Sunday, February 25, 2007

Phoenix Wrapup

I arrived home last night just before 12 am after an uneventful journey. Total drive time was 10:40 for 650 miles, a big improvement over the trip down Monday! Before heading out Saturday afternoon I rode 1:30 on Trail 100 with my brother. On Friday, my brother and I rode 2:30 at McDowell, hitting the same trails as Thursday. For the week I ended up with 12:30 total ride time in 5 days and 6 rides, all but 1 of which were on the mountain bike. Next trip I don't think I'll bother taking the road bike. I was surprised that my legs felt good each day and feel this is partly due to the fact that I was diligent in consuming a quality recovery drink immediately after each ride: Horizon Organic Chocolate Milk. The cool thing about the Horizon milk is that it doesn't need to be refrigerated, making it super easy to pack and drink as soon as you finish a ride. It tastes good warm or cold and is a quick & easy way to put down 180 calories with 27g of simple carbs and 8g of protein.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

McDowell Part II

I believe I am addicted to McDowell Mountain Park. The trails are just plain fun to ride. You know, the kind of trails where you find yourself grinning like a fool as you ride. Trails that you can ride over and over and over again and still be entertained. For me, at least, McDowell is that kind of place. I had originally planned to hit the road today, and even spent a fair amount of time this morning trying to talk myself into showing the road bike some love. But when it was time to roll I found myself loading the mountain bike onto the rack for another 2.5 hours in the desert. Since I'll be on the dirt the next two days with my brother that makes this the 2nd trip in a row where I've only ridden the road bike once. Next time I head south I think I'll just leave it at home...

This afternoon I rode Pemberton to Granite to Bluff to Pemberton to the Secret trail and finished with the Scenic trail, riding the latter in the opposite direction I rode it yesterday. The Secret trail was pretty cool. Nothing remotely technical but the feeling was one of really being out in the desert where not many people had ridden before. The singletrack ended at a huge water trough for cattle accessed from the north via a primitive dirt road. Apparently the dirt road eventually connects into the Pima/Dynamite trail network in Scottsdale. Many thanks to the husband and wife out riding yesterday who shared its location with me.

To get to McDowell you drive through the city of Fountain Hills. As you can see from the picture below, it's clear where the name comes from. They don't run the fountain all day, but when it's on you can see it for miles.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

McDowell Mountain Trails

This afternoon I logged 2.5 hours on the Pemberton trail network at McDowell Mountain. Besides the Pemberton trail I also rode the Tonto Tanks, Stoneman Wash, Bluff and Scenic trails. The weather was perfect: Sunny skies with temps in the low 70's. Yeah, this is how winter should be! Tonight we had dinner with my brother's father-in-law who just happens to own a little bike shop in Scottsdale. In addition to knowing a thing or two about bikes, he also has some skills with a grill and cooked up some mean Porterhouse, T-bone and Ribeye steaks. After 2 days and 6 hours of riding I was up for some serious protein consumption. Paired with a great salad and mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, biscuits and grilled veggies it was a sweet spread. There's no better way to end the day than with a good meal and a long soak in the hot tub.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Doubling Up

Logged 2 hours on the road bike at lunch today followed by 1.5 on the dirt with my brother this evening. On the road I did a 36 mile loop to Scottsdale via Union Hills, Cave Creek, Lone Mountain, Pima and Jomax. My legs felt good but I tried to just ride tempo since I was coming off a horrendous travel day. Average heart rate for the 2 hours was 150.

On the dirt we rode sections of the Hawes, Ridge, Mine and Saguaro trails accessed from Power road. I always feel a bit uncomfortable on the mountain bike during my first ride and today was no exception. I'm trying to decide whether to burn some laps at McDowell tomorrow or hit the road bike again. With work in the morning I'll only be able to get in one ride. Tomorrow night steak is on the menu courtesy of my brother's father-in-law followed by some time in the hot tub. Should be a good day...

Sweet AZ

All I can really say about the drive down yesterday was that it sucked. Big time. Let's just say it took close to 6 hours to reach St. George due to the snow and it didn't get much faster after that because of heavy traffic at Hoover Dam and on Hwy 93 into Wickenburg. Total drive time was 14 hours and 5 minutes. I was up at 4 am and went to bed at 10 pm completely worked. Not the best way to spend a holiday. The highlight of the trip (besides the obvious of arriving at my brother's safely) was a late lunch at In-N-Out Burger in Las Vegas. I don't know why we don't have any in Utah but man, that place almost makes me feel good about eating a burger and fries!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Emergency Home Improvement

How would you spend $500? I'm guessing a new water heater is not at the top of your list. Unfortunately, it forced it's way to the top of mine. It sucks, but at least I'm not paying to install new carpet in the basement. This post isn't about cycling so feel free to bail now if you're not interested in reading about my near miss with a mini home disaster...

So last night before dinner I run downstairs to check email and notice the sound of running water. It's not out of the ordinary in my house to hear water running in the pipes so I pass it off as normal, probably caused by either the water heater or water softener cycling. After dinner I realize that I can still hear water running and begin to wonder what's going on since whatever needed cycling should have finished by now. Well, to make a long story short I go downstairs to figure out where the sound is coming from and encounter an inch of water on the linoleum above our drain (which isn't draining...), just outside of the furnace/water heater closet. Opening the door I see the floor is covered in water. I yell for Cami to find a mop and grab a neighbor (I know nothing about home repairs) while searching for a bucket and towel. Initially I wasn't able to turn off the water line to the water heater but with my neighbor's help (and a little WD40 and mechanical aid) we shut it off. Problem is, the water kept leaking. By this time I'm mopping like a madman trying to stay ahead of the leak and protect the carpet. What makes the situation even funnier (in hindsight) is that I was using one of those mops with a bunch of tassles at the end and didn't have a way to wring out the water. So I used my hands. For close to an hour. Talk about water logged fingers! Anyway, after turning off the main water line and mopping for an additional 15 minutes the leaking finally stopped. In my neighbor's words, "You must be living right to have noticed this as soon as you did!" Yeah, we were about 30 minutes away from some very wet carpet and hours away from a swimming pool downstairs. Thanks to a relative on my wife's side of the family who runs a plumbing business (Dan's Plumbing) we had a new water heater installed by 10 am this morning. I can't help thinking where we'd be if this had happened last month while we were in Phoenix. That would have been ugly...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

South Mountain

The weather was prime this morning which meant I was able to bag one more ride outside this week. That brings my total to 4 days and 7 hours. Pretty weak I know but hey, it's better than the 4 hours I've been logging on the trainer the past 3 weeks!

This morning I met up with Curt, Adam and Doug from Team Inertia and freelance Brian to ride what they call the reverse south mountain loop. The route consisted of heading south on the west-side frontage road, east on the Alpine Hwy then up to Suncrest followed by an always windy descent into Draper and back home. As is generally the case when climbing anything longer than 1 mile I brought up the rear of the pack. However, I did manage to beat my Dec. '06 time by almost a minute which was cool. And don't think I'm sandbagging back there - my average heart rate for the climb was 180 bpm! Not sure where to find watts like Fox but man, I could use some additional horsepower.

This afternoon I was running errands with the kids and picked up a pair of Speedplay Zero Stainless pedals from Contender. Yeah, yeah, it's true I sold a new pair a few months ago on eBay and RB will probably give me grief for going on about how great my Time pedals were, but the truth of the matter is I just wasn't able to adjust my cleats correctly with my new shoes. I'm not sure why that was the case, but given the ability to adjust the fore & aft and lateral position of the Speedplay cleats separately from the degree of float I'm pretty sure I can get the adjustment correct. I had some concerns about cleat durability but after talking with Curt and Brian (who use Speedplay X and Zeros respectively) I decided to give it a go.

One final note: I learned today that my SRAM Force front brake is subject to the recall. Hopefully I can get a replacement soon as I'm headed south in less than a week!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Commuter Special

Today was my first commute to work by bicycle in 2007. Pretty amazing to think I rode in between 9 and 10 am with no gloves on February 8th. My route was a new one for me: 1300 W to 5400 S to Commerce Dr to 3900 S to 900 E. I'd ridden all of the roads before but never as part of the same ride. It was relatively quick at 1:15 total ride time and the traffic was light with the few exceptions being around major intersections. Compared to my average commute of 30-40 minutes by car, riding the bike to work isn't a bad option.

My fingers are crossed that the weather stays dry on Saturday so I can get in one more good ride. After 4 weeks of riding the trainer I was in serious need of a week like this one.

All of you heading south this weekend be safe and don't forget to take (and share!) pictures of your rides.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Chasing a Fox

Rode up Millcreek with Fox & Co. this afternoon. I say "ride with" but really once the climb started it quickly turned into a ride of one! It was fun though, and certainly helped clear some of the cobwebs out of my legs.

Speaking of Fox, he just listed all of his physical possessions on eBay. If you have 125k burning a hole in your pocket and you want to jump start a career selling cycling gear online, this could be your lucky day. Check it out here.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Outside on the road bike!

Early in, early out was the plan for work today. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to leave quite as early as I'd hoped (doesn't that always seems to happen?). Regardless, I was able to get in 1 hour on the road late this afternoon. My legs felt great and I enjoyed the fresh air. One bummer was discovering that the frontage road that runs along the west side of I-15 in front of the prison is undergoing some major construction. The right lane (heading south) has had most of the asphalt removed so I was forced to ride near the centerline which isn't ideal. Luckily there wasn't much traffic and the dirt was hard packed so when I had to move over to make way for an oncoming dump truck it wasn't a big deal. Just a little early season training for Hell of the North!

Speaking of road work, does anybody know if the I-80 frontage road construction is completed between the International Center and 7200 West?

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Yellow Fork on the MTB

Rode Yellow Fork this morning on the mountain bike. It was a good time even though I could only ride up to the first picnic area due to the recent snow. I ended up just doing four out-and-back laps on the doubletrack for about an hours ride. However, after a week on the trainer I'll take what I can get outside!

I wonder how things went over at the Frozen Hog this morning. I got a text from Fox saying that Bart smoked him but that's all I've heard. Too bad the course didn't have any long, crazy downhill sections for Fox to shred. I could use some of his bike skills. I must have fallen over at least 4 times this morning when I lost my line and my front wheel ended up in the deep stuff. That in addition to the time I attempted to hop over the low metal bar at the start of the doubletrack and stalled out halfway over! Yeah, my skills are lacking... :)