Thursday, June 26, 2008


The other day I was going through some of my old trail shoes, trying to decide which ones had some life left in them and which ones could be recycled. It got me thinking, I'm not really attached to a pair of shoes in the same way as I was to one of my bicycles. Even though I really value the protection and comfort that my shoes provide, I don't look at them and think of a particular race or training run. Nor do I have a problem getting rid of them when their time is up. Bikes on the other hand are a completely different story for me. As the Italian sprinter Mario Cipollini once said, "The bicycle has a soul. If you are able to love it as it deserves, it will give you emotions you will never forget".

That being said, this is the list of the bikes I own and have owned throughout my life.

** Fully functional and still ride.
* Still own but not functional.

  • **Schwinn Scrambler 36-36 BMX: 20 in. chrome frame, my first real bike I got at age 6. It had some of those steel waffle rims that made the bike weigh a ton. I did some racing at the 4th street dirt track in Ogden but never really took it serious. Eventually all the components were replaced except for the frame. I still own it and use it when my son and I go hit the dirt jumps in the neighborhood. Memory: Being afraid to leave it in the street after I broke my finger so I walked it home a good half mile, leaving a trail of blood.
  • Centurion Road: My first road bike when I was 14. It was red with white trim. Just as heavy as my bmx but of course it had gears. I put some cool downtube shifters on it along with toe clips and took it farther than I thought I was capable of going. I remember watching LeMond and the Hampster in the Tour and getting inspired to race, but that would have to wait for a few years...Memory: Riding it up North Ogden Divide from Sunset city and getting back at 9pm, no helmet, no food, no brain.
  • Cannondale Road: Age 22 I bought my second road bike from a soccer player trying to get enough money together to go to Europe. It was one of those oversized aluminum crit frames that was super stiff. Green with orange trim and to big for me at 56cm (I would normally ride a 52cm). I never really fell in love with this bike but I did race it a few times at the DMV and Utah Summer Games. Memory: Riding it up the old snowbasin road, dying in the heat.
  • *Ciocc Road: Age 24 I bought this steel Italian road frame from a consignment shop for $300. I dreamed of owning an Italian bike since I was 15 and finally had one. The frame was red with chrome chain stays, seat stays and fork. I raced this bike for 2 years and did quite well on it but it was on the heavy side and a little small for me. The frame now hangs as art in my shop area. Memory: Winning a DMV crit in the B group with downtube shifters and 52/42 front chainrings.
  • *Rogue Road: One of my true treasures. I met framebuilder Jeff Rogers when I joined the Utah Premier racing team. Jeff was building custom steel frames in his basement and offered a discount to team members for a frame. I think I paid $400 for a custom built frame (which is ridiculously inexpensive). Many local racers had a Rogue frame including Dave Zabriskie and Levi Leipheimer. Sadly Jeff passed away suddenly in 2003. I still have this frame but I will no longer ride it. Memory: No doubt about it, winning the 2001 Pro/1/2 Utah State road race on the only steel frame in the field.
  • *Bianchi Cyclocross: Classic green celeste color. This was an opportunity buy as I was at a warehouse of lost shipments. The frame was sitting there without a fork and a small dent in the downtube. I paid $20 for the frame and had Jeff build me a fork for $80. I cobbled together some parts and started 'cross racing later that year in '97. Memory: Funny enough it was watching my friend and super fast dirt racer, Gabriel Blanco use it during a 'cross race at wheeler farm. It hasn't gone that fast since then.
  • GT Time Trial: Another opportunity by from the warehouse. Four frames for $400. They were TT bikes developed for '96 Atlanta Olympics and used by the Montgomery Bell team (pre-US Postal). The bikes were ridden by Nate Reiss, Darren Baker, Tyler Hamilton, and Marty Jemison. I ended up with Darren Baker's. Memory: Taking 3rd in the Utah State 40k TT in 52:39, almost 5 mins behind 21 year-old Dave Z.
  • **Redline Cross bike: The Bianchi listed above was just a little to heavy to be competitive with so I opted for the cheapest aluminum frame I could find. I recently turned this one into a singlespeed with the intention of racing it in 'cross. Memory: Taking 5th place in the A+ category at trailside park. Small wonder, the course had a ton of climbing.
  • Rogue Time Trial bike: Jeff convinced me I could use a better TT bike than the one I had. For whatever reason I never really found my mojo on this bike and sold it after the season.
  • **Rocky Mountain Road: This was my first "pro-form" deal on a frameset. I think I paid somewhere around $800 for my first aluminum scandium road bike. Scandium was new material at the time and I thought I was taking a big risk. This is the bike I currently use as my commuter. Memory: Winning the prologue and 3rd stage of the 2002 Cache Classic (My one and only time trial win).
  • Fondriest Don Racer Road: This was a team bike that I fell in love with. I only owned it for about six weeks before I had to give it back because a dispute between the bike shop and distributor. It was flat black with white trim and had the stiffer, more responsive, compact geometry that I had been avoiding (because it wasn't the "traditional" horizontal top tube). Memory: Riding out to Hanksville and back with Flynn then going up Wall street leg breaker at the end.
  • DeRosa UD: This frame replaced the Fondriest. It was made with the same material as the Fondriest and the size was the same but there was something a little different about it. Maybe it was the geometry or the way it was put together I just never felt quite right on it. Our relationship ended later that year when I crashed on it and broke my femur. Memory: take a guess.
  • Orbea Lobular Road: This Spanish built bike looked good and felt really comfortable. However it wasn't as stiff as the full aluminum frames I had been riding because it had carbon seat stays and chain stays. I probably didn't give it a fair chance since I rode it the year I was bringing my leg back to life. Memory: Leading out Flynn at the Ecology Classic for the sprint bonus while he was wearing the sprint leaders jersey.
  • Giant XCR Carbon Road: My first an only full carbon frame. I promptly sold it when I was done racing because it was so nice. When I put my carbon wheels on, this bike tipped the scales just a shade over 16lbs. I was very hesitant because the bad reputation Giant had from their early aluminum frames but this bike was a dream to ride. Memory: Hard to say because I did a lot of racing on it, but winning the East Canyon road race (after Pardyjak kept me sheltered all day) is probably it.
  • **Cannondale F400 Mtn Bike: The latest edition to the family and my first mountain bike. Leo bestowed this upon me before he moved back east. One of my favorite features of this bike is the disc brakes. Finally my hands don't cramp on long descents from pulling so hard on the brakes.
I think I've had a few more bikes than shoes at this point, but not for to much longer...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Squaw Peak 50 - 2008

In case you were thinking I had abandoned this blog, I haven't. I've been posting on a new blog called the MRC with a few friends of mine. Anyway back to the race.
Squaw Peak was my first 50 miler back in 2006 after my good friend Leo convinced me I had to do this one while pacing him at Wasatch in 2005. This would also be my 10th "official" ultra and the 4th one this season. My body was feeling the effects of the busy spring with some bursitis in my knee and a tender tibia on my other leg. Not that these are good excuses, many runners toe the line with some kind of issue, I just knew it had the potential to make for a long day.
The forecast called for cool conditions with a chance for rain in the morning, HA! It was raining well before we started and made for some slippery climbing up to Hope Canyon. A group of us formed behind the leaders including Peter, Dave Hunt, Brian Beckstead and Shane Martin among others. I was making a conscious effort to start slower, as were the guys I was with. Since the conditions were slower this part was easy. The climbs were much like ice but with slippery mud instead, occasionally I would have to grab a branch to pull myself up.
Eventually our little group started to spread out as the rain gave way to snow and the temperature started dropping. I ran with Shane Martin for a few miles and after he eased off I caught up to "Uncle Dave" Hunt (uncle because he's wise in the ways of pacing). I ran with Dave all the way from the the Kolob Basin Overlook aid station at mile 15, where it was practically a blizzard, down to the next aid station at about mile 21. I left the aid a little before Dave and headed out on to one of my least favorite sections which includes 3 miles of pavement to aid station #6 at mile 26. The rain had subsided but it was still overcast. I glanced up at Windy Peak which we would eventually have to pass over, and it was hidden in cloud cover. Dave caught up to me shortly before reaching this next aid station and we ran in together. Karl Meltzer, was there waiting to pace Cheryl (his wife) in her first 50 miler, along with Dave's pacer Bryon Powell. Dave, Bryon and myself left together but I could only hold their pace for a couple of miles before I had to let them go. I was content to finally get to run by myself and enjoy this section that is usually very hot. I knew at this point that I was running in 9th or 10th overall but I just kept it nice and easy thinking about the brutal climb up to Windy Pass.
I went through Little Valley aid station at mile 33, fueled up and started the long climb. Last year I took off out this aid station to fast and paid for it in spades when I reached the serious climbing. This time around I kept it to a hike until I reached the long traverse which is very runnable. I felt great and my knee was feeling fine so at this point I was cautiously optimistic that I would be able to hold my position to the finish. Just as I reached the base of the steep climb the clouds began to clear and the sun came out. It didn't seem so bad at first but when I stepped on to the snow covered climb the reflective heat started to make me hot. Not only that but I left my sunglasses back at the car so my eyes were getting blinded by the light. I decided that no matter what I would keep moving, even if it was slow. The fresh snow that had been dumped earlier probably helped with the traction but the ascent up to Windy Peak was still tough. Finally I saw the pile of rocks that indicates the summit proper and knew I was just a short distance from the aid station. Even though it is downhill to the Windy Pass aid station it is still very technical and difficult. For the first quarter mile or so there isn't even a trail, so you just kind of pick your way down through the softball sized jagged rocks. I made it down to where there is an actual trail and could here the aid station crew just ahead. The volunteers at this aid station deserve special mention because everything that comes up is packed in by them, thanks guys! They filled my bottles for me and I took off on the descent. One of the volunteers, Jim Skaggs informed me that the snow lasted for about 3 to 4 miles of the 7 mile descent. No worries I thought, we've been running on snow all spring. I was able to glissade a few sections at the top and pretty much just ran over the same spots that the front runners had made in other snowy areas. I was a little cautious about tweaking my weak knee, but it was holding together fine. About halfway down I found fellow MRC member Greg Norrander hiking up taking pictures. I paused for a few seconds and he informed me that Storheim was closing on Belshaw and that Rich was about 5 to 10 minutes in front of me. I tried sending some positive vibes to Erik, hoping he could close down the gap and get the win. My knee was starting to act up, but as long as I kept it tracking straight I had very little pain associated with it. Then I hit some of the nastiest mud I encountered all day. It was the kind of mud that just keeps on sticking to itself and before you know it your shoes weigh a 2lbs. each. My knee really got sore through here but I knew I was almost done. Sure enough I came out of the trees and saw the big grassy meadow and Rich just about a minute in front of me. I was feeling pretty good and really wanted to try for a sub 10:30 but I knew it would be tight since it would only leave me about 30 minutes to run the last 3.7 miles. Rich and I ran through the last aid station together and I was all fired up to get this, my least favorite section, over with. Rich decided he needed to back off the pace and wished me luck. In my two previous races here I have never been able to run this last road section, but I had decided today was the day. Then I saw Storheim driving up in his car. He yelled some words of encouragement and I asked him if he won. He replied that he missed winning by 30 seconds! After about a mile and a half I caught up to Karl Jarvis whom I had run with very early in the day. I made sure he was alright then continued on to the finish. I knew I was getting close and I kept nervously looking at my watch to see if I would make my time. Then at 10 hours 27 minutes I could hear the crowd gathered at the finish area and that gave me an additional boost. My kids came running up to me and we ran in to the finish together. I ended up coming in 6th place in 10:29. Rich came in a few minutes back for 8th and Peter in 15th or 16th. No doubt about it, the conditions ruled the day on an already tough course. As an indication as to how tough it was, times were generally ~1 hour slower. Last year I took 19th in a time of 10:07, whereas this year I was 23 minutes slower and moved up to 6th.
Congratulations to everyone who finished a truly epic edition of Squaw Peak. Thanks to all the volunteers who also had to endure the cold, wet conditions, without your support this race wouldn't even happen. And thanks to RD John Bozung for pulling it all together.