Monday, December 31, 2007

Wouldn't have missed it (would I have?)

This morning I was woken up by the sound of the phone ringing. Already, people were calling me asking if the Polar Pedal was going to happen. I looked out the window to see what the weather looked like. Here's what I saw:

"Uh, no. I don't think I'm riding today." So it was decided. Or, so I thought.

A couple of hours later, the phone rang again. Another person asking if the ride was going down. "Nope, too snowy," came my quick, already decided answer.
"But, there's no snow where I am."
"Well, there is at my house."
"Aw, come on, there can't be that much snow. You don't live that far away from me."
I started to reconsider. I do live rather east and we always tend to get more snow than everyone else.
"Ok, I'll go drive the route and call you back with my final answer." I told the caller.
So I went and drove the route. The further west and north I headed, the clearer the roads got.
I called the person back. "See you in an hour. We'll have to stick to State Street, all the side roads are pretty snowpacked"

By the time I showed up at the Macey's flagpole there was already a group waiting. Not the big group I had originally expected, but a bigger group than I counted on considering the weather. With the weather as it was, we were glad to see the paramedics out in force.

It was snowing as we headed out. We decided we wouldn't go far, but by the time we got to our pre-determined turn-around point, everyone wanted to keep going.

Here's what the roads pretty much looked like (except for a couple of iced over areas once we got off State Street):

We ended up taking last year's route, out to the American Fork temple and back. Since I had driven over to Macey's, the ride ended up being only about 15 miles for me.

Here we are at the temple:

I had wanted to get in a good three hours today, but ended up with only one. I'm still debating finishing out the other two hours with my new love: cross-country skiing. I better get going. I'm running out of daylight play time.

Now, if I only had a New Year's Eve party to go to, the day would be perfect!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I'm starting to like the snow... a bit.

Spent another Saturday at Sundance. This time I avoided the downhill area and went straight for the Nordic Center. I was much less spastic on the snow today. I was even able to relax a little and let myself get some speed on the downhill parts of the cross-country trail. I may fall in love with xc skiing. We'll see.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beware! Grumpy Post

I'm thankful for the snow this year. I really am. It's doing a lot of good for the spring flowers and the lawns, and it's providing us with plenty of water.


I feel like a big wuss saying this, but I think I may pull out of the Polar Pedal ride this year. The route out to Saratoga is mostly on outback country roads. Country roads = less traffic to help melt the snow = more snow on the road. My skinny tires don't do so well on snow. If there's going to be snow, I'm going skiing (not that I'm any more skilled at that than riding in the snow).

I just read about the Squaw Peak ride here. I was hoping to do this ride as well, but it looks like I'd need a mountain bike. Oh, why didn't I ask Santa for a mountain bike? Or a cross bike? That would have fixed everything. I want a do over.

The weather forecast looks like more snow is expected throughout the weekend. I can handle the cold temperatures, but not slick, icy snow. I really don't care to fall over and get bloody, dislocated fingers (as promised for the Squaw Peak ride). If the roads are reasonably clear on Monday, I'll ride. Otherwise, those who show up at Macey's at 11 a.m. are on their own. If I'm not there, then good luck to you, my die-hard riding friends.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Polar Pedal

December 31, 2007 will be the THIRD ANNUAL POLAR PEDAL ride. Yes, it's the day where we ride just because it's the last day of the year we can ride.

Here's how it all began: Dec. 31, 2005.
I had owned my road bike for not yet three months. Before I bought my bike, I hadn't ridden a bike since I was about 11 or 12 years old. And, dang, now I was excited to ride any chance I got. So when I heard that there was going to be a group ride, I was there. I drove to the meeting place: Cracker Barrel in Springville. We were to ride from Springville, around West Mountain, through Genola and Payson, and back to Springville - about 50 miles total. A lofty goal for such a newbie. Imagine my disappointment when the only other people who showed up were serious, fast cyclists. I got dropped quickly. Luckily for me, Russ decided he couldn't leave me behind and ordered everyone to slow down. I hung on, anaerobic for several miles. Pretty soon, one guy, I'll call him Hothead, decided to ride away from the group. Hothead didn't know where he was going and soon missed the turn to West Mountain. Everybody in the group started yelling at him to come back, but he was too far out and couldn't hear us. We sent Russ to chase Hothead down and bring him back. In the meantime, the rest of the group tooled around, waiting for the others to return. It never happened. After looking for them for about 45 minutes, we decided to head back toward Cracker Barrel. Total mileage ended up being only about 20 miles.
Coming into the parking lot at Cracker Barrel, I had a little incident. I couldn't clip out of my pedal. My cleat had apparently frozen to the pedal. Now, I could either run into Coach Girl or my car. I chose the car. Once I hit the car, my foot finally unclipped. I felt like such a dork! All of this at a time when I was trying so hard to impress Coach Girl. Good thing she's managed to look past all my goofiness, and we've become good friends.

Dec 30, 2006: The Second Annual Polar Pedal.
This time around I had a year's worth of riding under my belt, and I was a bit less spastic. There were a few more people on this ride. People from all riding abilities. The group managed to drop a couple of riders off the back within 1.5 miles of the start, and Hothead didn't even come this year. I was not one of the dropped this time. By the time we realized we were missing some people it was too late. We didn't see them again for the rest of the ride. (I called them later to check on them. They were fine with doing their own no hurt feelings.) The 2006 ride was to be a much shorter ride. We rode from Orem out to the temple in American Fork and back. It was about 20 miles.
(I have a picture of the group from this ride. I'll have to post it later since it's on another computer.)

This year I expect the Polar Pedal will be even bigger. I've been telling people about it for a couple of weeks now, and several people have expressed interest in coming. The group will be meeting at the Orem Macey's flagpole (800 N State) at 11 am on Monday, Dec. 31. We plan to ride about 30 to 40 miles out to Saratoga Springs. Since I'm expecting that we'll have all different riding abilities, I think we'll split into a fast group and a slower group. I'll probably head up the slower group since I'm riding endurance right now. I don't want anyone getting dropped this year. It's no fun thinking you're going with a group and then ending up riding alone, feeling rotten about yourself the whole time. I know...I've been there too many times.

Anyway, I hope some of you can come ride with me for this year's Polar Pedal ride! As JE would say, be there or be somewhere else.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I am a snow dork!

I spent most of the day today up at Sundance Ski Resort. First downhill skiing, which lasted only about an hour before my knees told me I was done. Then I headed up to the Nordic Center and tried out some cross-country skiing.

I haven't been skiing for probably about 15 years. Boy, am I rusty! I managed to not fall down once all day. Probably only due to the fact that I skied like a giant chicken. I guess you could say I was working on perfecting my snowplow technique. The two-year-olds were moving faster than me!

I (probably stupidly) own a season pass to Sundance. So, I will be making multiple trips up there this season. Hope I can improve.

I can't wait for the spring thaw.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Oh, fine! I'll play!

I'm not exactly sure how this blog-tagging game is supposed to work, so I'm making up my own rules. I was called out on someone's blog to post six facts or habits about myself, and I have to try to use things I haven't already posted about. Then, I'm going to name a few people I'd like to hear from. And if you find your name here, consider yourself tagged and post your own six facts on your blog. This post is something I haven't wanted to do (don't like exposing myself), but, it's better than doing what I'm supposed to be doing at the moment. So here goes!

(Oh, one more rule I just thought up: if you're the one who put me up to this, you MUST leave a comment!)

1) I love the smell of freshly sharpened pencils. Especially Dixon Ticonderoga brand pencils. And to show my appreciation for the pencil, I have to pick at the sharpened part (brings out the smell) and rub it under my nose until the sharpened part is gone and there's nothing left but a big, long lead. The lead eventually breaks off and I have to resharpen the pencil and start all over. I've had this bizarre, but comforting, habit since the 5th grade. So if you come to my house and notice a bunch of deformed, short pencils, you'll know why. I'm working on one right now.

2) I enjoy watching the clothes wash in the washing machine. I know...washing machines were made to free up time. And it's usually when I'm the most busy and have the least amount of time that I find myself staring, mesmerized, into the washing machine.

3) Okay, enough weird habits. I'll move on to some facts about myself. When I was six years old I was riding on the back of my uncle's bike. He had reminded my to hold my feet out so that they wouldn't get caught in the spokes. I got lazy and forgot. I now have a still-painful-when bumped scar on the outside of my ankle. For years I wondered why the scar was on the outside of my ankle when the spokes should have hit the inside. Recently I figured out that I must have been on a banana seat where the long posts go down the side of the wheel. I guess I must have skewered my ankle on the bottom of the post.

4) I have a talented tongue. I can touch the end of my nose with my tongue. I can fold my tongue in half backwards and it stays like that without holding it against the back of my teeth. I can also make a really loud popping sound off the roof of my mouth with my tongue.

5) Um...this is getting hard. What to write, what to write... Hmmm...
I have never been to Texas. But I have been to both the east coast and the west. I've been to Canada and to Mexico. I hope to go to Switzerland someday.

6) And last, but not least. I own too many pets. I have a chocolate lab, two hermit crabs, a bearded dragon, and a mouse at my house. I'm always having to stop myself from bringing home even more pets. Growing up I had a dog, sheep, pigeons, ducks, a rabbit, and a pig (not all at the same time). I would love to have a bird, a puppy, and a snake. And probably some fish. Kittens are pretty irresistible, but I'm allergic.

So there you have it. Some totally useless facts about Rio's Rider.

Now, I'd like to see some interesting facts about Crazy4Rammstein, JE, and Sling. I'd also really enjoy reading some by T-Bird, DH, and Turbo, but that's asking a lot, I know.

One last thing. If you normally get a Christmas card from me, please don't be offended if you don't get one this year. Unfortunately, cards have been bumped to the bottom of my to-do list for now.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I Passed!

Yea! I passed recovery at the U! I went back up there today, went through all the drills, and I'm done! I'm still just a teensy bit sore down my right IT band, nothing really worth mentioning.

My wattage numbers were back up to my pre-test numbers. I was finally told what all those numbers were today. It was interesting to see that my lowest wattage day wasn't the day when I hurt the worst, it was the day I did the backward-pedaling bike. Every day thereafter, the watts climbed back up.

Steve, the guy who runs the program, is really a positive, good-natured guy. He's just a young college guy, but he really has a lot going for him. He's already got his life plan all figured out, and he's well on his way. He's really knowledgeable about all this body mechanics stuff, so I picked his brain a bit today. He seems to think that the best way to train is one leg at a time. There will be more testing on that in the future. We also talked a bit about training using something like the motorized backward-pedaling bike. I told him that I thought that if I could use something like that on a regular basis, and get used to it, it would make a great training tool. He says there's also a study on that in the future.

Looks like I'll be doing more studies at the U again in the future. Good thing I think all this science stuff is fun.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

So Very Cold!

I'm freezing!

I've had my hot drink. I'm wrapped in a thick blanket. I've turned the thermostat up. I'm still shivering.

I don't think I'm going to be able to convince myself to get on my bike to go out and dodge snow drifts in the road for two hours today.

Boring trainer, here I come.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I Failed Recovery

Apparently, I didn't recover so well after all. I have to make another trip back to the U next week. Which, I guess is fine and dandy with me. Aside from the blood draws, I'm kinda starting to like it up there.

This morning I felt much better, but once I got to the lab and warmed up, I could tell I was still quite sore. I probably shouldn't have announced that piece of info to the study director. I think that's the very reason I was asked to come back.

After I left the lab, my leg just seemed to stay sore. It's mostly sore down the outer quad today. I think it may even feel just a bit worse than yesterday. The good news is that I no longer have restrictions as to what I can do. I can ride again, ski, go to the chiropractor, eat what I want, and take my vitamins and ibuprofen again. And that's the first thing that I did: pop some pain killers! My neck has probably been more painful than anything the last few days. It's been out since I strained it on Tuesday, and I've been restricted from medicine or chiropractic. The meds worked well. It was good to feel normal again, if only for a couple of hours.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Feeling Better Now

Yesterday morning I felt like I had either recently had surgery on my leg, or that I was involved in some sort of car wreck. That's how bad my leg hurt! Today, it's more like I just overdid a workout. A bit stiff and sore, but bearable.

Once I hobbled up to the U of U lab and did my workouts, I started feeling much better. I'm rapidly recovering now.

Every day at the lab this week I've had to do the following:

First, a blood draw, then

1) a five minute warm up on a two-pedaled bike followed by two squats to rate my pain;

2) two three-second left-leg sprints;

3) two three-second right-leg sprints;

4) two right-leg sprints on 120 mm crank;

5) two right-leg sprints on long cranks (I don't know how long, but the pedal circle is about two feet in diameter.);

6) 90-second resistance load holding 80 RPMs with left leg (I hate these!);

7) 90-second resistance load holding 80 RPMs with right leg (I hate these more!);

8) two three-second sprints beyond 120 RPM with right leg.

Whew! It seems like a lot now that I write it down, but it goes by really fast.

Once I leave the U, my leg feels so much better -- like it can actually function as a leg. But then I spend an hour driving home and it gets all stiffened up, and it takes awhile for it to work properly again.

I have one more day to go in this study -- I hope! There is a chance that if I'm not recovered enough (based on my pre-testing and post-testing wattage), I have to come back for a few more days next week.

One of the best things about doing this study is that all my meals are planned for me. All I have to do is grab a pre-measured meal or snack and eat. It's been really convenient. The only problem has been that I've had three holiday parties this week, and I can't eat any of the party food. Looking forward to that cheesecake JE promised!

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Owie! I thought yesterday was bad, but today is worse. I am sore from my upper glutes, all the way down both sides of my leg, clear down to my inner knee. The U of U doesn't goof around when they do a study. They know exactly how to make a person sorer than hell! I can't walk gracefully, can't bend down, can't do much at all! Even sitting is uncomfortable. My knee keeps buckling on me if I try to walk too fast or go down the stairs. At first I wondered why they only tortured one leg, now I'm thankful that I have a good leg to get around on. I am totally favoring my right leg. I tried to get a good picture of my legs to post because the right leg is absolutely swollen. But my legs just looked fat and lumpy in all the photos I took, so I'm not posting them. Sorry.

The whole point of this study is to see how well or quickly the participants recover. I don't feel like I'm recovering well at this point. I'm pretty sure I'm on the placebo recovery drink. They have to have someone take a placebo for it to be a valid study, right?

One more thing: The U of U saddles are sooooo uncomfortable! I think they were made in the 1970s. A couple of them have this lip thing that pokes up off the back end. Talk about pain in my um...tailbone! I've contacted a couple of bike shops to see if they'd be willing to donate some better saddles, but so far I haven't gotten a response. If anyone knows of some newer, unwanted saddles that could be donated to a good cause, let me know. They could use #6 actually has a decent saddle.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

University of Utah Cycling Study

I'm not really in the mood to write right now (so pardon my sloppiness and confusion), but I figure I should write about my experience while it's still fresh on my mind.

Last week, I spent three days (Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday) at the U practicing for this week's testing. Basically, they have six bikes, all of which are set up for one-legged pedaling. They have you move from one bike to the next, and each bike is an experience all it's own.

The first bike was used for right leg pedaling. They had me warm up for five minutes using whatever resistance and cadence I wanted. Then they crank the resistance up to a specified level and have you hold 80 RPM for 90 seconds. Then they have you rate your perceived level of exertion on a scale. Some days it seemed easy and other days it was hard. Today, it was harder than usual. I don't know why there was a change. Maybe it has something to do with my fatigue level (or maybe they are doing something different some days. It's all very hush, hush).

The second bike was a repeat of the first, only with the left leg. The interesting part about they way they have you set up is that you have to clip into a stationary pedal with the leg that's not being used. It's really quite uncomfortable. My stationary leg is positioned on the outside of a wooden board to keep it from being hit by the weights. The weights (20 pound worth)are bolted to the other pedal (where your foot would be if it were actually clipped to the bike and not the outside of a board.)

The third bike is used for the left leg again. I have to be seat-belted onto the bike so I can't come out of saddle. This bike is for three-second sprints. Last week they had me do three sets; this week it's two sets. The sprints aren't too bad. They're not long enough to be hard.

Forth bike, same thing as third, only for the right leg.

The fifth bike is strange. It is used for the right leg only. First, they have it set up so that the crank length is only 120 mm. I get to warm up for a minute to get used to it, then I do more three second sprints. I kind of like the short cranks. I can really get the pedals flying. They then adjust the bike so that the crank length is ridiculously long. It makes me feel like I'm pedaling a giant tricycle: leg all the way extended at the bottom of the pedal-stroke, and knee hitting me in the chest at the top. After I get used to it for a minute, I get to do more sprints. These sprints feel awkward, slow, and clumsy.

Next, I move to the sixth and last bike. This bike is motor-powered. Usually, I use this bike for more sprints. The motor is running the flywheel at 120 RPMs. I have to get the pedals up to speed and sprint from there. These are the hardest sprints of them all. It's hard for me to tell if I'm really putting forth more power once I start sprinting.

Today, I used this last bike for ultimate torture! The adjusted the bike so that the motor was pedaling the cranks backwards. My job was to try to resist the motor, with only my right leg. They measure how many watts you're resisting with. I was supposed resist at 125 watts, but it was so hard! I was crying by halfway through. The whole time, they're yelling at me not to let up. My whole body was so tense, and when I'd try to relax one area of my body, I'd let up on the pedaling. Then it was hard to get back into it because it hurt so bad I just wanted to stop. The less watts you push, the longer you have to do it. So I ended up being on the stupid machine for twice as long as I should have been. Ugh!

And then there was a big surprise. I thought I was done after the torture bike. But, no! I had to do an uphill time trial on the computrainer with my left leg. This was the last thing I wanted to do at the time, but it wasn't so bad after what I'd just been through. I was surprised that I actually asked them to make it steeper toward the end. Once again, this was one of those deals where the harder you push the faster it's over. So this one didn't seem to take long at all.

Today, I had to do all the bikes twice. Thankfully, I only had to do torture and time-trial once. Also new this week, blood draws and pain-rating squats. What fun!

I walked out of the lab like a drunk. My knee kept buckling on me, and I couldn't walk a straight line. If you want a good show, come hang out at the U of U and watch the study participants walk out of the building.

Anyway, I'm really hurting already. Can't wait to see what tomorrow holds!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like....

Well, it would be looking a lot like Christmas at my house had I done what I was supposed to have done today. The plan was to spend the weekend putting up the holiday decorations. For those of you who have seen my decorations, you know that one weekend alone is not enough time to get everything put out. I think I must own one of every ornament ever made. It's that bad!

Instead of decorating, I headed over to Wheeler Farm to watch the Men's A CX race. It was snowy and wet and cold, but I hardly noticed because of the fun atmosphere of the race.

Here are some pictures that I took of the race:

The starting line. Be sure to click for a bigger image. Dave Harward's got his rock star face on.

Harward on a run up.

Dave Harward

Eric Rasmussen dismounting for a wheel change.


Turbo (Ryan Barrett)

You can see how much fun Turbo and Sam Krieg are having. Here's Sam passing Turbo on a run up.

The funnest part of the race was when Sam Krieg decided to go through the route ribbons and got all tangled up. He then proceeded to take time out of the race to throw snowballs at his teammate, Turbo. He came around a few laps later, parked his bike and threw more snowballs. It was really funny.

I'm not sure if Sam is trying to chuck his bike at Turbo, but it sure looked like it. Nice mullet, Turbo!