Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Race report: Taming the Tetons, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

How do you tame a teton?  I didn't quite figure it out, but had fun trying.  This past weekend we headed up to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the 9th race in the ICup series: Taming the Tetons.

I thought only Carl, Bob and I would be making the drive up through Afton
 the antler gateway at Afton

to Jackson, but Erica T. took me up on an offer of our one spare bed at The Hostle ($99 per night for quad occupancy as compared to the $220+ I was finding a couple of weeks ago).

Drew switched around his trip at the last minute, so now we were 5 in the room.  I felt like I was back at geology field camp.

Friday after check in, we did a lap of the course

and saw this brave guy

There were some spots on the trail where the board bridges didn't quite cover the mud holes, and lots of semi-technical descents, which I had forgotten about since I raced this several years ago.  I had also forgotten how much fun the trails are.  Jackson is one of the ICup courses I would rather ride than race, since it is a hard course to get to full race pace on because of the twisty technical terrain.

After one lap, Drew, who was trying to maximize his miles and climbing over the weekend in preparation for TransAlps, went out on another ride up the mountain while we cleaned up.  Then we got some grub at Calico's near Teton Village.  Very tasty pasta.

I can't say it was the best night's sleep I've ever had, but it was probably better than Drew's, which was spent on an air mattress on the floor in our tiny room.

Saturday: rise and no-shine.  As we lay in our beds thinking about getting up, it started pouring rain. Luckily, the shower was brief enough that it only helped to make the course tacky.

Time to race. The four Expert Women started at the same time as the Pros, but we did 2.5 laps to their 3.

Start of the Pro and Expert Women.  I'm in the back center with the orange bike.  Erica T is on the left in pink and Erika P is in second off the line.

 Start of one of the Sport Men categories. Carl on the right. 




Drew and Dusty were great support.  They handed us water bottles, cheered loudly, and took most of these great pictures.

Me coming through for lap #2.  I'm tossing a water bottle and Drew will hand me another (as he snaps this picture. Multi-talented!).
 I didn't feel like I raced very well.  I started out in 3rd, but could see the gal ahead of me through half of the first lap. I thought I could catch her on the technical sections, but then I lost sight of her and I had a good lead on the person behind me, so I sort of settled into sub-race pace.  I'm disappointed in myself for not trying even harder, but I guess it was good enough to earn me 3rd place and a pair of (really nice) socks.

Meanwhile, since his domestique duties were completed, Drew set out to climb to the top of the tram, after which he earned a free ride down on the tram.  I guess they say if you get up to the top on your own power, you deserve a free ride down. 

We both deserved some ice cream
 and a nap

before heading into town with the group for giant burritos at Pica's Mexican Taqueria

 Sunday a group of us set out for high adventure.  We had heard from a couple of locals that there was good riding near Teton Pass. We didn't have a map, but figured there would be signs.  There were signs, all right, but we still didn't know what kind of trails they were.  We ended up exploring the Arrow trail (awesome buff forest single track complete with gushing melt-water stream crossings on slippery logs)

and Phillips Canyon trail (steep enough and rocky/rooty enough that there was no way we were going to be doing an out and back).

Ali took a nasty header into the icy creek and gouged open her forearm, but other than that, we made it through mostly intact.  We then climbed back up about 1500 feet on a road and the brand new Ridge Trail (very nice forested trail with great views of the valley below)

to return to our cars.  Sub-3-hours, 17 miles, and 2600 feet of climbing and descending.  Fantastic ride on tired legs. Stuff all those legs in a car for 5 hours and we were glad to be home.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lucy's 40th birthweek

Since Flag Day 2010 was my 40TH birthday, we decide to have a birthWEEK celebration instead of a birthDAY celebration.  We also needed to vacate our house since there was no power or heat and the weather was cold, so we checked into the Marriott Summit Watch vacation club at the bottom of Main Street in Park City on Friday, amid fresh snow on the mountaintops.  Saturday, we were suppose to do the Deer Valley race, but it got canceled, as you already know from our last post.  We intended to celebrate the big 4-0 a day early on Sunday with a group mountain bike ride followed by beer and cake at Wasatch Brew Pub in Park City, but due to the 80% chance of rain in the forecast and dark skies, we called off the ride.  Drew and I did manage to sneak out early that day and get our first taste of the Mid Mountain trail this year.

After warming our toes in the hot tub back at the resort and opening a few presents in the room we gathered with lots of our very best friends at the brew pub for beer and an insanely delicious chocolate cake from Carlucci's Bakery that Drew had designed especially for his "over the hill" wife.

I guess when you are 40, you deserve two cakes.

But you still have to blow out the candles.

It was a great night and I felt lucky to be able to celebrate with such awesome friends: Doug, John, Jen, Melissa, Scott, Jennie, Joel, Alison, Eric, Erika, Dusty, Rhonda, Andy, Bob, Lyna, Laura, Mike, April, Nancy, Ken, Angela, Ty, Gigi, Kathy, Chris, Bonnie, Jonas, Mark, Kari, Cindy, Craig, Shelly, and of course, my wonderful Drew.

We had to get to bed early though because the actual birth-day held a surprise for me. I was instructed to dress warmly and rise at 5:30 AM. We hunted down some coffee as the sun came up on Park City...

And then I was transported to the launching pad. We were going hot air ballooning!

Part of the excitement was determining where to launch from and watching the flight crew unload and inflate the balloon.

It took about 15 minutes before we and the other 8 passengers could load into the basket, and in no time we were airborne. It was thrilling.

The pilot would turn on the burners to heat the air to make us gain altitude.

We first floated at about 3000 feet above the ground over Swaner Nature Preserve, but then we descended to only 100 feet or so above the Preserve to see if we could view any wildlife. This is the closest we will likely ever get to being able to enter the Preserve.

What I liked best about the ride was floating over many of our favorite mountain bike trails. Here is Glen Wild.

And the trails and another commercial balloon near Round Valley (it really looks round, eh?)

We tried to pose for this picture

But got this video instead

In this video you can see what it was like floating above the trails. The 60,000 BTU propane burners were pretty cool too.

The sprawl is very apparent from the air.

After about an hour, it was time to "aim" for the landing spot. The winds were very calm until just above the ground, where they picked up and caused the basket to tip over on its side during our landing. That was exciting!

So exciting that we needed to take a nap after the balloon ride to get some energy before I could open more presents.

I got so many cool presents from my family and friends, I can't list them here, but I just had to show off my present from Drew. This is the only thing I specifically asked for. Ain't she a beaut!

We also had energy left over to go on a mountain bike ride to our engagement spot.  Nothing better than celebrating my birthday with my most awesome friend and husband.

The rest of birthweek was nice too. I came down to work a couple of days and check on the house. Drew also spent some time at the house but managed to ride a lot. I raced on Wednesday, earning myself a blue ribbon birthday prize, and Thursday we had birthday dinner and dessert at Easy Street in Park City.

I guess the 40 club isn't so bad!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Race Reports: Deer Valley Pedalfest and XC @ Sherwood Hills. Intermountain Cup mountain bike race series races 7 & 8

19th Annual Deer Valley Pedalfest
In honor of my birthweek, and since our house was being ripped to shreds, had no power or heat, and the temps in the valley were down to 45 degrees at night, Drew and I decided to get a hotel up in Park City last week.  This would allow us to sleep in a bit for Saturday's race and take a hot tub after the race.  Since I had never raced the Deer Valley Pedalfest before, I was really looking forward to it.  I also wanted to redeem myself after my dismal performance at Draper

Saturday, though, was not a day for racing.  It had rained and snowed on and off all day Friday and at about 8 AM, the skies opened up big time.  The race was postponed until Wednesday.  Instead of racing, we drove down to the valley and went to the gym to race each other on the stationary bikes.  Lame!

By Wednesday, Drew had ridden over 12 hours already this week, so he decided instead to donate his race entry to a future race for me and volunteer to help the race organizer.  It was fun to have him cheering me on at the side of the course.  He also got a ride in on the race course after the race, picking up the course marking flags and signs.  I think he liked being on the race course with no one else around in the rain and cold.   He is a strange man.

On the start line, I was pleased to say goodbye to Erica T as she wheeled up to the Pro Woman category.  Erica has beat me in every race except one this year and it is good that she is challenging herself in the Pro category now.   

Start of the Expert Women and a bunch of other categories.  

Right off the gate is Little Stick, a climb up the very steep service road.  With the weather still really cold (45 degrees and light rain), warm up was essential, but difficult to achieve.  I took off as fast as I could, and somehow, that was fast enough to put me in first place at the top of the climb by a good little distance.  A tight twisty singletrack descent followed, on which I think the other 5 gals gained a little time on me.  By the middle of the second climb, they were probably only 15 seconds behind me.  Uh, oh, time to step on it.  I pushed a little harder, but two of them were still with me on the last descent of the first lap. 

Me coming around for another lap.

On lap #2, I just put my head down and dug deep on Little Stick, which must have put a fair distance on them because I never saw another woman again.  It hurt, but I came across the finish line in first place!  How cool is it for me, a just-turned-40-year old, to beat out the 28-year-old 2nd-place and 21-year-old 3rd-place finishers?  Pretty cool, that's how.

 Expert Women podium. Blue ribbon and a $25 gift certificate to White Pine sporting goods store.

Wimmers XC @ Sherwood Hills

With only 3 days between the postponed Deer Valley race and the Sherwood Hills race, and the fact that Sherwood Hills is an hour and a half drive from SLC, I didn't expect a lot of competition, but I was still disappointed to see only 2 other gals on the Expert Women start line with me.   One of the racers was Margaret H, who beat me at the St. George race because she can climb like a maniac. 

SH is a fun maze of narrow singletrack through scrub oak forest, interspersed with some double track sections for passing.  As it was, I never had to pass either of my competitors the whole race 'cause I was out in front from the start!  Somehow, even though I was unable to get to sleep until 4:30 AM on Thursday night, I had it in me to race strong.  I remember on the third lap thinking to myself how much I liked racing, training, and eating right.  I liked how it felt to be able to ride at my maximum level for an hour and a half.  And I especially liked the blue ribbon!   

So goal #3 of a first place finish has been achieved twice in one week.  Now there is only the over all series points to work on.  5 races left...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

House addition - continued demo and walls

Lots of progress on the addition.  The foundation walls of the new basement room are poured

 and waterproofed.

I also had them install a water supply line exiting the basement below frost level so that I can have irrigation water to my someday-to-be-planted veggie garden.

So the back wall of our house looked like this at the end of last week.

This week started with Rich and Adam taking down the outer layer of brick on the back wall.

It was disturbing how easily the bricks came off.

Then the tricky part.  The fellow in the center of the picture below

is using this giant 36-inch diameter diamond-tipped blade (reportedly worth several thousand dollars)...

to cut through our foundation. It was pretty cool how they first installed anchor bolts and brackets onto the foundation to hold the giant saw.  Then the operator just moved the blade up and down on the brackets to make the cut.

They made vertical cuts all the way through the foundation at several locations.  This left essentially several pillars of support for the back wall.

Saturday, we were able to backfill around the foundation a little.  The operator was an expert with the shovel. Look how close he gets to the vinyl fence and temporary electricity panel.

Our junior readers really enjoy large-equipment action video.  Here you go, Connor, William, and Noah.

Drew and I have been helping out a little bit when an extra hand is needed or with general cleanup.  We spent one morning cleaning concrete off the forms and swabbing them down with a diesel fuel mixture so we could get them out of our driveway.  I have been harvesting the brick from the wall to be reused in the fabeled garden, and Drew helped wrangle the basement window well into place.

So it is that much more satisfying to take in the progress at the end of the day atop our dirt pile.

Since the back wall was soon to come down, I had to move everything out of my closet. I set up some plastic shelving in the foyer, since we are now down to only one very small closet in the house, which is going to make our new room-sized master closet feel like a warehouse!  I took the opportunity to purge unwanted or worn-out clothes.  Had to say good-bye to my favorite slippers.

We both had to work on Monday, so we didn't get to watch the final layer of brick on the back wall coming down. Maybe it is better that way; you don't really want to watch what this next series of pictures shows happening to your house.  Adam, our contractor, was kind enough to take these pictures for us.

So I came home to this.  Yup, that is the stairwell to the basement and my closet.

And below is a large portion of our old foundation crumbled down. We didn't ask for a walk-out basement, but we got one!

Here is a video from the inside.

Yesterday they put up a temporary back wall for the weekend to secure our house and protect it from the thunderstorms in the forecast.  Next week will be even more exciting. Stay tuned!