Sunday, February 24, 2008

Desert Classic and a little T100

Yesterday was a gorgeous day that topped out about 68. MTBR Arizona showed a group ride at 10:am, Desert Classic starting at the Pima Canyon trailhead. Since it was listed as a c-ride, I figured what the heck, I should be able to fit it in between running around to the baseball stadiums buying tickets for spring training. Arriving at the trailhead, I found every parking space full. Managed to find a spot near the park entrance that didn't say you could park there, nor did it say you couldn't. Rode up to th emeet point, arriving at 9:55. Waited around for about 10 minutes and began to think the ride wasn't going to happen. Started out on my own solo group ride. Desert Classic is an interesting trail with lots of whoop-dee-doos and not much climbing. The trail marker posts are numbered, b ut I don't know what the numbers mean. Seemed like 1/10s of a mile, but they weren't very evenly spaced. Anyway, I rode out to marker 54and started back. Met up with 3 guys who were there for the group ride, two were still outbound and 1 was coming back. The returner and I hooked up and headed back to the parking lot. I'm not sure, but I think the ride was 12-14 miles. One thing I've noticed is that c-riders tend to go faster than I do. I guess I'm more of a d+ rider. I can usually keep my wheels between me and the ground in the terrain they ride, but I'm a hell of a lot slower.

Today, I was dragging around, doing chores and running errands. Got out on the bike about 3:00pm and wenmd looking for a T100 trailhead near the apartment. I found one at 24th St, but it turned into a rough climb that I wasn't really up for. Pushed the bike up and found a meet with T100. From there I headed west to the power lines, then back east, up Dreamy Draw and down to the 32nd St Trailhead. Made it back to the apaartment in time to listen to "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" on the local NPR station.

I'm thinking next weekend I might do all of T100, starting at 32nd, heading west to 7th Ave, east to Tatum, and back to 32nd St. Its about 20 miles, so I'm thinking (don't laugh) 4 to 5 hours, followed by a good soak in the apartments' hot tub.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New Helmet

If that title grabbed you, you really need to find something more interesting to do. Before I start on that subject though, I think its interesting that, according to Google Analytics, I had a visitor from Casoria, Italy, evidently part of the Naples metro area. That adds to the USA, Finland, Yemen, Australia and New Zealand since I started playing with Analytics. I'm easily entertained.

This weekend I shopped for a new helmet, since the one I've been wearing is about 8 years old, smelly, and probably not as effective as it should be. I've been wearing bike helmets ever since they became generally available, probably over 30 years ago. In that time I've only landed on the helmet once. I was on my daily commute in Portland and running a bit late. Along my route, there was a small dog that would spot me and run down off his porch, barking and trying to catch me. because it was a slight downhill, I always had enough speed that he never quite got to me. One morning, he got smart and hid behind a trailer parked on the street. Seeing me coming, he jumped out of his hiding spot crouched down and started barking. Being late, I was pushing pretty hard and doing about 25 mph. Dog and I locked eyes and panic. Dog can't figure out which way to go, spins around darts abck and forth looking for a place to hide. I can't figure out which way to swerve because dog hasn't made up his mind. Time's up. My front wheel hits him and I go over the bars, landing helmet first and tumbling about 3 times before I stop. The wheel is taco'd, my neck hurts, I'm scraped up, but my brains are only slightly scrambled, thanks to Mountain Safety Research (MSR). I got up, straightened the wheel as much as possible, and wobbled on in to work. Never saw the dog again. I think I made out better than he did.

The old MSR helmet was a lexan hard shell, basically a mountaineering helmet modified for cycling. The lexan held up pretty well and never developed any cracks, so I wore it for a long time.

So there I am, looking for a new helmet. Now, I don't really like to admit it, but my skull is large enough to have its own gravitational pull. I tried on several "Large" and "Universal" size helmets and found out that those sizes refer to large and universal pinheads, not the manly skull that I sport. I did find a Bell Influx that fits my noggin and is actually comfortable. The silly thing is, this helmet has "GPS," which aparently has nothing to do with global position systems. It refers to a little knob on the back that tightens a strap and firmly positions the helmet on my globe. Another thing that I like is the placement of pads inside the helmet. When I ride, I sweat like nobody else. The sweat runs down my forehead and drips on my glasses (coke bottles, really). Its one of those annoying things that I've put up with for years. This new helmet seems to direct the flow down my nose and misses the lenses. You might think that sweat dripping down your nose ain't such a great thing, but not having to stop and wipe sweat off my glasses with a damp tail of my shirt, then see the world through smears is a major improvement. I'd rather wipe my nose any day.

Monday, February 4, 2008

South Mountain

Figuring that the Super Bowl and cloudy day would keep the crowds away, I made a run at South Mountain yesterday. Arriving at the Pima Canyon entrance, it was obvious that I was wrong. There must have been 200 cars on the access road and in the parking lot. Fortunately, a few football fans must have already left, 'cause I was able to park pretty close to the trailhead. Not knowing my way around, I opted to follow the gravel road that continues up into the park. after about a mile, the road ended and two trails led off into the hills. One was marked "National" and the other was marked "Mormon" with the second m scratched out. Having heard tales about National, I chose Morxon. It was mostly climbing, but not too severe. Being a geezer, I wheezed along as much as possible and pushed the bike where needed. I met up with National after a mile or so, then followed it until I figured it was a smart time to turn back.

These are some very cool trails, but in many places simply more difficult than I am willing to ride. Some interesting erosion is taking place along the way. A couple sections have turned into a single rut about 2 feet deep and not much wider than the width of my pedals. I don't know how it would be possible to recover those areas, since the rains probably wash any loose stuff away and continued use will just make them deeper.

I was surprised at the amount of traffic on the trails, both foot and bike. Looks like folks are loving it to death. It must be a circus on SoMo when the weather's good.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Super Bowl Weekend

I've been fighting off some upper respiratory crud and haven't been on the bike much in the last couple of weeks. After a couple of weeks, I'm startingto think ,"Valley Fever" and really hoping this isn't it. Valley fever is a real thing that hits people in the Phoenix area. Its kind of a cold/flu thing that goes on for weeks. With any luck, this is just a cold. Anyway, it makes climbing a chore on the bike.

For the first day of Super Bowl weekend, I started out at Dreamy Draw and worked east. Theres a neat section of trail, I think its 8, that follows up a ravine and tops out about 1/4 mile SW of the A&W house. With all the rain lately, the desert is really fascinating. Unfortunately, all the trails are rockier than normal, with a lot of loose stuff to keep your focus. Anyway, I made it up there and got to see the oddity that sits pretty much alone in the preserve. The house looks like something from the 60s, with a sort of gawdy elegance. Whoever built it had a lot more dollars than sense.

Depending on weather, I might ride at south mountain. I've only ridden the road up to the lookout once, during a silent sunday. Given that the whole city will probably be watching a couple of east coast teams bump into each other, the mountain should be all mine. I haven't ridden the trails there before because there's apparently a lot of folks hiking and riding around most of the time and even parking there is supposed to be a problem. Weather outlook calls for rain, but if it isn't bad, I'll go and get wet. I will just have to miss my annual super bowl nap where I kick on the TV and fall asleep before the first quarter is over.