01.2.2007 | 10:00 pm

Yesterday — New Year’s Day — a dozen or so of us celebrated our lack of hangovers by going on a little mountain bike ride.

And by “little,” I mean a 4.3 mile trail.

With 1700 feet of elevation gain.

On semi-packed snow.

On — for many of us — singlespeeds.

I’m happy to report that I had a great time, and that I felt like I was going to throw up for most of the climb.

Oooh, Graphs!
As any accountant will tell you, nothing is as exciting as a good chart. So, using my upload from this ride to MotionBased (click here to get more detailed information on this ride), take a gander at what the distance to elevation profile looks like:

That’s kind of steepish, isn’t it? And so what did my heart rate look like during this ride? This:

Yeah, I spent an hour in the 170s.

With That Kind of Intensity, You Can Bet I Was First
I’m quite proud of the sustained effort I made pedaling through soft snow on a singlespeed mountain bike for 4.3 miles. So, as you could imagine, I was the first person to the top of the hill.

Or, it’s possible that I was one of the very last. As it turns out, that kind of effort doesn’t pay all that great of dividends when you’re thirty pounds over racing weight.

Still, to my pleasure, I didn’t get off the bike and push at all until the final third of a mile, where the road stops being merely steep and becomes ridiculous. I walked most of that (that’s where you see the dip in my heart rate in the chart above).

Pleased to get to the top, I asked frequent commenter Sans Auto — whom I briefly chatted with during the climb for the first tenth of a mile before he got bored and rode away — how he did. “You were first, right?”


“Well, who was faster than you?”

“Everyone but you.”

Thanks, Sans Auto. Please enjoy your demerit, which I hereby now issue to you.

Rest at the Top
Even when it’s freezing cold (and it was), a full-tilt ride on an intense climb warms you up. So I was plenty sweaty at the top. This sweat quickly evaporated and formed a nice dew – then ice – on my forehead, which you can kind of see here (note how nice the pictures from my new combo camcorder/camera turned out):

Within a couple tenths of a second, that sweat/steam/condensation all turns your carefully chosen wicking layers into the clammiest, coldest, teeth-chatteringest ensemble in the world.

And yet, we posed for a group photo. Gotta document the madness, right?

The Real Reason We’re Here
Of course, all that riding up means we got to now slalom our way down a steep, slick, snowy mountain road with dozens of switchbacks.

Yee ha!

I got everyone to wait for a moment while I rode down to the first turn, so I could film the wacky action.


OK, maybe I should have put the word “wacky” in quotes. Everyone was being kind of timid.

Except me.

I’m serious. I was an aggressive nutball downhilling on the snow. I was faster than anyone, and that’s a first. I was passing people left and right, my butt hanging over the rear tire and my fingers only in the general vicinity of the brake levers.

It was glorious.

Kenny Picks Up a Souvenir
It was about the time that I caught up with Kenny, in fact, that he turfed it. Turfed it real good. I pulled up and asked him if he was OK and he said, “I popped a finger out of its socket.”

You know, I didn’t even know fingers have sockets. Do fingers have sockets?

Anyway, Kenny’s finger was sticking up at a freaky angle. He gave it a tug and it went back to where it belongs, mostly. And that was the last time during the ride Kenny mentioned it (if it had happened to me, I would have made it the central event of the whole ride, always finding a way to bring the conversation back to my royally screwed-up finger).

I asked Kenny to send me a picture of how that finger’s doing today. Here’s what it looks like:


I Do Some Acrobatics
Elated in my newfound ability to fly on the downhill, I caught and passed Rick Maddox, which I have never ever done before.

Seriously, not even once.

Maybe that was the problem.

Right about the time Rick could get a good view of my back, I got stuck in a rut, hit a bump, nearly corrected, hit another bump, and flew over the front of my bike.

Rick assures me that I was screaming before I ever hit the ground.

The nice thing about a crash in the snow is it (unless you bend a finger back or some fool thing) softens your fall. So, in spite of the endo flip I had just executed at speed, landing on my back, all I did was get the wind knocked out of me.

You know, getting the wind knocked out of you is a scary feeling. You can’t breathe. And the part of you that draws clear lines between good and bad thinks not breathing is really, really bad. So it sends a jolt of panic into your skull.

Then the rational part of you tries to shut it down. “No, this has happened before. You’ll be OK in a moment.”

You’ll be dead from not being able to breathe in a moment,” the not-so-rational part of you retorts, and makes you flop around like a fish, croaking out, “I…can’t…breathe!”

It was while I was doing this that everyone caught up to me and stopped to watch the show.

Sure enough, I was able to breathe again in a moment, at which point I became acutely aware of how funny I looked. I had a choice: I could try to rescue my dignity, or I could take things a little further.

“This was Rick’s fault!” I yelled.

“Wha?” replied Rick.

“Rick threw an elbow as I passed him! He forced me off the road and kidney punched me!”

“I had nothing to do with it,” said Rick, the very voice of reason.

“You did too! You forced me off my bike and then punched me in the nose, kicked me in the solar plexus, and tweaked my ear!

And then I got up and we started riding again.

Cold cold cold cold cold
Ironically, as you leave the snow in the final mile of the climb and hit the dry pavement, you get much, much colder. This is because you can start going road speeds again. Instead of tooling downhill at 18mph, you’re up to 35mph, creating a windchill that is technically a little bit colder than absolute zero.

This was, in short, the best New Year’s Day I have ever had.


  1. Comment by Ricky | 01.2.2007 | 11:32 pm

    First, let me set things straight. Elden, your brain must have been iced—I couldn’t and didn’t tweak your ear. Oh I tried, but your lobe was frozen to your neck and I couldn’t find the handle. By then, the others slid up, er down, and I quickly switched from punching to petting. Remember, I was laughing with you, not at you.

    Second, great idea, Kenny. I had a (frozen) ball. I’m already planning next year’s strategy, which will undoubtedly include more Egg Nog and wool.

    Finally, Elden, thanks for screaming for me. It made me realize how badly I miss your wrecking noises.

  2. Comment by Born4Lycra | 01.3.2007 | 2:41 am

    Great advert for the camcorder. Did it get mounted on your helmet – looks like there will be some good action to go with the stories in 07. How about some names to go with the group photo? Oh yes what’s all the white stuff?

  3. Comment by KatieA | 01.3.2007 | 2:43 am

    Kenny – nice work, my finger also bends backwards – I’d get the ligaments checked out, otherwise that finger will be permanently larger than every other finger and bend in the the wrong direction. Good news, huh!! :)

    Fatty – nice stack, and good shift of the blame. Much better than whinging about it – just blame it on someone else!

    On the plus side, I now realise that I will have to get a lot more insane to win this whole B7 arrangement… But it’s summer here and I have no snow. Hey, Big Mike in Oz – what can we do in summer that is as stupid as this??

  4. Comment by Born4Lycra | 01.3.2007 | 3:34 am

    Well KatieA it’s not big Mike but how about riding stage 3 of the tour down under in 40 deg C heat like we did last year when it was called the BeActive Tour. It was 36 deg C at 7.00am for the start and it just got hotter. 2500 cyclists in varying degrees of heat stress all wandering through the Oz bush for 150km with over a 100 pro cyclists coming up on them fast. Some people were still on the road 9 hours after it started determined to finish and they did.
    They are expecting over 3000 riders this year and they’ve renamed it the Challenge. Should be good for a laugh!

  5. Comment by Al Maviva | 01.3.2007 | 6:34 am

    What’s this with graphs and stuff to chart out elevation, heartrate, baromtric pressure and variations in the spot market for Earl Grey in China, all on a simple 4 mile mountain bike ride? What, no Powertap figures to further document your obsession with your own stinkitude? Really, isn’t this all a bit of technological overkill for a spud who appears to be climbing better than Billy McCrary, but not as well as Benny McCrary? At a certain point, a man’s depraved, marshmallow-like roundness needs no technical documentation. We can hear your lycra creaking under the strain from here, Elden. No more charts.

    Except for your jowls. I’d like to see the elevation profile on them. You should think about growing sideburns on those things, and joining an 1840’s vintage New York street gang.

  6. Comment by DP Cowboy | 01.3.2007 | 6:34 am

    Is that far from Colorado Springs?…Looks like the area near Pikes Peak. I don’t remember much, because I chickened out and went back to the (warm) hotel room.
    I stand humbled. Looked like awesome fuin. I will never complain about the cold again.

  7. Comment by barry1021 | 01.3.2007 | 6:40 am

    If I tried a ride that required 170 ish HR for an hour, about ten minutes in my chart would look like this:



  8. Comment by dru | 01.3.2007 | 6:50 am

    fatty…why did you only record the ascent? ‘twould be interesting to see the dh data as well.

  9. Comment by Gary | 01.3.2007 | 7:21 am

    It was a great ride – at least the part I made it up. My son and I were the ones in the red truck that parked across the street. Everyone blew past us pretty well on the way up. Going up I kept hitting ruts and getting stopped, then it was impossible to get started again.

    As we approached the top we saw everyone coming back down. You and I think it was Kenny then crashed right in front of me.

    Great fun – one of the best rides I’ve been on.

  10. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 01.3.2007 | 8:23 am

    I’m sorry I missed it, although given that you were the slowest climber on the ride and you are faster than me, by skipping the ride I saved myself a lot of pain.

  11. Comment by Rick S. | 01.3.2007 | 8:35 am

    I’m guessing the helmet cam would have been frozen and iced up on that ride but it would have been cool to see some of the many crashes on the DH.
    Maybe next year Kenny or Brad could haul up a propane heater in a burley for us?

  12. Comment by bikemike | 01.3.2007 | 1:09 pm

    hey, can we see the data in pie chart formation? as we all know pie…uh…char…ummm..key lime wait…apple pie…uhh, gotta go.

  13. Comment by fatty | 01.3.2007 | 1:11 pm

    gary / geekcyclist – you should have pointed out who you are! i assumed you were one of the people kenny brought along, and that i was therefore supposed to already recognize you and therefore didn’t introduce myself. glad you came along, and glad you had fun.

    botched – i doubt i’m faster than you right now.

    dru – i only recorded the ascent because i paused the gps when i got to the top and then forgot about it. you’re right, it would have been cool to see the difference in time / hr on the descent.

    dp cowboy – squaw peak is in provo canyon in provo, ut. very close to bridal veil falls, which is a popular ice climbing destination in the winter (i have never tried ice climbing, though it looks pretty darn cool). it’s right on the provo river, which is well known (regionally at least) for its great fly fishing. this place has something for everyone who loves the outdoors, i tell ya.

    al – should i know who the mcrary’s are, or was that just a random name you picked out? i want to understand every little delicious nuanced morsel of the insult.

    ricky – i’d be more inclined to believe you if you hadn’t gone and done the exact same thing the very next day. you’re just mean.

  14. Comment by Stan | 01.3.2007 | 1:57 pm

    Heh. That sounds awful. I swore off riding in snow years ago when I moved to California.

  15. Comment by MTB W | 01.3.2007 | 2:18 pm

    Man, I am definitely a summer baby. Just watching that video made me appreciate being inside a heated house! Hats off to all of you who made that cold ride.

    As a side note, I like the charts. Cool to see after a ride and can use it later for comparison. Must be my inner geek. I think a hospital ride would have been next for me if I did a ride in the 170s for an hour!

  16. Comment by The Weak Link | 01.3.2007 | 3:23 pm

    Having a good heart rate monitor is crucial, even for “short” rides.

    I always keep an eye on the little heart symbol that is flashing on the monitor. No matter how spasmotic it is going, I don’t sweat it. It’s when it stops flashing that I get a little nervous.

    If the heart rate monitor stops flashing, you got about five seconds to look for a soft place to crash, to recall your entire life (at least the good parts), and make peace with your Maker, Ma Gaia, Pappa Darwin, or whoever is footing the bill for the entire thing.

  17. Comment by Juniorsprinter | 01.3.2007 | 4:37 pm

    One of the best rides i’ve ever been on. Me and My dad had a great time. Very steep, hard climb, but it was still fun.

  18. Comment by sans auto | 01.3.2007 | 9:15 pm

    Although I don’t know the consequences of a demerit, I’m sorry, it was what came to mind when you asked the question… Really I was looking to save as much face as possible for humiliating myself with my terrible descending skills. Thanks for not mentioning that, you’re a better man than I. Oh, and thanks for taking your time putting your bike on the rack so the parking lot wasn’t completely empty by the time I reached the bottom.

  19. Comment by Rocky | 01.4.2007 | 12:57 am

    You sick, twisted little men. Knitting? Armchair quarterbacking? Canasta? Geez, boys, get a hobby.

  20. Comment by rick | 01.4.2007 | 4:52 am

    I know you’ve heard this before but dude, your helmet is on wrong.

  21. Comment by dru | 01.4.2007 | 5:07 am

    how how is your max hr? i did a spinning class this morning and hit 203. i kept waiting for the blood to start streaming out of my ears. i’ve gotten as high as 212 before. not good. my resting hr is 60 so i’m wondering why it spikes so high during hard efforts.

  22. Comment by sans auto | 01.4.2007 | 7:53 am

    You asked, so here it goes. Your heart rate increases to get blood to muscles (you knew that). Additionally, to adjust blood flow to muscles your body will adjust stroke volume, or the amount of blood leaving the heart. As your intensity increases your stroke volume and heart rate increase simultaneously until you reach your max stroke volume well before your VO2 max. Your heart rate will continue to increase until it hits its max. Now there are other things that will influence your heart rate. Heat and dehydration are two biggies (of especial importance during a spinning class where your ability to dissipate heat is limited and you sweat alot). So when you lose large amounts of sweat, your plasma volume (amount of stuff other than red blood cells in the blood) decreases, leaving the blood more viscous. Frankly, this shouldn’t be a problem in a spinning class because it is too short. If you start a spinning class properly hydrated, you won’t lose enough sweat in 1-2 hours to make a significant difference in your blood viscosity. The temperature in the room and and impaired ability to use evaporation to dissipate heat will lead to increased blood flow to the skin (and therefore less to the muscles). The heart will therefore compensate by increasing the HR because SV is already at its max. So if you really want to find a “max HR” you should exercise dehydrated in a hot environment with no air circulation. That’s not a good idea, don’t do it… but that is why HR will sometimes spike higher than other times.

  23. Comment by dug | 01.4.2007 | 8:58 am

    sans, i just learned more than i learned in all those years of college. “lots of people go to college for 7 years.” “yeah, they’re called doctors.”

  24. Comment by 2Skeered | 01.4.2007 | 10:26 am

    Dug–either that or BYU English or Psych majors…

  25. Comment by dru | 01.4.2007 | 10:45 am

    very interesting! thanks a bunch. i always wondered why it was so much higher than at the same perceived effort during a ride outside.

  26. Comment by Tim D | 01.4.2007 | 11:58 am

    I always put the higher heart rate in spinning class down to watching the sweaty hot chick leading the class.

    Oh God, I’ve started channeling Al!

  27. Comment by SYJ | 01.4.2007 | 1:33 pm

    Awesome post, as usual.

    I must admit, however, that I’m a bit concerned. In looking at your motion based reports, I couldn’t help but notice that you hit a speed of 106.9 mph on the ‘Dirt Alpine Loop’. Fatty, dear Fatty, don’t you know that such speeds are simply unsafe. I hope that you are more careful on your next ride, and that you avoid such absurd velocities.


  28. Comment by ScruffySpokes | 01.4.2007 | 1:47 pm

    The only thing that could be better than graphs would be a 100 slide powerpoint presentation uploaded to illustrate every spin and rut on your ride.
    Looks like a cubic butt ton of fun though, wish it’d snow here so I could give that a go.

  29. Comment by Greg | 01.5.2007 | 3:53 am

    Wow, we never get snow in Sydney…I didn’t know you can ride on snow!

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  32. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Hey, Let’s Go On A Ride | 12.30.2007 | 9:58 pm

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