27 October, 2010

Trail 18

Here are the Estrella Mountains (courtesy me camera savvy bro-Lemmy). Estrella means estrella in Spanish by the way (okay it means star-a gaseous ball of luminescence due to fusion reactions).

Trail 18 is located in an exclusive housing area that's feeling the sting of the recession when Phoenix's housing bubble burst ugly. Trail 18 starts on housing plot number 18 and was cut by the developers. It begins on private land but criss-crosses regional park territory. The park's area was mellow, the privately cut stuff wasn't technical per se but it was narrow. Narrow meaning, if your front tire broke traction because you're not centered on the trail and you hit the flanking scree, chances are you're falling off a cliff or face a rather steep drop-off with cacti breaking your fall.

Again, the weather was gorgeous with just a hint of broody clouds swelling off into the distance. I think the high was just in the seventies with a balmy breeze hooking us up.

We parked at a local Elementary School and it's a nice warmup on the road before we hit the serpentine singletrack starting in the hoidy-toidy neighborhood. It began with a mellow, fireroady climb and as it continued we crossed these really fast, erosion indented (dry) creek crossings. It was the Arizona version of whoop-de-doos. The serpentine single track with these indentations/erosion gullies punctuating it every so often added to the all body flow. You have to push down on the bike (I'm sure with the head bob too) to facilitate the flow when entering and (pulling up with arms and legs) exiting these gullies at tempo. Just had to make sure your exit speed and trajectory was adjusted to avoid the Jumping cholla cacti and Saguaros that were near the apices. The Jumping cholla spine has evil, microscopic barbs that ensure an easy entry in the skin and a major, pain(ful) endeavor for removal.

Pretty sure the trail cutters did this on purpose. I lean out my inside knee as a counter balancing act cruising through the apex (I'm pretty sure I picked that habit watching Grand Prix motorcycle racing and bicycle road racing). I reeled in my outrigger leg in fear of an inside leg full o'spines.

Here's Lemmy leading before the first major climbing...

The singletrack seems more rocky than the last ride. As riders push through, a pile of scree accumulates on either side of the already narrow singletrack. This makes centering particularly important, especially on climbs. A particularly cool section of singletrack was this narrow ascent leading to a ridgeline trail that contained a scenic outcropping of rocks where I photo-geeked away. Our exact location was pretty damn scenic and humbly satisfying. To give you the depth and perspective (and fun of climbing factor) of the trail-cutting endeavor/placement these people created, here's the brunt of the climb and the switchbackiness of it with Lemmy climbing.

Cruising through on our way to the second climb...

The last bit of the ride was Lemmy putting the finishing touches a la gunning it for the imaginary finish line while I was drafting as close as I could. I know when Lemmy begins to wind it up because he gets into his hunker down, reducing frontal area stance for lower wind resistance. We passed a facility that looked like civil liberties were not high on its priority--just me eyeballing it and mentally classifying it--and I asked Lemmy, "Is that a prison?" He laughed and replied, "No, it's the High School."
"Same diff, I suppose."

With the sun shining brightly overhead now and the majority of the cloud cover burned away it turned out to be another gorgeous Arizona Fall day with bluebird skies and an oh so gentle breeze giving us a smidge of evaporative cooling. As we cool down our pistons back to Lemmy's Pathfinder via paved roads, I ride no-handed because that's how I roll beetches...

When it was all said and done 16.36 miles (26 km) and 1,568' (478 m) of climbing. The climbing's not terribly steep and whenever I can I try and make the climbs a power workout by keeping it in the middle ring and staying seated. This riding in the desert with my older brother is good for my soul and my inner child fo' sho'.
The profile's are courtesy of me brah too...

Contour-action beetches...

...aerial view...

23 October, 2010

White Tank Mountain Regional Park: Maricopa County, Arizona

Finished reading "The Book Thief" by Zusak this morning because work has completely screwed up my college circadian rhythm of sleeping 'til whenever. My sleeping 'til whenever has been replaced by sleeping 'til 6:00 a.m. While I was waiting for my brother's family to wake up (I'm visiting him on my October break), I laid in bed finishing this amazing novel. Its genre is young adult lit but really y'all, anybody who likes reading--independent of age--will be humbled, grief stricken, and happy for the protagonist as revealed by the narrator: death. Turn off your T.V. (unless you're watching old TdF DVDs) and return to some old fashioned story telling/reading. Zusak paints quite a picture with his words and his characters are believable. Time for some non-fiction to balance it out...

On another note, I'm riding with me brah-Lemmy-in Goodyear, Arizona. The weather's simply amazing and it's always a treat hanging out with my nephews and sister in-law. I'm missing my chilluns too but it's nice being with my older brother; and, my October break officially begins kids.

Went to White Tank Mountain Regional Park today (aka "White Tanks"). The first section we did was the "competitive track". But first, let me introduce you to my brother's fine racing steeds (c'mon neighbor!): the Moots Rigor Mootis.
I see why people rave about it as the hardtail standard. As compared to the aluminum Yeti I race, the Moots is not quite as lively (but I think that's the nature of this Ti blend, plus I ride a small whereas Lemmy's rig's a medium-I may have to switch to medium for my next bike) but it's just as responsive in the steering and pedaling department. Furthermore, the Moots takes the edge out of hitting babyheads or small, nutty terrain anomolies leaving my tetrapod body plan less abused when going greater than or equal to tempo pedaling in the saddle for 2+ hours. Aesthetically speaking, the satin finished Ti with the classic triple triangle hardtail's a giver of woodies. His dual boinger's a Titus (made in the current, lovely state I'm visiting). This too--the Motolite--is the 26" version of XC race-worthiness.

Here's the steed my brother was gracious enough to loan me...

The competitive track was pretty fun, the Arizona race scene is starting up because the summer's are too hot to begin the bike season then. There were some folks out there going fast getting ready for an XC event next week but me an Lemmy took it at tempo.
Here's Lemmy diggin' in on a quicky climb...

Pretty fun, a lot of loose rocks on sand on top of red clay-ey stuff. Really fast singletrack, not a whole lot of climbing nor is it too twisty either. You can't really lean into the corners like you can on hardpack soil so that was one body englishing idiosyncrasy I had to adjust for while out here rolling in the desert.

The next trail we did was the Waddell trail but we gave up once it went hike-a-bike.
Here's Lemmy and me at the same spot...

Here's the profile...

Here's the contoured version...

'twas a good preview of the trails to come...!

16 October, 2010

Stuff I Saw Whilst Cycling and other Non-Sequitors on the 16th of October

Last Friday, due to a change of plans I was able to go for a spur-of-the-moment ride with a one member of the homey trinity-Hez Chilly. We started at his place and I felt like a fifth wheel because originally it was a ride date with his son. We rode in a subdivision called "Highlands Ranch" and it was a visually beautiful ride. The sun was about to go down, the weather was cool turning crisp and most of the plants' photosynthetic machinery started to wind down giving way to non-green organic, muted colors. Very pretty.

20.5 miles later after chit-chatting up a storm we're back at Billy's with goofy grins on our faces. A most excellent way to end the protracted work week! Hit 47.5 miles an hour (76.55 km/h) on a descent where I attacked on the ascent part but Billy shut it down and crested the apex before me. Noice.

Saturday's soccer day and we did split duty. I watched Maricel's team win 1-0 and saw her depart with her teammates for a slumber party. Great girls, all class acts. Very polite, smart and athletic to boot. Hopefully they won't fall for a loser guy. I'm a guy (hopefully not a loser although some would beg to differ) and I'm a high school teacher. I've seen my fair share of loser boys (thankfully that is a very, very small number) who hopefully will not grow up to be loser adults. There is however a high correlation between loser kids and their loser parents.
Going up Pleasant Park...

After she left and cleaning house for a bit I took off on my standard, Pleasant Park/Highgrade/285 climbing loop. By now, the weather up here at 8k's (2438 m) pretty crisp; you add some wind and it gets mighty crispy if you don't have the gear. I wore a base layer with leg and arm warmers. Frigid on the descent and near perfect for climbing. My goal was to go in the highest gear possible for near maximum chill effect. The views I normally take for granted-that if you took the time to suss it- would be pretty damn amazing and waaaaay aesthetically pleasing to the nature lover who also happens to be wearing an inordinate amount of lycra/fleece-lined spandex while riding a carbon fiber racing bike.

The brewing up of La NiƱa seems to have our part of the world just a wee bit drier than what I normally would've expected; or, it could be due to global climate change (if you think climate change is not scientifically supported log off now and go back to your village because they're missing an idiot). Chill mode takes the race-mentality of trying to pass people I see up the the road and forces me to work on technique. For example, pedaling in circles, syncing the breathing with the cadence, finding the sweet spot on my saddle for my sensitive man areas (I ride with Chamois cream), not death gripping the bars, belly breathing, belching super loud (I look like a snake yawning) and giggling (from said belch), expunging high-velocity Texas hankies/liquid shrapnel from my nares from this malingering head cold, standing and rocking the bike in ways i hit other parts of my leg muscles...all that I take into consideration whenst going chilly-chill. It was a singularly, splendiferous day in the high country.
One more switchback to Highgrade

Here's my dirt driveway; home...

Afterwards I took me doggies for a 30 minute walk in our favorite hiking spot: Flying J. The coincidence was when my iPod was on shuffle, it played a track from one of the most awesome pet/dog books of all time: Where the Red Fern Grows.
The randomly played track was when Big Dan had already died and Little Anne (they worked in tandem saving the author's life) was dying of a broken heart (Big Dan was her brother) and didn't want to eat and was simultaneously starving to death. She eventually crawled her way (her back legs weren't working at this point of her suffering) to where the author-Wilson Rawls-buried Big Dan. This is where Little Anne chose her final resting spot. My eyes got all misty re-hearing this. A real tear jerker I'm telling you and this novel was based on his earlier years living out East in the boonies. We heard it on our way back from Cape Cod this past summer and all the adults in the 4runner cried too. Team M is very sensitive. My oldest daughter cried during the part of another excellent, animated movie The Iron Giant when the giant sacrificed itself for the sake of his friends.

Next week I have a week off for October Break. I'm going to see my older brother in Phoenix, AZ. He too is a mountain biker (imagine that!) and we're going to tear some $hit up hopefully. A minimum of three hour cycling days (every day) out in the surreal landscape of the high desert including saguaros, creosote, mesquite and palo verde trees along with the random Gila monster should be of some relaxing, carbon blowing, catching up, worthwhile fun while hanging with me bro!

Been listening to a lot of Pearl Jam lately too. Coincidentally it's what I listened to as a first year teacher back in Plano, TX. Seems like I'm a first year teacher again energetically speaking with this mentally rotten anchor called the (unpaid) sixth class. Maybe I can make a movie spoof of the Sixth Sense called the Sixth Class? In this movie too the protagonist will also see dead people-they'll be the teachers (or the students?).

My Sweet Melissa secured for us two tickets to see Dave Matthews/Tim Reynolds acoustic concert gig in a 6,800 person venue. Man, how amazing's that show going to be?! Talented, talented musicians.