the gem was the question, "Cart pushing, what is that - a four year program?" I still chuckle when I think about that. Jon told me that story just before we started a ride along the ridge up AF Canyon. As we were descending toward the PineHollow/Timpanooke intersection, I heard Jon behind me. His story came to mind, and I started chuckling. It was enough to break my concentration, which made me blow a turn and I ended up out in the weeds. Another time was after we'd finished up RAWROD a couple of years ago. We were waiting to be seated at one of the pizza joints in Moab. Delena was wearing a tuc. A portly, ruddy-faced fellow wearing pajamas walked by and commented, "Nice hat!" to Delena. Without pause and at the same time both Jon and I answered back, "Nice pajamas." He looked back at us, stunned that we'd comment on his choice to wear red flannel pajamas to dinner. The nerve.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Twilight Musings

Friday night, I took one for the team and went to Twilight with Cindy. I was braced for bad. I wasn't braced for that. But, I dug deep and gutted it out. After the first hour, I was numb to the constant closeups and never-ending wistful looks. I even got used to the clumsy, choppy, awkward dialogue. People always say that the books are always better than the movies. That has to be the case in this, because I have a tough time imagining the movie being any worse. I've read a few passages of the books - enough to quickly see that Stephanie Myer is no Elmore Leonard. But still. Even bad books often make at least watchable movies. The thing is, the women in the audience knew it was bad. But they were so in love with the idea of the movie, they let it slide. Women often shake their heads in disgust with men and their action films. Before, the garbage romance novels didn't make it to the big screen and Jane Austen had been elevated to classic status. Both kept me from having anything useful in response. Now, now I have Twilight. At least it wasn't a complete waste. I take that back.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Iron Tourist (The Long Version of IMZ '08)

“It’s deeper than I thought,” I noted myself as my descent into the murky darkness was paused by the buoyancy of my wetsuit (and maybe some extra fat). Two nights before the race director had claimed the water was only five or six feet deep. I was at least three feet underwater. Luckily, it didn’t feel nearly as cold as it had yesterday. Still, something wasn’t quite right. The last time I had that feeling was moments before I ate a shore break and broke my collarbone in two places in Hawai’i. I was a tourist at a locals’ beach. I’d been in Hawai’i nearly a week and figured I was ready for something more than the relatively small waves at another local beach, Hukilau. So I made my way to La’i’e City Beach, otherwise known as Pounders. The locals’ incredulous looks should given me an idea that I was in over my head. But, I had just enough experience and know-how to be dangerous, but only to myself. Similar looks of disbelief had met me in the predawn darkness as volunteers with bullhorns herded us into the starting pen. It was clear that I was different than the vast majority of the other competitors. The most plausible explanation was that my body type was so much different than most of theirs. Another explanation had to with the makeup of the field. What I mean is, the percentage of A-Types in a field is directly proportional to length of the event. Since this was the longest standard distance in triathlon, it should have come as no surprise that there were a high-percentage of A-Typers. And everybody knows that “A-Type” is just a polite way of saying a$$ hole. So I wrote off the looks as dismissive as coming from people who felt that someone like me was no threat. I also figured that the looks reflected some of their disbelief that someone like me would even think about competing with them. I was in this for me and had no intention of competing with them, so I wasn’t that worried about it. Still, the people huddled into that pen were the Ironman locals. This is their world. People that weigh their food. I was just a visitor, a tourist into this Ironman thing and should have taken note from the looks before hand. But then again, like every good tourist, I thought I was prepared. I’d read the guide book (Going Long by Gordon Byrne and Dirk Friel), I’d purchased the equipment, and I’d been to several other places that I thought were similar (I’d completed five half-distance races before the start). So, I figured I was a more of a local than a tourist. Yet at the start, I was as obvious a tourist as a blotchy-skinned white guy with plaid pants and a straw hat asking the clerk at the Superette in Kahuku what poi is and whether it was any good. Despite my misgivings, I jumped in. Literally. In fact, I pushed some of the more hesitant out of my way, muttering, “Let’s get this over with,” as I plunged into the cold water. I swam to the start line and found myself dead center in the middle of 2200 people. At 7:00 sharp, the starting gun went off. I’d heard horror stories of swim starts in open water. But by now, I’d done at least ten races in open water. Each time it got a little easier to settle in and swim normally. None of those experiences prepared me for this. It was like the push to the stage as a concert begins as I tried to pick my way past hundreds of people to a comfortable, open spot while hundreds of others tried to claw their way to the front. It didn’t get much better at any point during the swim. Throughout the swim, as I reached ahead to anchor and pull I’d occasionally get a handful of foot, or ankle, or swim cap. Or something else. Finally, the final buoy appeared and I turned for home. I felt good coming out of the water. A quick look at the clock confirmed it – I was only three minutes off what I thought was a ridiculously optimistic goal. Nobody seemed really amazed that I’d made it through the swim. Anybody can suffer for an hour and a half. My guide book had suggested a few things – first was that comfort was more important than aerodynamics unless I planned on going significantly faster than 19 mph, a road bike would be a great idea. Second was that I needed to ration my effort, taking it easy on the first third of the bike. So, I swallowed my pride as overweight women and wrinkly old men started to pass me with surprising frequency as we headed out into the wind. Surely I’d start to bring them back as the race wore on. Not so much. I usually do fine into the wind. But, I fall apart going uphill and into the wind. It was windy that day and half of the course was slightly uphill. It didn’t help that I brought the wrong bike. I’d brought my road bike and my position on that bike had me sitting up and taking the full force of the wind when I really should have been hiding from it in an aero position. I’d brought the road bike to be comfortable, to avoid back pain from riding for too long hunched over. But soon I found my lower back in agony from struggling against the wind in my upright position. The irony wasn’t lost on me. I wasn’t thrilled with my first lap time, but at that pace I would have only been ten minutes off my projected time. Near the end of the out portion of my second lap, the wind switched direction, leaving me to fight a head wind again on the way back in. The choice of bikes was now really starting to hurt. Maybe that’s why the vast majority of the ‘locals’ were on tri bikes. My confidence in the guide book was shaken. The next thing you’re going to tell me is that Rachel Ray actually can’t eat well on $40 a day. Or that Guy Fieri raves about anything, regardless of whether it’s actually any good or not. Seven hours later along with several stops to stretch my aching back and feet and the bike portion was finally over. I took my own sweet time in the changing tent for T2 before heading back out for the marathon. This was the part I had dreaded the most. I ran the first mile to the first aid station. After the first aid station, I fell into a motivational hole. After twenty minutes of walking and the first of several long negotiations with myself, I found a groove and ran for nearly 13 more miles except for walking up hills and through aid stations. And then it all came unraveled as the sun went down and it got dark. My motivation faded with the light. Shortly after sunset I found myself working with Alfredo from Miami – a fellow tourist doing his first Iron distance race. We walked/ran the last part of the second lap – I was optimistic we could keep each other motivated. I was wrong. Walking into finish the second lap, Alfredo stepped off the pavement to talk to his girlfriend. As we moved to the side, a pair heading to the finish bumped into me in their haste. “Get out of the way!” one of them yelled in disgust. Since I was standing on the very edge of a 20 ft wide path, I didn’t feel like there was much more they could expect me to do. This prompted an instinctive response: “Go to hell!” I shouted back. In most situations it’s not really smart to provoke the locals. But while Ironman locals are able to beat me handily at racing, they don’t tend to be physically intimidating. As we started the last lap, Alredo was done running and he told me so. Since we were on our last lap, there was no wondering if anyone else was on the same lap as us and the course got a lot less busy as we made our way around the last loop. A third of the way through the last lap, I was sick of being out there and wanted to run to just get it over with. But, I’d already picked my horse and so we gutted it out to the final finishing loop. There, we shook hands and I ran the final distance alone. Since the race, I’ve thought a lot about the race. While the race didn’t get the best of me because I finished, it did get the better of me mentally. At first, I had no intention of ever returning to the full Iron distance and was content to have gotten through it. After all, I’ll never look like the typical triathlete, much less like the typical Iron-distance triathlete. I’d like to think I’ll never fit their profile (A-Type, etc). So, at the end of the day, I’ll never be an Ironman local. I’ll always be a visitor to their world. But, as I sit here, I think of one of Anthony Bourdain’s mottos – be a traveler, not a tourist. I could be a traveler to Ironman world. I think I’ll start planning my next trip.

IMZ Redux

I finished. The swim went well in terms of time, but the washing machine did a number on my back. I was three minutes off my pool pace, which I was happy with considering the congestion and the fact that I swam past the buoy because of the morning glare. A head wind compounded the back issues, and I stopped three or four times to stretch my back and my aching feet. In fact, the wind switched direction as I neared the end of the out portion of the second lap, the wind turned. The run was a death march. I ran/hobbled, walked between half and 2/3 of the run - it's all kind of a blur. I know I walked the last 1/3 with someone I met on course - Alfredo from Miami. We initially started running together, then he gave up on running and I didn't have the mental energy left to achieve escape velocity, so we walked until just before the finish when one of his friends caught up. I'm not happy with my time. In fact, I'm pretty disappointed with my mental showing on the run. I could have and should have walked many of the portions of the run that I walked, but I was mentally hammered and so I didn't have it to push. A more complete version will follow. I need to sort out how I feel about the whole thing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


While my law school class wasn't particularly close as a class, I met a couple of my favorite people while in law school. Jim is one of those people. The first day of orientation we found ourselves in the same orientation group. One of the first things we did was tell the group why we decided to attend law school. After several of the standard BS answers - I want fight injustice, I want to provide a voice for the voiceless, etc., etc., it was Jim's turn. He responded frankly, "I'm a sociology major, so when I graduated I had to choose between folding shirts at the Gap and law school. So, here I am." We've been friends since. Jim also said one of the funniest things I heard in law school. We were sitting in a classroom during our second or third year, waiting for the professor. One our classmates came in and sat down on the other side of the room. It was clear that she'd recently had a hair cut. Her hair wasn't at all even, especially in front. I looked at her, puzzling over her new look when Jim leaned over and whispered, "It looks like somebody got a hold of the scissors," just as the professor was getting ready to start class. The combination of the chuckles and the effort to hold it back had tears running down my face for a good while. Good times.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Latest Perseveration

From time to time, I find myself getting hung up on insigificant details. Nowadays, I know that it's irrational. However, that doesn't stop me from getting hung up and fixating on the thing in question until I get it resolved. For example, once in high school I went with some friends on a one day shopping trip to a nearby town. On the way back I spilled grape juice on my favorite shirt. For some reason, I got it in my head that I needed to wash it immediately. I insisted to the point that we stopped halfway back and washed the shirt. This in spite of the fact that a girl I was sweet on was in the car and thought I was nuts. I know I've got issues - I'm trying to work through them. Last night I found myself hung up on my shoe situation for this weekend. Long ago, I chose my gear setup and had planned to stick with it. Then, last night I couldn't remember how long I've had the shoes I had planned to use. I set about to find out by tracking receipts. No luck. I decided I needed shoes whose cushioning I could not question. New shoes just like the ones I have now were the answer. I felt like I needed to get those shoes last night. So I called around and found that a spot in Sandy had some. We loaded up the kids and drove up there, arriving ten minutes before the closed. The thing is, I could have just as easily waited until today to pick them up. Yup, I'm kind of a psycho.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Kneaders Phenomenon

I hate Kneaders. Let's make that clear right up front. I wish them nothing but ill. And now I'll try to explain why. I've been to Kneader's a few times, and each time I swear I'm never going back. The last time I went was for the pancakes. I didn't want to go, but my brother and I had just finished doing a triathlon and he desperately wanted to try it. We showed up at 10:50 and ordered the pancakes. It was later that we found out that it ended at 11:00. When I stepped up for a reorder at 11:02, I was informed that they already made last call and wouldn't make more. The thing is, last call was apparently somebody in the back mentioning to a co-worker that it was almost 11:00. No offer to make it better, no alternatives. Not even a thanks for coming in. Just a smug comment that it ended at 11:00. I didn't even protest. If there's one thing I've learned from going to Kneader's is that they don't care whether you come back or not. And I'm not sure why. As far as dining experiences go, I think that you need to have at least two of the following things going for you: price, uniqueness of food, speed, service/atmosphere, and quality. There are times that Wendy's fits the bill - it's quick and it's cheap despite lacking in the rest of the categories. For me, Kneaders doesn't really meet any of these qualities. First off, it's expensive for a sandwich place. As far as uniqueness goes, let's face it. It's not that hard to find a place that will put turkey and avocado on expensive bread - Quizno's and Paradise Bakery come to mind. Often, the speed is a joke. Apparently the wannabe Abercrombie and Fitch models they have in back putting the stuff together haven't figure out how to efficiently put meat, cheese, veggies, and sauce between two pieces of bread. This despite the fact that Kneader's only offers pre-formulated combinations. Maybe its the combination of the frustration of having to do such a difficult task combined with the chore of having to simultaneously compete in a flexing contest while keeping their hair perfect that makes the added chore of actually providing a modicum of customer service impossible. I mean, that's a burden that no suburban teenager can be expected to bear. As a result, getting a sandwich is going to cost as much and take as long as if you actually had a meal prepared by someone with some culinary skill. The nice thing is, you get to eat it in a Thai Pan inspired, living-room styled dining area - plenty of busy, kitschy decorations. For some reason, the combination of overpriced bread, tacky decor, and awful service keeps the place packed. I guess their target demographic, whoever that is, feels that if its overpriced it must be quality; that if they're always slow that it must be worth the wait; and that if the service sucks that everything else must somehow make up for it. I don't get it. And I'm not going back.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Short, Rapid Fade

Saturday I did the Telos Turkey Tri. This the second I'd ever done and a race I plan on doing every year. I felt great. I was able to surge several times on the run and bike without having to slow way down to recover afterwards and I bested my previous best time on the course by over five minutes. While I was happy with my time, I know it's not going to last. Unfortunately, I know how this story plays out. Right now I tell myself that I'm going to maintain my base fitness after the race. The reality is that after the race, I'll absolutely no motivation to train. Holiday parties a plenty will pack the weight right back on and by the end of December, I'll be exactly where I was last year at the same time. It's frustrating that in three weeks I'll lose the fitness that took me six months to build.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Shop Tales

When I walked into Gourmet Bicycles all those years back and offered to work for free in exchange for training, I had no idea that the shop would end up being the source of so many friends. I also met some very strange people at the shop. Dug's post today reminded of one particular customer in particular. Alarm bells went off in my head the first time I saw this guy. He was relatively short, wore glasses, and had a neatly trimmed mustache - pretty much the perfect creepy computer geek look. The kind of guy you're afraid to make angry because doing so could result in you being buried in his back yard. Yeah, he was creepy. One of his favorite past times (apparently, from how long he spent doing it) was to come in and ask about every single bike in the Bianchi range. Or least ask about the bikes we didn't carry. And this after he'd read the brochure. I didn't mind a customer seeking to make an informed purchase, but this guy was just nutty. He'd ask about a particular model and ask how much. I'd tell him, and then he'd ask when we anticipated getting one. I'd tell him that we weren't going to be getting any different models in during the rest of the year, but we'd be happy to special order one for him. We'd just need a substantial deposit to get the process going. Without pausing, he'd move to the next bike in the line that we didn't stock and ask the same questions. Once he'd been through the line, he'd start over. Finally, I figured it was worth the risk of upsetting him by cutting him off to get some work done on the repair I needed to finish. Undeterred, he followed me back to the repair area to continue his questions and I'd answer them the same way. He came back a few weeks later, and a few weeks after that. This continued periodically even after Gourmet closed and Frank's opened. We had a routine. One day he broke the routine and showed up with an actual repair. He brought in a mountain bike wheel that needed truing. The tire and wheel were immaculately clean - not a speck of dirt or grease anywhere. Despite this, he carried the tire wearing a single brown gardening glove. We trued the wheel and he returned several hours before it was scheduled to be complete. Here's where my plan came into play - by now I knew he'd show up well before it was time, so I had the wheel in place behind the work bench. As he walked up to the door, I could see that he didn't have his glove on. So, I waited behind the bench with my hand on the wheel. When he asked me if the wheel was ready, I cheerfully told him it was and swung the wheel into his hand. Reactively, he grabbed the wheel. As soon as he realized what he had done, he dropped the wheel as if it were a hot rock and ran for the door muttering unintelligably. He returned after a few minutes with his glove and took the wheel with him. I'm pretty sure he's still washing his hand.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Conversation Deja Vu

Saturday morning Dan, Pat and I ventured up AF Canyon to try a little riding. It had rained the night before and the trail conditions were questionable. But, we were there and Dan and Pat decided to risk it. (I've led enough ill-fated rides to be dubbed Gilligan by Dan's wife - you know, the three-hour tour - so I left the decision to them.) Dan brought his single speed, which meant that Pat and I were left to ourselves as we made our way up the road toward Timpanooke Campground. As we pedalled along, Pat and I chatted about gear and such, which led Pat to discuss his latest gear purchase. "I'm in the doghouse with the wife," he started. "I bought some new gear without consulting her," he continued. "But I got a great deal!" he explained. "And it wasn't that much money, anyway." Clearly, Pat had met the necessary criteria for purchasing something without spousal consent. Unfortunately, his wife didn't see it that way. The trail was a disaster as motorcycles had chewed up the entire Ridge trail. It was clear after less than a mile that discretion was the better part of valor and so we turned down to Salamander Flats and from there to Timpanooke. The trail was in great shape where the motorcycles hadn't been, which was the route we took. As it turns out, the motorcycles didn't tear up the paved road at all - which we took the rest of the way down. When we got to the car, Dan took a look at his watch. I noted how it was a good thing we bailed when we did, otherwise he'd be in trouble with the wife. "I'm already in trouble with the wife," he answered. "I bought some stuff without consulting her," he continued. "I was at Circuit City and they had an awesome deal on speakers and a receiver," he explained. "And besides, it wasn't that much money anyway, so it wasn't a major purchase." Dan had also met the necessary criteria, but he went even further - "I'd waited for almost a year to get that stuff." Unfortunately, despite Dan going above and beyond, his wife didn't see it that way. I couldn't help but chuckle as Dan told almost exactly the same story that Pat told on the way up - and that I've told to others on any number of occasions. Good times.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Throwing Away the Crutches

Today, I'm going to hand in my parking pass (the crutch) and make the move to commuting by bus and bike. I've done it intermittently, but the parking pass was always my crutch that allowed me to go back to the car when I wanted. Recently, my work generously offered to pay for the entire bus pass. Although gas is cheaper, it's still not cheap and I finally committed. The real reason for the change is that Niterider came out with a sweet new light that you can recharge from a USB port. I figure commuting by bus is as good an excuse as any to pick up some new gear.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Cindy

I read Elden's post today over at I'd suggest reading it, but only if you have a door to your office or your in a place where other people won't freak out when they see you cry. It made me think about how much I appreciate my wife. Those of you who know us know that I married way up. My wife is the only one who could put up with my combination of pessimism and sarcasm. And don't forget her tolerance of my bike obsession. When I haven't been out to ride for a long time, she'll issue orders that I go for a ride and that I don't return until I'm happy. She also makes the best out of situations that would drive many to frustration if not outright resentment. One example that comes to mind happened last year over the holidays. I was burning the candle at both ends to catch up at work before year's end. It involved spending several days straight at the office. I'd work until dinner, take a break for an hour and return to the office to work until 2-3 in the morning. I'd sleep on the couch in my office, wake up at 7:00, and do it all again. The third night I was there was Friday night. I told her that I would be staying over again. She commented how she and the kids all missed me. Then she decided that they would head up to visit. They arrived around 9:00 p.m. with sleeping bags and videos in tow and spent the night on my floor as I continued to work. Instead of the home-office (where I get nothing done three days into a burner) she'd arranged for an office-home. Her enthusiasm had the kids excited for an adventure and they passed the time coloring and watching videos. That's just one example. She's always willing to help not just me, but anyone who needs it. She's watched dozens and dozens of kids for any number of people, has run errands for people, and has done it all with a cheerful disposition, turning what would otherwise be a tedious task into an adventure with the kids. She's a joy to be around and I'm grateful that she's my Cindy. Sorry if this has been a cheesy post, but Elden's post had me a little emotional.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Beautiful Weekend for a Ride

Friday night we had an early Halloween party with Lani and Patrick. The kids had a great time - the highlight was the kids getting their grooves on in an Abba video dance party.
Saturday was time to ride. Another brother was up this weekend to look at houses and for a long bike ride. It was surprisingly cold to start out - I dressed with a long sleeve jersey, tights, and booties. At first, I thought it'd be too much - until I started moving. The only times I was even really warm was when I was on steep climbs. For our ride, we headed from my house along the backroads of AF, PG and Orem to Racer's shop. From there we headed south around West Mountain into Payson. Then we headed back toward home via Provo and the Provo River trail so my brother could get out to look at houses. By the time we got back, it had warmed up considerably and I was overdressed. The ride to that point was 99 miles, so I changed my jersey, refilled the bottles, and headed back out.
As I rode from Cedar Hills toward Highland, I saw this.
I finished up the ride at 112 and ran for 10 minutes before we headed to the ward's chili cookoff. Our recipe won the vague title of "meatiest." That was a gimme as the recipe includes, various sauce components, bacon, beef sirloin chunks, and no beans.

I limited my chili consumption so I'd be able to eat with my brothers at the Sushi House, off the 5th East exit in American Fork. It was awesome. I'll definitely be going there again.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Game Plan

This is for my own benefit – I figured I’d post this now during training and before pre-race overconfidence sets in during my taper. It's also for Dug, Bob, and Brent. I've seen or heard each of them wonder about how long it would take to fake an Ironman. Well, I figure this would be a good guide for these fellas - in my trained state I'm only slightly less fit than those guys are just walking around. And I'm not just saying that, I've seen it in action over the years. So, here’s my plan/estimates. Swim: In a race simulation swim on the long course this week, I did the distance in 1:25. I’m hoping the race day adrenaline cancels out the extra time due to open water wandering. Swim the first 800 swimming every other stroke until I find the tower at ASU, then switch to bilateral breathing for the remainder. A bad day would be 1:40 Bike: The bike course is three loops. The out portion is flat for the first two thirds and then climbs gradually for the last third. Drink Lap 1: In an effort to recover from the swim, I plan on limiting my wattage to between 150-175 on the out section as I refuel to replace losses from the swim. On the ‘descent’, I’ll still hold the same wattage. At two hours, take the first dose of Vitamin I. Lap 2: Increase wattage to 200-220 watts. At the turn, drink an Ensure and let it settle on the in section. Lap 3: Maintain wattage at 200-220 watts. Continue drinking as scheduled. Take an extra gel and water at the turn. Estimate: 6:00-6:20. I’m sure I could do it faster, but don’t want to come undone on the first lap of the run. Run: The run is also three laps along the Tempe Town Lake. After the first lap, I plan on taking another Ensure and another dosage of vitamin I. This is the big variable – I could realistically end up anywhere between 5:15 with my one mile jog/one minute walk strategy or as much as 6:40 if I fall apart and have to do a lot more walking. An average combined transition time is around 15:00. I figure an extra 5:00 for changing clothes to be more comfortable. So - 1:25 + 6:00 + 5:15 + 0:20 = 13:00 or 1:40 + 6:20 + 6:40 + 20 = 15:00. Somewhere in the middle would be 14:00. Afterwards, I’m planning on a bacon double cheese burger, fries, and an Oreo shake. That is if I can talk some people into carrying my stuff to the car (and if I can hobble that distance).

The Crashing Continues

A friend of a friend was single a few years ago and was part of a group discussion of other single guys several years ago. As the discussion ended, he (I don't remember his name) gave one last bit of consolation: "Remember guys, no matter how hot a girl is there is somebody somewhere who is sick of her crap." And so it was with my Ibis. It was a beautiful bike - a creamy green with a fork to match. Shiny silver accessories including silver King Hubs and XTR components. Yet, as Mr. Flynn pointed out in the comments yesterday, my Ibis and I had a love/hate relationship - in that I loved to look at her and she loved to hurt me. As with any relationship, it wasn't entirely her fault. I was relatively new to single track. I was also riding with people whose descending abilities far outpaced my own. She was just too twitchy, too finicky for me. The summer of 1998 was a magical one. I worked at the shop and went to school. My buddy Red was also a student. We had just started exploring the trails up AF Canyon and the weather conditions were cooperating. It was a relative wet summer in that it often rained lightly in the evening and was cloudy during the day, making the trails tacky without being muddy. It also kept it from getting too hot while we rode. So, one day we parked at the summit trail head and started along the Ridge Trail. We climbed until we were tired and then turned to head back to the car. As we made our way along, the Pine Hollow cutoff trail/Timpanooke trail beckoned. Red wasn't the biggest fan of climbing, so it was only after I promised to climb back to get the car that he agreed to go down. We had no idea what the trail had to offer. Quickly, we were flowing through the curves and dips that those who've ridden this trail have come to be familiar with. The trail generally follows a smooth back and forth path as it winds along the hillside toward the road. I became too comfortable with the flow and went too hot into a corner. If you've ridden the trail, you may remember there used to be a smooth right-hander a few hundred yards from the road crossing toward Timpanooke Campground that opened up into what felt like should be a smooth left-hander. The only problem was a large hole where the line should have been so the trail went sharply left and then sharply right to get around the hole. As I came in hot, I realized there was no way I was going to make the corner, so I tried to bail off the back. The Ibis continued on into the hole - as did I. As the bike went down, my momentum carried me into the seatpost. The bike then planted on the far side of the hole. I was back on the bike - so to speak - as my crotch was crunched against the seatpost. As a result, I followed the bike over in an awkward nose-wheelie/endo type of endeavor. As I reached the far end of the hole, I was presented with two options - eat the stump with my mouth on the other side or lead with my head. I led with my head. Another broken helmet. This time though, I also had an aching shoulder as well as other aching bits. Oh, and another crash story. I never took that corner the same. Good times.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Top Crashes

Or at least some of the crashes that make for good stories. The first crash story will set the record straight. Mark Widmer is fond of telling everyone he takes up to American Fork Canyon about a spot he likes to refer to as "Fish Landing." Jared, Steph, Mark and I were riding down Tibble. Racer may have been there as well. In one particular spot about halfway down there used to be a good log drop that made for a great jump. It's gone now, but Mark's story still remains. As Mark tells it, he, Jared, and I came onto the drop but didn't take advantage of it the first time. So, we turned our bikes around, climbed back up, and gave it a second try. Mark went before me and after he landed he looked back just in time to see my front wheel stick. The result was that I pivoted relative to the ground such that my body was nearly plumb with the ground as impacted. My helmet now acted as a pivot point and as my body rotated so did the bike. My feet were still clipped so that as I pivoted, I came to a position mirroring "rubber-side down," with my head being in contact with the ground and my tires in the air. As I continued over, my pedals disengaged in time for the momentum to throw the bike several feet air. I completed the somersault, ending up on my back while sliding. Moments later my beautiful asparagus green Ibis Mojo hit a tree several feet away and several feet in the air. Before I could sit up, Mark was there holding my head and neck. He was positive I'd broken my neck and was immobilizing it to prevent any further damage. After several minutes he let me up and we continued down the hill. Besides a broken helmet, I was fine. No concussion, not even any real soreness to speak of. Most of what Mark tells is true. But he omits one crucial part. The largest factor in me crashing was that he went off the jump awkwardly and landed awkwardly. In his attempt to correct it, Mark blocked the best jumping and landing lines, forcing me into a doubly awkard position in landing in deep loamy dirt, which resulted in the crash. But, I guess Spot-Where-I-Got-Sideways-and-Made-Fish-Crash-Spectacularly doesn't have quite the same ring as "Fish Landing."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Company Trucks

The company truck and trailer combination is an interesting thing. As I understand it, the application of signage to truck and/or trailer allows the owner to write off some portion of the cost of the truck and/or trailer as a business expense. It also provides some sort of advertising. The problem is that some of the drivers of these company trucks fail to realize that, despite the addage, any publicity is actually not necessarily good publicity. Case in point, Steve's Handyman Service and Repair of American Fork. I was riding north on 900E/4800W (County Coordinates). There is a very large shoulder on that particular road and I was riding four or five feet to the right of the white line. The genius driving the truck swerved well beyond the white line towards me, coming uncomfortably close. And unnecessarily close. I don't really care whether he did it intentionally (which I suspect) or through gross negligence because I'm not going to be giving him a call the next time I need a handyman. Nor am I going to provide anything similar to a recommendation for his services to anyone else. I do have to thank him for the big signs on his trailer. Otherwise, he would have been just another driver that buzzed me instead of someone whose services I can actively avoid. Thanks, Steve.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Good, Long Day

Saturday was a great day. I got up early and rolled out with Dan and his brother, who was in town for the weekend. We rode what's become one of my favorite road rides - I ride from my house down to Locust Ave into Lindon, down to 1600 N. in Orem, around the backside of the Cascade Golf Course and to the Provo River trail. Very little traffic makes it one my favorites to do with Cindy as we can ride and talk as we go. The day started off warm at my house, but I was cold and windy until we turn up from Vivian Park up S. Fork. The ride up South Fork was awesome - the wind died and everything was bathed in the early morning golden sunlight. After we arrived home, I headed out alone for a tour of AF/Highland/Alpine. I was starting to get sick of the saddle and hadn't done the best job with nutrition, so I was a little bonky as well. In the middle of all of this, I suddenly had goose bumps and a real fear that I'd be riding through my neighborhood with diarrhea running down my legs. Desperation sat in as I began looking for some isolated spots in the middle of American Fork. And then, I spotted this little gem. I rode home, did the brick portion of my workout when Jared and Stephanie arrived. We loaded up the mountain bikes and made our way up American Fork Canyon. We started up the road and caught the Timpanooke Trail. From the Timpanooke Trail, we made our way along the Ridge Trail to Tibble Fork. As we pedaled along, I began to realize that a large number of my best ride stories over the years have involved Jared. I also thought of the great rides I've had with Dan, Jon, Racer, and Brent. One thing each of the rides had in common was a focus on the company and the experience more than the pace. That always put me at ease about my gravitational challenge. Hopefully, they remember the rides as good times as well. Anyway, this is what we saw as we climbed up Timpanooke: The descent didn't disappoint. I decided to stop midway down to check the integrity of my collarbone - I smashed it pretty good in June. I hit one of the few mud spots on the way down in a corner. I had set the line up to carve the high-side of the corner but instead slid past the line due to the mud and hit a quakie at nearly full speed. The feeling was very similar to being hit on a crackback block while playing football. With the integrity of the collarbone established, I was strangely more confident during the rest of the descent. By the time I made it to the Summer Homes/Tibble Fork turn, I was giggling involuntarily. After the ride, we gathered the little ones and headed to Red Lobster for the shrimp fest. I would have been disappointed in how little I ate in previous years, but this time I was glad I didn't give away the work of the entire day. The kids had a good time and it was a good ending to a great day.

Monday, October 13, 2008

More Weather

It turns out that I'm more prone to the weather than I thought. This weekend I started off with all the cold weather gear I needed. And then, it snowed and hailed on me and I came back in. I hate riding the trainer and riding the trainer for four hours was aweful. My legs were still achy from my long run Wednesday and I couldn't get myself motivated to push. As a result, more weight rested on the saddle and I quickly fell like my butt was going to fall off. Either I need better weather the next two weekends or I need to HTFU (from the black wrist bands the CSC guys wore last year). Fall perfection seems to have skipped me by. Maybe this next Saturday I can talk some people into putting in some easy time in the hills with me.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Unlike Brent, Steve O. and Bob, I'm not a swimmer. My priorities with the swim are simple: avoid freaking out and feeling like my lungs are going to burst in the first several hundred meters of the race and then maintain enough form and pace to avoid being DFL out of the water. My current plan involves swimming one increasingly longer monster set a week. Last night was my longest swim to date. I swam 2.5 miles, surpassing the 2.3 I swam two weeks ago. The 4000 meters went down something like this: the first 600 sucked as my arms were a little achy from the previous day's swim. It always takes me about this long for my arms to feel okay and my breathing to settle in. 600-1300 were okay. 1301-2600 sucked. Bad. Despite my best efforts, I felt sloppy and felt like I was reaching too much to breathe. From 2601 until the end, something magical happened as I suddenly felt smooth and was back to my early set pace. I just need to remember this when I think of quitting 1300 m at Arizona.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cheer for Your Team

I'm definitely a BYU fan. But not because I'm anti-U of U or anti-USU. In fact, the only time I really care whether the Utes or Aggies win or lose is when they play the Cougars. I've had any number of discussions with Fans and fans. Fans are people who follow their team all year, win or lose, through seasons good and bad. I've sat next to any number of Fans over the years and have always had a hand shake and good word for them at the end of the game. These people and I get along just fine because they're cheering for their team. fans are those who aren't so much cheering for their team as they are cheering against someone else. I've also sat by any number of these as well. Last year, at the Utah game I sat by some ute fans. As a precaution, I took ten minutes the day before the game to learn their fight song. Seriously - it only took ten minutes. It came in handy toward the end of the game when Utah scored to go ahead and a few of those fans began to revel in the Cougars impending loss (rather than in 'their' team's impending win). As the band fired up the song, I joined them with a rousing rendition of "Utah Man." The only problem was that I was singing the song alone while they clapped along mindlessly. 235 to go.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It Finally Happened

I've heard the stories for years, but as yet had been unaffected. And then, last night at the Orem Rec center I was there when it actually happened. A kid shat in the pool while I was there. Apparently it wasn't a one and done kind of accident either, but one in which the offending party made his/her way all around the shallow end of the pool leaving gifts for everyone. Fortunately, I was on my way to the pool when it was discovered and not in the water. Unfortunately, it screwed up my best laid plans. In other news, fall perfection is upon us. Last week DR and I road Tibble Fork. The rigid fork on my Serotta made my already tentative descending even more tentative. Despite the perfect weather and trail conditions, I never felt a groove on the descent. Hopefully, this weekend will be better. I've spent a lot of time pedalling, but the combination of mountain biking, road climbing and indoor training has kept my mileage somewhat low. I've now got 300 left to go.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Doctor, An Archictect, and an Attorney Got Together

And saved my bacon. Kamika and Angela were indispensible as well, but title was already getting a little long. The luau sputtered on despite the hitches Cindy has described above. With Cindy at the hospital with Cindy, Jon and Mark, the very acme of reliability, showed up 20 minutes sooner than I'd asked. And went straight to work. Miss Cherie held a traumatized Nono while Mark, Jon, Delena and the entire Dastrup clan started trekking stuff up to the park and initiated setup. I arrived and began barking at these, my best friend. Fortunately, they humored me. Ben continued to parcook the chicken and sausages at the house while Kuhia and I fired the grills. Soon, in a flurry Kuhia, Kamika, and I began frenzied finishing of the chicken, sausages and sirloin. In short order we have the chafing dishes full and were ready to start, a mere 30 minutes or so late. I introduced the food to the 30-40 people then gathered and it was on. We continued the frenzid meat production. After a few minutes, I looked back to see a line growing for the food. Soon, the line extended 30-40 yards and was growing. The three of us would periodically monitor the food quantities and throw more of that selection on the grill as needed. Finally, nearly two hours later, things started to slow. I hope everyone had a good time and had as much of whatever they preferred as they would have liked. Next year, I'm locking the basement and starting setup two hours before the event.

Monday, September 01, 2008


Saturday was an epic day. I had neatly planned to start riding at 7:00 before it got hot and return home at 10:00 to ride with Cindy until 12:00. I got to bed early and was ready to ride at 6:50. Except, Dan wasn't. He'd decided to come and brought Tom along. This is the same Tom that made the first trip on the Trail of Tears, which almost ended in disaster but for a timely encounter with a fellow named Beau Hunter. By the time we got rolling, it was nearly eight. No big deal, we'd ride until 10:30, then I'd pick up Cindy at 11:00 and we'd ride until 1:00. I felt steady as we made our way up AF Canyon. Not fast, not slow, just steady. I was able to hold my heart rate low and my legs weren't aching. As we neared the Tibble Fork turn off, I stood up to stretch my legs a little when my right crank went floppy. It felt like my pedal was broken, but it wasn't moving. A first look seemed like my BB shell had delaminated. I coasted home to find the source of the problem. It turns out I'd sheared the outer lip of the BB cup off, which allowed the bearings to move freely with the shaft. No good. Fortunately, Cindy and I had a great ride. I love easy road rides with her. The route was virtually traffic free and the conversation was nice. We made our way up the back roads to Provo Canyon and up the river trail. Good times. That still left me with an 1:40 short of my goal, so I did 50 minutes on the trainer. I'd planned on doing the rest of it after my nephew's fairwell feast, but ended up with pre-form toxin food poisoning. (It's nice having a brother who also happens to be one of my best friends as a doctor.) That laid me up pretty well for the rest of the weekend. The combination of climbing and the indoor riding limited my mileage - 380 remaining.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Renaming a Signature Dish

Over the years, I've developed a few signature dishes. One of the oldest dish I had named as Haole Killer chicken. I named it thus because white folk seem to choose this chicken to the exclusion of other proteins at the luau, especially the pork. I'll take pig and poi three or four times over chicken, but that's just me. Previously, the process included skinning chicken quarters, marinating them overnight, baking them for an hour, finishing them on the grill, then pouring a finishing sauce over the final product. This was fine for working in waves as I've done previously, but this year we're going to do it all in one go. So, over the last month I've worked out my sauces and technique so that chicken now includes three liquids: a poaching liquid, a grilling sauce, and a finishing sauce. The poaching liquid includes 1:2:3 ratio of flavoring liquids and the grilling and finishing sauces include three ingredients. So, three steps, three sauces, three ingredients. From hence forth, the sauce will now be referred to as 'Ekolu Chicken.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Luau Count

So, I'm trying to get a better idea of how many people will be showing up. Of course, a comment that something came up doesn't mean you shouldn't show up if your schedule clears up. Anyway, please post a comment if you plan on coming or not coming. Saturday's ride was hot. Brutally hot. I was happy to be able to get through it without getting dehydrated. 425 left to go.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Current Fave

I can't remember if I've posted on this before or not, but I'm going to post it anyway. Generally, I like George Clooney. I liked him in O' Brother, I liked him in the 'Oceans' series. I loved him in Michael Clayton. I've also been a fan of Elmore Leonard. I liked Jackie Brown. I loved Get Shorty (despite Travolta). I also like Steven Soderberg - Traffic is still one of my favorites, and as I've mentioned, I like the 'Oceans' series - even if they are formulaic. These three elements come together best for me in Out of Sight. Before I saw it, I was doubtful at best. It was a dollar movie and when were first married the dollar movies were our principle form of entertainment. We'd sit through virtually anything they showed there. And from this, Out of Sight has now emerged as one of my favorite films. Not so much that it will displace my current top two - Shawshank Redemption and Unforgiven, but it's definitely made it into my Top 5. And no, I haven't read the book. P.S. Today Brently and I headed out on an MTB ride after work. We climbed up Memory Grove, over the City Creek trail and went down Bobsled. I rode my 69er Serotta. Two things became clear: one is that I need to do more climbing and two is that I've got a phobia right now of falling and breaking my collarbone. As a conclusion, I don't think I'm ready to do real mountain biking yet. I need more fitness, more complete healing, and more confidence. Hopefully, I'll have the legs and the confidence back in time for fall perfection. I'm guessing at this, but I'm guestimating total mileage today at about 10 miles, taking me to 510 down with 490 to go.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Best Piece of Geek Gear Ever

I love gear. A lot. Most of the gear I buy doesn't really make that much of a difference, but it sure is fun to play with. Sometimes it even looks cool. Like my Zipp wheels. Man they look good. I don't know if they're any faster, but they at least look the part. One piece of geek gear my wife bought me as a birthday/anniversary gift is this: The swimman system of waterproof headphones and a waterproofed iPod shuffle. Swimming is easily the most mindless physical activity I do. It turns out watching that little black line slide by lap after lap isn't really that engaging. I try and focus on my stroke, but man it's boring. The swimman system rules. It works well, generates decent sound, and is durable. I've had this system since April and it's worked like a charm. It sure makes those long swim sessions easier, which is proving invaluable as I get ready for AZ in November.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Pre-Luau Ramp Up

It's about that time. The days are starting to get a little shorter. The evening temps are getting a little cooler. College football is on the horizon. And, it's time to start getting my game face on for the luau. This year, it will be at the Timpanogos Cove park, as you should already know. Instead of the multi-session affairs of the past, this year's luau is going to be one single-session shabangabang. So, instead of constantly cooking as the luau wears on, it all needs to be delivered at just about the same time. I've been working on layout, timing, and mechanical setup. The logistical challenge this year should be most of the fun - or most of the anguish. I've been picking up additional chafing dishes and high-volume outdoor cookers. It's time to start picking up the table settings, the charcoal, and the sauce bases. Finally, it'll be time to pick up the food and finish the final details. I've recruited Ben to man one of the grill stations. The two of us should be able to pound out the proteins in a couple of hours. I'm excited about this and hopefully you'll all be able to make it. Ride update - it's been a while since I've updated this - since the Vikingman, actually. So with about 245 since the Vikingman, I'm half way there.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hello, My Name is Fish and I'm an Addict

Jeff the interventionist on "Intervention" is found of saying that every addict needs to hit a bottom before they change. I may have hit my bottom on the Utah Half last week. You see, I theorize that participating in long distance events is an addiction. By long distance, I mean anything that takes more than five hours to do. My first long distance experiences came in 2006. My brother had talked me into doing the Honu Half Ironman in Hawai'i, even though my triathlon experience to that point included the American Fork Splash 'n Dash and the Turkey Tri. Those were both reverse order pool triathlons. To get warmed up for Hawai'i, we did the California 70.3 Oceanside race. And that was really my first hit. The novelty of the experience was invigorating, from the training, getting set-up through race day, and taking the line. It was all part of the rush that topped out with crossing the line. Running down the finishing chute was one of the most exhilirating things I've ever done. As I crossed the line, I was nearly overcome with emotion - pride that I'd done pushed through the pain and self-doubt and disbelief and relief that it was finally over. It was awesome. Ever since that, every long race I've done I've been chasing that high. And like with a drug addict, each long distance adventure seems to render a little less of a high at a higher cost. At every occasion, the question of what the hell I was thinking became a question I asked myself searchingly as I pushed through the pain rather than an ice-breaker comment made to fellow participants. Each time, the doubt and self-loathing increased. Yet each time, just like an a drug-addict, I found myself plotting my next score. At the Utah Half, there wasn't much of a rush in signing up. Even less in prepping. Doubt and self-loathing combined with heat exhaustion and dehydration led me to utter those words, "Never again Swanney. I'm off the skag." And I meant it. It sure felt like the bottom. Only time will tell if I'm on the road to recovery or whether that the Utah Half was just a bad trip.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

UtaHalf Race Report

Long posts can be tedious to read. This is going to be a long post, but one that I think may be worth reading. So, for your convenience, I've condensed it down a short version. The short version: -The organization was severly lacking. -It's sheer stupidity for me to do long races in the middle of the summer. -Triathletes can't seem to ride a straight line, but non-race racing roadies (I'm talking about the ULCER here) have are color-blind to yellow. While this may not look like the short version, I assure you it is. I was out there for a long time. Pre-Race Three hours of fitful sleep didn't quite refresh me like I hoped when 4:40 rolled around. I got up, went through my race-day routine and arrived at Utah Lake State Park nearly on schedule. The line of cars queued up at the entrance to the Utah Lake State Park was an ominous sign of things to come . You see, the organizers were collecting a parking fee and figured that instead of using the two lanes already there, they'd block off one lane. Nothing like sitting in line in your car at 5:30 a.m. Fortunately, the poor organization was spaced through-out the day. Upon arriving at the race venue, I thought I knew the swim was going to be one-lap, the bike course headed to west mountain and included four aid stations, and the run included part of the road around the airport and as well as the river trail. It turns out the organizers decided on a two lap course that morning. Confusion abounded as race time approached and no one really knew where we were going. I don't know how they measured the course initially, but even they admitted afterwards that it was too long. The problem for me is that I have a hard time judging distances in open water and so count on the race organizers to have the distances measured correctly. Seeing how long it took me to do the swim, I started the bike even more discouraged than normal. As I made my way through the bike leg, I was nearly hit by a car in a roundabout by the Provo Town Center. The driver was looking to see if anything was headed into the roundabout while failing to look to see if there was anything already in the roundabout. I shouted to get her attention, to which she honked and yelled. I responded with a full version of a TLA (three-letter acronym, courtesy of Jon). It's one of the TLA's that the youngsters are fond of texting. And it wasn't LOL or OMG. A slight headwind slowed me as I made my way toward Lake Shore. I've ridden that road enough times to know that given the time of day, it'd probably be a head-wind on the way back as well. I was making good time and at around mile 14 I started looking for the first aid station. Nothing. You see, instead of four aid stations on the bike, the organizers decided on one instead. Unfortunately for me, I set up the water bottles on my bike on a four aid station strategy as I count on organizers to have the course according to the information they publish on their website the week of the event. I know, foolish on my part. I noticed two things as I limped into the only aid station. One is that triathletes do a masterful job of drafting in races, but can't seem to stay off others' wheels in group rides. Tight groups of five or six in full aero tucks made their way past me on their way back. Maybe I'm just weird, but I wouldn't consider a time to be worth anything if I'd cheated to get it. The other thing I noticed is that century riders are color blind to yellow. The ULCER and the UtaHalf shared the same route, so excitable types in Rock Racing jerseys started coming the other direction as I headed back from the turn. Three or four of these guys in every group would be riding on the wrong side of the yellow line. This wouldn't have been a big deal if the roads were closed, but they weren't. As a result, several cars swinging wide of these guys pushed me into the gravel on my side of the road. On the way back, one of my two water bottles rattled out at a cattle guard and spilled onto the road. One water bottle wasn't enough as I made my way from Lakeshore with another head wind. As a result, when I started the run, I was already getting dehydrated. Good thing on the run there were eight aid stations and the shade to look forward to. The run did have some shade and there were eight aid stations. On most out and back legs of more than a mile, there's usually an aid station at the turn around where volunteers are making sure you run the whole leg. The problem was that a three mile stretch of the run headed through a festering swamp with very little shade. And no aid station. The pavement simply ended and a spray-painted u-turn sign on the pavement told you to turn around. With that, my dehydration was complete and I spent much of the rest of the day walking while trying to rehydrate. At some points, I'd get enough fluid in to start to well enough to run again, but those were short lived. It was a long day that may have cured me of the long course. I'll save that discussion for another post.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

PDX '02, Part I of N

Those who know me at all also know, or at least have heard me speak about, a few people. I met B the winter semester after I married Cindy through a mutual friend. In short order, we were fast friends. We studied together through undergrad as well as law school, and then worked together at the same law firm for three years. As such, B is one of my oldest friends that I didn't grow up with. Between our 2L and 3L years, both of our wives were pregnant. We were each relying on their respective insurance plans from their jobs. We each ended up getting jobs in the Portland area. So, we decided to leave the wives at home to take maintain insurance coverage while we headed to Oregon where we would share an apartment. B had a truck, so we rented a U-Haul for him to haul most of our stuff. I loaded 5 bikes on the top of my sweet 96 Subaru Loyale and headed for Oregon. Why so many bikes? I needed a road bike, a mountain bike, and a bike to commute in to downtown PDX. More on my commuter in a subsequent post. If you've been across eastern Oregon, you know it can be pretty bleak. We were making our way through the hills near Baker when the front end of my car suddenly resembled a guyser. The temperature gauge confirmed the obvious as the needle was almost instantly in the red. We pulled over to assess the situation. As I opened the hood, the remaining liquid in the radiator spilled out on the ground. Water drawn from a nearby stream similarly drained immediately out of the radiator. Upon closer inspection, we realized that the axle that supports one of the fans had broken loose and made its way through the radiator. No big deal, I'll call a tow truck and get it fixed in Baker. The problem was there was no cell service. What to do? We needed to get to PDX in time to move in the apartment so we could be to work the next day. So, we had a broken car, no cell coverage, and we needed to keep moving. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. I'm not so proud of our 'invention'. B had a tow rope but nothing to fix it to on the trailer. So, we threaded the tow rope through the door latch on the trailer and pinned it in place with a tent stake. We made our way toward Baker with the truck towing the trailer and the trailer towing me. We kept this makeshift train moving all the way to Pendleton. On the way to Pendleton, it all started to go wrong. You see, there's a massive descent on the way into town. Any number of warning signs tell you of the curvy, long, steep descent. The trailer provided the perfect draft. That was great on the flats, but it made for an interesting descent into Pendleton. B did his best to keep his speed up, but there were a lot of vehicles going slowly down the hill, which made for lots of breaking. The brakes heated up quickly and started to smoke. They continued to smoke until I wore through the pads and the calipers were pushing on the rotors. It turns out calipers don't work so well. Unfortunately, we weren't even close to the bottom. What to do? Only one option, the clutch. So, I got braked with the clutch as much as I could. Finally, we made it into Pendleton, my nerves frazzled. The final damage? The clutch drove the engine at high enough rpms to burn up the alternator. And not surprisingly, the clutch wasn't doing very well either. So, we packed everything as best we could into B's truck and the trailer, pulled the radio and plates from the car, and left it in a junky part of Pendleton, and made our way to Portland.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Illustrative Example of Why Triathletes Suck

This weekend we packed the little ones and all our geek gear and headed to Burley, Idaho for the Spudman. My wife is from Burley and this race has been an annual tradition since long before triathlon was cool. This year there were ten of us affiliated with the Christenson-brand racing. Prudently, they put the fat kids in the last wave so we're out of everyone's way. I entered the water an hour after the first wave and waited for the gun. Once the announcer gave the 30 seconds to go countdown, my adrenaline spiked and I was ready to go. Only to be pulled back. Seconds of waiting turned into a couple of minutes before they pulled us all to the side. More and more minutes passed and I finally climbed out onto the docks. During this time, the announcer's incomplete description of the situation downstream fed speculation and rumor. After a few more minutes or relief-society style gossiping the race director called us all together. A man had been seen by some others in his wave to yell for help and then had slipped under the water. It had been nearly 10 minutes and it was clear that the rescue effort had now switched to one of body recovery. As the recovery effort continued, the race director told us all to head to T1 as the swim was cancelled. As the crowd walked by the river near where the boats were doing the search, we were called back to the start line as the body had been recovered. Immediately, the race director started getting heat to restart the race. That wasn't a typo. People immediately began pressuring him to allow them to swim past the same spot where literally seconds earlier Donald Morehouse's body was pulled from the river. His now widow was actually waiting for him at T1 and broke down at the news that circulated that they found him and he didn't make it. I stood there in disbelief at these people, who made up about 1/3 to 1/2 of the crowd. They shouted, "It's not fair, we trained for this." "If you're going to cancel the swim, I want my money back." Seriously. My wife noted that the problem with triathletes is that their focus makes them selfish. That's why they can't go on a ride for fun or have fun on a ride that also doubles as training. Nothing is more important than the next race. Unfortunately, I saw the limits of how far that thought extends - for those sorry bastards, nothing is more important.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Funniest Thing I've Read So Far in July

The word smithing in this post is beautiful. For those of you who don't know him (I've only met him once), this is Dug's brother-in-law Sleepy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Official Luau Invitation

Time is rapidly approaching for the annual luau. Per tradition, I have scheduled it the same day as the first BYU football away game. Unfortunately, this year it happens to be the same day as LOTOJA. So, it'll be on September 6 at 5:00 at the park linked below. In particular Dug, Kenny, Fatty, Rick S., and Botched; if you're not doing LOTOJA, I'm hoping you'll be there. Hopefully, Ricky can make it as well. The park is 5 acres big and has two huge swingsets so it should be a good time for the entire family. From Racer's:
View Larger Map From SLC Bike:
View Larger Map

Monday, July 21, 2008

Spudman Predictions

Last Saturday I got up early to a light but steady headwind and made my way to Racer's house. He joined me and we continued south. The headwind fought us all the way to the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon. For a brief time after we made the turn, the wind pushed us back toward Springville. At Mapleton, we turned east and climbed up through the houses to the mouth of Hobble Creek, where we then headed toward home. Racer patiently hung with me as I struggled up the hills. As we rode through Springville, the wind switched and we had a light but steady headwind on the way home. Normally, I'd be complaining non-stop about a headwind both ways. This time, I was just glad to be riding outside and especially glad to be riding with a good friend. My job has me riding less than I'd like on my own. Even less of that is done outside and pitifully less of that is done with friends. The abscence of pain has convinced me that I'll be fine for the Spudman, so I'm going to do it. The swim will be interesting, as I've only been swimming very slowly to work primarily on range of motion. So, the swim will be slow. Good thing it's down river. If I can do it in less than 30 minutes, I'll be pleased. The bike is going to be slower than last year, since I have been working primarily on long rides rather than power. I'm guessing 1:10 to 1:15. The run will be ugly, probably in the 1:10 range as well, which will put me at around 2:55 hopefully. Normally, this would be enough to discourage me as well. This time, I'm just glad to be able to do it. Amazing what being cooped up for four weeks in the middle of summer will do to you. The Vikingman plus Saturdays ride puts me at 734 miles to go. Commuting by bike starts again tomorrow hopefully.

Be a Traveller, Not a Tourist

First of all, I need to publicly admit that Ben is almost always right. Like with the 29ers. And Pizzeria 712. And those apple cider ribs. And yet, I often find myself questioning some of his recommendations. One of Ben's recent recommendations was that I check out Anthony Bourdain's show "No Reservations" on the travel channel. To that point, my only exposure to Tony was his work on "Top Chef." As a judge on top chef, he was negative and a bit smug. So, I resisted Ben's recommendation. Then, one evening after I'd been through everything interesting on the DVR, I switched it to Tony's show. And it was great. I'm pretty confident that Tony would hate Kneader's as much as I do. I wouldn't imagine he'd have good things to say about Cafe Rio either. (Though it is a guilty pleasure for me). On the last episode Cindy and I watched last night Tony went to Namibia and spent some of his time with the Bushmen. The Bushmen were eating some pretty awful stuff. The worst of which was a pig anus that had only been squeezed out and then cooked. Tony choked it down and did his best to be gracious. In his narration, he noted that though it was the worst meal of his life, that in order to experience the truly great food, you've got to be willing to leave yourself open to getting some bad. So Ben, I'll try and do better at leaving myself open to your suggestions, though some of them may end up being bad.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The People's Committee for Pets

A friend of mine, we'll call him JG, has been deliberating about adding a new member to his family - a dog. After thoughtfully talking through the issues with his wife and kids, they decided they could commit to getting a family dog. I suggested he check with the operation formerly known as the Utah Humane Society. They're having a half-price sale on older, heavy, black dogs. Apparently not their best sellers. However, JG isn't one who can pass up a bargain. He's also a bus commuter. So, we packed it up a little early and I drove him down to the People's Committee for Pets. JG found a calm, friendly looking black lab mix named Atticus. After taking forty minutes to run and play with Atticus and see how he played with other dogs, JG figured Atticus would be a good fit. He filled out the paperwork and submitted it to the interrogation committee. The interrogation committee consisted entirely of a lovely young lady who had a healthy BMI between 10-12 and who's skin had a nice methamphetamine-spotted glow. She asked several preliminary questions about the application after settling on the issue of accomodations. You see, JG had make the mistake of proposing accomodations that included several kids to play with, a large yard with a radio fence, a full-time house maker to watch after him while the kids were out, and a dog bed in a garage. What was he thinking? He was given a flat denial in one of the smuggest tones I've ever heard. She explained that if the dog didn't have his own accomodations inside the house and was only outside to poop or to play, they simply would not allow him to go to that home. Seriously. In disbelief, we walked out. You see, the People's Committee has decided that unless a dog receives accomodations that are as good or better than most people have, they are perfectly willing to let the dog hang out in a small cage that reeks of shit until they euthanize him. Heaven forbid a dog sleep in a garage after spending a day playing with the kids or playing outside. What was he thinking?

Honestly, Doc, I Fell Down the Stairs

I'd like to say that I'm surprised about this. I really would. The strange thing is that since I didn't have any realistic expectations it would be any different, I'm not actually disappointed. I had a sneaky suspicion as I watched the Cobra leave the field for dead that he was probably doping. Ricco's nickname lends itself well to one of my favorite cliche morals: You knew what I was [a snake] when you picked me up.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Remember When . . .

Warning: This post isn't nostalgic in any light-hearted way. Last night some friends from home stopped by and I cooked them up some dry-aged ribeyes. Good times were had by all. These friends are a rare couple in that 1) they're both my friends and 2) they're both from Blanding. The wife in the family is the sister of a former friend. It is indeed a rare thing indeed that someone makes the move from A-Ring friend to former friend. Her telling of the former friend's (FF) side confirmed that I made a good move in letting him go. Basically, his side of the story is that the only thing he did to merit my disdain was the thing that broke the camel's back. As Dan and I drove in to work together today, we thought of an apt analogy that applies: a friendship as a bank account. With relationships, I'm not the kind of guy that worries about a balance. My basic approach is to try to contribute and avoid taking. In the end, my best friends are those who also contribute and our friendships just get better. FF had a decidedly different approach. He figured that because of our long history (we grew up together) that there was enough in the account that he couldn't ever possibly spend it. I believe he stated it loosely as "I could piss in his face and he'd not only take it, he'd be cool with it." And so rather than contribute, he did his best to make as many withdrawals as possible. He chose to make his withdrawals by doing his best to piss me off just for the sake of pissing me off. Like many who've had their accounts closed, he made his withdrawals to impress others. I'm not talking about the good natured ribbing, I'm talking about comments like: "You say you went for a run? You don't run. You jog. Running means going fast. You jog." Thanks for making sure that I know that I'm slow. That kind of crap went on non-stop for a long time. After a year and a half, his account total was quickly down to zero, but because of our history I gave him a line of credit. He blew through that as fast as he could. A year later and he'd reached the point that I simply had to cut him off. It wasn't that big of a thing that did it, more of a cumulative effect. It just wasn't worth the resources and time to maintain a relationship with someone who had explicitly stated that my only value to him was as someone to mock. Last night, FF's sister noted that FF figured it was his last withdrawal alone that got him cut off. That would be like a situation in which a guy tries to buy something only to have his card declined and then assumes that his last small purchase drained his entire account. Nope, it was a constant series of withdrawals over a period of time without making any contributions. That's how you run an account dry. Anyway, just a confirmation for me that if I hadn't closed the account, FF would have continued to make withdrawals without contributions.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's a Go!

I'm not the biggest proponent of the exclamation point as I think it's often overused. But I am giddy about the news from the doctor this morning - I've been cleared to return to the road bike and running. Four weeks of indoor training during the middle of the summer has been killing me. I plan to head out this weekend with some friends and pedal for a good, long time. I'm hoping for five hours of saddle time this weekend. Afterwards, I think a nice summer barbeque of salmon, watermelon, corn on the cob and other garden vegetables and fresh fruit should do the trick nicely.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

That Guy, Those Guys

I'd like to think I'm not that guy. You know the guy you do a favor for (at no benefit to you) and then he proceeds to berate you about how it turned out? That guy. I'm not him. But I am realizing that I just might be one of those guys that BSNYC likes to make fun of. No, not the fixie-crowd guys that ride around in their sister's Capri's. The other guys. The unnecessary/fancy bike crowd. One of those guys who buys cool stuff to make himself feel good about his lack of cycling prowess, as if cool equipment will make up for a dearth of fitness and talent. Let's see, I'm fat, I'm an attorney, I have several bikes for each occasion, including Serottas in the road, mountain, and 'cross variety. I don't ride that much. Yep. I'm one of those guys. Now that I've come to that realization, I've decided there's no point in fighting it. I've given in to the one last piece of magpie equipment that I don't have. Fatty had something to do with that with his beratement of Assos. I've realized that not wearing a pair of Assos shorts won't stop my from being one of those guys. So, I might as well try to see if those shorts will make riding any more comfortable, despite my fat ass. That's right, I've completely given up on pretending.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Damn Those French

The Godfather Part III sucked and we all know it. But, it did have one good line: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." For Michael, it was the mob. For me, it's french food and that damn Tour. Much like I can't say no to well-executed steak au-poivre or escargo, I find myself drawn back into the TdF. And I'm not sure why. Just days ago I was discussing with a co-worker the complete disregard the ASO has for their own rules and procedures. Fatty made some great points about how the race this year appeared to be slated for a bore-fest with no prologue, no time-bonuses, no TTT, and fewer mountain stages. Neither of these even address the absence of the defending champion. ASO are even smug about it, much like the narrator in Ratatouille. For these reasons I had planned on not watching any of it. In fact, I hadn't planned on watching the opening stage. Then I found myself at my parents house on a Saturday afternoon with nothing to do. The only thing on was the Tour. When I switched to the Tour, my brother even asked why since I'd voiced my plans to avoid it. I answered because there was nothing else on. And then I saw the sights and heard Paul and Phil. And the next day, a break stayed away and the jersey changed hands. And then . . . .. So now, I'm back watching the Tour. It's pulled me back in. Like the spouse of a prolific philanderer, I'm making myself believe the promises that this time it will be different. This time I can get behind Garmin-Chipotle and Team Columbia because of their anti-doping programs. Big corporate sponsors surely wouldn't get into a troubled sport unless they had assurances that the teams were doing what was necessary to ensure their riders were clean, right? Or at least doing everything they could to keep them out of a scandal. Yep, this time it's going to be different.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My Security Blanket

One thing that we Fisher boys all like is redundancy. I'm not sure we all generally operate under the standard that if one is good, a second would be better just in case. I realized this last night as I was packing for my next race. Two sets of goggles? Check. Two wetsuits, just in case? Check. Two aero helmets? Which reminds me, I think Dan still has the third one. Or is it the fourth. I have to force myself to take my tri bike only, and satisfy myself that taking a spare set of wheels is enough. What's worse, is we usually don't know when to stop. Or maybe it's a good excuse to get more stuff, especially bikes. I mean, if two is backup, a third could certainly come in handy, just in case one of your buddies shows up. Right? After all, you wouldn't want him riding your B bike. What would happen if by some fluke both bikes were rendered inoperable? What would you ride while the bike was in the shop, especially if you had to order the parts? That's why I'm trying to stick to a policy of having two and preferrably three bikes for each occasion. My wife has given up trying to understand why.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Bessy's New Dress

I got out with Nails and Shae on Saturday afternoon to ride S. Fork. The conditions were perfect. It was warm but not hot, the trail wasn't over crowded, and the dust was at a minimum. The most noticeable thing about Bessy as a 69er is that the bike climbs like a demon. One thing I was glad not to notice was anything about the handling. She handled nicely climbing and descending. I did notice the smaller rear wheel in the loose stuff. It came unhooked a little easier than my 29er, or I'd like to think it did. I also realized that I like a suspension fork. All in all, a nice bike that'll definitely make it's way back into the rotation. It was about 4 miles, leaving me with 854.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Focus on the Positive

I'm now resigned to my fate at the Vikingman. It's time to focus on the positive. The positive is that the day after the Vikingman I'll be touching down to Honolulu. There are several things I'm looking forward to that are definitely positive. These include: The ocean. You can't keep me out of it when it's in sight. Not even the frigid temperatures of the Pacific in Oregon can dissuade me. I'm looking forward to the smell of it. Swimming in it. Just bobbing in it a few hundred yards off shore. Seafood. Big Eye Tuna - sashimi style, poke, seared. Hamachi - sashimi style. Garlic truck shrimp. Grilled Mahi. More poke. Fresh fruit. Pineapples. Mangos. Apple bananas. Strawberry guava. Papaya. Whatever else local, fresh, and tasty that I can get my hands on. Plate lunch. I love the local dives. Katsu, lau lau, poi, more poke, more garlic shrimp, teri chicken, Kalbi short ribs, Rice, mac salad. Pearl Harbor. I'm a huge WWII history buff. My grandpa was working at the harbor when it was bombed. I'm also a big baby at places like that. I hope I can keep it together. The PCC. I can't wait to see my kids react to the whole experience. Visiting my Dad's old stomping grounds with my Dad. This is kind of the point of this trip. His original home. The house now. Grandparents' graves. Meeting an uncle I've never met. Getting it all on tape. Hanging with Racer. It's always fun to hang with Racer when the stress of running the shop is off. Just be sure he has a map as soon as he lands, and it'll be okay. This trip has really snuck up on me. And as you can tell, there are a lot of things about the trip that are exciting to me.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Stu was fond of saying, "Don't sweat the small [stuff]. And then you'll realize it's all just small [stuff]" But I can't help myself. Unfortunately, I've seen small details derail someone's race.

I know I'm not fast, so winning isn't really the point. I just want to keep Devin within a reasonable amount of time. More than anything, I want to keep my suffering limited to the type of suffering that always comes with endurance events. So I'm sweating the details of how to avoid the other types of suffering.

First and foremost is the dreaded bonk. I've never trained with the stuff they have on course, so I'm trying something new for me: I'm bringing my own. The plan is Carbo Rocket concentrate in a bottle on the frame. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I bought what has to be the single geekest piece of equipment available:
Man, that thing is ugly. What's worse, I actually put that thing on my bike.
Next, my aerobar setup has got me in a lather. I can't seem to get them to stick and they always twist. They did this to me in Hawaii and I ended up torquing one of them so tightly it collapsed. So, I've got a new pair of extensions coming as well as a torque wrench and some assembly compound. Here's to hoping.
Sunscreen. Last year in Hawaii I sweated off my sunscreen and got a sunchar so bad that the marks are still on my arms. The problem with sunscreen is that once I sweat it off, it's next to impossible to get it back into my skin. I'm hoping a quick towel off after the bike and spray sunscreen will keep the blisters away this year.
The rest of the stuff doesn't have me as worried, which means it's inevitably going to be one of those things that goes wrong. Hey, I can't just admit that I'm fat and slow, now can I? It's got to be something else that made me have a crappy day, right?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I've always been a magpie. I love shiny new part and spend a lot of time, effort, and money accumulating them. That's not what I'm referring to as quirky. I'm talking about how I tend to go most of the way and then fall short on the final details. For example, I just put a shiny new SRAM rear derailleur on my TT bike, then balked at putting a high end SRAM chain on the bike, opting instead for a 105 chain. I've got carbon aerobar extensions, but have been too cheap to buy a good torque wrench. I've had no problem buying Zipp wheels, but then quibble over $20-30 difference in tubular tires. I'm working on it, but I don't see progress coming any time soon. Last Saturday I put in 62, leaving me with 858 to go.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Current Top 5 Comedy Shows

I'll switch between drama/action and comedy as my media of choice from time to time. Right now I'm more into the funny stuff. Off the top of my head, these are the five or so I've found the funniest: 1. The Office, "Goodbye, Toby." Memorable lines, as best I can remember: "Of all the idiots, in all the idiot villages, in all the idiot worlds, you stand alone my friend." "You have 75 cents, so you can have anything on the top row." "Suck on this." 2. Ze Frank, May 19, 2006. Memorable lines: "I love your wife's cooking. Would you mind sending over the recipe? I'd like to do the same thing only with bigger portions and more cheese." "Mom . . . Dad . . . I'm dating me a monkey." 3. The Chappelle's Show: True Hollywood Stories featuring Rick James. Memorable line: "Come on have some sense. I didn't just do things to do them. Yeah, I remember stomping my boots on Eddy's couch." 4. The Big Lebowski. It's a love it or hate it kind of a film. I happen to love it. I love the scene where The Dude tries to flick his joint out of the window to have it bounce back in and the final scene where The Dude is covered with ashes. Brilliant. 5. Dug's Blog. No disrespect is intended to my other friends' blogs. Each is special to me in their own way. But Dug's posts on driving and bathroom etiquette strike a chord with me and my commuting/office bound existence. Thanks, Dug.