01 January 2007

Originally posted on my old Blogspot site.

Utah has a fair number of blogging cyclists, but the most popular is probably FatCyclist. Before going any further, it should be noted that Fatty probably weighs 60 pounds less than me, but who am I to hold a grudge over his snatching my preferred name?

Anyway, on his blog he posted an invitation to come on a mountain bike ride on New Years Day. I figured that joining in would be the perfect way to begin the year. Besides getting in some miles on the first day of the year, it would be a chance to meet some new cyclist, bike a new route. It didn’t hurt to have a morning ride planned to help me back off the calorie shovel on New Years Eve.

So, JuniorSprinter and I got up early, and loaded up a couple of bikes. Since we are both primarily roadies, and because my “mountain” bike is set up with slicks for foul weather commuting, neither of us was on our normal bike. JS took Mrs. GeekCyclist’s Giant Sedona, I loaded up a 10 year old DiamondBack Wildwood that I inherited from a neighbor. When I say that I inherited the bike, you should read that as “He got a frame, out-of-true wheels, and all the components in ziplocs and Wal-Mart bags.” I actually spent the better part of 5 or six evenings overhauling it and putting it back together. JS usually uses it, so ultimately we both ended up on bikes a little too small for us for this ride.

After driving down from Magna we actually got to the pull-off in Provo Canyon at about 9:20, so we turned around and went back into town in search of a little breakfast and some lip balm. By the time we got back up the canyon there were so many people there that we had to park across the street.

The Ride There were still several people in the parking lot when we headed up Squaw Peak Road. The beginning part was paved, and I started to wonder why I hadn’t ridden my bike with the slicks. Then after about a mile we hit a gate and the fun began. The rest of the ride was on snow packed down by snowmobiles. Now, I am not a mountain bike rider, and I commute on the flats, so trying to ride my bike up a 7% grade covered with loosely packed snow and ruts was a challenge. But it was probably the most fun challenge I’ve had on a bike in a while.

After ridding on the snow for a while, JS and I were promptly caught and dropped by the main group of riders. After a while a few stragglers blew past, and soon I was alone. This made my humiliation almost bearable, since the combination of my lack of skill and abundance of surplus energy stored around my waist conspired against me. I hit a rut. Since I was only going about 4 miles an hour I promptly fell over. I got back up and realized I had a problem. I couldn’t get started again. I would pedal, but by the time I got my other foot on the pedal I would be swerving and falling, or I would be spinning the back wheel in the snow.

I walked for a while, let my heart rate recover a little, found a packed section and started riding again. The going was good for a few hundred yards and then I got bounced off again. The rest of the ride up could be described as the “shampoo ride” - ride, fall, walk, repeat.

The Descent I think I was about 2/3 of a mile from the top of the climb when I caught JS and we saw the core group on their way back down. We turned the bikes around and waited for the group to catch us mostly because I figured with our lack of experience the main group would be descending much faster than we would.

Just as the main group reached our location at least 4 people crashed, including Fatty and I think Kenny right on top of each other and right in front of me. Watching that I lost a little nerve and ended up riding my brakes so hard my hands were cramped by the time I got back to the truck.

Here is Fatty’s Post on the ride. Note, I was so slow that I am in neither the pictures or the video. But I assure you, I was there…

Overall, it had to have been the craziest thing I have done on a bike in decades. I cannot wait to see what this group comes up with for next year.

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