Monday, April 28, 2008

RAWROD Reminiscence

These will widely be inside-jokes, so that's why I'm posting them separately. Raman at Acorn - I need to go back there to buy those wings so his daughter can go to college and Dan and Jon need to support me on this. Quick release devices are awesome. Horse Thief campground is not actually anywhere near Horse Thief Canyon and the road past Horse Thief Campground actually is the road to nowhere. Vice grips and a spatula make cooking dutch oven potatoes on a camp fire a lot easier than a burning rag and a cutting board. Sleeping on a cot under the stars is way better than sleeping in the car. Again. Great harvest bread with plenty of peanut butter and strawberry jam is almost divine for lunch during an epic. I can't believe how steep Murphy's and Hardscrabble are from this side. I thought they were bad from the other direction, but it's silly how steep they are from this side. Or else I was just cooked by the time I got to them, one of the two. I've got to remember the Spam Musubi next time. Brad, I promise the asado will make up for it. I get unreasonably grumpy when I'm dehydrated. The good news is that I know for a fact that I can come back from it. The Crank Brothers Acids were definitely my best bike equipment purchase ever for epic rides. I'm considering the Acids with carbon for future rides. Brad Keyes is in fact Zeus the Greek god transported to our day. He has chosen to manifest his divinity in the form of unbelievable riding abilities. Zeus's All Day is the real deal. It stayed tasty all day. I was right - the conversation in the car with Jon, Delena and Dan were the best part of the ride. Fatty always claims that his super power is to put down unreal amounts of food after an epic ride. I don't doubt that, but I also am sure that Nails should also be in the Justice League for his ability to eat pizza post ride. It was amazing.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

RAWROD Reality

The entire trip can be summed up with "Everything took longer than I thought it would." Dan brought his already loaded car to my house in the morning and we journied into work. I had some things I needed to get done, and apparently so did he. We headed back promptly at 1:00 p.m. and things were looking good. I'd prepared most of the bike stuff already and had sent my lovely wife to the store to pick up the soft goods I'd need for the trip. I decided to prep the potatoes I was planning on cooking that evening and then we loaded the car. Add in a stop to pick up things at Racer's, picking up Jon and Delena, and a final stop at the gas station, and we were already getting behind. Then we took a wrong turn to the campsite. The constant wandering on the wrong road was too much for Delena, who became horribly carsick. When we rolled in, everyone had eaten and were headed to sleep. I made the potatoes anyway, and apart from Dan and I having a plate each before bed, the potatoes went uneaten. The next morning we got up early and managed to head out a little earlier than the main group. Hours 0-2 went fairly well. Mineral Bottom road between Horse Thief and the highway is long and straight. It also is a pretty constant climb tjhat ended up feeling like the road to nowhere. I was concerned that my legs were feeling tight the entire time we were on the road. Once we turned onto the highway, we climbed for a little bit and then the road turned down hill. The speed and some time actually spinning loosened up my legs and I started to feel pretty good. The descent down Shafer's was loose and nasty. Sandy rockfields are my least favorite type of terrain as I feel that at any second I'm likely to crash and break bones. After we picked our way down, we trudged on toward Mussleman. My primary goal for the ride was to have enough in the tank to climb out of Horse Thief, so I didn't push it on any of the climbs before lunch, finding the granny more than once. Hours 2-3.5 went pretty well, and Dan looked strong. Hours 3.5-5.5 were rough as we spent most of the time pedalling slightly uphill again, but this time the wind was blowing hard. The trail meanders, so its effects varied. The one thing it did do was cool me down, so I didn't drink as much as I should have. After lunch, we began the dreaded cycle of being near the rear. By the time we arrived, everyone else was rested and ready to leave. We could either rest and get further back, or move on without rest. We picked the middle line - rest for long enough to still get left, but not long enough to recover. After the walk of shame up Murphy's, my dehydration showed it's ugly face. At mile 65, I got really grumpy and my heart rate soared. I was ready to quit and climb in the truck. The good news was that I had underestimated my CFC and actually felt good until 6:15. The bad news was that suddenly I was completely out of mental reserves at the precise moment I needed to tap them. I realized I hadn't peed since we started and guessed that I was probably getting dehydrated. I slowed down and drank a liter and half or so of plain water. I continued cruising at an easy pace until mile 70, at which point I rebounded and felt good again. Unfortunately, this is were it all fell apart for Dan. He could barely pedal. The support vehicles caught us again, and Dan figured if I was going to soldier on, so would he. Which left us 15 miles to the next stop with absolutely no chance for aid. Dan continued to deteriorate until he could no longer swallow the peels from the apple he was trying to eat. I started to get really worried, but finally we limped into the last prearranged stop at mile 87. Chad and Margaret were rolling out as we rolled in. We refilled our bottles in earnest and made our way on. As we began the descent, Dan told me he had had enough and that I should try and bridge my way up to Chad and Margaret. Not wanting to try to finish alone, I pushed on and caught Margaret, who was by then riding alone. We pushed on together. My iPod and GPS both died before the bottom of the Horse Thief, which sucked a lot. We rode the last first 1/3 of the climb until Margaret's back told it was time to walk. We walked until the last switchback where Brad, Chad, DanN, Jon, and Delena were cheering us on. Or mocking us derisively. It felt like both at that point. I climbed back on to finish the last little stretch and Jon hooked me up with a Cock and Bull Ginger Beer hand-up for the finish. We packed up and headed into town for some pizza. Afterwards, Jon drove back as I drifted in and out of sleep. I finally arrived home at 2:45 a.m. and promptly collapsed. I woke up and had some breakfast, then slept until 1:00 p.m. The home teachers showed up and I tried to keep myself awake. After they left, I slept until 6:30, missing our rendevous with Jon and Dan to sort out our stuff. Sorry guys. I'm sore today. My legs hurt worse than I thought they would while my hands, feet, and back all hurt less than I thought they would. I sure hope we go the other way next time, as I suffered less going the other way despite having less fitness. My goal for next year is to get the same training time in and to not get dehydrated and see what that does for me. I also am hoping for no wind.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

RAWROD Prediction '08

So it's about that time. It's time to get my brain wrapped around an entire day of suffering. Aaron once had a nice, tongue-in-cheek way of describing it: "We're going to get up really early and ride until dinner. No big deal, right?" Except for me, it kind of is. The first time I rode it, my fitness and weight were both sliding. Even then, I was only slighter heavier than my low point and reasonably fit. If I'd estimated my comfortable fitness capacity (CFC), I would have put it at about 6 hours. My CFC is how long I can go at a respectable cruising speed without having to dig into my mental reserves to overcome what my body doesn't want to do. I'd done a HIM a month earlier so was confident I had six hours. That's if everything had gone right. However, Mahana had decided to come along at the last minute. He didn't want to ride his mountain bike, so he took mine. Which left me on a cross bike. It was great for the first half, but the higher air pressure and not being able to brake from anywhere but the drops made for a long day. My back and butt were killing me. I swore I'd never do it again. The next year (last year) Aaron talked me into it. I was 10-15 lbs. heavier and my fitness had completely stagnated. In fact, my long ride was in the three hour range and that was on the road. I would have estimated my CFC to be in the four hour range. But this year, I brought my mountain bike. The first four hours went as planned - comfortable. The next four were rough. The last two were a nightmare. But it was better than the previous year and I was excited to go again. So, here we are. I'm about 5 pounds lighter than I was last year. I've got a new fork and my bike is running well. I've got some long, comfortable rides in with my nephew and I know what to expect. The direction we're riding also helps. I'm estimating my CFC at around five hours, which is actually pretty exciting. You'd think that one hour less of suffering wouldn't be that significant. For me, one hour is huge. I sure hope my estimate is close. Jonboy and Delena are joining Dan and I for the ride down. To tell you the truth, I'm more excited about hanging out with those guys both before and after the ride than I am the actual ride. Dan commented, most of it sure sounds like a good time, except for that part in the middle. As for food, I plan on Brad's All-Day (CarboRocket) for fluid and Spam Musubi for snacks. Lunch will include PB+J with milk as well as some chips and some chicken and stars. The last stop will include plenty of NSAIDs and some cupcakes to be shared with Dug.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I am not a dog guy. This is despite the fact that I've got the best dog in the world, Jesse. Jesse's a Golden Lab that doesn't bark except to be let back in the house and is more likely to lick you to death than bite you. He doesn't even respond when Blossom, the over-eager juvenile orange tabby we have constantly nips at his ears, feet, and tail. This is the only kind of dog I could have. You see, dogs don't like me. Most dogs immediately give me the stink eye with many adding a growl for good measure. What's more, I've been attacked by a wide variety of dogs. Some people say dogs can smell fear, that they smell the fear in me, and that's what inspires their aggressive behavior. The thing is, I'm not really afraid of dogs. Don't get me wrong, an amped up dog makes me nervous. But not nervous enough to run away. I've only twice ever run from a charging dog. The first time I was six or seven and my lovely neighbor 'sicked' his pit bull on me from across the street. I set a new personal best time in climbing from the bottom of the catalpa tree in the front yard to the absolute highest branch in that tree that could hold my weight. As I got older, for some reason I just started standing my ground. The first time I remembered doing so was several years later when the same neighbor had Chows instead of pit bulls. Those Chows were mean. One jumped the fence and ran across the street to attack me as I walked back from retrieving the mail. I turned to face him and kicked his jaw as he turned his head to bite me. I was almost shocked I'd done so. So was he. We stood there facing each other for a few seconds in confusion until he growled and went home. Later, I'd be attacked by other dogs, including cougar hounds and large mutts. Every time one of those dogs would charge, I'd boil with rage afterwards. One particular instance involved a cougar hound that attack me on the street at his owner's command. After I fended off the attack, the owner expressed his frustration at me hurting his dog, which made me even angrier. The second time I ran was on my mission. When I was a greeny, a mangy dog chased me on my bicycle and I simply kept pedalling instead of kicking the dog - you know, for appearances' sake. That little bastard bit me, in full view of his owner. I jumped off my bike and he came in for a second go, this time getting my pants. I waited in vain for the owner to get involved, but instead he looked on in apathy. My companion intervened and kicked the dog to get him to leave. That ended the owner's apathy as he yelled at my companion for kicking the dog. While there, I was also attacked by a Collie (I hate Lassie now, by the way), several mutts of all sizes from Chihuahua size to Saint Bernard size, and a German Shepherd. Chad inspired me to write this with his post about being bitten. I'm amazed by several parts of his story. I'm amazed that he apparently didn't lose his temper at any point with either the owners or the dog. But then again, I've always known Chad to be the acme of self-control. Good work, man. Hopefully these setbacks won't keep you away from RAWROD. As a side note, I think you should let me punch you in the right arm as hard as I can. You're completely out of balance and a sore right arm should bring everything into back into alignment.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Reality Check

I came to some realizations last week when Dan, my nephew and I had headed out on a long ride in anticipation of RAWROD. And since I'm long-winded, it'll come at the end. Last Saturday, despite the windy, grey weather, Dan showed up and we rolled out. I switched my Hillary over to mountain duty. This included moving the suspension fork and front brake from the Rig and putting on some Paul Thumbies/Bar End shifters. We rode down the canal to 1600 N. in Orem and then turned and headed east behind the Orem Cemetery. On the way, the zipper on my saddle bag broke so I had to stuff everything into my camelback. We climbed until we reach the top of Lower Frank from the backside. It was there that my front brake completely lost power. Completely. I had two choices - walk down or ride as carefully as possible with one brake. So I rode it. It was nerve racking and slow. We got to the bottom and then headed for the Provo section of the shoreline to meet my niece. She showed up with two flat tires, which is all the delay Dan needed to head home to take his daughter shopping. The small hand pump was virtually useless at getting air into her Schraeder-valve tubes. The CO2 I brought was completely useless. So my nephew and I got our forearm workouts in pumping up her tires with the hand-pump. After a while, we called it good enough and moved on. After we got rolling, I picked up a whole patch of thorns with my front tire. Surprisingly enough it held air until we got down. The steep descents were scarier than I remembered, especially without a front brake. Luckily, there were always run outs below the steep stuff so I could just roll the steep stuff and stop at the top of the other side. Once we got down, I stopped by Dan's house to borrow his floor pump to change my tube. I pulled out the thorn-riddled tube and put in a fresh one. Once the tire seated on the rim, I started pumping to fill up the tube. That's when the fresh tube gave up. Apparently it had a bad seam. Alika had an extra one in his pack, so I put it in and this time it held. Alika and I started the ride home into a pretty stiff head wind. By the time we got back, we were both completely done. Most days, this combination of things would have driven me over the edge and I would have been unbearable. So what was different? For one, I was riding on dirt instead of pavement most of the time. I realized I like to ride my mountain bike. Second, Dan and Alika are perfect riding company. Neither were any hurry to get there and were perfectly content to hang out and chat while we cruised along. Third, BK's CarboRocket and Spam musubi are great for long rides. I tolerate both well and both tasted great after a couple of hours in the saddle. Fourth, I would definitely prefer a slightly heavier bike with simple, reliable components. I've decided to make the move to cable actuated discs and thumbies on Maggie as well. Hillary performed like a champ for Dan the entire time. I actually prefer the modulation of cable actuated discs and am now comfortable enough with myself to switch to those, even if they aren't as cool or as light. Perhaps the most important thing I realized is that I should start moving my Saturday morning rides to Saturday afternoon as soon as possible. This has several advantages. For one, I get to sleep in and catch up a little on my sleep deficit from the week. Second, it gives Cindy time to train since she's more of a morning person. And most important, it gives me some really good time with just the kids.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

That Big Ol' Belt Buckle

I am referring to the big belt buckle you get when you finish the LT100 in under nine hours. Not me, obviously. After all, LT100 is code for "Something Fish Should Never Do . . . . Ever." Who am I to argue with that? I know my role in these occasions, and that role is support. Part of what I'm able to bring to this year's race is a geary rig for Jon to ride (without him having to build his own). This is where my obsession begins. I've got two on offer. The first is Maggy, my trusty IF dedicated mountain bike and the second is Hillary, my do it all cross/mountain bike. Each have their merits. Maggy was designed for a 100mm fork and has an XTR Hydraulic system with Rapid Rise shifting (high-normal). Hydraulic and rapid rise are the down side. Jon also wants a rigid fork. I picked up an 80mm suspension corrected Switchblade. 80mm suspension corrected when it was designed for 100mm may also be a down side. A big upside is that this bike has a top tube that is longer than Hillary's, and more in line with what I think Jon normally runs. Hillary is now setup with an 80mm Reba and was designed to be run as such. Hillary also has disc brakes, but they're cable actuated. I also have her set up with Paul Thumbies and traditional (high-normal) derailleurs. On the down side, her top tube is shorter. I sat on her last night with a 100mm stem and the cockpit felt too short. I've ordered a 120mm Salsa Stem to help alleviate the shortness and I hope that 120mm is the right balance of length without being too long. So, which should Jon ride on his quest for the big'un?