Sunday, February 15, 2009

Back in the Brumby's

Saturday morning was a cold morning, it was very hard to get out of bed and I was not sure if I was up to it. I had many chances and temptations to bag on my idea of trying to make Saturday morning the day I would come out of recovery and join the Brumby's. The route they selected was not as much climbing as other routes they had and with my Mountain biking on Thursday I figured the knee was good for it. I must confess though that I had hopes I would be able to go all the way around but wasn't sure about it.

To be at Val Vista and Hermosa Vista by 6:30 I had to be on the road at 6 which of course meant a 5:30 am wakeup. It was pretty early and it was cold, very hard to get out of bed but I did it. I got on the road at 6:05 and even though I mistakenly got on Greenfield and overshot Hermosa Vista I pulled up right as they were leaving so I didn't even have to cool down. I hung out at the back figuring I would be able to fall off if my knee complained. We had around 20-30 cyclists and as we made out way out to the beeline people rotated back I I moved up the line. Gilbert road was a pain as a sidewind means everyone works as hard as the guy pulling so it was pretty ruthless for a few miles. Back on the Beeline though things got a bit easier until we were climbing. by the time we hit the hills I was the 6th or 7th cyclist back in the line. We almost got gapped once but pulled it together. I had to keep telling myself I would hold on until the next hill with every hill. I was extremely pleased to find that although I had not ridden with them for nearly 3 months I was still holding on. In fact, aerobically I faired better than my muscles which started to burn as we got further along. On the last hill my knee twinged slightly but we were within a quarter mile of the hilltop and I was so close I determined I would hold the mob over th hill.

Going down the other side a cyclist near me observed her thermometer said 31 degrees. Consulting my own I found it at 28 degrees. That's pretty cold. I had been working hard enough I hadn't noticed other than numb fingertips. They did not stop at the gas station so after we crossed the verde I had a short conversation with Chris (the other guy at the back) about bike commuting and then I dropped off.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

7 miles.

When is 7 miles not 7 miles? When it is on single track. I decided to mix it up today since I was working at home and headed up the road over lunch hour to soak up some succulent single track in the hawes trail area. This area is a real gem, especially if you have an old bike that predates the days of suspension. I am fortunate to live near some of the best road biking and Mtn. Biking in the valley. Admittedly the mountain biking is slightly less good than the road biking but I am happy with it.
The first part of the trail has a lot of dips and whoopdy doos which are a lot of fun, but then you hit the section that is directly over a cliff and requires a bit of caution. Soon I am gasping for air and the first burn has begun. Soon I am at the trail junction though and enjoy a flat area with smooth descents into washes and I get my high speed for the day of 17 mph. Scorching I know, still, I would be riding some fairly rough and steep trails today.

Turning up onto some of the trails higher up on the mountain my lungs are burning and I can hear my heartbeat in my ears. I am working hard and for the most part I nail every ascent getting tripped up on only one. It never ceases to amaze me how you can work so hard and spend so much time and yet not have ridden many miles when you are riding single track. Of course many of the grades go up over 20% at times and hopping over piles of rocks and crags can slow you down as well, especially without suspension.

I want to ride the saddle trail today but I take a wrong turn and take the long way up to it. I remember this trail from many years ago when I first rode out here. I am happy to report I made it up the hill that gave me trouble last time. This time I also decided to ride the mine trail on my way back.

Of all the trails I near had a cactus lunch more times on this trail than any of the others. The trail switchbacked up over the hill and the back side was steep with switchbacks and the trail though steep had a funny habit of launching you off knee sized cliffs so you had to sit way back to avoid doing an endo. Many time I was unseated but there was only once I had to stop and walk down one spot. If I had had suspension I might have been able to pull it off. Anyway, that's another topic entirely. At the end of the mine trail I looked up and saw I had to climb all the way back up to the car. The bright side was that some of the hills I had never climbed without putting a foot down I was able to pull off today. It was a good ride. 7 miles, 950 feet of climbing.

On a side note, I am happy to report that I have gotten my weekly mileage up above 100 miles and the knee is holding out. Saturday I want to ride a 40+ mile ride. I am being careful to follow the 10% rule even if it is annoying. I want to be all set for the 300k they are doing in May from Miami to Payson and back.

Happy trails!

I am Spam, Spam I am

I am back! They shut my blog down for a bit because they thought it was a spam blog. I can't figure out that one. Biking to work and randonneuring just doesn't seem like the subject of spam somehow. Also as Bruce's work has done, mine has blocked too so it is a little harder to post now but stay tuned! I will be updating it still.

First off let me post the commute I had last week which was a follow up to the dog commute-

This morning's commute was much better than Monday's. I discovered the tire I had patched last night was flat when I entered the garage at 6AM. I figured it had to be a slow leak though as I thoroughly listened to the tube and only heard one hole. That last hole (which was indeed slow) will have to be discovered in a wash basin full of water I am afraid. I had the tire pumped up and after I reset my bike computer to mph instead of kph (I don't know how that happened) I was off into the night with a brief adjustment of my hub light.

It was not too cold this morning with a temperature of 50 degrees and a wind out of the NE. It would be a pain on the northbound parts of the route but nice for the eastbound. I kept up a good speed but not as good as I was before the knee thing. It will take time. In the meantime I am just happy I can do 2 40 mile commutes within a week plus a Saturday ride. I am not too broken up that the ride across Mesa is in the dark. The stretch on Val Vista is unusually warm in the Orange groves for some reason.

On the reservation I turned on Oak street instead of going North on Extension. It was not devoid of dogs, neither was it as bad as Extensiont though. I ran into 3 dogs working together on Oak but they weren't very fast and gave up quickly. On Dobson I ran into another set of dogs and a large old white dog that was pretty slow and gave up quickly. I did not run into any pitbulls or feral packs of dogs so I think this might be the better route. The parts without dogs are wide open smooth pavement so It is definitely a keeper I think. Perhaps I'll take up Bruce's suggestion on Doggy Treats (I wonder how they make your jersey pocket smell?). I could also use them as opportunities for Interval training as well I guess.

I still can't get over the fact I get to commute through the mountains in Paradise Valley to get to work. This is just cool even if I have to put up with some traffic on Lincoln. I realized this morning that this section is the middle of the GABA mummy mountain saturday cycling route I used to ride in yesteryear. On top of the beautiful scenery I cut 7 minutes off my ride time from Monday.

I missed the bus by seconds so I decided to ride downtown and catch the next bus there. Here are some photos I took while I waited and before I realized I had sat down in somebody's yogurt they had left out.

Two eras collide. The small building is a 1950's era diner building and it is surrounded by skyscrapers now.

I wonder how they built that skywalk.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pitbulls and Goatheads and Flats Oh My!......

Dogs. Lots of dogs. No, I mean LOTS of dogs. How many dogs can you imagine? You say you can imagine a lot of dogs? No you can't. I have found perhaps the doggiest doggy road in the Southwest. Did I mention I found some dogs? I found enough dogs for a cheap imitation of Hitchcocks "the Birds"! Ok, well perhaps not that many dogs. Nevertheless I count my dogs encountered this morning by dozens.
This morning was the new commute. The first time I had got up the gumption to do an honest to goodness door to door commute by bike. My route has been in the making for some time while my knee has been healing. I had experimented with the bike path north of the airport but gang activity discouraged that route. My next idea was to take Gilbert north and ride the canal road acrossed the reservation to Chaparral road and then across Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. This option included some dirt road and I was a bit leary. I discovered in my perusal of this route though that Country Club, Alma Schoole and Dobson, are all paved acrossed the reservation up to Chaparral. The route was set. I would take Country Club north to Chaparral and end up at 31.5 miles. The best laid plans of Mice and men are often laid to waste though.

I managed to get out of the driveway at 6:10. I figured I needed roughly 2 hours to make the trip with some wiggle room. Ha. My trip acrossed Mesa was the usual fair. My new axle generator light saved me from hitting several potholes. Fairly quickly I was dropping off the Mesa on McKellips road and then I turned onto Country Club. Acrossed the bridge I turned too early. I ended up getting onto Extension instead of Country Club. This would eventually save me some mileage incidentally but cost me a lot of extra time.

The first few miles of Extension heading north through the reservation were fairly calm with a school bus in the distance stopping to get kids. I would catch up a little bit at every stop until he turned. Around this time the dogs started. The first two (yes, there are no lonely dogs on the reservation, they all hang around in groups I discovered) were a Golden retriever and some other dog. They chased for a bit but after getting yelled at a few times they called off the chase. Many of the dogs I encountered did this. I figure I was chased by around 10 groups of 2-4 dogs. Two encounters gave me some pause.

The first one was passing an old abandoned house. Around 5 or 6 dogs came galloping out, fortunately there was a chainlink fence between us but had it not been there things could have gotten scary. Ferral dogs running in a pack are something you don't want to mess with unless you are armed with a semi-automatic weapon or have a sizeable club or are bruce lee or something like that. The other was two pitbulls that came after me.

The pitbull I have been told by some dog lovers is a misunderstood breed. Yeah right. I got chased by over 30 dogs this morning and only one breed gave me prolonged trouble despite repeated yelling and threats sworn. The pitbull is a dangerous breed as far as I am concerned. Yeah they can be cuddly and nice. So can Charles Manson when he wants to be. The two dogs specifed came after me and I yelled at them and they didn't even pause. I kept pedalling but noticed everytime I turned away from them they came in closer so I had to ride watching my back. We were cruising along at 18 mph and they were just running along. The one on the right came in close so I kicked at him. On the second kick I connected with his jaw. On second thought this could have been a bad move if he had bit my foot but luck was with me. He paused a minute and then came right on in chasing again. Approaching a half mile into the chase I could see them slowing down. I slowed with them. If these D*%#$# dogs were going to chase me I was going tempt them to over exert and possibly get lost. Maybe they would fall prey to a pack of rabid zombie coyotes out in the desert. I know it was perhaps rather low of me to wish ill upon these hounds of fury but I was ticked. So every time it seemed like they were about to give up, I slowed down just enough to tempt them into keeping up the chase. I got another few hundred yards or so on this. I should have turned around and chased their exhausted sorry behinds around the res a bit just for revenge but I had to get to work.

The hounds had the last laugh in the end. Having turned on to Chaparral I made the discovery that I had a flat tire on the back. The culprit was a goathead thorn which I had picked up the time I veered onto the shoulder while being chased by the hounds. In fact, after much patching and pumping it turned out to be many Goatheads. I spent around an hour patching one of my tubes and finally giving up on the front tube and putting a new tube in the front tire. I had more holes than I could count. I figure I patched 3 holes in the back tire and I gave up on the front after 4 or 5. Once I was finally on my way again, the sun was shining bright and I ran into my last set of dogs which gave up chase when a rather large automobile honked at them and scared them away. I guess cars are a lot scarier to a dog than a man in tights and a flourescent green jersey on a bicycle.

Extension is being taken off the commuting route. Searching satellite photos it appears that I would run into far fewer house if I head west on Oak and North on Dobson. Dobson has the added bonus of being not too far from the freeway so although slightly less rural, perhaps dog owners in the interest of keeping that $$$$ expensive dog from getting creamed on the freeway opt to keep them contained. We will see on Wednesday.

On with the journey! My guess that Pima road had little traffic on it these days due to the freeway was spot on. It didn't have wide shoulders but there was only an occasional car so it worked. McDonald had a nice bikelane for aways. As I got closer to Camelback Mountain and entered Paradise Valley it stopped. It still wasn't a bad road for riding though. I turned north On mockingbird which was a mistake as I should have held out to Tatum. It didn't turn out to be a critical error though as I didn't have any issues riding down Lincoln like I thought I might if I got onto it too soon.

There were some nice rollers through here and I was pleasantly surprised by the views as I rode alongside the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and Piestewa peak. I could look down on downtown Phoenix enshrouded in all it's brown cloud glory. I actually had some hills on this commute! No more am I to be jealous of Bruce for his scenic commutes! Much of this section reminds of pictures he has on his blog looking down the hills on his commute.

I got into work late you might have guessed, but I think this commute route will work. I am going to expunge Extension. The rest of the route is primo though. The final section is extremely scenic skirting the bottoms of both Camelback mtn and Piestewa peak. I might invest in a set of Armidillos though, just in case I find a few more goatheads waiting for an unsuspecting traveler.