Saturday, September 24, 2011

That Hula Hooping Craze

Everywhere I go I see hula hoops. I don't know why.

Its for kids...

First I see them at the 9th and 9th street fair. Now at the Farmer's Market.

A young High School-aged girl had her hoops out for people to play with. She does birthday parties and other events.

Then I find out that while I was in Canada, the land to the south did, in fact, embrace the hoop: Obligatory NYTimes Article

Where was I?

Ben invited me out to try some other recent craze that all the outdoorsy people are into.

It seemed cool, but I don't think it will catch on...

The Edible Wasatch

Its early Fall. I usually have a post-Summer malaise, but not this year.

But we are keeping the pressure on our legs for the high desert tour is coming soon.
Riding with a Sasquatch.

Trailer captain with her biker gang...

The writing in this magazine is overly precious. 

Biker gang, pastry thugs we are. We frequent the haute pastry shop of Les Madeleines on some post-rides.

I usually don't get these, but I'd been about 4 years since my last one: The Kouing-aman, which is a Bretton pastry that literally means "butter cake" in the eponymous French dialect---a hockey puck-sized candied croissant-like pastry baked with sugar syrup. They must have 600 calories. Don't get diabetes folks.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


(1)  Ride yourself West past the marcados and carnecerias, out to the industrial flatlands of the valley. Go after work, after the big trucks have been parked, laborers have gone home. Its you and a vacant steel mill, warehouse, the office parks, cult compounds, and horse pastures. Its you and an bumpy asphalt road through the weeds and over canals heading to the salt marshes of the Great Salt Lake.

(2) Turn yourself inside out, over and over and over and over....

(3) Go home.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The tour of wild apples to the 9th and 9th Street Fair

The 9th and 9th neighborhood is where all the hipsters go.

Hula-hooping hipsters. Imogen really got into these chicks.

Before the street fair, we took a ride up City Creek on our newly rebuilt tandem. It got all new cables and housing and three new bicycle chains. Finding tandem-length brake and shift cables can be a challenge. Thanks Guthrie Bicycles!

 I also put on a road-bike-style drop bar onto the mountain tandem. The original flat-bar setup always felt too cramped in the cockpit. I had to slide the saddle way back to not feel that I was on a clown bike, even with a toptube of 60cm and a 100mm effective length stem. With the way-back position, the tandem had really squirlly steering. Tandems always have not enough weight over the front wheel which is why they are less stable, and controlling them takes more muscular effort for the the pilot (this is somewhat ameliorated by having the [larger] men riding on the front and the [smaller] lady on the back).

With the drop bars, I not only have more comfortable hand positions, I also get my body more over the front wheel, and the steering is more stable. Sitting in the drops is also excellently secure for sustained braking on steep hills. I used a flared Nitto drop bar given to me by Ben, and added the Salsa top-mounted brake levers for even more braking positions.

Finally, our tandem was equipped with an old 7-speed derailleur with grip shifters meant for a mountain bike 25.4mm bars, where the standard road-sized drop bar is 26mm. So, in order to make the grip shifters fit on the bars, I had to file down about 1/2-inch of the the ends of the bar to achieve the 25.4mm size. This took about an hour of perseverance and an accurate calliper to make sure I got it perfectly round. It also helped that the Nitto bars are not by any stretch of the imagination a lightweight bar. They are made of pretty thick aluminium, so filling off a little did not hurt anything. Of course, I could have purchased bar-end shifters, but that costs money...

Oh yeah, for all of my bike-riding, running, hiking, and locavore friends: There are wild apples in City Creek right now. Hike up there and find them off the side of the road. They are perfectly ripe. Usually those little green apples you see are sour and acrid. Not these. They're made of pure sugar, ripe as ever. We picked a few pounds that are bound for apple jam, apple butter, pies, etc...

And I married this beauty picking them...  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Pipes Are Calling

Super Crest. The spine.

Ridden. Clean.

It was a crazy day up on the Crest, including a bagpiper. Yeah, you heard me right. Bagpipes. On Puke Hill no less. I've heard the bagpipes are the traditional music the Scotts would play before battle. What else kind of music would you want before you eviscerate your enemy---or he eviscerates you? Baroque chamber music? The lute? The hurdy gurdy? Nope. And so it was the perfect soundtrack for gear grinding Puke Hill---which is like an evisceration.

The so-called Dood Crew (including me, the cameraman), named by Brian. I can't bring myself to spell it right. But the name fits. We are men enough to embrace it.

The Dood-Crew-mobile.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Israel Canyon

I have some family that lives on the West side of Utah Lake. We went for a visit, and along with a little babysitting of numerous kid cousins, I snuck out with my bike for a little exploring up Israel Canyon in the Lake Mountain Range.

This boat is a tad far from the lake shore.

Before the mouth of the canyon proper, there is a powerline frontage 4X4 road that was mighty enjoyable, with great views of the Wasatch range and the lake:

The canyon itself was a fairly steep grade, and rather loose, especially at the top. I grinded uphill for an hour, and almost made it to the final switchbacks leading to the summit radio towers, but I turned back instead. I had no goals in mind. I just wanted to see what was up there. And that's the attitude I've been trying to cultivate since my move back to Utah: rather than do the same-old awesome stuff the Utah has over and over, I try explore the hidden-in-plain-sight stuff whenever possible, even if its not the coolest thing ever. And this ride fits the bill: The more diminutive Western ranges of Utah I see every day, yet I've never been up there till now. Check, and done. 

It should be noted that the Lake Mountain Range west of Utah Lake is listed at HERE but it suggests grinding up the relatively moderate 8%-average grade (yeah, thats not steep at all!) of Mercer canyon to the south to reach the radio towers, then descend Israel Canyon to complete the traverse of the range. That sounds like a smart way to do it. I'll have to try that next time, although the steep grades of Israel Canyon were pretty fun way to work on ultra smooth, ultra power, slow-cadence climbing for long distances.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Queen Stages

Riding days. This day with some friends (Brian and Matt)

Attacking the crest.

Before the Crest, it was back-to-back TTC rides: up Little Mountain, and then Jordan River Parkway.

All of this leading to today's Queen stage: to train for our coming tour in Southern Utah, we have to ride a 3000-foot climb after multiple days of riding prior, so we rode Mill Creek from our house. After three previous days of riding in my legs, and two in La Lissa Von Stoker's, we were able to spin up the canyon with reasonable form. So we passed the test. We ask, our legs respond. We eat, sleep, work, and ride all over again the next day. I credit Ms. Stoker for our diligence in training. Its been a real pleasure.

Matt, at desolation, prologue to the Queen stage...

Goathead Season

ATVs are really a kid's dream come true. The inner fiver-year-old in me thinks they are the bee's knees, and so does my nephew...

Finally, I am no longer a fly rod poseur. I can actually cast reliably and land trout. Imogen is not so sure, but fresh out of the creek, this cutthroat was good eating.

Apropos the post title. Goatheads are a milestone of Summer's dry heat as we descend to Fall. The patch kit has been seeing some action. Two patched tubes so far and many near misses.

And with all the thorns, the old Continental Mountain King 2.4 tires I had on my bike sprung some leaks. This prompted new tires, and while I was at it, a full tune-up, pads, and chain. The tires are Maxxis Ardents 2.4. They make my bike look like a monster truck. They are bigger (and slightly heavier) than the Mountain Kings. Maxxis tires have a reputation for having a tougher sidewall and better wear life, hence the weight. I found that the Mountain King (MK) tread was really rough/slow rolling, while the Ardents are comparatively smoother/faster (and quieter).  The MK's were good on loose stuff, but not good on rocks and roots, and especially not on hardpack. This is all moot now that the latest iteration of the MKs look a lot more like the Ardents---a better all-round trail tire for dry conditions.

But I digress... Summer. The dog days.