Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Late Update: Mueller Park, Volleyball, Skate Skis and More

I'm looking forward to riding in Saint George this weekend, but my bike season is basically over. Now I'm thinking about the winter. This year, that means cross training instead of rollers and DVDs. With that in mind, I've canceled my Netflix subscription. I've also bought a "new" pair of used skate skis. I had hoped to buy a rando setup this year so I could join in the back country fun, but that turned out to be more expensive than I'm comfortable with right now. Maybe next year.

Since the first time I rode the Mueller Park trail, I've wanted a chance to ride it without the weekend crowds. So two weeks ago I took Wednesday off for a long ride. The plan was to ride the Bonneville Shoreline Trail from Dry Gulch in to Bountiful, then up North Canyon and down Mueller Park before turning around and riding back the way I came.

Everything went well for about four hours. The trails were great, the crowds were small, and weather was perfect. But as I was riding back into Salt Lake on the fire road that makes up a a portion of the BST, my left pedal started sticking. Then the bearings seized, which I didn't realize until I had pedaled the pedal right out of the crank. Fortunately, none of the threads on in the crank arm were stripped, but because the bearings in my pedal were completely shot, I had to walk to the top of the hill, then coast through the neighborhoods behind the capital and back home.

The broken pedal wasn't a big deal, but it was disappointing to have to retreat an hour from finishing the ride. And the singletrack back to Dry Gulch probably would have been more fun than coasting down a paved road. And I'm sure that the upper parts of the Mueller Park and North Canyon trails are snowed in by now, so I guess I'll have to wait till next year to complete the ride. Lame.

I haven't ridden a bike since my Mueller adventure. That Saturday the weather canceled my plans for a longish road ride, so instead I hiked a chunk of the BST in the snow. It was fun, but it made me sore enough to take most of the next week off, other than a few mellow runs in Liberty Park.

Last week I wound up in a volleyball tournament at the Salt Lake institute. My ward didn't field enough players for a team, so I wound up on a small team with some other players in the same situation. It turned out to be a sweet deal, because we ended up winning the tournament, much to my surprise (and everyone else's, I'm sure).

Since Claremont eliminated my team from the playoffs during my senior year in high school, I haven't played much volleyball at all. In fact, I don't think I've played at all in the last four years. But on Saturday I was surprised by how much I miss it. I was also surprised that I can still play well after so many years, and by how sore I can get after not having jumped or swung my arm for so long.

And now I think I'm caught up for the last two weeks. My "top-secret new bike," a Misfit diSSent single speed, has had problems with the frame, and thus remains a "top-secret assortment of parts in boxes." It's too bad, because I was really looking forward to riding it on the trails in Saint George. Instead, it looks like the Anthem gets the nod. Should be fun.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Over the Hills and through the Woods

My parents were staying at my grandma's house for a few days, so on Saturday I decided to ride my bike up to meet them for lunch. I had originally planned to put in a few hours on the road before finishing at my grandma's house in Bountiful, but because the weather has been so nice I decided to grab the mountain bike and take another shot at Mueller Park.

It turned out to be a good decision. I hit the Dry Gulch trailhead at about 9:00. From there I rode the Bonneville Shoreline into City Creek, where I picked up the trail on the west side of the canyon and rode the switchbacks up to the radio tours before continuing along the dirt road into Bountiful. From there it was a quick ride on the road to North Canyon, and from there a climb up to the saddle, where I picked up the Mueller Park trail for what is easily one of my favorite descents.

Conditions were great, as they have been all week. Temperatures were in the mid sixties, and except for a little mud at the bottom of North Canyon and a little ice at the top, the soil was perfect. The only downside to such perfect conditions is that they tend to draw people outdoors, and the Mueller Park trail was more crowded than I've ever seen it. And it's been pretty crowded every time I've ridden it.

Still, it was great to get in a longish ride. And because the weather has been so perfect for riding, and because I have vacation time I need to use before the end of the year, I may go ahead and take Wednesday off so I can see what Mueller Park looks like without the weekend crowds. If I do, it will be the perfect opportunity to break in my (not really so) top-secret new bike.