Saturday, December 22, 2007

Night Ride

I went for a rare evening ride under an almost full moon. The moonshine was almost bright enough to ride without lights. If it hadn't been for the city lights, it probably would have been possible. With the city lights glowing, it was hard to develop good enough night vision to pick out the trails. I headed out from 32nd Street and rode some trails I thought I knew. Funny, things look different at night. Didn't really get disoriented or anything like that. It was more, "I thought the trail dropped here, popped up there and went left there." Still, there were enough obvious landmarks that getting lost wasn't an issue.

Stopping occasionally and listening to the sounds of the preserve was a delight. I could here owls hooting from what seemd to be around the 1A trail, rustling of bushes here and there, and a few scurrying sounds. Couldn't see or hear any sounds of people other than the distant hum of the city in the distance.

The ride only lasted about 45 minutes, but it sure was refreshing.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas on the Trails

I was riding along T100 between Hwy 51 and Cave Creek and came across the second decorated tree I've seen on the trails of Phoenix.

This one wasn't quite as good at the one on top of one of the hills in Thunderbird Park, but this is the one when I had a camera with me. It will be intersting to see if the ornaments get removed after Christmas.

I went on my first group ride in Phoenix Saturday morning. Its called a c-ride and we left out of the 7th St visitors center, headed east past Cave Creek, then chased around on some fun trails I hadn't seen before. We rode for about 2 hours. I was the only one riding a hardtail, which is a pretty skittish bike on all the rock left after the recent rains. I was definitely the oldest, fattest and slowest of the group. Sort of a C- rider among a group of C+'s and B's.

Later on in the day, I took a solo ride in T-Bird, just because it was too nice a day to sit in the apartment. Followed up with an afternoon ride today, which made for a good weekend of pedalling.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Poaching? Maybe

Went out for a ride this evening, figuring I could make my usual early morning loop through Thunderbird. When I got to the park entrance, the ranger was closing the gates. Yeah, the ones with the signs that say something like, "Park Hours Sunrise to Sunset." Rather than try to outrun him in his truck, I rode on by and turned around when he took off back into the park. He left one gate open, so I rode on in. I headed around to the south like I do in the early morning hours, keeping an eye out for the gendarme. As I came over the hill that overlooks the 59th Ave parking lot, I stopped, turned off my light, and looked around to see if maybe he was hanging around looking for trail poachers. Didn't see him and started down the hill. I thought about continuing around to the north and back west, but I figured the trail on that side is mostly visible from the park road. I have no idea whether the Rangers ticket folks for being in the park after it closes, and I decided I didn't really want to find out. When I got to the bottom of the hill, I cut southeast along a trail that pops out next to 59th and headed back to the apartment.

What I can't quite figure out is, when I get to the park entrance at 5 am, the gates are open. Dawn is still two hours off, but somebody came through at O-dark-early and opened up the park. If they can fudge by 2 hours in the morning, why not in the evening? Another great imponderable, kind of like, "If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?"

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Another After the Rain

Yesterday's (Friday) weather was an almost exact repeat of last Friday. Rain started coming down about 1:00pm or so and continued well into the night. We must have gotten about an inch. Today dawned cloudy and cool, with predictions of rain inthe morning hours. I hung around the apartment, reading and doing a little bike maintenance. Finished a book entitled Great Adventures in Small Boats, originally published in 1948. All the accounts preceded fiberglass and occurred in a world when small boat voyages were pretty rare. Fun read.

Rode out of Dreamy Draw, working my way around the north edge of the Preserve. I hadn't been on most of these trails and it was fun exploring some new ground. One great thing about days after a big rain is the cool crisp air and almost complete lack of smog.
Looped around and caught T100 for a bit, then tried climbing $5. Made all but the last 50 yds.

Followed 1A around to the east, dropped back down to T100, up to Conversation Point and down Dreamy Draw to the truck. Good ride.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

'tis the Season

After all the months of warm, dry weather, the season of snot rockets has arrived. You know what that is, your sinuses clog up, your nose runs. You turn your head left, cover your right nostril and HONK. You trun right, cover your left nostril and HONK again. By the way don't get that backwards or you'll look like banana slugs have been crawling over your chest.

This is one of the basic skills of cycling. First you learn to balance, then you learn to pedal, then you learn to blow snot rockets. This comes before bunny hopping, gloving tires, fixing flats.

That brings me to flats. I usually run about 40-45 psi and rarely get flats, except from thorns or broken glass. This morning, first time at Thunderbird since the rain, I caught a pinch flat. Heard a hissing sound and thought, "That doesn't sound much like a snake." It wasn't, unless a snake bit the side of my tire. I love fixing flats in the dark. Anyway, I found no tire damage, but there it was in the tube, a telltale lengthwise slit along the side of the tube. Had to cut the ride short and get ready for work.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

After the Rains

After 2 days of rain, the air was a clear as i'v ever seen it in Phoenix. The high was about 65. Perfect day for an afternoon ride. The rain washed all the trails to the extent that a lot of them seemed completely different. I kind of planned to go up by the A&W house, but when I got up to the trail that leads over there, the erosion and mud made it look like a bad idea. Instead, I headed north on 8 to meet up with T100. 8 was in pretty bad shape too and I walked part of it so the hikers wouldn't think I was showing off, and I've got a bridge to sell you.

Looped down 8, then back up and caught 1A back to the west. After that it was north for a bit, then back to the truck at 32nd. Beautiful day for it.

The vegetation isn't looking much different so far after getting 2 inches of rain. Except the saguaro. Most were getting pertty thin from the dry. Today, they were swelled up like post-thanksgiving dinner football watcher.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Rainy Saturday

The day dawned with showers and cool temps. I loaded up the bike and went to the Tempe Festival of the Arts for a couple of hours, then headed up to Dreamy Draw, hoping to get in a ride before that next squall came in.

One thing about rainy days in Phoenix, parking is a breeze at trailheads.

Left the parking lot about 2:30, went up Dreamy Draw, then up 1A, across to the east and down a hill Sean referred to as 5 Dollars to T100. As I started down, the rain and wind hit in earnest. Knowing there weren't many folks in the park at that time, I figured I should work my way back to the truck. I followed T100 back rather than take some of the more interesting routes. By the time I got back, I was pretty well soaked. It was a lot like riding in the Pacific Northwest - cool and wet, but without the mud.

After about 2 inches of rain since Friday, all the rock was washed clean and dust was non-existent. There wasn't much soft ground anywhere, nor were there many puddles. The air felt as clean as its been since I moved here.

I'll probably head over there again tomorrow and ride as much as possible. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with the vegetation now that its had a good dose of rain after so much drought.