Archive for May, 2008

Cracker Barrel Utah Velo Ride

| May 31, 2008 1:37 pm

We showed up for the Saturday ride with the Utah Velo Cycling Club. Both of us were wearing the new 2008 club jersey and shorts. I picked them up from the Bike Peddler last night just before they closed and they had to enter into their computer first, so we know no one else would have them yet.

This group does not know the meaning of “warm-up” and we were off at speeds over 21 mph within the tenth of a mile. We had some advantage being on a tandem and it being mostly a flat ride. After we caught our breath Ann took a few pictures from the back of the tandem of the other riders.

While we were at the Mona regroup we notice that the gas station had run out of room for increasing their gas price so they just put a note on the pump that the price you pay will be double. Maybe next time we come by it will be triple!

We took a different way back this time and hit some railroad tracks that did not have the payment up close enough to the rails so we hit it hard. Yikes, we had a flat on the rear tire. One other rider also flatted. Ann had just had her class last week on changing a tire so she wanted to fix it, but she let Franz do it this time.

The pace was very fast. We wanted to see if we could break our record. We really pushed the pace at the very end and finished the 73 miles averaging 21.1 mph rolling. You can see Franz’s heart rate from this chart for the whole ride. He was pushing into the red zone a lot! Click to enlarge.

It was a very fun and fast ride.

Up Squaw Peak

| May 30, 2008 8:29 pm

We rode the tandem up Squaw Peak today.  It is about 4.6 miles from the highway and about a 1,800 foot climb.  Only the top part got real steep but it was a constant climb all the way up.  From the top we had a beautiful view of the Utah Valley.

Ann took a phone call from Sara at the summit.


After desending, we headed further up Provo Canyon and then took the road up South Fork.   We stopped by one neat place to take a picture.


Hey Franz, watch were you are going!


Alpine Loop – Up to 8,000 ft by Tandem

| May 28, 2008 10:30 pm

We decided that with the prospects of a sunny day we would head out to ride the Alpine Loop. We left on the tandem around 10 am and headed up Provo Canyon on the trail. We had to then go up on the shoulder of the highway to the turn off up North Fork, up to Sundance.

We could see the snow capped hills on our left with the spectacular view.

Provo Canyon

Continuing on past Sundance we finally made our way up to Aspen Grove. Shortly after that we saw that the road was closed.

Alpine Loop Road Closed

We figured that only applied to cars so we went through the opening in the gate. We figured that it was just wide enough for a bicycle. What a great opportunity, to bike on a road that was closed to traffic. There was some debris on the road, mostly pine needles. But nothing that was difficult to cycle through.

We stopped to take some photos.


About 9 miles up from the Provo Canyon highway we finally made it to the summit. We were now at over 8,000 feet elevation.

Alpine Loop Summit

GPS at summit

We decided to descend down the American Fork canyon side. Here we found a lot more debris that on the Provo Canyon side. At one point we had to stop and walk around some big bulldozzers that were clearing the road from a landside, I guess getting the road ready to open. We eventually made it down to where the road was closed to cars coming up the canyon so we were no longer on a closed road.

Down the canyon we made a stop at the Timpanogas Cave National Monument. At the snack bar we bought our lunch. We were surround by about 60 elementry school children that were there on a school outing. After eating we made our way down to the mouth of the canyon and then headed back along State Street back home.

It was a wonderful bike ride and the scenery was unmatched, the weather was perfect and it was great to bike on a closed road.

Fast and Flat

| May 24, 2008 1:56 pm

Today we decided to join the Utah Velo Bike Club for their long Saturday ride.  It was going to be 72 miles and we know from past experience the pace would be very fast.  The weather forecast was for scattered thunderstorms and the temperature was cool, in the mid 40’s. But with that cold and wet ride in Zion a distant memory, we charged ahead.

We drove to the starting location in Springville.  Unlike most of our riding in California, the routes here tend to be rather flat.  I don’t think we did more than 1,000 feet of climbing the entire day.  As we excpected it was a fast pace ride.  I suppose there were maybe 40 riders all together, doing either the 32, 47 or 72 mile course.  The courses were common for awhile.  We were able to keep up with the lead riders through the whole ride.  The weather was great. It turned out to be sunny most of the day and by the middle of the ride we had taken our jackets off.  We ended the 72 miles in a total time of 4 hours, averaging 19.2 mph rolling.

Zion Vacation – Story of the Three Bears

| May 23, 2008 1:51 pm

Franz and Ann decided to take a vacation to Zion National Park, spending three days there. They came upon a house in the woods and went inside. They saw three bowls of porridge. The first one too hot. The second one was too cold but the third one was just right. Read about our three days in Zion.

Day 1 – Too Hot

Day 2 – Too Cold (and wet)

Day 3 – Just Right

Also see the the entry in our photography blog with details about the picture taking experience, or the gallery and  slide show of all the pictures were took. With both of us packing cameras with such great views, there are a lot of pictures.

Zion – The Just Right Day

| May 22, 2008 10:44 pm

After spending too many miles yesterday biking in the cold and the rain, when we got up this morning we were very excited to see the sun shining as we looked out from the baloney of our room.

Zion Desert Pearl

We had to check out by noon so we felt the best thing would be to go on a nice bike ride in the morning and then a hike in Zion later. We road our tandem up to the famous tunnel. It is a windy road, with switch backs all the way up. People who had stopped along the way to take pictures seemed surprised we could bike up the hill, but it was not nearly as steep as the Kolob Canyon road yesterday. We made one stop to get a picture and asked someone to take it of us together.

Franz and Ann near Zion Tunnel

It was a beautiful day to bike, not too hot, not too cold, just right.


We then headed up the Zion Canyon road to the lodge. We just had enough time to make it back, get a shower and pack up to check out before noon. We were hungry by now and decided to eat at the cafe up by the lodge. You can’t drive your car in Zion now days and need to take a shuttle. We drove over to the visitor center to park but there was not a single parking spot. We knew the museum was on the shuttle stop route so we drove over to it and found a spot there to park. We caught the next shuttle up to Zion’s Lodge and enjoyed a hamburger on the patio. Can you beat this view for lunch?

Zion Lodge

After eating we caught the next shuttle to go further up the canyon to start a hike. We decided to do the Hidden Canyon hike, which was suppose to take 2 hours. It was a step and windy path, with chains needed on some sections.


The trail for Hidden Canyon and Observaton Point were the same for about one mile. We took a right turn to head up to Hidden Canyon.

Ann hiking up Hidden Canyon

Franz hiking Hidden Canyon

We came upon a neat staircase that had been built up along the cliff wall.

Hidden Canyon

With the need to hold onto chains, I took this picture with my back against the cliff so there was little room. See how the cliff drops off. When people were coming the other way they were concerned how to pass, but we just walked around them, no fear at all!

After reaching the end, we headed back down and asked someone to take our picture on the junction for Hidden Canyon.

Franz and Ann

We wanted to do more hiking so decided to head up the trail to Observation Point. We had not done that hike in the first place because it said it was a 6 hour hike, but had now learned those times are over stated.



We came upon a slotted canyon that the trail went right through. There were steep cliffs on each side and a small stream of water down the middle. You had to use stones to cross back and forth across the water.


As the trail wound its way up toward the top we were able to see the beautiful valley below.

Ann was smarter than Franz by using her flash for this picture.


We had learned that the sandstone in Zion absorbs water, allowing plants to grow right out of the rock.

It was a fun hike but the descent seemed almost more difficult than the climb. We wanted to also see the Weeping Rock. That trail started from the bottom. Since we figured we would not have enough time, we took a picture using a telephoto lens from our trail.

We finally made it back to the shuttle stop.

We took the shuttle back to the musuem.

It was a very fun vacation. The last of the three days had the best weather but we enjoyed all three days, except maybe the ride in the rain.

Zions – The Cold (and wet) Day

| May 21, 2008 6:07 pm

After doing the hike yesterday up Angel’s Landing, we were anxious to get on the bike. There was a forecast of scattered rain, but the day seemed fine enough. It was much cooler than yesterday, but still warm enough that when we started at 8:30 am, we didn’t need any arm warmers or jacket.

We decided to leave from the hotel and head to Virgin Utah (about 13 miles) and then take the road up Kolob Canyon. That climb from the highway is 20 miles and gains 4,700 vertical feet. With all the climbing we were glad it was not hot like yesterday. The sun started to come out from behind the clouds and we were thinking this would be a nice day after all.

The road winds in and out of Zion National Park. After riding about 10 miles up the canyon, it started to get rather windy. I mean very windy and a strong head wind. Biking up a hill into a head wind is not a lot of fun, but were determined to finish the route. The sun was no longer to be seen and as we looked off to the side we could see darker clouds forming.

Dark Clouds up Kolob Canyon

When the road turned we started to climb again and the wind was not quite as strong, but after about 15 miles up from the highway, the road leveled out and the wind was real strong, so strong that I had to get off the bike because I thought I was going to fall over. We decided that was enough so we turned around and headed back down the hill. The temperature had now dropped from the mid 50’s to the mid 40’s.

We made a stop at a parking lot, about 10 miles up from the highway and chatted with a ranger. He said it was hailing down on the highway. Oh dear we thought. Could we beat the storm? Soon it started to rain and the wet and the cold combined made it a miserable descent. Even though we were going down hill it seemed to take forever to reach the highway.

Oh, if we had only driven the car over to the base of the canyon instead of bike there, but we did not. There is nothing around there and the town of Virgin is not really a town and even then was in the opposite direction from our hotel. With a tailwind now, we decided to just tough it out and make our way back to Springdale.

We were totally soaked (although Ann was smart enough to bring a rain jacket). Even though we were pedalling as hard as we could, we felt very cold. Finally we made it to the hotel, and parked the tandem next to the building. We were not about to take the time to put it back in the car right then. Instead we rushed into the room to get the wet clothes off, even that seemed to be a major task when our fingers were not working very well. I guess this is a ride we will always remember.

Zion – The Hot Day

| May 20, 2008 9:23 pm

We left on Monday evening for our vacation with the plan to drive most of the way that evening. We could not not leave until close to 7 pm so we figured that it would take until 1:30 am to get to our destination. About 45 miles to go the traffic on Interstate 15 came to a complete stop and it took an hour before we were able to make our way through the accident. So it was 3 am before we got to sleep.

That late night driving paid off by allowing us to get to Zion before noon. We had booked a room at the Desert Pearl, a wonderful motel. The room was European style and can you beat this view from our own balcony?

Ann at Desert Pearl

On Tuesday afternoon we went into the National Park. It was warm, in the high 90’s but there was plenty of wind to keep it from getting to hot.

We decided to do the popular Angles Landing hike. We were amazed how the trail had been carved right into the side of the steep cliffs. Franz was taking pictures with his new Nikon D300 camera and Ann was using the Nikon D70.




After doing part of the climb we looked down to see how much we had ascended.

I wondered what Ann was taking a picture of.

Then I could see.

The climb got steep where we had to start using chains.

Ann climbing Angles Landing

We came to a level spot where we could take a group shot. Since there was no one to take the picture, we took two separate photos and later merged them into one.

Ann and Franz

It was getting windy so Franz had to take his hat off. We came upon a photographer who was taking pictures of Angles Landing and we asked him to take our picture. You can see the final climb up Angles Landing behind us.

Franz and Ann

We proceeded to climb for awhile.

It got rather scary with a narrow ridge with steep cliffs on each side. With the wind and trying to carry cameras, we decided to head back before reaching the peak. It was nice to get back to the easy trail.

Mother’s Day

| May 11, 2008 1:32 pm

Today is Mother’s Day. It is a day set aside so we can demonstrate our appreciation to our mothers for all they did to make us who we are. Mother’s Day is an important day because most of us don’t fully understand how much our mothers do for us. It is good that at least on this day we stop to reflect on that.

Here is a video that I put together for Ann. Click the play button to view and then scroll down to see a few photos taken today.

I had bought some flowers. It was a bunch of roses with four different colors, read, white, yellow and pink. It made me think about our four children. Like the four different colors in the bouquet, our children are all different but together they make up a beautiful family.

Franz then bar-b-qued some thick stakes for dinner.

Meanwhile Ann picked some strawberries from the plant she has been growing.

We then enjoyed a nice Mother’s Day dinner on our deck.

After cleaning up we enjoyed to video on our TV. I had created a DVD version with full resolution.

New Tent

| May 8, 2008 9:58 pm

We used the sale at REI to buy a new tent for us to use on the upcoming Sierra to the Sea. Franz had used a two man tent the last two years but it would be rather crowded so we bought a three man tent. Actually it is only big enough for two people unless you wanted to be real cozy. But it is a great tent and can be used backpacking since it weighs only 4.5 lbs.  We bought the REI Quarter Dome T3 Tent, which was Backpacker Magazine 2008 Editors’ Choice Award Winner.

We put it up in the backyard to test it out. It went up very quickly. A great tent!