Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Road Loop

Happy Valley Rod just opened up between 83rd Ave and Lake Pleasant Blvd. It actually has a bike lane. I decided to do a different loop today on the road bike, So I left the house in Sonoran Mtn Ranch and took 67th down to Happy valley, west to Lake Pleasant Blvd, up to Westwing Parkway, east to Jomax, east to 67th and back home.

It was a bit windy today and I took adantage as much as possible, averaging 22+ mph to Lake Pleasant Parkway. Unfortunately, the wind was out of the northeast and most of the way home is slightly uphill. Having a rather ample frontal area did not help. Overall the distance was 16.2 miles, and the average speed was 16.2. I'll let the math lovers figure out the average for the return trip.

Other than the wind, it was a beautiful morning for a ride, but it left me wishing I had chosen to go sailing instead.

Here we are battling the elements on Lake Pleasant a couple of weeks ago. Picture courtesy of Sean.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Good Bike Light Buy

Since there aren't a lot of good trails near my house, I have been mostly road riding just to stay in shape for the weekend MTB rides. The road riding is 5:00am, which means that its now dark when I leave and dark when I get back. I've been running a dual halogen setup with a bottle cage battery. It was cheap and continues to work well, even though it's a bit heavy.

Somewhere along the way, I saw a web page at for an LED light at $84.99. Hard to pass up, so I placed an order a week ago. I added a helmet mount for another $9.99, so with shipping it came to about $103. It arrived on Thursday and turned out to be a really good deal. I am generally impressed.
My box did not say Magicshine. It simply said "Bicycle Light." I must have received the generic version.
It was neatly packaged, just like the picture. The battery is only about 3 inches long and weighs 205 grams. The light comes in at 120 grams, so in all the setup is way lighter than my halogen set.
Note that the power cord exits toward the front instead of the back. Not sure why. I'd have taken it out toward the back. Note the mounting clip. This set uses a rubber o-ring (2 sizes included) that wraps around the handlebar or helmet mount. My first impression of that was "cheap!" Then I thought about it and two things came to mind. First, I only paid $85 for an LED light set, so it is cheap. Second, the o-ring is actually pretty heavy duty and replacements can be found at hardware and auto parts stores for almost nothing. The o-ring actually holds the light pretty firmly. Kudos to the folks who came up with that idea. It tracks well with my theory that if you can't fix something with duct tape, baling wire and rubber bands, it ain't worth owning.
The helmet mount has two velcro straps, each about a foot long. They allow you to strap it down just about any way you want. The mount stays in place. With the light, is seems a little heavy, just because it's noticeable, but it isn't a real distraction.
Performance of this set is, dollar for dollar, the best around. It puts out 900 lumens for 3 hours on a single charge. At lower levels, 500 and 200 lumens, it should be good for at least 6 hours.
Since lumens don't really make sense to anyone without a physics degree, 900 lumens doesn't seem too far off from an automobile low beam headlight. Like laser warnings, don't look into the light with your remaining good eye. This sucker will make you wish you hadn't done that. With this light mounted on your helmet, when you meet people on the trail, make it a point not to shine the light in their eyes. They'll be seeing spots for a week.
The light has 5 modes, 900, 500, 200, flashing, and SOS. Flashing is a very rapid and should get the attention of drivers. SOS mode is interesting, mainly because it doesn't spell out SOS. It actually spells out 37. It flashes 3 dots, 4 dashes, 3 dots. Close, but no cigar. Frankly, if I get into a situation where I need the SOS function, I will probably have broken the light in the crash.
FYI: SOS is ...---... 37 is ...----...
I'm not one for making recommendations, but this is an exception. If you want an LED light that works great at low cost, check it out at Its well worth the price.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Not so bad after all

The final results are in from last weekend's race and I wasn't dead last. Among all beginner men, I finished 43rd out of 49. In the age appropriate category, I finished 12th out of 16. Probably the most interesting statistic (interisting statistic, isn't that an oxymoron?) was that if I finished 10 minutes faster like last year, I would have had the same place finish in my age group and would have only moved up 1 place overall. Weird.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Well, at least I finished

Somehow, I knew that 17.2 average speed on the road bike wasn't enough. I did finish the race in Flagstaff, but I was a full 10 minutes off my time from last year. And, from the posted results, I finished dead last in the over 40 beginner class. maybe next year.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Trained and as ready as I'll ever be

So I've done all the training I can do before the Absolute Bikes St. Mary's Food Bank race in Flagstaff this weekend. I was hoping beyond hope to be a little stronger than I seem to be. As noted before, my out of shape average speed on my road bike is about 15mph. Last week it was right at 16. I managed to get it up to 17.2 this morning. Tomorrow is a rest day. We're going up to Flag tomorrow afternoon so we can star gaze at Lowell Observatory tomorrow night, then race in the morning. Last year I finished the lap in 1:26:36. Probably won't beat that this time. We'll see.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Racing Next Weekend

The annual St. Mary's food bank race is coming up in Flagstaff next weekend and my only preparation for it has been registering for the race. I've fully recovered from the kidney stone incident, and since then have been out on my road bike twice, for a total of 27 miles. That means I have seven days to get back the lungs and legs.

We live at 1300 ft elevation. Its hotter than hell here in Phoenix this time of year, but at least there's oxygen.

Flagstaff is at 7000 ft and the course consists of about 1000 ft of climbing, up to about 8000 ft. It isn't a steep or particularly hard climb, but the elevation lets you know that oxygen deprivation is a real condition. With any luck, the temperatures will be in the 60s and humidity will be low. Otherwise, ... I don't think I want to talk about it.

I'm going to hit the road bike hard starting tomorrow morning and every morning until Friday, when I'll sleep in until 6.

When I've been off the road bike for a while, I struggle to average 15 mph for an hour. To be halfway decent in the race, I need to be at an average speed between 19 and 20 mph. Given the time to train, I may have some trouble achieving that. That means race day could be somewhat worse than last year.

I'm not exactly the sort of rider who will set fire to the course. I ride in the older than 40 beginner class, and expect to be relegated to that status as long as I'm willing to race, since mid- pack is where I'll end up.

The real objective is to finish the course without getting run over by some elite or sport rider. They're a bunch of animals!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

If we can land a man on the moon...

A couple weeks ago, I heard a radio report about the lack of water donations for homeless folks, citing that 2 people had already died of heat related causes. I thought, WTF? and went down to Costco, picked up several cases of water, then headed to the north Glendale library to drop them at a donation center. In the parking lot of the driveway sat one of the stupidest things I have ever seen. See for yourself;

It made me wonder if maybe it was children's reading hour.

Then I realized that the only addition needed to make it perfect would be a bike rack and an extension ladder. The perfect shuttle vehicle...

No. Still stupid.

Friday, July 17, 2009

MTB Complications

I never would have believed it, but it happenedto me so it must be true.

Got in a great ride in Prescott, Granite Basin with some good buddies and had a ball. The trails were in beautiful shape, not too sandy and pretty smooth. We had lunch in Prescott then a leisurely drive back to Phoenix.

Monday morning, I got to work at my usual time feeling great. At 8:30 am almost to the minute, I felt a stabbing pain in my lower right abdomen. It reached the stage of cold sweats, doubled over, ow ow ow ow. Thinking maybe some kind of abdomenal flu or something (I'm no doctor), I went home and moaned the day away on the couch.

No better Tuesday. Went to the doctor and we're thinking appendix, infection, kind of strange, and painful I might add. Prescriptions and go home.

Wednesday, seems a little better, but still pretty bad.

Thursday, Doc says head to the ER. We do xrays and CT scan with some kind of contrast injection. About 30 minutes later the Doc brings in a urologist. He says Kidney stones and progressing kidney failure because the tube is blocked from the kidney to the bladder. Turns out that the contrast agent is hard on the kidneys and one that's in trouble can fail with that stuff in there.

I have to hand it to John C. Lincoln. When they decide an emergency surgery is in order, they don't mess around. About 30 minutes later everything goes dark.

I woke up little while later feeling pretty good, except in the one orifice that can be used to grant access to the bladder and kidneys.

The urologist inserted a laser gun through that orifice and took out the death star with a few proton torpedoes. Then up went a stent to keep everything flowing in the right direction. His final words were something to the effect that I am expected in his office in about 2 weeks when he is going to reach back up there with a grappling hook and yank out the stent. Just thinking about it, I cringe. I really hope he whacks me over the head with a rubber mallet to distract me first.

For those who don't know which orifice I'm referring to, go to Wikipedia and look up Laser Lithotripsy. If you have any imagination at all, you will understand why you don't want to be awake for this one.

Apparently, the jarring from Sunday's ride worked loose to stones, which caused the drama. I'm on the mend now, But If you can prevent this from happening, I highly recommend you do so. Drink lots of water.

All that said, I'm off the bike for 2-3 weeks. Still hoping to race in Flagstaff August 22nd, but I may trail the pack by quite a bit.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Buy a House then redo the whole darn thing

Back in November we bought a house in Peoria AZ. Since then, I've been on my bike maybe a half dozen times. The house was a foreclosure that had been vacant for about a year. Apparently it was originally purchased as a rental/investment. When the housing market went poof, the owner stopped making payments to the bank and the renter got evicted by Sheriff Joe's boys. I don't know anything about the renter, but judging from the condition of the house, he/she was rebuilding engines in the living room, or something like that.

After 3 months of work, we are down to rebuilding the kitchen and family room, and hoe to have that done in 2 or 3 weeks., then we start on the outside. Here's a shot of the powder room sink arrangement:

The countertop is pine, and temporary, until the bamboo countertop Sean is going to make arrives. The layout is basically what it will look like.

For some reason, we seem to like the look of bamboo. Here are a couple of shots of the upstairs floor.

And, just to make this a bike related post, here's where the bike sat while the garage was being used as a paint booth.