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Saturday, December 24, 2016

The NC Trip... 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...

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'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.


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'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 ( 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 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... 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 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 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 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. 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!" 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!


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, 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"'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 what I can to remedy the problem.  That's why you're seeing THIS, a 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.