This is my 300th blog post, and I was debating how to handle it. I think I will save my original plan for #301. Writing 300 blog posts is pretty significant, so I wanted to do something special. I just came off a great mountain bike road trip where I really pushed myself on the drops, jumps and climbs. The weather has been better than last week, and I’ve ridden about 22 miles so far this week. It’s Halloween, which is an easy date to remember. So far this year I have avenged my previous losses to the south rock jump on Juniper that made my face bleed and the Flintstone teeter totter that gave me four stitches. I also attempted and succeeded in riding a skinny wood feature on the Juniper trail that I have been avoiding for the last year or two. It is a little tricky with the narrow width, two angle changes, and the rock garden below, but I ride it every time I am up there, and don’t think twice about it now. My skills have definitely improved this year. There is still one narrow wood feature that eludes me, but that will be for another season.
I love to hit the smaller wood jump on the north exit of the Juniper trail system, and the big wood jump looks like something Evel Knievel would jump. I have wanted to try it all year, but it may be the biggest jump of my career, and I am usually alone when I ride passed it. I prefer to try stupid things when I have someone else with me to call in air support if necessary. In all seriousness, there is a guy I met named Royce that crashed on the old Flintstone trail several years ago while riding alone, and was stranded and paralyzed for four hours until his friends came and found him. He is fine now and continues to ride, but he has an impressive scar that would make Frankenstein jealous. That has deepened my concern for recklessness when riding alone. I don’t think my dog could call 911 for me. As I rode around the valley this morning I really wanted to hit that jump. When I got to that section I had to weigh my desire for glory against my fear and lack of support, including a camera. I took a few runs at the jump, but didn’t like my approach. I was running out of time, and gave myself an ultimatum- one last run and I have to take one of the jumps. I could go for the safe route that I know I can land or push for the big mother. I hit the big mother. I pulled up, thereby avoiding the inevitable face-first crash, which was my first concern. As I fell back to earth, I realized that I had hit the point where I would normally make contact with the trail, but I was still falling. It was like someone pulled the ground out from under me. I hit like Evel Knievel, and felt my bike bounce when it hit the ground, which was my second concern. I’m not sure if my whole bike came off the ground, or just the front end, but luckily I was able to keep it under control on the bounce and ride it out. I got off my bike and took these pictures:
It felt so good to land the big jump that has mentally suppressed me since its creation. It felt good to land a jump that has haunted my dreams all summer. I knew it was a big jump, and I knew I wanted to try it at least once, so that has been in the back of my mind all summer. It felt good to take my fear of jumping alone and punch it in the face. My Halloween costume-without-a-costume is mountain bike superstar.
Saturday afternoon we rode the Kokopelli trail system. Last year we parked at the second parking lot and rode Steve’s Loop, then took Mary’s Loop to Horsethief Bench. This time we parked at the first parking lot. We missed the entrance to Mary’s Loop because it had a sign that said the trail was closed, so we ended up on Rustler’s Loop. That was a fun, quick and easy trail that added a few miles to our ride. We then took Mary’s Loop and headed to Horsethief Bench. We met a group of five women from Utah who were out riding while their husbands took care of the kids. That was pretty cool.
This is a picture of the staircase drop in to Horsethief. I made it this far, which is three steps farther than last year. From here it gets much worse. The drops get bigger and harder to negotiate, so going that far felt like a major accomplishment. I would never try to take the whole section because I enjoy eating solid foods.
There is a slickrock section that takes a steep dive that I skipped last year. I owned it this year. Soon after is a large rock drop that I forgot about. I came up to it and couldn’t remember how I rode it last year, and by the time I realized I had to jump it I was going too slow and hit my brakes and almost fell off the rock. That was unacceptable, so I convinced Tim to go back and hit it with me. That might have been the biggest drop of our trip, and it felt great. Right after that is a tougher drop because you don’t have a ledge to launch from. You ride down at a steep angle and have to pull up before you faceplant. We took that too. We stopped at our lookout spot above the Colorado River.
This is Mike and Tim at our rest spot. The scenery in the Grand Junction and Fruita is beautiful. I love the desert landscape.
This is looking down on Horsethief Bench from Mary’s Loop. Horsethief Bench may be my favorite ride in that area. It has technical drops and steps to climb, fast single track, and beautiful scenery. I hope to take a few laps on it next time we are down there.
We rode almost 15 miles on the Kokopelli system, giving us 40 miles for the two day trip. Last year our trip was cut short when we were rained out and missed riding the Lunch Loop system. This may have been my favorite biking road trip. I stopped riding my road bike the week before we left, and I rode the Juniper trails at home on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before leaving Thursday night. Juniper was great training because it has several rocky sections and tight turns, so it was good practice for the technical riding we did. I went down there ready to push hard and put down miles. I rode sections that I skipped last year, and I rode well. I was great to spend time with Mike and Tim and watch the feud surrounding Lance Armstrong and air quality. It was a great trip.
Saturday morning we went to 18 Road to hit some trails. We rode up Prime Cut, then cut over to ride down Joe’s Ridge. Joe’s Ridge was pretty beat up, and my eyeballs were shaking in my head. We rode up Kessels, passing the large group of young kids we saw in the parking lot. Some of these kids were six or seven years old, and it was cool to see them out riding at such a young age. After getting up Kessels we rode on Zippity Doo Daa. This is me, Mike and Tim and the junction of Zippity Doo Daa.
Zippity Doo Daa was a lot longer than Joe’s Ridge, and it was in better condition. Both trails felt a little sketchy at times, since we were riding along the top of the ridge. It was a good exercise in focus. I almost went off the trail a few times as it curved hard along the side of the hillside where I couldn’t see very far ahead. This is Mike in the area where I came over the top too fast and went off the trail to the right. Soon after this section we hit the steepest part of the trail. I tried to ride up it, but spun out and had to walk. Mike climbed in like a champion. He got off his bike and laid on the ground, but he was a man for a few minutes. We rode 10 miles on these trails that morning, and it was a lot of fun. I’m glad we were able to make it out there.
Mike, Tim and I head to Grand Junction on Thursday night for a mountain bike road trip. We pulled in about 11:30 pm, and hit the Tabeguache trail system, which is also called Lunch Loop. We tried to ride here 18 months ago but got rained out, so we were looking forward to this trail system. We rode up for quite a while to get to Gunny Loop, which was a great technical trail. The rocky sections were full of great drops and jumps, and it was a blast to bomb down them. We rode to Miramonte Rim, which had a great view of the desert landscape.
I came up to this section and wasn’t sure if I could ride it. I paused and did a quick evaluation while balancing on my bike, then found my line. I rolled it here after Mike and Tim caught up to me. It took a few minutes to get a feel for the technical trail, but I really started to feel it and pushed myself on this ride.
We rode from Miramonte Rim to Coyote Ridge, then to Raven’s Ridge and found this cool drop at the junction of Kurts Lane. From here we took Kurts Lane back to the parking lot, hitting the rock jump and the bottom. It was a great day of riding, putting down 15.5 miles of new technical trail. It was a great way to start the road trip.
I was going to write yesterday, but my heart was heavy with the trials I see with people around me. On a lighter note, I decided to write about this Benchmade seat belt cutter someone gave me last week. Thankfully I haven’t been stuck in a burning car, forced to act quickly with my new toy before my skin melts off. But I was unpacking boxes at work and had to cut nylon banding, and thought this tool would work perfectly. And it did. It cut right through the banding like it wasn’t there. It’s flat and easy to carry in a back pocket, but that could make it difficult to reach in a real emergency. Accessibility would be the key to deployment, but once that is done it would easily cut right through the belt. I hadn’t thought about buying one before now, but it is a handy tool for a specific purpose.
I’ve been thinking about this idea for a while. I rode my first organized “century ride” two years ago with the Pony Express Century Ride, which was actually 112 miles. It was a windy ride and I didn’t feel like I did very well, but I finished. Last year and this year I rode alone for the last 60 miles. I had bursts of energy that I unconsciously used to increase my speed. I’ve thought more about it on road rides this year, pushing myself when the energy reserves seemed high. I have heard some people make the argument that you shouldn’t push hard like that because you will bonk once the energy reserve is gone, but energy depletes whether you use it or not. The same type of thing applies to other areas. Shortly after we moved I came home from work and felt great when I had been tired for days, so I hung the shelf in the laundry room and organized some stuff in the garage. I didn’t want to sit around and watch TV when there was work to be done and I felt up to the challenge. Especially in a workout setting, I will be tapping in to that energy reserves when it’s there, then coasting if necessary once it’s gone. Why waste the opportunity?
Before I moved to Utah I came to visit for the weekend. I was in Provo visiting with my friend Jeff when he said he needed to borrow Bevan’s Leatherman to fix his shoe. It was about 1994 and I didn’t know what a Leatherman was. I hadn’t even heard the term before. Once I saw one I was immediately impressed. Add a 25 year warranty and I was beside myself. Before I moved to Utah in January 1995, Kip bought me a Leatherman PST for Christmas. I still have it and I still love it. I have since added the PST II, which has a serrated blade. Both the PST and the PST II have since be retired, but they are the original models for me and I prefer them over current models.
Yesterday I used my PST II to cut thick zip ties on a memory foam bundles at Mattress Land. I didn’t want to risk using a knife and potentially cutting the foam, so I inserted the pliers and used the wire cutters. It worked very well. I have recently started to carry my Leatherman with me again on a daily basis, and you just can’t beat the size and convenience of the tool. In my opinion it is far superior to other brands.
I don’t remember how or where I got this, and I don’t think it is made anymore, but I love this ratchet kit that attaches to the PST and PST II. It adjusts and locks in place at 45, 90, and 180 degree angles, and has the bit tips I need the most. I also carry this with me everyday.
Leatherman makes a fantastic product with an outstanding warranty, and I highly recommend them. They are one of my favorite things.
I haven’t had a pair of hiking boots for over 15 years. I have been using running shoes to hike in the foothills around my house and hike in Yosemite and Timpanogos. Last week I decided that I needed a pair of hiking boots for work this winter. I will be outside unloading mattress trucks and making mattress deliveries, and my Sketchers aren’t going to cut it in the rain and snow. I went to Cabela’s and found these Keen Targhee II hiking boots. This morning I took them out for a hike to see how they would do. This is on top of the Flintstone mountain bike trail.
These boots seem to have a great combination of traction, stiffness, ankle support, and weight. They are waterproof, which I haven’t tested yet, but so far I was really impressed with them. The sales associate at Cabela’s was very helpful, and helped me narrow down the selection quickly. I look forward to many more hikes this winter, and a trip up Timpanogos in the near future. This are my boots after the hike in the driveway.
We were blessed to have Erick and Tami come visit us from Boise this weekend. We were able to return the favor from July when we needed to get away and reset our minds and hearts. At least I did. And it took several days for me to find that reset button. I was ready to give up and stop trying to fight the good fight. I felt defeated and hopeless. That Boise trip was long enough to get me out of that funk and truly reset. I didn’t want to go, but Erick persuaded me. We were in a position to do the same for them, although their mental circumstances seem to be better than mine was. The kids had UEA weekend, and we thought it would be a great time to have them here. On Sunday we went to Sundance to look at the mountains and changing leaves. I have to admit I was a little disappointed that the leaves were more orange than red, but it was still beautiful and relaxing to feel the warm sun and listen to the creek water flow.
As Erick and Tami left this morning, I started to reflect on the blessings we have. We were able to spend time with good friends, eat good food, and enjoy nature. We were able to visit and strengthen each other. I indexed two records when I got to work, and as I thought about my blessings I felt the Spirit, which increased my gratitude and made me more aware of my blessings. I have a job that I love, that is close to home and causes me very little stress. We are living in a house that we love. Our vehicles are paid off. We are healthy. I get to take both my daughters to the Temple to do baptisms for the dead. I am surrounded by beautiful mountains. I have a black Lab mountain biking buddy. I have been able to ride a lot this fall. Many talks from General Conference seem to strike a chord with me and describe my experiences and how I feel. I have indexed over 1000 records, and I love doing it. I feel like we are living a simpler life, and I love it. I feel like we are at a good place in our lives, and we are close as a family, and close to dear friends. I love my life.