Friday, August 28, 2009

So, about that epic ride.

So, a couple weeks ago I alluded to the fact that I had defined my "Epic Ride." Today I got the chance to complete my epic ride as planned, and even go further than I planned on. The recipe for my epic ride is simple: It's got to be pretty, it's got to be fun, and it's got to push me to the limits of my endurance/skill/sanity. Today's ride did that, mostly.

I started out along the Flagstaff Loop Trail, and wound up in Skunk Canyon. The sudden change of scenery, from younger pines and grass to old growth trees and ferns made me think I'd made a wrong turn, and I wound up at the bottom of Walnut Canyon. I took some pictures, realized where I was, and hiked/rode through and onward to Fisher Point, and the Arizona Trail.

Skunk Canyon ahead...

...and behind.

I managed to roll along the Arizona Trail pretty quickly, and was coherent enough by the time I got to the toughest part of the trail to take a picture of it:
Yes, that's the trail. and I have to go up that. (I carried the bike up it.)

Almost out to the Cosnino underpasses, I had to take a picture of the mountains.

Made it!

The field of sunflowers that the trail cuts through... my allergies kicked in overdrive from this.

This ride wasn't my longest mountain ride, but it was one of the more intense ones, as far as the variety of terrain. I think I rode on everything but snow, ice and mud. Lots of climbing, and descending, and in the end, I felt like I could keep going.It was one of those rides where everything seemed to go right. I'll attribute that to the ride strategy I came up with. Drink Sobe while riding, and take a 15 minute break under a friendly looking tree every hour or so. While stopped, drink plain water, and eat cheez-its. I never felt like I was out of energy for the entire ride.

It was a good ride.
Mileage: 36.1

Monday, August 24, 2009

Catch-up post. Or is it ketchup?

So yeah. Post dealing with a couple of the bigger rides this weekend... Saturday evening Josh and I went 'round Soldier's loop a couple times, since he had never ridden he loop or the bridge trail. I think he liked it, though it was rather odd leading, since for once I knew the trail and he didn't. But I had fun.And we came across a guardian pine cone in the middle of the road at a trail crossing, warning the cars of crossing bicycles, under penalty of flat tires.

A very regal pine cone, I think.

Then Sunday, we all went on a nice ride around the heart of Arizona. The plan originally was to go to Prescott to get ammo boxes from a gun store, but I ruined it before we left when I asked if they were open on Sunday. Exegete plotted up a nice loop that took us to Clint's Well, through Camp Verde and Cottonwood to Jerome, where we had dinner at The Haunted Hamburger. Then we returned home via Sedona.
Stretching our legs at Clint's Well. (Photo credit: Josh Zamor)

The post office at Clint's Well. (Photo credit: Josh Zamor)

Looking over the Verde Valley from the Haunted Hamburger. (Photo credit: Josh Zamor)

Same thing. (Photo credit: Josh Zamor)

Waiting for dinner. (Photo credit: Josh Zamor)

A while ago, Exegete and I talked about how hilarious it would be to have a loud motorcycle horn on a bicycle, because sometimes, a bell is too... tame, especially when there's someone walking in the bike lane, and they can't hear you for whatever reason. On Sunday, while we were in Cottonwood, we swung by Exe's parent's house, and I mentioned this to his dad, who gave me such a horn. That night, I mounted it on Bi.

I foresee many people being scared off the bike paths with this setup.

Mileage: 8.5

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ride Music Deux

So, with some mild prodding from Exegete, my ride tunes solution he mentioned.

I enjoy having music playing, I really do. and more than that, I like good sounding headphones, not earbuds. (Don't get me wrong, Apple's earbuds rock. I just like better sound quality than earbuds are currently capable of.)

Now, my old iPod is a second generation beast, and the only practical place for it is either in a pocket, or a backpack. And since I only wear a backpack when I'm doing long-ish mountain rides, that leaves the pocket. As a result, I tend to kill headphone cables, due to the fact that they are constantly in motion while I'm pedaling away with an iPod in my pocket. This wasn't a problem, until a few weeks ago, when I killed another pair, and went to buy replacements, and found that not only have all the local stores stopped selling my favorite pair of 'phones, (Phillips SHS5200) but most of them don't sell any decent neckband style headphones. Bummer, so I went without tunes for a week. Rides weren't as enjoyable.

At this point Exe had already bought a shuffle, and was trying it out on his helmet. I liked the idea, and decided to see about repairing my favorite 'phones, and get a shuffle to clip to my helmet as well. So I cut an audio cable with 3.5mm plugs in half, and popped open the headphones and replaced the entire dead cable. I went from a 4 foot cord to a 14 inch cord, with the intention of keeping the shuffle clipped near my head. When all was done, just for fun, I clipped the shuffle to the headphones themselves, because that would just be cool if it worked out well enough to have my favorite headphones and the iPod shuffle all buttoned together in harmony.

A little experimentation and tidying work later, and this is what I ended up with:
Great sound, good comfort, and a new ability to control the iPod with ease that I never had before. The weight of the cord and iPod does pull the neckband down a little, but not enough to be an issue, especially on a bike. The lack of a cord hanging out to get caught on stuff is amazing, and I find myself looking for excuses to use it now.

In fact, I'm wearing them right now. *jams*
Mileage: 3 so far.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ride Music.

Listening to music on my rides is something I rather enjoy.  I had been using my iPhone for music for quite a while, but now that I'm riding without a backpack this has become a little unruly.  I tried putting the iPhone in my pocket, but the headphones cables were too short.  I pondered getting an armband for it, but that could be very bad if I crash.
Then, Polar Bear, pointed me over to a blog post on FatCyclist about the Arriva headphones that Fatty uses.  How awesome are those!?  But, alas, they don't sell them in stores.  With my big head, I tend not to buy hats, helmets, and other head-related products, without trying them on first.  So I got to thinking, why not just attach an iPod Shuffle to my helmet (somehow) and use the already awesome headphones that Apple includes with the iPods?

The result:
Super easy to use, adds almost no weight, is still detachable for non-helmet uses, and can easily be controlled on the bike.  While not nearly as elegant as Polar Bear's solution (hopefully posted later), I like it.
My only concern is winter riding.  I don't know how well this little thing will handle the snow and ice that hits me in the back of the head in the winter.

Mileage:~45 (making up for missed posts)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dude, you're screwed!

Quite the expensive weekend, but shit happens.  Guess I'm a part of the club now, eh?  =-]

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fight Like Susan

Today I woke up with the intention of going on a long challenging ride. My plan was to push myself pretty close to what I felt was my limit. More or less, I wanted to go on an epic ride.

Then I read Fat Cyclist, and found out that Fatty's wife, Susan, had passed away last night. My motivation evaporated.

For those who don't follow Fat Cyclist, in addition to being a bicycling information, tales and humor blog, Elden (Fatty) kept us updated as to how Susan was doing as she battled cancer. He also is using it to help in the fight against cancer, in raising money for LiveStrong. In the end, even though I've never met either Elden or Susan, having followed the blog for as long as I have, I felt like I've sort of gotten to know them, even if just a little.

So, after scrolling through some of the comments people have left for Elden, and leaving one of my own, and a little prodding from Exegete, I left on my ride, only now I was riding for more than just the reasons I woke up for.

So, I'll skip what I have discovered to be my definition of an epic ride, and how I suffered and fought the last ten miles home, and just say it was a great and rewarding ride, well worth the effort.

Walnut Canyon.
Walnut Canyon.
Yup, Walnut Canyon.
The Peaks and Mt. Elden from Walnut Canyon.
Go ahead, guess where this was.
I'm not sure I can ride over this... or hop it either.
Yucca fruits!

If you're still here... My route today took me on the Arizona Trail, skirting aong the rim of Walnut Canyon, then veering away to the Walnut Canyon Monument road, where I turned onto the pavement and pedaled on the hard stuff back through town because I had a growing headache. While I was on the trail though, I took some side trails to a couple viewpoints, which is where I took the pictures today.

Mileage: 35.7

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Oh, look, clouds!

I got a little lost while I was exploring dirt roads by the airport on the way home from work today. I ended up looping along the airport fence and back on to High Country, where I looked up and saw sun rays peeking out from behind the clouds. So I stopped and spent a good 5 minutes taking pictures, watching the clouds change and the rays change in intensity. It was relaxing to watch.

Don't forget to look up.
Mileage: 16.7

Monday, August 3, 2009

The simpler life.

So this weekend, after celebrating the anniversary of my birth, my parents asked me to come up with some kind of present.  They made the comment that something from the bike shop or the motorcycle shop would work.  It took Polar Bear reminding me before I came up with something.  I have been pondering going single speed on the Pugsley for a while.  Now it is done!
The simple drive train so far is awesome.  Keeping my speed up kept me out of crank-or-die so far.  It will be interesting to see how cardiac hill is on the way home, though.  *gulp*
Mileage: 3.5