Friday, December 23, 2011

Sonoran Preserve Trails

Sonoran Preserve is located east of I-17 at the Jomax exit. It is a nice set of trails. If you are from somewhere other than Phoenix, I-17 heads north out of central Phoenix and goes to Flagstaff. Jomax is one of the last exits before you rise out of the Sonoran Desert. The trails were built in 2010, but since there are many other places to ride, I hadn't been there until today. I would have to say, they are probably the smoothest trails in the general area. Immediately upon leaving the parking lot, you encounter a climb that get the heart rate up higher than a geezer like me would appreciate. I'm one of those folks who like to gradually get the heart, lungs and legs in sync gradually, but darn near every trail in the area starts with an uphill that prevents easy synchronization. By the way, I forgot to turn on the GPS until I was a few hundred feet up the trail. After the big climb, the smooth trail surface made for some fast downhills. The full suspension folks probably don't notice that much difference, but as an old fat guy on an aluminum hardtail, I found nirvana.

The route I took today went from the southwest corner of the picture, up to the northeast to the second intersection, then around counter clockwise, then back down the entrance spur to the other intersection and around to meet the first loop, then back down to the parking lot. Good ride that took about an hour and a half. Definitely a do again.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Advertising Rant

I'm sure you've seen the recent TV ads for Viagra (I'm not a user, by the way) unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of years. The theme appears to be, you're older now and know how to get things done. Their depiction of older guy wisdom is about as lame as it can get. Consider the three ads I've seen so far.

In the first ad, a guy is driving through the desert in his '67 Camaro. It overheats, so he pulls into an ancient roadside gas station and comes out with a bottle of water, which he pours into his overheateed radiator. In a moment he continues his journey and arrives at an invitingly lit up house where, I guess, he gets laid.

In the second ad, a cowboy in his pickup with a horse trailer gets stuck in the mud. He steps out of the cab, hitches up his team and pulls the truck and trailer out of the mudhole. The final scene shows him pulling up to an invitingly lit up farmhouse where, I assume, he gets laid.

In the third ad, a guy is sailing along with his sails improperly set, in a light breeze. Judging from the wave action, the wind isn't more than 5 knots. Suddenly, a midboom mainsheet clevis breaks and his boom swings away. Leaping into action, he points to windward and disables a life vest by removing the waist strap. He feeds the strap through the block, wraps it around the boom, and replaces the clevis. He then sails away and returns to the dock, apparently to get laid.

These guys are supposedly at an age where they know how to get things done. Problem is, none of them seem to have a clue. Let's take these problems one at a time.

Guys with classic Camaros should have some basic concept about maintenance and emergency repair. They know not to head out into the desert without having checked a few things like oil and coolant levels, condition of hoses, belts, etc. Guys with classic Camaros also know that when the beast overheats, they don't grab a bottle of cold water and dump it into a hot radiator. They also know that a liter of water ain't gonna fix the trouble. Maybe he dumped his little blue pills in the radiator and the cooling system hardened up. If so, he must have made it home in less than four hours.

The cowboy might know how to ride horses, but he sure doesn't know how to drive the backroads, of which we are led to believe he is most familiar. Having spent several years as a microwave radio technician, I am a bit familiar with driving in less than ideal conditions. If the cowboy knew a damned thing about backroad driving he would have either gone around the mudhole or maintained enough speed to allow his momentum to carry him through the mud without spinning his wheels. That's something that might also improve his performance in bed.

The sailor, ah yes. This guy should be drummed out of the Horatio Hornblower fan club. First problem. That clevis had to be at least 1/4 inch stainless steel with a rating in excess of a ton. If that sucker snapped in such a light breeze, he allowed it to wear out, never looking at it during the life of the boat, or the ten other boats it outlived. Those things don't wear out fast. How many other parts are in similar condition? Did Mrs. Hornblower sabotage his yacht? I'd be uneasy about sailing that boat in dead calm. Next problem, he disables an essential, and required, piece of safety equipment instead of grabbing one of the many chunks of line that are always readily at hand. What the hell?!! If the clevis pin can't hold, what makes him think that a 1 inch nylon strap is the right answer? Of course, being a TV ad, he successfully completes the repair with a spare clevis and, next problem, continues on with his sails improperly set. As he's walking the dock in the final scene, one has to wonder, is that sail bag his Viagra dosage? Maybe he can loan some to the guy with the Camaro.

You have to admit these are true guys. They don't properly prepare for what they intend to do, then, when they face a self inflicted woe, they come up with a lame solution. These guys are the ultimate teenagers. Dumb mistakes, followed by dumb fixes. All in hopes of getting laid.

Friday, October 21, 2011

New Wheels

The new wheels arrived yesterday, so in the evening I put them on the old Klein.

They are Vuelta Zerolite wheels from Nashbar and generally look ok. The hubs look kind of cheap, so it will be interesting to see how well they do in the dusty desert environment. The other oddity is the 24 spoke configuration. Seems to me the more spokes the better, given that I am not what one would consider as svelte. Tomorrow morning will be the first test. If they make it through the morning, maybe they'll be ok.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New trails in N Phoenix

Yesterday morning about 9, the temps were in the 80s, so I took of on my mtn bike for a little exploring. I hadn't been on the bike for about 3 weeks and needed the exercise. I left the house and followed the CAP canal east to Deem Hills. I haven't been over there since over a year ago when I found a few new trails. Since then, they seem to have added a pretty good network. The temps were getting up there by the time I had ridden anly about 1.5 miles of trail, so I turned around and headed back to the barn. Next time, with cooler temps coming I will spend a bit more time and take along my GPS.

I did a little maintenance on the old Klein today. After cleaning the bike off I noticed a little grinding in the front hub. When I get it apart and cleaned up, I could see some excessive wear in the bearing races. Hit the Nashbar page looking for a new set of hubs since these are apparently on thier last legs after 14 years and many 110s of miles of dirt. They had a wheel set regularly $199 for $79. The blessing of an old bike with rim brakes is that parts can be really cheap. We' see how it goes when the new wheels arrive...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Port Angeles

We visited Port Angeles last week for a few days and had a chance to ride part of the Discovery Trail west of town. Having ridden for the last 4 years in Phoenix, It was a real pleasure to ride something different. With the temp around 50 and rain threatening, we headed out, Sean on his Salsa El Mariachi and me on Michele's Jamis Dakar. The El M is a 29er 1x9, all rigid and the Jamis is a full suspension 3x9 26er. The ride consisted of an out and back, climbing about 600 ft over 3 miles. Our stopping point was in a clear cut overlooking the Elwha River Valley.

The climb was relatively easy, with a pretty smooth trail surface. It was one of those climbs that could go a long time without real suffering. The ride back down was joyful, smooth, fast and fun for a geezer like me. As usual, Sean bombed down while I maintained a bit of caution. It reminded me of our days in Spokane when Sean would tear ass down a steep rocky descent, while I would stop, figure out the line, then descend without much drama. Meeting at the bottom, Sean would wax eloquently about almost crashing on that rock, bouncing off this tree, etc. while I didn't have any good tails to tell. The age difference is still there.

Anyway, its alway great getting out on the trails with Sean. Maybe next time we hit that trail, we'll take it all the way to Crescent Lake. It will be an all day ride that should be awesome.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Email offers

I got an email the other day complimenting me on my blog, which seemed very nice. Then a read down a few lines telling me that I should add a link to some job search site. I could then make money buy getting readers to click on the link.

With an average of 3.2 visitors per day, I'm sure the clicks would really add up fast. No doubt I could quit my day job and spend my time biking, sailing and blogging in the lap of luxury. I might even have time to write a book, "How to Live Gracefully on .0002 Cents Per Day."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

GeoManGear Recall

I picked up the mail yesterday, and golly gee, there was my replacement battery from the GeoManGear recall! Mid-April to Late-August, not very quick, but they were true to their word. Will shop their site in the future.

Friday, August 26, 2011

In Defense of GeoManGear

Like everyone who received and responded to GeoManGear's Magicshine battery recall, I have been increasingly skeptical about ever seeing a replacement battery (I'm not over that yet). I filled out the online form, recycled my battery at the local Home Depot and sent in the form. Since I expected the recal to take a while, I ordered a new light set just like the original one.The new light set arrived in a few days and I was off and riding. After about 2 months, the battery failed on the new light set. It would not take a charge, nor would it power the light. I worked up a 7.4 volt source and attached it to the light head and it worked ok. When I plugged the battery into the charger and energized the charger, the charge light was green, indicating that the battery was fully charged. With the charger plugged in to AC, and no load from the battery, the light is green, which indicated to me that there was an open in the battery circuit.

Not having seen or heard anything from GeoManGear regarding the recall, I was reluctant to send off the new set for warranty repair, fearing that I would never see the light again.

Since its so damn hot in Phoenix in the daylight, I was pretty well finished riding for the summer, since before dawn is the only relatively cool time of day, and its too dark to ride without a light. I finally decided to take a chance and send the set back for warranty.

I filled out the contact form on GeoManGear's website last Friday and received an RMA number shortly after. On Saturday, I boxed up the set and express mailed it to a PO box in Oro Valley, AZ. On Monday, I received an email indicating that the package was received and the lightset repaired and shipped. Tuesday evening, the repaired set was in my mailbox. Same Magicshine box, same light, new battery. I could tell it was the same light because in SOS mode it still codes dot dot dot dash dash dash dash dot dot dot, which isn't actually SOS, given that O in Morse Code is only 3 dashes.

GeoManGear restored much of my faith in them in making the repair trun around so quickly. I have never seen a warranty repair come back as fast as that. Kudos.

On the recall, I received an email this week that gave a timeline for the recall, and I do hope GeoManGear lives up to that letter.

In the meantime, I have them back on my list of folks I am willing to buy stuff from.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Cautionary Tale

The battery pack died on my bike light and I was left in the dark, so I decided to go the cheap route. I went to Batteries Plus and bought 4 AA size Lithium batteries. Each cell was 3.6 volts. I strung them together in series parallel to make a 7.2 volt battery pack. Then I grabbed the charger from my light set and chared the batteries for a couple of hours. The next morning, I hooked up the makeshift light set and went for a road ride. Everyghing seemed to work fine.

Yesterday evening, I put the batteries on the charger in anticipation of a morning ride. Set the whole thing on the garage floorand went into the house to read. About an hour later, I heard a very loud gunshot out in front of the house. I ran to the window, but didn't see anybody. I went outside and opened the garage door. The garage was filled with smoke. The battery pack was in pieces.

Sometimes creativity is rewarding, sometimes, not so much.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lasik revisited

It has now been about 4 months since I had my eyeballs zapped and things are pretty good. In reality, I traded nearsightedness for farsightedness. I have great distance vision, beyond about 3 feet, but I need reading glasses for anything close.

I used to be able to read the smallest writing imaginable by taking off my glasses and sticking the writing about 2 inches from my eyes. Now I need reading glasses and sometimes a magnifying glass to read anything close or small.


Reading glasses are a heck of a lot cheaper than prescription bifocals. I now have about a dozen pairs of reading glasses at a total cost of about 50 bucks. A couple pairs of sunglasses at 20 bucks each. Prescription glasses were over $400 a pair. Prescription sunglasses were even more.

I am still having to modify my behavior. Since early childhood, if I couldn't focus on something I pulled it closer. Now I have to do the opposite, and the retraining is going slowly. Old dog, new tricks.

I read somewhere that very nearsighted people don't have the level of depth perception that 20/20 people have. Not sure I bought that idea, but I do now. Mountain biking made me a believer. The first times jumping up a step and descending a steep trail was vastly different. Step-ups looked higher than they did before and descents looked steeper. My timing was way off as obstacles approached at a different rate than they seemed to before. It took a few rides to get used to it, not quite as hard as learning to trail ride, but still unsettling. Its all good now.

Would I do it again? Yes. Even with the need for reading glasses and the loss of being able to read the itty bitty writing on the edge of my watch face, I'd do it again. Besides, I already know the watch was made in Japan.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Mercedes Did

To begin, I don't own a Mercedes, never have, probably never will. Its just time for a rant, which I don't often do.

If you watch TV, you've probably seen the ad with three people relating tales of negligent driving who didn't realize something, but "Thankfully my Mercedes did." This ad is dumber than the ads of people driving like idiots on city streets, Lexus, Infinity, Volvo, you know who you are.

This ad basically says that its ok to drive tired, distracted, texting, or whatever else you might do instead of actually driving while behind the wheel. C'mon advertisers, there is no substitute for attentive driving. If a drivers actually trust systems that stop the car, warn of lane drifting, etc. they ought not be on the road, or they need a chauffeur.

We're coming up to the time when an ad shows some drunk explaining how his blood alcohol level was 2.5% and he drove home and didn't kill anyone, but his Mercedes did.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


As of 2011, my health insurance fully covers the cost of vision correction surgery. Its something I have been considering for a long time, but the cost made a cheapskate like me put it off, and off, and off. Since cost suddenly became a non-issue, I made the appointment and had it done.

This wasn't a vanity thing. If you've seen me, you pretty well know that vanity doesn't much enter into stuff like this. The real reason for Lasik was the activities I really enjoy, mountain biking and sailing. In both cases, there are always a pretty good chance of losing my glasses, or at least a lens. Without my specs, I couldn't ride a bike, so if I was 10 miles from the trailhead, its a 10 mile walk with a lot of stumbling along. Then, when I'd get back to the truck, I couldn't drive. In the sailboat, if the glasses went in the water, it was a pretty good bet I would not be able to find the landing, let alone the truck and trailer.

So, into the surgery I went. The whole thing was pretty quick, not more than 20 minutes, and surprisingly painless. I came out being able to see well, but a bit fuzzy. Its now 2 days after and I am seeing 20/20 at distance, but close in definitely requires reading glasses, at 3 pairs for $20.

I won't be doing any riding or sailing until next weekend. Looking forward to it though!