Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Weekend in Nevada

Jon and I worked half-days last Friday so that we could head to the old-fashioned, western town of Ely, Nevada for a bike race. Despite the Liberty getting broken into the night before (yep) and the check engine light coming on (which happened the last time we were leaving for a long driving trip, too) we were in fairly good spirits.

After stopping to see the Bonneville Salt Flats along the way, we arrived in Ely around 5 p.m. The town is truly a western-looking place; most of the buildings are very old and you can't really tell which businesses are actually in operation. We considered going out to explore a nearby state park or an area for mining your own garnets, but ultimately decided we were tired and hungry and those needs came first. We were staying at the Jailhouse Motel & Casino and decided to try out its restaurant for dinner -- the Cell Block Steakhouse. They really took the whole jailhouse thing and ran with it; our booth was behind bars.

Dining behind bars
We were actually pretty impressed with the food. After dinner, we walked up to the casino where I gambled $5 playing a Keno machine and doubled my money! Then I lost it all playing poker. Jon signed in for his race and after piddling away a few more dollars in the casino, we called it a night.

Saturday, Jon rode in the Fears, Tears & Beers mountain bike enduro race. He decided to race in the expert class and he might never do that again, but hey -- he finished. The race began at 9 a.m. and started with all the racers riding right through the Jailhouse Casino. I went down so I could snap a picture of my hubby coming through.

Isn't my hubby cute?
After that, I didn't see him again until 5 p.m.! He was racing for almost eight hours! An enduro race totals your race time from a number of specific stages rather than your time start to finish. The expert class had to complete six total stages and at the end of the day, Jon had ridden 31 miles and climbed over FIVE THOUSAND FEET. Yikes. Needless to say, he was a bit tired after all that. I waited for him to finish at the park, blankly staring at this hill where he would come down and silently praying that he wouldn't fall to his death like I would if I tried the same.

Mtn Bikers got balls, y'all.
The race organizers provided a nice cookout with dinner, beer and music in the park following the race. We sat in the grass and enjoyed the weather and free beer while they raffled off prizes and announced the winners in the different classes for men and women. Jon even won a raffle prize! Jon wound up getting 11th place out of 15 individuals that completed the expert class stages. If we go back next year, he thinks he'll stick to sport class which only completes four stages so that he can really crush it! :) AND, if we go back next year, I just might participate in the Fun Run that they hold in conjunction with the bike race because only two women did it this year, so this might be my only chance to place in a running event, ever.

On Sunday, we got up early and ate a big breakfast at the Jailhouse's other restaurant then headed off to Great Basin National Park. We stopped by the park's main visitor center (no pencils), then continued to the Lehman Caves Visitor Center to check in for our cave tour. (I found pencils there.) We did a 90-minute tour of the caves that was really cool! The cave has some really interesting formations and Jon said it was the best cave tour he's ever had -- and that is a high compliment coming from a geologist! :) We'll see if that still holds true after we tour Timpanogos Cave in American Fork, UT in a few weeks.

Inside Lehman Caves
After the cave tour, we made a little lunch and then hiked the Bristlecone & Glacier trails. Together, the trails totaled about a 5-mile hike. The Bristlecone trail led to a grove of bristlecone pines with interpretive signs explaining these AMAZING trees. Seriously, these trees are some of the oldest things on EARTH; some are almost 5,000 years old! And they look really cool, too.

Bristlecone Pine
At the end of the Bristlecone trail, we continued on the Glacier trail which led up to Rock Glacier, the only glacier in Nevada.

Jon approaching the base of Rock Glacier
Now, I know what you're thinking; this doesn't really look like a glacier. I thought the same thing. But, it actually still is a form of a glacier. We didn't quite understand the science behind it when we were there, but here is what the National Park System says about it: A rock glacier is a lobe of angular boulders and cobbles that resembles an alpine glacier in outline and in its slow downslope movement. Inside a rock glacier, ice fills the spaces between the blocks. By freezing, thawing and sagging, the ice works with gravity to provide the force that moves the rock glacier.

So, we were standing underneath some rocks that are constantly shifting downward. Cool, huh? ;) Until next time; more adventures to come!

Xoxo, The Zerbes

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Honeymoon Part Two

Day Four
It was Thanksgiving. We woke up early and headed to the beach right after breakfast, taking nothing with us so that we could actually swim together instead of one person swimming, one person guarding camp. We came back to the hotel after a while to pack up our bags and have lunch in the bar before our ride was to arrive at noon.

Anyone who’s been to Costa Rica will probably tell you that getting somewhere is half the battle and we learned that lesson, too. Our shuttle didn’t arrive at noon, even though we’d coordinated it months in advance, so we had to use the bartender’s cell phone to call the hotel and get a replacement that arrived a couple hours later. We knew the ride would be long. We were headed from the Pacific Coast to a more northern and central part of the island – the Tenorio National Forest. It was quite interesting that our transportation was a little roller skate of a car because I knew the last few miles before getting to our next hotel were pretty much 4WD necessary. But off we went.

We finally got close, after the driver had to stop and get directions, and those last few miles on 4WD terrain took at least an hour and were absolutely terrifying! I am not exaggerating when I say I was praying the rosary in the backseat. It was just dark and foggy and in this small car, I thought for sure our driver might say F it and take us back down. But we finally made it to the beautiful Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel and were greeted with some amazing juice and led to our little bungalow house nestled in the rainforest. The digs at this place were all amazing, everything was beautiful and eco-conscious and the scenery couldn’t be beat. Our balcony faced right out into the rainforest. We got some dinner in the resort restaurant that night and went to bed.

Gorgeous bungalow at Rio Celeste Hideaway

Our deck facing the rainforest

Day Five
We had breakfast at the resort before heading off on an adventure to raft the Tenorio River! Our guides picked us up and we drove for about an hour or so to a little restaurant area where we met with other groups and then took one car together out to the drop-in spot.

The guides were so nice and funny, the rafting was definitely a trip highlight. We had read the rapids would be Class III and IV, which to me was a little scary but it turned out to be perfect. It was an absolutely beautiful day with the sun shining, we saw some wildlife and shouted Pura Vida after getting through big rapids. So much fun.

One of the guides has been talking about a 12-foot drop at the end of our route since the morning, but I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not and Jon said there was no way. But he wasn’t joking! At the very end, there was a big 12-foot waterfall. They pulled us all off to the side before we went in and gave us all the tips for what to do if we flipped (we later learned that about 99% of boats flip…), etc. Our boat went first in our group and… we flipped. Haha. It was not as scary as I thought it would be, though. I think it’s like you have to fall out once to know it’s not so bad. I came up and there were ropes to grab onto so I held onto one tightly until a guide pulled me out (the water is super strong). Then we watched the other groups come down and one actually made it without flipping.

After the rafting, we had a little snack riverside and headed back. We had dinner in the hotel and relaxed for the night. (I don't have any actual pictures of rafting to share; we did take a few photos and of course video on the GoPro but Jon has them.)

Day Six
After another breakfast at the resort, we met our guide for the morning who would be taking us on a guided hike in the Tenorio National Forest. We walked a kilometer or so from the hotel to the park entrance.

The hike was really nice. We saw lots of interesting plants and wildlife and the Rio Celeste. This river runs through the forest and at one point, it completely changes to a bright blue color. We were able to hike right past the point in the river where it changes which was super neat. We also got to see a huge waterfall (always cool) and it was a great hike all around.

Prehistoric ferns in the Tenorio Nat'l Forest

Where the water turns blue in Rio Celeste

Rio Celeste Waterfall (forget the height)

When we got back to the hotel, we relaxed for a while then got a couples massage. That evening we hung out in the bar using Google Translate to translate a few issues we had with the hotel into Spanish so that we could mention them during check-out the next day. We enjoyed our last dinner in the restaurant, a night cap in the bar and then headed back to our little bungalow.

My favorite drink at the resort, "Blue Lagoon"

Day Seven & Eight
Sunday morning, we checked out of the hotel and after doing my best to read our translated-to-Spanish concerns, we actually got a really good discount (nice!). Our shuttle picked us up and drove us back to San Jose where we’d stay one night until our flight left the next morning. San Jose was busy when we arrived. We walked around for a little while, ducking into a grocery store for some snacks and Costa Rican goodies (aka coffee) to bring back home. That night we just got a pizza and watched the Redskins game. On Monday, we left early in the morning for the airport and headed back state-side.  

The honeymoon was a great trip. Costa Rica is a beautiful place with many friendly people, but I will say the transportation/getting around is the worst. We really enjoyed the relaxing, eating, drinking and exploring that we were able to do as husband and wife after a long year of wedding planning. There is a lot we weren’t able to see just having a week there, so I would definitely go back again.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Honeymoon Synopsis -- Part One

We safely returned from Costa Rica earlier this week and wanted to update our blog with details of our trip before we forget them like everything else. I can’t even remember what I did two weeks ago… I remember wearing a white dress, though…

Anyway, Costa Rica. We departed early on Monday, November 25.

Day One
We arrived in San Jose around 12:30 PM. We knew we had to get to the Hampton Inn “across from the airport” because that’s where the shuttle to our first hotel would be picking us up in a few hours. So, we walked out of the airport past all the eager-to-getyourmoney-help you taxi drivers thinking we’d walk. Soon figured out that wouldn’t work, so made a full lap of the airport back around to the drivers and hopped in a cab. A few minutes later, we’d reached the hotel and decided to go the neighboring establishment for lunch. Denny’s. That’s right. Our first meal in Costa Rica was at Denny’s.

A little pricey if you ask me...

The shuttle picked us up around 4:00 PM. We boarded and were immediately greeted by a man and wife/woman from Texas who had brought a full bar onto the bus with them. Thanks for those vodka sodas, guy. We had to say good-bye to the bar partway through the ride, though, as their end destination was not the same as ours. Another guy on the shuttle with us, we learned, was an American who lived in the town we were headed to (Tamarindo) and owned a bike shop. Fate, you sneak! How did the universe know we wanted to rent bikes while in Tamarindo? Perfecto.

We got to our hotel around 9:00 PM. The entrance was dark; we walked in past the office (closed) and down a short path to an open area where the pool and bar/restaurant (also closed) were. A staff person was waiting for us with a flashlight. He spoke no English, but had a piece of paper with my name on it, so I let him know it was me and he led us to our room. Very formal check-in. The pathways to each room were paved or boarded and surrounded by tropical plants and greenery, which allowed for an element of privacy. Our little house was toward the back of the property. It was simple, but charming.

Our room at Hotel Pasatiempo

After we dumped all our stuff into the room, we walked into the town of Tamarindo, found a bar where we ate some food, drank a couple Imperials and watched the Redskins lose. Then we crashed – it was a long day of traveling!

Day Two
We woke up early and enjoyed our first complimentary ‘tico’ breakfast at the hotel. Ticos are what native Costa Ricans call each other. So, the tico breakfast is a typical Costa Rican breakfast, which included eggs, rice and beans, toast and fruit. Pretty good. Also, delicious Costa Rican coffee. Can’t forget that.

Tico Breakfast

After breakfast, we walked to the beach – Playa Tamarindo – and stayed for a few hours relaxing and swimming. The weather was beautiful and the water was warm. That was my first time swimming in the Pacific Ocean! Around lunch time, we walked back to the hotel so we could continue relaxing – but by the pool with drinks in hand. That evening we did a “hike” where we walked a very short distance back a dirt road at the end of town that led to a “viewpoint.” It was pretty cool, you could kinda see across the gulf.

Playa Tamarindo on a beautiful, sunny day

We went to a place called El Coconut for dinner that night, which was recommended to us by our bike-shop-owning-shuttle-bus friend. The food was pretty good. After dinner, we grabbed some more wine and went back to the hotel. And that was pretty much it for day two.

Day Three
After enjoying our tico breakfast, we walked into town to the bike shop. Rented ourselves a couple bikes and started pedaling toward a nearby beach called Playa Conchal – aptly named for its “sand” made entirely of shell pieces.

Renting our Bikes

The ride ended up being about 12 miles. It was beautiful riding down the Costa Rican country roads. Passed a chicken or two, a tico or two hundred. About five miles in, we had to turn off the paved road onto a dirt road. Still enjoying ourselves, we bumpily rode along until we reached a small intersection. We paused to figure out our route. As we slowed, we noticed a herd of cattle passing to our left. How quaint! There was even a cattle dog nipping at their heels which made me think of little Romy…

Anyway, then things got interesting for a minute. To our right, a group of Ticos stood off in the distance. And when I looked their way, I could have sworn they were pointing a gun right at my face. I remained calm – shocking, I know – and told Jon what I was seeing. We shuffled our operation across the street and out of their line of sight. Jon didn’t admit until later than he was pretty sure it was, in fact, a gun pointed at us though he didn’t think they were doing it maliciously. Still – wtf?! We hopped on those bikes and pedaled fast to get the heck outta dodge. Scary.

A little while later we made it to the beach. It was really beautiful and there were not many waves, which made for nice swimming. After relaxing and swimming for a bit, we got lunch at a restaurant facing the beach. We were about ready to head back to Tamarindo, so our server said he would coordinate a taxi for us that could accommodate the bikes. I was obviously not going back down that dirt road to find crazy Ticos waiting for me! It also looked like an afternoon storm might roll in (which it did).

Picturesque Playa Conchal

Then things got interesting again. The “taxi” rolled up a half an hour or so later – an old, rusty, rust-colored pickup truck. Jon loaded the bikes into the bed of the truck while I sucked down my margarita real quick. When I walked over, Jon was climbing into the non-existent back seat. His seat was the truck’s speaker box. Umm… ok. The very old driver, who spoke no English, put the front seat back in place so I could climb in front. Off we went… at 5 km per hour. Poor Jon was stuck on that speaker box as we crawled down the roads to get back, while our driver fielded many calls from his horse-neigh-ringing cell phone (which only led to even slower driving). We’d been told at the restaurant that the taxi ride would be $40, which we thought was a little steep anyway but figured whatever. Well now that we were in this interesting situation, neither of us really thought that $40 was fair. We silently agreed to give the old man only $20 when we got to our destination.

When we arrived, we handed him the $20. He fumbled in Spanish (no Ingles, remember) trying to tell us that the cost was $40. I did take three years of Spanish in school, so I knew what he was trying to say but didn’t remember enough vocab to express our dissatisfaction. I tried pointing to the truck and spewing out a few words to give him an idea. But it was mostly just an awkward face-off. Then Jon, who knows next to no Spanish, just throws out, exasperated, “TRUCK MUY PICANTE.” If you don’t know Spanish either, then this might seem normal to you. But if you do know even a little, then you probably know what he meant to say was the truck was pequeno, meaning small, but in fact he told the man his truck was hot and spicy. I had to stifle my laughter for the sake of the face-off, which we eventually won, the old driver succumbing to the language barrier and leaving us.

The day did turn around after that. We returned the bikes then walked out onto the beach for sunset. We found some lounge chairs at a beachside restaurant and ordered a few margaritas and watched the sun go down. It was very pretty. Afterward, we got pretty ourselves and went to a place called Dragonfly for dinner. It was probably the best meal we ate during the entire trip. It was fabulous. After dinner, we went back to our hotel that was hosting an open mic night. We sat and enjoyed the music and a few more drinks for a while before calling it a night. And that was day three.

Delicious Dinner at Dragonfly

That’s all for now – part two coming next!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Back in the Saddle

It's been a crazy fast summer, and Jenn and I often talk about how we haven't updated the blog. Wedding planning has our full attention and it's the busy season for my work. So fall is here and I got a rare opportunity. In January I tried registering for this race - Big Mountain Enduro down the Whole Enchilada in Moab. I didn't get in (filled all the spots in 3 minutes), but was put on a waiting list. Two or three weeks before the race I was asked if I wanted a spot. Struck while the iron was hot.

I hadn't raced any bike in over 2 years. I made a fork change to the Moto, dropped 2.5 lbs. off the bike, and decided to enter a $10 downhill race at The Canyons in Park City a week before the big race. Turned out to be good test, my race run was 8 minutes 20 secs - a long enduro-like dh race with a lot of pedaling. That time was good enough to land me 2nd overall in amateur, 11th fastest time overall - a big confidence boost considering I was purposely pacing myself and riding conservatively. For a $10 entry fee, I won a 661 dirt lid and a t-shirt. Needless to say, even if I only have a tricycle, I'll be doing this race again next year.

The courses weren't posted until the Wednesday before the race. I wasn't too excited when they were. The first day was 3 stages on trails I've never ridden, and 2 stages down the Whole Enchilada, making the 17 mile-long 5th stage longer than the previous 4 stages combined. I looked at it as a nail in the coffin for me. I was not in good enough shape to do a long stage.

Day 1 - Magnificent 7 trails
I've never ridden down any of the Mag 7 trails, but I have been to Gemini Bridges. Which led me to think I knew how to get to the start of Stage 1. Instead of taking a smooth dirt road for 4 miles we took 9 miles of a popular 4x4 trail in our new Jeep Liberty. I told Jenn we were just going for the full Moab experience. For 3 trails I have never ridden before, I followed the course markings pretty well and only had to put a foot down twice. When I got to the start of Stage 3, no timing equipment was set up! The race promoters played it off as "a big party." I spent over an hour hunkered in the shade of a scrubby tree. It did give me a chance to look around at everyone's bikes and I came to the realization my bike was outdated and also much heavier than what everyone else was racing. The 3rd stage ended up being my best finish with the 15th fastest time out of 57 racers in my category (Amateur 30-39). Overall (combined stages 1-3) on the first day I was 25th, which being in the top half considering I never rode those trails, was fine with me. With the long 5th stage looming, and feeling like I brought a broadsword to a gun fight, I told Jenn if I don't lose any positions on Day 2 I would be happy.

Day 2 - Whole Enchilada
I've ridden this epic trail twice before. It starts over 11,000 feet up in the La Sal Mountains and finishes 26 miles later at the Colorado River at 4,000 feet. But before the weekend it snowed up in the La Sals, so it was a last minute decision but it was announced Saturday night that Stage 4 was going to start as planned at the highest point - Burro Pass. In the morning, this brutal hike-a-bike was made worse by cold temps and sticky mud that picked up rocks as I pushed my bike up the trail (the picture doesn't do it justice). Also the shuttle driver drove so crazy he twisted my bars slightly while it was on the roof rack. Once I labored up Burro Pass, I scraped the mud off my bike with a tiny spruce branch and fixed my bars. I didn't do a great job because the first switchback on Stage 4, I caught the 2 guys ahead of me and crashed in the same icy corner simultaneously twisting my bars again. The trail looked even icier ahead. Despite the ticking clock, I just needed a minute to gather myself and approach this with a new setup. I took my good old time straightening my bars out, let some air out of my tires to get as much grip as possible, and turned down the power on my rear brake to ease the sliding of my rear tire. It worked, and I ended up passing a few people after that - despite crashing in another icy switchback. I'd like to think my Stage 4 was like most others - a shit sandwich - but mine seems like a lot less soggy than most. I remembered how to ride slippery roots and rocks like I came fresh from PA - despite downhill with an average grade of 15%. A couple of stream crossings later, the snow faded, most of the mud flew off my bike, and Stage 4 was over. I climbed up to the top of Hazard County trails and ate some food before the start of long Stage 5. Not much to say for Stage 5, I grinded along UPS and LPS, rode everything clean including the infamous "Notch", but my legs just wouldn't put down the effort I wanted in all the short climbs. Basically when I finished I had the feeling that this was one of those trails that's awesome to ride, but not to race.

Looking Back Monday
Right after the race, Jenn picked me up at the bottom of Porcupine Rim, drove over to the race headquarters at the Archway Inn, got my free lunch and Oskar Blues beers (did you know they make Dale's Pale Ale?) and hit the road as soon as I got my total time - 1hr 55 mins- because I knew that was nothing close to the podium. Final results came in Monday and I was pleasantly surprised. I finished 19th, moving up 6 spots from Day 1! My wreck and mechanical on Stage 4 only cost me one spot - maybe two at the most. On Stage 5 I finished 20th so what I thought was going to be my downfall ended up being the boost I needed. Stage 5 comprised of 63% of my total combined finishing time. This was an "epic" event, and my first real multi-stage enduro, so it was a learning experience. Would I do this particular event again? Not unless I shed some weight - on my bike and my body.  

Twitter: @ZerbingOut


Friday, May 10, 2013

Long Time, No Blog

Hello there old friend. It’s been too long. Sorry I’ve neglected you. I make no promise not to do it again, but I’ve been feeling like I need a creative outlet lately and then I thought… oh yeah, our blog. So I’ll try until I ultimately get distracted with something else again.

A lot has happened since my last post in October 2012 (yikes) – most notably, Jon and I got engaged. Yay! We got engaged in November. And don’t worry! We don’t disappoint. There is a comical engagement story to go along with it. If you haven’t heard it, you can read about it on our wedding websiteHere’s just a photojournalistic summary of the events:

Where we were supposed to get engaged (Donut Falls)

Where we actually got engaged (the Saturn)

Only us, right? It was still super exciting, of course! And my ring is b-e-a-utiful! Snaps, honey! After I said yes and we made out like high-schoolers in my car (just kidding… kinda), we took a soak in this baby:

Homestead Crater Hot Springs

Then we headed to Park City where we enjoyed dinner and champagne interrupted by multiple texts from my family asking to see the bling. Love you guys! ;) Anyway, it was awesome! We are planning to get married on November 23, 2013 and honeymoon in Costa Rica. It’s getting so close already and we. are. PUMPED!

So, nothing else really trumps that news, but let’s see. Since then, we have also: 
  • Gone home to celebrate Christmas with family and got to see friends in Baltimore.
  • Started wedding planning.
  • Enjoyed another visit from the one and only Andrew Schmidt.
  • Hit up some Jazz games.
  • Went on a snowmobiling trip in Yellowstone with Jon’s parents.
  • Enjoyed a visit from my “sister,” Geoff.
  • Enjoyed a visit from the awesome Mr. & Mrs. Jason Anderson, who (shout out) took our engagement photos.
  • I took a trip home for Easter, dress shopping, wedding planning and visiting with friends.
  • We hosted Brian DeCann during the weekend of the Collegiate Road Cycling Championships where we also got a small visit with Mr. Matt McKinney and our first fishing day of the year at Pineview Reservoir.
That kinda brings us up to date! Things we’re looking forward to in the next month or so include: 
  • Warmer temperatures – Halle-FREAKIN-lujah. Holy harsh winter. (Me no likey)
  • LB (my sister) and Jason (Jon’s brother) will be in town over Memorial Day weekend.
  • Bridesmaids dress shopping!
  • Jon’s Bday.
  • Camping.
  • Bees games.
  • My first go on a mountain bike.
  • Flag Day. What? You don’t celebrate that?
Okay, that’s it for now. Until next time, kiddos!
X’s and O’s from Salt Lake City!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Back in the Summer of 2012

Here are some more highlights from our first Utah summer. One of these days, we will get caught up on this blog so that I am not still posting about our summer adventures when it is almost November…

Ben & Sara’s Wedding
The week before Ben & Sara’s wedding was a fun time as guests from literally all corners of the country started to arrive in Utah. Lots of family, friends and even more food. The group headed up to Solitude Mountain Resort on Thursday in a shuttle van driven by the one and only, Jon Zerbe. Literally, less than 10 miles after departing from the Zerbe-Bridges Casa, this van started shutting down. Multiple pull-offs and engine restarts later, and after rescue vehicles came to transport passengers, we finally got that stinkin’ van up the mountain.

In the days before the wedding, we all spent time checking out the resort, soaking in the hot tub, playing cornhole, enjoying the first Zerbe-Hess Bierworks home brew, Hesseweizen (label created by yours truly), mountain biking/hiking/frisbee golfing, and just hanging out. It was like summer camp. I may or may not have sung Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All” acapella-style into the retractable kitchen sink nozzle with Jon’s cousin David. From scavenger hunts to poker to Apples to Apples, this weekend had it all!

While the weather on the big day was not the best, it was a beautiful ceremony. You can’t really go wrong with huge, beautiful mountains behind you. The reception was a lot of fun and all of the food was delicious. It was great to have everyone in one place!
Rehearsal Dinner

Hesseweizen home brew 

Uinta Trip #2
In August, Ben, Sara, Jon and I made a little trip out to the Mirror Lakes in the Uinta Mountains. We got up there on a Friday and pretty much set up camp near Washington Lake and went to bed. We stayed in the Hess Family Camper.

Romy on a kayak!
Saturday, we made our way over to Lost Lake where we all took turns kayaking in the lake and fishing off the shore. The fishing wasn’t so great, but the weather was beautiful. Romy even enjoyed kayaking, snuggled down into the nose of the kayak. We found a great camp site for that night and sat around the camp fire drinking wine, then ate some delicious flank steak for dinner. Sunday, we went to mirror lake for more fishing and kayaking.

Jon fishing in Mirror Lake

Romy loving life on Swim Beach
Flaming Gorge Trip
Jon and I were super excited to finally get a weekend on Ben’s boss’ boat in the Flaming Gorge. We drove down on the last Friday in August and camped out right on Swim Beach. We woke up early for sunrise and some pronghorns joined us for the view! Since there weren’t that many people on the beach, Romy LOVED running around and splashing through the water.

We got on the boat early in the morning and set off. We drank caesars, ate lots of food, went fishing, soaked up the sun, and swam in the gorge. It was a lot of fun. We ate dinner on the dock and pretty much went right to sleep after a long day in the sun. We went out on the water again Sunday for more fishing. All together we caught about six rainbow trout that we kept and took home. I got to reel in my very first fish (other than the time I went with Jon’s parents to the hatchery which was like catching fish in a barrel). Yes, even after growing up with my Dad, I somehow had never caught a fish for real. We also got to take home some kokanee, which is a type of salmon that some other people that docked their boat nearby caught. So it was good eatin’ that week!


Jon fileting fish on the back of the boat

Other Things of Note
We met Geena Davis. Okay, we saw her.
We watched the Tour of Utah in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Our garden was killa. Still kinda is.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Transition to Weekend Warrior

This year will mark the first year in my life since 2002 that I didn’t compete in a single bike race. There is cyclocross season coming up, but to be honest I am in terrible shape compared to past years. It doesn’t mean I have ceased riding altogether. My SLC riding buddy Ryan Emery calls racers - “try hards”. Plus I am making “real” money again, I am becoming increasingly important at my job, and my bikes are in need of some serious upgrades. So my workout schedule now consists of one or two big rides a weekend.

A quick reflection on when I raced back east. After you ride Blue Marsh for the thousandth time it’s nice to go out and do a race series that basically forces you to ride new places – especially those races held on private land (I miss the Cat Classic). Even when I lived in West Virginia I only raced three WVMBA races and two were in Davis. I did go to a lot of collegiate races. The point is when living at a new place that has so many new trails, I think it is ok to cast aside racing and start exploring.

I did plan a whole race season scheduled around Enduro racing – where you still have to climb but only the downhills are timed. But schedule conflicts and expensive entry fees pretty much kept me out of all of the races I wanted to do. So I explored the wonderful state of Utah and thankfully my job facilitates that.

The Front

There’s plenty of riding within a short drive from my house – and really great trails with sick downhills. City Creek, Mueller Park, the Bobsled Trail – just to name a few. And I’m quickly finding out why everyone out here rides a trail bike that climbs well – closest rise is an 8 mile loop, 4 mile climb of 1400 feet. You can shuttle some of these but the climbing is still there. I’ve gotten pretty accustomed to grunting climbs on my Cannondale Moto. Leading me to one of the worst crashes I ever had. The day after my sister’s wedding at Solitude (which I rode some lift chair runs in the rain the morning of the wedding) I took Jarkon Anderslammer for a quick Bobsled shuttle. Climbed up to the top, and as we started coming down I heard a noise like tire rub then the next thing I knew the front wheel CAME OFF. No time to brace for impact, I went tomahawking down the trail with the rest of my bike. In fact, when Jarkon rode down he saw only my front wheel and nothing else. Only to discover I was down the trail, blood everywhere, with my bell rung. All he could say was expletives, and the only first aid we had was some toilet paper I fastened to my arm with a zip tie and a rubber band from a tube. Long story short I rode the rest of the way down with my cracked helmet, and the nurse found a pebble in my arm. I walked away with lots of road rash, two puncture wounds in my arm, and my neck and back feeling like I was hit by a car. To this day I’m not sure how my front axle unthreaded itself.
The crash put me out for a month of prime riding time. I still managed to get some sweet rides in. Elsewhere along the Wasatch Front there’s an awesome set of IMBA built trails down in Draper called Corner Canyon that has one-way downhill trails (my favorite part). There’s Mill Creek which has the Pipeline – I swear it’s the only flat trail in Utah – which has one of my favorite downhill options called Rattlesnake Gulch. I also got to ride DH runs at Deer Valley on my Scalpel with Andy during the Cannondale sales meeting.  But the highlight of all the front is the Wasatch Crest. It’s a massive shuttle ride that starts at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon and finishes in Mill Creek Canyon. Ryan and I rode it for 3 weekends in a row trying to get it in before the snow comes. Of course I take the Moto and suffer up Puke Hill and the rest of the 1000 feet of climbing, but oh my the downhills. The iconic section of this trail is “The Spine”, a super rocky section featured on the label for Squatter’s Full Suspension Pale Ale. Check out this video of it when I had Ryan’s GoPro on my seatpost - The Spine

Vernal, Payson and Jenn’s Century

Work does take me to places in the middle of nowhere, so I usually will try and find a middle of nowhere trail – the Corkscrew outside of Vernal in northeastern Utah. I am one of 7 people who have ridden it and recorded it on How did I find the trailhead you ask? GPS coordinates and the hubcaps and bike shoes nailed to the fence.  It was a fun, sandy trail, and I can’t wait to check out this area more next time I am sent out for work!

Jenn did the Wonder Woman century in Payson, UT which sits at the southern end of the valley. She bravely signed up for the 100 mile ride, even thought she had never ridden anything that length. While she was out riding, I was going to head up Payson Canyon with the Scalpel to check out the riding up there. I should have had the Moto and a shuttle vehicle. And just a tip, if you ever go to a place that is best setup for shuttling, you are shuttling with a big pickup truck and only 2 guys, and you talk to a guy in the parking lot who’s by himself and has never ridden here – offer that guy a shuttle. 4 hours, a clif bar, and 70oz of water later I got back to my truck. I was beat. I talked to a guy, by himself, unloading his bike and offered him a shuttle. He turned it down. I told him, I thought I would ask since I could of used one and continued to describe him my ride – his response “Wow, yeah, that’s a lot of climbing.” Once I got to Subway and housed a foot-long I saw my Strava results – 4506 feet of climbing in 23 miles. I just laughed. By the time I got back to the start/finish for Jenn’s century and got a text that she was already at the 70 mile mark. I just hung around and waited for her to finish. I was so proud to see her roll in at around 9 hours despite getting 2 flats!

St. George vs. Moab

Despite being here almost a year, I’ve only made one biking trip to Moab so far and it was for Ben’s bachelorish weekend before the wedding. Jason, Ben, and I went “patches deep” in the Whole Enchilada – 4+ hours, 5 tubes. By far that is my favorite ride. Jason’s first time down, he reflected on the experience by saying “If this isn’t your favorite trail, you haven’t ridden it yet.” Truer words have never been spoken. But I got to ride another southern Utah mountain bike hotspot….


On the other end of Utah in the very southwest corner is a little place called St. George. Nearby town of Virgin hosts the Red Bull rampage. I thought of checking out the rampage area but I took the Scalpel down again, because I did have to work during the day so my riding time would be limited. On the first day, I rode Gooseberry Mesa, probably the most famous of all the trails down there. It is just south of Zion National Park, which paints a beautiful skyline for most of the ride. Gooseberry is similar to Moab’s Slickrock Trail, but in my opinion is a better ride. The trail is just more fun and has unique tricky areas and more play areas with names like “God’s Skatepark”. Also has areas of singletrack scattered about. This area alone makes me want to forego taking visitors to Moab and instead take visitors to St. George. The next night I had to race against the sunset and pound out another quick fun loop called Barrel Roll. The next day was the most disappointing, because I started on another St. George classic –Bearclaw Poppi. This trail at the bottom has a million different lines and is confusing especially to a newcomer like me. I ended up taking Stucki Springs and got lost a little bit and finished it as an out-and-back. I’ll try it a second time before I bash it completely, but so far I see why Moab still remains on top. St. George is less than 2 hours from a major airport – Las Vegas, compared to 3.5-4 hours from SLC like Moab. But the trail systems like Gooseberry and Santa Clara (Barrel Roll) require decent vehicle clearance and can be tricky to drive to (especially with a rental car). There are trail markers in both areas, but in all the times I rode in Moab I think I took one wrong turn. ONE! I struggled to stay on track in St. George, even using the same one page ride-guides. St. George has potential, I just need more time and another trip down there for work.   

With all these places I’ve ridden and only riding every now and then, I have been pretty happy being a weekend warrior. I appreciate you reading this long post, so I’ll try to keep the blog updated with more individual riding adventures.