Sunday, May 27, 2012

Rage Riding

 Yeah, there's an interesting post title. Rage Riding. That is what I feel best describes Thursday's and Friday's rides this past week. This past week was a rough week, and I had some steam to blow off. What better way to do it than to hop on Tri, and push myself up hills with only one gear as fast as I can, while listening to angry music?

Well, I'm sure there's better ways, but I know that riding works for me, especially mountain riding. It felt good to be back on the singlespeed hardtail, after riding Pretty for a few weeks. Full suspension is indeed nice, as is having thirty gears to sift through, I suppose. But, when I've got anger to burn off, I want something simple that I don't have to think about. Pedal if I want to move, pedal faster if I want to go faster, and only one suspension setting to poke, not three.

Well, and Tri's a whole lot cheaper to repair if I decided to rail headlong into a tree, which was a very real possibility.

Needless to say, I felt much better. The problems that lead to it in the first place are still there, but I'm in a better place mentally to deal with them.

That said, having bounced back and forth between Tri and Pretty, they make a nice compliment to each other. Pretty helps my confidence to ride over stuff on Tri, which helps my confidence to bomb on Pretty.

In other news, I saw another bike that I had to take a picture of, because of its owner's ingenuity:
I'm really diggin' the leopard print duck tape grips.
 Believe me when I say I'm not making fun of the bike or the rider. I think it's awesome. I'd love to see it in motion, to see how the rear rack construction interacts with the rear suspension. The cat litter bucket on the bars works for quick access to items while riding, (I would use it for ammo storage for drivers on cell phones) though I'm curious why he has duck tape covered reflectors on the handle pointing backwards. The kickstand extension is clever, as is the horn placement. Only one brake, but it's on the front, which is the important one.

I hope I see it around town, like some other bikes I have to admire for their riders ingenuity.

Today I still had some rage to ride off, but I was calm enough to ride Pretty. The system trails were pretty busy, so I ended up exploring some of the less commonly ridden trails, including finding a trail I've been looking for for almost a year. Now that I have a GPS track of some of the non-system trails, I can add them to my paper map to keep with me.

However, crowds or no, it was still a fun ride, and a beautiful day to be out riding. No wind, warm temperatures, and most people were pretty polite.
Good views, too.

Very good views. Though, that bike needs a bath. Pretty's looking pretty dirty.

Tenacity... That rock's 8 feet tall.

A closeup of the bloomin' cactus.
 The trail I had been looking for is called Easter Island, so named for the boulders along it. At one point the trail goes through a rock that split in half. I had heard other riders talk about it, and was always interested in riding it myself.
Tight squeeze... just an inch on either bar end!
I turned around and rode through the gap for real after the picture. All in all, a great day of riding today.

And now I feel pretty good.

Now to scribble on my map.
Mileage: 44.9

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Welding helmets, eclipses, and bikes.

There was an Annular Solar Eclipse today. An annular eclipse is where the moon moves in front of the sun, but is not large enough to completely cover it, creating a ring of fire. The coolest thing was that the centerline of the eclipse passed north of us, just to the south of Page. I had planned on going up there to see it, but decided not to.

Instead, I strapped my welding helmet to my backpack, hopped on Surprise, and rode up to Snowbowl to see it.

Click for the big view!
It was worth staying in town to see the closest thing to a total solar eclipse I'll probably see in my life. I really can't describe it any better than that.

I took many more pictures, and I'll post them, once I'm done playing with them, as well as more rides to post about, but later. I just wanted to post a teaser before I went to bed and tried to sleep.
Mileage: 34.5

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Diggin' it.

Dum de dum de dum...

Thursday saw a ride out to Fisher Point after work, where the sun was being very photogenic, hiding behind a cloud.
 Friday was another ride on Surprise up Snowbowl road. I'm making it a goal to ride up it after work at least once a week. Mostly because it's beautiful, also because it's challenging. And you see stuff, sometimes.
Smoke from a prescribed burn on Hart Prairie.

This little guy was being a character, running all over around me.
 Saturday... I worked on Slide, pulling apart the carbuerator to clean out the pilot jet, which is so small it gets clogged if you try to pass a neutrino through it. Exe also got grillin' stuff, so a grill cleaning and inspection took place, followed by the first grillinating of the season. We avoided making hockey pucks, and successfully made good bacon-wrapped cheeseburgers.

What does this have to do with bikes?

Well, after that, Exe and I took Su out to Fisher Point.
"Where are we?"

Love this view.
It occurs to me that the backlog of during-the-week rides that get saved up for a post lack in-depth descriptions... because usually not a whole lot happens. They're usually pretty uneventful, which is good.I try to relax, at least mentally, on my rides after work, but I still want to share the stuff I see on them.

So... today. I've been trying to have one big torturous weekend ride every weekend, something bordering on epic. So far I think I've been doing pretty good, and today was no exception.

After discussion with Jack, I decided to do my usual Arizona Trail east of town loop. I just got the proper length stem in for Pretty, and I wanted to see how it felt, as well as see how Pretty did on a trail that I'm more than a little familiar with. Also, it's been a while since I've done it in the spring time.

So, roll out on the Loop trail, breeze quickly through Skunk Canyon, and power to the top of Fisher Point, where I stopped to call TC and wish her a happy 27th lap around the sun.

From there, Pretty made short work of the Arizona Trail along Walnut Canyon. Spots that were sketchy on Tri were no problem, and stuff that I impulsively panic-stopped for and walked I was able to roll over, drop, or climb, albeit with some hesitation, but no incident.

It also does help matters that there has been a lot of rerouting of the trail, pulling it out of drainage, and eliminating some of the steepest and most unrideable sections. (Unless your Danny Macaskill...) That said.. there are still some sections, that despite the awesomeness that is the Pivot Mach 429, I am just not strong or skilled enough to ride yet.

Like this section. The picture doesn't show how steep and loose the trail is.

But it has a nice view of Walnut Canyon.
 What the Pretty Pivot does do is make my favorite section of the Arizona trail in this area even more fun. I thought it was a blast rolling through it at 18 mph and catching air on the water bars with a singlespeed hardtail. But doing it at 25 with the soft landings of a full squish bike is just bliss. The downside is that section seems so much shorter now.

Before long I found myself a ways east of town, as the Arizona trail winds away from the ponderosas into the junipers and piƱons of the high desert.
Mt. Elden, and The San Francisco Peaks.

It's even green out here.
 And then it winds back again.
Pines and oaks.

Good trail.

The nice thing about doing this ride in Spring... this field is not full of sunflowers!

Picture Canyon.
 It was somewhere around here that I had a conversation with my bike that most people would likely find odd. It started when I stopped to carry the bike up a staircase built into the trail, scaling the canyon wall, and Pretty kicked me in the back of the knee with a pedal.


"You're seriously going to carry me up this? Aren't you even going to try?"

"Pretty, you may be awesome, but I'm not. I can't ride up this."

"You didn't even try!"

"Alright, fine, I'll try."

So I hop back on the bike and manage to ride up the first four steps before the front tire planted, and I flailed about trying to keep from falling over, during which time Pretty bit the back of my ankle with a chainring.


"That's for talking out loud to an inanimate object!"

Pretty is an aggressive bike, in more ways than one.

Fortunately, all was forgiven, peace was made, and we continued on.
More greenery, behind Sheep Hill.
 The part of this section of trail that I hate, the slog through the cinders... well, once again, despite Pretty's awesomeness, was still a slog. I need to take Snowblind out here. Maybe then I'd have fun on it.

Closer and closer to Elden.

Hmm... which way?
One way heads to town... the other way goes around Mt. Elden. I was feeling pretty good, so I let my water supply decide for me. Just over a liter left, and it's still cold, let's go!

Little Elden.

I had never ridden this section of Little Elden Trail before.

I'm glad I came this way.

Winding around the mountain, faster than I had planned.

Little Elden Spring.

So green.

Someday I'll come down this trail again...
 Little Elden Trail was one of the trails affected by the Schultz Fire, and subsequent flooding. It was also one of the first to be re-opened, earlier this year. The work that's been done to shore up the trail in the fire and drainage areas is amazing, and I have to thank everyone who worked on it. Little Bear Trail is a trail I've done only once, before I was any good at all at this mountain biking thing. It was also one of the hardest hit by the fire and flooding. They're hoping to open it later this year, and there is a trail day dedicated to reaching that goal, which I plan on joining in on.

Not long after Little Bear, I ran in to Anthony from Absolute Bikes and FBO heading the opposite way. We chatted for a while about trails, bikes, and shoes before heading our separate ways.

You know you go to the bike shop a lot when the manager recognizes you on the trail and doesn't have a problem with stopping and hanging out for a bit.

I see nothing wrong with this.
Fire scars.

The edge of the burn area.
Soon I made it to Schultz Creek Trail, where two things happened. First, I ran out of water. (Oh noes!) Second, the downhill started. (Aww yeah!) As expected, Pretty ate up the trail, though I didn't make nearly as many bad line choices as last time. At the bottom, I hooked up with the FUTS and took that home.

So, after 43 miles today, and over 100 miles since I got it a week ago, what are my impressions on full suspension?

I am definitely more confident on Pretty, than I am on Tri. Of course, I was more confident on Tri than I was on the Giant and the B-52, both being 26" bikes. The Pivot makes me a more confident rider, but not a better rider. However, one thing Anthony mentioned to me today, is that going back and forth between the hardtail (Tri) and the full suspension (Pretty) will make me a better rider on both, which makes sense. Pretty builds my confidence to just roll over stuff, and Tri builds the skill to roll over things, once I have the confidence to even try to.

The other thing is endurance... I have much better endurance with Pretty. It could be gears, it could be the fact that I'm almost 30 pounds lighter, I dunno... but I can go on longer rides, and come back with energy to spare, while before, it was a struggle to get home, sometimes. It has me wondering what my range might be, now. If I hadn't run out of water when I did, I probably could have gone another 10 or 15 miles today.

So, in short, I'm diggin' it.
Mileage: 43.4

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

This time I brought my camera.

 I got to take Su out for a trail ride this evening.  Unlike last time, I brought a camera, as well as an extend-o-leash, so Su would have a little more freedom, and hopefully give me a little more space.

I think it went rather well, aside from a couple... incidents. At one point the leash got wound up in Tri's rear wheel when Su crossed sides behind me, and shortly after that, she decided to go the opposite direction. Nothing serious, and after that, she did well with running alongside, just ahead, or just behind, with none of the bumps or rubs of our last trail ride.

And we found the elk again.
What you don't see is Su hiding behind Tri's front wheel.

Nice trail marker.

Happy pup!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

So, That's what I've been missing out on.

Let's see here... Saturday was the first Loop Trail construction day of the year. So, in my fashion, I decided to make a day out of it... sort of.

I wound up getting there exceptionally early, despite my riding Henry, and taking my time getting there on as much dirt as I could.
You don't see one of these in someone's front yard every day.
 Lacking exact directions to the actual meeting spot, and the little green arrows that usually direct us to the event site weren't up yet, so I sat on Henry, and waited for an adult. I may or may not have used the time for some extra sleep.

Eventually folks showed, arrows went up, and trail was built. This is a segment that will eventually connect into Campbell Mesa, on the east side of town. We got a lot done, and once it gets some use to smooth it out, it will be a great little section.

The high point of my day, however, was getting the chance to lay down the first tracks on fresh trail:
End of line.
 Then I turned around and rode the other segments of the Loop Trail that I hadn't ridden yet, because I didn't know they existed. As a result, I can now take singletrack routes from one side of town to the other, either north or south of town. There are gaps, yes, but there are connector trails to bridge them if you're willing to go out of the way by a bit.

I like this idea.

After the dirt, I swung by the store and got food, before heading home. Proof that you can work, and play, on a Big Dummy.

Which brings us to today. *story time!*

Now, I should start this by saying something about why I haven't been riding a lot this week.

You see... there's this bike.

Yeah, yeah, there's always a bike. But, this one is special. It's a bike that I have seen in the showroom at Absolute for 3 years. I've admired it, read about it, and drooled over, and sometimes on, it. It's the only full suspension bike that's really ever caught my eye.... the Pivot Mach 429. There's only one problem... I'd never ridden anything with full suspension, nor had I any desire to. I really liked this bike, but I had also decided that it was not going to make me a better rider. I had to do that on my own, thusly deciding that I could do without this bike.

Even after I read about it being very on sale in the Absolute Bikes newsletter, placing it into the price range that I could afford, I decided no, I wasn't going to get it.

Until Wednesday, when Exegete convinced me to at least test ride it.

And what I was afraid of happening, actually happened.

Everything I had read about, even everything I had imagined about this bike... it was all true. I was definitely "in like" with the Pivot. Just on the short test ride, on very short technical sections of singletrack, it worked very hard at changing my mind. It gave me confidence to roll over things I wouldn't even try otherwise, and more confidence still to turn around and roll right back up. It was an amazing ride, for only being just a few minutes.

But I didn't bring it home Wednesday. I had to think about it. I have 6 bikes already... 4 of them which could be classified as mountain bikes, 3 of them definitely. Even as Exe and I rearranged the garage, making more room for bikes, we discussed, and I thought. Even after discussing it with TC, I was still on the fence.

The next day, I rode Tri on the same trails I test rode the Pivot on, and was amazed at the difference. Maybe it was subconscious, maybe it was want, I don't know. But I couldn't even try to do the same moves on Tri as I had done on the Pivot the day before. Sure, they are entirely possible on Tri, but I didn't have the same confidence in myself on Tri as on the Pivot. So, I rolled in to Absolute with Tri... and rolled out with the Pivot. Then I went for a ride. I cleaned sections of Skunk canyon I've never been able to before, and flew down familiar trails with speeds I was afraid to hit on Tri. The Pivot ate everything up. I think it was happy to be on trails, actually being ridden, after being in the showroom for the past year. I know I was happy.

Then Friday, I rode Henry to Absolute to pick up Tri.

What? I can't exactly ride 2 bikes at the same time...

So, today, I took the Pivot out on a "getting acquainted" ride. Which was also "Ok, I'm gonna hit trails that I'm scared of" ride.

It went rather well.
A small slice of Flagstaff from most of the way up Elden Lookout Road.

The Catwalk. It's a long tumble down, if you fall to the right.
 I was excited at this point. I had only been on the Catwalk for it's entire length once before, and I walked most of it. This time, I only walked one short section, and rode the rest. I was still scared to death, especially after the front wheel skid, but still... better than before.

Here it is.. the Pivot. Isn't it pretty?
 From there, Sunset Trail drops steeply into, over and around boulders, a section of the trail dubbed "The Hobbit Forest," another section of trail I was scared of, and walked nearly all of, the two times I'd done it.
Find the trail! Would you believe I rode this?

I didn't ride this part... the only section that I walked.
 From there, the trail starts to resemble a trail again, something I'm a little more familiar with.

"And that's what we call a show stopper."

 At the bottom of Sunset, I took Schultz Creek Trail down the rest of the way, another familiar trail to me.
I love this view.
After a few more trails, I rode home, as the chain was getting a little noisy, already time for some lube.

So, all in all, my thoughts on the bike so far? I'm in love. It lets me get away with things I couldn't bring myself to try before. It's fast, it's smooth, and I know it'll get me in trouble. And it's pretty. I think that's it's name. Pretty.

Is it worth the years I spent pining for it?

After the fun I had on it today, absolutely! It's also the last bike I'm allowed to buy, both by myself and Exegete. (We'll see how long that lasts...)

Mileage: 34.7