Sunday, January 30, 2011


Evening on Red Mountain

In February the Brumbys are organizing an informal time trial over Usery Pass.  So,  it stands to reason that many of them have a desire to train on the backside of Usery theoretically.  Sterling sent out the plan on Friday that it was to be a double loop on Saturday.  It's not typical of the Brumbys to double ride anything but that's what they decided and it fit into my training schedule good.  It goes without saying that I woke up late on Saturday though.  Well,  actually I didn't wake up late,  I just got out late so I had to meet them along the route.  The other thing that didn't go as planned was my attire.  How can it be such a warm Friday night and such a cold Saturday morning?  Perhaps I should take the advice to put a thermometer outside my window.  Anyway, I opted out of the tights and long sleeve jersey for the arm warmers, vest and tights.  It was to be a cold cold morning.  Yeah, I can hear all you guys up north playing violins.

I was able to get to the point they usually turn off of McDowell before they did so we hooked up and Sterling welcomed me to the group where I took my place at the back.  I am still trying to get back to where I was last year at this time.  Sure enough I held them until we started to go uphill and then the fast guys dropped the hammer and raced to the top.  I said goodby and figured I was gonna ride solo most of the morning.  Interestingly enough,  they waited at the top for everyone to regroup.  What a classy bunch of guys.

After swooping down Kong (packs roaring along at 40+ mph always make me really nervous so I hung back a bit).  We cruised along over to the bottom of little kong and I figured I'd be dropped for good this time, when what was this?  I passed Sterling, and then a guy named Frasier (who I would ride with much of the morning).  So perhaps, I am not in as bad shape as I thought,   perhaps the January guys are mostly diehard racers.  I suppose the fact I've dropped 6 pounds in the last couple of weeks doesn't hurt either.

Fascinatingly enough,  there was another re-group at the top.  I was two for two.  On the backside Sterling told everyone not to bother waiting at the top.  I pulled ahead of Sterling and Frasier (but they would stay in view all the way up).  I watched the fast guys eventually fade from sight and got into my own mojo,  I figured now at last, the group would go on but at least I had Sterling and Frasier to ride with.  Wonder of wonders, there were a few guys that came back my way as I neared the top.  I figured they were going for a repeat but as I crested, it turned out that I had again made the regroup and they were just going back to see where Sterling was.  I am climbing stronger lately,  perhaps I will be able to finish the Mining Country Century in March after all. 

I really wanted to climb over Las Sendas Mt. this morning and was tempted to let the group go so I could cut through Las Sendas the hard way when lo and behold,  they turned up Hawes.  Sterling bid goodbye as he had to head home,  but Frazier and I climbed in the back and watched the strong racing types muscle up the 8% hill that is the top of Hawes.  Again they waited at the top for us,  I could get used to this riding the whole day with the group thing.

Interestingly enough rather than head straight around Usery again they opted for a Las Sendas loop.   When it looked like they were going to do another I asked if anyone wanted to do another Usery loop.  Around six of us split off to head onto the usery loop.  Frazier and I held onto the back of them and amusingly enough we weren't that far behind them when we got to the top.  At the top we compared bike computer notes and found we had climbed 2500' this fine chilly morning.  By the time I got home I was further surprised to find I had gone 54 miles.  I hadn't intended to go that far so I could save something for the afternoon ride with my kids.

 Sometimes you gotta walk.

I have to say I was a little tired after cleaning the back yard and hauling a giant truckload of trash out to the dump but what matter wounds to the body of a knight errant?  For although he tires he will rise again, and woe to the hill that shall try to oppose him!  Of course,  I'd be towing my youngest up that hill on exhausted legs.  Still, you have to just do these important things sometimes whether they hurt or not and the feeling was not unlike the feeling one has when they have to get back onto the bike after lunch during a long brevet so it was nothing new.

Today was to be my youngest's first time around the usery loop (on the trail a bike).  Lets just say she wasn't too happy with the long climb up the hill, and since she was already upset she decided she'd stay that way all the way down the other side too.  Just when I was muttering never again under my breath she decided to calm a bit despite the fact we dropped down into the cool of the river bottoms.  By the time we were climbing kong she was pedaling for all she was worth and seemed to be having fun,  which was good because I was doing likewise.  I have to tell you, an 8% grade is a lot harder when you are towing someone up it.  She was a trooper though.

Upon reaching the top I went back down to give Joseph some company as he walked up the hill.  I wasn't there to motivate him today as it was all I could do to maintain balance and forward Momentum.  He just wasn't having a very energetic day, and the fact he's a little heavier than last time we did this didn't help a lot either.  Still, they all made it.  By the time we got back to the car I had 72 miles and over 3000' of climbing in the bank and they had 18 miles and 500-600 feet of climbing.   I haven't ridden anywhere near that far since last July when I rode the Dirty Mogollon Madness permanent with Mike Sturgill.  Needless to say it felt good,  a tired good, but good none the less.  I signed us all up for El Tour de Mesa earlier this week (the 26 mile version) and I think they are in good shape to do it without too much work between now and April.

Downtown Phoenix at sunset

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Night Fever

Terrible cell phone picture at night.

11 PM.   I have taken the kids out on a 10 mile ride today with a few hills thrown in.  It is not enough though.  Life  has been extremely stressful lately and I'm getting it from all sides.  So,  a quiet evening alone with myself and the coy mistress were in order.  I haven't had her out for a ride at all this week.  She has sat forlorn hanging from the ceiling in the garage while I took my son off to a gymnastics meet in Las Vegas,  and also while I rushed to get my son's pinewood derby cars done this week (the youngest took 3rd place in both).  All work and no play makes Paul a pressure cooker ready to blow.  So yes indeed, despite being a little sleepy, I needed some serious therapy.

Upon leaving the driveway I notice my foot is feeling pretty good with that extra shim under the cleat I stuck in it this morning.  Any more and I will need a longer screw.  For now it felt pretty good though.  It's chilly but not cold.  Still,  I am glad for the long sleeve jersey and tights.  Traffic is still a little busy but quickly dieing as America's most boring city (per Forbes magazine) goes to sleep.  I climb up Power road heading out to the burbs and hills of Las Sendas.  I plan to do a repeat on the main loop and then climb the mountain and head back home.

Turning off of Power things get a lot more peaceful.  This is a neighborhood,  a neighborhood on the side of a mountain but still a neighborhood.  I might add further it is a neighborhood that goes to sleep early too.  There is only an occasional car every 10 - 15 minutes.  It's just the night, the hills,  the city lights,  the coy mistress, and me.  Despite the hill work I am pleased to notice that I am not noticing my back.  I think those shims are working.  It's a good climb up the loop and I in fact do loop around for a repeat.  It's a beautiful night and I find myself looking for tangents after I climb over Las Sendas Mountain.  I pass a road I have never been up before with a sign on the street sign saying "No Outlet".  That quite often in this area of snooty homeowners,  (well,  maybe they are not snooty,  but they sure do look rich)  put up signs like that to keep people from driving through their neighborhoods.

It's a long dark street heading up into the desert.  It's a beautiful night with an almost full moon shining down on the long deserted road.  I pedal on and am soon weaving among very large, secluded houses.  Theres some cash invested up in these here hills.  I weave around and come to a rather silly road block made up of some old beams on cinder blocks.  Yup,  no outlet.  Ha.  What is it about folks in snooty neighborhoods that makes them want to put a block across a perfectly good road so they are "seperate"  from their neighbors neighborhood?  I lifted my bike over it and guess what?  The road on the other  side was dirt for about 100 yards and then I was back on pavement heading down the hill.  No outlet indeed.

Far below I descended to the city lights.  It's a beautiful night.  All is peacefull.  There are no children arguing, getting wrapped up in themselves,  whining.  There is no stress of dealing with my wife who has been very stressed and tired lately, and bearing with all the things that come with that.  There is no stress of having my Mom in the hospital and my father in-law recovering from a heart attack.  There is only the moon, the smooth pavement,  the hum of the tires,  the bike, my thoughts, and myself.  I find myself lost in thought as I descend to the house.  I know the route so well my body steers me to home even though I am mentally in another world.  I wish I could stay out here all night although I need to get some sleep,  but I think it will do for now.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cold morning

Cold morning on the bush highway.  I had to take a bunch of scouts out at 10 so it would be a fairly short morning ride of 26 miles.  I'm afraid there's not a lot of rando going on with me right now.  Down in Casa Grande all the usual suspects were doing the 200k I'm sure.  I wonder if it was 34 degrees for them this morning.   It was a lonely road this morning,  I don't know if it was the cold, or not.  When I hit the climb up the backside there were probably 50 or so cyclists I would count coming down in the 20-25 minutes it took me to climb it.  Apparently I didn't get the memo that everyone was training counter clockwise today.

I managed to climb strong if nothing else.  I am working on losing weight so losing a bit of power is a given, at least for a bit.  I want to ride the Mining Country Century and losing 10 pounds or so will make a huge difference with all that climbing.  It's good to be on the bike even if it is cold.  Despite the tights, long sleeve jersey and wind vest I am still chilly and would not break a sweat until right around the top of the last climb.  I was working really hard trying keep it above 8 mph all the way up.  I didn't get passed by anyone so I don't think I did too shabby.  On the other hand, it didn't look like too many people were climbing the backside today so perhaps it's all in my head.

I think the metal shims under my cleats seem to be working.  It's amazing what a mm or two can do.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

See the snow....should have brought leg warmers.

Snow on Four Peaks

I haven't written in awhile.  Just so you know it's nothing personal,  I ended up working 12 hours on my 17th wedding anniversary and cancelling a bunch of reservations so it's been a busy holiday.  I did get out for a quick lunchtime ride around Usery pass today though.  It's the first time I've been on the bike since last Wed.  I struggled a bit but didn't do too badly.  I've been experimenting with strips of sheet metal under my cleat on my left shoe to shim the shoe counter clockwise to help my foot to push more with the entire foot rather then the outer edge.  I can feel the leg using different muscles but the knee seems to be a bit happier and it is easier to keep my foot straight and smooth through the pedal stroke.

I headed out without arm warmers or leg warmers thinking the sun would keep me warm.  Well, it didn't.  I did work hard enough going up the hills to get kind of warm though.  Thanks to a guy who pulled out of Las Sendas in front of me I worked harder than usual as I was using him as a rabbit (thanks for pacing me unknown guy).  We played tag for a bit down the Bush Hwy and then I dropped him.  I was sure he would pass me on the backside.  To my surprise I held onto my lead and kept it all the way up.  It was a beautiful day to ride and I was in better shape than I thought.  I did 26.44 miles and 1100 feet of climbing in an hour and 36 minutes.  I'll take an average speed of 16.2.  I am sure it is not my best,  but is still ahead of my best before I started training for Cochise the year before last (yikes, it doesn't seem that long ago!).  Hmmmm, speaking of  Cochise I need a just Paul ride before El Tour without the kids ...... 2011?

Just for the record,  I dreaming of the following rides this year -
Mining Country Century (no kids) March
El Tour de Mesa (with kids)         April
Mt. Graham?  (summer time)
Mt. Nebo? (Summer Time)
Dirty Mogollon Madness permanent (if Sturgill decides to do it again)
Cochise- 90 mile if no crew, 234 if I can find crew.
El Tour de Tucson 66 mi. (with kids)

Whether they all happen or no, time will tell.