Sunday, June 21, 2009

Accidental Peak Bagging

I have lived in Davis County for two years now and have yet to find a trail that I would rank higher than a 5 out of 10. While working at the Bike Peddler in Orem the manager of the store, Aaron Luck, left and took a job in an Ogden shop called Ken’s Shooters Supply, apparently they sold bikes on the side. Aaron used to always tell us about the great riding up here, thankfully I never took him up on the invitation.
I remember Aaron talking about the Skyline trail up to Ben Lomond Peak, Here is what Utah Mountain Biking has to say about the trail “Monster narrow-singletrack climb of 3000 vertical feet over 6.1 miles. May be done as out-and-back, or as a shuttled ride by adding the Northern Skyline (12.6 miles), or as a loop ride by adding another 7 mile of paved road. For strong skilled riders only. Season July through mid-October.”
This sounded fun. I can honestly say I enjoy a good technical climb as much as the descent. I printed the info sheet and headed out. When they wrote the description they failed to mention that the 6.1 mile climb has zero down hill rest zones, ZERO. Since my front derailleur broke last month and I took it off I have been manually shifting with my index finger, which means that I have to stop to shift. I rode the first 5.8 miles in my middle ring because it was too much bother to stop and shift. Trust me if I were able to shift with a click of the finger I would have. I guess this is kind of what it is like to ride a single speed which I just don’t get. I like gears.
This trail peaks out at a saddle 1.5 miles below Ben Lomond Peak, my original plan was to descend the back side (Northern Skyline) then climb back up over the saddle and back down to my car. The Ben Lomond trail climbs the South facing side of the mountain and toward the top I ran into a fair amount of snow. The Northern Skyline trail descends you guessed it, the Northern facing slope. Due to snow this was not an option. At the saddle there is a sign that says that Ben Lomond peak was 1.5 miles off of a side trail. I headed for the peak.
By this time I was feeling a little gassy from the Taco Bell that I had on the way to the trail head. I had an intense focus on the trail within a 10 foot radius when I cut one loose. It was something to be proud of. Just at that moment a pretty girl who happened to be standing just outside of my circle of awareness startled me by jokingly saying “Hey wanna give me a ride to the bottom?” The only think I could think of to say was “Sure hop on.” as I drug the trail of stench right past her. She had to have been impressed. Someday I will have to tell a couple of other stories but let’s just say I have an extraordinary gift for flatulating in front of hot girls. At about 9000’ I got passed by a father and son riding motocross bikes, shortly after that the trail got too steep for the bikes I ditched my mountain bike about 100 yards up the trail from where the motocross bikes stopped and I could see the father and son postholing up a snowfield on the mountain above me. I was thankful to them for kicking out some steps for me. At the top of the snow field I ran into this guy, I hear they are mean so I was glad he wasn't close.
I summited shortly after the father and son at an elevation 9712'. For proof I took their picture and they took mine. Nice helmet hair.

After this long climb I was looking forward to the downhill which was fair at best. Very narrow trail lots of overgrowth with long sections of baseball sized gravel that made my fingers hurt. I guess the best thing about this trail is the views, it was beautiful up there. I will give this trail a 5.

I guess I am just spoiled by the Utah County trail systems. I think I'll take the day off work on Wednesday and visit my old friend the Ridge Trail, it's been a couple of years since we played together. I'll be sure to pack my bigwheel for the weekly ritual afterwards. Should be a perfect day.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Weekly Ritual

Just finished tuning the Big Wheel, in preparation for tomorrow night. It will probably be a little smaller group since Randy is unable to attend. I am planning on going along with my brother who just bought a Mod a couple weeks ago and my friend Clint. I wouldn't be surprised to see a few of the race car drivers there as well.
I know there are a few guys that have been wanting to give this a try so tomorrow night if you show up at the base of Squaw Peak between 8-11pm I will let you borrow my Mod for a run. Just be sure to bring a light, helmet and any other body armor you feel necessary. Just kidding it is not as bad as it looks. Just think of the stories you can tell your coworkers when you roll into work Thursday. See you there.

Sorry Canceled due to rain

Like I learned long ago when we used to routinely leave for Moab in a blizzard to find beautiful weather down south, if you are going south never cancel your plans based on the weather up north. Shame on me looks like we missed out.

Friday, June 5, 2009

200 Yellow Bracelets

This week the Livestrong folks sent me a package of 200 yellow Livestrong bracelets. It's one of the perks of signing up for the Livestrong Challenge in San Jose. Now I just need to find something to do with them. One though was to give them away to those who have donated to my Livestrong page and use it as an incentive for additional donations. So if you have already donated I will be getting them out to you, one for each member of your family.
I have to say it feels good to give and help rally the troops for a worthy cause. I am going to go out on a limb here and say anyone who reads my blog is also aware of which is written by one of my favorite customers from the bike shop. Elden is one of those guys that you just can't not like. Elden was probably in his early thirties when he first came in to buy a bike and really struggled with it at first. It just didn't come very easily to him, but he kept at it and what he lacked in natural ability he more than made up with sheer determination. He rides a lot and has no mechanical ability so he needs his bike fixed a lot which was good for me because this is how I got to know him. After a while I started riding with him and a group of his friends mostly on night rides. Everyone would put their families to bed and we would meet up American Fork canyon to ride on the system of trails near the summit of the Alpine Loop until 1:00 am most Wednesdays.

I started school, got really busy and then moved out of state for a little while and kind of lost touch with the group for a while, then one day I was goofing off on the Internet and ran across a link to Elden's site. I spent probably three hours that day reading through his archives. Elden is a magnificent writer. While reading I learned that his wife Susan has been suffering with Breast Cancer and that he through his blog he has turned into somewhat of a celebrity and has been able to start an impressive movement in the fight against Cancer.

With the formation of Team Fat Cyclist Fighting for Susan the ball was set in motion for a respectable drive at raising funds for the Livestrong Foundation. Team Fat Cyclist is the top fundraising team in all four host cities for the Livestrong Challenge and has as of this date raised $272,098 in the fight against Cancer. The great thing about this team is that it spreads far and wide most of the funds have been raised by small donations from individuals affected by Elden's story and those small donations have added up to over a quarter of a million dollars.

We have five weeks left before the Livestrong Challenge ride in July, it would be nice to see a strong finish to the fund raising by Team Fat Cyclist. Please join with me in helping raise our goal of 1 million dollars in the fight against Cancer, you'll get a stylish yellow bracelet, I hear they are going to be the next big thing, but more importantly you will get the satisfaction in knowing that you are participating in something that will make a difference to those who are fighting this disease.

Ants on the Spacecraft

Right out of school I got a job working for Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale California. I was a Quality Engineer working on the DMPS (a military weather satellite) program. As a Quality Engineer it was my job to document any anomalies in the product, usually things like a miss-drilled hole, or a damaged space blanket, but one day we got a call from our counterparts at Vandenberg where they were prepping the Spacecraft for launch. The call went something like this.

“Um we have a little bit of a problem. Today one of our technicians noticed ants on the spacecraft.”

Prior to landing a job at Lockheed I was a bicycle mechanic for 10 years, I was still trying to get use to the term “Spacecraft” being used causally in sentences by my coworkers who were talking about the Spacecraft that we were building, and now we had to figure out how to get the ants off of it.