Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The first of many trees

Alison and I are spending our first married Christmas together this year. Last night we went out and bought our first tree for our home. She used her decorative skills to make it look good after I used my cheap skills to talk down the price of the tree at the lot. :-) And now Mullet is using his domestic pet skills to try to drink all the water out of the tree stand. :-) He hasn’t tried to eat any ornaments or knock anything over in tree climbing ventures that many cats participate in during the holidays, so I think we’re doing ok. Anyhow, here’s a couple shots of our Christmas-ness:

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Put yourself here: the weather forecast is calling for a snow storm to hit in about an hour. You wanted to go road biking. Do you stay home and eat leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner, or do you press your luck and sneak the ride in anyways. Oh yes, you ride. It started out pretty easy, with rain and 36 degree temps (I’m from ND, so yes, this is actually not bad if one is dressed appropriately). Light winds, so no big deal. I rode north towards the weather for a half an hour, then turned around to return home to my warm apartment. The rain got heavier, then turned to heavy wet snow, then ice pellets. 700x23c road tires are not the ideal choice for such conditions, but they do work in the absence of any ice on the road. Luckily, there wasn’t any as the roadways were still warmer than freezing. After getting used to the conditions and riding cautiously home, sporting the crazed smile a cyclist wears when pushing the envelope and discovering what he can do, I enjoyed a light and sound show as well. Thunder and lightening had also made their way into the mix. Novara, the REI in house bike brand, sports the motto that “There’s never a bad time to ride.” This may not be 100% true, but pretty close. I had a lot of fun, and it was a great time to ride.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Salt Lake Cat Camping

So one of the funnier things you can buy with a dollar is a tent for your cat...

Flyin' in SLC

Well I finally went flying again yesterday after three months of being on the ground. Alison has a student who ownes a 2004 Cessna Skyhawk SP and lets her borrow it for only the price of gas. Not bad. We took up her dad out of Salt Lake International and tooled around in a nearby mountain valley. It was really nice to fly again. I've decided that flying for a company is no fun at all, but weekend general aviation with the family is great. Here's some pictures:

North end of the Oquirre (sp?) Mountains, during our departure out of the Salt Lake Class B airspace:

Shot of the panel in the 172 we were flying; notice the all the terrain and water on the Multi Function Display (colorful TV lookin' thing). Yeah, we're not flying in Grand Forks anymore. There's stuff to run into here.

The required husband and wife shot with the airplane. Ah, aren't we adorable...

Another required husband and wife shot. Yes, my glasses are turned up on purpose...they hurt under my headset...

Dave enjoying the ride around the mountains...

Monday, November 20, 2006

The past couple of weeks have been pretty routine. Look for work. Do it again. Ride. Do that again. Not too much. This weekend should be a good time though, since Alison and I have family coming down to visit us here in SLC for Thanksgiving. I've never hosted a holiday meal before, so I had no idea how big of a bird to buy for the four of us. I bought one that weighs 19.5 lbs. Apparently, that is way to big. :) Oh well, Thanksgiving leftovers are ultra tasty, so it wont be so bad having the extra food. I have to admit though, I pansied out when I brought the turkey home. I had plans to bring it home on my touring bike since I'm such a commuter bike nerd, but I was having a bad day and drove. Maybe I'll punish myself and ride it up 400 N to thaw it out. :) I'm sure there'll be many more heavy items to prove my commuter diligence with. Anyhow, they're be more to write when more happens....

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Road climb of the season

Since moving to the SLC area, I've been working my way through becoming a climber on my road bike, as there are so many steep grades to tackle here. There are four major canyons in the vicinity of where we live, and up until this week, I'd tackled three of them- Emigration, Millcreek, and Big Cottonwood Canyons. The only one left was Little Cottonwood Canyon, which is a ten mile climb that features over 4,000 feet of elevation gain, the same amount of gain that Big Cottonwood holds (but BCC is 15 miles up- so you see how steep LCC is). I figured it wouldn't happen this year, as winter temps are creeping in and the canyons are becoming too cold and slippery for roadies, but the past couple days held record high temps. I had no excuse. I called up Kelly, and although he informed me of how much this idea was going to hurt to make a reality (he'd ridden LCC before), he was actually quick to jump onboard for the painful trip up. I got pretty excited as I drove towards the hulking granite forms that make up the scenery around LCC- they were jeering me on. We actually started our ride from the mouth of BCC, a bit north of the LCC canyon mouth, so as to get a bit of a warm up before hitting the steeps. The climb started really well, and Kelly and I both thought we were tearing it up in good form. But then the steep stuff kicked in. Still doable though. We were both in lowest gear, grinding away endlessly with a super sluggish cadence (felt like singlespeeding on the knees- don't do it everyday). Kelly of course pulled out from me, considering he was pushing a higher gear on his Specialized Tarmac Comp which sports a double front ring, and I was on my steel Lemond Buenos Aires with a triple, allowing me to ride a slower speed with the same cadence. Well, after several miles of the ultra steep with no breaks, both of us started to crack, right about at Snowbird ski resort (very close to the top). I had a Clif Bar in my pocket, and went straight to chewing. I had a goal of getting to the top without ever putting a foot down, so it took me about ten minutes to eat the bar while riding and breathing so hard (I made my goal). The Clif Bar saved me after about ten minutes. It's crazy to actually feel the effect of great quick nutrition after bringing yourself to depletion. Kelly was not fairing so well, as he left his ride food in his car. Whoops. He was still way out ahead of me, but apparently had to get off his bike twice for fear of blacking out. Yikes! He's got an intense degree of determination that most people don't have, however, and made it to the top anyway. I was quite impressed. I met him there shortly thereafter, and we rested for a bit, getting ready for the descent. It took an hour and fifty minutes from our starting point to the top. After we pulled ourselves back together after the exhausting climb, we started down, which only took fifteen minutes to the bottom! Faster than I've ever gone on a bike! 48.6 mph with the brakes on at one point! The road is really smooth and flows great, with lots of stable cornering through the whole descent. If you can make it up the climb, the trip down is a whole lot of fun. But be way careful, those kind of speeds can do you in if you take chances. Ride smart! Anyhow, we pulled it all off and it was a great cap on the big mountain road ride for the season. I think my favorite moment was while reading some of the road grafitti (there's a big event ride earlier in the year, and they paint on the road). Halfway up, someone painted: Quit whining: Go big or go home! :) Nice. You'd think reading that would be a smack in the face in the midst of a painful climb, but it actually put a huge smile on my face. I think I'm ready to settle my grudge with the La Sal mountain loop in Moab. :) Anyhow, here's a shot of the bottom of LCC looking out to the Salt Lake Valley. It does nothing to show the steepness of the top, but I didn't have time to grab a picture during the effort.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Once and a while, like most cat owners, we let Mullet get into some catnip since they love it so much. This time I sprinkled it on the top of his scratching post. It was not my intention that he eat half the fuzz off the top, however. :) I think the litter box will be more colorful than usual tommorow...

This is the scene that followed, and lasted most of the's sad when they become nip junkies...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

treading north

Well North Dakota got to see me for most of last week. Kelly hooked me up with cheap airfare at Skywest to get home for annual FAA medical certification. It’s easier for me to go to my old doctors up there that know me, since I’m on a special issuance medical certificate due to occasional migraines. That’s the short of the long. I spent a whole lot of time driving across several parts of the state, and during all that time, I realized even more what a tough place ND is to be a fan of mountains. :) Yikes, I’m already spoiled here in UT, and I want to stay. One moment in particular stood out to me in ND of how hard it was to be an outdoor recreation addict while living there. I was stepping out of my friends apartment at 6 in the morning to drive to Fargo to catch my flight. On my way to the car, I looked down at an extremely familiar sight that really brought back my winter commuter days in Grand Forks. I was having to step carefully down the sidewalk, because it was covered in lumpy patches of ice, that were illuminating yellow under the light of streetlamps. I don’t know how many hours I stared down at sidewalks just like that one carefully commuting along in the frigid temps on my old Surly. I know I love cycling to have put up with those conditions for so many years, and it was nuts to think back on it. Now I’m back in the Salt Lake area, and it’s in the sixties. I’ve been riding sweet mountain roads in full spandex uniform as a roadie should. And there’s not a patch of yellow lumpy ice to be seen. I think I earned it. :) But for all you northland winter riders- keep it up! I’d be right with you if I was back in that part of the country, for sure.

As for the rest of my recent ND trip experience, it was great to see friends and family again. That’s the one downfall of finally getting to live in the big hills. It’s not as easy to see everyone. But I suppose if I ever do the airline pilot thing that can all change. We’ll just see how it all turns out…

Saturday, November 04, 2006

So I discovered a sweet resource through another cycling fanatic's website this morning. It's called, and is a great route planning tool for biker's to find/create road routes. You just follow an online map and it displays your routes distance and climbing information. For example, I worked up a very detailed climbing loop to work me crazy... Local Pain Route
Use it.