Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Paul, you had a good idea....

Cherry Blossoms

Yep. I know, I won't let it go to my head. Once in awhile in a marriage a man is right and he needs to hold onto those moments. Such as arguments about whether normal diapers are the same as swim diapers (humurous results ensued in the pool when said 'non-swim' diapers exploded). Then there is yesterdays success.

Daisy, Daisy, tell me your answer do....

Since our flight back didn't leave until almost 6 PM, we stowed our luggage at my brother's swanky goverment office (shared by 4 people) and headed off to see some sites in the rain. We toured the Smithsonian Museum of Air and Space in the morning as I slowly dried out from the morning's walking (and purchased a plastic poncho upon the observation of the abysmal failure of my rain jacket). My big plan was to swing by for a peek at the Constitution and then head over to this place called bikethesites (bikethesites.com), that I had found online, to rent a bike.

Me and my First Lady.

Well, the line to see the constitution was an hour long. We had an hour and 15 minutes before we had to Giddyup on over to Ronnie Reagan's international airport to saddle up one o' them wild 737's. We decided a bike ride around the sites would be a much more pleasant way to spend that hour than waiting in line which we may or may not get to the front of.

Jefferson Memorial

Despite the day being mostly rainy they were open. We filled out a form, forked over the card, got a helmet and then we were presented with a nice Trek Tandem with fairly fat tires. Fat is good today as the side paths at the mall are muddy. Then he asks us to take a quick ride around the court yard to make sure things are adjusted OK. Ride around the courtyard.....right.....hmmm, now's the tricky part isn't it.

Me and Washington

Ok, now what did all those guys who successfully introduced their wives to the wonderful world of tandems say about starting out? Hmmm, ok, I remember something about a slower cadence for unexperienced legs since your feet are kind of attached to your partners so to speak. Hmm, I also faintly recall something about constant communication. Oh yeah, take it easy and just enjoy the rides, ride according to your stokers ability and enjoyment. Got it. With a notification about starting to D'Net, off we wobbled.

Hop on Tommie! Don't be such a stony personality.

Since we managed to shakily avoid the posts in the court yard and ride a circle he let us go. Hmm, this is a little tricky to control, yet somehow seriously cool, although I am sure we looked dorky. My wife was wearing my yellow bike jacket so we were extremely visible. Down 12th street we went heading to the national mall. No one honked at us though that might have been perhaps their amusement that stopped them, or perhaps it was their awe at our extremely smooth pedal strokes and ability to coolly slice down the road on a tandem,.... not. I am somewhat proud to say it was not too long before we stopped wobbling though.

My First Lady.

By the time we got onto the mall we were steady enough for me to risk having someone take our picture. We asked the right person because they got it right the first time. I can never take pictures of moving bicycles but she nailed it first time. Of course we weren't going very fast but she still did a good job.

What ya think honey? Can we out drag this bus?

We rode towards the monument for aways and then were forced to take a road once we were down by the monument itself. We stayed on the road until we got down by the Jefferson memorial. D'Net had been snapping pictures all along since she didn't have to steer. Nevertheless we did snap a few pictures while stopped for a view of good old Tom.

Blossoms near the Jefferson Memorial

Next was kind of a funny thing. Somehow we ended up on the cement sidewalk that is the edge of the tidal basin riding under cherry trees in full blossom, ducking a low branch here and there, avoiding falling in, waiting for pedestrians to let us through. The FDR memorial doesn't allow bikes so we were stuck down there until we got passed it.

Cherry Blossoms and Jefferson memorial.

After cruising around the basin it was time to head back. Around now D'Net started commenting on how good an idea this was and commented on how fun it was to ride a tandem, and that next time we visit she wants to rent one and go on one of my rides with me. Sweet!!!

Washington Monument

Back at the rental place a guy and his daughter came up as we were turning stuff in and we highly recommended the tandem experience. Thanks internet tandem oracles! Those tips were awesome. Now all I have to do is find a cheap tandem. Might take awhile to get the budget up though. Anyone got a tandem they'd like to loan or unload on someone?

Riding along the Tidal basin

White House. Kind of pale in comparison to all the spring happening out in front of it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mr. Layton goes to Washington

Jefferson Memorial
It was tough to get out this morning but I did it. I seemed to have lost one of my gloves since Friday morning and had to improvise with a knee warmer. I also forgot to bring my hat and since the temps were below freezing I would need something to cover my head so I unziped my hood from my rain jacket.
I think wearing two jerseys under my jacket was a little overkill as I warmed right up as I headed down into old town Alexandria Virginia. When I got to the Mt. Vernon trial I was noticing puddles that were iced over. I hope the cherry blossoms aren't too affected.

Cherry Blossoms near Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Riding my brothers bike is a little more work than my road bike as it has a much more upright position and the tires are larger. Still I made OK time into a headwind. It was a beautiful ride up the side of the Potomac and then over to the Monuments on the north side.
Blossoming trees in front of the Washington Monument

It was cool riding my bike among all the symbols of our nations great men. Since there is no parking next to the monuments I think a bicycle is the weapon of choice as I could just ride up to them and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial even had a bicycle valet parking area.
Cherry Blossoms and the Washington Monument

The sun was warming things up and making pictures good when I noticed the time getting to around 8:30 and it was time for me to turn around. I made a quick trip down to the Lincoln memorial and then turned around to head back.
The World War II memorial

I actually made really good time heading back as I had a tailwind. I still stopped at a few spots for pictures though.
My brother's hybrid and the Lincoln Memorial

An angry horse and a rather cold looking naked lady looks down at me.

Cherry Blossoms

The Mt. Vernon path goes across the end of the runway

Riding along Holmes run. Almost back.

Leg/Hand warmer

Hood on my head.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Paul crossing the Holmes

Perhaps you can see by the deciduous trees still budding in spring that I am not in Kansas anymore. Perhaps it is the cold grey sky. Perhaps it is the strange wet stuff falling from the sky that tipped you off. Well, whatever it is, know that I am once again riding on the Mt Vernon trail in Washington DC. It is really cold here this week. Last week it was 74 degrees, today it was 50, windy, rainy, and cold.

My Brother is living at a new condominium so it is a bit more of a ride down to the Mt. Vernon trail. I decided to try Google map's new bike routing and discovered that the route it gave me had a lot of lights and worked it's way through a web of traffic. The route I took back was simpler even if it was a touch longer. The street system out here is just crazy with a million little streets here and there turning every which way. It's not built out on the square type street layout.

Anyway, everytime I took my hands out of my gloves to take a picture they got so cold I couldn't get them back in the glove so I only took 2 pictures. tomorrow I am going to try and get up to the monuments and get some pictures. It's supposed to be cold but at least it won't be raining. I'm glad I brought my tights. Maybe tomorrow morning I'll have the good sense to wear them.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rock n' Roll Randonnee

Early morning in the Tucson Mountains

The time is 4:18 AM. It's early, and just a bit chilly. The start time I agreed to was 4 am and I am 20 minutes late but I'll make up the time. Lights shine brightly as I head down Arizola avenue. This is a new part of the course for me and I am quickly through it and onto Jimmie Kerr blvd heading down to Eloy. In the darkness I see lights off in the distance and the night reinforces the thoughts of the long and daunting journey ahead. It is going to be a tough day. I've been tired this week and just not in the game so to speak. I feel intimidated by all that lies before me. Riding 254 miles alone is difficult. At Cochise there was Bruce to check in peridodically with, on the 300k I rode with people almost all day as well as on the 200k. Today was completely solo and it seemed a much bigger task than it usually does for some reason. So I dug out the mp3 player to create a bit of a distraction and told myself I would make it at least as far as Picacho Peak and then re-asses.

This morning I just went with knee and arm warmers and a windvest figuring the forecast high was near 70 degrees and it should be a nice day. I never really got warm all day except for a bit climbing mile wide road. At 6 am I pass Picacho Peak and press on, I am well underway now and the first glints of dawn are starting in the eastern sky. I am chilly but not overly so. By the time I am to the Marana Circle K the sun has just peeked over the horizon. It is a beautiful day in the desert and the desert is green from the recent rains. Purple and orange wildflowers grow on the side of the road. The river on sanders road is still flowing strong as I pass and start to head up picture rocks road. The hills that usually daunt me felt a lot easier today for some reason.

The dashboard.

I am making good time. I work my way up mile wide road and there is a pretty hefty crosswind. The wind has been a fickle friend this morning, sometimes a tailwaind, sometimes a crosswind, but only rarely a headwind so far. Up I climb, there is a good sized group of cyclists regrouping at the turnoff to the McCain loop and they wave at me and comment about the tailwind. Yep, nice tailwind I suppose I should enjoy it while it lasts. Cresting the top I am descending through the Tucson Mtns when up ahead I see a familiar figure coming up the hill. He is hunched low and his body seems to be encased in a yellow halo made by the sun lighting up the hair which covers his body like a yellow gorilla, he is only wearing cutoff jean shorts. Yep, the wolf was out and about this morning. I wonder how come he is not cold, perhaps he has transcended such concepts in his endless journeys among these desert hills. He gives me a smile and a nod and is on his way.

Butte just north of Calle Don Miguel

At Drexel road I figured it was about time to take a break after 70 miles. Only thing was I forgot to put on sunscreen when I took off again. I was about halfway up Helmet peak when I stopped. There are many cyclists out riding helmet peak today. Having a giant seatbag I am eschewed by the racing crowd but smiled and waved to by the older fellows who have learned to relax a bit and enjoy the beautiful day. I am quickly up down helmet peak road. ever since 2006's 400k this hill does not seem like any big deal anymore. The course now heads straight instead of heading down Helmet peak road and I am off. I must say the scenery up here is much better than wandering around the streets of greenhaven or whatever town that is off of La Canada or whatever we used to ride. Climbing the short 10% spot out in the middle of nowhere I see to people ahead that look like cyclists. It is odd that I have caught anyone with my big old bag hanging off the back. One takes off just before I get there and the other is not a cyclist but a support crew as I see him hop into a van with a giant bike rack on the roof that looks like it could hold 10 or more bicycles and there is a large hammer nutrition ad on the side of it. I didn't catch the guy again you might have guessed. I didn't feel too bad about it. Even if I wasn't encumbered and had 80+ miles in my legs, he is obviously training and must be pretty good if he justifies that level of support and likely sponsorship.

Mission Road

I fly down between the mines and into the rollers along Camino Del Sol. I am getting into the last hill when my rando sense goes off. Hmmm, was that a gas station I just passed? Yep, but that wasn't tres Calle or whatever street I'm supposed to turn on.....Still, can't be a lot of gas stations in a neighborhood like this. Better stop and check the cue sheet anyway for good measure. Hmmm, what do ya know, that station is Mercado Del Sol, the control. Good call Paul.

Some more water and some more drink mix and I am off again. I am pleased to note that we spend less time on the frontage road with the new course. There are patches of bright yellow buttercups or poppys or something like that and I wait for the largest patch to get a picture. By the time I get to the Cow Palace I still haven't found it. It is amusing to see that across from the cow palace is a saloon fronted by a giant cow skull.

I've never seen anything look more like a helmet in my life.

Up and down and up and down, I am slowly working my way up to Arivaca. The temperature has not risen much. It's in the 60's but feels like the low 50's. I am getting crosswinds and headwinds now. I suppose it is the price for the bits of tailwinds I have enjoyed this morning. It is nice to see a border patrol checkpoint along this road and a strong presence of border patrol driving the road. The first time I rode this course I about got taken out by some smuggler or someone who had enough urgency to have them going far over the speed limit passing someone coming my direction. I hugged the edge of the road and missed a head on hit by inches. Today there are only border patrol speeding along and they do so fairly responsibly.

Rincon Mountains with snow

I ran into 3 seperate groups of bike tours af around 15 - 20 people each. People from Northern climes who paid big bucks to come down here and ride in the sun with a nice warm van behind to fill their every desire and wish. Probably rode in it to the top of the big hill out of Arivaca even. They look like they are enjoying themselves. The last group has everyone on hybrids. I suppose that group is folks who aren't used to riding road bikes. Oh well, I am not breaking the bank today on my tour. I might be breaking lots of other stuff but not the bank, saddle sores and sore muscles to heal eventually after all.

You call that little coin purse a yours a seat bag boy? Now this here's what I call a seatbag.

Arivaca was a little surreal today. I heard fairly loud music echoing across the town. It wasn't western music, it wasn't some sort of native american southwesty type music, heck it wasn't even gene autry. Nope, the music was some sort of techno pop christian reggae mix. There was one guy with a drum machine a voice pitch correction module over corrected to make his voice sound like Cher (you know that synthetic type vocal sound she pioneered a few years back and which is used ad nauseum these days). He played one finger improvisation while he sang repetitive songs. I am married to a piano instructor so one fingered playing is a little annoying. It's how those organ salesmen hook old folks that walk the mall. You play a note with one finger and the keyboard does the rest adding base or something plastic and uniform in the background that's supposed to be harmony. Anyway, I digress and I shouldn't be too unkind, after all, they offered me a bag of popcorn and a bottle of water. It was a funny experience though. I never would have thought of seeing that down here. Then again, I have been surprised by the locals of Arivaca before when invited by an innebriated lady to play darts while I shivered and shook over a warm radiator on a hellacious evening a few years back. They are very nice people even if a bit quirky. If I had to put up with all the border craziness and was living out in a small town in the middle of nowhere (very scenic nowhere though) I'd be a bit quirky too.

Snow on the Rincon Mtns.

From Arivaca I am to start strong headwinds that will stay with me to past Marana. I had made it to Arivaca around 1-1:30 ish and was hoping to keep good time from here since it trends downhill from here with a few exceptions. It is frustrating to ride 12-14 mph downhill. A stretch of road that should take a bit over an hour and a half takes 3 hours. In 2006 I covered this stretch in less than an hour. Of course I had earned every last bit of that tailwind in the preceding day. Today I would pay an inordinate price for the few tailwinds I had this morning. Along in here I spotted a last group of flowers and decided this was the last chance and took a picture.

Around 5:30 I pull into Three Points. The last hour I have been thinking about the coming night. Though the temps have been around 70 it has felt cold all day. I am sure it is going to be cold tonight and I am also sure that arm warmers arent going to cut it. They only sell extremely heavy rain coats so I must be creative. I get some garbage bags and electrical tape from the guy working in the hardware department. I then address my second need. I have been craving solid food for the last 2 hours. There are pizzas ready to eat in a warmer and I am soon satisfying my strong hunger. This stop was the longest today. I was getting saddle sore and fatigue was setting in. Added onto this was the mental challenge of the headwinds over a very long stretch of nothingness and a good break was in order.

Across from the Cow Palace

I near the northern border of Saguaro National Monument when dusk is finishing and my lights light up the road before me. I'd put my reflective gear on down at Three Points but made it farther than I thought before the light was all gone. I hate riding down Sandario after dark. It's narrow and the cars passing are annoying as their headlights hit my rearview mirror and blind me. There is no enjoying the night through here, unlike when I road to Sasabe and back and road this stretch at 3 AM. On Sanders 2 dogs pick up the chase but they are slow on the uptake and I am passed. I had originally hoped to be done at 9:30. A late start of course moved that back to 10 but headwinds would shift it later than that. I pull into Marana after 8:00 and I foolishly think I might make it before 11.

It is cold now. The time has come to put my plan into action. The idea is to keep the wind from blowing through my armwarmers and so I tape strips of the plastic bags to the fronts of my arms. People stare but try not to look like they are staring. The guy back in three points thought it was the most natural thing, and said he had to do it once himself to get out of the Grand Canyon. The good folks at the circle K did not appear to have shared that experience. The next stretch of road is always long and usually cold.

The road to Arivaca
The temp is around 50 degrees as I get on the frontage road. The forecast didn't have it getting below 50 before midnight. The forecast is wrong. It is a long cold slog down the frontage road. I am feeling stronger than normal at least. I am mentally in "just get this ride finished mode" at this point but interupt it occaisionly to gaze at the bright stars and the fingernail moon. Will the moon beat me to the car? Only time will tell. In Eloy the temps are dropping into the low 40's. I'm cold but not painfully so as the baggies hold out the wind. The next long stretch of road lies before me. It is not physically long. The tantalizing glow of lights in the distance grow hopes that the ride is nearly done. They are not the long awaited lights of the interstate though. Only exits on the interstate with their accompanying stores. There are an annoying number of cars out forcing me onto the shoulder where I will jolt on un repaird expansion cracks that have buckled the pavement until they pass. There is nothing to do but press on though. The distance remaining seems long but is not long enough to do anything about other than continue to pedal.
Rockin Arivaca.

I-10 eventually comes into view and soon after the turn onto Arizola. At 11:30 I pull into the parking lot just over 19 hours after I began. A lazy overweight door greeter does not allow me to bring my bike into the enteranceway and there are too many people around for me to trust his watchfullness unlike the gentleman this morning who actually stood outside to watch it. After changing and stowing the bike I am back and get my receipt at McDonalds inside 20 minutes later. The day is done and now the only task is to make it home without falling asleep. I didn't make the original time I wanted but I was riding alone and had winds and cold to deal with so all in all I think I did fine. It just would have been nice to get back before Chipotle's closed though.
Boboquivari peak

Cool wildflowers

Taking a break from the wind and strategizing the cold night ahead

Armwarmer deluxe

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Preview de Phoenix

It's cold. Really cold (well not compared to northern climes), I couldn't find my arm warmers and by the time I am out to the meetup spot it is 39 degrees and all I have is a windvest and knee warmers in addition to my kit. The group plan today is to ride the Tour de Phoenix route. There's about 30 - 40 cyclists at the lot. It looks good. I chat with Sterling and apparently the forest service is forcing PBAA to close the Bush Highway and Usery pass road for this years El Tour de Phoenix. This is costly so if any of you out there are thinking about doing riding it, PLEASE sign up now. It's expensive to close roads like this and if this event is to continue they need all the support they can get this year. Theres a lot of support for this coming from the city of Mesa and we need to put up to hold our side of the bargain and keep this ride alive.

Pulling out onto Brown I find it is much warmer riding in a pack. It's starting to get light in the east as we cruise across Mesa. I find the pace a little slow and think maybe it's because there is a race this weekend and the fast guys are probably there. I think about some advice I got about going platinum at Tour de Phoenix. Get in with a fast pack, and avoid pulling at all costs. Lost in these thoughts I find myself at the front pulling everyone up Via Linda. The pace is sustainable for me and we hold it until we turn onto Shea and we peel off to head to the back. Not too long afterwards the pace notches up and I am struggling to keep up. We are working hard and people are starting to drop off. I hold back a bit and get into hill climbing mode. About mid hill I start passing people up. There are two packs now and I am back of the second one.

Passing over the hill a group of 8 forms and we drop down the back of the hill. Near the bottom a guy with aerobars goes by, and I start thinking about Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds for some reason. Was that "A girl with colitis goes by" , or "a girl with kaleidascope eyes"?

At the Circle K before the beeline I get to the regroup. The convenience store is surrounded by cyclists in every direction. It's a big group today. The regroup is lasting a long time and I am getting cold so I head out. Everyone follows me out. I guess it was one of those "Ya think we should go?....I dun know do you think we oughta go?......I da know you think we should go?" type things.

After getting on the Beeline a large group formed as they passed me and I hooked onto the back and held on for over half of the way up the hill to the intersection with the Bush highway. Then I dropped off. After a bit I passed another wayfaring cyclist spit off the back. I enjoyed the climb in the green desert. The beautiful mountains, the cacti, the creasote, the smooth pavement, the live ammunition. Live ammo? Yup. about 30-40 rounds out on the pavement spread along the fog line and the rumble strip looked like 9mm rounds. I figured I'd call DPS and let them know. They are the department of public safety after all, they could make a decision on how safe it was. I talked to the lady there over the next 2 miles and finally got her a good mile marker. I still managed to keep good time though. I made the regroup before they left. Dave had a spoke pull a chunk out of his rear hub. This was an expensive ride for him, he'll probably just buy a new wheel.

The group stayed together until the little hill after the Saguaro lake turnoff and then the guys that couldn't hold onto the fast guys formed a second group which lasted to four corners and then we all broke apart on the last hill. I let a couple guys pass me up at the bottom but knew I'd pass them before the top. The trick is to keep it steady all four miles up to the top. I was expecting a regroup at the top but there wasn't any. There were 5 or 6 people behind me and I couldn't see anyone out front. I knew the PBAA a route turned on McKellips so I took that route and then wound my way around to Sonic and had a nice late breakfast. 75 miles with an 18.5 mph average and 2500 feet of climbing. Not too bad for a mornings work. At home I discover my brake has been rubbing all morning, no wonder I felt sluggish, I wonder if it's been that way long.

The above picture is the Salt River as I crossed it on my commute the other night. It is again the mighty Salt after many dry years. They are letting the dams flow since the snowpack is so good in the north country they know they need to spill some water to make room for the spring melt.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thanks Georges.

Today was an interesting commute. I woke up, got out the door early, got to the closer of the two park and rides early and got out to get the bike ready. Brrr, Who turned winter back on? Hooked on my armwarmers, pulled on the legwarmers and the windvest. Pumped up my tires and I was off. It was a sunny morning, I was off early, I soaked in the ambience of Scottsdale as I warmed up and turned onto Indian School road. I felt confident, I shifted down and stood up to get up to speed after the corner.....BAM. There was no hiss, there was no sound of air rushing out of the tire. Just BAM and I'm on the rim. I knew the tube was shot. you don't have that massive of a blowout and have a hole small enough to patch. I had about a 1/2 inch hole in my tube by the time I got the wheel off. I looked at the tire but couldn't see any noticeable holes so I put a new tube in and started pumping, then I saw it. There was a slit in the sidewall almost an inch long. My tire is toast. I was not too far from the car but I decided to not say die. It was time for George. I don't usually carry cash around but today I was lucky. Due to the size of the tear I didn't think 1 George was going to do it so I took out his other brother George and folded them up so they made a sizeable tire boot. Around now a fireman came out of the fire station I was in front of and asked me if I needed help. I told him I was good. Me and my friend George and his other brother George had it taken care of hopefully. I pumped it up to around 80-90 psi. My good old buddy George was smilling at me through the hole but he was holding.

Back on the bike, it's a sunny morning, I still will make it on time. I am working semi hard. Around Camelback mountain I go. I get up to the light I turn left at and have to wait for a few cars to pass so I can get into the turn lane. I trackstand, then I have a break (ha ha, I suppose that's a double entendre), I push down on the pedal and suddenly I am in the middle of the lane spinning my feet at 130 rpm with no resistance at all and I stall right in the middle of the two lanes on my side of the road. I hurriedly do the shuffle of shame getting my bike into the turn lane and then another shuffle of shame to get over to the sidewalk once the light is green.

I spent the next 15 minutes looking for my chain back where I felt it come loose and couldn't find it for the life of me. I found a pair of scratched up sunglasses that I'm going to give my son so he stops stealing mine, but no chain. At long last I looked back over to where I had finished my walk of shame and there it was. It had hung onto my frame somehow until I got off the road. It had snapped about 2 links back from the quicklink which had come undone in the process but the pieces were there so I'd just have to go with the shorter chain and not shift into the big chainring until I replaced the chain. I had a chain tool but fortunately I didn't need it. I now was officially behind schedule and after a nice ride down the canal I got to the fitness center to clean up and was in my desk 17 minutes late. Not too bad considering a double mechanical I think. Tonight I'll hit the bike shop a mile down the road on my way home. I hope they have 28c tires and a 9 speed chain.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers (in faraday cages)

Tonight I decided to go for a nighttime trail ride. I've never mountain biked before after dark. It was a pretty cool experience. I started down by Red Mountain park and took advantage of every dirt trail I could to get up to Las Sendas where I caught a trail back into the Hawes system. I played it pretty conservatively so I did a little more hike a bike than normal even though my HID light I bought a few years back put out plenty of light. You just don't get as much depth perception at night I think.

My goal was to do a Usery Loop but on trails instead of pavement. I just about took out a cactus with my leg going down Twisted Sister (it has a lot of close to the trail cacti and fast turns. Things are really peaceful in the desert in the evening. I could see the lights of Fountain Hills down in the valley and the city lights of the main valley were turning the clouds pinkish orange behind me.

Wild Flowers by the light of the HID

Climbing up the wild horse trail I noticed a flash up on the mountain across the road. I thought maybe it was someone taking a picture until I heard the thunder, it was pretty wierd as there weren't any apparent storms around. At this point I was getting between 6 and 12 missippi's. I knew I had 1 or 2 miles so I wasn't too concerned yet.

Old man Saguaro

When I got back onto the pavement it was a different story. I heard one a long ways off and thought I was safe. Just as I was getting into the wide open pass I saw a bright flash on the hill to my right and I got 2 mississippi. I was a bit concerned but convinced myself the bolts were still happening a long ways apart. Within a minute the hill to my left got struck and it was less than 2 mississippi. Now it occurred to me that I was wearing a metal light on top of my head and it had a wire going down into my jersey pocket and I was on a metal bike. It was a bit disconcerting for me. In fact it was enough disconcerting that I took my helmet and light off, got off the bike, walked a ways away and did the lightning squat. The idea is if you squat on the ball of your feet and scrunch up the electricity goes around your heart if you are struck. Less than a minute later a truck passed and came back and the guy asked me if I wanted a ride. Of course I accepted. It was not a good time to be up in the pass. A vehicle is a very rudimentary Faraday Cage in that the lighting goes through the body of the car and not your body.

He gave me a ride down to the bottom of the hill and then dropped me off. He said I was lucky as he never picks up people but he saw that lightning and me squatting and decided he would stop. I think I lucked out on that one. Not that squatting with lightning striking all around you isn't fun. All's well that ends well I gues. It was a good ride, even with the lightning.

Earlier in the day I took the kids mountain biking down at San Tan Regional park. Below are some pictures of them. They went 7 miles and did 310 feet of climbing. Not too bad for 7 year olds and 1 six year old.

Josh and Joseph attacking the hill

The desert is green

The hill got a little too steep (even for me, but I was towing a 6 year old)