Saturday, March 26, 2011


I was going to do the Tour de Mesa route with the Brumbys today but my alarm didn't go off and by the time I was up it was too late.  So,  I decided I'd head up to the end of the pavement to get some control questions for the new Populaire I am making that goes up there.  Here is the video from my cam. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Paul's new toy. A day in the life of.

Got a new helmet/handlebar cam with my REI dividend.  Took some videos of my morning workout.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mines , Hills, and Wind.

My Bikes
 Well hey there howdy partner.  This here's the entry on the Mining Country Challenge.   No dad Sasafrasit.  The MINING country challenge,  not none o them normal country challenges to be sure.  Saturday was a great day to saddle up the mule, load the tools on the back and head up to the mines.  Did I mention there were some humdinger no good dad gummit quad whacking hills out there?   What kinda miner would I be if I couldn't climb a few rootin tootin hills.  You know,  there's copper in them thar hills.

So's I gets to the gatherin spot early and many a claim jumper is spying and asking about my mule carrying my other mule and that there special doohickey that holds them together.  I must admit I'm right proud o that doohickey.  It's not perfect stranger, but it holds the old mule tight with no funny business.  The good folks runnin this stampeed checked me in and gave me some of the best dang fangled arm warmers I've seen.  Then I was off to saddle up and hit the high road.  This here Stampede was supposed to start at 8 but at 8 the start line was as dead as Downtown Mesa late on a wednesday night.  Them darned dad sassafraset no good claim jumpers all started early.  Well,  it don't matter a lick, with all them hills I figured a paceline wasn't that important anyway.

Climbing to  Top of the World.
  I head out and spot some hombres up ahead and follow them.  Funny thing them fellers though,  I could swear they was leading me down to Winkelman. Dang,  I could a sworn we were moseying up to Globe first.  DOH!  Them ornery varmints was more o them cowardly early starters, but for the short ride at 8:30!  They was on the short version of this here stampede!  It's time to turn this old mule around and backtrack through this old one horse town and head up Devil's Canyon and not down one of these here sissy girly routes where ya only climb 2  big nasty hills instead O' three.

Yours Truly
  This here hill I tell you about is one big dad dern lilly libered pile a mule pucky let me tell you.  The old mule and I were hard pressed to keep our pace up this hill and not blow out the tanks every time some o' them young bucks would blow on by looking so high and mighty with their fancy duds and fresh young horses and all.  I aint pretendin to be in stellar shape I tells you right now.  I aint fast,  but I is tough as nails and you let me plug away and I'll take any old dern tootin hill you throw at me.

Top of the World
  Gettin up towards the top I caught the mean hombre I'd chatted up down below.  He was on one o' them weird contraptions called a recumbent,  bein a bit O' a gadget man meself and having dabbled in that alternative bike style, I know'd what he was goin through on a no good hill like this.  Quads a iron folks,  that's what he had Quads a iron.  Aside from this here hill he'd be ahead o me most of the day.

Is there ever so purdy a sight as that sweet and blessed crest of a hill folks?  Ya get on up there and look all over the almighty's creation,  and his creation of a downhill layin out in all it's beauty before ya?  Thars the gold lads.  This may be copper country but there is gold in these here hills.  Well durned if I wasn't appreciative o' them arm warmers I got.  I'd thought it a bit funny O' them fellers down at the old Assayer's fer handin em out with us being on the cusp of that dry and dusty melt yer hide summer comin on but much apprecated they were on the way down into that old codger of a mining town they call Miami.

Climbing El Capitan, The top?  I think not,.
  What kind a idjut designed these here twin towns o' hills and rollers.   There werent a flat street nowheres.  I caught a few fellers and lasses through here and didn't quite have the gumption to pass until one o' them amazon'n lasses lost a chain and they had to pull in to resaddle the beast (the mule I mean,  gosh dern but that could a been taken the wrong way!)

Up the trail a piece there was some o them thar organizers that had setup a waterin hole with a privy out back.   I was much obliged and stored my warm gear and had me some o' their vittles before I figured I'd best be moseyin on out to take on that no good, gol dern, claim jumpin, donkey kicking, hill they call El Capitan. 

View from El Capitan Summit.
 That high falootin feller on a recumbent passed me in here.  Partly that was due to the headwind that was kicking up.  That no good, spirit kicking, smile wiping, dad gummit sas a fras, no good lousy, kick sand in your eye wind.  This here section reminded me of the gale force winds on that ride up above that old waterin hole Tortilla Flat a few weeks back.  My quads were burnin like a load a bacon on a bonfire folks!  It seemed like that lilly livered hill just kept getting steeper and the wind was just punchin me in the face like a no good cowaredly cur the further I got.  Just as it seemed I'd blown the tanks fer good I pulled up to the top alongside that recumbent feller and It was time for a break at another one o them convenient waterin holes setup by them good folks of PMBC.

Sag Wagon on El Capitan
 The wind was a wailing across the top o' the pass but there was a long hill down into the little town most folks call Winkelman.  I suppose the first bit was a nice descent,  as not even this rip roarin mule snortin wind could put a halt on the drop.  By and by though the hill got less steep and that ornery wind made me pedal old Bessy when we shoulda been livin the high life a coastin down all this wonderful downhill we'd bought with so much pain.  Somewhere in here we passed the town o' Christmas but all I saw was a few houses.  Hmmm.  Not much of a town really,  but I'm sure it's their own slice o' heaven so to each their own.

This proves it
  On down I pedalled.  Seems like that goll derned Winkelman would never peak itself out around the corner of this infernal canyon where a fella could go downhill but pedal like he was going uphill,  crazy country.  Good thing it was perdy.  Me and several other hombres and womenfolk was spread out through here workin our way through the wind as best we could.

Along the descent into Winkelman
  Just when I was ready to call out infernal confounded tarnation I got to the bottom of the canyon and the large smokestack of Winkelman came into view.  Also in Winkelman was another one o' them PMBC waterin holes but where was their Privy?  A waterin hole aint no waterin hole without a privy.  They said the privy got dropped off a pace down the road by mistake so I figgur will have to forgive them since they did have subway sandwiches.  Mighty tasty vittles they was pardner!

For rent!
  The stretch out of Winkelman with the wind again in our face.  Derned fickle wind.  Make up yer  hootin tootin dad garnit donkey dung mind.  Is you gonna blow out of the south or northwest?  It was like it was trying to spite us and spit on the grizzled old faces of these here hardened fellers and gals out fer a ride in the hills and mines.  It took me to a bad place it did.  I hunkered down and grit my teeth and swore at that claim jumpin, dog kickin, baby slappin wind that was kickin up the dust into the air and makin my derned excersize induced asthma kick up.

Nice turqoise tailings
  Along in here some angels in spandex happened along and towed me along for a mile or two before I couldn't hold them and me and bessie had to slack off.  Around in here Bessie's hind end started to get all wobbly and I looked back and the goll derned mule had thrown a shoe.   I look and looked but couldn't find why so I threw my extra shoe in and used the helpful sag pump to get it all set and I was off.  Off into more o' that dern tootin wind!  Seemed like this stretch was a neverending pack o' suffering my friend.  The wind was bad,  the temps were climbin,  and to boot there was no light at the end of the tunnel with that there End of the World hill at the end of it.

Asarco Smokestack
  Just outside O' Kearny old Bessie's backside was a wobblin again and I'd be derned if She hadn't thrown the same old shoe.  Luckily I had my patches to fix that old shoe up.  First though I had to find that goll derned thing that made the whole mess in the first place so I had to dig out my good old trusty cartridge action peacemaker and blow the thing up.  I had my pump action but it was so small it was only for emergencies. 

I finally found the no good snake in the grass.  It was one o them nasty bit's o wire from the wheels o' one o' them buggy's the city slicker's drive all around these here roads.   So I patched and the nice feller in the sag waggin gave my good old tire a pump and I was off.  I has to tell you I got passed by a whole posse o' folks while I was fixin old bess.  Still we were up and runnin. 

Asarco Pit mine
  Then came that mean ornery pig stealin, well dunging, dirty rotten hill I'd been a fearin all day.  The hill that made strong men cry and weak men die.  It was the end of the world.  As Bess and I struggled up the bottom I had nothin left but told myself to keep pluggin along and we'd stop at the top of the pit.  Just keep a goin bess.  Keep them pistons fire'n Paul.  That gol derned hill seemed to last forever when suddenly what should I spy?  Well flap my jacks and lengthen my johns if that weren't one o' them lovely PMBC waterin holes up ahead with a few tired folk restn' their guns slung back in lawn chairs.

They were a sight for sore thighs let me tell you!  What's more they was given out payday's.  Nice touch that.  I jawed for a piece with the good folk and then I was off.  I didn't know what I'd be able to pull off in the next stretch.  There were some mean spirited stretches up ahead and no mistaken it.  The end of the world had slapped me silly before and today were no different.  I had to make it further than I had the first time though.  Toil as I might I did make it up to the second bend in the road so I did beat my first try.  I still had to walk a piece though.  Lordy my legs hurt.  There weren't no more bullets in my guns pardners!  Even walking it took the guy behind me awhile to catch up.  I figure he was going half a mosey faster than I uz and I waz walkin!  I hopped back on for a piece behind him and then had to walk again.   Just before the next waterin hole was visible,  I figur'd I'd keep my dignity and hop on for the last piece.

Finished at last!

I skipped that lovely waterin hole.  I knew it was a short piece to my other old mule and I could smell the barn.   Pretty soon I passed those hombres that flamed themselves out by ridin the whole hill.  I'd climbed her before and had nothin to prove by not walkin a bit.  I was feeling strong and was past the big terror of the day.  That ornery skunk of a hill was at my back and I waz comin home!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day and Night where the pavement ends.

Snow on Four Peaks
This week I have had two rides which were quite different but on the same pavement pretty much. Monday's was to the End of the Pavement above Tortilla flat on a cold blustery day, and the other was on a balmy evening in the dead of night.
I had the day off Monday and decided I would take a good training ride in the morning, and work on organizing my Dad's study contents into boxes for processing once it comes time to clean my Mom's house out. I determined that rather than ride up into Apache Jct on a slight grade, I would drive out to where the serious climbing started and go from there.

The drive out was beautiful as there was a lot of snow on the mountains from the Superstitions to Four Peaks. Once the bike was on the road I realized two things. One, snow means cold. Two, it was windy, real windy. I'd even go as far to say as it was a bitter wind coming down out of the mountains as I struggled up the Apache Trail fighting it. I can't say I felt horrible spunky. I couldn't tell if it was just my lack of fitness (which is getting better bit by bit), or if the cold and wind was just that bad.

Snow on the Flat Iron

I popped up over the first hill and found myself freezing as I dropped in to Canyon Lake. The wind was really roaring. Along the lake road that I usually cruise along I found myself struggling into the wind. The only saving grace to all this was I thought I might see some snow up at the top of the hill above Tortilla Flat.
The climb into Tortilla flat wasn't too bad. I did have to pedal very carefully as I tried to work my way across the creek that was flowing really good so I wouldn't hit any potholes and discover how long it would take a wet cyclist to go numb in these conditions.

The climb up to the end of the pavement was brutal. I was going anearobic in my lowest gear most of the way up. I wondered if it was that I was out of shape or if it was the wind. I haven't climbed that hill in over a year at least so I really can't judge. I just knew it was brutal. It seemed like I fought into that wind a long time. On one of the switchbacks near the top I turned so the wind was at my back and it pretty much blew me up to the next turn whereupon the pain would come back in full force.

Snow by End of Pavement

Before I got to the end of the pavement I did in fact see snow. The patches that were left were melting fast as it was in the low 40's. The wind chill was well below freezing though. By the time I got back to the car I was pooped. I really hope the mining country century is enough to get me ready for the Prescott 300k.

Tortilla Flat at night.

So, fast forward to Saturday. I had to campout with the scouts on Friday and Saturday so Saturday morning and afternoon was a big no go for training. After my daughter's piano recital I had to take my boys to see Tron Legacy at the cheap theatre as I had promised to do that and I don't think the movie will be there next week. So, 9:30 PM arrives and I still need a training ride. The Mining Country Century is the week after next and this ride is a critical training ride so it was going to be a good night for the generator light.

At 10 PM I told my wife not to stay up for me and I headed out the door. It worked out pretty good that way actually. I managed to pass all the bars while they were still open and on the return they were all closed, so that minimized drunks. I decided to do the whole Enchilada from my house to the end and back which would make it a nice Metric Century with almost 4000 feet of climbing. That's about 2/3s of the climbing on the Mining Country Challenge which I think will be enough to let me finish. I won't finish fast but I'll finish.

Traffic was sporadic going through town out into the east valley and climbing up towards Lost Dutchman state park. After I passed the turnoff for the park though, traffic all but died. I think I saw 4 cars over 3 hours. The sounds of the desert came alive with crickets chirping in the brush on the side of the road. With no moon the sky was dark and I could see the Superstitions and numerous cholla and saguaro cacti sillouetted against the starry background. Behind was the brown glow of Phoenix but it was dimming with every pedal stroke.

Your's Truly

I was just on the border of sweating and my windvest was working wonderfully as I controlled my own personal climate with the zipper. I kept pretty good time up the hills as my generator light generally stayed pretty bright. One or twice it dimmed slightly but that wasn't much. I did have a spare light I could use but that light causes my bike computer to flatter me rather severely so I leave it off if I can.

Dropping in to Canyon Lake I hit several pockets of really cold air. Fortunately these were not the norm. Far across the lake I could see the lights of the Marina, and other than a few cars parked along the side of the road, there were no signs of life. There was the gentlest of breezes and I found myself cruising along through the night with my light brightly illuminating all before me. Crossing the two bridges was a bit sureal as it is odd to see only the beams of the bridge shining brightly against a black backdrop. On the second bridge an SUV came up behind me and I got a little apprehensive but he would stop at the Marina and turn around.

Last time I was in Tortilla Flat at night there was only a streetlight and two vending machines lighting things up. Sometime since then they had put red lights on the trim of the buildings. I thought maybe they hadn't closed yet but there were no cars there and the interior lights were out other than the neon beer signs inside the old Saloon (after all the old west was big on neon beer signs you know).

I discovered that the end of the pavement seemed hard the other day because of the wind as it was much easier to climb this time around. I was breathing hard, but not outside of my aerobic range. At one point I heard an owl hooting and then a bit later he flew through my headlight and freaked me out a bit. He did it again further up the hill (or maybe it was a relative of his) but I didn't freak out that time. I wonder if I was rousting out little snacks for them to go eat as I passed.

The EOP hill is always a beast which is what makes it so good to train on for these hilly rides. At night it is big enough to put you in that Zen climbing state where you forget how far up you are and how far you have left, there is only what you see in your headlights and the shortness of breath and the burning in your legs. Oh, I forgot to mention that thousand stars above your head in all their splendor. Stars aren't something that are that impressive down in the valley, up here on the hill out in the boonies, they are something to look at. I have seen the milky way up here in the past but couldn't make it out tonight as there was a slight cloud layer.

I actually felt pretty strong on this ride. Amazingly so. After telling a guy and a girl in a car how deep the water was at the crossing at Tortilla Flat I would head into the second to last climb of the night which I popped right up and headed over to the big hill out. After the steep section at the bottom I was starting to feel just a bit of fatigue. I really wouldn't feel tired though until I was cruising down University. I figured I would have a tailwind but I had a crosswind and all I could muster was 19-20 mph with the muscles in my left leg screaming for mercy. I had been pedalling in a certain position with my left leg tonight to figure out the optimum position to eliminate knee pain and my leg had finally tired of doing that. I had no knee pain but the muscles used to hold that position were pooped.

So, 4 hours and 22 minutes for 62 miles at night with nearly 4000 feet of climbing. I won't say it's my best time, but it is definitely not my worst by a long shot. It was a good ride. I'd even say it was worth the sleep deprivation.

Be honest, does this triangle make my butt look fat?