Sleep, Eat, Ride, then Repeat
February 7-9, 2006 I rode for 3 days in the desert around St. George, Utah
You can also checkout my photo blog on my amazing road trip to St. George and back.
Why Utah? My coach, Lynda Wallenfels lives in St. George. Also, it's much warmer
in St. George than in Wisconsin, where my Ironman partner Dennis Mueller lives.
Poor Dennis hasn't been able to ride outdoors for 3 months, so we conceived
of a sort of 'bike camp' in Utah and Lynda graciously agreed to ride with us when
we came to town.
Here I am with Lynda early in our first day's ride.
Lynda is an amazing biker - she is the 2004 winner of the US 100 mile Mountain
Bike Nationals and holder of the course record - she is the first woman
to ever ride the course in under 9 hours.
Happily, during our rides together, she was kind to us and mostly rode at our pace.
Lynda is a great coach. She literally wrote the Velo Press book on bike training. She
specializes in coaching mountain bikers and Ironman atheletes.
In the 3 days I rode about 235 hilly miles. Here is a table with some info on the rides.
I ride with a new gizmo called a "powertap" - it measures my power in watts
every second, as well as the revolutions of my pedals, my heart rate, my speed.
The key measurement is the power measurement - it tells me and Lynda exactly
how hard I'm working. For instance, in the above table you see my "TSS"
(Training Stress Score) for the three days. You don't know what this means. It's
a measure of the difficulty of the ride based on the precise measurements of
the powetap versus my fitness level. A TSS of 250 is about what a well executed
112 mile Ironman bike leg should exact. So across the 3 days I accumulated a total
TSS of about 750 -- that's about the equivalent of doing 3 ironman bike rides for
3 days in a row.
The sad part is Lynda later told me the training effect she wanted from this
week was just to train my body to be ready for the training she was going to
throw at it later this Spring. oh oh
Okay, now we're riding. This is Dennis climbing up "Utah Hill Pass" (where do
they get these names?). St. George is at 2500' elevation and this pass is at
Dennis rode fast all week - a real testimonial as to what you can achieve by
training on an indoor training stand in the Winter.
We had gorgeous weather in Utah all three days - typically about 32 f in the
morning warming up to the 60's by noon.
I'm getting warmed up so I've opened up my Swiss high tech biking vest.
The mountain side is still obviously very desert-like at 4000'. At this point
we've crossed over the pass and Dennis and Lynda are turning around - they
were scheduled for shorter rides this day. Lynda gave me the booby prize of
riding an extra 16 miles down the far side of the pass and back by myself.
Here is the view down the far side of Utah Hill Pass into the valley - if you
squint you can see the tiny town of Littlefield, Arizona in the valley about
12 miles ahead. This was an incredible long descent into a huge valley with
vistas for 50 miles and more.
The hard part was riding from Littlefield, Arizona at 2000' back up over the
4500' pass all over again from valley, so I could get home to St. George. Here
is the view from the valley back up at the pass.
This is the beginning of our day 2 ride. Dennis is taping his cadence magnet to
his crank. If you're a triathelete you can fix anything with electrician's tape.
Note the skull cap - essential warmth gear for riding, where the wind chill at
40 or 45 F can be miserable if you're not dressed right. Layering is essential
as you have to strip down as the day warms up.
Dennis and I rode a loop on day two from St. George up through towns
called 'Gunlock' and 'Veyo'. This view is early on the ride, just on the Western
edge of St. George where there is a little farm land still surviving before the
next subdivision builds out on it (St. George is exploding with housing
developments; it is the most popular place for Mormons to retire to).
An old dam on the ride up to Gunlock resevoir
One of the steeper hills of the 3 days was the Veyo hill. Here we're looking
back down into a river valley we just rode through.
We came back into St. George through the incredible Snow Canyon State Park.
We're being honest citizens and self-paying $3 for each bike.
Unfortunately the camera just didn't capture the red red of the rocks in the canyon.
Parts of 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' were filmed in this canyon.
Here I am ready for the descent throught Snow canyon. Gotta love that
brand new pavement. It was a fast fun descent.
Getting ready for day 3 ride - the big day. For me it was planned to be
114 mile ride, all the way from St. George to Zion National Park, ride up and
down the Zion canyon, then ride all the way back to St. George. Above is the
food I had with me (and in our Sag car at half way point) for to keep me nutrited.
You see about 3000 calories worth there - I probably only consumed about
2000 - the human body can only process about 250 calories/hour while exercising.
This is early on the ride to Zion, on the Eastern outskirts of St. George.
Dead center in the photo you can barely see some tiny little, really distant
mountains. Zion is behind those mountains. It was a little intimidating to
think I had to ride 45 miles out just to get to those mountains, then I still
wouldn't be at Zion, and then I still would have to come back.
Thanks to the powertap I was able to 'hold back' on the first 2 days of
riding and not go too hard - I kept my effort in the lower, more aerobic
range. Before having the powertap the inner cowboy or warrior in me
would have led me to ride harder and faster on the first two days' rides.
But as it was, I kept them aerobic but not too intense, so although I was
tired by day 3, my legs weren't trashed. In fact, after warming up in
the first hour, I felt pretty great all day long on day 3.
Okay, now we're getting close to Zion, this is about 3 miles outside the
park entrance. The locals call the leftmost spire "Aunt Jemima."
Dennis and me at the park entrance.
The Virgin river runs the 8 mile length of Zion Canyon. Imagine Yosemite
with the walls closer together and in red red rock. Riding up and back
down the canyon was a highlight of the trip. Incredible riding.
Zion. I had the camera zoomed in on the top of the cliffs, look how
small the trees still appear.
Looking back down Zion from the head of the canyon - here you can
see how narrow the canyon is. Once again, the pavement on the road
in the park was brand new, it was primo riding. This is the best time of
the year to visit Zion - cool enough to enjoy hiking, good weather,
and very very empty. I'm told it's extremely packed with cars and
tourists all the hot summer long.
Just outside of Zion is a cute little town of Rockville. (Where do
they get these names?)
A self portrait while I was riding.
Another self portrait while riding. This is my hybrid synergy drive.
This is my powertap compter analysis of my ride to Zion and back.
The yellow line is my power output. It is higher when I'm climbing
hills or sprinting. On a 7 hour ride like this I didn't sprint at all, and
tried to keep the effort steady, and below my 'threshold', which
you see is the yellow dashed line. I did a good job. As a result I felt
pretty great all day long.
Hah hah, this isn't St. George, this is tourist trap setup by the town of Virgin, Utah.
See the donkey. Wild ass saloon. I get it.
Hail Fredonia. I had to stop and take this picture on the way home.
Fredonia, Utah is a 100% polygamist community. I wonder if that's
where Groucho Marx got his 'Fredonia' from?
One viewer answered my question with the following text:
"Seeking freedom from efforts to suppress polygamy, several Mormon families left Utah and settled here in 1885, calling their place Hardscrabble. Erastus Snow, a prominent Mormon, suggested the name "Fredonia" because the families were seeking freedom from Federal Laws. Locally the name is said to imply that as the Spanish word for "wife" (dona), men living three miles north in Utah sent their extra wives to Fredonia to escape law enforcement, whence "Free-the wife". P.O. Est April 6, 1892; William S. Lewis PM Incorporated March 5, 1956"
Dennis flatted on a thorn in lovely Hurricane, Utah.
I lucked out and didn't have a flat all week long.
When I got home from the day 3, Zion ride, I slept real well that night.
The next day I got in my car and drove home from St. George to
San Francisco, read about it in my photo blog on
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