Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Compatibility Issues

Last week,Mark and I were hiking on Flagstaff around sunset when the wind chill was -35.  I have issues keeping my fingers warm and was complaining a bit.  Mark said something like: "Have you noticed two of your favorite activities, skiing and cyclocross, take place in the cold.  You might want to rethink your what you like to do."  Good point.  A week after our outing, I've lost a layer of skin off the end of my nose and the ends of my fingers are still numb.  However, I still raced Saturday, twice as a matter of fact, in very cold conditions.

The smart thing would be to avoid putting myself in positions that exploit my weakness to cold.  But here's the rub, I really love cyclocross, backcountry and skate skiing.  Therefore, I'll put up with occasional numb extremities, shaking uncontrollably before and after cold, wet races and sending stupid money on clothing to keep me warm.  All this in an attempt to overcome my basic incompatibility with the cold.  And you know what, I'll keep doing it because the payoff is more than worth the discomfort.  If you're reading this, you probably understand.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Tanner's a Vampire and Cross News

We're had our suspicions for years, but Adam's picture confirms the truth.  Look closely, under race stress, Tanner's vampire fangs are showing.  This explains a lot.  No wonder a few years ago he suddenly started dropping me like a rock on all climbs.  Superhuman strength has to come from somewhere.

In other news, it's time for cross racers to turn their thoughts to Bend Oregon and Cross Nationals.  Mark, Doug and I will be making the trek this year with a trailer filled with the goods.  (Sadly the Vampire has finals at the same week.) We'll have room to haul some additional bikes and equipment.  The haul fees will be a lot cheaper than the airlines, so let me know if you're interested.

The compound will be bigger, better and heated this year.  Hopefully, we'll be able to set up next to the Church of the Big Ring crew again.  Any Utah racers are welcome to use the facilities for warm up and hanging out.

The stairs will be back again this year.

Never enough bikes around.  Can't wait.  But before the big dance, the State Championships should be good this week at a new venue with solid potential.  Might even be winter like conditions.  One can always hope.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Not surprisingly, I've been thinking some about winning the last few weeks.  Winning with frequency is a new concept to me.  Prior to this cross season, here's the list of my cycling wins.  Don't worry, it won't take long to read.

  • 1 ICUP beginner class win (my first bike race).
  • 2 ICUP 40+ Expert wins in 2006 (small field with no fast guys in both cases).
  • 1 ICUP 40+ Expert win in 2007 with a legitimate field.
  • 1 UTCX 35+ A win in 2007 in my best race ever.
  • 1 UTCX 45+ win in 2008 (raced 35+ the rest of the season).
  • 1 Expert 35+ downhill win in the early 2000's (raced two other DH's and crashed out of both).
I've had a couple veteran class heat wins on a cruiser BMX bike when the kids were dabbling with BMX, but no main event wins.  I raced one NORBA National veteran dual salon event and won a couple heats but crashed out of the semis (was the end of my brief gravity racing career).  That was my complete list of wins after many years and hundreds of races.  I've never come particularly close to a win on a road bike and probably never will.

Each of these prior wins was a pretty big deal to me because I knew winning was a rarity.  With this history, I'm not sure what to make of my streak of cross wins this year.  I'm the first to point out that there's a couple 45+ guys racing 35+ that are consistently faster than me.  However, being off the front of a good group of 45+ cross racers is still really cool and strange at the same time.

I've always considered myself a "slow, fast guy".  In other words, I've been fast enough to race in the fast guy categories but never fast enough to consistently be at the front.  So why do I, and for that matter most racers, race?  It's certainly not for the winning.  For me, racing has always been a battle with myself.  A race was measured by my internal effort gage.  If I gave it my best effort, the race was a success regardless of placing.  In addition, I've always been a doer not a watcher.  Participating in challenging things has always appealed to me.

Internal battles and personal challenges still motivate me, but over the years it's the MTB and Cross racing community that keeps bringing me back.  I've been fortunate to become friends with a diverse and interesting group of people I would never have encountered in my "normal" life.  I'm a better and more well rounded person because of it.

So, finally racing my age group and focusing my limited training exclusively on cross season has led to some wins this year.  I'm very much enjoying it and will do my best to win some more.  However, if I never win another bike race, I'll still show up for events because it's become part of who I am.  When people ask if I ride bikes or if I'm a cyclist, I always respond with "I'm a bike racer".

Monday, October 25, 2010

A blog post

It snowed today so a blog post is in order.  The summer was filled with riding, racing, hiking, family, work and all around good times.  The fall has been off to a good start with training, racing, hiking family, work and all around good times.  There appears to be a pattern here.  I'm sure the winter will bring skiing, hiking, family, work, XC ski racing (maybe) and all around good times.  I can't wait.

I must say cross racing has been particularly good so far.  Finally making the jump to my age group has proved fruitful with a few trips to the top step of the podium.  Can't complain about that.  Winning the same day as my big brother was cool as well.  However, the best part of cross season so far has been watching friends try cross for the first time and getting completely hooked.  It can't be explained, just experienced.

On a final note, this summer I discovered yet another way to to hurt myself while looking like a dork.  It's called roller skiing.  Road rash is remarkably similar whether inflicted by a fall from a road bike, mountain bike, cross bike or roller skis.  Who knew?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tour of the Corn

Rather and racing my road bike at the Tour of the Depot today, I convinced Adam, Kendall and Jason to join me for the Tour of the Corn.  Our objective was the huge natural half pipe on Lone Peak's south side.  We've all looked at it for years and today we skiied it.  We made good time to the ridge and enjoyed the long ski down.  The snow was a little firm on top, but really nice corn on the rest.  Here's a few pictures from the outing.

We spend some quality time on dirt.

The firm snow allowed skinning straight up.

Box Elder looming in the background.

It a big, open bowl with great views.

The fnal push to the ridge.

Jason enjoying lunch, twitter and the views.

Lots and lots of turns to be had on the way down.


Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Good couple of Days

Friday was a day off work for me due to Good Friday (it was a VERY good friday).  It started early with a dawn patrol in what turned out to be nearly perfect conditions. Doug and Mark have documented the epic sking, but here's a few more pictures just for confirmation.

Mike and Mark heading up

Face shots were the order of the day

I'm getting the goods


Is it vain to keep looking at your tracks?

After the skiing, I headed south to meet up with Tanner for a quick lap on the ICUP Hurricane course.  I didn't race Hurricane last year and the course was changed from 2008.  The changes make the course into one of my new favorites. Good, technical desert riding.  I was reminded yet again that there's no where else I'd rather live.  Epic powder in the morning, classic desert riding in the afternoon.

I had no idea what the race would hold for me.  3.5 hours of hking and sking beginning at 6 am the day prior to a race probably isn't on any coach's training plan.  However, it turned out to be a good plan for me.  I ended up with my best MTB result in a couple years.  Go figure.

Today, I'm home for Easter with my all my children.  I'll take more weekends like this. 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Skiing Timpanogos

Skiing my first really big line today inspired a blog post.  When I started backcountry skiing this season, I wasn't really looking to do anything big.  However, my confidence has grown to the point that Kendall was able to convince me to join him and his buddy Ben on a trip to the Timpanogos ridgeline without too much trouble.

We started early from Aspen Grove with the intention of heading up Primrose Cirque, up the year-round snowfield then on to the South Summit of Timp.  We would check out conditions and determine if we could safely ski the west side from either the South Summit or the saddle.

Ben looking up the Primrose Cirque before dawn.
Sunrise over the Unitas.
The Cirque at first light.

We were able to skin most of Primrose but had to boot the last few hundred feet of vert.
Kendall and Ben on the Skins.

Kendall booting the last bit.

The day was spectacular and the views breathtaking throughout.

LCC peaks in the distance.
The South Summit was the objective for the day.

Once on the Timp ridge line we headed up toward the Sought Summit.  I was starting to get a little vertigo and cold while checking out the rock hard snow up top and the visually intimidating line we'd have to ski.  Kendall was coming up to me from behind and saw from the look on my face I was starting to freak out a little.  Fortunately, he quickly suggested that skiing from the top was too sketchy and we headed back to the saddle from a few hundred feet short of the summit.  Kendall and Ben made it easy to streer away from anything I was not ready to tackle.

Here's Kendall checking out the line we skied.

Once we were back to the saddle and I had my skis on, I became much more relaxed and got excited about heading down.  We did a controlled ski off the face on firm but pretty grippy snow.  I was able to relax enough to enjoy the trip down.

Check out the 10 to 20 foot high marking from a recent avalanche flow down the gully.

Once off the main run, we exited out the gully to the Dry Canyon trailhead.  Sometime in the last week, a large slide ripped down the gully leaving marks way up each side.  Eventually, we came to the large and deep depris field.  It would have been impressive to watch and fatal to ride.  We made it down the gully a long way and only had to hike 15 minutes on the snowless trail.

A little bit of dirt skiing was required at times.

So here's our line.  It's dead center of this photo.

Here's the GPS file from the up.

And the down.

The happy camper near the end of the journey.

I'm really happy I made the trip and that conditions allowed skiing the west face.  I had to deal with some fears, but made it out willing to attempt more adventures in the future.  A good friend like Kendall makes the experience that much better.

PS, Kendall will have more pictures on his site soon (see link above).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Defeat Conceded

I have no shortage of things I would like to do or become. From a young age, I have often daydreamed about being something I'm not. Often, these daydreams are about some athletic achievement, but sometimes they they expand into other areas of interest. I have always secretly (well, if you know me, not so secretly) wanted to be a musician. I was blessed, or cursed depending on your perspective, with just enough musical talent to know I really like music, but not enough to be proficient without a great deal of hard work. I just never was quite motivated enough to put in the time to get really good. However, to this day I wish I could play like Dave Weckl, Carter Beauford or Neil Peart for at least a few hours.

After a failed attempt at piano lessons in elementary school (my parents gave into my constant whining about practicing) I moved to the drums in junior high. I joined the junior high band and took some lessons at school. In an act of pure parental love, my parents used some of their scarce cash to buy me a used drum kit. Then in an even bigger act of parental love, they let me play them in the house. (In case you're wondering, I am in fact the youngest child and I was spoiled. I have no problem with this fact.) Over time, the sad little kit became a sad big kit as I brought home some drums the junior high was going to toss. I dreamed of a big-hair, 70's rock band kit with more drums and cymbals than you could use.

Once I moved from home, the drum kit was passed onto one of my nephews never to be seen again by me. My desire to be a drummer lay dormant, just under the surface, for many years. It was awakened about 8 years ago when a new family moved into our neighborhood. This neighbor turned out to be a legitimate professional drummer. He had played in Vegas for years and toured with several big names. He converted his 3 car garage into the drummer's Disneyland. It contained at least 10 drum kits and every piece of percussion you can image. I quickly worked my way into his good graces and was taking lessons not long after.

In addition to teaching drum lessons, my neighbor was also a Tama drum dealer. Since I'm a hopeless gear guy and I'm incapable of passing up a deal, I acquired an electronic drum set. The plan was to play the electronic set with headphones to keep the noise down in the house. This lasted about a year. At the time, we were finishing our basement so I convinced the family that an insulated, sound dampened room in the basement would make a full acoustic drum kit tolerable. Somehow they bought the idea and the electronic kit was sold and replaced by the real thing.

Of course the kit couldn't remain small, so it grew to this over time:

Predictably, my zeal for practice began the wane and in a few years I was hardly playing the drums at all. As our bike collection grew, I decided most of the bikes would be better kept in the house than in the garage. So, the drum room became the bike storage room and the "Pit of Despair" as The Resource User likes to call the indoor trainer set up. I needed more space in the room, but since I still harbored illusions of becoming a drummer the drum kit was downsized rather than eliminated. The result was this:

With the addition of backcountry and XC ski gear the last two years, the drum room was completely transformed into the bike/ski room and the drums were just in the way. Given that I had played the drums a total of about an hour during the last year, I listed them for sale on KSL last week. In my final concession that I would not become a drummer, I sold the kit Friday and it's gone. So after 30+ years, the dream is officially dead. A rational decision, but a sad one none the less.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Office Jokesters

I've never been much of an office pratical joker.  I think it's because of my general aversion to getting into trouble.  However, I work with some real Pros.  Our head Sales and Marketing guy at the Mothership has been out of town so much the last month that the Pros decided he no longer needed office space.  They took it upon themselves get rid of the space for him.

The before picture:

In process:

The finished product:

I missed the discovery when Sales Guy made it back to the office today.  However, there was hidden camera footage I'm sure I'll get to see sometime.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Now That's Customer Service

In October, I sent a note to USA Cycling's event coordinator regarding team parking at Cross Nationals in Bend.  I didn't hear anything until I received this Friday:

From: Tom Vinson []

Sent: Friday, January 15, 2010 9:09 PM

To: Daren G. Cottle

Subject: Re: Cross Nationals Team Parking

USA Cycling will be closed on Monday 18 Jan in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr Day. Will be back in the office on Tuesday. Will be checking email thru the weekend.

Have a great weekend!


On Oct 25, 2009, at 2:08 PM, Daren G. Cottle wrote:


I can’t seem to find any information on reserving a team parking spot for cross nationals in Bend. I’ve looked through the websites and Sportsbase on line and don’t see anything. Can you point me in the right direction?


Daren Cottle

Porcupine / Specialized Racing

Glad see my e-mail is still in the hopper and that Tom will be checking e-mail though the weekend.  Maybe I'll get a reply by 2010 Nationals.
The sad part is I've never been a USA Cycling basher.  However, it the last week they've become an easy target.  Is improvement coming anytime soon?  I hope so but think not.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Doing What I Should

I picked up a good old fashioned head cold a few days ago. (I'm sure the fine air quality has had nothing to do with that.) Head colds always present a dilemma for me. I feel tired and have a ton of congestion, but I'm not completely wiped out. Accordingly, I have a constant battle with myself over how much or how little I should be doing.

I know the smart thing to do is to just rest and get fully recovered before attempting anything physical. However, 47 years of living with myself has taught me I'm completely incapable of doing nothing. It's a fundamental part of my makeup and usually serves me well. As The Resource User likes to say, "You're always ridiculously productive, knock it off". However, when it get sick, this personality trait is a huge problem.

So here's the options I have before me this morning:
  • Two offers for ski touring.
  • Two different Canyon team group rides.
  • The Bash winter Tri at Soldier Hollow.
  • A nice XC skate session at Mt. Dell out of the bad air.
  • Knocking off some of the projects around the house The Lifegiver has for me. (As an aside, my daughter made T-shirts a year ago with the following names on them: mine - "Fun Enabler", JoAnn's - "Life Giver", and Tanner's - "Resource User".)
  • Go to Snowbasin with my brother and watch the Dew Tour.
  • Begin working on the 8 bikes in my basement the Resource User and I ride that are crying for some love.
  • Prepare tomorrow's Sunday School lesson I was asked to teach late last night when the regular teacher had an emergency come up.
  • Organize my workbench/bike shop in the garage.
  • And finally, lie around all day reading, watching TV, wringing my hands over not doing anything productive and resting.
At this point, I've convinced myself the last option is my choice for the day. We'll see how long it lasts. At least the crappy valley weather makes the choice a bit easier. If the weather were nice in the valley, I'm sure failure to rest would be certain.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Validated by Steve Johnson

In case you think I made up the whole Cyclocross Nationals trip, check out what I received in the mail a couple of days ago.

That's right, a genuine certificate of participation signed by Steve Johnson, CEO of USA Cycling and local race hero.
It's gratifying to know that USA Cycling sent this suitable for framing certification to all 2,000 participants. It was mailed in a full sized envelope with a cardboard backing to ensure it received no damage. What a great use of entry and licence fee revenue.
I'm sure Trebon's disappointment of a 2nd place finish was tempered by his certificate of participation. Page will likely display his next to his World Championship silver medal.
What a great day to be a member of USA Cycling and a cyclocross racer!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ski Touring

For both of you that read this blog, I decided to post something. I may even post more than a couple times a month, but I'll make no promises.

For many months, backcountry ski touring has been on my mind. I now have 5 tours under my belt including a dawn patrol up Day's Fork and a long tour from Big Cottonwood to Millcreek. Here's some observations from a newbie:
  • I had pretty high expectations for BC Skiing and those expectations have been more than met. Combining a solid workout with skiing, touring and solitude is hard to beat.
  • I heard many describe BC Skiing as mountain biking on skis. That's a pretty good description. If you're only into going downhill, you can go to a resort and ride lifts with skis and an MTB. If you like going up and traveling in the mountains, XC MTB and BC Skiing are the ticket.
  • You better like hiking because it's about 90% hiking and 10% skiing.
  • I have learned what "survival skiing" is on a couple of the exits out to the road.
  • You can still have lots of fun skiing slopes of 30 degrees or less.
  • I'm taking a level 1 avy course in March. Since I'm a bit of a control freak, completely relying on others to judge the safety of a slope is way out of my comfort zone.
  • With experience and knowledge, you can accurately judge the danger on steeper slopes. Bart and Alex lead Tanner and me down a couple 35 - 40 degree slopes yesterday that were very solid and fun.
  • Without an incline-o-meter and some experience, we tend to over-estimate the steepness of slopes. Many resort slopes that people described as 40+, are more like mid to lower 30's.
  • Like MTB and Cross, the best thing about BC Skiing is the people. I've been out with old friends and already made many new friends. I've enjoyed them all.
  • Like bike racers, BC skiers like to blog. I've been lucky enough to ski with Bart, Alex, Mark, Dug and Rick already.
  • As you would expect, climbing ability on a bike carries over to skis. Bart, Alex, Rick and Tanner are way faster going up than me.
  • The Wasatch is amazing. In a crappy snow year, I've skied in good snow each time I've been out. In addition, yesterday we didn't see another person from the time we hit the trail in Big Cottonwood to when we reached the cabins in Porter Fork in Millcreek almost 7 hours later. On a Saturday. Amazing.
  • My desire to ski in a resort is fading more with each outing. I can only see myself standing in line on epic powder days with high avalanche danger.

Tanner and I made it out with Bart and Alex yesterday for a long day of fun and challenge. Even though I was worked last night and I'm a little sore today, it was worth it. We started at the Spruces in Big Cottonwood, went up Mill D and over to Reynolds for a couple laps. Then down Watson and back up to Gobblers Knob. From there, 3,000 vertical down to Millcreek road.

Some pictures:

Alex and Bart make it look easy.

Over-look into Alexander Basin.

A little scrambling was required.

Got to lay some nice tracks.

Bart took pictures.

Alex took pictures.

It was cloudy all day, but we did get a break to enjoy the view off Reynolds.

Yes, skinning up is hard work.

Thanks to all who have held me and Tanner enter this enticing new world.