Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Hillclimb

So after a week or so of hanging out in California (not really riding much after our awesome rides), and driving back to Utah, my brother Kellen and I signed up to do the snowbird hillclimb road race. Basically its a 9.6 mile suffer fest up Little Cottonwood canyon. You climb 3300 feet from the valley up to Snowbird ski resort. This climb is worthy of any Grand Tour. I hoped to race well but my legs felt empty and I had some stomach problems. I just checked the results and I ended up taking 14th in the cat 4/5 group. Ohh well, luckily I felt better as the climb went on and I was able to finish strong. Captain, Eugie and Scott left early and met us up at the finish so it was cool to see them up there. Eugena took this picture right at the finish so I was deep in the hurt box. Below is a little video I found of the Google Earth version of Little Cottonwood canyon.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

SSP in cali day 4-The Lost Coast

Today was the Queen day of the trip. We were about to get all we could ever ask for in a bike ride; Amazing scenery, epic views, great weather, awesome climbs, thrilling descents, good company, and excellent support. We started the ride in the Avenue of the Giants - it is a road that is surrounded by gigantic redwood trees hence the name Avenue of the Giants. We rode in the redwoods for about 25 miles but since part of out destination was the lost coast we needed to get over the hills and mountains that separated us from the beach. That took us to Panther Gap, a nice 8 mile climb up and over the coastal mountains. The climb was beautiful, no cars, amazing scenery, and switchbacks!
From the top of the climb we had an incredible view of Mendocino county. From there we had some rolling hills and a few 1 miler climbs to get us to the lost coast. We were on an amazing descent then suddenly the ocean opens up to your view. The road along the coast was a little more challenging then we anticipated. I'm not sure if it was the 25-30 mph winds, or the occasional sand blasting that we got along the 6 mile stretch, not to mention the only way to get off the coastal road is up "The Wall".
The Wall is a 16-18% 1 mile climb that juts up from the coast to get you over the coastal mountains. The look of it is exactly what it feels like, pure and unadulterated suffering. Its steep, it was windy, and it was amazing. I haven't ever rode up something so steep for so long. It was a pure brute of a climb, it really isn't that long, but when you are going 4-5 mph it seems to take forever. Once over the top of this hill we had a nice fast descent before beginning the next climb, the "Endless Hill", aptly named for it's length (8 miles) plus the loads of false summits that give you the rush that you're almost done only to disappoint again and again. I left the Capn' and eugie on this climb, mostly because I just wanted to get it done with and under my belt, knowing we had a 7 mile descent to Ferndale, were we would finish. I felt great on the climb and quickly settled into a rhythm. When the Capn and Eugie finally rolled over the top of the climb we were excited to be done and loving the ride we had just been on. This maybe the coolest ride I've ever done. The scenery was amazing, and the views were unbeatable.
Stats: 77 miles, 8200 feet of climbing, Lots of huge Redwoods, 25-30 mph winds, 1 insanely and excruciatingly steep climb (the other climbs weren't quite as steep as the Wall), miles of twisty fast descents and one great ride.

SSP in cali day 3-Bit off more then we could chew

We decided to use day 3 sort of as a rest day. We had a century on the schedule but we decided to cut the ride short and only do like 70 miles or so. We headed out of Healdsburg (a little north of Santa Rosa, Ca) by car to get a lot of climbing out of the way. At least we thought we were getting a lot of the climbing out of the way. Right after we started we had a quick 1/4 mile jaunt up a 16% grade. The road was mostly up and down, but quiet and once we got into a rhythm, a beautiful ride. We ended up riding only for a couple hours and we didn't make it that far. But we had a nice time out in the hills above the vineyards.
Stats: 22 miles, 2200 feet of climbing, One amazing Buddhist Temple complex, and a great little warm up for the next day.

SSP in cali day 2-Sierra the Great

Day 2 brought the arrival of the Sky Captain and his lovely Queen and we decided to head out to so one of the coolest rides in the bay area: Calaveras road. The road snakes along the back side of the foothills east of the bay and has been featured as the last part of a stage in the last 2 years of the Tour of California. We headed out on Calaveras road which snakes it's way along the hillside, above a reservoir and winding through Oak groves. We headed to a little town called Sunol where we got some lunch then made our way back. I won the KOM points on the way back after a suprise attack from the captain. Really the only traffic we saw on the road was a random cow that had wandered onto the road. We headed back to town and the Sky Captain and I broke off from Eugie to ride up Sierra Road. This climb is a beast. Its not the length (only 3.6 miles) but rather the grade. It starts off right away with a 16% pitch and on some of the switchbacks kicks to 18%. The climb never gets easy. Once you're at the top though you get unspoiled view of the sprawling city below and are rewarded with a fast and exhilarating descent back home. This is one of my all time favorite rides and it was great to ride it with eugie and the Captain.
Stats: 57 miles, 5500 feet climbing, 1 bown cow, and a heaping bowl of suffering on Sierra.

SSP plunder california Day 1

Day 1: After arriving in cali on Sunday we headed out for a sweet and killer ride on monday morning. The weather was a nice cool 70 deg and we decided to do a ride called the "Bay to Coast Classic". It starts in Palo Alto and heads over the mountains to Pescadero on the coast. Part of the race that I did in June is on the same roads so we were excited to get some sweet riding in. The road immediatly turned upward with a 9 mile climb into the coastal mountains. The climb was beautiful as we rose above the sea of asphalt and metal that is the Bay area, although it was a pretty steep climb. Once on the top though we were treated to an amazing 7 mile descent through the redwoods to get to the small community of Pescadero. After meeting our family there for lunch we headed out on Stage road (part of the Pescadero classic race course). The course proved to have a little more climbing then we anticipated so we decided to change our course a little bit and end up hooking back on the route we took to the coast. It's hard to be upset that your climbing a long hard hill when the road you are on is free of traffic and you can sit and spin quietly as you ride through beautiful redwood forests. After all the climbing was done we had a thrilling descent back to the car below. It was a great ride and I'd jump at the chance to ride it again.
Stats: 60 miles, 6600 feet of climbing, 2 pesto chicken sandwiches and 1 giant cast iron skeleton with a 50 caliber machine gun.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The dual

Last Saturday we gathered in southern Utah for a supported century called the Desperado Dual. It is held in beautiful southern utah canyon country and it did not disappoint. The morning was a bit chilly and we started the 106 mile loop about 5 minutes late. Soon the temp warmed up and we started the gentle climb up red canyon. About mile 38 Sugar who was wearing the best young rider jersey called it a day and split to ride back to Panguitch. After around mile 40 the team finally found it's groove. We had the core SSP team with a few friends that wanted to ride with the Pirates for the day. We had a total of 10 or so riders. Around mile 45 we cruised upon a small group and they hopped on the back of the Pirate train. It was a pretty site seeing 10 or so SSPs pushing a 26 mph pace at the front of a group of 30 or so riders. The rest of the day was fast and fun. We flew down a long descent and the ride back to town was a little slower with a slight head wind. All in all it was a very fun century for the team. We'll be back next year.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Good Mountains

The last couple weeks have been kind of crazy. Eugena, Kiowa and I made the move from Kirksville, MO to Logan, UT about 2 weeks ago and are finally getting settled in. We were down in SLC a couple days for my younger brothers wedding and I had the chance of riding the most epic and leg-busting ride of my life...more on that later. First our new place in Logan is pretty much the sweetest place we've had thus far in our relatively short married life. We have a good sized house with a nice backyard. There is a little canal that runs along the outside of the fence so Kiowa gets morning and afternoon swims to keep her furriness cool during these hot summer days. The house is withing walking distance to a bunch of stores, and the best part by far is that I have space for a sweet bike shop. No longer will I have to use our office/study room/storage room to work on our bikes. Logan so far is awesome, it's sitting right by the mountains and is a pretty quiet town. Bigger than the ville, but not so huge that you get choked out by asphalt everywhere. I went mountain biking with Eugena and my Dad yesterday and it was so nice to be up in the mountains. Man I didn't realize how much I missed the high country, plus the trails out here are pretty cool. I did go on a mtn ride with some guys from a local shop and was able to see a guy endo and face plant into a rock (a nice chance to practice a little wilderness medicine), he busted out some teeth and after we got him down the canyon to a doctor he ended up with 3 busted teeth, a fractured maxilla and some facial lacerations. So it was a pretty exciting first mountain biking outing.

By far the coolest ride I was able to do since being back at elevation was what we have dubbed the "Triple Death Threat" ride. My older brother (Mr. Fabulous), my then-soon-to-be-wed younger brother (k-dog) and I left early one morning for Millcreek canyon. Millcreek would be the first of three canyons, followed by Big Cottonwood, then finally Little Cottonwood. Millcreek is a great climb, about 8.5 miles long and averages around 6.5% grade with sections that kick up to 15%. Big Cottonwood was just that, big. It's about 15 miles avg 5% grade. Then when we finally came to Little Cottonwood, the hardest of them all, 9 miles at around 8% avg grade, and in the heat of the afternoon. It was easily the hardest ride I've ever done. This was a courageous endevour, We didn't know the exact milage or the exact amount of feet to be climbed when we started, we just knew it would be a lot....This is what my ibike elevation profile revealed: If you look at the bottom you can see the elevation climbed....yeah almost 11,000 feet in 86 miles. It was a blast.

Tomorrow we are hitting the road again first for southern utah for an organized century, then to california for a week long Salt Sea Pirates LOTOJA training camp. Eugie has organized a bunch of sweet road rides in northern california so it should be a blast.

The bike shop

The new addition to the bike family