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Saturday, December 24, 2016

The NC Trip...

...is almost over.  I am hanging out at my parent's house, lounging....trying to catch a nap after last night finished up at 2 am this morning.  It's been a whirlwind of road trips, beer, bike shops, friends I've not seen in a year, friends I've not seen in 30+ years, tacos, motorcycles, sign shops, bars, karaoke...and dogs.   I'll post about it all next week when I have a keyboard...and not Swype.  I can say it has been the best trip I've taken back yet.  The reason? I focused on seeing EACH person I wanted to see.  No groups, no mass gatherings.  I missed the bike rides....especially since the weather wasn't shit this time.  There were a few missed calls (...Greg!) but that was my fault for not dropping by earlier in the week. 

More later.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Scottsdale Adjusting

So....we have moved most of our stuff.  The bikes.  The tools.  Christmas stuff.  We actually spent Saturday night with Ron and Heather drinking wine, eating pizza and (really fuckin') hot wings, and putting up a Xmas tree.

Lights still don't work.

I'm sitting in Charlotte, NC's airport right now....sipping wine.  I have a 4 hour layover. 

Stay tuned.

"Maybe It's the Scottsdale Coming Out"

...crossed my mind, kinda in jest...kinda not so in jest.  I had started up Wild Horse after a short picture break....


At this point, I was only a little over 24 hours away from being an "official" Scottsdale resident.  Two hours later, we'd sign papers and fork over some dough.  Friday it became official - Meghan and I live in Scottsdale.

I was feeling pretty good even if my heart rate was riding high.  I was aiming for Zone 2....but Zone 4 was the norm and ANY hard surge sent me higher and took a bit more outta my legs. 

The trail can be broken in 4 parts from the tree at the intersection of Twisted Sister (which I always stop at):
  • Flowy Uphill Section
  • Downhill to Flat Section
  • Sandy to PumpTrack Section
  • Nasty Rocky Grunt Section
The Flowy Uphill wasn't so bad.  Now it kicks UP before the downhill and THAT sent me a bit deep.  I even took an opportunity to check the phone to see what Meghan had sent.

Downhill to Flat was....well, boring.  On a singlespeed you're not gonna go fast enough to matter.  I even jacked the front end a couple times to see if I could lose the front wheel in the sand.  Nope.

Sandy to PumpTrack always kills me for some reason.  The deep sand does suck your speed away but it didn't feel THAT bad.  I'd grunt over the climbs, creeping so slow I wondered if I'd clip out in time.  When I made the pump track, I tossed around the idea of bailing on the easy way out....but, no.  This was indeed my last rip for awhile so I wanted to make it to the best parts.

Somehow I took a side trail that bypassed all the pumpy sections....and was heading through some brush.  That was when the smell HIT.  Honestly, the only thoughts going through my head progressed like I've written:

Helmet or Gloves...
Hangover Sweat...
or
Scottsdale...

It never crossed my mind (til I was sitting around post-signing, drinking wine with Meghan) that it coulda been javelina.  The rodents (really big rodents) do stink like that - this musky rancid smell that does linger.  I'd smelled it once before on a ride with Alex down south of Tucson.

We were riding the AZT - 83 out to the Lakes.  The section was this semi-rocky, semi-smooth climb with low-lying brush.  He stopped talking (....a rare moment) and Alex asked, "Smell that??  There are javelina around....and they're not happy!"  Apparently the stench is also a deterrent.  Understandably so.

I'm glancing right when I hear something worse than that stench - a fuckin' rattler goin' NUTS!  

"Go, go, GO!!", I scream 'cause now I'm pointing my front wheel up Alex's butt.  I'm getting outta here!  He ramps it up and we split that little spot.



Anyways, I'm contemplating ('cause that's what I do when I ride solo) was Scottsdale THAT bad before?  Why did I find it so repugnant before we moved to Mesa....but now, 8 months later, we're excited to move back there?  

The difference is...it's not that much worse than anywhere else.  After moving to Mesa, we found more of the same...just with more of a cowboy redneck twist.  For every one less example of why plastic surgery is just bad, there is some douchebag in a cowboy hat driving like anything other than a pickup truck on the road is just trash and shouldn't be in the way.

It's the same anywhere ya go - Winston-Salem, NC....King, NC...Tucson, AZ...there is always the good and the bad.  For every thing I miss about living in Tucson, there is something I can't stand when I go back (most commonly, driving).  I'm not saying Scottsdale is perfect....but hopefully, it's gonna be perfect for Meghan and me.

What I'm looking forward to is everything AROUND us - restaurants, roads, parks, bike shops, coffee shops....just shtuff.  This was our biggest motivation.  That and reducing Meghan's daily commute from 44 miles to 18. Over the last couple of weekends, we've been scouting out our 'hood....and we've found two different bike shops we dig ('cause our friends work there), two or three coffee shops, more wineries and LOTS of restaurants.


Yea, it's sad to give up Usery & Hawes.  I won't have that variety of trails anywhere that close to where we are now.  It's 5.2 miles to Trail 100....but it's also Trail 100!  That trail network in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve is one of my favorites in all of AZ.  It reminds of one of the trail networks I was growing to love more and more before I left NC - Salem Lake.

Salem Lake was smaller but rogue builders had built this crazy, weaving network of trails on the north side of the Lake.  The property belonged to the city but it was pretty much useless for anything other than exploring.  You could find a bit of everything out there - easy, fast & flowy enough for a 'cross bike....or rough, rocky and nasty enough it took more than a few tries to get by without dabbing.

PMP is the same way.  For the short time we lived in Scottsdale in the apartment, I rode there maybe 5 or 6 times.  It was always a challenge....and I never hit the same loops twice.  Only twice did I venture west of Dreamy Draw....and that's a WHOLE new batch of trail to explore.  

And it's not groomed.  It's one of the few trail networks that isn't groomed anymore.  That "philosphy" is everywhere and sadly, it's growing. 

But that's a bitch/rant for another time.


So....I make it up the grunt and there's a point before you exit Wild Horse where the trail is the most fun.  The rocks are plentiful and chunky.  You cross a variety of ravines and washes...but it's the "break".  The wind somehow picks up and gives you some relief from baking in the sun.  Even on a barely-60 degree day, the sun wants to beat you into submission.  Now the same legs that didn't wanna churn much over 50 rpms are kicking hard to punch over the next rise.  I hit sand and know it's over.

The whole Scottsdale Stench theory didn't cross my mind again til I was talking to Meghan post-paperwork.  And that was when she said, "bet it was javelina."

Huh....javelina?  Yep.

Later.




Friday, December 16, 2016

"That Smells Rancid..."

...was all I could think as I was climbing the last grunt up Wild Horse.  I was sure it was me.  Had I not washed this helmet in THAT long?  If I hadn't, why was it just now stinking THIS bad?  I just kept pedaling.

Knowing the rest of the day was gonna be chaotic, I took off yesterday morning on the Juice.  I deliberated for a bit over what bike to take - my only agenda was to get in the workout Melissa (the coach) had laid out...for Wednesday.  It wasn't just yesterday that's been chaotic.  The whole week has been.  Tuesday's gym workout got put off til Wednesday....so Wednesday's workout fit in yesterday.

4x sets of 4x 15 second Standing Sprints.  From a dead stop, hit it hard and spin it up to over 110 rpms.  Rest for 90 secs between each one....wait 5 minutes and do another set.

In all my brilliance, I chose the Juice.  Geared 32x18, I figured it would hit two goals - one, to get the workout in (kinda) properly and two, to get one last dig in the dirt out here in Mesa.  Sure, my "Tour De East Mesa" rip was supposed to be the last fat-tire dirt ride out here as a "local"...and it was the last LONG adventursomeing ride.  Yesterday's route was gonna be similar to my mainstay from the early morning Summer rides I did:

Home > Hermosa Vista > Las Sendas > Hawes Trail > Ridge Trail > Granite Trail > Saguaro Trail > Bush Highway > Wild Horse > Usery Pass > Home

Back in the Summer, I only had enough motivation to get in close to 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Even when I'd drag my ass outta bed @ 5 am...LATE morning by Mesa standards I'd learn...I wanted to be home before 8 because the sun started soul-sucking shortly after.  This route...although I rarely rode UP Ridge...was perfect.  Some days the grunt up Wild Horse felt good.  Most days it sucked.

That SMELL was rough, though.  It lingered so strongly that I knew it wasn't my helmet or the gloves I'd dug out (....it was a bit cold y'day AM).

"Alcoholics WREAK of alcohol when they sweat the next day.  This sure doesn't smell like that wine we had last night!!  Is this what Chablis stinks like coming outta ya??"

Yea, I know the names of my wines.  Drink enough of em' and you will, too.  Wednesday night Meghan and I were celebrating one of her upcoming projects at work so we were cracking up bottles of wine while we watched movies.  Wine movies.  Netflix's variety really sucks most nights.

Anyway, this smell wasn't THAT smell.  I'd smelled that smell before.  Like the time Mike B, Melanie and I were climbing up ???? fire road in Bent Creek.  We'd all been up til well in the morning at the Icycle afterparty.  Melanie and I both had drank a shit-ton of beer.  We're climbing....slowly when we get to this HUGE tree across the trail.

Just as I unzip my jacket that seemed to be storing an inordinate amount of heat, the stench of Newcastle-ish sweat hits!!  No sooner than my nose curls, Melanie exclaims, "I fucking smell like BEER!"


Anyways....I head out, warm up and soon I'm hitting the intervals.  Two on the roads in Las Sendas, next two on the dirt behind some of the houses.  I realize as my tires fight....and lose the battle for traction that THIS idea is not gonna work.  These sprints aren't gonna be effective if I'm spinning out like John Force on a greasy strip.

Cross the road, onto the usually-over-crowded stretch into Hawes.  Whip and weave to the intersection, turn left and head down Hawes.  One idea was, if I don't have the motivation, bail and hit TRW.  It's decent enough to do sprints, not ideal....but enh, it's more fun than the road.

Problem with that bail-out was I was now having FUN heading down the shitty section of Hawes.  The jagged rocks are everywhere, bumps and gnar in abundance.  Weave out onto the open portion and I'm just diggin' this last rip through what will soon no longer be my "home" trail.  I even stop to take pictures....



Always love all the horse shit that's left behind....

 So I reach the junction - it's either keep climbing and head to Power Road....then maybe TRW or down the road to the canal... OR I can ride Ridge.  In my mind, I'm certain there's a side trail off Ridge to the road.

I sure didn't find it.

Knowing I have a decent excuse for not climbing so fast up this, I bail on a few techy spots I know will send me DEEP into the pain cave.  They weren't "hard" - it just required more grunt than I wanted to give.  Somewhere along here I remember doing this trail the FIRST time I ever rode at Hawes.  On this bike.  Possibly with a 32x18 then as well.

I rode a few more pieces than I did before.  I've had all Summer to learn the trail so I knew when the dips would take a BIG effort to hop up on....and where I could dawdle my way past.  I reach Ray's Gay Pride Spot, take a look around....and head down.

This is where Granite Trail ties in and I know it heads down to the road.   In my head, I know I should be "responsible" and use most of my energy doing the workout, the sprints I've put off.  Granite is the "smart" way.  Then I see Saguaro.

Sagauro is just shitty enough to be a challenge and still be fun.  "Shitty but still fun" - that should be the motto for the Hawes Trail System.  Don't get me wrong - THAT is a compliment.  In a world full of machine-built (aka SMOOOOOTHHHH) trails, finding unmaintained, naturally "shitty" trails is a treat.

I almost cleaned the one punch that I've never cleaned.  I've ridden down timidly a few times.  I've gotten to the point of climbing it....and bailed once or twice.  I would just overthink.  Yesterday was the exception.  My mind was elsewhere as I piloted the bike.  I was more or less just reacting to the trail so when I realized where I was, I had momentum and my give-a-fuck meter was not registering.

And I woulda cleaned it IF I'd have had the legs.  I just stalled.

Tuesday's workout on Wednesday had left me a bit ragged.  Climbing up Ridge, I felt it DEEP in my shoulders and chest.  Where climbing on a geared squishy bike gets easy, climbing on a hardtail singlespeed just uses YOU as an anvil.  My shoulders ached, my forearms were giving up.  My legs had something....just not a lot.

Anyways....I'm soon up, over and out.  I'm on Bush Highway.  Connecting to Wild Horse is just right over there....but, no.  I had intervals to do.  I find the fancy little program on my Garmin and set about doing em'.

It had to look silly out there.  One TWJ rider passed, kinda gave me a berth but like most roadies on this stretch gave no verbal acknowledgement that, "oh yeah, to your left".  At least this time, I didn't get the "FUCKIN' ASSHOLE" like I did last time I was doing sprints.

I did my intervals over this 1 mile stretch for however long it took to get er' done.  When it came time to climb to Wild Horse, I felt kinda spent.  I'd used up all I could in those intervals.  Problem was....and this is my own ignorance...I left myself with only three options to get home:
  1. Climb the singletrack up to just before the Pass...
  2. Pedal on the pavement to Usery Pass Road....then do the same ol' 3 mile climb...
  3. Turn around, pedal up Kong into Las Sendas.
And in that order is how they rated in my enthusiasm for each.  There's a reason I've only went UP the Kong climb a handful of time in my life.  I just don't like it.  It's probably good for me....in some masochistic way.  Usery Pass....was the easier option....but this was my LAST rip.  I hit the singletrack, damn the torpedoes!

More later....












Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Flying back to NC...

...next week is gonna be fun.  Well, not the actual flying part - I usually dread that 24 hours, 2x 12 hour sessions of:
  • get to the airport 2 hours early 'cause...airport.
  • sit there, play on the phone or pray that something is downloaded on the Kindle.
  • realize my data plan is being eaten up.
  • finally get on the plane, wait for everyone else to get on...
  • fly for 5 hours to Charlotte 'cause Greensboro is too podunk.
  • rush over to the next gate.
  • find out the gate has changed.
  • rush to another gate.
  • finally get on the plane, wait for everyone else to get on...
  • fly for 1 hour to Greensboro...
  • so I can wait on luggage that may or may not arrive.
Reverse the 1 and 5, Greensboro to Phoenix (except for the podunk part)...and that's what my Christmas Day will be like.  Thanks to the Baby Jesus and Al Gore, it's $200 cheaper to fly back next Sunday.



I have almost no clue of what I'll do while I'm there.  Of course, I'll be visiting & staying with Mom & Dad.  Mom is retiring at the end of the year, so there are still some goodbye shindigs going on for her. 

I owe Kyle some beer.

B&G Pies is open...so yea, lemon.



Krispy Kreme will likely have a Hot & Now sign lit at some point, so I'll arrange a rendezvous with Mike B.



I was going to ship a bike out, the Carver to be exact.  It was actually going to stay there for good...til I rode the bike a bit more.  That made me decide I kinda liked having a geared hardtail around the house especially since:
  • the FrankenEpic will likely get ripped apart for squish-service soon...
  • the bike is just that fun to ride...
The Carver has been a love/hate affair ever since I got it.  It's light enough.  It's slacked out enough that with the 120mm Fox fork on there, it measures out something-less-than 69 degrees in the headtube.  Right now, it's 1x10...'cause that stuff was laying around....so it's convenient enough.



But it still does that annoying twitch when ya go HARD right.  The flexy bar stock chainstay connector gives under my 220+ lbs of awesome...causing weird shit to happen out back...if it's geared.

The sliding dropouts have never held well...plus the frame is a bit out of alignment, maybe.  I've never measured 'cause...lazy.  So although it's a fun bike, it's never been "the" bike.

So....no bike in NC.  There are other options - rent, borrow, steal....adapt one of Mike B's sleds to my height....but that didn't work at all last time.  Climbing Clawhammer with a saddle 2 inches too low is akin to just riding with no saddle - a pain in the ass.

Besides, the weather looks like CRAP.  Someone who lives there may be thinking, "it looks GREAT to me!"...in between the rain and after 2 pm.  But I have adapted well to mid-70's during the day - the highs back in Kaaaannngg, NC are the lows here.

So....I'll run.  Or hike.  Or go find beer as early as possible in a Baptist-oriented county.  Maybe I'll drive around (sober) and count Trump signs still left in the yard to taunt the liberal population.  And take pictures...'cause this blog will need material.

Make the Blog Great Again!  Make it Very Great Again!

Later. 


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Blogs are Dead...

...or so I hear.  And just when I was getting into em' again.  I eschewed Facebook a few weeks (and quickly picked it back up again!!  I mean, geez....how else will I learn about someone's cute dog trick or what new stupid thing Trump or anyone associated with Trump did??)  It was during that time I sought out the original source of gossip and unsubstantiated facts of the world, the blog.

Specifically, the cycling blog...'cause gossip is what gossip does.  I could give no more than two shits about who is doping, not doping, getting paid in actual dollars or running the latest 1x16 drivetrain.  I have an attention span of a gnat sometimes and it takes better fodder than THAT to keep me on track with your tales of two-wheels.  But I ran into a problem.

The blogs are dead.  I actually read someone's who said since FatCyclist quit his personal page, her page was SURE to be the next thing of media relationships to go the way of hair metal.  Okay, she didn't make the comparison to hair metal - I did.  (BTW, Sebastian Bach HATES the use of the word "hair metal" or so he says in his book.)



But I love hair metal.  As in LOVE it.  Not Poison....they're not metal.  Technically, I guess most of the bands I refer to as hair metal aren't metal, either....but I can't sink to admitting I like Poison.  I'm referring to bands like LA Guns, (maybe) Guns & Roses, Skid Row, Faster Pussycat, Bang Tango (which is questionable)....and so on and on.  These were the bands that hit that niche in early 90's of having HARD-sounding guitars while still having a legible singer, GOOD singers...not that screaming/growling/puking stuff I'd have to listen to for ??? years while Mike B and I made trips to Pisgah.

That's what I listen to when I get in the truck.  When I drive to wherever here in AZ, that's what's blaring.  And even at 44 years old, I still imagine I'm scaring the old people when they hear "Shout at the Devil".  Kinda the same way the kids today scare/annoy me when they pull up blasting that ghetto-gibberish at the gas pumps.

Huh.....I never was that "scary", was I?

Anyways, I found a few blogs that I hit semi-daily (as in when I get up and have time to sit here and read):

...along with random news sites, especially Pez.  Pez covers the gamut of cycling news - who, what, where - but rarely cover doping and ALWAYS have cool personal stories about riding on the other side of the world.  (Google his "Negroni" story....it'll make ya wanna jump on a plane.)

 They're all good.  Dicky writes about his adventures back on the East Coast.  I have never met Dicky face-to-face.  I saw him across the way once in Charlotte at a 'cross race....on the other side of the tape.  I wasn't sure until later.  We've swapped stuff through the mail - he made SURE I became an allegiance-swearing customer of BackCountry Research.
...kinda of an endorsement but they REALLY do work!

Tilford is a legend...and writes every day.  He treats his blog more like a soapbox and diary.  Jill Outside is an amazing writer...whose books I swear I'll buy one day.  The others are just good stories...when they do write.

But you can see from that short list, there's not alot to choose from.  On Dicky's page, there is a HUGE list of bloggers....most of which have either disappeared or haven't been updated in years.  Even one of my good friends, Chris @ B-43, has given up.  He and I would likely have never met if I hadn't stumbled on his blog so many years ago.



So I decided last night to, instead of lamenting the problem....do what I can to remedy the problem.  That's why you're seeing THIS, a blog...in it's purest form - random bullshit spewed from the mouth of someone who doesn't mind using a keyboard to sort out his thoughts.  It's been said I write the way I talk, just with less of an accent.  

I don't want the blog to die.  Just like I didn't want hair metal to die...and we've all seen how that has come back.  Even if it is a bit pudgier and sometimes a bit more corny than it was before.

Still....#shouldabeenlars.



Later. 

 


Friday, December 9, 2016

I read blogs...

...because it's fun to read these monologues about people's lives, views, stances and ideas.  Sometimes they get wordy and I skip through...or just stop.  (I'm sure if anybody were reading THIS blog, they would be skipping ALOT!)  Sometimes it's fun to just hear about other people's adventures.

I started making a more committed effort to read blogs when I stopped the Book of Face for about a week awhile back.  I would still be deactivated if it weren't for the fact that it is a great way to get in touch with certain people.  I had sent a present to a friend in NC when I realized I needed to include some info....and didn't.  I went to find his cell phone number.  No luck.  No email.  Nothing.

I signed back up for Facebook, sent a message and soon all the info was shared.  When he got the package, he messaged me...on Facebook...to get my phone number so he could thank me.

So, yea....there is a use for it.

I've made friends through blogs.  Chris @ B-43 has been a friend for a few years now.  I would likely have never made friends with him if it hadn't been for his blog.  Chris is kinda reclusive to a point....and when I did approach him at that race in Danville, he had this scowl that woulda kept any one else away.  But like most folks, as soon as I walked up and started talking a bit, he loosened up and it was on after that....

This blog is so scattered on topics for a reason - it's just what's on my mind.  This week has been a chaotic mess between trying to get ready to move, get the last few bits of art pieces ready to either ship or be stored and get in workouts.  In fact, I'm leaving shortly to get in yesterday's workout.

This week has been short rides...well, except maybe Wednesday.  Monday I did a recovery(ish) ride on the DiVerge.  It even inspired a post that hasn't been published 'cause....slacking.  I wanted to see how good the new wheels felt on singletrack at 55/60 psi.  I was happy.  I'm still not sold on 100% on the whole super-wide rims for mountain bikes....but on the Diverge, it's working thus far.

Wednesday was SeatedSprints Day....got em' in, felt good eventually.  Happy to be out on a cloudy day, I headed down to the river...only to have to come back up Usery Pass.  After 20+ trips up that road this year....and the ever-growing number of tourists with no respect for those on the shoulder of the road, I'm done with Usery....for awhile.

Shit.  Who am I kidding?  I'll be back there next week I bet.

Yesterday was a whirlwind.  Some projects here at home (art stuff) went to shit....as in I botched 4 hours worth of work while holding a sander in place for 2 seconds too long.  Started over and it's coming around pretty quick.  Anyways, I was annoyed.  I didn't want to go to the grocery store and buy more food 'cause we had tons of prepared meals in the fridge.  I didn't want....to do alot of things including going to the gym OR straining to get the workout in here at home.  I put it off...and put it off...and finally at 5 pm, I'm out the door on the Juice.

Geared 32-18 now and running the Chris King / Stan's Arch wheels, I set out.  Roll in and remind myself to go easy(ish).  This wasn't on the plan Melissa laid out so I already felt guiltier.  Up Moon Rock, out Blevins and it's getting dark.  Blow off Cat's Peak...'cause of the lack of light....but then decide County Line would be okay.

Shiiii....right.

I was bouncing all over.  Dodged two riders coming the other way.  Made it!!  Up Ruidoso....down Spillway with little light.  Up the Levee with NO light.  A few times I wondered, "whatthefuck did I just hit???"

Anyways....as soon as I wrap up some odd tasks, I'm off to the gym....to do as I was told!

Later.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Psycho Analysis...

...of the Sunday ride pretty much means I had enough fun to consider riding the mountain bike more.  Of course, that was only the fourth mountain bike ride in a month, three on the FrankenEpic, one of the Juice.  I guess some would count the singletrack trips on the DiVerge....but I don't - that's just "different".

I'll do dumb shit on a mountain bike.  Of course, not as dumb as some others...dumber than most though.  That's what I found myself enjoying again on Sunday.  It's not that I enjoy scraping by with the skin of my teeth...but I do enjoy those moments when I clean something that kinda makes choke up a bit...or I just roll through shit that would otherwise cause me to SLAM on the brakes if I were on the DiVerge or CxChunk.

Now the route on Sunday....only had a little bit of that DiVerge-brake-slamming factor.  Most of the sidehill portions of Twisted Sister...a few spots at the top of Wild Horse (which has been ridden uphill on the CxChunk)...the techy section of Ridge....a few bumps on Secret....and that's about it - the rest was roll-able.

I did find myself appreciating a front fork on Sunday.  I slammed into a few rocks, bumps and ruts that would jarred the DiVerge to a stop....or at least sent me to therapy to regain feeling in my hands.  The rear suspension is still a take-it-or-leave-it thing with me.  In my heart, I still think I could ride a hardtail as well as I do the Epic.   In my head though, I know I couldn't clean half the loose shit I do without the Brain stuff.  And I'll admit - cleaning that stuff is one of my FAVORITE parts of mountain biking.




Anyways, I won't ride anything much for the next two, maybe three weeks.  I'll do sprints the next two Wednesdays, fit in four more weekend rides but after next weekend, it'll be the chaotic whirlwind of Christmas.  Next weekend is iffy since we're closing on the house on Friday....which means Saturday & Sunday will be squeezed full of tasks.  Monday the 19th, I leave for NC for a week....where I'm not riding AT ALL.  I chose to not send the Carver out after deciding maybe I do like the bike more than expected....and riding it once a year is a poor use of good stuff.

I really thought twice about that plan after I realized I need to send the shock & fork on the FrankenEpic back for service.  Yea, THAT is the biggest drawback to using the Brain stuff.  I'll tear it down sometime next month.  I doubt I worry about much else.  The front shifter cable is new....the rear is still doing fine.  The wheels are true and roll great...although the rear might need an adjustment to the hub.  The bottom bracket bearings are good...even if the shell is scarred from....something???  Considering the abuse the bike has had, it has held up much better than I'm used to.

The Juice has new-to-it wheels - the Chris King / Stan's wheels I got off Gordon.  Geared 18 tooth....it'll be interesting to see how much I can/cannot handle at Trail 100 soon.  It's due for a bath....but otherwise the bike is in great shape.

I mean, shit....what goes wrong with a singlespeed?

The DiVerge is due a bath...maybe a tweak to the front derailleur yet again.

The Cervelo still has a "tick" which gets to me every once in a while.  Last week, it was the nuts on the valve stems of the tubes rattling.  Solved that....so I wonder what it'll be today.

The CxChunk has been hanging for weeks.  Not sure when the last time I took it out was.... Yea, I am - I was using it to commute back and forth to the gym....which has ended.  I'd almost consider sending it back to NC.

The Carver just needs to be re-assembled and ridden.  It'll get more use while the FrankenEpic is down for service in January & February.



Alright, off to find food...then gym it.  Later.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Final Tour...

...de East Mesa was yesterday.  Not that I won't come back to ride some of these trails.  The likelihood I'll come back to link ALL of these together again isn't so great.  There were parts I would LOVE to go back to sooner...parts I'd skip altogether...maybe.  When ya live 2 miles from the easiest trails in PHX it's hard to avoid them especially when you can link them to some of the BEST stuff in PHX.

Let's back up - I wasn't "feeling" ready.  I was going to hit the Four Peaks ride on Saturday but Friday morning I knew I was going to bail.  I'd fought off whatever I had over T'giving only to be bombarded with whatever Meghan brought back from Cali while visiting our nephews/germ factories.  I felt "okay" but not like I had 4 hours of kick-ass in me.  Tack on this nagging responsibility of needing to get the house packed up....and bailing even if I gained my full strength back seemed smarter.

Add in I pulled a muscle in my right shoulder during my workout on Thursday.  My 2nd Four Peaks attempt wasn't meant to be.

Anyways, wake up Sunday with a slight hangover (wine-tasting adds up when the server keeps insisting ya try more).  Drink coffee, eat sweet potato & egg burritos, miss the 9:30 am start time.  By 10:30 I was rolling out on the FrankenEpic, the first time on the bike since the McDowell/Brown's Ranch ride.

Feel good on the warm-up to Usery - not too fast, surprisingly not slow.  Turn in, head up Noso reminding myself that I have 3.5 hours (at least) ahead of me.  When I told Melissa I was bailing, she said to still get in a LONG ride.  I was hoping this would be enough.

Turn on Pass Mtn Trail, hike the steps and start my way up.  It's crowded!  Hikers aplenty, I'm being as nice as they are....and MOST all of em' were super nice.  Aside from the senior crowd who stood in the MIDDLE of the trail watching the helicopter rescue higher up on the mountain, I had no trouble making my way.

I did stop, too....but I wasn't THAT interested.  I couldn't help.  All I could was gawk and wonder what happened.

Reach the bench, bomb down and keep riding.  I still walk that one twisty gully even though I felt I could have ridden it (for the first time) yesterday.  The penalty for NOT choosing the right line is pretty harsh.  I'd rather just keep walking.

Bomb Maricopa Trail and all it's gullies.  Hit the lower portion, realize I'm feeling REALLY good.  One hour in, my energy is high....and I'm drinking steady.  No rumbling in my gut, no need for my 2nd burrito which is stashed in the Camelback.

Cross the road, hit Wild Horse.  I know this is close to 4 miles of downhill aside from a few punches up.  I start taking stock of my surroundings.  For the first time I can remember (since that time in Brown's Ranch), I'm not chasing my Strava times and I'm just riding.  I ease off so a climbing rider has right-of-way.  I'm being careful in looser corners...'cause I just wanna finish the ride.  I could care less about Strava....but I do care about the fun.

Spy a rider ahead, catch him, pass....pass his buddy with the BLARING stereo....ramp harder to drop his buddy.  Make it to the tree, cough up something that's been hanging in my throat for who-knows-how-long.  I'm at a crux - Twisted Sister or not.

I see I'm 1:30 in....2 hours left to ride.  I figure if Twisted Sister is still gonna be a HUGE hike-a-bike like it was the first time I hit it, why not? 

The grind up is just that....a grind.  Most people, I think, come down this.  There's ruts and braking bumps...and it's all uphill.  The views are distracting so it makes it okay.  The closer I get to the base of the mountain, the more I dread the length.  The trail seems to be heading further and further east when I know I want to go west.  I reach the base and the rocks get bigger and the trail tighter.  Shit.

Hike up the biggest drop, walk the switchbacks....and the trail looks GOOD.  So good that I start riding.  I would walk about 3 more times...but for the most part, I rode the entire trail up to the saddle.  Sure, it was squirrelly at times...so slow and wobbly I would have sworn tagging a rock would have meant a tumble down the side of the mountain.  But no, I survived.

Up and over, down Secret(?) to Saguaro.  Up Saguaro to Ridge to the funner part of Secret.  That's when I realize I'm falling apart.  My legs feel good but my HR is Zone 5 just trying to keep up.  I ease off to the point where it feels like a crawl.  Stop, shed clothes (just the baselayer) and head down.

The bike feels GOOD....and I'm having fun.  More fun than I've had on a mountain bike lately.  Reach Ridge, rip it up heading down...attack the techy part with more confidence and speed than I usually dare....actually choking up 'cause I'm feeling a bit TOO confident.

Up Pride Rock, down to the Wash.  Blow up on the climb out.  Rest.  Hit TRW....and realize my back is giving up.  Hit Mollie's Climb anyway...realize I need to call it a day.  Stop, stretch.  Feel better.  Finish with good legs.


I would psycho-analyze all this....but I gotta get to work.  Later.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Moving to Scottsdale...

...is gonna be great, I keep telling myself.  Not that I don't like where we're living here in Mesa.  I just think the new digs we'll be more....fun.  I'll miss the 1 mile access from Usery, 2 miles from Hawes and 30 minutes from Bulldog Canyon.  I will have Trail 100 5 miles away....which is one of my FAVORITE PHX trails.  There are way more restaurants, bars and coffee shops.  As quaint as the east side of Mesa is, there ain't shit out here!

It finally feels like we're gonna "settle" down in Arizona.  Although we've been here 2 1/2 years, we've not been in ONE spot for any extended period of time.  Let me recount:

April 2014 - move to the Rio Cancion rental.  Knew it was paid for for 3 3 months by the UofA.

June 2014 - move to our house in Tucson, so excited.  One week later, we learn Meghan's job will likely be displaced with the buyout of the hospital by Banner.

August 2014 - take a gig at Performance, wondering if I need to make this work out well...not knowing what will happen with Meghan.

January 2015 - take a gig with Sabino, part-time.

February 2015 - find out Meghan has a chance to take a new, BIGGER job....executive-level stuff.

May 2015 - Meghan rents an apartment in Scottsdale.  We decide we can reasonably afford this and the house....despite the separation & weekend driving.

October 2015 - I quit Sabino 'cause I'm moving to Scottsdale, too.

November 2015 - We are both living in a 700 sq ft apartment with two dogs....but at least we have a garage for all our bikes.

February 2016 - The Tucson house sells, we find a rental in Mesa.

March 2016 - We're in...we're adapting to life in Mesa....20+ miles away from the stuff/places we're used to.

April 2016 - I start working at TWJ part-time...

July 2016 - I go back to working at home...

October 2016 - Our oldest dog passes away.  Two days later we get an email from the landlord he wants us out by February.  He wants to sell the house.

December 2016 - we've bought a place in an awesome location (I hope) in Scottsdale.


So ya see...it's been a whirlwind of movement.  I've had 5 bike shop jobs in less than 2 years.  I've lived in (and moved our shit from) 4 times already....and we're making one more. 

My business, the design company, was doing okay when we left NC.  It disintegrated when we left.  I didn't realize how much of the work I got was based off my face-to-face interactions and not off of the artwork itself.  I understand why...but I was surprised when some customers just disappeared.

That played a big part in deciding WHERE I go now.  To say there is a lack of respect for graphic designers is an understatement.  The market has driven the value of our work into the ground.  Some work, I should say.  Truly artistic work still holds value....but it takes a plethora of steps and just short of a lifetime of work to build that value.


Alright, I'm hungry.  Later.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Signed up...

...last night for the Belgian Waffle Ride!!  Unexpectedly I saw their post on Facebook that registration was open....know that it sells out pretty quick...so I jumped on it.  All $160...all 146 miles....all 13,000 feet of climbing.  I'm in.

I'll also spend another $80(?) tonight signing up for Chino Grinder.  These two races, along with Crusher in the Tushar, are the only three I've got my sights set on for 2017.  The expense of travel for two of em' will be more than enough.  Luckily, Chino is semi-local.

When I got the last e-mail yesterday evening that I was indeed registered, it hit:  I've signed up for a ride/race that is 40% longer than ANY ride I've ever attempted.  The elevation is close to double of anything I've ever attempted lately. 

I checked Strava....and it's not accurate for my complete history.  Back in 2007 I did the Assault on Mt. Mitchell which was 104 miles.  Elevation was over 10,000 feet....so there's that.  So I've come "close" but BWR is gonna be tougher.

Luckily, I feel confident I can get there.  I have time to prepare, mentally and physically.  Mentally, my confidence will need some bolstering.  I'm expecting at least a 9 hour day at this point....the longest I've NEVER been in the saddle.  I think my longest day ever was 7+ hours in some VA mountain bike race (....Dragon's Tail!) and I was wasted after.  It was also technically over-my-head.  I'd still love to go back.

What bike to take weighs on me as well.  I have two choices: the DiVerge or the Cervelo.  What drew me to this race was the 48 miles of dirt....and the fact the dirt looks like a hodge-podge of gravel, trail and access roads.  This race was one of the factors that influenced me to buy the DiVerge.  The prospect, though, of 13K feet of climbing makes me wonder if fatter 28's on the R3 would make it worthy and reliable.

So....at some point, I will road trip.  I will go scout out the course a bit, get a feel for what I'm in for.  If I meet someone else in PHX doing it, that would certainly speed up my decision.  It'll mean:
  • driving up on a Friday, crash in a hotel...
  • ride on Saturday...more than a few hours...
  • likely do this in February or March...
  • head back to the hotel, shower....and probably load up, head for home
I've done worse.  My training for Mt. Mitchell in 2007 was chaotic.  I had no coach to tell me, "that's dumb".  I remember a few of the exploits:
  • Deciding the Three Mountain Madness race (since dead) was a good tune-up...I blew up near the end.
  • Deciding a good tune-up for 3MM was to do all the mountains TWICE in one day....again, I blew up spectacularly on the LAST climb up Pilot Mountain, the last and steepest mountain.
  • Taking a road trip to Marion, where you begin the climb to Mt. Mitchell.  The first 10 miles was AMAZING even if it was steep and twisty.  It was the 10-15 mile Blue Ridge Parkway portion that about did me in.  Rain was blowing in HARD and at one point, 1 mile from the turn to climb the 4 mile road up the mountain, I stopped under a tree to warm my numb hands to no avail.  I had to make the trip BACK to Highway 80, stopping every so often to wring my hands together trying to friction-feed heat into them.  When I reached Highway 80, I cared nothing about the safety on the descent, bombing down to the flatlands....where it was dry and 60+ degrees.
 That preparation, though, was some of the MOST fun I ever remember having on a bike.  I rode hard all the time.  I ate properly every meal....except for a Friday nights when I would have pizza & beer with my parents.  Or dates...'cause I was newly divorced.  During that time, I remember never really "dating" anyone for long.  All the "prospects" had something I didn't care for...so I would blow off the call-backs and 2nd dates.  Right up until AoMM and the week before Dad and I drove down.  I happened to get along with this gal....and that 2-month fiasco would turn my cycling lifestyle on its ear.

That was a STRANGE year.

I would end up in 2 more relationships after that, none of em' lasting much longer than a month...if that.  It would also be the time when I began to love Pisgah.  I would bail out of my first race there with a mechanical (....Swank 65....when it didn't cost as much as a mortgage payment to enter).


Physically, I will leave that up to Melissa to get me as close as she can.  I know it's going to mean ALOT of uncomfortable climbs sooner than later.  LOTS of COLD weather group rides.  LOTS of intervals....and likely more training in the gym....which I'm fine with.  The soreness is coming back after Tuesday session....but she warned me about that, too.  Heavier lifting, shorter sets....it's just gonna hurt.



Alright, I've jackassed around all morning.  Two cups of coffee...later breakfast.  The dog is jonesing to go for a walk.  I really need to tune bikes....plus there's moving tasks.  I'm not even going to try painting today.

Later.