Monday, June 30, 2008

I think Jennie might hate me

Since we were feeling lazy for taking most of last week off I decided a long ride was in order for Saturday to shake the funk out. Rhonda wanted to bring a friend to share her pain and Jennie swallowed the bait. We got up to PC around 10:30am and parked in in the Community Church parking lot in Bear Hollow. Picked up Colin's trail north of the Canyons in Bear Hollow and climbed up to Mid Mountain. Slogged across Mid Mountain to the Spiro intersection which was about the point the girls were wondering what they had gotten themselves into. My plan was to do an out and back to Deer Valley and after a short motivational speech about the high fun factor of the rest of the ride I convinced them to press on. By the time we got to Deer Valley we were about 27 miles into the ride and the ladies were getting a little tired. We chilled at DV for a bit and hit up the Signature Store for some Snickers bars. They were really satisfying. After the snack and some low ball jokes about the fit of a certain bridesmaids' dress we started back along Mid Mountain towards PC. Jennie found her second wind and was pushing me from behind while Rhonda was trying her best to act grouchy even though she was loving the trail. We were weaving across the recently reopened old section of Mid Mountain between DV and PC when disaster almost struck. The trail had become a little overgrown from lack of use last year and the weeds were tall and thick on both sides of the narrow singletrack. I was flying down a hill with my eyes peeled ahead watching for traffic when I felt a thunk under my right foot. Next thing I new I was supermaning through the air at a high rate of speed. The only thing that saved me was my cat like reflexes which allowed me to dodge trees mid air and land in thick cushion of grass! Not! Actually I got very lucky and did land in a cushion of grass somehow missing the closely spaced aspens and escaped the fall unscathed. I used my adrenaline to walk back up the trail and rip the offending aspen stump, which had caught my pedal and sent me flying, out of the ground and toss it down the hill. By this time there was an audience of two hikers and four other bikers who must have thought I was Bruce Banner or something. I smiled politely, dusted myself off and di di maued down the trail. By the time we got back to Spiro it was getting late. Jennie's dog Kai had been on lock down all day so we decided to head down Spiro and take the road back to the car (this decision had nothing to do with any of being the least bit tired, we were just worried about Kai). We got back to the car around 6pm with a total distance of around 42 miles. It was a little more distance than the girls were expecting to do but I think (hope?) they still had fun. I know I did.

Friday, June 27, 2008


I don't think of myself as a lazy person but maybe I need to start rethinking that. I read more and see more stuff all the time on athletes, both amature and pro, being "overtrained". I can't wrap my mind around this phenomenon. The thought of doing something that sucks (training) to the point where you've done it so much that's it's detrimental to your health blows me away. Every night I get home from work there is always the choice, relax or ride. Man it's a fight to not have relax win most of the time. If the choice changes to relax or training ride I'm done for, relax always wins. Maybe I am lazy?

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I'll live to work another day. Job cuts went down earlier this week. In one fell swoop 30 or so heads rolled but mine wasn't one of them. My boss said "that's it for job cuts" but what he neglected to add to the end of his sentence was "for now". Live goes on Corky Thatcher.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I don't know why but I love climbing. There's something very pure and almost carnal about climbing in a MTB race. As you enter a big climb early in a race you can often see your "prey" somewhere in front of you and the hunt is on. You stalk your prey and wait for the first sign of weakness. Maybe it's a spin out on a loose pitch, sometimes it's a slight weave off the trail due to a bad line but more often as you approach your prey you can read their body language and know they're struggling. This is the time to pounce.

I dig the Solitude Tuesday night race series. It's almost too fun for words. Due to the way the distances are set up most beginners decide to race in sport for the extra distance. This sets up a scenario where I have an abundance of prey. Because of the early singletrack climb most of the beginners think they need to blast off the line at a dead sprint to hit the singletrack ASAP. Normally it's a good strategy but unfortunately after sprinting for half a mile to the singletrack they're blown and it gets ugly for them quick on the climbs. Early in the climb I pass people who are standing off to the side of the trail gasping for air as I motor along but later in the climb is where I find my true prey. These are the racers who are strong enough the continue to climb after the sprint but are too blown to climb well. I hear them up ahead blowing like a freight train and the hunt is on. I slowly creep up on them and try to keep noise to a minimum, you don't want to scare your prey too early. As I get right on their wheel I calm my breathing and politely ask "can I get by". Immediately I see their shoulders slump with resignation when they realize the game is up. They'll try to be polite as they grunt out a yes but I can sense their displeasure. After making the pass I make sure to give it a little extra juice just to make sure I demoralize them enough so they can't grab my wheel.

Last night the prey was particularly abundant. The sport group was bursting at the seams for the start with maybe 20 or so total riders. The all mountain crowd was well represented with maybe a third of the racers on 5" rigs with fat tires and baggy shorts. It's good to see those guys out racing because some of them will get the bug and eventually evolve into XC types. More racers is good for everybody. I was probably too slow off the start and let most of the field get ahead of me. As soon as the singletrack climb started there was a massive pile up of blown beginners cursing at each other so I just picked my bike up and ran around them as best as I could. I picked off close to ten people on the climb and as the singletrack opened onto the service road I could see the lead group a minute or so ahead. The lead group got strung out on the road but I didn't push as hard as I should have to try to move up. I got caught behind one of the stragglers on the downhill and couldn't make a pass until the climb. I was feeling pretty good on the second climb up but still couldn't close the gap much. I wanted to hammer the road at the top to try to bridge up but I didn't have anything left in the tank and the people ahead were gone. Not sure how I placed but my time was less than a minute off my personal best from last year. I'm pretty happy with that since the snow on the course slowed me up a bit and I was re-learning the downhill. I just wish I didn't have to wait till next tuesday to do the race again.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Good (75%) The Bad (20%) & The Ugly (5%)

Rhonda and I pre-rode the Solitude race course last night and the title above pretty much sums up our experience. Most of the course was in perfect condition and a lot of the short steep pitches that were pretty loose last year are nice and firm now. Certain sections of the course are in pretty rough shape from the runoff. Specifically the section of trail near the end of the Serenity climb where it switchbacks across a ski run is eroded and has a narrow tire trap in the middle where the snow melt has been running off. There are also ten or so snowdrifts on various sections of the trail. Some of them are rideable, some not so much. The last part of the downhill seems rougher than last year as well but it's hard to remember for sure. All in all the course is good to go and even with the bad sections it will be fun to race tomorrow.

It's funny what an off season will do to your mind. I remembered Solitudes climbing as not being too bad last year. Man was I mistaken. Serenity singletrack is a steep, rooty, rocky and difficult climb. In other words it's pretty cool. I think what I like about that climb is that the harder you push yourself the easier it is. I have a problem with losing motivation during some climb's but not with this one. I can immediately sense a difference in climbing ease when I redline it versus letting off a little bit. As soon as you let off the throttle your momentum is gone you get shut down quick.

The end of the road is melting fast and should be good to go by ICUP time

There and back again......

Saturday wanderings of a tall skinny man in the low elevations of the Wasatch.

Rhonda hooked up with Lucy, Heather and Tasha for a not so girlie ride in Park City on Saturday so it left me with the day to myself for a nice long solo ride. I started up the Alexander creek trail next to Mountain Dell Golf course and slogged up to Parleys summit. From Parleys I headed down through the far west side of Jeremy ranch on the Moose Hollow trail where it hooked up with the 24-7 Connector and eventually Flying Dog. Using the Preserve connector I made a pretzel out of Flying Dog allowing me to descend both sides on the same day so I could officially end the debate over which side has the better descent (switchbacks win hands down). Dropped down to the Glenwild parking lot for a water bottle refill, did two laps of Glenwild and headed back on 24-7 to retrace my steps up over Parleys and back to the car. The combination of the 60 mile distance (99% singletrack), plenty of climbing and the heat made the ride quite a spankdown. About 20 miles in I was losing some motivation and considered turning around but by 30 miles in I was loving life again. At mile 40 I found a second wind and decided to turn my planned 50 miler into a 60 miler by doing one more lap of Glenwild. At mile 50 as I was climbing back up Moose Hollow (the steepest climb of the day) I was cursing my stupid ambition as I ran out of water and couldn't choke down my hot energy drink. Once I got back to the car and got my hands on some cold fluid once again all was right in the world. Total saddle time I think was in the neighborhood of 7 hours but I'm not exactly sure since my HRM had a hiccup and reset on the final climb up to Parleys. I think I'll be good to go for the PCP10 in a few weeks. My only problem on the ride was a loss of interest in warm fluids during the second half so I'll make sure to have plenty of ice in the cooler for the race. Other than that all was good, my back felt great and I had plenty of energy until I got dehydrated near the end. Since I dont have any fancy electronics other then a cheap HRM and odometer the google earth map is a handrawn representation of where I went and not an exact track.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Survived the week

Survived the week and still have a job though I'm not outta the woods yet. Plans for the weekend include a looooong solo dirt ride on saturday and getting a Solitude pre-ride in on sunday afternoon ( I need to start the defense of my podium on tuesday night). UPS also delivered the new roof mounted passive solar heater for our pool so I need to break out my mad plumbing skills and try to get that hooked up sometime.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Job Cuts

Had a meeting with management yesterday. Apparently even though productivity was 116% last month and we had a net profit of over 5 million dollars it's not good enough for the bean counters and staff needs to be cut again. I still feel marginally safe but you just never know. They didn't announce an exact date for the layoffs other than soon. The mood around the office has been less than jovial with a lot of people huddled in pairs talking in hushed voices looking over their shoulders. What has happened to America? I'd like to believe in a free market economy but it just doesn't work. Corporate America is rife with greed and corruption and middle class America is collapsing. I wonder what France has for single track?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One week away

The Solitude Tuesday night race series fires up one week from tonight. As you can see from the picture taken today the snow is melting nicely and with warm temperatures expected to hang around for the foreseeable future the course should be in mint condition for the start of the series.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Summer has finally arrived! We got out on Saturday for a team group ride with Bob and Lyna, Shannon and Jen, Ryan and Jenelle, Paul, Steve and Jim (who's wives were shredding at Dirt Camp this weekend). We parked at Jeremy Ranch and rode 24/7, Flying Dog, Cobblestone, Glenwild, Stealth, Drop Out, Fink Again and 24/7 back to the cars. Shannon was recovering from an illness so he set a nice easy pace up the climbs that I could maintain without blowing up. All the trails were in mint condition and the 2.5 hrs of saddle time flew by.

That night we a had a little BBQ at our place. We grilled up some awesome mango/jalapeno chicken sausages and embarrassed Bob with an impromptu singing of happy birthday and 40th birthday present of his special top secret race day power breakfast ingredients.

Sunday Lyna and Rhonda allowed me to escort them on a tour of pretty much every piece of dry singletrack in lower Deer Valley. We started up the race course, cut over to Spin Cycle, down Spin Cycle, back up to the race course, all the way up and down gap trail, Solamere up and down Snow top, connected over to Prospector, down SOS back up Prospector, around to Gamble Oak, up Gamble Oak and back down Solamere to the cars. I was brilliant enough to forget my bottles so I borrowed one from Lyna and also took the two cans of Coke we brought for recovery with me on the ride. It worked out pretty well. It turns out warm coke is a great energy drink.

Man, what an awesome weekend. I'm so glad its finally summer!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mark got it wrong

Mark's post about the team group ride last night was pretty accurate except for one small but important fact. He said "I enjoyed the ride with Steve, Drew, Jim, Andy and their wives" when what really happened was he enjoyed the ride with Heather, Lucy, Shelly, Rhonda and their husbands. It's an important distinction. The difference is that since it's much cooler to go for a ride with a bunch of cool, fast MTB rocking chicks than with a bunch of slow old dudes, why not brag about it? Highlight the time spent with the ladies and forget the guys! The second problem is that when you are an addict of all things cycling and are fortunate enough to be married to a lady who feels the same you naturally take a back seat to that lady out of respect. Hence the ladies get either lead billing or at the very least more props than just "their wives" in all cycling related stories. As Mark's wife spends more time on the MTB he'll learn.

Some other ride highlights were bombing down pipeline dodging unleashed dogs, trail runners and the jean shorts and t-shirt MTB crowd in what felt like arctic temperatures. We then warmed our numb appendages post ride with some killer grub and suds at Porcupine.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Today at Alta

New NORBA class system for 2009

It looks like they'll be getting away from the traditional beginner,sport,expert,semi-pro, pro system and going to a more simplified system like the roadies have. Nothing is official yet other than a change will happen but for now the plan is to have Cats 4,3,2,1 and pro with age dividers among the cats. The age dividers will be broader than the current age ranges (i.e. 30-39 instead of 30-34). The Pro category will have very strictly enforced entry restrictions to try to increase it's level of competitiveness and international profile. Some discussions are here and a DH focused one here. I just hope the new system doesn't screw local pros, i.e. Bart who can hang with the big dogs but don't have time to hit all of the national races.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Not sure what to think.

I've had 48 hours to digest the Deer Valley race and I'm still not sure what to think about it. The facts:

  • It was cold, crazy cold for June which my skinny ass is not a big fan of.

  • I spent my entire warm-up time thinking of reasons to go back into the heated lodge.

  • I rode the 1st seven mile lap in 45 mins and the 2nd four mile half lap in 37 mins. Seems like a big drop off in lap 2.

  • The max HR I've ever recorded was 179 at a roadie TT. During MTB races my HR hangs out in the low to mid 160's. Max HR up the starting climb was only 168 yet my legs felt weak and I was huffing like a freight train.

  • I enter each race without a real goal other than riding fast. I'm very goal oriented yet I can't come up with a realistic goal for most races. The only race I had a goal at was 5 Mile Pass (sub 2 hr time) and that was my best race. Since then I haven't had time goals since the courses are new to me. I also doesn't work to have a goal of trying to beat a specific person because the regulars in my category are either way faster or slower than me. I had a lot of relative success at the Solitude series last year because there was one guy who raced every week who was just a bit faster then me and another who was a bit slower. A carrot and a stick almost every race.

  • I was 11th out of 14th but only 10 mins back from first which doesn't seem too bad for a guy with a total racing career consisting of four beginner races, three sport races and five mid-week races. I also don't have any kind of a training plan other than lift weights in winter and ride as much as possible in the summer.

  • I've been very unhappy that the last two races have been shortened. My best sections (middle grade climbs) were removed from the 2nd laps of both races and even though my 2nd laps are a lot slower for some reason I feel better on them.

  • I probably need to get a better warmup in but between stretching, eating, the early ass start times and being coach/trainer/physician/mechanic to team Hypio's real racer it never seems to happen.

That's a lot to think about but I have until Snowbird in July to try to figure some of it out. In the meantime I'll be surfing the net and picking peoples brains for ideas. I'm also open to any words of wisdom (or criticism) from people in the blogosphere who read this.

Rhonda has been bouncing back and forth for the last month or so about moving from the 35+ to the sport categorie. She wanted to race the longer distance but was worried about getting her teeth kicked in and was quite honestly enjoying the podiums she was getting in 35+. She was going to make the move in Draper but decided to wait when they shortened the race. They shortened the DV race as well but since she might not be able to race Icup again till Evanston she decided to make the move. The worry of getting her teeth kicked in proved unfounded. She added to her large stack of ribbons by finishing 6th. She climbed pretty well but the unfamiliar wet conditions slowed her down on the DH or she might have done even better. Next race for her is the Super D at the MTB nationals back in Deer Valley in a few weeks

Rhonda reaches down to turn her weapon to "full auto" for the descent.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A good thing

Because of this (chevron on 7th east)

Cars have finally starting outselling Fords F-series pickups. This is a very good thing for everybody except for the knucklehead American car company's who refused to see the writing on the wall.

Dig out your CX cold weather gear.

Temperatures at Deer Valley tomorrow per the National Weather Service

7:30 AM (warm up and registration) 40 deg
9:00 AM (race start) 49 deg
11:30 AM (appx finish) 53 deg

update- Now they've added a 40% chance of AM showers. This might work out for the best by scaring away some of my less motivated competition. If only 6 other people show up I just might get lucky and collect one of those fancy ribbons!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Stinkin' Snowpack

The Solitude ICUP has been rescheduled for 4th of July weekend which is the only weekend this summer that I can't possibly make it. You can ask Steve Hales how happy I was with that development. It's not like I would have a chance of doing well at the race. The 2700 ft of climbing over the course of a 14 mile race puts a large individual (6'7" 183lbs) such as myself at a huge disadvantage to my decidedly smaller competition. The thing is I love is the challenge of doing things I'm not good at and I was really looking forward to getting killed riding up and down that mountain three times. Maybe I should do it as an individual time trial the weekend before the race just for giggles.

We hid from the rain and watched Juno on DVD last night which I must highly recommend. I was worried that the high expectations I had for the movie would be let down after all the hype I've been hearing. Happily the movie is the real deal. It was a wonderfully original story that didn't let you down by being predictable. The comedy was in just a large enough dose to keep the serious subject matter from becoming dreary. Go rent it..... Fer Shiz

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

There will be blood (deer valley style)

That's the new name of the Deer Valley Pedalfest for anybody larger than a Hobbit. Or it could be called Rollin' in the 22-34 if you can't climb like me. The first half of the course is the same as always but it doesn't ride the same. The climb is the same but the first little section of switchbacks down the ski run is currently a 4" water filled trench through a small snowfield. Rideable but sketchy especially after getting blown up on the climb. The next couple miles down Pipeline are where the blood comes in. The trail is draped with tree branches and saplings pushed down into the trail path by the snow pack. You can ride through them but even riding conservatively and stopping every 100 yards or so to clear the worst of the branches out of the way I was covered in long bloody scratches by the end of the ride. Thank goodness it's going to be cold on Saturday so I can wear long sleeves. In the middle of the dodge a branch section is a hike a bike section over a snowdrift that will not be melted by Saturday. Don't even dream of wearing your carbon road shoes. The second half of the course is new and relatively branch free. It rides pretty well but the descent is kinda sketchy. The corners have huge berms that entice you into carrying a lot of speed but if you blow the corner and go over the edge you will probably earn yourself an expensive ambulance ride. Total distance per lap was just over seven miles with a lot of climbing and relatively slow descending (anybody know the total elevation gain per lap?). It will be pretty fun if the branches get cleaned up before the race and pretty annoying if they don't. If you get a chance to preride between snow showers this week help a brother out. Bring some clippers and cut back a couple of branches along the way.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My new favorite website Same deal as only its all bike parts. Just had a full ultegra Pinarillo (sp?) bike for like $1200 and some $350 northwave shoes for $120. I think somebody is ganging up with ebay to try to put Sly out of business.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sleep > Race

That's right call me lazy but when I planned out my race season this winter the Sundance race was one of the first ones eliminated. The course sounds fun but the thought of leaving my house by 6:30 AM to try to be to Sundance by 7:30 for proper stretching and a warm up makes me ill. Why do these bloody races have to start so freaking early? I'm kinda glad there will be a break in the action for a bit after Deer Valley this weekend. The siren call of lazy AM's followed by long days on buff singletrack is starting to overcome the urge to hang out in the pain cave at the buttcrack of dawn.