Monday, June 26, 2006

Saturday's MS-150 Route

NeilK from the Big Mountain post, rode with JuniorSprinter and I for about 2/3 of the ride on Saturday. He had his fancy GPS and has uploaded the ride stats to the MotionBased site.

Utah MS-150 Weekend

Thank you to everyone who donated to JuniorSprinter (I don't know if he is ever going to blog again) and I for our second Annual MS-150 ride. Together we raised $1,229 for MS research as support programs.

The ride is held every year in Cache Valley (Logan) Utah. JS and I rode the 100 mile century route on the first day again this year. It is a fantastic, mostly flat, route that winds its way north into Idaho for a while before returning to the fair park in Logan. When we did it last year, the extra loop you rode to complete the century had only one stop on it. This year they moved the rest stop a little, and added two water stops which were a nice touch. We both finished much stronger than we did last year.

Our plan was to ride the long route on Sunday, which would have given us a total of 175 miles over the two days. We were both riding very strong and were helping to lead a solidly moving pace line of about 12 people. As we entered Hyrum, Utah near the 50 mile mark, we made a left, a right and then saw a support vehicle with a ride volunteer pointing that we needed to make another quick left. As the group spread out and started to slow down, JS got stuck in the middle a little bit, hit some road damage funny and severely bent his front wheel.

Elementary physics indicates that when you are going 18 mph, and the front of the bike stops, the rest of the bike keeps going. JS was thrown over the front of the bike and onto the road. We then got
to meet several medics and the staff at Logan Regional Medical center. The medical and ride staffs both did a gread job taking care of him. He tucked and rolled as well as you could, but he still suffered a partial separation of his left shoulder. He has sizable road-rash patches on his shoulder blade, upper and lower right arm, left hip, and a large bruise and road rash on his right knee.

He will be hurting for a while. He will also be off the bike for a week or so, which is good because it will take that long for me to fix the wheel or find him a new one, install a new handlebar (he bent the old on in the crash as well) and bar tape, and make the other fixes to get the bike ridable again.

I later heard that same section of road, less than 400 meters long, ended up being the location of two other serious crashes. But I can't fault the MS-150 staff. They did a great job the whole weekend, and even if that area could have been signed better, there is no way to know if that would have prevented the crashes, and you can't fault them for road damage. After JS crashed we had a staffer with us the whole time until we left the hospital. They were really great.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Because of the blog template thing where the link was gone, and the fact that the MS-150 is tomorrow, I sent out a bunch of last minute emails last night begging for donations.

I have been shocked and humbled by the generosity of most people I have contacted. It is amazing to me how much some family, friends and acquaintances have been willing to donate to this cause. It has made me re-evaluate the way I approach my charitable giving.

I have done this ride in the past and always enjoyed it as a fun ride and a nice way to raise money for a good cause. It has to be the best supported ride in the state, and we are part of a team that is fantastic and fun. But when I found out last fall that one of my sisters was diagnosed with MS it became a big deal to me to take the fundraising seriously.

It seems that this year people have come out of the woodwork, some just donating out of the goodness of their hearts, and some donating because they have some connection to MS.

To all of you who donated, let me say a very heartfelt and humble "thank you". JuniorSprinter and I have raised over $1,100 as of this morning, and I know there are at least a few additional donations trickling in.

We leave for Logan later today, and are planning on riding the long course both days for a total of 175 miles. Assuming I survive I will try and post an update on how the ride went Sunday night.

Test in Multiple Browsers

I am a computer programmer by trade, and do most of my work on web-based applications. So you would think that I would be well versed in web testing and browser compatibility problems...

As you can hopefully see in the header now I am trying to raise funds for the Utah MS-150 Bike Tour. I have been sending out emails and letters telling people that to sponsor me they can visit the blog and click on the link.

Then yesterday I got a call from my brother wanting to know what the link was. I told him to visit the GeekCyclist and look in the header. He called back a few minutes later and told me he couldn't find it. So I jumped on and took a look using Firefox - everything looked great. Then I opened IE.

(cue scary music)
My blog looked HORRIBLE in IE!

There was no link in the header - in fact, there was no real header. All the side bar links were displayed below the posts. The background color was incorrect and the curved graphics were in the wrong places. I loaded the template into EditPlus (my favorite editor) and messed with it for about 2 hours, but I never did discover what had happened. I finally rebuilt it from backup.

Today I learned... That I have to test ALL my web projects in my browser test bed. Even my trivial blog with only 3 readers (thanks, each of you).

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Big Mountain

JuniorSprinter came down and met me at work on Friday. He, NeilK and I left work early to go ride. We drove up and parked just west of Hogle Zoo and headed up Emigration Canyon. I haven't ridden this canyon in about a year, and I have never been past the Little Mountain summit. From there you can ride down the back side and then either connect with I-80 in Parley's Canyon, or turn left and ride up to Big Mountain. I go slow up anything bigger than an overpass, so until Friday, I had always turned around at the first summit.

To Little Mountain
The ride starts at about 4,800 feet and in 8.5 miles it climbs to a pass at about 6,250 feet. JS and NeilK rode away from me almost as soon as we started, but I expected that. I tried to ride within my ability and just keep a constant tempo maybe just a little out of my comfort zone. The canyon kind of rises in steps so you can recover after some brief hard pushes.

The view from the summit is great. After a brief rest (for me; the guys were waiting for a while I'm sure) we headed down the back side. It was a quick 2-2.5 mile descent on which we gave back about 300 feet.

To Big Mountain
The climb to the Big Mountain Summit was beyond anything I have every done. I hung with the other two for the first mile or so, while the grade was pretty mild. The four miles to the summit are an almost constant 7-7.5% grade by the estimation of NeilK's GPS. About half-way up I was really struggling, almost unable to ride in a straight line. I was going so slow I was shocked that my cyclometer was still picking up my speed since the wheels were turning so slowly. That's when I saw...

The Rock
It wasn't a huge rock; maybe the size of my clamshell flip phone. If I was on the flats I wouldn't have worried about it. I was thinking, "gotta miss the rock" when I hit it straight on. BAM! I came to a dead stop. It was alright though; I needed the rest. I gave myself about 3 minutes for my heart rate to come back down before I started up again. I think that JS and NeilK had been at the summit at least 20 minutes before I made it up. I was totally cooked, but in the best way.

The ride back was good. There was the little climb back up to the first summit, and though my quads were toast, I kept the other two in sight at least, and I almost caught them on the descent. JS is getting a lot better at going down.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Today I Learned...

I have been talking to a coworker about taking a stack of 3x5 cards and writing on them "Today I learned" and whatever new and exciting tidbit that entered my brain that day. It was mostly a joke about how overwhelming it can be to try and stay on top of things in the IT field.

But now that I have had this idea in my head for a few days, I am starting to think that it would be a neat thing to do for a while. I think that if you reach the end of a day and haven't either learned something new, or helped someone in need, you might as well have stayed in bed.

So, what did I learn today?

Today I learned...
That when you are checking a tire for the object that just caused you to flat, DO NOT stop just because you found something you think caused the puncture. You have to check the whole tire.
On my long ride into work, I flatted at about the 10 mile mark, found two little "goathead" stickers that I removed and went my merry way. Then I flatted again less than a mile later. This time I checked the tire more thoroughly, and found the piece of glass that had cut the tire. I made a quick boot and finished my ride, but I realized I could have saved myself a big headache if I had checked the whole tire the first time.

Take the Long Road

People frequently ask me how to fit in training for a long charity ride or a century. I have never been good at doing training rides during the week. The bulk of my training has always been commuting.

But the core change I have made this year is to "take the long road home". Actually I more frequently take the long road to work, but I couldn't pass up a Supertramp reference. My normal commute ride is between 13-15 miles. Now 30 mile round trip is nothing to scoff at, but it's just not the same as 30 miles in one chunk. So now what I have started doing is riding from my home in the west side of the Salt Lake valley, to Saltair on the Great Salt Lake, and then into work. Depending on route variations I get between 27 and 33 miles, with options to go longer.

I do have to leave fairly early in order to arrive at work at a decent time, but I find that I am more consistent if I schedule long rides to work, instead of long rides home. Riding home it's too easy to wimp out.

Another advantage to riding long in the morning is the cooler temps, and less traffic. Although, for those who are familiar with the SR 202 and the I-80 frontage road between Saltair and the airport I have one comment. There is WAY more traffic on these roads at 6-7 AM on a weekday than there is any time on a Saturday. Construction on SR 201 has all westbound traffic routed across 202 to the interchange by Saltair. The shoulder sucks for about 3/4 of a mile...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A Perfect Commute

I am not sure if I have ever had this happen before. My commute home was perfect. I am not talking about the weather, or the wind, which were a little to warm and a little to strong respectively. I am talking about the cars.

Commuting back and forth to downtown Salt Lake City it seems like every day I have to deal with one or more of the following:
  • Getting "buzzed" or squeezed to the shoulder.
  • Cars double parked, or parked in the bike lane.
  • Getting honked at or yelled at in the areas where I have to take the lane.
Just basically the typical commuting stuff. It bothered me when I started, but I basically ignore it. But today was perfect. Even on the rural road where I have to ride in the lane for about a mile I was given a wide berth by all the motorists. It was amazing.

Maybe it was the jersey. My wife gave me a Discovery Team jersey for christmas. Sure, it's a little uncomfortable wearing it as I putz along at 15-18 mph on my loaded touring bike. I know I got some double-takes. But as I got close to home I started to wonder, "Are the cars giving me more room because they recognize Lance's jersey?"

There is no way to really test for the Lance effect on my commute, but it is an interesting thought.

Three Parking Spaces

I was riding home yesterday, still in downtown SLC. All of a sudden a pickup truck stops right next to a lane of parked cars at a corner and lets a woman out. I had nowhere to go because of traffic on the left and parked cars on the right, so I just slowed to a near trackstand while I waited for him to move.

He pulled forward past three parked cars, stopped again and backed into the parking space. I couldn’t believe it. To save his passenger 60 feet of walking, he backed up traffic twice.

Some people in this country are incredibly lazy. Unbelievable…