ATLANTA -- Marty Jemison of Salt Lake City and the U.S. Postal Service Team edged Team Saturn's Fred Rodriguez to claim the First Union Grand Prix title April 27.
Finishing the grueling 120-mile race in 4 hours, 41 minutes, Jemison claimed $17,000 of the $88,000 purse. Only 44 cyclists finished of the 122 starters. Racers finished in a downpour with temperatures in the 50s.
At the finish, Jemison hung back for the uphill final stretch. Rodriguez, a younger racer known for his sprint, was unable to hold Jemison off.
The U.S. Postal Service also claimed first place in the team championships, edging Team Saturn 107-106.
The reality of the mountain bike racing season finally sets in when the racing gets close to home.
The first two races of the Bud Light/Cannondale Cup series were major road trips: the first at St. George and the second at Las Vegas, better known to many as "Lost Wages."
So when the next race was within a stone's throw from the Great Salt Lake, the series was indeed in full swing.
Forty-five minutes west of Salt Lake City, is that bustling speck of a gas stop, Delle, and the site of the South Beach Boogie. Why would anyone deliberately miss this race? Just the name conjures up an image of a good time.
But once the start was announced for the racers, the partying was put on hold until the finish, you know, work then play.
And the course offered plenty of work for participants.
The start was just north of the railroad tracks headed for Wendover on a graded dirt road. Thanks to Mother Nature, there were some water hazards within the first mile. Some chose to ride around them but for those who can't pass up a blast through a mud puddle, this was the ticket.
Then the road turned into double track once the grade turned vertical. The first climb was a middle ringer for the pro/experts, I'm sure, but I was missing my "granny" since I was covering the race on my cyclo cross bike and it's double road crankset.
At the crest of the first hill racers got their first taste of single track in a quick descent to more double track and the main climb of the course. There was a brief respite from the agony of anaerobic climbing as the course leveled for a bit before the serious finishing climb that signaled the end of the suffering and the beginning of the joy of gravity.
Overlooking the Great Salt Lake, the course circled a big bowl on what was once the shoreline of Lake Bonneville before dropping down to a wash and the long double track descent. The rocky single track racers encountered on this descent was cause for many comments after the race. At this point I was missing my Rock Shox and chose to hoof the sudden dropoff just before crossing the wash to the fast double track descent. Skin heals, camera equipment doesn't. Ok, ok, I choked.
The long double track to the lake bed was very fast with only a couple of twists to cause racers to scrub the brakes a bit. Then it was back along the graded frontage road to more double track for another lap.
Eric Jones, Plymouth Ellsworth, put an early claim on the race as he led all Pro/Elite racers up the first climb.
"It was a good spring warmup, definitely," Jones said after the race. "The only tough part was the rocky single track. I stood up all the way and it made my back tight.
"On the first lap I felt really good," Jones recounted. "I looked back, saw I got a gap and kept pushing it."
Jones, a pro, completed the first lap in about 28 minutes.
The Pro/Elite group did three 8-mile loops, sport class two loops and beginners one loop. Kids 12 & under went halfway up the initial climb and dropped back down to the start/finish.
Bart Gillespie, Wise Elite rider, followed Jones up the hill but kept him in sight. Gillespie rode conservatively up the first climb, allowing Jones to get away.
But with each successive climb, the gap was shorter. Cris Fox followed Gillespie along with Jarom Zenger and Espen Wethe.
Second-year Pro Zach Shriver, Devo, had his hopes dashed when he flatted on the course. Gillespie continued to pick away at Jones' lead, especially on the climbs.
"I felt better every time up the climb," Gillespie said. "I wish I had another climb. I almost closed the gap. It's hard to make up a gap on the descent."
Jones agreed. "I saw Bart was only about 10 seconds back and thought he might catch me." But Jones held the lead and captured the win just ahead of the hard-charging Gillespie.
This does not mean just the guys had fun at the South Beach Boogie. The women turned out in good numbers and turned in some fine performances.
On the first loop, Holly Flanders led the way up the climb with Jennifer Tribe in hot pursuit.
But first-year Expert Tribe soon rode away from the other racers in the Pro/Expert Women's category to claim a convincing win by just over three minutes on Ronda Reasner.
"It was a really fun course," Tribe said after the race. "I had to borrow a bike to race. My Merlin flew off the roof rack and was crushed by a truck."
Not bad being on an unfamiliar bike. Tribe had plenty of off-season back country ski training for her aerobic base. And she is getting personal coaching for this season.
"We have a lot planned for the season," she said, "and I hope it all goes to plan."
The plan is to do all the Cannondale Cup races and do Western National races.
Tyson Apostle, Wolf Creek Cycles, took the Junior Expert class by nearly four minutes over Jeff Carter. Bart Adams continued his winning ways by taking the Vet Expert class in a close win over John Olden. Roger Gillespie won the Master Expert class over James Totora and Jerry Osguthorpe.
Series promoter Ed Chauner was pleased with the turnout and especially the course. He plans to expand it next year, noting all the trails already in place.
I was hanging out one afternoon, grazing (so to speak), among the used bicycles at Active Sports in Sugarhouse when Chance asked if I knew the name of a certain Campagnolo gruppo.
I answered "Croce d'Aune" and it just so happened I was right. My posture improved as I marked one up on the scorecard. I keep chipping away at that losing record. But I take my victories as they come and revel in them until I'm brought back down to Earth.
The fellow who asked for the identity of the group was an older gentleman. We got to talking about this and that in regards to bicycles. I'll call him William (not his real name) and it turns out he is a gentleman.
He had two immaculate bicycles built by local builder Ron Stout, who has since stopped building: a very cool commuter/ cyclo cross and a road frame with the signature mono-seatstay. Both in perfect condition, well-respected equipment.
William wanted to get back into cycling and even do some racing again. The sun is setting on William's fifties and he had hoped to have his own 10-year reunion race at the Utah Summer Games this year.
He thought it would be great to go back and compete in his age group on the same equipment he used the first time. And gold medals were not out of the question. Ten years ago he won the road race and criterium while taking silvers in the hillclimb and time trial.
"I just don't climb well," he admitted.
"Oh, it's all genetics," I countered.
I came to admire William and his overall attitude of the sport. He just plain likes to ride and race, not caring if he has a license with a certain numbered category on it or not. For him, the bicycle was a wonderful machine, an almost perfect machine (except for those darn hills).
But as William came to find out, racing is out of the question. Medical problems prevent him from pursuing the sport to the extent that racing requires.
A lot of cyclists I've come to know over the years would probably throw in the towel if they couldn't ride at redline.
Not William. He's not giving up on the sport. There's always another avenue to take if one is blocked. "There's touring," he said. And he's already commuting occasionally. And he uses his Tunturi ergometer to maintain some fitness, albeit not race fitness. But that obviously is not the only reason to ride.
I certainly don't have race fitness anymore. I toyed with the idea of jumping in the peloton at the Downtown Criterium coming this month. But I just wouldn't be ready to go full-tilt boogie with fit racers.
Instead I scheduled some vacation to do the Southern Parks tour and the White Rim Trail rides put on by those wacky recreationalists at BBTC.
So I won't be hollering at other riders to hold their line (or be yelled at) at the criterium. Instead I choose the more social atmosphere of a fun tour. Maybe someday I'll become a gentleman cyclist too.***
Governor Mike Leavitt made it official on April 16. May 11-17 is Bike Week in Utah and is held in association with the League of American Bicyclists' 41st annual celebration of National Bike Month.
Salt Lake City is celebrating National Bike Month by having two downtown criteriums for the race crowd and two events for cyclists of all persuasions: the Mayor's Bike to Work Day and the American Investment Bank Century Ride. Check out our Calendar of Events and the ads in this issue to confirm the dates.
Since it is Bike Month nationwide, it behooves us all to take to the streets on our bicycles and let everyone know we're out there. At the same time we must be on our best behavior. Let's work at showing drivers that we can safely share the road with other modes of transport.
Sure, we all have horror stories about being run off the road or other altercations with drivers. Granted some drivers are just plain jerks. But some of the instances, we bring upon ourselves.
UDOT has supplied us with some bicycle brochures with rules of the road, helmet fit and other useful information. According to Utah law, bicyclists may not ride more than two abreast except on paths exclusively for bicycles. So everyone who attends the AIB Century, share the road with motorists. Too often I witness riders all across the road on these century rides. Let's share the road.
If you would like these brochures from UDOT contact them at (801) 255-0573. One very useful brochure is the one on helmet fit.
I was just doing some late night reading of the monthly cycling publications around the shop and I came across a feature that sort of planted a seed for this month's Classic Corner.
The story was by Joe Lindsey, a fellow former-Colorado resident, and in it he wrote about the "Merckx" training program. This is what Lindsey and his racing pals called their form of training, which was basically to ride a lot of miles, ride hard when you felt like it, and ride slowly when you were not up to par. In the "old" days, things like this were done out of tradition or because that's how Eddy did it.
This triggered thoughts of how training has changed in the past decade, then I began thinking of all kinds of things that were once done out of tradition or habit that I don't really see anymore.
For instance, there was a time when hardly a racer worth his wool shorts didn't have wheels with tied and soldered spokes. This was supposed to create a stiffer, stronger wheel, but Jobst Brandt refuted this with scientific research some years ago. The only advantage he could find was that if you broke a spoke, it would not flop around and ruin your ride. Try to find a shop willing to do it now, or for that matter, knows what you are talking about.
Here's another long gone tradition: aging new sew up tires in a cool, dark basement before using them. (Come to think of it, using sew ups at all may be eligible for inclusion on this list.) I knew guys who would not ride a new tire before storing it stretched over a junk rim in their basement for several months, and a year was even better!
And when it was finally time to install it, man if you were out of red glue, it was the end of your riding until that little problem was corrected. May as well just sit back, heat up some wax, and drop the ol' chain in. Yes, that's correct, the Sedis gold colored chain.
How about setting up your bike?
Remember when guidelines for proper fit included setting the handlebar one inch lower than the front of the saddle? Take a look at your current bike, road or mountain, and tell me there's only an inch difference in the saddle and bar. Your friends would laugh and call you things like a Sean Kelly wannabe.
And stem length was chosen based on your front hub being obscured by the handlebar when you were on the drops. What if your frame had unusual geometry? What if you had long arms? What if you had a long neck?
Handlebar tape. Do you wrap from the bottom up and finish it off near the stem with electrical tape? Me too. My English friend insists that handlebar tape should be wrapped from top to bottom and finished by stuffing the end inside the bar. How did Merckx do it? A quick survey of old photos shows Ed's bars wrapped in each manner at different times. Whew, we're both okay on that one.
Way back before you were born, a wise old bike dude told me two things about wheels and one thing about tires that are affecting me still.
When you build a wheel, you must be sure that the label on the rim faces the right, or drive, side of the bike. You must also align the marking - specifically the "Record" engraving - on the hub so that as you peer through the stem hole, the label on the rim is in line with the label on the hub. And when you install the tire, you must place the label of the tire on the drive side at the location of the valve stem.
"But Sir," I asked, "Why do we do these things? Does it matter? Will the wheel not roll if we simply assemble the parts?"
He shrugged and said, "That's just the way it's done kid, trust me, it's tradition, and I think it's the way Merckx does it."
That was enough for me. To this day, whether I'm installing a tire on a De Rosa or a Huffy, the label goes on the drive side at the stem or nothing goes right the rest of the day.
Here are a few more old traditions that come to mind:
Installing headset cups into the frame with the brand name of the headset facing forward.
Trash-canning the bearing retainers for the headset and bottom bracket, and replacing them with the "better" loose ball system - because Merckx did it.
Using a straight edge extending from the bottom of the handlebar forward to set the brake levers so that the bottom tip would just rest on the straight edge. "Brake levers not comfy? Too bad, man, we've used the straight edge technique. Get used to it."
And how about soldering the brake and derailleur cable ends? Does the local bike shop still do that when they install a cable on your bike?
I'm sure there are some other time honored, but now forgotten traditions related to bikes and racing, but I've just noticed the rear skewer on my bike is pointed the wrong direction. You see, it has to be at a 45 degree angle toward the handle bar when closed or my wheel will not roll. I got this tip from some guy who's uncle knew someone who saw Merckx's bike once, and Merckx had his rear skewer at a 45 degree angle, and . . .
If there is a superlative that one can safely apply to Equipo Del Corazon (EDC), it is the ability of this club to change quickly. From year to year, EDC has altered its focus, shape, membership, and most importantly, its leadership.
And with each new generation of leaders has come a new club. Equipo del Corazon means "team of the heart" and perhaps it is a link to the sometimes fickle matters of the heart that explains why the name fits so well.
EDC's roots go back to 1991 when Ryan Littlefield, Greg Jex (both now with Rocky Mountain Cycling Club, Ryan as elite racer and Team Einstein's Manager), and Craig Thomas decided to form a small club based from Contender Bicycles, a shop in Sandy where Ryan still spends some work time. At the time they came up with "Equipo Del Corazon," the USCF charged higher race fees for riders without a club affiliation and the first year of this club of convenience saw no more than 10 jerseys made up.
The next year, Mike Taggert of Chums, decided to get into cycling as a sponsor, an involvement that continues to this day through Chums' links with EDC and the title sponsorship of the "Chums Classic," once the Tour of St. George. EDC soon grew to include racers of all abilities, many of whom had begun to make an impression on the local race scene.
In 1992, Ryan moved to the newly formed Bagel Peddlers (now Rocky Mountain Cycling Club, see last month's cycling utah) and John Pos took over the leadership of EDC. The club expanded its mission from a base for racers to include explicit training and teaching sessions for cyclists new to the sport of bike racing. By 1995, however, after seeing many of their promising talent leave the sport or move to other clubs, the focus of EDC shifted again to an elite race team under the guidance of Joel Kath.
Last year saw another fundamental shift in EDC. And again, it was a new leader taking things in a different direction. Chuck Collins had been through most of the EDC evolution and decided it was his turn to place a stamp on the look, structure and fortunes of EDC. The EDC of today is Chuck's business and his passion, another relationship "del Corazon."
Most everyone in the bike scene in Utah knows Chuck. He has a dedication and love for cycling that has taken him into virtually all aspects of the sport and the business. And it is his concept of the business side of the sport that makes him perhaps the most enigmatic of the EDC leaders. Under Chuck Collins, EDC stopped being a bicycle club and is now his own small business.
The impact of this unique approach to community sports organization is not immediately apparent to the outsider. Being a member of EDC is much like any bicycle club. There are club rides, in fact the schedule contains something for every day of the week, ranging from easy family-style rides Friday night (the most popular) to intense interval sessions (the most important for new racers). Frequent regrouping and gentle mentoring are part of the EDC credo, as is a firm commitment to developing new talent.
There are annual dues to join EDC, $35 for basic membership, $85 with a jersey, and currently some 75 riders belong to EDC. All their events are open to any interested cyclists.
EDC has a broad range of sponsors, with a special emphasis on bicycle shops, which belong to a "dealer network." As Chuck describes it, "Ultimately, I selected the sponsors based on their potential economic synergy in respect to their products and services and their potential to service the cycling and outdoor community. It is important that the sponsors compliment each other's economic interests." The dealer network shops include mainly Trek and LeMond/Gary Fisher dealers such as Wild Rose, Guthrie Bicycles, Bike Board Blade, Fisher's Cyclery, the Highlander, all in the Salt Lake area, Broken Spoke in Orem, Gourmet Bicycles in Provo, CycleMania in Centerville, and BikeLine in Layton.
The title sponsor for EDC is Bruegger's Bagels, while Chums has remained a loyal supporter. Through Bruegger's comes a connection with Greg LeMond (a part owner of the company) and the great one himself makes annual visits to the area and to EDC. Other sponsors include the Salt Lake Brewing Company (Squatter's), Smith Sport Optics, Salsa, Vredestein Tyres, Scott, Powerfoods Inc, JTV Productions, AllBee-Green, and Neways.
Active participation within EDC is broader than in many race-oriented clubs and while 60 percent of riders take out a USCF license, half of those are at the category 5 (beginner) level. There is plenty of room for recreational cyclists of all ages. A special area of emphasis is with younger riders, reflected in the recent creation of an "Espoire" (aged 19-21) race team that races locally and regionally. Each member of this team will, in turn, be expected to serve as mentor for another young rider in order to encourage leadership and responsibility and establish continuity of the racing talent. All members enjoy a benefits package of discounts and purchasing incentives through the sponsors.
EDC established a novel relationship last year with the Bonneville Bicycle Touring Club, the state's largest bicycle organization (and the subject of next month's article). This way, riders who wish to move from touring to racing find an easy path, and likewise, EDC members who wish to experience touring can find plentiful opportunities.
The EDC emphasis on youth development is reflected in events like the Junior Training Clinic, held earlier this season, and the state's first Lance Armstrong Junior Olympic program race on May 31. This event will be one of a series conducted all over the country under the auspices and sponsorship of Lance Armstrong. The aim is to encourage riders under 19 years of age to try bicycle racing.
EDC organizes bicycle races and events around the state. Every USCF club is required to promote at least one sanctioned event, but EDC does more than its share, including the East Canyon Pedal Cup (May 3), the Lance Armstrong series race (May 31), the 1997 Utah State Criterium Championships (June 1), the Neways Stage Race (July 4-5), an organized Metric Century (August), and the season's final bicycle event, the Leaf Raker (Oct. 5), all planned for this season.
Mountain bikers will find at least some tentative events through EDC, much as other area clubs are beginning to offer. Despite the overwhelming predominance of mountain bikers in the Utah, most clubs have enjoyed only lukewarm responses to such events and experimenting is the order of the day. EDC will try a few weekend trips and a weekly local ride and then gauge the level of interest, with a mountain version of the Leaf Raker on the drawing board. (A message to the dirt gang: if you want group activities to exist, you have to show up and support them! More on this topic in a future article.)
Now all this may seem like fairly typical offerings for a road bike club. So what is it about the EDC of today that makes it different from other clubs? The differences lie in the approach Chuck has taken to his organization. EDC is not a club in the traditional sense, it is a franchise business. As he describes it, "I approach EDC as a marketing vehicle for our outdoor community. EDC is part of a service oriented consumer group." Already, EDC is not a single club, but consists of two separate organizations, one in Salt Lake City and the other in Utah County; each caters to the needs of their portion of the state and adjusts rides, activities and programs to reflect local needs.
Underlying the business philosophy of EDC is the belief that volunteer-based advocacy groups are, in the long term, non-sustainable while a business approach can persist over time. According to this theory, by providing the services of interest to cyclists, EDC can attract enough "patrons" -- they are not members in the accepted sense -- to cover the expenses and perhaps eventually salaries for those doing the organizational work. Sponsoring businesses should see some tangible return on their invested support, in the form of increased business or exposure. Then they, too, will maintain long term relationships with the organization. That's the theory.
From the perspective of a member, the differences may be welcome. There might eventually be fewer appeals for assistance, for volunteers, and especially for people willing to take the leadership responsibility. The CEO of the franchise has those responsibilities and the patrons can enjoy the benefits of the organization. In practice, EDC, like all clubs, needs volunteer assistance from its participants and the viability of such a business is anything but proven. In fact, Chuck fights, just as all club organizers do, to maintain an acceptable level of service on the one hand while obtaining enough assistance from members on the other. Too many applications in the mail can overwhelm a sometimes fragile infrastructure so that, whether volunteer president or franchise owner, the job becomes intolerable.
EDC patrons seem to enjoy the atmosphere Chuck has created, and relationships between cyclists have flourished. Describing the twofold problem of Utah's transient population and the reputation of road riders as something between introverted social misfits and aggressively unfriendly elitists, Chuck says, "EDC is a very friendly environment. Sometimes I joke about starting a dating service. It's difficult to meet new people. With all the new people moving to Utah because of Utah's prosperity, people are looking for new friends. Simple as that. Race clubs tend to be elitist to others because they are content with their social structure."
Never content with old social structures, EDC, with Chuck Collins firmly at the helm, is moving toward the new century with a radical approach to organized fun. And there is space for at least a few more "patrons," so go check out a few rides and learn firsthand about Chuck's unique views on cycling, bike racing, training, marketing, the bike business, cycling advocacy, international affairs, world peace.....
The best way to connect with EDC is either via their excellent web page at http://www.redrocks.com/edc/ (several local clubs have web sites linked to www.redrocks.com), via email ([email protected] pfi.com), or by phone (801) 582-8332.
Despite having been preceded by a week of stormy, wintry weather, April 12 dawned crisp, cool and clear for Bonneville Bicycle Touring Club's (BBTC) Antelope Island Buffalo Bike Tour.
I had been excited about this 30-mile ride around Antelope Island, a somewhat barren but ecologically fascinating desert island in the Great Salt Lake, since Jon Smith, BBTC president, had told me about it.
I had mountain-biked on Antelope Island's east shore before. But for this event, BBTC had arranged with Ranger Rick Reid to ride the perimeter of the island. This allowed riders a one-time opportunity to bike areas that are off-limits the rest of the year.
This type of early season event is a chance to test one's level of fitness (or lack thereof) while spending an enjoyable day with friends. So, I signed up some of my best friends: My wife, Karma, and my children who could go, Rachel and K.C. I also talked my good friends, Dr. Rick Wallin and his wife, Katherine, and Rachel's friend, Jeff Watts, into coming.
Rousing my children out of bed early on a Saturday is no small task. But we managed to be at Antelope Island and ready to ride, along with 150 other people, by the 9 a.m. start.
From the start, the trail moved along easily for a couple of miles. Then, the climbing started, and the group quickly split apart. At this point, we found out just how unfit most of us were. We did not constitute a group of serious mountain bikers, with a lot of training time. In fact, it was nearly the first time on the bike this year for everyone in my group except me.
As we reached the turn-off for the 9-mile ride option, the steep climb claimed our first victim. My wife, Karma, was battling a serious asthma attack. So, it was back to the car for a serious day of reading, relaxing and sleeping.
Meanwhile, I thought my son, K.C., whose "rigorous" training schedule had not quite prepared him for this ride, much less any climbing, and who was sporting a full arm cast as a result of a broken arm, would follow suit. However, he wanted to push on (literally) and at least do the 14-mile option.
So, we went on up the hill. After cresting the top of this first climb, I stopped and watched as K.C. pushed his bike up to me. At this point, the trail again splits, with those opting for the 14-mile ride heading out to Elephant Head point. Both K.C. and Rachel were considering this option, but after some pointed questions about how much climbing was left, surprised me by deciding to press on for the full 30 miles.
It seems they have been blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) with my stubborn determination to accomplish what I set out to do, even when it appears I have bitten off more than I can chew. As I told them, it is not a question of whether you can do it, but only how long it takes. And we did have all day, most of which we ultimately needed.
So, decision made, we headed on down the road toward the shoreline. On this descent, we came across the first, and I believe only, accident victim, a man who had fallen and broken his collarbone.
After several miles, we caught up with Jeff, Rick and Katherine, who had waited for us at the first "hike-a-bike" on the trail, a rocky knoll stretching into the lake. After carrying our bikes up the short climb, we stopped for our first snack, and watched as two horseback riders rode up the trail to where we were. As I told the horsemen, they were the only ones to make it to the top of this section without having to dismount.
Have you ever had a stupidly embarrassing moment? Well, I now experienced one of those. Everyone had left, and I waited and talked with the horsemen a few minutes to give my companions time to move on ahead.
Then, I clipped into my pedals and slowly started to roll around the corner. While still in full view of the horsemen, I came upon several large rocks wedged in the trail. Realizing I could not ride through them, I quickly unclipped my right foot. However, the bike simultaneously hit a rock and lurched to the left, and down I went.
I have done that a few times since riding clipless pedals: Unclipping on one side, only to discover I am tilting the other way, and the resulting fall is terribly embarrassing. The horsemen laughed with me, informing me they had experienced such falls on horseback. Hmmm . . . That was interesting.
Anyway, I got up, dusted myself off, remounted and rode off to catch my friends.
The terrain on the west side of the island is much more fun than that on the east side. It mostly follows a jeep trail, with a little single track mixed in. It rolls up and down, climbing moderately from the shore and descending back down to it.
As we approached the southern tip of Antelope Island, we came to the second hike-a-bike: an out-cropping requiring us to push our bikes around the outcropping's tip, and over sand and rounded rocks.
After rounding the outcropping, we saw the trail as it climbed, first gently and then steeply, about 3 miles up and over the island's backbone. It looked difficult, but you have the satisfaction of knowing that, once over the top, the climbing, except for a few rollers on the east side, is over for the day (or so we thought).
We rolled on for awhile to where the trail steepens, and people started to dismount and push their bikes. Determinedly, I dropped into my easiest gear, giving it all I had. The trail steepens again, rounds a small knoll, and I could tell that it leveled out as it curved around the knoll.
Churning the pedals over, I finally crested the steep pitch around the knoll . . . only to observe that I was only half-way to the top, with the steepest stretch yet to come.
I stopped to wait for my companions and took on some nourishment. It was perversely funny to watch people's expressions as they pushed their bikes around the knoll, only to see the same scene ahead that I had. K.C. dropped his head to his handlebars in despair. Rachel's face visibly sagged. Another person saw the scene, and resignedly muttered, "Ohhhh, man."
Nothing for it, but to push on ahead. I mounted and rode on, determined to ride to the top. It was a slow process of turning the pedals over, one at a time.
Just as I was nearing the steepest section, I blew. The trail steepened for one final stretch of twenty yards, and I had no leg strength left to push it over the top. For the first and only time of the day (except for the hike-a-bikes), I dismounted and pushed my bike this final, steep section to where the pitch lessened.
After shooting a few pictures of my buddies suffering up this part, we mounted and rode to the top where we rested for awhile and ate. After that, it was a fun downhill to the eastern shore and the Jones Ranch.
We filled up with water and chatted with "Ranger Rick" for awhile. Then, my friend Rick waved me on down to the farmhouse, to meet a French journalist visiting Utah. Rick and I had both spent two years in France, where we had met, and it was a treat to meet up with this French journalist on a desert island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake.
From there, it was northward along the rolling graded road. My recollection from my ride along here several years ago had dimmed, and Rachel, K.C. and Jeff were dismayed to realize I had inadvertently misled them. As they rounded a corner at the north end of the island, an unanticipated half-mile long climb loomed ahead.
At this point, Rachel decided Ranger Rick's pickup looked more inviting, and opted to join Katherine for a lift to the top of the ridge where they disembarked and rode the final descent to the parking lot.
Rick and I rode to the top of that climb, and discovered there was still one final climb left to the top of the ridge. Rick went on up and over, while I waited for Jeff and K.C. I kept thinking that K.C., who probably had the poorest fitness of us all, would finally opt for a lift.
I discovered, however, that he was determined to do the entire ride, either riding or pushing the bike, so he had "bragging rights" with John McConnell, president of the Utah Mountain Bike Association, and one of K.C.'s teacher's at Riverside Junior High School.
At the base of the final ascent, Jeff, who was probably the most fit of us all, finally opted for Ranger Rick's pick-up, having totally bonked because he had not eaten enough.
Meanwhile, K.C., who believes eating is one of life's great priorities, did not bonk, but pushed his bike up to the top of the ridge, mounted, and together we rode the last couple of miles to the car. I experienced one of those moments that a parent cherishes: Being satisfied and happy with the accomplishment of a child. K.C. had shown some real grit and determination this day, and I was proud to be finishing this ride with him.
Three of our group of seven, K.C., Rick and I, did the entire 30-mile loop. Katherine, Rachel and Jeff had pushed themselves hard, missing only the final climbs on the north end, and Karma was the victim of asthma, cutting her day short.
This was a great, early season ride. The company was the best I could pick, and we had a great time enjoying the barren scenery of Antelope Island as we rode and tested ourselves together.