Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thanksgiving Week

It was a great Thanksgiving week around Driggs, Idaho. A little snow & cold, lots of sunshine & fun. Thanks to all the friends for great get-togethers, and delicious turkey! Outdoor adventures were stellar, as always.

The week started off fairly snowy and winter-like, which Bridger thoroughly enjoyed on this snow hike in the Big Holes. We encountered fresh bear tracks, and snow depths up to about 6". Not much for late-November, but a start.

The view of Taylor Mountain during our descent was awesome.

A Thanksgiving Day snow bike ride with Joanne kicked off the real fun. We rode from the house up Darby Canyon, and got into some pretty good snow by the end turn-around point. Joanne was loving it, and I must admit it's like being a kid again with those big 4" wide pedaling a monster truck.

There's not really enough snow yet for skiing or snowmobiling, so we just kept riding the big snowbikes. This South Leigh Canyon outing with my buddy Dave T rocked, and I think he's hooked.

This was the view as I left Teton Valley for work at the end of the weekend. I stopped, took the photo, and realized how much this place has become a part of me. Makes it tough to drive away sometimes, I'll tell ya.

Fergie nailed it with Meet Me Halfway. Happy December!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stellar November Days

Fall adventures continue, aided by stellar late Indian Summer weather. It's pretty crazy when early-November is nicer than early-June, but that's how it's been around here this year.

We've been slowed a little recently by the ubiquitous flu, but Joanne, Bridger & I managed to rally for a nice Sunday morning jaunt around Jordanelle reservoir, with Deer Valley ski area in the background. Not a bad scene.

Saturday was University of Utah football. A narrow early-season loss to Oregon haunts an otherwise perfect season, but bowl opportunities are still looking good and it was great to connect with our brothers & friends. Absolutely gorgeous conditions, and always fun to visit our old stomping grounds. Go Utes!

The piece-de-resistance was a sweet mountain bike ride on the Glenwild trails... November 11. Incredible to be out there in 60-degree conditions. A couple of snowstorms are forecast in the coming days, so we'll likely be switching bikes for skis next week. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Driggs and Park City Fall Photos

Going through my recent posts and albums, I've realized there are several worthy fall photos I haven't yet shared. So, here we go: more evidence of autumn outings.

This first shot is me with Bridger, high in the Big Holes, overlooking the south end of Teton Valley. It was our anniversary evening back in mid-September, and still felt like summer.

I've been spending a fair amount of time in Park City, Utah with work lately, and will continue to do so throughout the winter. This was an exploratory mountain bike ride on the Glenwild-Flying Dog trail back in September, with Parley's Summit in the background. Epic trail system, and I look forward to learning it all.

Back in Driggs, near the mouth of Darby Canyon, ready for a run with Bridger. Harvest season is over, and winter is creeping in now...might as well embrace it.

Last but not least: last weekend, taking advantage of a bluebird day and riding some sweet trails down in Swan Valley. This is Joanne with the South Fork of the Snake River in the background. Absolutely stellar.

Another nice weekend in the forecast, and then it looks like winter will be moving in for good. Break out the long johns!

Monday, October 5, 2009

From Summer to Winter

What a difference a week makes. We seem to have vaulted directly from summer to winter here in Driggs, Idaho. Tuesday was 75-degrees & sunny, and by Thursday it looked like this. Friday & Saturday were clear, but then more snow arrived last night and this morning. Temperatures are now only in the 30's...what happened to fall?

Bridger enjoyed the season's first "snow hike," which was especially colorful with the fall leaves just starting to turn.

I do hope fall colors get a chance to shine at some point this month. After the late start to summer this year, a couple weeks of classic Indian Summer weather would be enjoyed by all...except maybe the elk hunters.

Joanne & I took advantage of the brief weather break on Saturday for a nice mountain bike ride, out on the Horseshoe singletrack trails. They were somehow dry, except for this shaded area with a bridge crossing, which made things interesting.

Happy October!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Summer in September

It was still winter in June here in Driggs, Idaho, so thank goodness it's still summer in September. We're savoring these perfect early-Fall days, and squeezing in as many final summer-season adventures as possible.

I was fatigued from LOTOJA for about a week, but have thankfully started getting my mojo back the past few days. Joanne & I kicked off the comeback with a mid-week evening ride in the Big Holes, loving the full-on Teton views and bluebird conditions.

Next was a sweet ride up Powerline & Millcreek trail with my man Dave T. It's a signature Teton Valley trail, but was the first time I had ridden it this year. Another stellar view day, plus Dave is always fun & happy. Thanks, my friend.

Friday date-night was a hike up Darby Canyon to the wind caves. Fall colors are just starting to kick-in, and it was absolutely beautiful. Bridger loved it, and practiced carrying his own pack. A black bear near the mouth of the wind caves added even more excitement to the outing.

Saturday was the annual Fall Classic golf day with my basketball buddies from Jackson. I love these guys like brothers. We played a fun 18-holes at Teton Reserve in Victor, then enjoyed a nice potluck dinner at Jere & Deb's. Good times.

Sunday was icing on the cake: an absolutely epic mountain bike ride with Joanne, Brooke & Craig to the top of Garns Mountain. We accessed it via South Horseshoe Canyon to Elk Flats, then on up to Garns. Not easy, but the view payoffs are well worth it. Good company, lots of laughs, sweet sweat, and memorable day.

I managed a nice photo of Craig taking in the Big Hole range. A controlled fire on West Pine Creek is in the distance, and fall colors are taking hold everywhere. I could sit and look at that view for hours.

Bridger has been loving the outings as well, especially when water is involved.

A snowstorm is forecast for this here's to Fall.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

LOTOJA: Logan-to-Jackson Bike Race Recap

I did it, and there is now one less thing on my bucket list. My goal going into LOTOJA - a crazy, 206-mile, one-day bike race covering three states and comprising 10,000 feet of climbing - was simply to finish it with a respectable time, and to enjoy the beautiful route as much as possible. Mission accomplished. Pedaling into Jackson Hole, WY that afternoon was one of the most fulfilling moments of my life, realizing I had left Logan, UT that same morning...on my bike.

My official time was 10 hrs. 53 min. 48 seconds, including one flat tire which cost me about 10 minutes. Tough headwinds also cost all of us some time, but thankfully temperatures were warm and skies were clear. It's a day I'll never forget.

With 1,500 cyclists starting, they split everyone into groups of about 40 and staggered by 3-minutes. My Cat 5 group started 24 minutes after the first Pro group, so take the finishing clock's time of 11:17:48, subtract 24-minutes, and there you have it. Overall, I finished in about the top 1/3 of the race.

I am a mountain biker at heart, and have done several cross-country and endurance races on the dirt. I got a road bike a couple of years ago to extend my riding season, and suddenly here I am. I do well on the climbs, and endure the flats. I didn't really even know how to ride a paceline until this spring, but I've enjoyed the challenge of a new discipline within a sport I love, and the speed of a road bike is awesome. Besides, my R.U. Outside store & warehouse have been in Logan for the past five years, and Jackson is my LOTOJA called to me.

I mainly have my cousin Brent (center in this photo) to thank for getting me on board the LOTOJA boat. He has now done it 5 times, and is a beast on the bike. His finishing time this year was 9 hrs. 44 min., nearly putting him on the Cat 5 podium. We did a handful of training rides together this spring & summer, which really helped me out. Plus, Brent has been very involved with the racing contingency of Bonneville Cycling Club out of Salt Lake City, so they were my team for LOTOJA. A really good bunch of people (including Adam and his wife, on left here).

Race re-cap: start time of 6:49 a.m., 48-degrees in downtown Logan, Utah when the starting gun went off. Quickly dropped to 44-degrees by the time we had ridden west down by the Logan River and farm fields; I don't function well when cold, so I was really glad I had opted for arm warmers, leg warmers, thin vest and shoe covers. I managed to stick with the front of our group for the first 34 mainly-flat miles to Preston, Idaho, including a couple of exciting merges with other groups. The sunrise was spectacular, with steam rising off the river and waterfowl waking. In Preston, Brent's wife Beth, son Haeden and cousin Chase helped me transition out of my layers, handed me a fresh water bottle and off I went. Brent, Adam and the other super-fast guys had surged ahead by then, so I settled in with other racers for the duration.

From Preston, the route climbs nearly 3,000 feet up Strawberry/Emigration Pass towards Montpelier, Idaho. They close that section of road to vehicles for the race, which allows for sublime riding. Fall colors were starting to pop at the upper elevations, making it even better. I did a good portion of that climb with Johnny, a great 21-year old kid from Reno, NV who turned out to be from a team sports background like me. Look for him playing cornerback at a university near you soon.

I felt good on most of that first big climb, and Johnny & I passed a lot of other racers, but at about the 50-mile mark (2.5 hrs.) my hamstrings started cramping. It's a pretty ominous feeling to deal with when you have over 150-miles to go. I can't attribute it to anything in particular, but am learning it almost always happens to me at the 2.5 hour mark of endurance events. I've also learned that if I just back off the throttle a little, I can ride through it and still finish that's what I did.

Descending into Montpelier was probably the most frustrating part of the race for everyone: the dreaded headwind hit us. It was impossible to break off and pedal on your own, so we all tucked into groups and did paceline work. I made it to the Montpelier feed zone at mile 80 in 4 hrs. 4 min., about 8-minutes behind my goal, but was feeling pretty good. Mom, dad, sister Lisa, and nephews Blake & Tyler were there to replenish my sports drink, water, bars & gels. Seeing everyone like that is always a nice shot in the arm, and I was off towards Geneva Pass...the second big climb of the day.

Incredibly, the headwind continued, making the climb doubly hard. Traffic is also thankfully diverted from this section of road during the race, and the scenery is beautiful...but the climb was tough. I finally found a good rhythm on the final two miles, which are also the steepest, and passed a good number of riders. Then, exactly 1/4-mile from the summit, it sounded like a gun went off and my front tire was suddenly and hopelessly flat. NOOO!!

While fumbling around with adrenaline and tools changing out the tube, dozens of riders that I had just worked so hard to pass came riding by. It was brutal, and took the wind out of my sails for a while. But, I dealt with it, utilized a pump w/pressure gauge which neutral race support came by and offered, and ten minutes later I was back in the race, tucking into the downhill that would take me to Highway 89 near the mouth of Salt River Pass. Here, we cross into Wyoming, traffic rejoins the race, and it is bedlam all the way to the finish. Cheering crowds are awesome.

Temperatures were really starting to rise by this point, and the headwinds became crosswinds. I managed to tuck into a fast group through the lower sections of Salt River Pass, and began making good time again. My family came driving by a couple of times yelling out encouragement, which helped keep a smile on my face. Mile 100 went by on my odometer...and then the pavement really tilted up. Groups splintered, jerseys were zipped open, and riders all suffered the singularly solo pursuit of climbing an 8% grade.

My mountain biking base kicked in, and I passed dozens of racers on the final 3-miles of climbing up Salt River Pass. It was pretty wild to be feeling strong on a brutal climb, 110-miles into a race. The hamstring cramps thankfully stayed at bay, and as I neared the summit I saw my wife Joanne with friends Jon & Audrey, cheering wildly in the crowd. It was like a mini Tour de France scene, and I was pumped. The descent into Afton went by quickly, even though I pedaled most of it on my own.

Afton is mile 125, and things were starting to ache: neck, butt, feet, triceps...uggh. I also realized I hadn't peed the entire race and needed to step up my hydration. Plus, from the way family & friends were staring at me I could tell I didn't look terrific :-)

Afton-to-Alpine is a mostly flat, 34-mile section, and it was absolutely the low point of my race. Headwinds made it impossible to break away from any group, so all racers were bunched together into really long pacelines. Any time you get more than about 8 riders together, the paceline starts to yo-yo; if you're in the rear 1/2 or so, you're constantly accelerating & decelerating. This removes any kind of rhythm, and saps lots of energy from the legs & mind. I really & truly wish there had been another big climb in that section, but just tucked my head and endured the flats...and finally rolled into Alpine.

Beautiful Alpine, WY: mile 159, 8 hrs. 29 min. Hot, dry, tired, achey, nearly delusional with fatigue. I unclipped from my bike, weakly asked nephew Blake to hold it, and stumbled towards the porta-potties. Halfway there I felt myself having a breakdown. The magnitude of what I was doing, realizing I was going to finish or die trying; the decades of bike-riding memories; the love & support of family & friends that day; the incredible pain & exhaustion from the effort. I gave myself a pep-talk, doused myself with cold water, drank a tasty Monavie Energy drink that my sister Lisa provided, cracked a couple of jokes...and got back on the bike. Let's finish this beast!

It was an absolutely gorgeous afternoon in Snake River Canyon, and the scenery helped pull me along. I thought of my late friend, Bill Townsend, who once roamed this country. Boaters floated the river below, fall colors dotted the hillsides above, cyclists pedaled bravely, and blue sky framed it all. I was happy to be exactly where I was, and could feel a bizarre resurgence of energy. Maybe it was the energy drink, or maybe this is an emergency supply that we all have deep down but rarely need to access in the modern world. Whatever it was, I was thankful.

I made a conscious effort to stay in smaller riding groups to avoid the yo-yo effect, and it worked. The wind also subsided, which allowed me to break away a couple of times and catch on to faster groups. By the time I passed my incomparable cheering group of Joanne, Jon & Audrey near Hoback Junction, I could taste the finish...and they spurred me on.

Nearing Jackson and seeing the Tetons was incredible. I was in a nice strong group of 5 riders, all working together equally. People lined the bike paths and streets, yelling encouragement. We crossed the Snake River one last time (I'll admit, I wanted to jump in and swim), made the turn towards Teton Village, and put the hammer down to the finish. I had been quietly watching my stopwatch and calculating time all the way from Alpine, vowing that I would finish in under 11 hours. With 5K to go, I realized that I would make it with some time to spare, and tried to just soak it all in.

Alpine to the finish line was my fastest section of the day, and it was great to finish on a high note like that. It was also great to finally get off the bike, and hug everyone who supported & cheered me on all day. There is no Finish Line "festival," unfortunately...which means no food, drink, music, massage tables, nothing. The event is fabulously organized and run, other than that.

When you've been on the bike for nearly 11-hours and burned 11,000 calories, you're dreaming of sustenance & fun. Not to mention the thousands of support crew, families & friends who are equally ready to indulge at the end of such a long day. Big untapped marketing opportunity, someone, anyone...

Mom and dad: thanks for the love, and that first Schwinn Sting-Ray. Who'd have thought it would lead to this.

I'm gonna take a few days off the bike now.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Adventures, Race-Ready

I haven't mixed it up much lately, but did squeeze in a favorite hike up Coal Creek with Joanne and Bridger last week. Weather was absolutely perfect, allowing for short sleeves even on the return downhill.

This photo is looking west from the flanks of Mesquite Divide, down into Coal Creek meadows. It's a scenic little valley that is always remarkably quiet on summer evenings, and would be a great camping spot. I keep waiting to see a good herd of elk, I know they're around.

From the divide, the view of Moose Meadows and the Tetons to the north is simply breathtaking. I've crested that ridgeline dozens of times over the years, and it never fails to wow. Feels like a piece of Switzerland and Alaska, right here in our Driggs, Idaho backyard. We can power-hike there from the trailhead in an hour flat, or take a more leisurely view-centric 90-minutes with friends.

It's been a ridiculously busy past few weeks, with lots of business travel, but I've managed to stick to my bike training rides wherever I've gone: Pocatello, Ketchum, Logan, Toronto, Salt Lake, Park City, Dubois. I've probably logged more bike miles outside of Teton Valley than within this summer, but it's kept things fresh and lends the sense of adventure that I love. This photo is from the upper Mueller Park-North Canyon loop east of Bountiful, old stomping grounds.

LOTOJA is only two days away. I'm ready to endure whatever profound suffering is necessary, and git 'er done!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Late Summer Altitude, Appetite

It was a perfect bluebird August day in Driggs, the kind we haven't experienced much this summer. I pounced, and rode my trusty steed up Mahogany Creek...up to Elk Flats...up, up and up until there was no more "up" in the entire Big Hole mountain range. There I was, on top of Garn's Mountain, with the Tetons in the background, 360-degree views, and nary a breeze. Epic.

The descent was pure nectar. Total ride: 17 round-trip miles, 3,100 feet of climbing (& descending), less than 3 hours. Late summer fitness is kicking in, at last.

Yes, I've been a bit of a bike-riding geek lately. Hey, it's a ridiculously short season, and you've gotta take advantage. Plus, LOTOJA is less than 3 weeks away. It motivates me on a daily basis now...the legs simply have to be ready. I did it as part of a 2-person team last year, and even that was painful. Doing 206-miles solo, across three states, with about 10,000 feet of climbing, promises inestimable suffering. Misery loves company, and 1,500 other riders will be out there with me. I'll take detailed mental notes of the pain as it unfolds, and relate it all here afterwards.

Have I mentioned the voracious appetite that develops from this kind of training? It's almost embarrassing. Meals every 2-3 hours; going to bed full at 11 p.m., waking up famished at 2 a.m.; repeat; still losing weight. I'm now the lightest I've been since college, and hope it translates to floating up Salt River Pass at mile 120. Then, the Snake River Canyon rollers...and then back to doing things other than just riding my bike :-)

The extended family, after an annual round of golf in Sun Valley a couple weeks ago. A handful of those people are really good golfers...yours truly not among them. The key is to keep smiling.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Swift, Sweet Summers in Driggs Idaho

Summer weeks pass so swiftly, it's difficult to stop and catalog it all. Outdoor adventures, family get-togethers, days at the lake, evening bar-b-ques, ball games, and oh yeah work...there's barely time to sleep.

I'm forcing myself to pause and remember the sweetness, because it'll soon be snowing again here in Driggs. Actually, it nearly did already on Saturday, August 8, when the Tetons received their first white coating of the season. But I digress.

Exploring new trails, outguessing thunderstorms, absorbing summer sunshine, and finding oxygen above 10,000 feet. It keeps us busy, curious, improving, and alive. Not to mention the

Nothing puts you back in your place like a round of golf. I am not good, but I enjoy it a few times a year for the company, change of pace, challenge, fresh air, and nuances. Another Caddyshack is needed, to capture it all in modern terms. Cell phones on silent, no twixting please.

Back to the high alpine singletrack, from where it all seems to flow. Water, wildflowers, big vistas and grand plans. Here's hoping for another month or two of prime time, before the white stuff sticks for good.

Make your final summer to-do list now.