Drive My Bike

Saturday Morning Canyon Ride
July 18, 2009, 8:58 pm
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This morning Dave and I road to the top of Emigration Canyon, a beautiful canyon in the northeast corner of the Salt Lake Valley. We started at about 6:15am, and it was a wonderful way to begin a Saturday. Who is Dave you ask? Well that’s another story…


Last Thursday evening I was sitting around the house and I just got kind of restless. I should have been really tired because I had done an intense spinning class that morning, and those usually completely wipe me out, but for some reason I just wanted to go for a ride. I decided to keep it simple, so I didn’t change into biking clothes, I just grabbed my helmet, announced my intentions to my family, and headed out the door. I didn’t really want to go far, I just wanted to get out and enjoy the night. I couldn’t decide on a good route, so I just started weaving through the neighborhood, and I eventually ended up on the road that is my main route for my commute to the office.

It was about 9:30pm, and was getting dark. As I pulled onto the main road I noticed another bicyclist a block or so in front of me. He was easy to spot because he had two really good red flashers on the back of his bike, and he was wearing a bright flashing headlight on his helmet. With a lighting setup like this I figured he was an experienced rider, so I decided to catch up with him and say hello.

As I got closer he must have sensed me coming up behind him because he pulled over to the right a bit to allow me to pass. (I later learned this was because he wears a good rear view mirror on his glasses.) I pulled alongside and said “How’s it going?”. That’s pretty much my standard greeting to other riders, and within a few seconds I can usually tell if the person is friendly and interested in talking at all.

Well, he was definitely in the friendly camp, and he responded in kind. We started talking about the weather and how it had finally cooled off a bit that night so that it was pleasant to ride again. He said he usually rides in the morning, but he had some schedule changes so he was trying to get a ride in that night. I shared that I had only been riding for about a year, but that it had become quite a passion of mine. I asked how long he had been riding, and how often he rides. He said he had been riding for probably 20 years or so, and got started when he lived in Europe. He mentioned that his son is training for a triathlon and so the two of them usually go for longer rides on Saturday mornings. I mentioned that I had been riding on Saturday mornings lately, and had been trying to find people to ride with. I mentioned that I had been doing more challenging rides lately, and had successfully ridden up Traverse Mountain, but had been thwarted by the heat when I attempted to ride Big Cottonwood Canyon a week later. We continued our biking discussion, over a few miles, and a few stops for red lights. He mentioned that he was getting close to home in a few blocks.

Then a curious thing happened. He said, “Well I would ride Emigration Canyon with you this Saturday morning.”

It kind of caught me off guard, and my initial reaction was to decline the offer, but for some reason I found myself saying “Yeah, I would meet you for that. What time?”

“How about 6:30? There’s a little dirt turn off at the mouth of the canyon, and we can meet there.”

“Okay. Sounds good. By the way, my name’s Scott.”

“I’m Dave. Do you have a phone number?”

I got his phone number, we shook hands, and agreed once again to meet at 6:30am on Saturday. Dave pedaled off one way, and I went the other.

It was done. I had just agreed to meet a stranger, that I knew little about, to go on a ride that I knew little about, early Saturday morning. That felt a little crazy.

All day Friday I was stewing on this, and a few times I pondered ways I could call and tell Dave that I would have to cancel: Family obligations, Too tired, blah blah blah. I’m glad that I didn’t do that.

Needless to say, we did meet this morning, and it was a great ride. We talked about all kinds of things on the 45 minute ride up the canyon. We reached the top a little after 7:00am, and paused for a few minutes to rehydrate. There were some folks up there enjoying the morning view, and one of them shot the picture at the top of this post. Then we saddled up again, and enjoyed the exhilarating 20 minute ride back down at about 40 miles per hour.

Oh, and one more thing about Dave. He’s 63 years old. When he told me this I was shocked, because when I met him that night I would have guessed he was in his early fifties. Not only is he an avid cyclist, but he also water skis, and does serious rock climbing. (By serious I mean… he backpacks in, climbs over 1000 feet to a summit, climbs down, backpacks out… yeah, serious!).

I hope that I’m that full of life when I’m 63 years old.

I would never have met Dave if I hadn’t started riding my bike to work a little over a year ago. Nor would I have ever known how cool the bicycle community can be, a community where two strangers can meet, and in a few minutes have enough in common to decide to meet up for an early morning ride. It reminded me once again why I love riding my bike.

Dave, if you read this, thanks for sharing a great ride with me this morning!

Enjoy A Ride This Holiday Weekend

As you celebrate this Independence Day, I hope that you’ll be able to get out and enjoy a bike ride “just for fun”.


There are lots of things happening this weekend. America is celebrating Independence Day. The Tour de France begins. People will be taking time off and celebrating.

The gym that we belong to is putting together a group ride on Saturday that sounds like a lot of fun. It’s mainly for the holiday weekend, but they are also taking advantage of the Tour de France coverage. The gym will have the live coverage of the Tour de France first stage setup on the big screen, and a group will be getting together in the morning to watch the race together. Afterwards we’ll all hop on our bikes, and ride a timed 15km “stage” of our own, ending at a local bike shop, where there will be prizes and free stuff given out.

I think that sounds like a lot of fun, and I’m really looking forward to riding with a group, as well as the fun of some friendly competition, and of course I’m always one to enjoy free stuff. Also, since I’ve only been into bicycling for the last year, this is the first time that I’ve really been interested in watching the Tour de France. I’m excited to be in a room with a bunch of other bicycle geeks to see how Lance Armstrong and the other riders will do.

I was told by the event organizer that this get together is not just for gym members, so non-members are welcome to join the fun. If any of you Utah riders are interested, the event will be at Lifetime Fitness, 10996 River Front Pkwy, in South Jordan. The Tour de France coverage should start around 8 or so, and the ride should start around 9-9:30. I plan on getting there by 8. I have no idea how many people will be showing up, but if you read this and decide to be there then I’d love to meet you. I’ll be riding a white Rocky Mountain road bike, and I’ll probably have a blue and white jersey on. I’ll also probably be wearing my Keen commuter sandals. Hopefully that narrows things down a bit. 🙂

Whatever you do this weekend, have a safe time, and I hope that you can get out and enjoy a fun ride.

Father’s Day Ride

Since it was Father’s Day today the family gave me the afternoon off, so I decided to take on my most ambitious ride to date. I rode to the top of a nearby mountain, and I think it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.


That road off in the distance is the one that I came up to get to the top. For those of you that know Salt Lake City, this is the road at the south end of the valley that goes up Traverse Mountain in Draper. I climbed almost 1600 feet over about 7 miles, and parts of the road are a 10% grade. I didn’t know that when I started, and like I said, I think it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

As soon as I turned onto the main road leading up to the summit the intense stuff started. I shifted down to the lowest gear I had, small ring in front, and largest ring in back. Even though I was geared down so far I still had to fight for every pedal stroke. It felt like I was just crawling up the road, and it took every bit of mental focus I had to keep going. I kept trying to relax my upper body and focus on smooth breathing and smooth pedaling. The road winds around a lot, so you really can’t see what is ahead, and every time I came around a corner I would see more road stretching up the mountain, and I would have to will myself to keep going. It became a game of “just pedal to that tree up there” and then “okay, now just pedal to that signpost”.

I kept up this mental game until I was a little over halfway up, and I kept telling myself that I had come so far that I couldn’t quit now, but finally it overwhelmed me and I decided that I couldn’t go any further, so I pulled over on a part of the road that seemed a little less steep. I say a “little less steep” because I don’t think the grade got below 5% from mile 3 until the top, except for about a 100 yard stretch next to a little pond. I almost fell off the bike when I stopped, because my legs were so shaky. I had some panic “what have I done” kind of thoughts, wondering how I was going to get back down when I couldn’t even stand up. I drank some water and walked around for a few minutes to catch my breath, and then sanity took over again, and I figured I had come so far that I should try to keep going.

I had picked a good place to stop because just around the next bend the road flattened out a good bit for a little stretch, and I noticed a little pond off to the left, so I decided to pull over, enjoy the scenery, and eat a granola bar to see if I could get some energy back.


I don’t know how long I sat there. It seemed like 5 minutes, but it could’ve been longer. Passing drivers gave me interesting looks as I finished my granola bar and drained my first water bottle. I looked up the road, and guessed that I might be getting close to the top, so since I felt a bit refreshed I decided to soldier on, determined to get to the summit.

Needless to say, I made it, and the picture at the top of this post is the proof that I was there.  I sat and enjoyed my conquest for a few minutes, taking some more pictures, and even sending a text message to my family with a picture, to prove what I had done.

If the ride up was one of the hardest things I ever done, then the ride down was surely one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done. I’m not sure how fast I ended up going, but I was keeping pace with the cars coming down, so I would guess I probably hit 45-50 miles per hour. That was intense!

On the way down I noticed a sign that I hadn’t seen coming up, and it pretty much sums up the journey…


I’m actually glad that I didn’t see that on the way up, because I think it would have been one more thing to overcome in the mental game.

By the time I got back home I had covered about 25 miles, and had accomplished something that I never would have dreamed of even trying a year ago. We cooked some steaks, and I shared my adventure with my family.

It was quite a Father’s Day!

Way To Go Chicago!
June 19, 2009, 9:06 am
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I lived in Chicago for a few years in the 80’s, and I love the place. My daughter lives in Chicago now, and this morning she sent me the following text message:

“So i’m walking by the big bike chicago to work rally right now and thinking of you. You’d love it :)”

I told her if she got some pictures I’d put them on my blog, so here you go…

The schedule of events for the day. Looks like fun, wish I could make it!


I guess if you didn’t ride your bike there you could ride a bike there. 😉


Daley Plaza looks pretty full. Looks like a pretty big deal.


Check out the Bike Chicago website to see more about bike commuting in Chicago, or just to see how they do it in the Windy City. It sounds like Bike Chicago really has some great stuff happening. They even managed to get Bally Fitness to offer free showers to bike commuters at their health clubs around town! Very cool!

It would be great if more cities put this much into encouraging bike commuting.

(Thanks for the pictures Cami)

UPDATE: I guess some torrential thunderstorms blew in right after these pictures were taken and they had to shut everything down for the day. Bummer.

How To Ride A Bike Forever
December 2, 2008, 2:44 pm
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I haven’t posted for a while because… I’ve been quite busy… and frankly I haven’t been motivated enough to sit down and write a post. What’s funny though is that I still have all kinds of ideas going through my head that I’d like to post, just not enough desire to sit down and type them out. Oh well… this one will start things off again.


I read a great piece the other day from a 1994 Bridgestone Bicycle Catalogue. (I had no idea they made bikes. I thought they were just the tire guys.) This piece is from a scan of the catalog, which was posted by Sheldon Brown on his website. I copied the text from the scan…


How To Ride A Bike Forever

1. Ride When You Like.

Don’t ride out of guilt over last night’s meal. Don’t be a slave to your bike, or else you’ll resent it, and feel guilty whenever you think about it or look at it. Soon you’ll be avoiding it altogether. If all your rides are like a swimmer’s workout, you’ll burn out on bikes as fast as swimmers burnout on laps. Ride when you want to ride.

2. Go Slowly.

Don’t push yourself too hard, physically or mentally. Don’t ride with racers or obsessive aerobicizers. (If you’re a racer, don’t race with riders; let them be.) Learn to relax on your bike. Of course your bike can be a tremendous tool to build cardiovascular fitness, but why let that get in the way? Unless you race, you can rely on something else, like running, to get fit and lose weight. Running is more efficient for this anyway.

3. Go Short.

A ten-minute ride is always worth it, even though it won’t elevate your heart rate to your “target training level” and keep it there for twelve minutes. (Or is it supposed to be eleven? Or fourteen?)

4. Don’t Keep Track.

If you never use an on-board computer or a heart rate monitor, you can ride with us any time. Avoid “logs.” Forget the graphs and the home computer programs. Keep your bicycle free of extraneous wires and LEDs. You don’t need them.

5. Own More Than One Bike.

This is not a commercial message! Runners have learned that nothing improves a run as much as a new pair of shoes, or shorts, or socks, or something. Bikes, unfortunately, cost a lot more, but the effect is the same. Make your bicycles so different that your experience on one is unlike the other — a mountain bike and a road bike, a multispeed and a single speed, or a clunker, or a recumbent. For some people, even different handlebars are enough of a change. It’s worth a try.

6. Learn How To Fix Your Bike.

Learn to fix a flat. Learn how to install a wheel. Learn how to adjust derailleurs. It’s all easy, and you’ll never feel at ease on a bike if you’re at its mercy. Being able to fix your bike will give you enormous confidence and satisfaction, not to mention self-sufficiency.

7. Don’t Chase Technology.

You will never catch it, and if you pursue it year after year it will break your wallet in half. Some wonderful things have happened to bicycles in the last fifteen years, but so have a lot of dumb things. You don’t need a fancy machine with the latest equipment to enjoy something that is so joyous and simple. A simple, reliable bike will do.

So there you go… “How to Ride A Bike Forever”. As I read through this piece, I kept seeing myself in these words. I have had to force myself to slow down and just enjoy the ride. Instead of getting a new bike, my current ride is a rebuilt Trek that still has plenty of life in it. I’m not the most stylish rider on the road… right now warmth and function are more important to me. I don’t have a cycle computer on my rebuilt Trek that I’ve been riding lately, and I haven’t been logging any of my riding for a month or so. All that doesn’t seem to matter that much anymore. Biking is just something I do. I still need to remind myself to enjoy the ride, but the newness has worn off now. Hopping on the saddle and pedaling somewhere is familiar and comfortable.

I like that.

Thanks to the late Sheldon Brown for scanning this piece, and to Urban Velo for pointing it out.

Permission To Slow Down, Captain?
July 25, 2008, 5:58 pm
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When I started bike commuting I had no idea that it would put me on such interesting psychological journeys. Allow me to explain… I’m a pretty driven individual, and I push myself a lot. I push myself to grow. I push myself to succeed. I push myself to learn. I guess that is not all bad, except that I am learning that there is a dark side to all of that. I have discovered that when I am not pushing myself I begin to feel like a slacker. In fact, I think I actually have a fear of not pushing myself. The result of this is that I don’t think I ever really relax and enjoy the now. I’m so busy worrying about “the next thing” that the present goes right by and I miss it. The cool part of this is that my bike riding has helped me see this about myself.Stopwatch

Several times recently I have felt kind of burned out with my riding, and I have really had to force myself to go for that next ride. I have also started to notice some mild discomfort in my knees after some of my rides, usually when I have pushed myself harder up a hill, or tried to better my route times. In response to these problems I decided that I was probably pushing myself too hard, and I needed to slow down and let my body catch up a bit. I also began to realize that even though I had ridden my daily route quite a few times now, I had barely noticed the surroundings on the way. I was always so focused on getting to my destination, and pushing harder and faster, that I didn’t really enjoy the ride.

So… I have officially given myself permission to slow down, and I have really been working on focusing on enjoying the ride, rather than how fast I was getting there. I have to say that it has been difficult! I have started out a ride at a slower pace… but then… within a mile or so I convinced myself that I was fine… and was back to pushing myself as usual, often ending with the “burned out, sore knee” feeling from before. It also seems like every time I commit to slowing down I encounter another biker on the road, usually on a speedy road bike, and I am compelled to try to keep up with that person, even though their bike is geared faster and weighs less than a third of what I am riding! But, all is not lost, as I have had several rides recently where I was able to really let go and just enjoy the ride, and it was great. Ironically, most of them have been my night rides, which is kind of funny because my first night ride was probably one of the most difficult rides I’ve had since I started bike commuting. But my last couple of night rides have been a bit cooler, and yes, I was tired when I got finished, but it was a good kind of tired, and my knees were stressed, but not really painful. Best of all, I actually took the time on the ride to notice things around me. I remember now, I really like riding my bike!

So, I’m still pushing myself, only now I’m pushing myself to not push myself.

Permission to slow down, Captain? Aye, that’s an order!

Do any of you relate to this? If so, leave a comment and let me know.