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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

3 rides later...

....I'm finally back on here to catch up!!  Although Friday was a rest day, I didn't make it over here.  Saturday was a brownie ride with no brownies (but stuff that was MUCH better!).  Sunday was a rest/coffee day....and then yesterday was a pretty BIG ride. 

But let's go back to Thursday!  The Assault on Paradise Valley was tough...but I came home feeling like I know how to ride a bike still.  THIS ride felt more like Stokes County, back when my only choices were to ride STEEP...or flat.  I still say, if I lived THERE now, I'd still be riding road bikes alot more.

Anyways, the climbs:
  1.  Gage Drive - harder than I expected....maybe 'cause I was about 15 minutes in when I hit it.  And hit it kinda between hard & dawdling...  4:18 which was good enough for 746 outta 888 on the Strava. 
  2.  Cholla Lane - I felt better having flushed the shit outta my legs on Gage.  Still hit it kinda easy, flushing some snot rockets out in front of the tourists... 2:18 for 811 outta 1422.
  3.  Valle Vista or 56th Street - still not in the shit-giving mood to go hard.  I rolled in and just suffered up.  4:41 for 1100 outta 1529.
  4.  The Castle Climb - giving a shit or not, this one takes it ALL outta ya!  I settled in to stomping as I made THAT turn where it hit 20+%....and was still astonished when 10% felt so flat and fast!  6:29 for 680 outta 967
  5.  36th Street - I almost skipped 36th, thinking, "Oh, I don't need to hurt myself" early on...but when I finished the Castle Climb, I knew I'd be okay.  It didn't suck AS MUCH as it did on the CrossChunk that first time (Nov '15).  My 7:41 trip was good enough for 457 outta 634.
  6.  Lincoln Ridge Rollers - these can actually be broken down into two Strava segments...'cause segments are the only way I can really track if I'm improving (so piss off, Strava haters!)
    1. Paradise View Drive - this feels like NC - steep, short and rolling.  There is one long steady climb and 2 steep rollers.  I felt good enough for a 4:01 effort, 212 outta 412
    2. Keim Foothills Climb - this one was "easier" but not.  1x steep climb that has a little break before a longer step-up with two kicks.  It finishes with a flat into a STEEP surge to finish.  It was over in 3:36....131 outta 253.
  7.  Here's where it changes AGAIN....So I turn off Lincoln onto Hillside & Highlands - this gradually creeps up until you make a turn where the WALL is 22+ percent grade!  My Garmin just stopped reading the grade....so I don't know.  It was over 3:38....but I rank 21 outta 25.  Apparently only a few people wanna hurt like that?
  8.  40th - Lariat to Crown Canyon - this felt like a break after the last grunt but it was still a good climb.  Kinda smooth, wide lane....and over in 2:27.  I was 89th outta 119.
  9.  Desert Jewel - I found it....looked at it and thought, "awww, shit".  It was steep.  I plodded up it, standing and swaying at the corner.   Took me 1:24 to get it over with....634 people outta 826 would do it WAY faster.
  10.  Hummingbird - by this point I was kinda done, ready to be home.  I'd been out longer than I wanted in the wind and semi-cold so I just hit the climb the normal way, from Foothills Dr.   No PR ('cause I tried attacking it way back in Aug '15)....5:50, still leaving me ranked 1046 outta 2266.
 The whole ride was good for 31 miles and 2700+ feet of climbing.  I did have alot of fun, too.  I'll end up adding a few more grunts, ones I found in that 'hood near 40th...and others near Mummy Mountain.  It should total out for 12 or so climbs, maybe break 3000 feet at some point?

However....after yesterday at Apache Trail, I really REALLY need to work on the longer sustained efforts.  In other words, I found my weakest point.  Again.

More later.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

I've not left...

...yet for the First Annual (if ya mean kinda often...I hope...when ya hear annual) Assault on Paradise Valley. Or soon to be known as "AssParVy".  I've caught up on some work...which is always behind.  I've walked the dog...cause I never can do that enough in his opinion.  I've fired off e-mails and text.

What emails and texts, you inquire.  Why a description of what will be the first ever (for me) Tucson Gravel Training Camp!!  I sent it to Steve, my old boss and owner of the bike shop down there to get his opinion.  I would drive most of the way down on Sunday, meet his crew in Oracle and do Willow Springs Road.  I've ridden from Florence to a high spot.  Now I wanna do the other direction.

Monday would be hard...or REALLY hard.  The initial idea is Redington to the San Pedro River Valley....and back.  The climb out of the river vallley is similar to the grunt outta Perkinsville I did last week....except lower elevation.

The REALLY hard option is lofty (right now) but could be fun (if I gain a shit-ton of fitness in a month). "The Dirty Lemmon" - lotsa people do it.  Lotsa people picka better time of year to go.  Not me.  I'm thinking I either do it at the end of March or mid-April.  Either way I want to do it.  Notice:  I didn't say I'm GOING to do it.

Alright.  Lunch has had time to make its way into my bloodstream.  I gotta suit up and go suffer.

Later.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

No Dogs...

...out in the reservation along the canal meant I had a pretty uninterrupted ride yesterday.  Other than the washboards, it was semi-mostly flat rip out to the Beeline doing Zone 3 intervals with 20 second Zone 4 "surges" every 1:40, 10 minutes at a time, 3 times.  I finished up just past the landfill entrance on the highway...and it wasn't long before I turned onto the dirt again.  Pretty cool having a fun dirt, semi-car-free route....

I did come up with an idea whilst I was out there.  I mentioned my shoulders were DYING on the Chino Recon ride.  I started thinking about stem length and height....and while I dig the height, I think a shorter stem may be good.  It has a 110mm on there now.  I have a 100mm on the 'Chunk that may tell a story.  If 100mm isn't enough, I'll end up raising the stem little by little.  There are about 5/8" of spacers above the stem now.

I just left the gym and my shoulder did....good.  My normal exercises felt good even if I could tell there's still some weakness in there.  I tried one new exercise where you reach way back and pull cables like a chest press....that I didn't have SQUAT for.  3x reps and I was dropping out.  Tried again at 30, then 40....and even if it was way less, it felt good to go through the motion.

Tomorrow I'm hitting the hills just west of here in Paradise Valley.  The coolest part of living near people who have WAY more money than I can ever imagine is that they build houses on the mountains...and roads to those houses.  I have about 10 different climbs to try:
  1.   Gage Drive....right off Invergordon.  .5 miles @ 214 feet....never tried it.
  2.  Cholla Lane...just below Gage.  .3 miles to the gate/sign telling ya to not go further.  76 feet....
  3.  Valle Vista...just after it crosses Camelback.  .7 miles @ 231 feet.  I've been up it once.  It's a good warm-up for....
  4.  The Castle Climb.  One of the toughest climbs I've ever suffered through.  .8 miles but it doesn't get rough til the last 4/10's.  The total climb is 292 feet but the last 170 hurts the most.
  5.  36th Street.  .8 miles & 346 feet.  I've been once.  I paperboy'd up the whole thing I think.
  6.  Lincoln Ridge Rollers.  2.7 miles & 237 feet over about 7-8 rollers.  Some steep, some not so steep.
  7.  40th Street.  I've driven it.  It looks fun.  1.5 miles & 364 feet.
  8.  Hillside Drive.  .4 miles & 114 feet....never been.
  9.  Desert Jewel.  1.5 miles & 160 feet.  I've hit most of this in some capacity....but never this way.
  10.  Cheney-Hummingbird.  1.7 miles & 227 feet.  I think EVERYONE has hit parts of this.  I just found the "loop" of combining both the other day. It'll hurt.
Total for the whole ride - 34.4 miles & 2901 feet of climbing.  I'm debating what to ride 'cause I also have another bike in the garage....to just try out. 

More on it later!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Hero Dirt...

...was in abundance at Brown's Ranch yesterday!  When I left the house late in the afternoon, I didn't even think about it much.  I figured there'd be puddles (there were).  I figured it'd be good but I didn't realize it'd be THAT good.

I took the Juice with it's 32x19....a bit undergeared for going fast on the downhills but it seemed fast on the climbs.  Or at least faster.  I roll in, suit up (a bit underdressed) and hit it.  Of course I fail to clean the 2nd of two switchbacks but once on Latigo, I was doing okay, warmed up and rolling.

That was when I realized it was gonna be a FUN ride.  With REALLY tacky dirt, I practiced braking early and just letting the bike rail corners.  Only thing I had to be careful of where the puddles and greasy spots....which reminds me, it's time to service the Avid brakes on the Juice.  (Hard to believe it's been SO LONG since I serviced em', too....)

Apparently the gate is gone on Latigo now 'cause I reached Turpentine with no portages.  Turn left, hit the wrong trail, weave back, hit the right one and cruise.  With this gear, there's no fast way to the mountain....but I got there.

My whole "training" plan for the day was to ride steady hard.....not all out, just enough to open my legs well after three days of NOTHING (but one steep hike at altitude up in Prescott).  I settled in and just rode hard.  I'd punch up rises, ease around corners, try to drink, dodge the tourists.  Soon I was at the top....missed a turn but found it.

From there I weaved over to Maverick (?)....where it was BMX-jumps-turned-puddles for about a mile.  I weave, I punch the climbs, I bomb the dry spots.  Down the road, having fun....so when I saw my next trail on the left, I was all gung-ho.  Legs felt good, lungs were huffing pretty well.....and straight into the gooey mud.

Not-stick-to-your-tires gooey....just thick-and-pulling-away-momentum gooey.  Maybe more tacky than gooey.  Anyways, I trudged up the climb, standing most of the way.  Almost took another wrong turn but I didn't.  DOWN and then that's when the BIG gullies came up.  I had ridden this way once before....back around my first trips to Brown's Ranch.  I think I had the Juice that day, too.

(Okay, just looked.  I did have the Juice and it's 32x18.  I also put in more miles that day, hitting the other side of Granite Mountain.)

Down, up.  Down, up.  I love/hate this section.  It's beautiful out there with all the boulders.  There's never a break, either.  As soon as you bomb something, you have to PUNCH it up the other side.  And at some point, it's basically uphill all the way back to the truck.

Finish up with a trudge up the sunset hill...conquer the switchbacks (at least in the downhill direction) and head for the truck.  Change clothes, look at my numbers and listen to some dude rant about how awesome he is to his bros who are apparently more interested in drinking his beer than listening to his mouth.  I understand....but I had no beer...so I got the hell outta there quicker.



On the way home, I was splitting time between dealing with the tourists on the roads and wondering about where I was at.  I felt GOOD out there but I made one big change Sunday - I dropped my coach.

Money was the main issue - it was a sizable chunk of dough to be dropping right now.  I learned alot over the last three months about myself - how I respond to hard efforts still, how much rest I need....and strength training.  I REALLY need to add in more strength training, especially with the gravel grinders on the horizon. 

So....more later on that.  I gotta get to work!

Later.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Chino Dirt...

...sections were what Craig suggested I ride.  I met the organizer/promoter/head honcho of the Chino Grinder a few weeks ago on one of his Monday rides.  We'd talk a bit about it...but I either didn't pay attention or just forgot.  It didn't go in one of the "boxes":


I messaged Craig on the Facebook that RJ and I were gonna try to get up there to pre-ride the long climb.  I was looking for a suggestion on where to park.  His response was different from my intentions - he said to just park in Chino Valley, hit ALL the dirt til I hit the pavement near Drake then turn around.  The premise was the last climb back into CV would be enough to break me in.

So be it.

Well, plans changed.  With rain forecasted for all weekend, I pulled the plug on Sunday's ride.  However, I looked and yesterday was gonna be AWESOME - 50-60 degrees, sunny...no recent rains (to keep it muddy).  I knew RJ couldn't get outta work/school so I just jumped in.

I was out the door by 8, in CV by 10.  I was on the road by 10:30.  I was suited up just fine:

Endura fleece knicker bibs
Craft windproof base layer
Sabino jersey
Bontrager full finger gloves
Defeet thick socks
Specialized shoes
Craft thick headsock

VA stoner metal can make the drive easier...


Never got cold....did get warm a few times when that sun would beat down on my 6-mph pushin' ass....but I was fine.  I even pushed the sleeves up a few times.  Considered shedding the headsock but then I'd hit a descent and realize not removing it was a good call.


So the first stretch is just a long, gradual climb in a combination of washboards and smooth gravel.  The washboard sections were unavoidable.  The few times I veered to the edge, the sand was deep enough to send me sideways a few times.  Finally I just sucked it up and floated the best I could over the washboard.

11 miles later, I have started the descent.  My heart rate was running higher than I wanted, setting in the 130's and not dropping.  I'd pedal easier and easier....and my HR readings never dropped.  It wasn't until later I chalked alot of that to various reasons like:
  • fatigue from the day before: 15 minutes of 15 second sprints in the 50-12, from 10 mph to 25+ (45 sec recovery) left me more tired than expected.
  • altitude: Chino Valley is at 4700 feet, quite a bit more than Scottsdale's 1200...the air was a bit thinner.
  • excitement:  here I was, 100+ miles from home and riding deep into the desert.  Alone.  Whether I readily admit it or not, the nerves do kick in.
Anyways, I'm on the descent and I realize THIS is what I'll be climbing out of in a few hours, all 12 miles and 1700+ feet.  Then it hits, where's the other 2500 feet of climbing coming from?

Well, I found it.

The descent was FAST after I popped over a few humps.  The surface was AWESOME though - kinda loose, not TOO chunky...not many washboards.  In 13 minutes, I covered the last 5+ miles.  I did decide though that I was definitely running higher pressure on race day.  Set at 60 & 65 (f&r), there were a few spots that coulda ended my day if I were running much less (...not to say I won't experiment soon).

...and there was snow....over there.

less snow...more road.

even less snow....slightly less road...more me?


Reach the river, grin quite a bit 'cause it's always awesome when ya roll into AZ river basins.  All the green.  The cool bridge.  The peacefulness.

But the climbing wasn't over.  I wanted to make to the end of the pavement Craig suggested.  I was 1:24 in....and had a bit more to do.  I down a few dates to get some energy and head off.

I was still trying to hold my HR down.  Melissa the Coach has suggested my new Zone 2 tops out in the low 130's.  Any effort I put down was sending me well into the 130's.  I kept it under control somehow....only popping into the 140's a few times.  I was saving most of what I had for the return trip.

I would need it.

The road from the river to the turnoff at Drake was fun - winding, smooth(ish) and rolling.  Once I turned towards Drake, it got more interesting.  Apparently it's been REALLY wet and muddy....and travelers/locals didn't care how much damage they did, they had to get somewhere.  The road was now three lanes of singletrack.  The trench went from 2 inches deep in places to as much as 10 inches in others.  Luckily it was HARD packed but still rough.  When I reached the paved portion, I was thrilled to know I could head back.

Few more dates, swap out the CarboRocket bottles pocket to bike to pocket, take some pics with the primitive road sign and head out.

I felt good.  I had also decided to give it a little more gas - still no higher than Zone 4 but I would willingly set in high Zone 3 to get this done.  It had taken almost 2:15 to get to EOP.  I had really expected this ride to be 1:45 to 2:00 out.  I was now worried I was gonna be 3 hours away....on two bottles.  I knew I could do it, it just wouldn't be "comfortable".

And by "primitive", you mean rutted as shit?

Obligatory Bike Leaning Against Sign shot...


Getting back to the river happened quicker than I expected.  I was still stopping periodically to take pictures of the valley views.  When I crossed the bridge I knew it was about to get tough - 12 miles, 1700+ feet....I just settled in.

the road to the river....got much better after Drake

The place was never lacking in distracting views...


Or tried to.  I was ready to be done....but I knew I was still 20+ miles from the car.  Watching the miles click by slowly....usually at 8-11 mph....was daunting, worrying even.  Then I realized, that's just what it is.

I'm not sure why I was so excited to see the switchback climb but I was.  I guessed I marked THAT as the hardest part.  It was easier than I expected...or adrenaline had kicked in.  I climbed the whole thing while my HR set in the 140's...maybe low 150's.  I felt good.

Still...it's a long damn way back!  Ya think it's close to being over....but I still had 45 minutes of trudging along.  I was getting excited though.  Making mental notes of "markers" to shoot for in May, I was pushing harder....and doing okay.  I weaved ALL over that road looking for less bumps.  I never got much break.

By now I'm getting sore.  I'm still one hour from being done.  My shoulders (both of em' ...not just the left like usual) are aching.  My IT bands (both...not just the right) were twinging.  My lower back was tired (still is this morning).  Still I tapped out the rhythm.  I pass the power lines....which kinda signals 2 more grunts.  It was that last bend that didn't seem to have an end that finished and set me down the worst part of the ride (almost).

I was hammering.  I had energy and I was mashing the pedals hard.  23+ mph, weaving through the smoother spots.  Everything hurt....but I knew if I stayed on the gas, I'd be at the truck in 30 minutes.

It was all good....but the flatter it got, the more I wanted to see thr truck.  I began hawk-eyeing the Garmin for the end.  I was pushing pretty good....when the road turned into that fuckin' washboard again.

I was doing good, holding a steady 15-16 mph when it got SO rough, I had to just back off and bail right.  I thought everything in me would seize up.  Soon enough it was over.  Pissed at the world, I set about mashing out a tempo wherever I wanted to be in the road - middle, left, right....fuck all y'all was my mantra now!

I reached the truck.  Getting off the bike was a relief.  I was pounded!  All the things I had been contemplating rushed through my head again....before I finally settled down, swapped clothes out and drank the bottle of Gatorade I'd thankfully picked up on the way in.  I'd not eaten enough on the 2nd half....and CarboRocket alone (only 330 calories, too) was not enough over that 2 hours.  Yep, I finished the 2nd half in 2:15 or so.  Quicker than I expected....


So 4 1/2 hours of riding gives ya lotsa time to think.  I thought alot about the bike, riding and the Belgian Waffle Ride.  My plans have changed a bit, too....in my head at least.

More later. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Go John...

...Trail, the one I was all stoked to hit yesterday was a bit more rugged than I suspected.  I know it can be ridden - I saw the lines and I saw the Strava times.  Times so low that those guys weren't hiking.  I chalked parts of it up to:
  • my not wanting to ride TOO hard before doing two big days...
  • the fear of slamming my shoulder into the ground again...
  • the nose-dive my confidence took when I struck a pedal and felt my heart skip a beat...
Mildly put, I wussed out.  I coulda cleaned some of those climbs and sometime in the future, I will.  I bailed on a couple 'cause it was a BIG effort to punch through em'.  I bailed on the rest 'cause I was skeered of clipping a pedal, tumbling and putting my left arm out to brace my fall.

Keep in mind, that section was .6 miles...and only took up 28 minutes of the ride.  The rest of it, all 9.1 miles and 1 more hour, was a BLAST!  The trail is fairly wide-ish, groomed to a point in the popular areas but otherwise it's rocky, loose fun.

I had a route mapped out....and totally flubbed that up.  I shoulda went south - I went east.  Basically, backwards of what I intended.  I pass a few hikers, stop for some horses but after that it was a long grind to the top.  The last time I made this climb I was doing a recon ride for Cave Creek Classic, figure out if I wanted to enter.  This climb, the steep & kinda-loose portion was about to BREAK me.  It was August, it had cooler due to some storms blowing through...but now they were gone and so was my energy.  I was chuggin' this climb, contemplating quitting the entire sport.

Well, I didn't.  I made it over the crest and it eased up.  It was THAT moment I realized my mind had went in this dark place, set me off in that direction.   Since that time I've had a bit more in my mental reserves knowing I can push past most negative periods during these sufferfests.

Down the other side, disappointed I wasn't dropping onto Slate this time (my personal favorite trail out there)....and just kept going on Go John.  Drop into a wash with wheel-grabbing rocks, clean it....then botch the climb.  Try again.  Botch it.  Finally I realized it was just that rough, I wasn't gonna get it.

Up and over, down....riding a bit more but not much really.  I reach the Maricopa Trail, reconnecting with the Cave Creek Classic route.  I'd been here.  It was at THIS point where I kinda fell apart last time.  I could NOT get my legs going.  I could yesterday, though!

After my field test last week, Melissa the Coach gave me new heart rate zones to work by.  My zones are MUCH lower than what I had been using, too.  My plan was to climb in Zone 3....if I saw Zone 4, ease off.  I did lotsa backing off but I felt GOOD.  Reach Overton, think about taking it...but I don't.  I start ripping down Go John.  Bunny hopping over the water bars, not TO catch air but to smooth it out.

Ever since I sent the squishy parts of the FrankenEpic back to Specialized for service and a tune, the bike just feels better.  The front end is plusher than it was....but has a definite "switch" when the Brain kicks in.  The rear is plusher as well even when it's set to climb better....and it DOES climb!

Go John dumps me back at the truck.  I look at the time and head for another end of Overton.  THIS was another section I'd seen in my recon ride.  Weave through, dodge hikers and horses.  I'm getting happy that I'm close to riding more of Slate....but it turns up Quartz (according to my GPS directions).

I climb the trail - nothing techy, nothing rough.  Just climbing.  It's familiar when I make a wrong turn.  I realize it's the same mistake I made last time I was here.  Get back on the trail, head up and over....and soon I'm back at, you guessed it, Go John.

This climb is the same super-fast descent I loved doing earlier.  I hit the chunky stuff thinking I'll likely not clean it it's so loose.

Nope.  I did it.  In fact, the rear stayed so planted that I came over the top faster than the hikers expected.  Past them, I bomb the descent, hit the rollers and head to the truck.

Melissa the Coach has prescribed 1 hour of moderate fun riding.  It was 1:28 in....and damn, I felt good.  I wanted to hit Overton, the 2 mile climb and descend back down Go John.  Nah.  I wised up and loaded the bike into the truck.

More later.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Well, I let this responsibility...

...go by the wayside, huh?  I forgot about just quit writing my OWN blog after it felt like I was typing an editorial.  I rehashed my NC trip, I ranted about the state of the bike industry...and I just quit.  That last entry, the one about the bike shops/industry/consumers, has been deleted 'cause....well, I sounded like every other retard babbling about how we need to save the industry.

Lately though I have been having some pretty good adventures and I miss rehashing that stuff.  In my own mind, I like going back through how I felt, what I did right....and where I just went wrong.  I know in a few years I'll wish I had kept this up - I still dig going back through my old blogs like a diary, looking back at what happened and somehow clarifying (or correcting) old memories.

Training has been going....well (?), just okay maybe.  I felt like I was making ALOT of progress before that first race at McDowell.  I was riding fairly strong, always felt fresh before interval days and long days were not as boring as they used to be.  However, McDowell sounded off a warning shot that a bad spell was about to kick in.

I'll get into the details another day....maybe.  Long story short:

I blew up at McDowell - still not sure why but at 2:15 in, I was seeing spots in front of my eyes.  I would limp across the finish an hour later.

I did two crit races in Avondale the next weekend - felt good....but still got spit out the back a little over halfway in.

That Tuesday after, I crashed HARD 12 minutes into a pre-ride at Estrella, smashing my right knee so hard into a rock that within a day I couldn't stand up to pedal at all.  It's JUST NOW feeling normal.

The NEXT Tuesday I take the singlespeed to just bum and play at PMP.  I roll into a gulley I know I'm not gonna clean, go to bail off and the left pedal won't disengage.  I fall over, injuring the same shoulder I've spent the last year rehab-ing.  That would slow down everything....again.

So....I had to make some choices.  How much do I want to race my mountain bike?  All the BIG races I'm signed up for are gravel, races I'll use the Diverge to compete on.  I had originally told Melissa I wanted to do a mix of gravel and dirt races...but now I was re-thinking.  I typed up an e-mail explaining away my doubts in myself, stopped, rewrote it....then sent it.  Basically I said, "let's focus on the gravel races".

The two crashes did it.  They scared me.  It's not that I was worried about the injuries themselves - they will heal.  But I was lucky these injuries weren't bigger....and to be honest, they hung around longer than I wanted.  The knee was one thing but the shoulder unnerved me a bit.  I knew how long I was off the bike when I first injured my shoulder....now I was looking at another spell possibly. 

But I realized I am jeopardizing my WHOLE plan - fuck myself up enough and there would be no Chino Grinder, no Belgian Waffle, no Tushar.  So....in my angst, I pulled the ripcord.  I said, "slooooowwwww down".

Do I feel better?  Yea.  I have re-focused a bit more on my fitness.  I gave in to the thought that I will likely become more "roadie".  I even went so far as to shave my legs...which I kinda dig.  It does seem to make the embro go on more smoothly and kick in.

Besides....so many mountain bikers around here are just dicks or assholes.  That's a story for another time.  And before anyone says it, so are some of the roadies....but not NEAR as bad!

Have I scaled back my chances of injury?  I would love to say, "yes, I have" but I can't.  I am more careful no doubt....but I'll readily point out BOTH my crashes were just FREAK accidents.  The pedal strike that slammed me at Estrella was unexpected....and part of an evasive manuever anyway.  The shoulder injury was the result of a shitty pedal defect.  There's a reason people buy Shimano....and not Shimano knock-offs.

Anyways....I'm on my way now to Cave Creek.  Gonna go play on some trails I've only seen once before....and my head was already blistered from 2 hours of AZ summer heat. 

Later.