Sunday, August 15, 2010

Under the Milky Way....

Saguaro Moon

Aug 13 is a day I'd been looking forward to all week.  I made sure to get everything ready when I left in the morning so I'd have it after work and I could go straight to McDowell Mtn regional park for the McDowell Mtn Moonlight ride on the Pemberton trail.  There were rumors of a barbeque put on by the Slippery Pig Bike shop with brats and other tasty treats at the end of the ride.  The start time was 7:30 and everyone had to be off the trail by 9:30.  These times would be harder than I thought to meet.

First thing I discovered was my back tire was flat, but since I was late to work I figured I'd just fix it at the trailhead.  I wore my bike shoes to work so I wouldn't forget them and then changed into my work shoes that I keep under the desk for when I bike commute, but this would be all for naught.

I got out of work later than I should have and found myself heading out with an hour to go and still needing to stop by the bike shop.   I spent a good 5-10 minutes riding around the parking lot waiting for a space to open up.  When I ducked into the shop I found a cheap mini pump quickly (first thing I forgot) and the guys hooked me up with a slime tube to fix my flat.  After getting some gatoraid, water and a pack of Dolly Madison doughnuts in Bashas (doughnuts were to replace the gels I forgot to bring) I was off to battle traffic up Shea and then to get lost in Fountain Hills while downing the gatorade to get ahead of the hydration game.  In the end I got to the parking lot around 7:40.  I figured I was still good but I hurried as fast as I could to fix the flat and setup all my lights and fill my hydration pack (forgot my water bottles,  I was fortunate to have had the pack in the back from a campout a month or two ago.

In my hurry I put my main light on and tested it.  It was dead.  That was why I brought a spare battery which worked.   I put on my two blaze 3 watt lights on my handlebars and between my helmet HID light and the two handlebar lights, I was throwing out a ton of light.   I then went to get my biking shoes out of the car....  Hmmm,  where are they?  they were supposed to be here... no, wait,  they're supposed to be on my feet since I changed back into them after work right? Wrong.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my biking shoes were still under my desk where they would do a fat lot of good.  I was heading into a 2 hour mountain bike ride on hilly singletrack at night wearing my office shoes on Time Atak clipless pedals.

I girded up my spandex, put on a stiff upper lip,  and signed in at the register.  Then I was off into the night alone.  I'd get passed by several others who were late.  I couldn't believe I was going that much slower but I was working as hard as was prudent seeing as I had only ridden this trail once before in the daylight, going the opposite direction.   It didn't matter a whole lot though as we progressed up the hill a good number of the speedy guys would be stopped waiting for friends or checking out their bike or something else yada yada yada.   Guess I wasn't so slow after all.   I hate riding in wieners.  My motto is stay on the bike as much as you can instead of riding fast, stopping, riding fast, stopping and so forth.

It was a bit challenging climbing the rocky ridges heading up to the mountain and I found myself breathing hard and still getting passed by a few people.  Near the top I would pass several groups though.  I paused a moment to take the picture above at one point as the moon was about to take a header behind the mountain.  It was cooling down around in here and the evening breezes made things extremely pleasant.  I started to pass people who honestly admitted they were tired and when I asked one guy if he was ok,  he said he was just tired but he would really like my light.  I must admit,  I was in the lap of luxury.   I was throwing out more light than one of my car headlights and rabbits, and desert rats were vaporizing before my eyes.  Well, not really,  I saw a couple of them though and thye at least ran away from my light.

The rolling hills around the top of the loop made me glad I had all the light as we twisted and turned and rolled around various obstacles.  A bush here a bush there...oops,  no that should be a cactus here,  a cactus there.   Did I mention I was really glad I had all that light to help me avoid the "bushes"?  Towards the end of the rollers (and I was good and ready to hit the long descent let me tell you!).  I passed a lady on a hill and then not too long after that my HID blinked out.  I thought it might be the battery but I pulled off to the side and fiddled with it anyway to no avail and she passed me.  I figured since my two handlebar lights didn't throw out nearly as much light I'd ride behind her and not pass her again.  I held her until we started to descend and she pulled away having the more light to see by.  I didn't do too badly though since the trail is wide and smooth on this part of the loop.  Still,  I had to slow a lot more at the places the trail made a sharp turn since my helmet light wasn't there to let me look at the end of the turn.  I got passed by one guy in here who was really cooking.

When I found myself alone again I discovered that you could see the milky way out here despite being so close to Phoenix.  There were a lot of stars overhead and several times I hit ruts while I was looking at them and nearly biffed it.   It was a beautiful night to be riding in the desert.  The temps had cooled off, it was mostly downhill from here,  and I was on a bike cruising through the whoopdi doos.   I got my helmet light back on through here, not too long before I saw the familiar lights of the parking lot off in the distance.

Upon arriving I was informed by an apologetic cook that they were out of everything but bacon which they were currently frying up since they had an unexpectedly high turnout (140,  when they usually only get 100).  The bacon tasted really good.  I guess with a name like "Slippery Pig"  they have to serve good bacon.  They did have soda's left too (I think this is because they were giving out beer too and I suspect much of this crowd didn't opt for soda).  After I signed out I stowed my bike and then remembered my doughnuts which I enjoyed on the way out.   It was a really good ride and I am definitely going to do it next time I can.

As to feeling like I was working harder and not keeping up with other folks?  Well,  rolling the bike across the lot I discovered my back brake had been rubbing all night.   Nothing like some resistance training huh?  Tonight may have been the night of the living dead equipment problems but it was so worth it.

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