Saturday, June 27, 2009


Well, I've never been a fan of Mr. Jacksons music. I have been thinking of the parallels of his life to that of the guy portrayed in Citizen Kane lately though. Supposedly they both regretted the loss of their childhood. Wonder what his last words were? Was it the name of his sled as a kid? Maybe the name of his bicycle? The world may never know. In the meantime here's the write up of this mornings ride.

Yucca plants in bloom

I didn't get to bed until after 11:30 last night and I needed to getup at a quarter after four. Lets just say a new bike is a powerful motivator. I hid some cinammon rolls I had bought yesterday from the kids and ate one on my way out. I had the bike all setup and ready to go so all I had to do was shove the pump in my jersey pocket fill the water bottles and go.

There wasn't a whole lot of lovin going on in the legs this morning. I think I hadn't quite recovered from the extra mileage last week and I also think that I may have been behind on a few calories as well. I normally take Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays off but I rode on Wednesday this week plus I did over 50 miles on Tuesday. Whatever the cause I was struggling to hold the group back up into the Superstitions but towards the bottom of the first hill things slowed up a bit. I managed not to be the last guy up the hill. But I was the last guy that went all the way to the end of the pavement.

Ocotillo in bloom

I am still getting used to this compact crankset. You have to muscle up the hills a little more with it as the gearing is not quite as low as a triple. The back of the pavement is a brutal hill whatever you have really. I decided I was going to not do a repeat today. I was planning on doing a 200k the week after next but on this ride I though perhaps I will cut the day short a bit and try and get a century in up at my Sisters house in Springville next week including a trip up Mt. Nebo in there. Now I just have to figure how to pack the new bike into the back of the van so that it won't vibrate against anything and the kids can't goof with it (would just take the folder but I am a little eager to take the bike out onto a big boy climb, Mt. Nebo features a 5000+ foot climb over about 20 miles). Wish I had a roof rack.

Yours truly in front of the view at the end of the pavement.

I cheated and stopped to take few pictures on the way up to the top. I figured there wasn't much of a group left anyway since the paceline heading up here this morning wasn't that big (about 15 -20 riders) and over half of them had turned around at Tortilla Flat. Besides I had decided I was going to take it a little easier today since I would be doing a big ride next Saturday.
Whats wrong with this picture?

It started to get hot climbing up to the end of the pavement. My thermometer read low 90s when it was in my shade. I stopped in Tortilla flat to put move all my steerer tube spacers under the stem to give me a little less agressive position on the bike since my back was hurting. I think I am going to have to work on my core strength more before I can ride along that low. Anyway, I decided to get some nice cool water out of the machine there before I left. I stuck a dollar in, it wanted two. I put a second dollar in, it forgot I put 1 in already. The third dollar was the charm, I paid $3 for a 26 oz bottle of cold water with just a bit of slush in the top. It was good I'll admit but $3 is a ripoff.

At Canyon lake marina I doused my head and face in water to get the salt crystals out of my eyes and to cool down a bit. I refilled the water bottles, bringing my count up to 5 bottles I would consume through the day. Having taken care of the water situation I was off for what would be a hot climb out of the canyon.

Descending down the last big hill I suddenly had a sinking feeling and my seat slid back. I figured I was close enough to the Needle vista area I would just stand and pull in there. I hadn't been into the needle vista since Susan, Bruce and I had been back in there during our first running of the 'Legends, Superstitions, and Ruins' permanent. I made quick work of redoing the seat and hoping I had gotten the torque right headed off.
As I headed up the next hill my thighs were hitting the seatbag, not remembering that happening before I realized I hadn't slid the seat forward when I had levelled it out. As I stopped to fix it the last of the Brumbys that had done repeats on the EOP came by and asked how I was. I said fine and he headed off. I actually caught him a few miles down the road though.
I passed him within a few miles of the dash in and he hopped on. When we turned onto Brown he mentioned he didn't feel too good and felt like he was going to Yak. Having an aching back and deciding this was more of a less intense ride I held back a little so he could hold on. He was hurting bad. He was the guy who went down on the bridge a few weeks ago. This was one of the fast guys and for him to be needing a pull like this meant he was in a world of hurt. I sat back and made the biggest wind break I could as we rode across Apache Jct. He took a pull for a bit but I ended up pulling again after the light. I didn't mind. It was 90 degrees, the wind seemed cool to me, and I was actually not doing too badly, besides it was nice to have someone to talk to. I ended up riding with him a little farther than I had intended but it ended up putting me at a nice 80 miles when I got back after parting ways with him at Greenfield road. I figure with 3 miles left he was good and I needed to get back around 10 and I was going to be a few minutes late if I turned around when I did (I ended up being 5 minutes late as I kept really good time up Broadway). 5 hours of riding 82 miles, just under 4000 feet of climbing. Not to bad for a bad legs day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

There goes the bus......

Well, I worked late last night and rushed through the heat down to the bus stop hoping to catch the bus. At the last light I breathed a sigh of relief seeing as I had 5 minutes to go. The sigh abruptly stopped as I saw my bus enter the freeway entrance despite my wild gyrations. I had missed the last express bus of the day. My legs were tired since I had hammered the 33 miles in this morning pretty hard. I had just ridden 9 miles to the bus stop and was not in the mood to miss the bus.

First thing I did was head downtown to get a meal. I ended up at Baja Fresh as most other affordable places were lunch only apparently. I took my food over to the light rail stop to enjoy it but was annoyed to find a large chicken bone in my burrito. I elected to eat instead of getting on the first train which would have saved me a good evening ride if I had boarded the first train as I missed the 7:30 link by 5 minutes. I was hungry though so I guess it was the right call in the end, even if I did get an extra 12 miles of riding in (and about 15 minutes in the dark without a headlight).

On the train there was a college kid with a fixed gear, and then some big guy with his arms totally sleeved out with tattoos that came in with a k2 mountain bike with BMX handlebars. I couldn't quite figure that one out. The fixed gear was an old Nishiki with a lugged frame, the perfect candidate for a fixed gear modification.

After getting off the train I was again too late. Upon discovering I had missed yet another bus I elected to ride home as I would still beat the next bus home. I think this was the first time I had ridden through downtown Mesa at night. I pass the Mormon temple off to the right. There was no 'concerned Christians' there shouting obscenities at people trying to watch the Easter pageant like there were a few months ago (incidentally Mormons are Christians, they just don't believe in the Nicene creed which is a medieval document and not part of the New Testament). But now it is once again peaceful and a couple sits out front on the lawn.

Down the road I ride by Pat's Bike shop with its bright neon sign inviting folks to come in and get some wheels. Across the street, not to be outdone in their neon glow is the big apple (a barbecue place). It's a warm night. I begin to wish I had put my jersey and shorts back on before leaving work. Of course when I left work I didn't figure I would be riding 20 miles either.

Around 8:20 I finally arrive home in the dark. Fortunately I had left my taillight in my bag from a few days ago, so I at least was visible from behind. Interestingly enough I was not hungry at all when I got home so I gave what was left of my chips to the kids who descended on them like a pack of wolves.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

His Coy Mistress

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime
We would sit down and think which way
To ride and pass our long love's day.....
-Andrew Marvell

Well, the good guys over at Paragon Cycles got my bike in and built it up last week. Aint she beautiful? It's a Cannondale Synapse 4. Seeing as the entire country seems to be drained of Synapses they got ahold of a Synapse 6 and stripped the tiagra components off and put Sram Rival on. The downside, which is kind of an upside to me really is the fork is carbon but has an aluminum steerer, the 4 usually has a carbon steerer. Being a rando kind of guy, the aluminum steerer is a good thing as it means I can adjust the stem without a torque wrench out on the road somewhere if I have to. The upside is they got me Rival brakes too which replaced the tektro junk that came on it. I must say I almost went over the handlebars the first time I put the brakes on. Good brakes work!

I chose the Synapse because it is designed with a more relaxed geometry to keep the rider more comfortable. The Carbon Fiber layup is also done to maximize road vibration and bump dampening. I must say the design works good. I kind of feel a little sheepish on it. This is a lot of bike. I mean it's not a 4-5000 dollar team bike but it's not a entry level bike either. I'm still pinching myself.

A new bike should be properly broken in of course. I figured I'd do a longish ride today. The Brumbys were heading out the Bush hwy to the Beeling and I hopped on. I kept to the back since I was still getting used to the Sram 2 click system and the brakes that actually worked (as opposed to my old road bikes 'squishy' brakes). I think the back gets almost as much work as the front since they get to yo yo. It's really kind of an interval workout back there.

I managed to stick with them through the first hills even though a lot of people got dropped coming up Lil' Kong. Around the Saguaro lake hills I fell behind the group but among the guys that lagged, I wasn't the last one up the hill and I made it into the short regroups at the tops of the hills. This is huge for me. These guys ride fast and to stick with them has always been a personal goal. Granted I am among the stragglers on the hills, but a straggler among super strong riders is not that bad a thing. It won't be too long before I don't straggle.

Somebody flatted coming down the beeline and I stopped to make sure he had everything he needed and then moved on. By then the group was a ways down the road. A few of us banded together and kept pretty good time down to the Verde river. At the first light I asked the guy if that was the way to rio verde and 9 mile hill, he said 'yes'. I think he misled me a little and didn't realize it was actually the next light but that's ok, it was a pretty detour.

After I got some water at the gas station I headed off into the Fort McDowell indian reservation along the verde river. It was a pretty ride and eventually I came to a dirt road. Figuring that rio verde was not up a dirt road I turned around and wandered westward along forgotten paths. Incredibly I actually managed to meander into the houses of Fountain Hills (the hills is in that name for a reason) and onto Fountain Hills Blvd which of course runs out to rio verde.

It was nice to spend some time alone out on the road with the new bike. I determined when I got to the McDowell mtn park turnoff that I didn't have enough time to go down to rio verde and 9 mile hill so I decided I would ride up into the park. It was a nice 3 mile climb up to the campground where I would pull into the empty camground host's parking space and sneak some water out of the faucet there.

It was kind of amazing that I wasn't in more need of water on a day in late June in Maricopa County Arizona, but here it was! It had been 65 degrees down by the verde and temps where starting to climb into the 70s. Just a beautiful summer day! You can't buy weather like this.

Going back to fountain hills I cast my manliness aside and asked for directions. The way out was over a couple of pretty steep rollers, the steepest of which topped out at 10%. Soon they were gone though. I was pleased with the fact I was doing good on the hills despite losing my triple. Yes, fair reader, I am now a 2 chainring guy. It's a compact though.

The ride home was windy and at around 80 miles I had to work a little to keep the speed up despite growing fatigue. Still though, I'd hold the average speed at 18.2 mph for the day. I went 92 miles in 5 hours and 2 minutes with 3000 feet of climbing. I think it was a good first ride on the new bike. I am very happy with it so far, and my that carbon monocoque frame is sexy!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Merciful June

Back of the pack

I hopped on with the Brumbys this fine morning in June. It was a beautiful summer morning with cool temperatures and a forecast high of 94. Some Saturdays in the summer it's 90 degrees when we start out at 5 AM. Not today. Most of the sadistic fast guys were on the other side of town today riding back to Bartlett lake and up a mountain. So today the pace was a little slower than it was a few weeks ago heading across town. The group probably had 30-40 riders this morning.

I managed to stay with the group today and was not even the last one up a lot of the hills to boot. I didn't feel particularly strong and I have put on a few pounds over the last few weeks but I managed to stick with the group for the most part (or at least get to the regroups before they left).

Hill going up to the end of the pavement.
Only about half of the group pushed on past Tortilla flat. I figured I go to the end of the pavement and then head back since I was coming off a weeks rest and I had not felt overly energetic this week. I left canyon lake with the group and made it to the regroup just before dropping off the last hill. We formed a paceline of around 7 or 8 people heading back to Apache Junction. I think I got 2 pulls by the time we got to Crismon road.

Just after 9 I was feeling spunky and had another hour left of time so I thought I would tack a trip around Usery Pass on so I left the group at Crismon road. I could feel some fatigue but I still kept a pretty good pace for the most part. Climbing up King Kong was a bit of a grind but it was over before I fell over gasping for life so it was all good. I took it easy heading down Power back into Mesa. I was over 80 miles now and I had a hip and a knee that were complaining not to mention my back (I haven't been doing my core strengthening excersizes the last few weeks and I can really tell). Pulling into the driveway I had 90 miles, 4600 feet of climbing, and an average speed of 17 mph. Not too bad for someone that wasn't feeling too energetic.