Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It is Going to be a Great Day

Not every sunrise is spectacular. Sometimes, like today, the sun just creeps over the mountains, chasing away the cold darkness, and filling the new day with warm light. Starting my ride in the cold morning, my toes are screaming in pain, but it shows that they are still there. It is going to be a great day!

Now I am going to go take a shower and see if I can thaw out my toes.

I just love to ride my bike!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Trent's 9 Miles of the Sweetest Downhill Single Track

Trail up Cottonwood Canyon
Yesterday John came into the store, having recently returned from Fruita. "Fruita is my new favorite place to bike!" he tells me. Yeah, I like the trails in Fruita, but the fall colors, the smell of the pine trees, and leaves on the trail are much more to my liking. So I invite him to go on a nice trail up AF Canyon, great climbs, and sweet trails, but a little more technical than what I have ridden with him before.

Then today Mike came in the store. He just won his category at the Senior Games in St George. Mike has been on a few missions the past few years. He notices a change has occurred while he was gone, everyone is riding 29er's. We talk through the 29er's vs 27.5 and 26 mountain bikes, and he figures the 29er is the right bike. I am in luck, the right size and right priced bike is in the shop ready to go.

New bike, so time for a ride. He tells me of this great ride he is going on with Trent. Over the river, and through the woods to Strawberry Ridge, and then 9 miles of the sweetest downhill single track.
Gotta love the leaves

Sounds fun, so I invite myself and John to the trip. John comes back into the store to work out the logistics of the trip and finds out the plans have been changed. I've never been on these trails, but Trent and Mike like them so they must be good.

It starts out great. A nice climb, some fun rock sections to try and clear and then some steep sections that challenge the heart, lungs, and ability to pick the right line through the rocks. John tells us that there are six things he likens to hell, and this one is near the top of the list. Trent assures John that when we hit the 9 miles of sweet downhill it will erase all the memories of the hard climb.

Finally we arrive at Strawberry Ridge, a dirt road with some good climbs and fast downhill. After a few miles we are looking for the sweet 5th Water trail, and turn off on a trail. I'm thinking if this is such a sweet downhill it should be somewhat smooth and flowing, but instead it is trail that hasn't seen much action. The brush is encroaching on the trail and the surface is more grass than dirt. Hmmm, are we sure this is right. After awhile it is apparent that this is not the trail you are looking for. The smarter people in our group go back to the road and head down to the correct trail, but Mike declares, "never turn back" and in the spirit of adventure we continue on.

Trent's sweet downhill trail
Then the trail decays into a maze of game trails. Determined we continue on. Of course the game trails disappear and then we find ourselves bushwhacking. Lycra shorts are not the right attire of this. Before long the legs are a mess of blood and scratches. But by now we are beyond the point of no return and we continue down following an on-again-off-again stream flowing down the bottom of the ravine.

We keep finding bits and pieces of game trails. On the north facing slope there are pines and a lot of dead fall, and the south facing slope is covered in scrub oak and brush that tears at the legs and bike.
Almost a single track here 

Well with Mike and Trent you can always count on an adventure. I grab out the Handycam rename it the AdventureCam, get some video of Trent's sweet single track, and keep bushwhacking. Finally we come out to the Center Line trail.

Bombing down the trail I meet up with the smarter people from our group at the hot springs, which remind me a lot of Yellowstone. There is a warm vapor in the air with the strong smell of sulfur. Overall it was a great trip and mini adventure. And of course...

I just love to ride my bike.
Sulfer in the creek adds a milky blue to the water

Waterfall above the hot springs

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Sweetest Grapes I've Ever Had

I wrote a nine part series of posts, and then while biking to work, I found I needed to add one more so here is part 10 of the 9 posts.

I'm sure everyone is familiar with the Aesop's fable of the Fox and the Grapes. But if not, here it is:
One hot summer’s day a fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. “Just the things to quench my thirst,” quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a one, two, three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour.”
        Moral : “It is easy to despise what you cannot get.”
I had a lot of people tell me that I was crazy for wanting to bike to the South Pole. A neighbor simply told me, "DON'T GO!" I had others that asked if I would leave the bike store to them in the case that I died. I thought it was a joke, but maybe it was a more serious request than I thought, as I was told when I returned that they really did think I would die.

I received a lot of criticism. Fortunately for me, one of my biggest detractors posted to a public forum, thus preserving his words. He said:
“Until recently I had been plotting, planning and working toward my own south pole attempt. Different route, different mentality, entirely different style than yours.
“I started researching every aspect from every angle back in 2004, and spent the next 6 years fiddling with gear, nutrition, and all of the little things that would ultimately give me a fighting chance once on the ice. Recently, after much thought and introspection, I've concluded that I wouldn't get enough enjoyment out of it to make it worth doing. A lack of interesting things to look at along the way is my main reason for losing interest. And that's not even factoring in the enormous cost of getting to and from the continent.”
Now if that is not one of the greatest retellings of the Fox and the Grapes I don't know what is.

Biking to the South Pole was difficult beyond the wildest imagination. Every day was more difficult than I could possibly explain. 

I spent 51 days alone. I fell into a crevasse. I battled headwinds that, even with my full strength I could not push forward into. I spent many days in total whiteout, unable to see the ground I was biking over, falling off of four foot sastrugi, and worrying about what would happen if I broke a bone or broke my bike frame.

Nunataks on the way to Hercules Inlet
Speaking of broken bikes, I destroyed the internals of my rear hub from pedaling for up to 13 hours a day hauling a heavy load up frozen slopes against strong headwinds. The winds were so bad that even the worst winds I have faced since I got home don't even compare to the winds of Antarctica. Back to the broken hub, I ground the internals of the hub into tiny globs of black gunk. To continue on, I wired my spokes to the gears so that I could continue to ride the bike. This worked... kind of. The amount of work it took to pedal was so great that it would break the wires I used to tie the gears to the spokes. I had to redo the wire job every few days. I ended up breaking three spokes before I was able to get a replacement wheel.

There is no doubt that it was an extremely difficult expedition, however the grapes were not sour.

Sun dogs
Antartica is beautiful beyond description. The nunataks, peaks of mountains rising above the ice cap, are majestic. The parhelia, or sun dogs, were some of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The sun dogs were made by a full circle rainbow around the sun, with the bottom of the rainbow just touching the polar icecap. Then there was a second rainbow a little further out that arched from one point on the horizon up and above the sun and returned to the horizon. Radiating from the middle of the sun was a halo that encircled the sky. Where this halo and the rainbows intersected is where the sun dogs would hang out.

A blanket of ice drifting
around my tent
Antartica is a frozen wasteland. But there is no "lack of interesting things to look at along the way." There seems to be an endless supply of ice drifting from the south to the north. The ice flowing in the wind would form a translucent blanket about 2 to 3 feet deep. This constant blowing ice would pile up into drifts. Then on a less windy day (there were a couple of those) the sun would harden the drifting ice. Of course the winds would return and where the drifts did not receive as much sun, and so were softer, the wind would gouge out the ice leaving behind spectacular sastrugi. While these were dangerous to bike over, especially when you could not see due to a white out, they were nonetheless spectacular. Most of the sastrugi were only a couple of feet high, but there were many that created 4 to 6 foot drops, and the largest were easily 12 feet or more high. The wind would carve some amazing shapes in the sastrugi, but the most curious one I saw looked like a penguin.
A "penguin" walking in the sastrugi.

The solitude of Antartica was wonderful. I was worried before I left that being alone for that long would be difficult, but I found it to be wonderfully peaceful. The only noise was made by me. Even the wind would not make any noise unless it was from hitting me or my gear. The peace and quiet gave me abundant time to ponder.

I am not a great world traveler, but I have been to Mexico, Chile, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and the Caribbean. While each are wonderful in their own way, there is also something common about everywhere I have been. Everywhere, that is, except Antarctica. Antarctica is like nowhere else on earth.

The grapes were truly the sweetest I have ever tasted. When I first saw the South Pole Station I was so overwhelmed by joy. The joy of finally getting to the South Pole was more than worth the effort that it took to get there.

I just love to ride my bike.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Take a Shot: part 9 of 9

Before I left on my expedition to the South Pole I got a lot of advice from people. Biking to the South Pole is a seemingly impossible task. I assume these people were honestly concerned about my welfare. This is part nine of nine posts looking at some of the advice I was given.

I was a chaperone at my son's senior all night party. Over each classroom door there is an inspirational quote. This is a quote from one of those doors:

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
- Wayne Gretzky

In the last post I talked about the advice that Mike gave me. Mike said he spent 6 years plotting and working towards an attempt to bike to the South Pole. In the end, he did not take the shot. He was much more experienced than I was, and many considered him much more worthy of the challenge. But he decided that the goal was not worth the effort and decided not to attempt to bike to the South Pole. In the end he missed the shot because he did not take it. Yes, I was not as experienced, but in the end I made it because I took the shot. 

Don't be afraid to make the effort.

I just love to ride my bike.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Disservice: part 8 of 9

Before I left on my expedition to the South Pole I got a lot of advice from people. Biking to the South Pole is a seemingly impossible task. I assume these people were honestly concerned about my welfare. This is part eight of 8 posts looking at some of the advice I was given.

On the mtbr forum a user, mikesee, wrote:

“My $.02 is that you are doing yourself (and those that would attempt it in the future) an enormous disservice by going from ‘nothing’ to Antarctica.”

Mike was truly trying to be helpful. He had considered doing an expedition by bike to the South Pole and had spent 6 years preparing. In the end he decided not to make the attempt. Now he was giving me his best advice. Mike is an inductee in the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and truly an expert in the field--someone whose advice should be seriously considered.

My bike somewhere in Antarctica
On the other hand, all Mike knew of me was what he had read on the internet. Did I have the life experiences needed? Did I have the will power, strength, and commitment needed? Having never met me, Mike had no way of knowing the answers to those questions.

It is important to listen to and learn from the experts. However, it is also important to not allow others' expert opinions to prevent you from following your dreams. Only you know what you can do. You will decide what you will do. Learn from the experts, and then follow your dreams.

I just love to ride my bike.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

To Become: part 7 of 9

Before I left on my expedition to the South Pole I got a lot of advice from people. Biking to the South Pole is a seemingly impossible task. I assume these people were honestly concerned about my welfare. This is part seven of nine posts looking at some of the advice I was given.

I actually came across this quote after I had finished my expedition.

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

I can't think of a better way to say this. Before I left on my expedition I made a conscious effort to nurture the belief that I could do this expedition, and avoided anything that would be akin to saying I was incapable of doing it. For me Mahatma Gandhi was 100% correct!

I just love to ride my bike.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Bit Odd: part 6 of 9

Before I left on my expedition to the South Pole I got a lot of advice from people. Biking to the South Pole is a seemingly impossible task. I assume these people were honestly concerned about my welfare. This is part six of nine posts looking at some of the advice I was given.

I knew that it would take extreme mental toughness to make it to the South Pole. I had read every expedition log I could find from other South Pole expeditions. One of the things I learned was that I could not let self-doubt be the cause of my failure. I needed to avoid any thoughts of failure.

Getting sponsors was a difficult task. One of the things I did to try and get sponsors was to be very open and public with my plans. In the end it did not get me many sponsors, but I did get this comment:

"Saying that this is the first time a bike has been ridden to the South Pole before it has actually been done seems a bit odd. It has been attempted before and you will be attempting to do so again.”

My intentional attitude of success was seen by some as arrogance. In reality it was a necessary part of my preparation. Had I not worked on that attitude, had I not determined before hand that I would not let anything turn me around, had I not already decided that I would keep going, then I would not have made it. 

After I finally climbed from the coast up into the interior of Antarctica and arrived at what I thought would be easier biking, I found that the soft drifting snow and brutal headwinds would keep me from getting enough miles. Looking at my progress and how far I had to go, it was easy to see it would take me more than 100 days to get to the South Pole. I only had a little more than 50 days available before the last flight would leave. It would have made sense at that point to quit, knowing that there was no way I could make it. However I had decided before I left that I would keep going until I ran out of time. 

Then when things got better, and I was getting the distance needed to make it to the South Pole my rear hub broke. I would pedal and the pedals would spin but the wheel would not turn. I took some cable and wrapped it around the gears and spokes making it so I could continue to bike. After a few days, that pulled the gears crooked and the chain would drop into the spokes and into the lower gears. It was no longer possible to pedal the bike. 

I then set up my tent and took the wires off the gears and spokes and cleaned everything up. When I pulled the gears off the hub, the bearings and pawls were all ground up and fell apart into the bottom of my tent. I put it back together, wired the spokes to the gears and prayed for a miracle. 

It worked, but it took a lot of force to turn the pedals. Climbing in soft snow with a headwind was more than the wires could hold and the wires all broke. At this point it would have been easy to quit and say I didn't fail, the bike failed. But that thought lasted less than one second before my mind started to work on how to fix it again. I remembered some wires in my coats and in my tent. I stole the wires from the coats and tent and once again wired up the gears to the spokes. In the end I broke 4 spokes but continued on until I got a new wheel in my last food cache. 

The destroyed hub, the broken wires, and the broken spokes are a testament to the amount of hard work I put into the pedals. I came to Antarctica to ride my bike to the South Pole. Often it would have been easier to put the bike into the sled and just pull it, but I had made a commitment to myself that the wheels would roll the full distance. This expedition was not about what was most efficient--it was about biking to the South Pole.

Getting to the South Pole required that I be a "bit odd" and have an attitude of success.

I just love to ride my bike.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Motivational Talk at Liahona Youth Conference

Fun day today. It started out by giving motivational speech at the Liahona Youth Conference. It was the fourth and final day of the conference. John Bytheway was speaking before me. John is a great speaker and really funny. His presentations are always great, so I am thinking it will be a hard act to follow.

Well, I think it went great. I got a nice standing ovation, and a lot of people coming up afterwards to talk to me. I am just pleased that they enjoyed the presentation.

The youth conference was at Aspen Grove on the Alpine Loop. So of course afterwards I went for a bike ride. My original plan was to take off from Aspen Grove and bike around Timp, hoping to finish before dark. I was getting ready to go and then I realized something.

My daughter has the car and would be getting home late, and of course I took the truck, which meant that my wife had no way to get home from work. Change of plans, ride the trails in AF Canyon and then get back in time to give my wife a ride home.

The colors up American Fork canyon were spectacular. The red maples were a bit faded, but the yellow aspens were glowing, and even the oaks which frequently just brown out were a nice red. The trails were just right, not so wet to be muddy, but also not so dry as to be dusty. Without a doubt fall is the best time to mountain bike.

I just love to ride my bike.

Take Care of Myself, and Keep Moving South: part 5 of 9

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Hardest Thing You Can Possibly Imagine: part 4 of 9

Before I left on my expedition to the South Pole I got a lot of advice from people. Biking to the South Pole is a seemingly impossible task. I assume these people were honestly concerned about my welfare. This is part four of nine posts looking at some of the advice I was given.

This statement was actually made after my expedition:

On the plane headed north.
A little frostbit on the face
"Take the hardest thing you can possibly imagine and do that for 40 days, then make it twice as hard and keep going."
— Eric Larsen

Eric had just finished an amazing expedition to the North Pole when he made this statement. I can think of no better statement of what a polar expedition is like. Really though, it is a severe understatement. I think it is impossible to get a feeling of how hard it was biking to the South Pole unless you have done a polar expedition yourself.

If something is easy, everyone will do it. We need to not be afraid to do the truly hard things. The harder the task, the more rewarding the results will be.

I just love to ride my bike.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

You Will Fail: part 3 of 9

Before I left on my expedition to the South Pole I got a lot of advice from people. Biking to the South Pole is a seemingly impossible task. I assume these people were honestly concerned about my welfare. This is part three of nine posts looking at some of the advice I was given.

Mike said,
“Please give it some thought. I'd like to see the next group succeed.”

This is really a harsh statement. It implies that I cannot succeed; I am not even worthy to make the attempt. The thing is, nobody thought I could make it to the South Pole. Well, almost nobody. My wife says she never doubted I could make it, but that it was a really stupid idea.

Are you going to let others determine what you can and can't do? Are you going to let them keep you from even trying?

In order to do the seemingly impossible, you sometimes have to be willing to do what others may think is stupid. Like Phil said in Groundhog Day, "Sometimes I think you just have to take the big chances."

I just love to ride my bike.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Inexperience: part 2 of 9

Sunday, October 05, 2014

You Are Nuts: part 1 of 9

Friday, October 03, 2014

Mr. Waturi

Wednesday, October 01, 2014


Being the computer nerd that I am, and given that I need to get back on track after the post expedition weight gain, I have decided to start playing with the iOS 8's Health App. 

At first there were no apps available that worked with the Healthkit. I guess some bug in Apple's stuff. But no there are some apps available so I can start.

So I downloaded the latest version of the Strava app so I can get my ride data in. Next step on the scale and get my weight, % body fat, % lean. Then take out the old Walgreens blood pressure device and get a blood pressure and heart rate. Humm, haven't used that in awhile, add new batteries and ready to go. Finally a calorie counting app. I have used About.com's Calorie Counter in the past, but don't see that it is hooked up with Healthkit yet. Looks like I used MyFitnessPal's calorie counter in the past also, and it is hooked to the Healthkit. So that is my new calorie app. 

After eating breakfast and entering it into MyFitnessPal, and with all my goals set, it is time to go for a ride. I've got a few places I need to go and things I need to get done, and with no car available it make a great reason to go for a ride.

I just like to ride my bike.

My Bicycle Store