Thursday, February 23, 2012

All Was Not Well In Zion

Last weekend my wife (Jackie) and I joined up with my brother in-law (Ben) and sister (Michelle) to head down to Zion National Park. Ben was gracious enough to drive us down there in his new Subaru Outback. It was nice to throw our mountain bikes on top and store all of our gear in the back. The four of us had plenty of room, which made the five hour drive more than bearable. We stayed right outside Zion's main gate in Springdale at Flanigan's Inn. Somehow we got lucky and only had to pay $175 for three nights. With that split between four people, it made for cheap lodging. Things always seem to be a little cheaper during the off-season. 

Ben and I loading up the bikes
On our first day down there the weather was perfect. Low 60's, clear skies, and lots of sun. We decided to head over to St. George. The girls longboarded on the pathway that connects Santa Clara to St. George, while Ben and I hopped on the bikes and did some laps on the Bear Claw Poppy Trail.

Michelle, Me, and Jackie

Me and Ben looking like gomers
The day was great. The trail was in excellent shape and it felt awesome to be mountain biking again. The girls had fun, even though Jackie took a spill on the longboard. She got going a little too fast for comfort and tried to bail, but didn't make it. She suffered a little road rash on her hand and elbow, but all in all she took it like a champ.

Everything went great until Jackie lost some skin to the pavement

 After spending an enjoyable day in St. George we headed back to Sprindale. That night things started to change for the worse. We went to a little italian restaurant. As we stood in line to place our order, we noticed that the nightly special was linguini and meatballs with a side salad for $11. It seemed like a good deal, and we were all famished. We waited in the line for almost twenty minutes to order the special when a waitress came out and put up the "out of meatballs" sign. I was devastated to say the least. Springdale must be a small enough town to not have enough meatballs to keep up with demand. We were all forced to order overpriced pasta dishes that were mediocre at best. What a bummer. I wish I could say that this was the worst, but the "out of meat balls" was only a precursor of what was to come.

The next morning we woke up to a winter wonder land. It was Sunday, and we had planned to hit up a local church and then spend the rest of day in Zion hiking and long boarding. We hoped for another beautiful day, but the current conditions threw a wrench in things. There were three to four inches of snow on the ground with more coming down. All we could do was head to church and hope that the storm would clear out and the snow melt. We had left our bikes locked on top of the Subaru overnight and they had been dumped on. Before we left for church Ben and I pulled down our bikes to clean them off and put them inside. As we were doing so he started the car to warm it up and defrost the windows. A few minutes later we all piled in to leave. As we pulled out, we noticed that the car was filled with smoke. At first we thought it was just exhaust, because the car had been running for a few minutes. We rolled down the windows but the smoke didn't clear out and it started to smell chemically. Smoke then started seeping from the vents in the dashboard and we knew something was definitely wrong. We quickly popped up the hood and found flames spitting from the windshield wiper motor. The snow made it easy to extinguish the fire, but the damage was already done.

The sight we woke up to

The carnage was bad, the photo doesn't do it any justice, but its all we have. 
The windshield wiper motor was faulty and started the fire. Heavy snow prevented the blades from returning all the way down, which caused the motor to overheat to the point of flames. Fortunately, for Ben's sake the motor was subject to a factory recall and covered under his warranty. Unfortunately, for us the the car couldn't be driven back home before being repaired. Long story short, the snow eventually melted and we were able to do what we wanted in Zion. The last day of our trip had to be wasted at the dealership and rental car place. Three of us drove a rental car home. Ben stayed behind a few extra days to wait for the car to be fixed. The car is now fixed and the warranty covered everything. In spite of misfortune, the trip was still epic and all is now well in Zion. 

We still had a good time

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Today being Valentine's day, my brothers and I decided we needed to celebrate the right way. A few days ago we heard about Snowbird holding a special on lift tickets in honor of the day of love. A bro date it was. They cut their price down to $40 a pop and made a special "singles" line at their Peruvian lift. The idea of the line was to pair single ladies and single guys for the ride up, giving them an opportunity for a speed date on the speed quad. Great idea, right? Not so much. Despite being creative, it turned out to be a flop. Whether it was because of the cold weather, or the fact it's a Tuesday, no one really showed up and the line went unused. The only opportunity of the day for a date would have been with a lovely lady of at least 60; which we gracefully declined. We weren't too disappointed, though. The upside to no one being there was a mountain to ourselves and no waiting at the bottom of the lift. All in all, it was another great day off at the Bird.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Living on a Bike

Could you ever live on your bike? I know I couldn't. My backside wouldn't allow me to do so. And plus, it would be so stressful. Some tasks would be a nightmare to perform while pedaling, but not for this Guillaume Blanchet fellow. He is a crazy French Canadian, who lives out his life while riding up and down the streets of Montreal. He is the man who lives on his bike. Watch his creative short, it is definitely unique.

Lance Armstrong Loves February 2012

AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco

February 2012 will be a month that Lance Armstrong will never forget. On February 3rd, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. announced that the Federal Government will close its high profile doping investigation on Armstrong. The seven-time Tour de France champion could have faced criminal charges had the case continued and ruled against him. But, without any explanation the case was dropped, as well as any affixed legal punishments. So, guilty or not, he is clear as far as the feds are concerned. Three days later, on February 6th, one of his arch-rivals, Alberto Contador, received a two year cycling ban (really six months) for testing positive for clenbuterol, a performance enhancing drug. As such, Contador was stripped of his 2010 Tour de France and 2011 Giro d'Italia victories. This was the guy who Lance couldn't beat when he made his Comeback 2.0. I'm sure he felt a little satisfaction in seeing one of his enemies get taken down. Then just this past weekend, on Sunday, Mr. Armstrong ended up taking second place in his first professional triathlon at a half Ironman in Panama. He barely lost in the final moments as Bevan Docherty, an olympic silver medalist, overtook him on the run to beat him by 31 seconds. In interviews after the race he indicated that he "played it conservative." I bet a few of the pro-triathletes feel embarrassed for losing to a conservative Armstrong in his pro-race debut. With over half the month still remaining, the feds off his back, his doping rival banned, and his first pro-podium finish in a tri, it will be interesting to see if his streak of good fortune will continue? 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Valentine's Speed Dating at Snow Bird

For all of you single skiers and riders, who are not looking forward to another Valentines Day alone, Snow Bird Ski Resort has your back. On the big day of love all day lift tickets will be discounted to $40, and they will set up a new variation of the singles line. Peruvian Express chairlift will have a special line for singles who are not in relationship to meet and speed date as they ride to the top. You never know, it may just be the perfect way to find your soulmate to shred pow with? Just remember that ugly and beautiful people all look the same while wearing goggles and a helmet.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My "Whiskey" Addiction
Perhaps the hardest part of overcoming an addiction is coming clean and admitting to people that you have a problem. Well, I have a problem, and it goes by the name of Whiskey Militia. It's a little gear website that throws up a new item every twenty minutes or so, priced so low, that you almost feel like your ripping yourself off if you don't buy it. Over the last year and a half I have lived on this site. I check it multiple times every day, and have set up a desktop alert to tell me when new items are up, in hopes of finding awesome steals on cool stuff. At first I thought that checking it often wasn't a big deal. It doesn't hurt to just look, right? Wrong. The more time I spent on Whiskey, the more money disappeared from my account. I discovered that purchases like a twenty dollar pair of sunglasses here (regularly $110), and seventeen dollars on shoes there, started to add up at an alarming rate. Although I was "saving" money on everything I bought, in all reality I wasn't. I began buying things I didn't even need, justifying it in my head by convincing myself that it was too good a deal to pass up. Nearly $500 later, a poor college student like me began to feel the affects of such an addiction. I realized that I needed to exercise self control, and stop spending; a great New Year's resolution. Regrettably, we are only thirty-eight days into the new year and the UPS man has made the walk up to my front door three separate times, marking me as a failure. The more I think about it though, failure is too strong a word. I don't need to quit Whiskey altogether, maybe just limit myself to become a once a month buyer; meaning I'm set until April. Whatever the case, I think its safe to say that the people at Whiskey Militia are doing their jobs well, and have a pretty killer website that is definitely worth checking out.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Cyclist Hating Cop

This winter hasn't been the greatest for skiing and snowboarding, but it has provided great days for cycling. Last Tuesday should have been one of those days. The sun was out, the skies were clear, and the temperature was unusually warm. I was able to make it out of work by mid afternoon, which left me with some free time to take the bike out. I also had new shoe covers that I wanted to test out. Everything seemed perfect up until a minute and a half into my ride. I was a block north of my house, climbing up a steep little hill, when I saw a cop pass by in the opposite lane.

Ten seconds later I heard a beeping sound from close behind. When I turned around, I saw the same cop with his lights on signaling me to pull over. I was few pedal strokes from the top, so I waited until I reached the top to stop. Before I was off my bike the officer was already out of his car and walking towards me. It was apparent by the strut of his stride and tone of his voice that the situation was not going to be a good one. Unluckily, this proved to be true. I received a ticket for running a four way stop in a residential area during the dead of afternoon. He saw me coast through the four way stop at the bottom of the hill. Even though I slowed down, looked both ways, and found the intersection completely empty, he thought it was serious enough to deserve a ticket.

Who gets pulled over and ticketed on a bike in residential area? Perhaps I could understand getting a ticket if it was rush hour traffic, on a main road, and I was making boneheaded moves? But this was quite the opposite. A warning was all that was needed for the officer to get his point across. But the opportunity for him to display his power and authority was too great and he couldn't help but throw the book at me. The whole situation was simply ridiculous and its making me mad just writing about it. To keep my blood from boiling, I will add two more quick cents and be done.

1. The cop is simply a cyclist hater. He goes out of his way to prey on those who pedal. I googled his name along with his police department and found that he has a history of ticketing cyclists. He's had a legal battle with a cyclist who took him to court to fight over a ticket.

2. All I can do is have pity for this poor policeman. The guy must have never have been able to ride without training wheels as a kid, and now has a deep hatred for those who did learn to ride on two wheels. As such He will never experience the enjoyment and fulfillment that come cycling.