Sunday, June 23, 2013

Snow Biking the White Rim in a Night

An Epic Night Ride

One of the classic rides in Moab, the mountain biking capitol of the world, is the White Rim in Canyonlands. A lot of people will do this as a three or four day biking/camping trip, but the ambitious will do it in one day.

To minimize the amount of time I am away from my store we decided to do the trip in one night. According to the Park officials this is the first time it has been done as a one night ride. June 21-22 2013 was the perfect alignment of the stars, or well, actually of the sun, earth, and moon. June 21 is the summer solstice, a full moon, and what they call a super moon, the brightest full moon of the year. Add in perfect weather and it made a perfect night to ride the White Rim.
The route - we rode in the counterclockwise direction.

We started the ride at 6 pm on Friday evening. A lot of people claim that the best way to do the White Rim is to go clockwise. However I have done this clockwise and counterclockwise several times and counterclockwise is by far the better way to do it.

For an unsupported ride I prefer to start at the bottom on Shafer's Road and start out with the biggest climb. Leaving a cache of food and water at Mineral Bottom Road reduces the amount of weight you have to carry up the cliff, and lets you have enough supplies to complete the journey. However we had a vehicle following us this time so we started at Mineral Bottom Road.

Mormon Tea
Mineral Bottom Road is great, that is if going counterclockwise, it sucks when going clockwise. As I start the ride I am amazed by the beautiful high contrast of the bright green of Momon Tea and grasses, and the red rocks and dirt. This always amazes me, even though I see it all the time. So, we bomb down the road, me on my snow bike and my son on his mountain bike. I've decided to call it my snow bike, and not a fat bike, because even though it is over 90°F and there is no snow around, this is my South Pole expedition training bike, and in Antarctica all I will see for days is snow and ice.

Mineral Bottom
Anyway, the snow bike does great on the dirt, yeah I'm not quite as fast as my son on his mountain bike, and I'm a lot slower on the climbs, but I'm having a great time. We drop down into Mineral Bottom and at the fork in the road turn around for a look. When going the other direction and coming to this fork you want to believe you should go left, because the right direction looks like it dead ends into the cliff.

From here to the White Crack turn off there are numerous stretches of sand. Usually when doing the White Rim I'll hit one of these sandy stretches at high speed resulting is a great wreck. However the fat tires cruise over the sand with ease. There is a sandy dry river crossing that I have always gotten stuck in with a mountain bike, but the fat tires float nicely over the san. In the sandy sections I pass my son as the snow bike feels like it is at home, and my son's mountain bike is having a hard time sinking into the sand and he has difficulty riding in a straight path.

As is normal, the north side of the Hard Scrabble hill is sandy, and my son gets stuck trying to make it up the sandy climb. Once again the snow bike excels, and while it is hard aerobically to make the climb, the added traction and float makes the climb easier.

When we get to the Potato Bottom campgrounds we find some friends from Eagle Mountain sitting around camp. Somehow it seems that every time I do the White Rim someone else I know is also doing the ride. Anyway we talk to them for a while, refill our water and continue on.

Now is when the fun begins. The sun has gone down and the moon and stars start to dominate the sky. Not a lot of stars because the moon is so bright. I look to my left and there is a shadow of a guy on a bike cast by the light of the moon following me wherever I go. We took lights and a bunch of backup batteries with us so we could have enough light to last the night. However the moonlight was so bright we just continued biking by the light of the moon.

We had a lot of people question why we would do the White Rim at night, after all one of the biggest reasons for doing the White Rim is the amazing scenery. But, with the brightness of the moon we were able to see the scenery in a whole new light. It was every bit, and more, amazing than we thought it would be. It is just one of those things that words can not describe and camera can not capture, you just need to do it yourself to understand.

We climbed to the top of Murphy's Hogback where we needed to wait for the truck to get a resupply of water. The view from the top of the landscape below is spectacular, and even more so by the light of the moon. Eventually we find lights moving across the land. We will be here for a while. The nice thing about using a rock as a bed... no matter how much Myron wiggles it doesn't shake the bed and wake me up. The bad thing... every time I'm about to fall asleep a lizard walks across me. Oh well, a couple of hours later the truck and other bikers show up, we eat, drink and fill up with enough supplies to finish the ride.

The snow bike was great until after White Crack where the really sandy stuff is replaced with a lot of rough rocky sections. At this point the ridged fork and hardtail start to beat me up. I had my mountain bike on the truck and it was very tempting to wait for the truck and trade bikes, but I had made it this far and was determined to finish out on the snow bike if at all possible. It turned out it was possible but my shoulders and rear end took quite a beating in the process.

We were able to do the ride with no lights until about 4 am, at which time the moon was so low that the shadows from the Island in the Sky made it too dark for my old man eyes to continue without lights. So we finally turned on our lights. However by 5:09 am the light from the upcoming sunrise was enough to go back to riding with no lights. So, we were able to do the whole ride with less than an hour and half of lights.

It was a great ride. Worth doing at night, and worth doing with a snow bike.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Perigee Full Moon

A view from Hard Scrabble on the White Rim Trail

Once in a Blue Moon

Since I work 12 to 16 hours a day 6 days a week, it is hard to get out and do a long bike ride, especially one that isn't close to home. We wanted to do the White Rim, and I was trying to figure out how I can do this and not be gone from the store for 2 days. And so we decided to try and do a night ride during a full moon. August 2012 had two full moons, the second full moon commonly called a blue moon. So we planned on doing a once in a blue moon ride of the White Rim Trail in a night. Well, sometimes things do work out like you want and we didn't do the night ride last year.

Here is the GPS data from an White Rim in a day unsupported, unaided trip we did a few years ago.

Fast forward to 2013

We have now been planing on doing this White Rim in a night for about a year. I was worried I wouldn't be able to do it and keep the store open on the critical weekend, but Greg and Mike are stepping up and are covering for me so we can do the trip.

The cool thing is that June 21 is the Summer Solstice and June 22 is the full moon. Not only is it a full moon, it is the perigee full moon, meaning the moon is at its closest to the earth it will get in 2013. So we get a bigger, brighter full moon and the shortest night of the year, making this a great time to do the White Rim Trail in a night.

From the first time I did the White Rim in a day, 2004

A First

Jake called to secure the permits to do the White Rim trail and the National Park ranger told him he thought this was a great idea and said that nobody had done this before. It is possible that someone has done it and didn't get the required permit, or they got the permit and the park ranger just doesn't know about it, but it is also possible that this will be the first anyone has done the White Rim in one night.

Dawn at the tip of White Crack at Canyonlands National Park 
© jaovandelagemaat All rights reserved.

Fat Bike

Hey, there is a lot of sandy sections on this ride, and 100 miles on a fat bike would be a great training ride. So, the plan is to start riding at 6pm on a fat bike and ride the White Rim trail in a counter-clockwise direction and hopefully finish by 6am, so I can get back to the store and only miss Friday evening and the first couple of hours Saturday morning. I figure by Saturday night I will be more than ready to get some sleep! 

Monday, June 17, 2013

South: Bottom of Map

The South Pole Epic was mentioned in the Bike Snob NYC blog. In his blog he talks about the South Pole being at the bottom of the world in unflattering terms. But why is the South Pole at the bottom of globes and maps?
The world with Antarctica at the top of the world

East is Up

By convention maps are made with north at the top. But this wasn't always the case. In the middle ages east was often at the top of the map. The sun rises in the east so it made sense to put east at the top.
Hereford Mappa Mundi, a map with east at top

West is Up

For some reason when I would draw maps for streets in Utah I would often end up with west at the top of the map. This would confuse people, so I try and remember to draw maps with north at the top, but my mind thinks of the local area with west at the top.

North is Up

The Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy is credited with making north the top of maps by convention. It makes sense because in the northern hemisphere navigation was done using the North Star. Had the convention been established by someone from the southern hemisphere we would probably have south at the top of maps by convention.

South is Up

Having north up is very northern hemisphere egocentric. So there are some that like to make maps with south at the top. Continuing the northern hemisphere egocentricity they are called reversed maps, or upside down maps.

0º is Up

Having north at the top is a good convention because you can pick up a map and instantly understand what you are looking at. However when looking at a map of Antarctica north at the top doesn't work so well. Usually Antarctic maps are polar projection (azimuthal equidistant projection) with 0º longitude being at the top. In this case the South Pole is in the middle of the map.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Story Comments

AP did a story about my expedition. It is great to see more and more people getting excited about this expedition. However, there are a few things in the story that I would like to comment on.


I am extremely grateful to EnergySolutions for their generous donation, and to be able to list them as a sponsor for my expedition. It is awesome to have such a great company willing to help me out. 

I Mix Up Dates

The year is almost half over, yet I still have to remind myself that it is 2013 and not 2012. On Friday I finished up my video of the Tickville Gulch and Jake the Snake trails. I was in the process of uploading the video when my son told me that the copyright notice said 2014. Changing that to 2013 made it so the video had to be re-rendered and up loaded taking a couple extra hours.  
Anyway, the Australian team and the Spaniard have said they are doing the expedition this year, 2013.

My income

As a computer programmer for WordPerfect and Novell I was paid well. One year my income, including stock options, patent bonuses, and other bonuses, did approached $500,000. However, my normal income was much less than that. Because of the good income I had as a programmer, I was able to be debt free and have a decent savings. 

I have used that savings to open up a bike store, Epic Biking. I have since had to take a loan on my home, and my families lives an extremely frugal lifestyle in order to keep the store going. The story says the store operates more as a charity than as a business. I do consider my second career as a bike shop owner as a give back to the community career, but I am trying to run the store as a business. There are a lot of times that I make decisions not based on profitability, but on my goal of using bikes to promote a healthy lifestyle. 

One of the main things I hope to accomplish with my South Pole expedition is to continue my efforts to improve the health of others. Not only do I think I can raise the awareness of biking with this expedition, but I also believe the expedition will help me promote my bike store. I also hope to be able to make money on the documentary, which will help fund my continuing efforts to get more people out on bikes. 

It has been hard for me to ask for donations, but I believe that it is a worthwhile cause.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tickville Gulch Entrance

This is just a short video of the entrance into the Tickville Gulch from this morning's training ride.

 We cut this trail in the side of the cliff using shovels and McLeods.

Here is the GPS route from the ride.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sponsor: Energy Solutions

I've added Energy Solutions on the Sponsors Page for the South Pole Epic, but I also would like to publicly thank them for their generous donation.

EnergySolutions is an international nuclear services company headquartered in Salt Lake City with operations across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and other countries around the world. With over 5,000 world-class professionals, EnergySolutions is a global leader in the safe recycling, processing and disposal of nuclear material. They provide integrated services and solutions to the nuclear industry, the United States Government, the Government of the United Kingdom, along with various medical and research facilities.

Thanks Energy Solutions for helping us and helping our environment.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Pittsburgh Penguins Logo
My oldest son has been a penguin fanatic practically his whole life. I think it all stated when my wife bought a stuffed penguin as a gift for me. My son decided the penguin should be his. He loves the penguin in the Santa Clause is Coming to Town movie. He named his stuffed penguin Top after Topper, the penguin in the movie. His favorite hockey team is the Pittsburgh Penguins, which is kind of cool because I served a mission in Pittsburgh. I think his love of hockey started because the team mascot was a penguin. He even ordered a pizza with anchovies on it once because he figured that is the kind of pizza a penguin would eat.
Santa Clause and Topper

As a computer programmer for Novell I had the opportunity to work on Linux which uses a penguin as its mascot.
Tux the Linux penguin
I frequently get asked about the wildlife we will see on our expedition. During my interview with Fox 13 yesterday the reporter asked me about penguins.
I would love to be able to see some penguins while on the expedition, but that most likely won't happen. Even though we will start our expedition at the edge of Antarctica, there is a big ice shelf between us and the open water, and the penguins won't be that far from the water.

Macaroni Penguin
There are 17 or 20 different species of penguins depending on which expert you talk to. The largest penguins are the Emperor penguins which are only found in Antarctica, and was the subject of the March of the Penguins documentary. The Galapagos penguins are the only penguins that, in the wild, live north of the equator. But I think my favorite penguins are the crested penguins like the Rockhopper and Macaroni penguins.

Please help fund our expedition by bicycle to the South Pole by donating at or

Monday, June 3, 2013

Borealis Bikes had a story about the Borealis Bikes' new carbon fiber fat bike today. Apparently their phones are ringing off the hook, including a call from me.
A nice lightweight carbon bike like this could be a great bike for our South Pole expedition. The bike has rear rack mounts, and three water bottle mounts, making it a great expedition bike.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

I Can, Yukon, We Alcan

I have been helping a family prepare for their awesome biking expedition. They will be biking from Alaska to Montana on the ALCAN highway. The expedition members range in age from 61 to 4. I have been working with them to get their bikes ready for the trip, and teaching them how to work on their bikes. Teaching them how to adjust brakes, shifting, replace changes, true wheels, replace spokes, and much more. They now have a blog for their expedition. Wishing them good luck!