13 November, 2010

Maxwell Falls in the Snow

I started ride at this temp (-1° C)with snow falling. Awesome...

The day was past its prime for riding and that mid-day circadian rhythm of narcolepsy was encroaching. We had just finished taking the kids to get their pictures taken for the Christmas paper shuffle aka the perfunctory how-do-you-do, see-how-happy-the-joy-of-Christmas-has-parked-itself-on-our-smiles-as-evidenced-by-the-card-you-are receiving. We did this at the mall. I forgot how bah humbug I truly am during the Christmas season. I just keep that part to myself. It was time to the leave the mall...

Melissa and I got a coffee to kickstart the latter half of the day and so's I could be alert on a snowpacked trail with slippery rocks and tree roots. I picked a fairly technical trail to descent (due to windchill) to keep me honest and I rode back uphill on the road to warm me up.

This was the first part of the descent.

It was excellent. My tires were more grippy than I expected (front: Kenda Blue and rear: Panaracer Fireroad XC with matching red sidewalls) and I had to really concentrate because if I chickened out on a line, it would be difficult to get the flow back. Snow quickly builds up on the cleats when you dab, so I really wanted to cherry pick my fall line. That takes a lot of concentration and uses up a decent amount of kilocalories. The stuff that gave me the chickenskin was when I slid on roots hidden underneath the snow and trying to stay on the uphill parts of the berm. The hikers I passed thought I was crazy but holy mackeral I was in the zone. Super, laser focused on my line and ne'er did I crash (had a couple'a close calls though). I love the way my bike handles with the slightest body english for corrective purposes. It's super sensitive and it whispers to me to take the sickest lines and to always accelerate. It persuades me to go to the dark side. Sometimes I listen to it, but most of the time I attenuate its mental hubris.

for example, my Yeti told me to get to ramming velocity and float over this...

It was cold my feet were numb but everything else, including my willy, was warm to room temp. If my willy or ears go numb, that's a deal breaker. Today was good. Today was better than good actually. The nutty part too is that earlier I ran almost four miles in 40 some odd minutes. My team issue jacket's the $hit too. It was a gift from my teammate and longtime bud, Kenny L. I swear, like in skiing, the day you have is proportional to the equipment that's used (technical clothing included).

I drank a Scotch Ale afterward-a beer made from the Grand Lake Brewing Co. located near Estes Park-and like the Lord said, "it was good."

02 November, 2010


I forgot to take it off of sepia...

...is the abbreviation for Fantasy Island North Singletrack (not the Tucson one). Unfortunately this would be my last ride of my Arizona vacation with me brother's family during my October Break. The best, truncated description I can give y'all is that this area seemed tailor made for short-track XC. They had all these spurs/loops of other spurs/loops where the topography was fast, tight singletrack with a plethora of hills interspersed where it seemed like an interval workout. That's my version of fun. Truly, anytime I'm upright with the rubberside down is my version of fun. It turns exponential hanging out with me brah. The climbs weren't too intense except when they were and the twisties were just right enough if you mentally highlighted your trajectory you could maintain or increase your speed through the S-turns. Again though, being centered is crucial because the riders before you bulldoze the scree to the flanks, if your front tire drifts over there you better correct it mighty quick in order to not lose traction and eventually biff it. The highlight of the ride was the climb Lemmy took me on and at the ascent we had these gorgeous 360° views of the desert and the encroaching civilization.

The change of scenery was enough to shift my neurons from teacher, working-stiff phase to mentally curious, I'm-just-a-stranger-here-myself-being-in-awe, vacay phase. The mountain biking's cool because the topography's keeping me honest but seriously? the super mild weather and extremely sunny days had this therapeutic vibe to my vacation. Yeah Phoenix sucks come Summertime but these past couple'a days have been just gorgeous (in a preventive mental and body maintenance sort-of-way too). I guess part of the mental newness too is riding a new bike (see my White Tanks Mountain Regional Park blog entry) where it's just a bit off my normal riding posture (dialed in-ness). Seeing (and riding in) all this vast, open grandeur of the Sonoran desert made me feel grateful. It was as if my brother just let me in some great big, mountain biking secret and the deluxe-ness of it was this picture, postcard climate. It's the terrestrial analog of seeing the stars on a clear night up in the mountains and feeling like an insignificant speck of a sentient being. I can see why nutjobs congregate to the desert because of its spiritual, cleansing properties (especially in the Fall) to channel energy or whatever nutjobs do. It feels like while I'm out in the desert I'm punching through some cosmic ether/fabric as I propel myself forward-especially when my brother and I are standing next to a skinny singletrack on top of a vista looking at all the spaciousness. While overlooking a vista my perception is that I feel some electric, static buildup in my chest proportionate to the elevation and my range of view.

In fact, here's Lemmy on top of Jim's Star Pass ascent.

Kinda reminds me of Taos/Santa Fe 'cept in a much grander (desolate beauty kind of) scheme. Bet the native americans thought this place was special too until the white man shafted them.

One particularly cool view as we were still climbing Jim's Star Pass...

A funny thing happened on the way back to (the) Westar Elementary School...as we were riding back to Lemmy's Pathfinder it felt as if I was getting a masking tape bikini waxing while I was pedaling. I reached my hands down to that area and my fingers felt it too. As I shifted gears my fingers felt as if I was touching ice! My brother started laughing and said, "Low hanging powerlines. I'm guessing you're getting shocked?" Damn! Ain't that about a bitch? My saddle rails were shocking my bidness. Using my rolling inertia, I stood on my pedals and kept my hands strictly on my (brother's bike's) handlebars while I rolled past the shock-zone. Funky, fresh. Never had that experience. Rode my mountain bike over a waterfall once in Austin, TX while my friends treaded water downstream to catch my bike. It just floated upside down (due to the air in the tires), pretty much stationary. Hmmm.

Here're the pertinent GPS data for y'all data hounds.

About one thousand feet of climbing taking us 13 miles.

Thoroughly enjoyed myself. Can't sing enough praises in my brother's (family's) name on this vacation go 'round. Work, you suck. Family, I missed y'all; and Mr. Bicycle inventor, thank you and you are a rockstar...

Alas, my vacation comes to an end, punctuated by my last ride in Arizona.