Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ride to Restore (In)Sanity

It's amazing how just the simple act of moving my feet in circles works so much to keep me thinking clearly. Even more amazing is the fact I've not done much of it.

But, what have I been doing...

If I can't spin pedals... I'll make stuff that spins!

Something to do with all the old bike parts...

In other news... I miss Summer:
My hammock at work, that I catch Z's on at break. It's a little chilly to be doing that now, though...

Bi got a flat. I think this is his way of saying "Ride more!"

All is not doom and gloom, however. I got some riding in over the holiday weekend:

I also got some riding in today. It's been fairly warm lately, warm enough for me to ditch all my cold weather gear in the afternoons. So, after work today, I swung by the bank, then headed out across town with no destination in mind, just riding for the sake of riding. Bi is the bicycle that makes it feel like I'm flying on a good day, and today was a good day on the bike. By the time I got to the mall, I'd blown out most of the brain snot, and the sun was setting behind me. So, I turned around and rode off home into the sunset.

Sorry, I forgot my camera, so no pictures. But it was pretty.

You believe me, right?

Anywho, the end of the year is upon us... and what better way to ring in the new year than on a bike? I'll be spending Sunday afternoon down in Sedona, on Tri, with the folks from Absolute, riding into the new year. That ought to be a great start.
Mileage: Dunno, don't care.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

But, it snowed! So? Night ride!

Yes yes, we got some snow that stuck around, which means that notorious Arctic Snow Snake is back. Looks like this year it made friends with a rabbit:
So, I've been spending some time in the garage, instead of riding my bikes. Warranted, I think, because it's been getting down to 0 at night.

Besides, when I find myself in the garage, sometimes cool stuff follows me out:
Plant benches. For, y'know, plants.

Block of oak at the beginning...

And end.

It doesn't need the lathe to keep spinning! (Though it did stop just for the camera. Or, did the camera stop it? Hmm...)

So, obviously, I haven't been doing much riding, besides the old back and forth to work. It sort of stinks, as I've been itching for a long-ish ride, but haven't felt like riding in temperatures where water not only freezes, but sublimates fairly fast.

So why, then, did I find myself riding Bi out to Lake Mary this morning, at 5 AM, with the temperature hanging somewhere around the range of 3 to 4 degrees above Absolute Zero? A ride that I did mostly without headlights, because the full moon was so bright?
Those aren't rocket boosters lighting up the guardrail, just Bi's tail lights.

Well, I'll tell you:

Yeah... a total Lunar eclipse will get me out of bed at 4:30 on a Saturday morning, on a bike, and riding through negative eleventeen degree air to a good spot to watch the moon slip into Earth's shadow. Because of the timing, the sky was brightening with the rising sun as the moon was obscured, so that by the time the moon went into totality, it completely disappeared. No classic eerie red glow, it just faded away, which happened just before it slid below the trees.
Blurry, but it's the last sliver of light before the moon disappeared. You see it, right?

At this point, I was freezing from sitting still for the better part of 30 minutes, and I'm pretty sure that it was cold enough to make the camera operate at peak efficiency. The ride home was long, slow, and full of "Do I still have toes/fingers?" thoughts, and Bi had a layer of frost by the time I got home. But, it was worth it to watch the moon move into the shadow of the Earth. Especially since the next total lunar eclipse is supposed to be in 2014. Which would make this the last total eclipse before the end of the world, if the Mayans are to be believed.

Yeah, it was worth it. That's a ride I'll not soon forget.

Mileage: 20.1

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tombstone Turkey Day

Sunset over the neighborhood a few weeks ago, on the way home from work. Awesome.

So, please excuse the radio silence lately. Work's been busy, and it's been dark out, so not much riding to be had, but that's my own fault. I can't complain too much about work, as overtime helps pay for the two-wheeled addictions.


So Exegete and the Su pup and I wandered down to Tombstone this past weekend, to spend Thanksgiving with his folks. This time, we brought Exe's bike, Crash, with intentions to use it to tire Su out, if needed. Of course, I couldn't resist going for a ride with it in Tombstone.

I had a destination in mind, Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains, about 15 miles northeast of town. When I had some time Saturday, I bagged a couple cookies, filled up a water bottle, kidnapped Crash and set out.

The Dragoons. My target is somewhere in the mountains on the left side of the pic.

A lone colorful tree in a wash along Middlemarch Road.

Getting close.

They're a bit bigger up close...

Looking back towards Tombstone.

I didn't go too much farther. I had been fighting a stiff headwind for over 10 miles, on a bike that wasn't set up for me, and I felt like I was dragging a boat anchor uphill. I made it probably a half mile from the pass, but I couldn't convince myself to keep on when I knew that it was all downhill with the wind at my back to get home.

Nice little clearing over there...

The 30 mile an hour blast back down Middlemarch road was worth all the fight uphill in the wind. Having a two-wheel drift around a banked downhill turn on slick street tires on gravel was an adrenaline rush. Having Crash airborne over cattle guards was fun. And the big old goofy grin on my face was... well... a big old goofy grin. Fun!

I have to say, it's such a change riding in Southern Arizona, if just for the smell. Riding down a dirt road through fields of sage, the air smelled really clean and sweet, a big change from the sometimes sharp smell of the pines I'm used to. It was really nice.

I would have loved to make it to the stronghold, or turn down towards Gleeson, a ghost town, but oh well. Next time, I'll just have to bring one of my own bikes.

So now I'm home, and there is riding to be done in the near future. I have lights to charge, tires to air up, and places to ride to, along with a pup to wear out.

But, we did get a nice welcome home from our travels:

Mileage: 0

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A week late, but whatever. Fall colors!

I bet you thought I forgot about that annual fall colors ride I seem to do every year?

Well, I didn't forget about the ride, I just forgot about the blog. Too much work to be done, and hanging out with my sister, who was up here for the week.

I know, shame on me.

As with last year, I thought I had largely missed the color changing. This year, between an early cold snap that zapped a lot of trees, and not having a chance to really ride in the woods in the fall until last weekend, I cut it pretty close. I still managed to find some color, even if it was a bit sparse. That's the great thing about nature... no year will be like the next.

Like last year, I headed out south on the Arizona trail, hoping to at least make it to Marshall Lake.
Aspens on the rim of Sandy's Canyon.

Taking a break and looking back towards town from a cliff at Sandy's Canyon, across from Canyon Vista Campground.

I heard these big guys take off from the airport, about 6 miles away.

Marshal Lake!

I was feeling pretty good at this point, so I decided to press on over Andersen Mesa. the same as last year. However... one thing I didn't write about last year was how horrible the trail is across Andersen Mesa. It starts out nicely, as you climb from Marshal Lake up to NPOI (One of the few operating optical interferometers in the world. Check it out!) on a trail that is technical and fun.
It mellows out as you ride along the perimeter fence of the observatory, and past Prime Lake, a small sinkhole lake. The trail stays smooth and level as you swing right up to the edge of the mesa, overlooking Lower (dry) and Upper Lake Mary, a great spot to take a break and snack.

From there on, though, it becomes a frustrating, post-holed, rock-studded cowpath at worst, and ties in to forest service roads that aren't much better at best. I rode it last year, and while it was pretty in places, it was nine miles of sort of boring not-fun. This year, I tried it again to see if it had been improved at all. Unfortunately, it had not. The only saving grace of this segment is a rocking descent off the mesa on the other end down to Lake Mary Road. A mile of sweet flowy packed gravel singletrack.

At the bottom, I was faced with the choice of ride home along the road, or follow the Arizona Trail a bit further. I was feeling pretty good, and after having forced myself across the mess of a trail on Andersen Mesa, I was hoping for some fun trail riding before the 20 miles of pavement to get home.

So I crossed the road like a good chicken, and set wheel on some new-to-me Arizona Trail, which did not disappoint. I wished I brought lights so I could keep riding. As it was, I got about 20 minutes down the trail, nearly ran into a deer (Who I yelled at for stopping in the middle of the trail) and explored part of an old railroad grade.
The Peaks from my turnaround point.

I backtracked to the road, put Tri in the tall gear, and cruised on home. All said, I put in about 45 miles or so last Saturday. I want to ride more of the AZT south, because from the taste I got, it seems sweet. I may have to do some bike packing to do it right.

That will have to wait until next year, though, because if you fast-forward a week to today...
It snowed... and we got a puppy. Named Su.

Also, because I'm a dink and forgot to post about this earlier (Like... when I actually did it) check out my first excursion into the Inner Basin since the Schultz Fire.
Inner Basin colors 2011

Mileage: ~4 or so.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Yo dawg, so we heard you like bikes...

You have a little bit to figure out where this is going.

So I took a little trip through the Rim Country this weekend, and landed in Queen Creek to visit family, and meet new family!


New Mikayla puppy!

It was a fun weekend. I played with puppies, went to Schnepf Farms for the pumpkin festival there, where I got a little heatstroke or something... Slept that off, played with puppies some more, then came home.

There was a little bike riding... I did go down on Friday, after all. after I assembled Oscar, TC and I had a short Friday night Bike Night ride, the first one since she and Alex moved to Queen Creek.

Wait, who's Oscar?

Well, remember the Dumpster Bike?

It went from this:To this:
It's old, it's ginormous, and it makes funny noises, but it's a solid, smooth riding bike, and it cleans up nicely. I brought it down to my sister's place to leave there, so that when I visit, I don't have to cart a bike back and forth.

Getting it down here was an adventure in itself. Besides re-building Oscar, I've been tinkering with Slide:
"If you build it, they will gawk."

I am not the first person to do this... I looked up many designs, and talked to a few people before building something that was feasible and worked best for my application. As it is, it needs a little work, but it worked well enough to take Oscar 180 miles to Phoenix, with no trouble what so ever.

The responses I noticed from people who saw it were awesome. The best was from a French fellow who came up when I stopped. He barely spoke any english, but asked to take a picture of it, to which I said "Of Course!" His thoughts on the setup? "Motorcycle..." *Points* "...bicycle..." *points* "...very cool!" *thumbs up* I wish I knew more French, so I could have talked with him.

Of course, I have to work tomorrow, so I had to come home today. I came back the same way I went down, through Payson on highway 87. I think I'm taking that route down from now on, as it is gorgeous. Lovely forests all the way from the house down Lake Mary Road to Clint's Well, then the drop off the Mogollon Rim through Payson into the rocky desert mountains of southern Arizona. It was a great ride, one that I was looking forward to playing on without a bike on the back of the bike.

'Twas fun.
Mileage: ~180 on Slide.