Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Post Thanksgiving Grind

After a week off the bike and a trip to Kansas to see my honey, getting back on the bike everything I expected, or feared. The pavement section up to Thunderbird Park entrance seemed to drag, climbs on the trail were pathetic, and my balance was a bit off. It all made for a pretty strong reminder that a week without exercise and too much eating does have its consequences.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sedona weekend

Sean arrived in Phoenix at about 10:40 Friday night after a flight delay of an hour or so. He was pretty hot to see his new ride, a Salsa El Mariachi 29'r that he bought from Rage in Scottsdale. Back at the apartment about midnight, the perfect time for a spin around the parking lot and a tweak here and there to get set for the morning run to Sedona.

To me, the bike looks like a skinny frame with tundra tires, but it is a pretty cool bike.

We met up with Crazy Joe and Gordo the Wonderdog at Oak Creek, and headed off looking for the Baldwin trailhead. Neither of my guides seemed to remember exactly where the trailhead is, so we took what looked like a well used trail that petered out and gave us a bit of a bushwhacking experience that ended up in somebody's driveway, inside their gate. Fortunately nobody shot at us. Another mile down the road and we found the real trail, with a real sign, and off we went, Baldwin to Templeton.

The scenery was absolutely spectacular, and I managed to take an off-trail excursion while gawking at the redrock surroundings and paying too little attention to the redrock in the middle of the trail. Off the bike, down the embankment and into a holly bush that was kind enough to break my fall. My glasses came off on the way down, and were invisible in all the dust I kicked up. Problem - myopic geezer stuck in a holly bush without his glasses. Don't move around too much, because it will be a long run back to the truck without my specs. The dust settled and I eventually found them, none the worst for wear. Caught up with Sean, Joe and Gordo about the time they were talking about sending out a search party.

I don't know about Sean and Crazy Joe, but I'm willing to bet Gordo the Wonderdog was smart enough that he could have found me at the crash site AND went to get Lassie. Now, I'm not a big fan of dogs (mostly they bark, chew up shoes and crap on lawns), but Gordo is pretty impressive. We rode something like 13-15 miles at a pretty good pace and he stayed with us the whole time, never blocked the path, and completely ignored other dogs on the trail. Put in a better performance than I did.

For most of the ride, I wondered why Crazy Joe carried that moniker. He rides that singlespeed like a mountain goat and seemed more than happy to wait for Sean and me as we struggled to make it through sections that he cleaned as if they were 6 lane freeways. I figured out the "Crazy." I warned him at the start that this ride would be one of the slowest he ever did. We'd been riding about two hours when he commented to me that he hadn't seen slow yet. At that point I knew Joe is either crazy or he perceives the space/time continuum in a manner unlike the rest of the human race. Anyway, thanks Joe for a great ride. You and Gordo are tops in my book.

Sean was his usual self - cheery, funny, enjoying life. I may be biased because he's family, but he is a great riding partner and a joy to spend time with. We rode Sedona on Saturday and Phoenix Mtn Perserves on Sunday and had a ball. Like anyone else who throws a leg over an mtb, he pretty much left me in the dust, but didn't seem to mind having to wait for the geezer to catch up. Definitely made for a fun weekend.

Sean at speed on the new ride.

Me - looking determined and barely making the little climb.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

28 mile weekend

Saturday dawned with a temp of 60, and by the time I started riding it was about 70. Parked at Dreamy Draw, fortunately nobody else wanted to park next to the trash cans, since there was nowhere else to park. Busy day. Headed west and followed T100 & T100A to 7th St. and back. In all, 10 miles in a little over 2 hours. Not bad for a fat guy.

Hit the trail again on Sunday at 11:00 with the temp around 70. One trail that has defeated me twice since arriving in Phoenix beckoned. Its in Thunderbird Park west of 59th and north of my usual morning loop. Bottom to top is 1.75 miles and only about 550 ft. of climbing. The problem has been the way it climbs. The tougher sections are at the west end with a fairly steep, rocky climb, followed by a couple of additional steeps and the last 100 ft of climbing in the final 1/10th mile. Probably no problem for a scrawny 30 year old, but for OFS its tougher than it looks. Anyhow, I made the climb, with a few stops for hikers and a couple of "I think I'm gonna die" stops for air.
After making the climb, I rode back to the apartment and swapped Mr Klein for Mr Fuji Finest (more Fuji OK than finest), my road bike. Its been a while since I rode my skinny tire bike and tire pressure was down from 110 to 20. A few shots with the pump and I was off.
My objective was to see if there is a reasonable way to get from 67th Ave and the 101 to the Peoria baseball park where the Mariners and Padres have Spring training. Someone whom I'm very fond of has a thing about professional baseball and spring training, and I wanted to see if there is a way to ride to the park without serious traffic issues. The park is only 4.5 miles away, but I'm going to have to try a few other routes before I find one that the baseball fan will be ok with.

In all, I got in 19 MTB and 9 road miles. Not bad for an old fat guy.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

White Tanks

Ok, White Tanks is is off my list.

I started up Mesquite Canyon and got into what would be a great trail for hiking, but really sucked with a bike. The first mile of climbing is simply not rideable by a geezer like me. Walking wasn't too bad, but would have been a lot better without 25 lbs of bike. After the first mile, the trail is rideable, and I managed to grind up to the intersection with Willow trail. I continued another 1/4 mile or so before I decided to bag it and go back down. The downhill was better than the climb, and I rode all but maybe 400 yds, with only 1 excursion over the bars. With the crash yesterday at Black Canyon, when I dropped my front tire into a soft spot in the sand, my total crashes since arriving in Phoenix have added up to 2.

Now that I've spent 12 bucks for access to White Tanks, I'm through paying to ride there when there are so many other places to go.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


I left the apartment at 7 this morning and drove up to the Black Canyon Trailhead at Black Canyon City. Got there about 7:45. There were only a few folks there and the sign-in sheet had only about 3 names. I was the only one with a bike. Met Bob the BLM guy, who gave me directions, "Whenyou get to the river, go west about a half mile. You'll see us up on the hillside." or words to that effect. So I took off on the trail and found the river. 8:15 or so, sun on my back, I'm facing west. I follow the river (rivulet) about 1/2 mile. No trail, no trailworkers. I continue on. There was a fork in the trail back near the hilltop, maybe I took the wrong one. Another mile, damn river is now east. No trail, no trailworkers. Another mile, now there are houses. Must have gone wrong somewhere. Back downriver. Lots of sand and rock gardens, so its push and carry Mr Klein. Now its about 9:15. I signed in and now I'm off somewhere that wasn't in the plan. I know how to get back, but I don't want to backtrack all the way to the truck and have a bunch of folks wandering around looking for "that idiot." When I got back to the place where the river and trail met, I ran into a lady who was doing something with geo-caching. She pointed out the work crew up on the hillside and said that one of them headed upriver to find me. How long ago? About 10 minutes. We must have passed somewhere. On the way back downriver , I made a point of following my trail and leaving a separate set of tracks so someone would see that I had come back. As I was trying to decide whether to go back upriver and find the searcher, he came into view. He remarked that he could tell I had returned downriver because he saw two sets of tracks.

Off we went to meet up with the trail crew, after my wasting of 2 hours. The crew had made good progress already, and I joined them for about 3 hours. In all the crew completed about 800 ft. I broke rock, raked dirt, and didn't f**k up my back.

Temp was about 90 when we headed back where the folks drove to. I loaded Mr Klein into one of the trucks and accepted a ride back to the trailhead. Pie ala-mode and good conversation at the Rock Springs Cafe, and I was back in Phoenix by 4:00 pm.

Tomorrow I'll try Willow Canyon to Goat Camp at White Tanks. I've seen video of the Goat Camp trail and that was enough to convince me that I'll turn back rather than break something.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Gear growlings

About 6 weeks ago, I found that my chain had stretched quite a bit (I check this kind of thing once every 5 years whether it's needed or not). I replaced it, which led to the realization that the chainrings and sprockets were all worn. Finding replacement chainrings didn't work out, so that meant new crank, which meant new bottom bracket. 8 speed cassettes are getting to be a bit rare, so I ended up with a SRAM cassette.

All together, the setup worked ok except the chain skipped on the 3rd cassette gear any time I cranked hard on it. Ok, just avoid that gear. After a few weeks, 4th gear started doing the same thing. This was getting ridiculous. Last night I gave up on the SRAM, even though as an old fat and slow guy I liked the 32T granny gear. At the second shop I visited, Swiss American(?), 44th Ave & Bell, I found an 8 speed 11x30 Shimano. They were holding a bike maintenance (bent wheel bad, straight wheel good) class, so I had to step around some of the attendees to get to the parts counter. All in all, it seems like a good shop, and off I went with my new cassette.

Now that its all dialed in and working well, I'm just waiting for the Octolink BB to fail like the ones Sean's been going through. If it fails, I'll dig around for some new chainrings and go back to the past with square taper that's served me well for the last 50 years.