Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sea Otter

Last week while thousands of BYU students were taking advantage of reading days and finals week, I drove to California.

What better way to prepare for the tests that would determine a large part of my semester grades than to go spend some time somewhere a lot warmer than Utah to race my bike. It makes more sense if you think about it while out riding bikes...

So Tuesday, right after my last class, I took off for California. It was nice drive, other than the sand storms in Utah.
I got up early each day to ride and enjoy the beautiful California scenery.

That wasn't the beautiful scenery, that's just me. Here's some pretty scenery.
My friend Kirsten was kind enough to let me stay with her for a week in Sacramento, about 3 hours away from Monterey.

Thursday we headed down to Monterey for the race, which turned out to be probably the first sunny day of Sea Otter history.

After getting dropped like a sack of rocks at the road race last year, this year I decided to do the circuit race. Kyle tore it up in the circuit race last year, getting 3rd place. The Sea Otter circuit race takes place on the Laguna Seca race motorsport race track, home to several famous races including the famous 1996 race featuring "The Pass"

It was really cool to race bikes on such a sweet course. Each lap was about 2.2 miles and invloved 200 feet of climbing. 200 feet of climbing might not sound like a lot, but it was a pretty dang steep hill. This is the altitude profile of the entire race:

So I lasted about 4 laps with the group before getting dropped right at the top of the hill. I figured I'd driven almost 1,000 miles to race the thing, so there was no way I was going to drop out. I ended up getting 24th of the 30 guys that finished. And that's out of the 55 that started. I didn't feel too bad.

At least I finally got some sweet pictures of me on the road (thanks to Kirsten)

I was going a lot faster in that last picture than you can tell...

Anyway, it was a ton of fun. Getting dropped wasn't, but overall it was a sweet course, a great race, and awesome company.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mt. Biking is really, really fun.

Racer and I after the race down at the Cholla Challenge in Huricane, UT

I have always been a roadie. I got my first road bike when I was 14. A 1996 all aluminum Trek 1400. It had some of the first Shimano STI shifters, and a killer "Fire Ice" red paint job. It was worth more than twice my first car I would end up buying a few years later, but it was worth every newspaper I had to wake up at 5 am to deliver to get it.

As time went on I got into racing. I have always owned a mountain bike, but never been a huge fan of the dirt. Rocks, roots, and ruts all kept speeds low and possibility of injury high. I loved the simplicity and speed of the road. So as I made the decision to start training to compete, I naturally gravitated toward road racing, and am about to start my third season as a dedicated "roadie"


I have been having serious thoughts about the whole road racing thing. Not that I haven't loved the last 2 seasons I've competed as a roadie, I've just found something new that is just a tad bit more fun...mountain biking.

I went down last week to Hurricane, UT for my fourth ever mountain bike race. The only 3 I'd done before were an Intermountain Cup Race in Draper last year, a Wednesday night Sundance race, and the 12 hours of Sundance race last September. My experience on the dirt is somewhat limited.

The only reason I even own a mountain bike now is because of cyclo-cross. I like to think of cyclo-cross as a "gateway sport", introducing roadies slowly into the world of off road biking. I never would have even gone off the road if it weren't for cyclo-cross showing me how much fun it can be rolling around in the dirt, grass, sand, and mud (oh, and snow...can't forget the snow)

Anyway, I now own three mountain bikes. (I never use two of them, if anyone wants to buy a full carbon fiber Gary Fisher Caliber, let me know, dang cheap, like under $350)

So last week, down in Hurricane I had an epiphany. As I was out on my second lap, all by myself for a bit, I realized something.....I was having fun. No one else was around, I had absolutely no idea what place I was in, but I was having a blast rolling through the rocks and sand and dirt.Kyle and I after the race. Look at how big our smiles are.

Road racing seems to be all about how much you can suffer. Mountain biking seems to be all about how much fun you can have while riding as hard as you can. Combine that with the fact that you basically have to red-line it for almost 3 hours, and mountain biking really is pretty dang hard as well.

(Being a roadie I wasn't exactly used to riding hard the whole time, just for sporatic bursts to chase down attacks and one big effort at the end)

Anyway, I am seriously rethinking my racing schedule this year...and it will definitely have more mountain biking, cause lets be honest, its really, really fun.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

An Awkward Start to an Otherwise Particularly Pleasant Day

Here is how last Thursday morning unfolded...

After gently waking to the soothing sounds of Beyonce 4 or 5 times (Cami, I'm telling you, you should replace the baby with an alarm clock with a snooze button...) I got up and left for school.

I didn't have anything too exciting planned for my day, so I decided to ride my cross bike to school. (I'm telling you, I think I've had a small glimpse into the life of a obscenely rich middle-aged man who gets to walk out to his driveway each day and finds himself forced to make the decision of driving the Beamer, the Audi, the Hummer, or the Toyota Carolla)

(Yes, Carolla's ARE a frickin' sweet ride any rich guy's car collection should not be without. I've got a vintage '94 model I'm restoring in my garage. Talk about hot/exotic/commonly underrated cars...)

Anyway, the point of the above diversion, was to address/brag about the issue that on any given day, I have at least 5 different bikes I can choose to ride to school.

(6 If you count the tandem for those nights I feel like bringing a special lady friend home with me for a so I'm not exactly sure what I would do if I ever got a girl over to my house, but I'll keep you posted when I do)

So anyway, I rode to school, rockin' all the way to the sweet sounds of some of my favorite artists. My current "ride to school" mix consists of my five favorite songs at the moment:

-Bonzo's Montreaux (one of the greatest drummers to ever beat around: John Bonham of Led Zeppelin)
-California Love (Dr. Dre/Tupac)
-You've Got a Friend in Me (Randy Newman version from the Toy Story soundrack)
-Beautiful Life Techno Remix (Ace of Base)
-Some Celine Dion song I don't know the name of, just how it goes

So right about the time Celine's singing so loud I swear her vocal cords are going to snap off her epiglottis, I see my buddy Rich. Rich is an avid cyclist, and one of the few people I know that genuinely loves riding bikes for the pure fun of it.

Rich seems to like mountain biking quite a bit, but this particular morning, he was riding his Bianchi road bike.

Now Rich has a very distinct bike. Bianchi has a green color they use for some of their bikes that only they use. Something kinda like this:

So you can see why it was so easy to spot Rich. It's rather easy to pick that bike out in a crowded street.

This all happened as I was turning north on 800 N at Brickoven, just south of BYU campus. Rich was about a block ahead of me, so I hustled my little hiny up to catch my good buddy and say hi.

As I got closer to Rich, I saw his bicycle messenger bag, one rather typical of an avid cyclist, such as Rich was.

I saw he also had headphones in, so I decided to signal my arrival with a gesture common in cycling and (I swear) completely "hetero": a light tap on the bum (in much the same fashion as a "good game" in any other sport)

As Rich turned around to face the attacking "bum swatter" I made a quick observation. This wasn't Rich at all, but some complete stranger who's bum I had just tapped!!

I realized at that moment that I had exactly 2 courses of action to chose from:

(I immediately ruled out the 3rd: pushing the impostor into oncoming traffic. That'd sure teach him to go around fooling people)

1) Stop and explain myself that I simply got confused and mistook him for someone else.

2) Take off and ride away from the situation as hard and fast as my legs could pedal.

Well, like any of you probably would have done, I did what any mature adult would do: I took off like a bat out of hell. I've never ridden so fast in my entire life.

I rode all the way up to the door of the building I was going to, too scared to stop at the bike racks, too scared to even look back to see if he was behind me.

I ran into the building with my bike, headed straight for my office, and shut the door behind me as fast as I could. As long as I couldn't see him anymore, it never happened...right?

The guys in my office, who are pretty used to my slightly odd behavior, didn't say a word. Garrett seemed to notice that I appeared to be in a hurry, (which is quite normal) and was actually at school BEFORE my first class was supposed to start (not very normal) I simply mentioned that I had a good story to tell him later.

So I did. He laughed. I do to (now)

In a nutshell, here are the life lessons/conclusions I've arrived at this week:

  • Never jump to conclusions
  • Double check an individual's ID BEFORE the bum swat
  • Start riding a different bike and wearing different clothes and taking different routes to school everyday if I am going to start tapping random people on the hiny. Or at least a ski mask so as to hide my identity.
Since the incident I've though about ways to rectify the situation. I could:

  1. Forget about the whole thing and just move on with my awkward life
  2. Leave a note on his bike (I've seen where he parks it everyday) explaining the situation
  3. Get everyone I know to start tapping random people on the bum while riding bikes to school in an attempt to start a trend. I will then no longer look like a freak, but a cool trend setter.
  4. Stalk the kid out on Facebook, get his info from the BYU directory, and send him letters etc. from a "secret stalker" so creepy he completely forgets about the insignificant random bum swat
Well, let me know. Vote for which option you think is best in the comments, or come up with your own. Thank you for the input.