Thursday, December 31, 2009

Out with the old....

Cactus on Pemberton Trail

It's the last day of the year, which of course also means the last ride of the year. I had intended to do a nice and easy ride around work over lunch but they said they were going to let us out around 1 ish. This created quite a temptation. The little devil of cycling joy was on my right shoulder whispering words of encouragement to go ride the pemberton trail in McDowell Mtn regional park, he knew I wanted to do it and he kept egging me on. The angel of taper was on my right shoulder whispering that I had a 200k on Saturday and if I went out riding a 16 mile trail up through the mountains I would surely get carried away and goof up my taper. I listened to the devil.

The Pemberton Trailhead is awesome. It has a large parking lot, restrooms, and ....wait for it.... showers! The fee to get in was $6 but the fact they have showers makes up for that quite a bit. There were quite a few other Mtn bikers out there. A lot of the reviews say the Pemberton trail has been ruined since the county regraded it and took out all the hard stuff. I have to say, not having ridden it before, that the trail is pretty easy in point of fact, however, it is a really fast trail. I was over 20mph in many sections.

The Northern end of the McDowell Mtns.

So after changing I pull the bike out and the tire is flat. That makes it the last flat of 2009. My pump was goofing up since there was no lubrication left on the piston on the inside of the tube. Fortunately for me I had a drip on my jeeps oilpan so I opened the pump up and rubbed the rubber piston ring on the oil pan a few times and wa la! It was as good as new. By 2:30 I had the tire pumped up and I was out on the trail.

I'd told my wife I would be home between 4 and 5 and I had just under 16 miles of trail ahead of me. It made it real hard to listen to the angel of tapering reminding me to take it easy. For the most part I listened. It was a long gentle grade for the first 6 miles of the ride weaving in and out of bushes and cacti. Once on the top the trail turned into rollers and twists which were a lot of fun and fast. I'd hit the trailbars at 20mph and get air and once I almost shot over the side when the trail made a surprise turn.

Say goodbye to 2009 Paul

The desert was gorgeous. There was a carpet of green beneath all the desert scrub from the recent rains. Every now and again I would pass a cow pond with honest to goodness water in it. The top of the Pemberton trail was very scenic and though it wasn't very technical it did rank up there on the scenic scale.

What's left of the old Pemberton Ranch.

The descent was a beautiful thing. There were a few rocky sections that slowed me a bit but mostly it was pretty fast riding. I was glad I had followed the advice of the guy at the entrance booth and done it counterclockwise.

It's been a good year of riding for me. I missed the spring brevets due to a bad knee but the flip side is I got some good pedal stroke coaching and a good bike fit. This really made me into a completely different rider. I also got hit by a bus which did a number on my elbow but did not destroy my training completely. After riding Tom Baker's Mines to Pines Brevet which was the toughest climbing ride I had done to date (including the Mt. Lemmon Brevet), I set my sites on Cochise in October. I did numerous double centuries and 300ks over the summer to train and found creative ways to get the miles in over the summer. Bruce and I ran a good Cochise. I didn't do as well as I hoped but dehydration and the wind took it out of me. Lesson learned. I ended up with 7700 miles for the year. Not too shabby.

Say goodbye to the drab old year and ring in a newone!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wild Horses

That's one small bike for man, and one Cactus for mankind.

I overslept so by the time I awoke the Brumbys were off on their way to canyon lake so I decided I'd head out to the desert and maybe see some real brumbys. I have been eager to see what the new mtn bike could do at Hawes and I must say I am happy with it. I took the Saguaro trail since I didn't want to work too hard and worked that over to Twisted sister from which I caught the wild horse trail.

It was a beautiful morning. I did observe though that thought this is an extremely popular area among mountain bikers there weren't a whole lot of them out early on this cold morning. At least not as many as you see road bikers out on the nearby road. I guess mountain bikers sleep in a little more. Anyway, I wanted to get at least a few hours in. Next week is the 200k brevet so I should be starting my taper about now so I figured whatever I got was good. I wanted to get around 20 miles of offroad in though. That would equal probably 50 miles or so of onroad.

I nailed a few spots I haven't done before and I goofed up a few spots I had previously gotten heading over to Twisted Sister (I am sure that is not the official Tonto National Forest name for it but since they haven't posted signs that's the name among mountain bikers). Talking to some hikers I learned I had ridden by some of the wild horses that frequent these parts. I had sure seen a lot of wild horse "remnants" on the trail.

Cacti and Red Mountain

I wandered up to the area they call "NRA" which is an old pit that used to be used for target shooting and the soil their was literally made of shells and casings at one point in time. Now it is an area full of giant jumps over open voids and I am sure a site of many a medivac. I found one jump on one side of a small ravine with a landing on the other 20+ feet away on the other side. If a guy blew that jump he would be eating a granite cliff. It must be impressive to see guys take these jumps. Unfortunately my time was up and it was time to head back.

I did stop for a few photos and one last bit of singletrack as I climbed the way back to the car. I decided to ride the ridgetrail back and was quite pleased to nail the last few hills coming out of that trail without putting a foot down. I did 20 miles in around 2 and a half hours almost entirely singletrack. Space and time are different off the road than on I think. It really is two different bicycling experiences.

The Granite Reef diversion dam from upstream

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas! (and pictures from the week's rides)

Merry Christmas everyone! I took some photos of the rides this week and thought I would put them up here.

Western end of Trail 100 over Monday's lunch hour.

Cactus overlooking Cave Creek road from Trail 100 in the Phoenix Mountains

Heading into tunnel near 16th street trailhead for Phoenix Mtns trail system.

Me in front of said tunnel/flood drain

They cut us loose from work early on Christmas eve so I figured I'd ride the Arizona Canal back to it's origins at Granite Reef dam on the way home.

American Graffiti under the 101

Smooth Canal bank most of the way. Best part was there was another canal to the right between me and the dogs of the reservation.

A man who needs no introduction.

Red Mountain looms large as we approach the dam.

The mighty Salt River is reduced to the mere seepings that come from the dam, Everything else is funneled into two canals for the Phoenix metro area to drink and make other uses of.

The Granite Reef diversion dam and the salt river bed.

After getting back to the highway after a few tricky sections (glad I had 28s on the old steed today, 95% of the canal bank was nice and smooth, some was not so much so) I decided I had a little extra time and did a trip around the backside of Usery Pass. Upon reflection I don't think the canal is a viable commuting route but it is definitely a nice ride when there is a little extra time to kill on the way home. I ended up with 75 miles today and 1700 feet of climbing. Not to bad for a commute huh?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Running with the mob

The Mob muscles into Fountain town

It was a dim but warm morning in a town that knows how to sleep. The Snowbirds were all tucked in their beds with visions of sugar free plums dancing in their heads. The sun had not got it's wakeup call and the traffic lights were shining on a drab empty world. I call it home but the pretty boys up at the Forbes rag call it America's most boring city. Evidentilly they haven't seen the seedy lowlife out there combing the mean streets. One man rides the empty streets, that's me there, Pedalin Paul, rider mediocre.

On any given Saturday a seedy group of people flying along in bright colors is out and about breeding healthy corruption in this monochromatic town of leisurely types. I'd be checking out one such group today. They're called the Brumby mob. Brumbys are a fairly tough group to grab. You have to know the right types if you know what I mean. The Coy Mistress was a little lady I had met in the spring. She really knew how to show a fella a good time if you catch my drift. She came from that beautiful town of Cannondale, but had fallen on hard times and had taken up residence in my garage. She knew the Brumbys though, and she could get me to a dark little corner in an obscure part of town where the mob could be found at 7:30 on a Saturday. To some it could be called early, not to me. A brightly colored seedy type has to slap a few alarm clocks in this town that gets the special attention of that flaming friend in the sky.

The mob runs afoul of the fiendish Mr. Flat.

The Mob had been taking a lot of heat lately from the G-Men at ADOT. It seemed the blacktop down in Bush Hwy town was getting some special attention from the boys in orange.

Without a leader the mob murmured and chattered about what to do today but it seemed folks thought we should put some heat on Fountain Town and the river green. Then Mr. Big showed up. Head Brumby, the big Baer, mon capiton, most just call him Sterling. He's the head of this mob and what he says goes usually, today he'd be seeing us out but dropping off quickly. Apparently he had some "Appointments" or some folks that needed Mr. Big's "Special" attention.

Hard times had fallen on the Brumby mob lately. It seems the cold and winter doldrums had reformed a few and reclaimed them to sleepers. The rest of us were out and riding to work Fountain town for all it was worth without attracting the terrible attention of that evil and bitter little gangster, Mr. Flat. He often waits, looking for the lone and forlorn, in a desolate and friendless place to prey upon the unwary.

Unfortunately it was not to be. He would strike on a little road we call the Beeline. It could have been bad. Fortunately a guy built like a muscle car and with a draft as big as a UPS van had a thing we like to call, Mr. Co2 cartridge and Mr. Flat fled the scene looking rather inflated. He was gone but I had a feeling we would see him again.

Our flaming friend in the sky was putting on the heat and a long sleeved fella like myself was feeling it. All the lads that had been freezin up to now had come into their own. We'd been attracting the unwanted attention of a jilted and vengeful lady for several hours. Some call her the devil, some the devils boss, some call her Mariah, me? Shes the headwind, the evil twin sister of our fair lady tailwind, patron saint of cyclists. Where madam Headwind blows though, her sister is not far behind.

When we turned to head back to Fountain town, our fair lady tailwind pushed the mob at a healthy 30mph most of the way. Things were looking good, folks were feeling spunky, all was well with the world when it happened. Out of nowhere, like a gunshot that splits the morning silence Mr. Flat had returned. Returned with a vengeance. Not happy with his former exploits he must have been in collusion with the jilted lady headwind as he literally blew out one of the tires. Mr. Flat enjoys these things as they more often than not mean he did his job too well, and he caused multiple holes in somebodies tube. Mr. Co2 wasn't going to do it this time. I was hoping I wasn't going to have to yank our Mr. Pump but fortunately Mr. C02 had some friends.

Pedalin Paul, Mediocre cyclist.

Mr. Flat eyed me warily, with a look that made me a little uneasy. He knew something. I tried to remember what I could have done to attract the attention of Mr. Flat, then I saw it. I got that sinking feeling like the titanic dropping into my stomache. I'd left my bag of goodies on Mr. Commuter. The Coy Mistress had Mr. Pump but Mr. Pump isn't a whole lot of good without his friends little boy patch, and Timmy tube. I'd have to stay with the mob or Mr. Flat would get me for sure. Fortunately the mob was missing a member I'll just call Mr. Fast. Mr. Fast's henchmen "leepin Loren" was with us today but he had already been out with Mr. Fast and worn himself out. We'd beat Mr. Flat yet.

Back in Mesa town I got to lead the Mob east. I'd been a bit of a wheel sucker most of the morning owing to a bit too much of a good time at the Phoenix Mountains yesterday if you know what I mean. Ms. Headwind was back and shrieking at us in her fury. She didn't like bright types mocking the sugar free plums in the snowbirds heads, and she most definitely didn't like speedy types that fly in the face of Mr. Flat. Soon the mob would break apart though. Not because of bitter little people like Mr. Flat and Ms. Headwind though.

I decided I drop into the local joint for a nibble on something warm and filling. It was a nice little place on the side of the road where a fella could sit and ponder the seedy actions of a brightly colored menagerie of bikin' types and their exploits. I'd done 80 miles, 60 of them with the mob. A fella can lean into a supreme breakfast burrito with satisfaction on a day like today after having dealt with the villainous enemies of the cycling club and all they had to offer. I'm sure Mr. Flat and Ms. Headwind would be back someday though. Probably at the worst time too.

A seedy little burger joint on the side of the road.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lunch with the new guy.

The New Guy

So, the other day I am talking to the missionaries for my church (It's my job to help them out) and one mentions he bought a new bike as he got hit by a car on his old one. Anyway, he brought it up as a result of me talking about my old paint of a mountain bike. Anyway, he offered me his old frame and seeing as I didn't have front suspension or a threadless stem setup I jumped at the chance. Last night I tinkered in the garage like a mad scientist, grabbing this part off my old mountain bike, exchanging it with that part on the new (to me) bike. I had some 8 speed deore brifters from a bit back that I got on ebay that I replaced his with (he had some crappy 7 speed Acera components on it). I managed to get it all together except for the brakes and the seatpost. He'd lost the top part of the seatpost that screws into the main seatpost piece. Well, I had an extra seatpost top but the bolt was too wide. Hmmm, what would Tim Allen do? You guessed, I got a drill bit out but couldn't find my drill, but on a shelf I see the industrial strength 1/2 inch shank drill, one of the workmen left behind when they added on to our house. I've heard tell of these things breaking bones when they get loose on ya. Anyway, flipped it on and the drill bit went through the seatpost hole like butter. Seat problem fixed! What about the brakes? Well, I know the pads on the old paint are for cantilever brakes and were probably used by Fred Flinstone at some point but I figured they only needed to last one ride until I could get to a bike shop. So, after some work, it was all together! Time? 10 past midnight. HOOooooo ha ha ha ha ha.

Well, since it's friday, and since I don't normally do a hard workout on friday, I figured it would be a good day to well, oh, take a nice easy mountain bike ride through rugged mountains. That wasn't what I thought but I figured I'd go easier than I'd want to anyway. I work about a half mile from one of the main mountain biking spots in the city of Pheonix. The Phoenix mountains are covered with singletrack, some trails harder than others. I'd determined I'd stay on Trail 100 since I was going to take it easy.
The new guy takes a break.

Starting out in the hills behind the Hilton (ha ha no pun intended) I still had some issues with the seat so I racked down on that bolt like there was no tomorrow and it held. I also would be plagued with a slipping seatpost which I think I am going to need to sand but that is all beside the point. I have never ridden with any kind of suspension before and I have to tell you I think I'm converted and have seen the light. It might be a crappy suspension fork but oh baby it is a lot better than no suspension fork. I found myself letting go on the descents and letting that shock do the work. The bike was much easier to steer as it bounced around on the rocks. I wandered up the perl charles memorial trail to Trail 100 and proceeded up the nice rock strewn trail.

Determined to follow 100 to it's end I meandered back into the mountains, I figure I held onto it for a few miles and then I started wandering off into forgotten paths. The paths were taking me in closer to the mountains, up towards the non-beginner trails on the side of the mountain. I don't really consider myself a beginner owing to the fact it may be my first ride on a hardtail but I have ridden a lot of miles in the backcountry (I did ride a fully suspended fsr around the 24 hours in the old pueblo course one beautiful day but that is like a dream now). The point being the mountain paths were probably going to work me a little harder than I had intended. Oh well.

Yours truly catching his breath on his "easy" workout day.

I made it all the way back in by the north side of Piestewa peak and then turned around. I took the perl charles trail back and at one point found myself dropping down a near vertical shoot and my back tire coming up off the ground over the back of my head. I was able to get a foot and hand out to catch myself but the rocky cliff cut my hand. Needless to say I had to walk/lower the bike the remaining 8-10 down to the other trail.

I think the bike handled well. It took all that I dished out and admittedly I was riding a bit conservatively but I think this is going to be a good bike. I need to get it out onto the hawes trails now.

The following are some pictures from my commutes over the last few days-

Parking lot up by Piestewa (Squaw) peak.

"Support our troops!" said the women falling out of the sky in the strange bathing suit!

Tunnel on the wonderful bike path.

The wonderful bike path.

Lights over Tempe town lake.

Yours truly kickin back at a stop light waiting for the signal to turn.

The commuter on the canal bank.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Power of Woman.

I could see the city lights

So, occasionally, I get times when there seems to be absolutely no point in life the universe and everything. It's not a good place to be and it's tough to get out. I should have known it was coming though as I have been more irritable with the kids lately and have lost a lot of interest in things I normally like to do. Because of various commitments no ride happened today and I had thought I might head out tonight. The problem was I was depressed and couldn't see any point in going out in the cold dark night when there was a nice warm bed. My wife reminded me I would enjoy it once I was out. Slowly I gathered all my stuff together telling myself I would just have to go a few miles but I needed to at least get out.

Once I was in the garage I was still sluggish until I pulled the coy mistress off the wall. Dang she is light. I got a little more motivated. I felt a little guilty though as I had not cleaned her properly after the last rain ride. Would she still treat me well?

She knew I didn't need complaints or whining right now. I was riding up Power road smoothly and steadily, the coy mistress helping me along and almost pedalling for me. I was still in a dark place but she stood by me and nudged me in the direction of the light. I arrived at the point of decision, should I drop down into the usery loop or head up Las Sendas way? I didn't want to be completely alone right now so I opted for the Las Sendas route.

I have never completely climbed Las Sendas all the way up to Haws road. The upper part of the hill stays at around 6% and I saw skateboarder coming down the hill. If I could skateboard good that would be awesome. It's interesting the things that happen in the dead of night.

I could see the city lights from the top of the hill and slowly a bit of the depression chipped away. The drop down the back of the hill chipped it further. Soon I was on my way out into Apache Jct and the Coy Mistress had me speeding along on a therapeutic journey back to normal. How long will it last? I don't know, but I do know I have hope right now and that's a good thing. Hope and really cold arms and hands. It's good to have a wise woman to kick me out the door, and another to move me across bridges that need to be crossed. The power of Woman is great indeed.

Entering Las Sendas

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lunch Date

Here's my new Super Randonneur jersey I got for doing a full series a few years back.

I had to drive in today since I had to do the singing thing tonight so I threw my new special lady in the car and was off. I decided I would take her down the Arizona Canal path and show her the sights.

The fine young thing I took to lunch.

We rode down to the theme park and metro center, but all she wanted to do was ride. She wouldn't go on the Ferris wheel with me, she wouldn't ride the roller coaster, She didn't want to shop, she just wanted to ride with me for miles and miles.
She was a smooth lady who insisted on taking the lead. She wasn't as slender or racy as many women, but with all that room for fenders and the cantilever brakes, you knew she could handle herself when things got tough. She had an independent spirit and long slender chainstays that looked like they could go on forever.
So we rode, and rode. Time would dictate that our time together must end though, she to be locked in the car for the afternoon, and I in my cubicle. Still, we would always remember the Arizona Canal, Thunderbird road, and the bum sleeping standing up in the bike tunnel underpass.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Wardrobe Malfunction (Bartlett Lake 200k)

House and mountain on the Carefree hwy.

They say a stitch in time saves nine. In some cases a stitch in time saves 50-60 minutes and 3 or 4 miles. I'll start at the beginning though. I'm starting my efforts to getting the RUSA R12 award and decided to start with Mike Sturgill's Bartlett Lake 200k permanent. It was kind of a hefty permanent to start things out on but it worked. Last time I rode one of Mike's permanents I blew my knee out. Well, between his permanent that started it and the Mt. Lemmon 200k brevet in 2008. That wiped out my brevet season last year. So I was a little superstitious but figured I would give it a go anyway.

We had a rehearsal for the caroling group that are working to raise money for the copperstar theatre group that my sister in law is involved with (they roped my wife into the role of rehearsal pianist and thus they pulled me in as the do anything guy depending on if they needed a Bass or Tenor that night). The rehearsal didn't end until after nine and by the time I got all my ride stuff ready it was nearly midnight. I was a bit regretful at this point that I didn't request a later start time but it turns out I needed the extra time anyway due to complications. I ended up with around 3 hours sleep since my wife's coughing fit kept me up an extra 45 minutes or so.

I had thought I had arisen with plenty of time to get going but discovering a flat on the front tire slowed me a lot since I couldn't find a new tube and the old tube split when I tried to take it out seeing as it had fused with the tire. When I finally was in the car it was at around 5 to 5 and including a stop to McDonalds for breakfast meant I wouldn't be on my way until 5:05. I had a 40 minute drive ahead of me if I speeded and a 5:30 start time. I must say I did speed a bit and when all was said and done I got a start time of 5:47. So I started behind and would have to hurry to the first control a mere 20 miles away. Turns out I didn't need to worry so much but the hurrying kept me warm on a very cold morning (for Phoenix anyway).

It was 35 degrees out and I was freezing. I wasn't wearing as much as I had up in Utah as I knew the day would warm up a bit. I had a spanky tailwind for the first bit which about 10 miles down the road would pull into a headwind, then a crosswind, and a just couldn't make up it's mind wind. Mike's cue sheet was spot on and led me in and out of housing divisions and eventually out onto Deer Valley road smack dab into rush hour traffic. Deer Valley road has bike lanes much of the way but there was a mile without them where I got passed by a bus (my old nemesis,) which gave me some pause.

Since I foreshadowed a problem with my wardrobe I bet you are dying to hear about it. Well, I was just tooling along, trying to get to my control on time when I notice my upper thigh is starting to feel a little sore around where it contacts the seat. I kept readjusting my shorts and moving in the seat but nothing was working. Somewhere in the middle of all the adjusting I look down and instead of seeing nice black shorts, I notice there is a sizable patch of fleshy white. That's a problem. Not only because it hurts over the course of a 125 mile ride as you rub the flesh off your groin, but also because a guy walking around with a hole in his shorts right next to his naughty bits could attract the wrong kind of attention.

Four Peaks in the distance

I decided to get to the first control which I was only a mile away from and assess the situation properly. Upon dismounting I noticed that my massive thighs that make it so I have to wear spandex shorts when running to prevent chaffing hid the rip from all but people with x-ray vision, which was good. Even with the late start I had banked 45 minutes.

I had a few options I figured. I could ride back and call it a day. I could soldier on and deal with the pain and likely have to drop out anyway when I started smearing blood on my lovely white bicycle seat. I chose the latter. I figured I'd figure something out. I thought about stuffing a plastic baggie down there or anything that looked slippery on the side of the road. About 6 miles down the road I thought about my leg warmer. I could pull it all the way up my leg and that would shield my leg from the seat.

The leg warmer solution was a bit better but I could feel it restricting blood flow as it was too tight. I was going to have to find a needle and thread somewhere. I stopped at the first shopping center which had target supercenter which turned out to be closed. After further delay and searching I found a kohl's department store and a home depot open. Kohl's did not have a needle and thread which I found amusing seeing as they sold clothes which of course are stitched together. Home Depot did not sell patch kits either (I was figure awning repair or something like that). They did in fact have a pair of scissors though which I was able to use to snip the top of my leg warmer so It wouldn't choke my poor leg.

I suppose at this point I should mention the blistering headwinds. At this point I think I know why Sturgill is such a strong rider. Of the two permanents of his I have rode both have had really nasty winds in the morning. So I had the winds to deal with and as I moved along the leg warmer was helping a bit but the rubber grippy stuff was irritating my leg too. Not as much, but I figured over 6 or 7 hours it would be bad. So again the search for thread and needle continued.

I finally found a thread and needle. At the 4 sons gas station just east of I-17 on the carefree hwy. I asked the attendant about a "travel" sewing kit and wonder of wonders they had one. They let me bring my bike inside where they could watch it while I went into the restroom and became RandoTailor. It was not good as new and my stitching was not as clean as the flat stitching on the original shorts but I do have to say it was a pretty good stitching job if I do say so myself. All in all I got 3 extra miles in and lost about an hour I figure. Next time I am not going to wear any old shorts I think, I also think it's time to retire the pair I wore Saturday, after all, they're only about 7 years old.

The other popular road ride that goes to the end of the pavement in Phoenix.

With the approach to Cave Creek road the climbing would start and would not stop until about 20 miles before the end of the ride. Yep, for the next 60-70 miles it would be up or down but no flat. On I climbed up into the funky town of Cave Creek. They have made they're town so "Old Westy" it crosses the line into tacky in my personal opinion. There was no shoulder but it wasn't too bad. People don't go to Cave Creek to drive fast.

Before long I was up in the more sensible town of Carefree. The cue sheet recommended a stop at the last Shell station since it would be over 2 hours to the next store. You know what? It was right! Mike must have ridden this before :) . I bought some dasani flavored water to mix in with my drink mix to make it taste batter since I hadn't had any koolaid on hand to mix in. I have to say with the sweeteners in the water and the sweetness of the drink mix it was almost too sweet. Like drinking a strangely flavored ice cream.

Cave Creek road back near the end of the pavement.

There was a lot of climbing in this part of the route. The long hill up to and through Cave Creek continued at 3-4% . As I looked back I could see the valley far below and all the mountain ranges of the Phoenix metro area. There were a lot more houses up here than the last time I was through here. Kind of a pity as the mountains were pretty.

There was still a bit of traffic climbing up to the Bartlett lake turnoff but I figured it would stop around there. Mike said since I was riding on Friday (have to burn off some vacation time or I lose it) I should have the roads up here all to myself. He was right. After the turnoff (yeah, to get the extra miles in he takes us up to the end of the pavement on Cave Creek road), it would only be the very occasional car that would pass me.

At one point a golf cart was cruising along on the golf course next to me about as fast as I was climbing. Mr. Polyester fancy pants was hardly working pushing that little peddle and here I am panting in the freezing wind busting up the hill. I have heard it said that cycling is a bit Bourgeois. Compared to golf it's a pauper's sport I think. I don't need to pay exhorbatant green fees every time I want to spend a weekend in the hills. Cyling also crosses many genres even homeless people ride bikes. I will admit though to ride at the randonneuring level requires a bit of an investment. Once invested there are not many fees to go out and ride though and Mike didn't charge me a cent to do this ride. Figuring I got ATM receipts at most controls I didn't buy much either. but I digress.

Golf Course with mountains in background.

There were climbing rollers heading up into the hills. Some were pretty steep topping out at 11%. The turnaround was at around 3200 feet which was what the highest elevation for the ride was despite the majority of the climbing still ahead. I managed to reach the information control at the turnaround with an hour still in the time bank. My main concern with arriving late was making this control on time. I should have also been concerned about the next one.

Bartlett lake road in Tonto National Forest

Though the big hill dropping down into Bartlett lake I had heard of and knew it for a long moderately steep grade, I was not prepared for the long climb before the long descent. I dropped into a little canyon right off the bat and then it was a long slog up a 6-7% grade for 3 miles. I just kept pedalling along though. Hills are not conquered in a moment and one will have many a discouraging moment climbing them. The drops on the other side were nice. I say "drops" because there was a small climb in between them. The last drop was long and bittersweet. Sweet as it was a speedy descent with a pretty lake in the foreground and bitter because I knew I would be coming right back up it in a few minutes.

The convenience store at the marina was just a portable trailer amusingly enough. They did sell water though which is what I needed. So, a quick receipt in the bag and a filling of the bottles with a few swigs myself (gotta keep drinking, even with the cold dehydration will not do! and this dumb wind was pumping the water right out of me).

Rocks along one of the climbs on Bartlett Lake rd.

As was expected it was a very long and painful slog up the hill. I was warm for the first time today though. The headwind was now at my back and moving along at the same speed I was. I was working up a good healthy sweat as I would pedal my legs into exhaustion then stand for a bit to work different muscles. I was tempted to stop but knew at this point I would be pushing my luck on getting back on time. You see, I had to go carol at the Biltmore at 6:30 and figuring for the drive home and a shower, I would need to be done by 4. Hence I didn't stop for anymore pictures after the Marina.

Hill after hill I slowly fought my way back the 13 miles to Cave Creek road. I knew from there it was all downhill. Or at least I thought it was all downhill. It was very sweet travelling at decent speed again going down Cave Creek road and onto Pima. To get the last few miles to make it a 200k Mike had steered us east on Dynamite. Well, I thought Dynamite was a flattish road since my memory of my last time shooting past it was in a car. In actuality it's a 2-3% hill for the 3 miles to the control. A parting shot across the bow if you will. It was a little frustrating at first but then again, whats a few hundred more feet of climbing once you have already gone over 6000? I was in and out of the control quickly, It was after 3 and I was racing the clock now.

What goes up must come down and it was a nice descent going down Alma School parkway and then through all the twisty sideroads back to the start. I finally got back to the start at about 10 after four. Not too bad, it could still work. We ended up arriving 3 minutes before we were supposed to sing, with me having binged half a load of bananna bread on the way over. Singing? It was not without it's problems since it was the first time we sang outside together and it was tough to hear each other. All in all though it worked out.

The gate leading down to the Marina