Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cold Pursuits

Today marks the coldest day of the year for my commute with a reported temperature of 19 degrees F. Starting out in such cold weather is always a challenge since dressing properly means being on the chilled side for a while. This morning I was feeling warm at the 4 mile mark, recognized by the sensation of my ears stinging as they warmed. My feet however, never got that warm feeling. They felt like ice blocks while walking into my office building and were happy to be defrosted by a hot shower. The real problem this moring was that my water was frozen when I went to take a drink around mile 8. I've had icicles in my water bottle before but never had the problem of frozen water in the drinking valve. Guess I will have to start with warm/hot water in the mornings and see how long it lasts. Other than some cold issues, things went smooth and I'm primed for the coast/ride home.

Last night Sean and I ventured out to pursue another favorite cold/winter activity, ice skating. As previously mentioned, Sean took ice skating lessons in a 6 week program at our local rink last year. We haven't signed him up for more lessons but have been working to improve his skating skills through open skate sessions. Last night was another night of improvement and many proud moments for dad. Once again, Sean was hesitant stepping onto the ice, asking to hold my hand and not skating under his own power. After a few laps, Sean was back into his old stride, skating without my assistance and keeping a good pace. The rink was busier than I've ever seen with what appeared to be every mormon ward out for some good family fun. Though mormon teens provide good humor (people watching), they also had me convinced that Sean would lose a finger before the night ended (imagine a car with no brakes). Then comes the proud Dad part, with many young girls commenting on Sean's cuteness and his ability to skate so well for his age. There were also a few adults who looked on in envy as they clung to the boards while slowly moving along. Yet another fun night with my son who continues to show his natural athletic ability.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Weekend Play

The current inversion in the Salt Lake valley seems to hamper most outdoor activities but we managed to keep the kids happy with lots of fun this weekend. I laid low with no skiing, biking or skating as my knee healed from Fridays mishap. I did manage to make it home via bike Friday but putting any pressure directly on my knee cap still hurts. This morning allowed me to revisit the wreck scene and question where things went wrong. Always seems to go back to attentiveness and the ability to constantly focus on riding instead of all the other things that wander through my mind. Caught off guard once again, I hit a rock head on this morning while pedaling through south salt lake. Who would ever expect a 4" size rock lying in the middle of the bike lane? Luckily I won this time by staying on my bike and no flat tire or tire trueing required.

The response from Sean when asked to smile. Looks like Sarah knows how to smile.

Gracie having fun playing in the water at discovery gateway.


A rare moment around our house. Too cute.

Gracie training for her career in retail.

The other response from Sean when asked to smile.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Knee vs Frozen Snow Bank

I always worried about having a wreck on my bike due to ice but didn't think it would happen on my ride this morning. After all, the roads are pretty clear minus a few banks of snow left in the bike lane from the plows. I was riding along 17th south this morning, had just gone through the main street intersection when Bam, I was in the ice. The ice had melted from the bike lane for the most part but not at 17th and main. I wasn't confident that no cars were on my left so my only option was to ditch my bike and jump for the snow bank since I knew I was going down. The first thing to hit the frozen mass of ice was my knee. It felt like taking a good hit to the knee with a ball peen hammer but nothing felt broken or damaged. I got back on my bike and continued the rest of my ride with the pain going away after a few miles.
Each time I was stopped at a light, I was checking my knee to see if the skin was broken. It didn't look so bad with a tiny hole ripped in my pants and a little blood.But by the time I got to work it had bled more than I thought. My pants were soaked with blood due to the piercing effect of the ice. Other than the swelling, it looks much better after a shower to clean it up.

Now I'm debating whether I can ride home or if I take the train.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Reasons why I ride my bike to work..........

Look at the haze building in the Salt Lake Valley. I love breathing that stuff, tastes so good.

On another note, I'm quite sure there is an elderly woman in Salt Lake claiming a UFO sighting on 3rd West this morning.
I was cruising along 3rd West with my bike headlight blinking in the dark this morning when the elderly woman pulled out in front of me. Luckily for me, I was alert and able to brake to allow her to give me the shaft. The look on her face as I passed by was priceless. Given my hideous, don't run over me bike attire, I probably do look a bit like an alien.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ski Weekend: Trip Reports

The weekend was filled with good times skiing and has left me back to work this Monday with sore legs wishing I was still out in the snow. The avalanche danger in the Wasatch range recently came down to a tolerable level, inviting backcountry skiiers to enjoy all the new fallen snow. This would be my first foray into alpine touring this season and only my third trip to the backcountry. I was a bit nervous given my backcountry skiing abilities and my lack of experience in touring. Though nervous, I was also excited to gain experience and learn a few things to make my touring days better.

Saturday

Chet and I made plans to meet at the park n ride at 8:00 to catch the first bus up Little Cottonwood Canyon. We were at the Alta church by 8:45 to begin the skin to the top of Flagstaff. I have little experience in ascending a skin track leaving me lots of room for improvement. The first ascension went well with no flailing and no problems making direction changes on the traverse.

Shot of Chet enjoying the view and nice weather

The first run was down a North-Northwest facing slope at the top of Days fork. Snow was a little heavier then expected by spoiled Wasatch skiiers but still very fun. The picture below shows our line, we began just to lookers right of the protruding rock on the ridge.

We made our way to the flats out of the avalanche run-out zone to begin preparing for the second ascension. So slow taking that thing apart.

After getting skins on we made our way to the top of days fork for another run. Immediately after hitting the skin track, I was feeling worked. My legs were burning and I knew we still had a lot of work ahead. My flailing began 300 yards uphill on a very small but steep section of the skin track. Following some grumbling and Chet passing by me, I was back on track and making good progress. Things went smoothly til I reached a point 300' from the summit. The skin track was damn steep with me losing a feet of elevation for every two feet gained. My efficiency level was way down and there were others quickly approaching from behind. As I struggled to keep my footing and meet Chet at the top, the lady behind me was giving pointers. Not something I usually welcome but her suggestion to use my highest riser setting ended my struggle with me beating her to the ridge.

Chet and I traversed the ridge down canyon, ending up at a great area with lots of vertical to the bottom of Days Fork. Our next line was down a North-Northeast facing slope with lighter snow. The sun shining brightly allowed me another learning opportunity in the backcountry. Upon pulling my skins off, I left my skis base up on the snow while preparing myself for the downhill. After clicking into my bindings, I made my way to the top of the line we discussed and immeditely double checked to see if I had taken my skins off. My skis were so slow in the snow leaving me to think I needed to put a coat of wax on since I had confirmed that my skins were indeed off. After Chet ripped a line down the slope and was in a safe area for me to ski the slope, I dropped in. Again, It felt as is I was skiing with my skins on requiring all my strength to stay on top of my skis and not my face. After whining to Chet about my skis and the need for wax, he suggested I scrape the bases. Ahh, they were mcuked up with frozen snow and ice after having melted water from sun exposure followed by sitting on the snow. The rest of our descent was great, bottomless light powder with no tracks to dodge.

After reaching the bottom of Days fork, we discussed making another skin up for one more run but I didn't know how much more power my legs had. Chet let me off the hook and led the way to Spruces campground in Big Cottonwood Canyon for the bus pickup. Timing was excellent with the bus arriving 5 minutes after we made it to the bus stop. Thanks to our timing, we were back at the parking lot by 1:15. Great weather, good snow and a patient touring partner made for an excellent day of learning and turning. Thanks to Sarah who did her part by sending "the best" homemade M&M cookies to energize Chet and I throughout the day.

Sunday

I awoke Sunday to Sean asking when we would be headed out to ski. Keep in mind that this was 7:30 in the morning and literally the first words he spoke. Needless the say, he was excited for a day of skiing. After Sean and I arrived to a full parking lot at Alta, some creative parking sign modification shortened our potentially long walk. We got Sean's skis, boots and helmet rented and were off to stash our lunch in a locker. We made our way down to the rope tow and proceeded to ride the tow 7 time before Sean asked if we could go eat lunch. During our second run up the tow rope, Sean asked if he could ride it by himself. I didn't think he had the strength but allowed him a go at it the next time around. With a little help from me, getting the tow rope handle in his hands, he was riding up by himself. Though I couldn't see his face, I can only imagine his smile was a mile wide.

We headed into the lodge, grabbed our lunch and proceeded to find an empty spot in the crowded lunch room. Our home packed lunch contained my lunchtime staple, PB&J, along with a banana, almonds, a granola bar and lots of water. Sean made my day while chewing away with a mouthful of bread and said "Dad, this is a great day". I could only agree as my heart melted and all the work of getting him on skis became worth the effort. Lunch with Sean didn't last long, he was asking to go back outside to ski immediately after finishing his half of the granola bar.

Gotta eat fast, those fresh powder lines don't last long.

We returned to the tow rope and made 6 more rides up the tow with Sean only taking one face plant. Every time we arrived at the top of the rope tow, we would pause and look down the hill. Sean would playfully say "What are we gonna do now"? I played along telling him I didn't know. Sean would immediately yell out "were gonna ski" and turn his skis downhill. After another break in the lodge and another session with 4 rides on the rope tow, we were both worn down and ready to head home. Sean was exhausted by his skiing adventure and fell asleep in the car 5 minutes after we left Alta. Though the weather was nasty with light snow and wind, Sean never complained about being cold.

Sean still has lots of learning to do when it comes to skiing but his attitude will help him become a great skier in no time. I thoroughly enjoyed our day together and cannot wait til we have the opportunity to ski the whole mountain together.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Return of Project 0

Today was the final day to weigh in for the project zero program here at my office. In case you aren't in the loop, I previously described the program here. Since I participated in project zero this year, I kept track of my weight more than usual. I managed to keep my weight steady during the Thanksgiving holiday but Christmas is a different story. I actually managed to gain 5 pounds in the eleven days we spent in Tulsa. Based on my list of restaurants visited, I probably would have gained 10 pounds if not for working out 7 of the 11 days in Tulsa. The fact that one can gain that much weight from eating such unhealthy food for less than two weeks really says something about eating at restaurants.
Lucky for me, we returned from Tulsa on December 28th and I had til today (10 days) to lose the 5 pounds gained and meet my goal of no weight gain. Upon our return to SLC, the transition from choosing one of many favorite restaurants in Tulsa versus eating healthy meals prepared at home wasn't easy. I felt like I was retraining myself to eat a healthy breakfast followed by light lunch and well rounded dinner cooked by S&G's mom. Ten days of eating healthy coupled with riding a stationary bike 6 of 10 days since home resulted in me meeting my goal. Not only did I loose the weight I gained in Tulsa but actually ended up almost 4 pounds below my weight at the initial weigh in. Thanks to our wellness coordinator, Ashley, for keeping the program alive and challenging me to maintain my weight. Now that I met my goal, Is it wrong that I wan't to eat a huge meal at one of my favorite SLC restaurants to celebrate?
Anyway, I can now return to my normal habits of working out when the weather allows and splurging on unhealthy foods occasionally. I never thought I would have hate towards snow but now that my bike commuting is on hold due to slick roads, I am reconsidering my stance. The other thing I'm considering; do I buy studded tires (expensive) for my bike or make my own using an old tire and sheet metal screws?

A really cute picture of Sean and Sarah. Thanks to Sarah for keeping me on track with well rounded meals planned and prepared every night, not to mention everything else she does for our family.


I couldnt leave Gracie out of this post and had this really cute picture of her smiling.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Tulsa Trends

After reading my last blog, you may have thought sport eating in Tulsa had become the latest fad. Fear not, eating out is still popular but my pace cannot be kept up with. However, I did manage to discover a groundbreaking development in the extreme sports world.That's right, mini skateboarding as they call it on the mean streets of Tulsa. I'm almost sure it's the next thing to replace roller blades.