Alder and I ripped the Short Loop at McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Fountain Hills this morning. This was Alder's first true desert ride on singletrack and he did great, even dropping the steep downhill that my wife walked last year! He looked good in the Revolution team colors and thought it was cool that we were riding a "competitive track" so maybe I'll be able to get him out to a few ICUP events next year.
Another day, another ride in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Only today my brother and I rode up and over Windgate Pass to McDowell Mountain Regional Park on our way to Fountain Hills.
Here's our route in brief: Gateway Access Trail to Gateway Saddle to Windgate Pass to the Coachwhip Trail, Dixie Mine Trail and the Pemberton Trail, which took us to the main road in McDowell Mountain Regional Park. We then rode the pavement to Fountain Hills via Fountain Hills Boulevard where we met my wife for a lift back to Scottsdale.
Ride time was about 2:30 and we gained a little over 2,000 feet of elevation. I know that doesn't sound like much but for Christmas Eve that's not a bad effort!
Final approach to Windgate Pass:
My brother at the top:
Looking down on Scottsdale to the west:
Looking down on Fountain Hills to the east:
On the descent to McDowell Mountain Regional Park:
Yesterday I discovered an access trail to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve (MSP) no more than 5 minutes from the house so when I found myself somewhat pressed for time this afternoon I decided to head over to do some more exploring. Having the dirt so close is a mixed blessing as the neighborhood roads are some of the finest I've seen. I did a point-to-point ride today so I was able to shred some qualify pavement on the way home. While I don't enjoy pictures of roads as much as trails, I thought some of you road-specific guys might like them so the last one is for you.
Against my better judgement I road a section of trail involving a steep, rocky climb that took 10-15 minutes to complete. It required a much greater effort than I really wanted to put forth, but once I started I figured I might as well finish. One thing I discovered while navigating some of the steeper, rockier sections was that out of the saddle, single speed style bursts of power are just as effective on a geared bike. Another realization was how effective my new Maxxis CrossMark rear tire is at maintaining traction, even during the aforementioned near maximal out of the saddle efforts. I'm quite impressed and wonder if a Larsen TT would climb even better?
We took the kids to the Phoenix Zoo this morning and wouldn't you know it, there's an In-N-Out Burger in Tempe, right next to the ASU campus, not more than 5 minutes from the zoo. I couldn't help myself and stopped for a hamburger, fry and Diet Coke for lunch on the way home.
I think I'll take a temporary break from more burgers until after Christmas. Five burgers in four days is probably pushing my body's ability to manage the excess calories!
It's been a while since I've been on a bike (close to 3 weeks) and that was my road bike (the last time I rode my mountain bike was Thanksgiving Day) so I took it easy on this morning's ride. My brother's home in Scottsdale is 5-10 minutes (depending on what access trail you choose) by bike from the McDowell Sonoran Preserve which makes it extremely convenient when time is limited. The fact that the trails are a ton of fun and located in some of the most beautiful desert around makes them even harder to ignore.
This morning I left the house just before 9 am wearing knee and arm warmers, a sleeveless base layer, short sleeved jersey and a wind vest. Ten minutes later the vest was unzipped and it wasn't long before the arm warmers were pushed down. With temperatures in the low 50's conditions were practically frigid for the locals but for me, coming from a week of snow and freezing temperatures it felt balmy in comparison!
Compared to all of my past trips to Arizona I probably have the least amount of form that I've ever had going into the week of riding. After riding for 1:40 I feel good, which tells me I still have a decent base of aerobic fitness. Where I struggled on the ride was climbing. When the trail would go up - especially the short, steep, rocky sections - I could really feel the lack of high-end fitness. I turned up a steep, rocky climb with the thought of continuing until I had to put a foot down. However, after a minute of climbing I made the decision to turn around as I didn't want to toast my legs on day #1. My descending skills were also rusty but that's to be expected and not a problem. My goals for the trip are modest: Log 8-10 hours of low to medium intensity riding/hiking. Since I'll just be returning to winter and shifting focus back to skiing there isn't any reason to "train" this week.
Why not double up and eat both lunch and dinner when you have restaurants conveniently located in both Washington City, UT and Kingman, AZ! There's no better fuel for a 700 mile drive than a single hamburger animal style, fries and a diet coke with lemon. One burger for lunch, two burgers for dinner. Even my health conscious wife can't resist In-N-Out, though she prefers her hamburger customized: Animal style, no sauce with ketchup and mustard.
While I'm excited at the opportunity to ride outside, in short sleeves, every day this week, I must admit to being equally excited to eat at In-N-Out on a (hopefully) daily basis!
Wow. Until today I didn't know that resort parking lots could actually fill up, forcing local law enforcement to direct traffic away from the resort a half mile down the road. This resulted in people parking along the side of the road and hiking up the pavement with their gear. And sacks of food. You see, if not for the sacks and sacks and sacks of food none of this craziness would have been possible. Because today, as the last of Brighton's famous "Quad Wednesdays", a lift ticket cost a mere $15 if you donated a sack of non-perishable food to the Utah Food Bank. The turnout was overwhelming which, combined with the fact that less than 50% of the resort was open, resulted in HUGE lift lines for the two high speed quads that were running.
Luckily we arrived early, scoring a nice front row parking spot just below the Explorer lift. Not that we rode Explorer, but it allowed easy access to/from the mountain without the need to dodge vehicle and pedestrian traffic. By "we" I mean myself and 3 co-workers who carpooled up together, as well as Mark A. and Kris who met us at the resort. I figured with lift tickets so cheap it would be a good day to get some friends up who might otherwise pass on the invitation to ski from 9 am to 12 pm due to the cost being prohibitive. However, for $15 it was an easy decision. Even with the crowds it was fun and we managed to get in 7-9 runs each. Though because of the crowds it was hard to stick together and we ended up finishing the morning separated.
I took some good spills as I found myself skiing more advanced terrain in an effort to keep Mark from falling asleep on his skis. My favorite was a low (almost no) speed tumble down a 10-12 foot outcropping towards the bottom of Wren Hollow. As I was putting myself together I heard a "whoosh" followed by a "thud" as Mark launched the drop at speed. He didn't know it was there either but unlike me, possessed the skill the ride it out, landing it cleanly. That was pretty cool to see.
I'm sitting on my couch across the living room from the lighted Christmas tree, typing this post on my iPhone while my daughter reads to me. Isn't technology great?
Wednesday you can ski/board at Brighton for $15 with a donation to the Utah Food Bank of a bag of food. Go to their website for more information. Come up and ride! Speaking of riding, I bought two used snowboards for my son today. Forrest gave them a thumbs up and at $50 for both including bindings so the price was right. Now all I need to buy is a pair of goggles and he's ready to shred.
Ok, so I admit that my posts have been a bit weak. However, as Mark so eloquently states on his blog, what am I supposed to write about? I suppose I could elaborate on my 3 trips to Brighton so far this year but to be honest I'm trying to keep the fact that I purchased a mid-week season pass on the down low. Plus, I don't have Forrest'smad photographic skills and am doing good to get myself down the mountain in one piece much less try and take pictures!
Having said that, I do actually have something meaningful to share today. For the past few days I've been working on a 2009 calendar of various local and Arizona trails. It's nothing fancy, certainly not on par with a commercial calendar you'd buy in a store but I like it because the pictures come from trails I've ridden and includes dates (albeit preliminary and subject to change) of local events. If it turns out ok I'll open it up to anybody interested in buying (your cost will be my cost - probably less than $20) one for yourself.
Here are a few months to give you an idea of how it will look, though keep in mind I haven't had a chance to add any event dates to the calendar yet:
In preparation for my upcoming trip to sunny (hopefully!) Arizona, I paid a visit to Revolution on Saturday to pick up some new rubber for the BMC. After soliciting advice from Ryan and Ty on an endless number of front and rear tire combinations, I settled on a 2.35" Maxxis Ignitor for the front paired with a 2.1" Maxxis CrossMark for the rear.
Originally I had planned to go with the Larsen TT for both front & rear but there were no UST versions in stock and I wasn't sure if I'd have time to return prior to my scheduled departure. However, had I known that I would leave my jacket hanging on the rack of team clothing I would have ordered a pair. Living without my jacket is no big deal, but the $20 in gift certificates to Ab's Drive Inn I won on X96 last week I need. Oh well, I've run the Ignitor before with good results and the CrossMark is new so will be fun to try. Assuming all goes well with the pair, I'll use them through 5-Mile Pass at which point I'll switch to a non-UST tire for the remainder of the season, probably the Continental Mountain King PROTection.
I mounted the tires this evening and, thanks to Ryan stating that he has no trouble getting Maxxis tires on Mavic rims without tire irons, I was able to get them on with nothing more than my bare hands. Unfortunately I wasn't able to inflate them with my floor pump. This necessitated a call to a neighbor that owns an air compressor. I really need to buy one myself as it sure made inflation easy! I added a little less than 2 caps of Stans to the front tire and about 1.5 caps to the rear. Overkill I know but I don't want to mess with flats while ripping the desert 1-track.
I need to replace the tires on my full suspension BMC before heading to Arizona later this month. Since I won't be racing for a while, I'd like to get a UST or Tubeless specific tire for the extra durability and peace of mind it provides. Right now I'm leaning towards the Continental Mountain King (2.2) or Maxxis Larsen TT (2.0). The Kenda Nevegal (2.1) also looks interesting, though is a bit on the heavy side.
Previously I've used the Continental Speed King (2.3 and 2.1), Maxxis Ignitor (2.1) and Hutchinson Python (2.0) with good results.
I fell asleep with the kids this afternoon (why is it that I always seem to take a longer nap than the kids?) which resulted in a much later than planned start to my ride. Leaving the house around 3:30 PM - after verifying that the sun would set at 5:08 PM - I headed towards Bogus Basin Road. Given the short amount of daylight remaining and temperatures in the 40's, climbing seemed to be the best option for burning as many calories as possible in the least amount of time. You see, my mom was preparing another turkey dinner since our family had missed out on most of the leftovers due to the Thanksgiving dinner being held at my uncle's home yesterday. I wasn't complaining, but this did mean I was faced with my second turkey dinner with all of the accompanying sides (potatoes, rolls, salad, pie, etc.) in two days, another good reason to suffer on a climb!
The only logistical problem with riding up Bogus so late in the day was the descent. If I climbed until sunset I would be descending in low light conditions, not to mention much colder temperatures. The problem was quickly solved when Cami agreed to drive up and meet me on the road. She took the kids to Camelsback Park to play before starting the drive to retrieve me at 4:45 PM. It worked out perfectly, as she met me at the big pullout about a half mile past the Forest Service sign just as the sun dipped below the western mountains. The sunset was spectacular, which she enjoyed, and I was able to maximize my 90 minute ride with some great climbing followed by a warm descent in the car.
It should be noted that my time to the Forest Service sign was a full 6 minutes slower than my PR set this summer. Initially I felt really good, and actually entertained hopes of recording a good time. However, my legs faded after 25 minutes and I had to shift into my 24. I guess that's to be expected given the probable 6 extra pounds I was carrying up the mountain!
I had to dial back the food consumption slightly due to my only riding 1:47 before dinner. Of course, since I was on the single speed I imagine the total calories burned were higher than if I'd ridden the BMC. Regardless of the exact number, and whether I ended the day with a deficit or surplus (I'm pretty sure the latter applies), it was a sweet ride.
My cousin Brian and I hit the trails by bike while our wives headed out on foot. We had a two hour window in which to ride and managed to cover quite a few trails: Corrals, Trail 4, Sidewinder, Crestline, Red Cliffs, Chickadee and Red Fox were some of what we rode. There were a ton of folks outdoors and everybody was friendly and smiling. It was a nice way to prepare for the gluttony that would soon follow!
It's hard to believe we're still riding sweet 1-track 2 days before Thanksgiving but I'm not going to complain. I met Kris at the Equestrian Center at 3 pm and we made our way over to Ghost Falls. While climbing up the lower section I snapped this shot of Kris:
Sometimes the pictures I take while on the bike turn out great while others are nothing but a blur of color & motion. Luckily this was one of the former.
As we climbed the road we decided to continue on the doubletrack up to Jacob's Ladder where we were caught from behind by one of the DNA strongmen riding a rigid 29er single speed. As we chatted for a bit and then watched him effortlessly (at least that's how it looked from behind!) climb away from us as the grade steepened towards the top, I wondered if I'd be doing the same thing had I chosen my ss for this ride. Once we started the descent, however, I was glad to have my full suspension bike.
Looking down on the haze in the valley:
After dropping out onto the road we climbed back up to the top of Clark's and bombed down. If any of you cross racers who still have some good form haven't done the Clark's TT now is the time to get it done. The trail is in fantastic condition for a run on your cx bikes. Go do it while you can.
Kris wanted to ride the steps so we did a quick run up to the Gas Line Trail before hitting the jumps and descending back to the cars, finishing with our traditional drop of the stone stairs.
I think 29" wheels are required to make it up these things: