Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Leaving's not so easy

So we're in Flag for the night crashing at Crazy Jose's place to cut a couple hours off of the big drive to Wichita tomorrow. Unfortunately, we're not in our car. At around 4:30 I found out that the body shop broke one of the rear quarter windows while putting the car back together and they won't have a replacement until late tomorrow afternoon. So, I went out and rented a cheap car. This kind of throws a big wrench into our well laid travel plans. Now, instead of driving straight to Seattle from graduation we will be returning to Phoenix and likely will be convincing my brother to use my plane ticket so he can drive the car up while I drive the moving truck. The upside, I guess, is that I've got something like six more days to spend in the valley, along with my mountain bike and a house that's all ready to go. Looks like I may get in a couple more rides yet. Also, I made sure my rental had room inside for my bike. I'm gonna need that in Missouri to help me out of my little funk, that's for sure.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Thank you and goodbye...

Well Arizona, I’ve been here nearly two years and now I’m leaving you for a milder climate and I just wanted to say thank you before I go. Before I moved here I spent two years in a small town in NE Missouri, a town with very few trails, no bike shops, and nothing for bike lanes. Then I came here, to the land of many trails, wide streets with bike lanes, and inattentive elderly drivers.

I came here with only a rigid single speed and a 2:1 gear and you punished me for it. I didn’t cower in the corner and lick my wounds for too long though, I came right back armed with front suspension and an easier gear. With my newly morphed steed I found your trails to be utterly fantastic but I was still ill equipped. Not the bike, but the man. The buttery smooth trails of Eastern Washington, where I did much of my previous riding had not prepared me for the technical challenges that the desert would present me with. I got better quickly but I was also not ready for your insane late summer heat. My first escape to Flagstaff introduced me to Crazy Joe and the miles of trails in his back yard. This connection would prove quite valuable in my only full summer in the desert. Flagstaff turned out to be much like riding back home and was a great respite from the heat.

Soon I signed up for my first race in over ten years. The Whiskey Off-Road gave me another beat down that I wasn’t quite ready for. In spite of the pain I loved the event much more so than the NORBA races of my past. The laid back party atmosphere drew me in and I’ve signed up for every Todd organized race since. Not long after that first Whiskey I started hooking up for rides with MTBR groups, most notably, the “Wrecking Crew”. Jeff, SuLing, and Chris woke me up way too early and pushed me hard all last summer. They were likely the only reason I rode at all. 100+ degree rides at 5 a.m. was not something I was excited about, but it much to my surprise I still had a shitload of fun.

I explored many, many miles of trail during my time here and I've been constantly amazed by the variety to be found. From Tucson's super fast flowing Fantasy Island to the fantastic slickrock trails of Sedona, I went all over the state and I was never left disappointed.

Just this spring, when Michele and I found out that we were headed to Seattle I picked up the Volpe for Pac-NW townie duties. That purchase helped me to discover the joys of tearing up the canals on a cross bike. I didn’t really see myself hitting the pavement in this place, but I found with a little careful planning I could navigate around most of the road rage craziness with relative ease. More good clean fun.

In two days Michele and I leave for her graduation and then to Seattle. I’ll be back for a couple days to load a truck, but my riding days in the valley are over. I have always loved my bikes, but being here has helped me to fall back in love with riding them. I’m glad I’m headed back to the Pac-NW and it’s unlikely that I’ll ever come back to live here again, but you will always have a special place in my heart.

Thanks again Arizona and the rest of you that made living here great.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Took the Volpe out on the pavement this morning. My plan was to turn about 20 miles or so and shake off the cobwebs from the last week of not much. Unfortunately, my body had other plans. I couldn't get myself into a riding mode, my back, wrists, and knees all ached. I was still a little sleepy and just couldn't find the groove. After about 5 miles I threw in the towel and turned around. When I got home I promptly fell back to sleep on the couch. I got about half of my planned ride and now I fell like a lazy shit. Oh well, I've got loads of packing yet to be done today and a garage that needs to be separated into who owns what.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Well, I'm unemployed now...

...and I gotta say, I couldn't be happier.

Hopefully it'll only be for the next three weeks. I've got an interview on Tuesday for what sounds like a pretty decent job and I'm really optimistic about another possibility.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Take 10 minutes

Just picked this up off of bikeportland.org. Damn, I miss the place of my birth, it's only been 15 years since I left. Pat, make sure you've got the couch free because I'm going to be coming down from Seattle quite a bit. I'm already making plans for the NAHBS next February.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Working on leaving

No rhyme or reason to todays post, sorry.

No riding as of yet this week. The house is a total mess as we gather our things and try and fit them into boxes. I've only got two more days left with my nose to the grindstone and I couldn't be happier about that. Star's movers showed up on Monday to take all of her stuff away. Yesterday was dinner for Charlotte at her house due to the afore mentioned home mess. Car's still in the shop and not expected to be done until Tuesday next week, a little on the late side but that's the way it goes. I packed my headlight up today so no more night rides for me until it gets unpacked in Seattle. Crazy Jose is on his way over here right now for some dinner before heading back home to Flag. All kinds of craziness going on right now.

Some gratuitous food shots for Dave and one of Char at the Scrabble board.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Back from WOR

Star, Michele, and I loaded up Friday afternoon and headed up to Prescott for the Whiskey Off Road. My goal this year was quite simple, walk less and beat my time from last year. A year ago I finished in 5 hours 27 minutes and could barely walk when I got done. This year Todd added a mile and a half or so of new singletrack to the ride bringing the actual mileage up to 27. I've been riding more this year and I already know the course so I figured should be more than doable.

We got to town around 5 or so and checked into the Motel 6. In no time we had the car unloaded and hopped bikes for downtown to pick up registration packets and eat some dinner at Pearl's. After dinner we hit the pre-race meeting then it was back to the hotel to do some last minute bike tune up work and go to bed.

Star and I rolled out at 6:45 to watch the 50 proof start and Michele joined us an hour later in time for my 25 proof start at 8. Star started 15 minutes later in the 15 proof. The funny thing about this race is that I was never nervous. Every other race I've been in I get crazy butterflies in my stomach before the start. Not this time, kind of a nice change.

At the start I got dropped by 75% of the field before we'd covered 2 blocks, that's the new gear in action for you. I knew the road climb would be my worst part of the ride and it didn't disappoint, I was hurting on the pavement. I even got off my bike for one short little 20 foot stretch. I was one of the last people to hit dirt, but that's where I shine, so no big deal. I'm convinced that there are a certain kind people at this point in the race. There's the people like me, no fitness but a decent skill set and then the people with fitness but not ready for the singletrack. The second group is the only reason a guy like me beats anybody. I passed a decent number of people in the first few miles of singletrack and was feeling pretty cocky until the fast 15 proofers started passing me. I got myself into a comfortable pace and stayed mostly on the bike until I could really start making time on the decent down 260. Unfortunately I got stuck at the end of a ten man conga line right at the top. Part of the problem with being slow in most situations is that I don't feel that I've got much of a right to start demanding trail when I know I'm faster. Lucky for me once the trail turned rutted up and sandy everybody ahead dismounted allowing me to sneak right on by. 260 was far better than last year making it really easy to scream down to the bottom at breakneck speed. Of course most of those that I passed on the decent would later pass me on the long fire road climb. I was able to stay on my bike longer this year but I still walked my fair share between the two aid stations. I spent about 5 minutes at the top of the climb. Once I realized I was just under 4 hours in I got my ass back in gear and started back down towards town. I was having a blast coming down until that stupid little SOB of a climb near the end, I walked that in it's entirety. Singletrack from there back to pavement was good clean fun. I forgot that the pavement was as flat as it was in places and I found myself cursing the gear that had served me so well for the previous 26 or so miles. I rolled across the line in 5 hours and 2 minutes beating last years time by 25 minutes.

27 miles 5800 feet in 5 hours, not bad for a Saturday ride.

After we hit PBC for some much needed grub and back to the hotel for showers and a nap. For the awards ceremony we walked back into town due to the fact that my ass wanted nothing more to do with my saddle that night. Cactus Joe's had a taco bar set up after awards and then we dove right into the Todd sponsored pub crawl. I got my fill of Diet Coke and water and Michele had a few while Star was the true champ. Speaking of Star, she knocked out the 15 proof in 2 hours 28 minutes, a solid mid pack finish.

This morning after sleeping in we hit the Hassayampa for some posh breakfast and then off to Granite Basin to work the stiffness our of our legs before heading home. I've never been there before and was pleasantly surprised by the fantastic singletrack that we found. We covered 5 miles 1000 feet in 1 hour 15 minutes.

Not a bad weekend if I do say so myself.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Car update and ride report

I dropped the car off yesterday at the body shop. The damage comes to about three thousand and it might be a while. They got started on the sheetmetal right away but the problem is that the rear roof glass is not a part kept on hand and it may take some time to get in. If the car's not done by the day after Memorial Day we're just going to have to rent a car to get to graduation and come straight back here afterwards.

On the upside , I took my bike over to Rage for a second opinion this morning. Curly said the bar damage wasn't deep enough to be worried and I was good to ride.

I decided that I'm still in for the Whiskey, I can't just leave Star in the lurch. So when I got home from work I went ahead and got my bike ready for WOR. All that really consisted of was lubing the chain and swapping out my normal 18 tooth freewheel for my rarely used "this ride is going to be steep" 21 tooth one. I got a slight chainline issue that comes to focus with the larger freewheel. I don't think it's going to be a problem, but I'm going to throw an extra PC-1 master link in my bag just in case.

Michele and I headed out for a quick preserves ride late in the day starting from 32nd St. The mostly flat ride combined with the ridiculous gear had me either riding slow or spinning fast almost the whole time. I was seated however for a good portion of the climbing on the ride and I think that's a good sign for Saturday. If I can stay in the saddle for the majority of the long fire road climb I will be a happy camper. I must have walked 5 miles or more last year and I really don't want to have a repeat performance. My GPS died during the ride but I'd guess we rode 4.5 miles and climbed 400 feet.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Details, details

So it's three a.m. and it's become abundantly clear to me that I'm not going to get any sleep tonight so I might as well share.

The whole thing started out well enough, I rushed my ass home from a far East emergency job just in the nick of time to go riding with Yuri in the preserves. We started out from Dreamy Draw and all was right with the world. The ride was nothing new, but a fair amount of trail that I'd glossed over in the past six months or so. It was good. Stopped to chat and catch my breath here and there. Note to self: after spending much of the day in a small space with an industrial dehumidifier, a better pre-func is required before riding. I nearly drained my camelback in a short little ride. We crossed paths with a familiar group coming down Cheesegrater as we were headed up, yet another reason to stop and chat and all was still right with the world. Finished it all off right by screaming down 1A-100-1A and back to the lot. 7.7 miles and 1100 feet in an hour and a half.

We loaded bikes and went our separate ways but not until after rehashing Yuri's tale of bike destruction and the hands of a garage door last Fall. I was thinking about how much that must suck as I was pulling out of the lot. Unfortunately, I started focusing more on grabbing Michele and hitting the bar more than the task at hand. When I got home I just drove straight into the garage. The rack came off the car and went right into the rear sunroof and hatch glass. Also the body directly over the doors is nicely kinked and scratched where the rack was forced free. The rack seemed to have faired fairly well with nothing more than a slight bend in the tray that was holding my bike. The bike also came away mostly clean, the carbon bars are toast thanks to the stucco exterior of the garage. The brake levers took a little beating but I'm guessing that's just cosmetic, the same thing goes for the stem. My frame walked away without any damage at all so far as I can see.

I'm just so fucking pissed at myself. Michele and I are trying to keep our spending to a minimum right now and we really don't need this. Not to mention the fact that we leave Phoenix in less than two weeks for graduation and Seattle. If the car isn't ready in time than we'll just have to rent a car to get to graduation and come straight back here rather than go to Seattle. I'm also seriously thinking about skipping the Whiskey and holding on to the money we'd be spending on hotel and food. The car is lined up to hit the shop tomorrow, oh boy.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Slow Sunday

Not much to report today, just a bunch of little tidbits. Michele and I rode to Trader Joe's in 100 degree heat to buy muffins and limes. About 4.5 miles both ways. The Seattle apartment search has begun in earnest without much luck thus far. My last Arizona race is less than a week away now and I'm still feeling quite optimistic. I was running 46 gear inches last year and suffered for it, this year I'm going to be running 40 and expect to be much better off. Did some recycling today that included every issue of Bike magazine from mid '99 to present. I'm not going to lie, it stung a little. The last purge was right before the move to the house on Alberta. Had I not lightened up then I'd have had every issue save the first two. Truth be told I pulled about five issues out that have Pac-NW relevant content. Did the same thing with Dirt Rag, but the horde was not near as impressive. Michele and Star are currently working on one of my favorite dinners right now so this is where I'm ending it.

Random pictures from the last few months just for shits and giggles.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Well, let's see, what happened today? Started getting rid of unneeded items on Craigslist today. Sold a freebie massage table for a cool hundred. I also unloaded our old, non functioning computer sans memory and HD for fifty. Last but not least, Michele listed a pair of my barely used boots for twenty, no sale as of yet, I guess it is both last and least.

I also got Star and the boat in the pool finally. It was great to see it float for the first time. we worked on some wet entry, paddle strokes, and attempted eskimo rolls. Tomorrow we will try again.

Today was also the first Pemberton night ride of the year. Star and I rocked that shit. I do love Pemberton, it's really up there in the running for favorite ride in the Valley. Now a lot of people will poopoo this suggestion, but hear me out. It's all about flow. I love the flow. Fast, fluid, swoopy trail is my favorite kind of ride and that's something sorely lacking in the 'nix. Pemberton has good flowing trail right out of the lot, fast and fun. It takes a break for a couple miles for a steady little rocky grind, but once that's over it's back to the flow for many miles until you're back at the parking lot. Let's not forget that the best section of all is saved for the very end, too. The last couple miles are smooth and fast with tons of kick ass little corners where trail builders could have just as easily built a straight line from the service road to the lot. Oh yeah, it's even better with the headlamp induced tunnel vision that comes along with a night ride. I'd say it's got the highest flow ratio of anything else around. Hawes is the only thing I can think of that even comes close. Of course, I recognize that some (Jeff and SuLing come to mind) might call me soft for raving about such a non-tech trail, but they can suck it (really, I love them both, but they can suck it anyway)!

Pemberton stats:
15.2 miles
1100 feet of climbing
1 hour 38 minutes

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Mixed Miles

What was supposed to be a quick little spin on the Volpe turned into a little bit more tonight. When I left the house I told Michele I'd be gone for less than an hour. It started out innocently enough as a slow roll around Steele Indian School Park and then up the 3rd Ave bikeway toward AZ canal. That's where I had planned on turning around and making my way back. Instead I continued on up 7th to the T-100 and spent ~3.5 miles playing in the dirt. By the time I hit pavement again it was pretty dark and it dawned on me that Michele would be getting worried pretty soon. Note to self, always remember to bring cell phone, or some spare change, or at the bare minimum write down the wife's phone number. I hauled ass down Cave Creek to 12th and all the way home as fast as my little legs would let me, good thing it's all downhill. I had blinkys going front and rear, but it would have been nice to be rocking a real headlight too, oh well, there's always next time. I covered about 19 miles and 900 feet of elevation in 1 hour 40 minutes including stops for pictures.

Speaking of pictures:

Monday, May 7, 2007


I spent much of my morning hating my current job and thinking about the future. Right now Michele and I are a two car family, counting my company truck. I'm really looking forward to being a one car family at the end of the month but I'm having some trouble figuring out the logistics. Michele's going to need the car for her first residency rotation in July and during that time I've got a truck I can borrow from a friend, so no problem. Also my uncle's got a beat to hell early 80's Datsun pickup I can have cheap, but I really don't like the idea of owning an older vehicle and not having a garage to fix it in. I went through that once and it made for an awfully fun winter(the $170 1974 Datsun pickup for those in the know). There's also the chance I could once again have a company truck to drive around. The other option I see is to get through July and then traded in the car on a 4-cyl Tacoma. Michele's not going to like reading that I can promise you.

What I'd really like to do is not have to drive to work, I want to ride my fucking bike. Right now, I put between 400 and 700 miles a week on my company truck just driving around the valley, combine that with the recent 3000 mile road trip and the coming 5000ish mile circumnavigation of the Western half of the country I'm feeling a little burned on driving around. Unfortunately my particular employment skill set usually necessitates hauling around a shit load of tools and materials. Damn, if only something something than something else. Poor me, right?

Fuck it, I'm headed back to the Pac-NW and that's what matters, right?

Saturday, May 5, 2007

A pair of rides

Michele rode her Smoke past he gates of the parking lot for the first time today. I was on the Volpe for our little ride. We headed over to Steele Indian School Park and down 3rd toward the farmers market with a quick stop at Matt's Big Breakfast to get our name on the list. We left the farmers market after about 20 minutes or so with some cilantro and garlic. Back over to Matt's with a couple minutes to spare before we were called. Great timing and very soon after we were enjoying the best breakfast in Phoenix.

Afterwards we rolled home a little slower but quite satisfied. I'm guessing we covered about 7 miles or so. After getting home I got to work getting the garage ready to hold our belongings in preparation for the move. After 4 hours I figure I'm about halfway to having it all cleaned and packed.

At about 5 or so Michele and I went up to Dreamy Draw so that she could hike and I could bike. I wanted to do something with a bit of a challenge and keep the ride under an hour. I covered about 7 miles and 925 feet in that hour. I'm feeling really confident in my abilities right now. I rocked 1A in a big way and nearly cleaned 220 on the return to the lot with only one little dab. I've got my last AZ race coming up in a mere two weeks and I'm feeling pretty good about it.