Friday, July 16, 2010

3 Canyons Attempt: 1- 3/4, A Moose & Playing Chicken With A Squirrel

Yesterday I took the day off from work to do a training ride for that I Think I Canyons ride that takes place at the end of July. I wanted to try and see how I did on a 3 canyons attempt. I figured that if I could manage the three canyons, albeit easier canyons, I could then reasonably put in some more training and be prepared for the four canyons ride in two weeks.

Well, the theory seemed to work on paper well or so I thought. If I could manage an almost 6500 feet and three canyon climbing ride, I was on the road towards the more difficult ride. Then, I could train/work some more to get me into the ballpark of the 12000 feet and four canyons.

And it could be that I thought I was better than what I thought I was. Oh, the power of the Ego! I must admit it was at work as I started off at 8AM in the morning, heading on my bike from home and towards the first canyon. The temps had already climbed to a balmy 80 degrees as I started climbing. There were predicting that it was going to climb to the upper 90’s.

City Creek Canyon, the first canyon, is a shorter narrower canyon with a stream that runs to the side of a road. It’s closed to most motorized traffic except for service vehicles. I was very much enjoying the tree coverage as I started to get to the steeper parts of the climb. I only saw one or two other cyclists in the canyon as I went along. It was nice and quiet.

I was very much enjoying the solitude and then I came around a corner to discover myself about 20 feet from a HUGE moose in standing in the middle of the road. About 30 feet past the moose I saw another cyclist that was pausing in the middle of the road waiting to come down. There’s only one way in and one way out. I stood still hoping to not draw the moose my way. I VERY slowly turned my bike towards going down the canyon as I keep my eyes peeled towards the moose. No sudden movements. Once the bike was headed in the right direction I took one final look at the moose that appeared to be looking cautiously between myself and the other cyclist. And me, thinking of saving my own hide I jumped on my bike and sprinted a ¼ mile down the road. The other cyclist was SOL!

I warned two other female cyclists coming up the canyon road. One of whom wanted to see the moose. I don’t think she believed me. I turned back and lead them to the edge of the curve to catch a glimpse of the moose. Let me tell you I don’t think quiet was in one of the gal’s vocabulary. She almost shouted,” Wow!” as we stopped on the road. It was enough to startle the moose to move off to the side of the road and I decided that I didn’t want to risk hanging out there any longer. I quickly turned and high tailed it out of there! I only managed to get 3/4 of the canyon climbed on my bike but I wasn't going to risk getting an closer to that moose.

On my way to the other canyon I took a route that I knew well but was an up & down type of route. My legs were starting to feel the climbing as I found myself at the bottom of the next canyon; Emigration. It already said 10am on my cell phone. Emigration Canyon is a canyon that I’m most familiar with. I climb this canyon almost every Tuesday night.

I decided to pace myself slower than the usual pace figuring I still had one more canyon to go. The temperature was getting quite a bit warmer and there’s less shading along the road here. I made sure I was drinking my water every mile or so. I finally reached the summit of Emigration (Little Mountain) about an hour and a half later; this being about 15 to 20 minutes slower than my average time climbing up this canyon. I stopped and sat on a road guard for a bit, and I felt my thighs start to solidify and burn as I sat there. That’s it for my climbing today. I knew from experience that I needed to call it a day. My legs were toast!

Down the canyon I coasted; enjoying the feeling of the wind cooling me off. It was as I was 1 mile from the bottom that I saw a squirrel in the middle of the bike lane. The squirrel appeared to be standing there eating something. I started towards the middle of the road figuring that the squirrel would go off to the side of the road. Nope, not this squirrel! The squirrel went that way too. The squirrel faked right and went left. I went right only to have the squirrel match me.

Then the squirrel went crazy! Quickly running left, and then right. It ran back and forth right in front of me several times. What was I to do? A car was now coming down the canyon next to me and quickly closing the distance between us. I get within 5 feet of the squirrel. The squirrel stands up and stares me down!

It was like it was challenging me! WTF? I’m going 30 miles per hour down this canyon and can’t stop on a dime and I have a squirrel that’s playing chicken with me. In my mind, I can see the squirrel getting caught in my spokes and being decapitated and then I would be face planting it on the asphalt. OMG!  Not a pretty site!

With mere seconds to go the squirrel whips down the white line between me and the car. My heart is beating terribly fast and I put a hand over it as I look at the driver who looks at me as she passes. She saw what had happened and gives me a look of concern. Meanwhile in my rearview mirror I see that darn squirrel again sitting in the middle of the bike lane. I can’t help but think this is some kind of sick game that this squirrel has played before. “A squirrel with sick sense of humor?” I think as I continue on my way home for the day.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Think I CAN (BUT Maybe I Shouldn't?!)!

This last week as I’m checking out my local cycling club’s ride calendar and I see a ride that snared my attention. I’ve been in search of a riding challenge for myself during this cycling season. I think I may have found it?  But you tell me...

The name of this ride—I Think I CANyons Ride. There’s a choice of a 2 CANyons version or 4 CANyons version. All the proceeds of the ride benefit a local clinic that provides healthcare for the homeless. A wonderful cause and they are advertising water stops at the top of each canyon with a lunch after 2 CANyons or 4 CANyons—your choice. The event takes place on July 31st a mere 3 and a half weeks from today. So I need to decide which version I’m going to do.

The 2 CANyons version of the ride, I “could do in my sleep”; as Diane puts it and continues on, “Jeanne, it wouldn’t be enough of a challenge for you.” And yes, she probably is right; considering its 2 canyons with about a total of 3740 feet of climbing and 43 miles. Not to brag but this would require NO training what so ever for me.

So thus I’m playing with the idea of the 4 CANyons version. This version is climbing 4 CANyons along the Wasatch Front for a total of 12,000 climbing feet and 110 miles. Most people would consider this an INSANE challenge, and here I am playing with the idea of it. Can you say C-R-A-Z-Y?!?!

But in my defense I can say that I’ve climbed three of the four canyons. One of them of which I lead weekly bike rides up to the top of. The canyon I haven’t climbed is the steepest. In fact, it’s been compared to part of the Tour De France. It's Little Cottonwood Canyon.  It maybe be only 8.3 miles from the base but has a whopping average of 9.2% grade as you go up it. I’ve heard rumors that Dave Zabriskie, local cyclist turned world class, uses that canyon quite often for training. Quite often when I’ve driven it I’ve seen cyclists riding it; but then again all of these canyons along the Wasatch Front you'll see cyclists going up and down.

In the past, I’ve done rides where there was 9,700 feet of climbing but that was two years ago. And outside of climbing the one canyon I haven’t really been doing that much climbing this year. Three years ago I did another ride called the Mount Nebo Loop (Wasatch Mountain's highest peak at 11, 870 feet) where there are 37 miles of 6% or higher grade of climbing. I did the whole 70 mile ride in about 5 hours and 20 minutes which is respectable considering the amount of climbing involved. I sent an email to one of the guys that put this I Think I CANyons ride on the cycling ride calendar and asked if I was in the ball park for attempting this. He said that if I could manage ¾ of the distance that in his experience I could pull it off the full thing on the day of the ride.

So the main question is… Am I CRAZY enough to do the 4 CANyons version? I would need to add a MASSIVE amount of climbing to my cycling training schedule in the next 3 weeks to be ready for the event. That on top of the training I’m all ready doing for a half marathon that takes place in August 20th in Park City. Realistically is it possible for me to do ALL this?

Hmmmm… maybe I’ll sign up for the 4 CANyon version and see what happens? It’s only a $10 difference, and then if I find myself not ready I can always do the 2 CANyon. BUT is that giving myself to easy of a way out?  

(Editor's Note: All of the above photos are from a recent ride I took up Emigration Canyon-- which is the last canyon on the I Think I CANyon Ride. Beautiful, isn't it?)