Friday, December 23, 2011

By the numbers

My neighbors, friends, family and coworkers all know that I ride my bike. They use it as a means to elicit conversation with me because I am not by nature an outwardly loquacious guy.  I don't mind, because if pressed  I can talk about bikes all day long, but I usually have to take into account the audience to whom I am speaking and tailor the conversation to their real level of interest. 
If I told them the absolute truth about riding I am sure they would think I was off my bean. 

I keep a log of all my rides, I have been doing this since 2005 and I will admit to you that I am a total bike dork. I keep track of everything. 
I have taken a screen shot of the last two months of this year. 

You will notice that I color coordinate to denote what type of ride. Green is commuting, Brown is a dirt ride and the Gray represents road rides. Clever I know.

So by the numbers for the year of our Lord 2011;

3800.5     Total Miles to date
162          Total days ridden (why am I not faster)
77            Road rides
85            Dirt rides
288.12     Hours in the saddle
224,871   Calories burned (why am I not thinner)
264,858   Vertical feet climbed
144          Average heart rate
17.4         Average speed road
9.8           Average speed dirt

There you have it, the reality of my psychosis. Not to shabby for an aging, slightly overweight, father of FIVE girls, with two jobs and playing a part time Mr Mom because my Sugar Sweety brings home more cheddar than I do.
I would like to take a moment and thank her specifically for being so supportive of my habits, I think it's because she knows first hand the superb ability I have to put away the calories and she does not want to be married to a chubby guy. That would be a deal breaker.

That should give you guys some more fodder for our conversations, see you in the New Year.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Falling with style

Had a great day planned on the bike today, I was set to meet Pete at the trailhead on Navajo at 11am. I had planned to ride there from Santa Clara with Duane, ride with Pete for a a bit and then ride home.
You know what they say about the best laid plans; the only thing that did happen was that I got some good mileage in. Duane had to go do a job in Kanab and Pete had to rescue an employee from the Purgatory Correctional facility. I got his text when I arrived at the designated spot. That's what you get when you hire a guy who's nickname is The Green Mile.

Tale of the tape, still interactive.

I also read a great article this week, "The Art of The Bail."  It's a pretty well thought out piece on crashing and that 1 in 100 rides crash that is going to get you.
I have not had a legit get-off in what seems like years so I know the odds are not in my favor.

If you can't read the whole article be sure to watch the vid at the end. I gave up on airing it out just after my second knee reconstruction. My wheels need to stay on the ground now but there are some great carnage shots of guys on the Shore. Interesting to see someone else's skewed view of reality and there is an absolute do-not-miss crash at the end. Skip the hospital shots as they are kinda gory.... unless you like that thing.

The fine print at the end also says, "pretty much everyone was hurt in the filming of this video."

If your not falling your not trying.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Mi amigo Pete is always on the ball. He presented me with not one, but two Christmas gifts this past week. I wish I could say that I am as good a friend as he, but I fear I am much, much worse.

I will be reporting on both gifts as they are of such a nature that they absolutely scream "blog post".
He presented this handsomely marketed piece in a plastic bag with the explanation-- "my wife won't let me keep this in the house unless it's in a plastic bag."  Smart thinking I say as it is redolent of campfire and beef jerky, very manly.

I showed it to my gal and she was also repulsed by the exotic bouquet. She forbade me to use it, which of course meant that I had to do exactly that. I could not let such a thoughtful gift go to waste, so I struck out for the farthest, most ventilated bathroom in the house, the pool bath.
The bar itself is actually a deep brown color, I assume that is why grandpa felt the need to advertise that it lathers white. It foamed up well and is not totally unpleasant once you have grown accustomed to it's earthy essence.
I don't have, nor have ever had, psoriasis, scales, eczema, dandruff or any other skin conditions that the soap is purported to cure so I cannot comment on it's healing nature. I can report that I did feel clean, so it really is a soap.

I asked my wife and the two older daughters, whom lately seem to appreciate the way men smell, what they thought of the scent. Two out of three said it was disgusting, the third had no opinion.
I will keep who said what to myself.

I have returned the bar to it's plastic bag, and the bag now resides in my garage. If any of you readers find yourselves with any of the above mentioned skin maladies, give me a ring and I can let you borrow this all natural cure-all. Until then it will set just where I left it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Holiday guest

My sister and brother in law made it down for Thanksgiving, he brought his road bike and we did ride it once. Steve expressed an interest in getting out on the dirt, I am always willing to try and make new converts so I wrangled up a single speed bike for him, he could be hooked.

Steve suffering up the Sidewinder climb in the early morning hours.

Back at the bottom.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Die Cold Miser

As you may know, you cannot measure cold. All you can do is measure a lack of heat.
Another thing you cannot measure is my disdain for the cold. I started my ride this morning at 6am, in the dark and 31 degrees. When I was done it had dropped to 28.

You would think I would be used to it by now but every year I have to reinstate an uneasy truce with mother nature. I will continue to badmouth her and she will continue to make me suffer.

Long live the Heat Miser. Why is he portrayed as the bad guy, I think he is getting a bad rap.

Pour some sugar on me

If I was a one armed drummer I would be all over this. I love that one of the requirements is a flame retardant kit, these Texas boys take their Def Leopard very seriously.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spinning my way to happiness

I have found myself in the doldrums of blogdom, so I thought I would share my latest passion. During the winter months I have found a way to entertain myself and keep things in tip top form. Spinbike gymnastics.

Here is my routine from the International Spinning Championships, I worked really hard on this and I sewed my own costume. This routine was also dedicated to my Mom.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Man Crush

I ran across this clip about a local celeb, John Hanson.  He and I have enjoyed/suffered many an adventure together, they usually end with him being sick on the side of the trail.  I am beginning to think I am the cause.

I may be tipping my hand here but JRuss is probably the coolest cat I know. How many people do you know that can rock the gentlemen's hat? Not many.
In my wildest dreams of avarice I hire John to work part time for me, (the man is a licensed engineer with a degree from a school that rhymes with Striggum Dung) pay him an exorbitant salary so he can spend the rest of his time making bicycles. It's mostly a selfish endeavor, I just want a reason to hang out and partake in his mojo.

So if you are looking for a new custom ride, Sabrosa should be on the short list.  To paraphrase Ferris Bueller "I love riding it, it is so choice. If you have the means I highly suggest picking one up."

You will need to go here to see the vid, or go here to read what John has to say. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I've had a few random thoughts kicking around my head that I have to get out.

First off, you may remember my feelings on the repair job done by the county road crews. That post was only a year ago and as per my prognostication the chip seal is not holding up. I rode up to Veyo this morning thru Gunlock, from now on I am going to refer to that ride as the Veyo-Roubaix. If you don't get the joke, go here to be enlightened.
This is part of the same track used by the St. George Iron Man, a world class event. I would think the county would be ashamed to show the world how good they are at ignoring road conditions. The Iron Man allegedly brings in millions of dollars to the local economy but they can't seem to spring for 30 miles of new tarmac.
Thumbs down to you Washington County Road Dept.
Feel free to send Wendell Gubler a piece of your mind, he already has had some from me. He is the man in charge of saying "we don't have any money."  

Secondly, runners. This may offend a few of you but I don't care. Sometimes a little tough love is the only way. 
This time of year it seems as if 1/4 of the population in preparing for the St. George Marathon. They train by running down the course from Veyo to St.G via highway 18 or down Snow Canyon. 
Running to me looks like agony. Plodding, slow, jarring, joint destroying agony. Maybe that is why most of the folks I see are so zoned out of their minds that they can't seem to behave like we have rules in our society.  In Snow Canyon on Thursday I passed approx 35-40 people, It was dark and 50% of these fools were not using lights or reflectors of any kind. 
They was no rhyme or reason to where they were running either. Some were running against traffic (which is the recommended method) some were running with traffic but the majority were right in the middle of the road running 4 abreast. 30% of them were startled when I got to within 25ft of them, again so zoned out that they failed to see my bar lights baring down on them.

Now for my biggest complaint, litter. 

The runners are of course training for a long event and they don't want to carry all the necessities i.e. water, fuel, supplements etc. So they leave little stashes along the road way so they can pick it up as they need it. In theory I understand this and agree with the idea. However in the application of this plan they fail to do the necessary clean up after the fact. There are hundreds of used water bottles right now along the side of highway 18. Every runner that I confront about the problem says the same thing, "we always pick up our trash after the run." LIARS! If you all picked up your trash then there would be no trash.

Thanks for listening and please keep America beautiful.  

One more thing, congratulations for finishing a tough event ladies. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Saints to Sinners

I few months ago I was able to reconnect with my Dad's brother John. I think we were both surprised to find out that the other was an avid cyclist and we made some tentative plans to get together for a ride.
About a month after that he emailed with a question, " Do you want to ride in the Saints to Sinners relay"?

The Saints to Sinners ride is in it's second year and put on to raise money for ALS. This is a road ride so I am deviating from the normal mountain bike drivel you usually see here. The route looks like this;

The team was put together with a rag-tag group from So-Cal, Utah, and Colorado.The group was very cool and for once I was not the oldest guy riding.  We also didn't have any of the Uber aggressive, "in it to win it" guys who just need a punch in the face.... so that was nice.

The race is split into 30 legs and each team member has 3 legs of their own to complete. The team is able to ride together for moral support or drafting purposes, the only regulation being that you cannot ride the leg directly before or after the leg you are responsible for.
We split up the effort as much as possible, helping out where we thought it was needed.

I didn't take any pictures the whole trip so I had to rip these from Emily's blog. If you visit her site be sure to take note of how men should wear scarves. It works Pete,    it    just    works.

Two vehicles are a must have for an event like this and a the motor home was invaluable. Not that you get a lot of sleep in there, but having room to move around and lay down if you want is really the way to go. The constant moving was an interesting twist and you need a guy or two to be on top of the logistics. Big props to Brian for keeping us all between the lines. In fact I would highly recommend at least one person on your team be an MIT graduate, they don't seem to mind the extra workload.

The most memorable leg for me was the midnight ascent of leg 13. It looks like this;

In the moment the ride was a grind, but as soon as I had recovered from the oxygen debt and had warmed up from the rain at the summit the recollections were more enjoyable than painful.  The smells of the damp forest, the dark solitude, the lack of oxygen and sleep all contributed to a terrific ride.  I am calling my shot right now and saying that I would do again if we do the race next year.

I need to make a comment on Emily's last leg through the Valley of Fire state park. It was hot, really hot and the profile provided by the race organizers did not seem to be accurate. There was a lot of tough climbing but she pounded out the 16+ miles like a trooper.

If you are looking to do this race next year I would highly recommend it. You take a route through the heart of Utah that you normally don't get to see. I could write an entire do's and don'ts scenario for you but that would take some of the fun out of your event.
Suffice it to say that as the miles pass under your wheels memories will be made, the sun will set and rise again, relationships will flourish, pain and suffering will be felt, sleep will elude you and you will test your physical limits.

Sounds like a recipe for a quality time, every vacation should have some of that.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cocina Poblana

I had to make an entire post dedicated to a restaurant we frequented while on vacation. After getting of the plane in Oakland we were both hungry so I headed over to Jack London Square which was more or less on the way. There was a plethora of eateries to choose from but nothing catches my eye or my heart like a well presented Mexican establishment. We ended up hitting a home run with the first swing.

As I opened the menu my eye went straight to the mole, I have searched for nearly 20 years for mole that could rival those that I had on my sojourn in No Cal during the early 90's . The mole happened to be the house specialty but there were four to choose from. They were listed thusly;

Mole Poblano 


Authentic mole poblano from our family recipe. All of our moles are served with broiled chicken leg and thigh, poblano rice and handmade corn tortillas.+More

Mole Mama Luisa 


Authentic mole de Jalisco. Our Mama Luisa's specialty. All of our moles are served with broiled chicken leg and thigh, poblano rice and handmade corn tortillas.

Mole Mama Elena 


Our Grandmother's personal recipe. Mole negro in the Guanajuato style. All of our moles are served with broiled chicken leg and thigh, poblano rice and handmade corn tortillas.

Mole Pipian 


Our Grandfather's specialty. Pumpkin seeds with the essence of chile guajillo. All of our moles are served with broiled chicken leg and thigh, poblano rice and handmade corn tortillas.

I was torn, which one to choose. Then I spotted this;

Cuatro Moles 


A sample of each of Chef Lito's delicious moles. Sserved with broiled chicken leg and thigh, poblano rice and handmade corn tortillas. Perfect for sharing!

All four moles on one plate, with home made corn tortillas! I had to have it and my Bride, going against her norm, was up for the challenge.  We were not disappointed, it was the best mole I have ever had not actually sitting in an old lady's kitchen.
We ate it the way it's supposed to be done sans silverware, just rip that tortilla into quarters and use the pieces to pick up the rustic, spicy goodness then lick your fingers clean.  I caught the waitress eyeballing us, her quick smile told me that she could appreciate our technique.

Bottom line; if you ever have the chance, do not pass this up.  I am glad we don't have a Cocina Poblana in my town or I would need to add a "Mole" line to the monthly budget.

Vaya con Dios chef Lito.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day Tripper

I spent last week in the North of California, my bride had a 3 day conference in Rohnert Park and I was able to tag along. We left the kiddos at my parents so from 8 am til 4 everyday I needed some way to entertain myself while she was Moodling.  It may come as a surprise but I decided to ride my bike.

The first day I headed to Annadel State Park just outside Santa Rosa. On the way there you have to pass through the Rincon Valley for which one of my companies is named.

I saw this and had to stop, hoping I could pick up a new lid or maybe a T luck, pretty lame store.

Annadel is much larger than I thought and has an extensive trail system.

I ripped off about 18 miles the first day and saw about 1/2 of the park. There is a little bit of everything on these trails smooth, rocky, roots, woods, lakes, golden fields of grass, you get the idea.

Day two found me in the Napa Valley at the Skyline Wilderness area. Lots of climbing and old structures. 

Old house foundation.

Me getting artsy

Old Grainary?

At the far end of the trail system it almost becomes a rain forest. Everything was slippery and made for tough riding.

Day 3 I had planned to go to Tamarancho or maybe down to China Camp but Annadel was singing it's siren song and I could not resist. I hit some stuff that I did not get to on day one and I was not disappointed. The Ridge Trail was the best thing I saw all trip. I looped it twice I liked it so much. 

Only one picture, I didn't want to stop the fun.

All day on my bike and then spending the evenings with my sweetie made this a vacation to remember but it was not over yet.
I shipped my bike home and we spent the next day and half in San Francisco staying at the Palace Hotel.  I really like that town and we had a great time. Our flight home did get canceled due to mechanical problems and we had to fly home out of San Jose but it could not ruin a great week.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rainbow Revisited

For the last three years, on the weekend after Fathers Day I usually plan on riding the Rainbow Rim. This year was no exception.
This year there will be no long explanation of where it is or how incredible the trail is. Nope, this year I am going to show you the new guys who have never ridden there before, (three of which had never seen the Grand Canyon).  And I will end with a list of the fools who had something better to do than show up for a once a year ride that I plan months in advance.

So first the newbies.

Congrats to the first timers, especially to Luke for lugging that 40 lb rig the entire day.

Now for the slackers;

John- Your off the hook because of your old man's service and the Utah Hill death march.
Brandon - You get a pass because you manned up on the White Rim

Missed you guys.........the rest of you are this close [  ] to dead to me.

Lifestyle Choice

H. G. Wells:

"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race."

I purchased a bike for commuting to the new Verdi office. (that may be a post for another day) I don't do this to save the environment or save money on gas, I do this for two reasons; 
I now have real reasons to ride a bike every day of the week and secondly I am looking forward to the challenge. You all know that I get bored easily so the effort involved in planning out the day, battling the elements and my own laziness seems like a worthy effort.

She may look flashy but I will tell you that I spent a whopping $418 on this steel miracle of Chinese ingenuity.  How they can produce and sell this bike for that dollar figure may be whats wrong with American commerce.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Google Machine

Have you ever googled yourself? I have done it a few times and realized each time that I have made little or no mark on the cyber world.
(no pun intended)

This time I ran across something extra special, I give you The Mark Weston Band.

To be brutally honest here, I am a little disappointed to have a group so devastatingly mediocre using my name.

To quote their site, "The Mark Weston Band is a Cutting Edge, Mainstream, Cross Over Pop Alternative Rock/New Country/Classic Rock three piece club dance band."

Is it even possible to be all of those things? I don't think MAINSTREAM means what they think it means. Exactly zero of their mindless tunes will be placed on my I-pod.

What's really interesting is that they have the same number of #1 hit singles as me and I don't even play an instrument.

So get out there and google yourself today but be prepared for the disappointment.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Utah Hill Circumnavigation

Utah Hill is the mountain just west of St. George. I-15 wends it's way to the south through the Virgin River Gorge on it's way to Las Vegas and the Old Hiway 91 bends around the north. On the Western slope the Woodbury Wilderness Study Area was created by the BLM and Angus M Woodbury in 1977 because it contained the oldest population of marked desert tortoises and possibly the oldest marked populations of vertebrates in the United States. 

The infamous JRuss of Sabrosa Cycles fame and I have been kicking around the idea of circumnavigating the Mt in a clockwise direction for 6 or 7 months.  We finally settled on a date and made the customary invitations to all of our riding acquaintances to join us on our foray.  At the appointed hour we found ourselves completely alone, no one else was there to share in the adventure.

The initial climb was interrupted by the crack addled whisperings of a lady who had caught a flat on her 1994 Toyota Fourunner, she had no jack and had spent the night pounding In and Out fries, smoking meth and waiting for help to arrive. In her mind altered state I am not sure that she knew where she was or could direct rescuers to her position.  JR, ever the boyscout offered to help but without a jack you can't change a tire. She was gone by the time we got back.

Reflecting on the ride I would recommend that unless you have a masochistic need to pedal your bike uphill, there are alternative routes to seeing what is on the backside of the beyond.

The Joshua Tree Forest.

Another 360 picture of the terrain. Fullscreen mode is the way to see this.

Cedar Pocket road (Joshua trees) in Arizona

A day earlier I had cached some water where the dirt road meets hiway 91.  The weather was perfect, a little overcast with a couple of sprinkles to keep the temps manageable.

After the water stop JR developed some intestinal difficulties. That has happened to him on back to back rides with me.  I think he may be allergic to my mediocrity, even in a nauseous state he can still put the hurt on you.

JR resting after taking solace in the relative privacy of the wash.

The trucks, parked at Navajo Dr. were a welcome site. Just because I could have gone further does not mean that I wanted to.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Day on the White Rim

Last year a friend of mine attempted the infamous RAWROD. Do not google that! It stands for Ride Around White Rim One Day. I don't want to call his attempt a failure because he is a loyal reader and a dear friend but my lexicon is not large enough to come up with another word. Sorry D.
He then asked me if I would join him for a 2011 attempt and I agreed with a hearty "I'll do it if you do it." Indubitably that phrase has lead to much pain and anguish since the invention of the English language.  

Our merry band was supposed to be 7-8 members strong with a support staff of one. Big ups to CJ for his willingness to do the SAG duties. 
Without going into too much detail, weather, scheduling conflicts and plain old softness reduced our numbers to just 2 participants. Can you be a merry band with only 2 people?

CJ's 14 year old son came along and did ride the first 6 miles with us before he piled it up and broke 3 spokes of the rear tire and received numerous scrapes and bruises. You will see that later on in the program.

The White Rim is an 84 mile jeep road built by the Uranium industry around what is now the "Island in the Sky" National Park. So named for the exposed white sandstone exposed over the eons.  We rode in a clockwise manner from Shafer to Mineral Bottom.

There are no pictures or narrative that can aptly describe the vastness and grandeur of the WR. 

I did bring my helmet cam to try and record the events, I am becoming more and more disgruntled with the whole set up and you may see the camera on Ebay before too long. The software is iffy and as I have said before, a fully rigid bike makes a lousy platform for video that doesn't make you nauseous.
I had to slow down the clips to 75-80% of regular speed to make them watchable. I hope you like Cat Stevens.

 So BK and I hammered it out riding side by side like Ponch and Jon cruising the So. Cal highways of the early 80's.  I got to be Ponch because I habla the Espanol.
Leaving out the Murphy's Hogback and Hardscrabble climbs it's an easy ride, with grand and ever changing vistas around every corner.
After 78 miles the sand and wind had taken it's toll on me and I opted out of climbing out of Mineral Bottom, that piece of road is quite the feat of engineering and determination. I could also hear the fajitas calling me from La Hacienda back in Moab,

During the ride I had decided that I would never need to ride it ever again, now 3 days later and I wish I was back there now. Weird how that works.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Naming Cave

I was bumping around the modern miracle that is Google Earth and I came across two 360 degree photos by Don Manion entitled "Naming Cave." This could be the coolest technology I have seen in a while.  He had located them in the middle of Gunlock Reservoir, I can only assume that he did that to keep the location somewhat secret. I guess he didn't figure the human gps would have a go at sleuthing it out.
There was enough information provided in this first photo to triangulate what I thought to be the location.

Utah's Southwest Desert in Utah

My first attempt was foiled by a tire malfunction so I tried again this morning and 12 miles from pavement, a hike-a-bike section and some deep sand I rode my trusty steed straight to the cave.  Accessing the cave is not terribly difficult but Sidi never had hiking sandstone in mind when they made my bike shoes so I ascended the climb in my woolie socks.
Over the millenia a giant slab of sandstone sheared off from the ceiling and the Indians used it as their sketch pad. There is also a fire area in one corner where the smoke escapes vertically thru a crack in the rock.

Naming Cave in Utah

From the cave mouth, see the bike in the center.

Close ups. The cave has kept these images in great condition.

The cave from just outside

I have no idea why Don called it The Naming Cave, I can find no reference to it any other place.

Guided tours by appointment.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Little Black Mt

I saw some really good stuff today, go get a drink and come back because this post is long.

I got up early and headed out for some longish dirt miles. Being me I was looking for something new and I needed to link up the cross over from Bloomington to Washington for the St. George Centurion route I have been efforting. 

The Desert is a bloom 

I started on the East side Little Black Mt and searched out the best way around to River Road. As you can see most of the day was spent in Arizona.
Try it, it's interactive.
Upon returning to the truck I determined that I was not finished so I headed out up the Fort Pierce Ridge Trail to Warner Valley. They call it a trail but it's mostly for Texas wheelchairs (4 wheelers,) it's good to see that they are making things accessible for fat and lazy Americans. Now I am not saying that I could not afford to mix in a salad or two but pushing your thumb for faster and squeezing your hand to stop takes no talent whatsoever.

In the southern part of the valley are the ruins of old Fort Pearce. The fort was a fortified shelter at a water source along the historic Temple and Honeymoon wagon trails used in the late 1800s. Close to the fort, you can find Puebloan and Anasazi petroglyphs, and at least one outstanding pictograph. Some of this art could be several thousands of years old.

Fort Pierce was positioned to protect and defend the water source from Indians. Seems kind of mean to me to keep people from water.

An up close of the Fort from an earlier trip with my kids. The Fort never had a roof.

I ripped this photo from another blogger; Newlyweds traveling to and from the outlying settlements to be married in the St. George Temple wrote their names with axle grease. Hence the name " the Honeymoon Trail."

I also remembered reading that there was a great pictograph in the area. So armed with only my unerring internal GPS and a yard sale of semi useless facts in my head I set out to find it.

Ran across this little guy, it was a little too cold for him to be upset.

Traversed the precious water source.

Climbed this steep incline in cycling shoes unfit for the job. I left my bike by the one lighter green tree you see on the right hand side, thinking to myself  "now everybody remember where we parked."

And ran straight into this; the Redman.
He is about 5 ft tall and hidden under an overhang that has protected the red ochre color for who knows how many years.

One of the most superlative mornings I have had on a bike in quite a while.