Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Getting ready....

So last night I prepped my race bike. Too bad the race is already in two weeks, I really want to try ghetto tubeless. Going tubeless will definitely save a lot of $$$ in tubes, and I wonder what it does to the handling of the bike, since the tire will be shaped differently. I will probably wait 'till I wear out these tires, and then try it with a brand new set. I've been eyeballing a few tires out there, I like the Panaracer Fire XC Pro, and the WTB Weirwolf Race tires, maybe even the Kenda Kinetics combo. I just so hope I won't get a flat during the race, I wonder if it would be weird if you race with full equipment (i.e. camelback with tools).

Also did a quick and dirty run along the canal, trying to beat sundown.

I seriously hope my other bike will be ready before Saturday, there will be a Luna Chix ride at SoMo, very much looking forward to that! I am also very curious to see how my brakes will behave, somehow I don't think they were 100% coming out of the box :(

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sand Bagger!

Yup, just signed up for my very first race. I will be racing October 10th, the first race in the Dust Devil series at McDowell Mountain Park, in the Female CAT3 category. Wish me luck!!

Sticky Piston

So I replaced my brake pads last night, preparing for another early morning adventure. Put the new pads in place, popped the wheel back in, and..... the front is messed up! The lever went seriously squishy and the front won't lock. Damnit! So dropped the bike off at Cactus this morning, they're swamped so I'm stuck with the other bike for a few days. Apparently it might be a sticky piston. I don't have time to mess with that myself right now, I just want to ride :(

Monday, September 28, 2009

Last weekend of September

This weekend was a little different than usual. On Saturday (in the afternoon, hot!), I went for a ride along the canals, and went wandering around by the riverside. It's amazing the things you see and find in the desert. In the middle of nowhere I saw the remainder of what once was someone's porch, and halfway buried in the sand an old Ford pick up truck. I was watching the last movie in the Resident Evil series last night, Extinction, I'm pretty sure they used this as their decor.

A ways out there I got company from this AH-64A, flying pretty low. They were probably wondering what on earth would make a person ride their bike into the desert in the middle of a hot afternoon .

On Sunday I hooked up with a girl from the Luna Chix group to go ride at Red Mountain. We met up at Walgreens, 7AM, while I usually stage at the river and take that little trail that drops you onto mine trail. So now I know where most of the other mountain bikers usually stage, though I'm not too crazy about that ride up the road to the trailhead. Besides, sometimes it's nice to have a little variety and stage at different spots, so sometimes I stage at the NRA pit, sometimes Wild Horse, then Mine Trail etc. etc.

This was a nice and easy girly ride for a change, and we had a ball. The trails we took were Pig Trail, Story Trail, a taste of Disneyland, and then onto the Hidden Trail, down Saguaro Trail, and back up Pig Trail. The Hidden Trail, together with Twisted Sister and Wild Horse, would probably be my favorite trail of all in the Valley. Where my bike is a little sketchy on monster downhills, it handles buttery smooth on tight, narrow singletrack, with steep switchbacks, boulders, and cholla.

I am really excited about the weather cooling off, it is so nice out in the morning, it's hard to pass up an opportunity to go riding. I really have no trouble at all getting out of bed early to enjoy the beauty of the desert on a nice early morning ride. In fact, when I post these postings, I look at the pictures I took, and realize how lucky I am that I live in this area and get to ride this pretty much year round.....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

SoMo - Javelina/Beverly Canyon

First of all, let me start with my drive from work yesterday evening. What on earth was this guy doing dancing on the fence? This is not Guadalupe, this is Tempe. Anybody notice it getting busier on the streets too? Maybe snow bird season has started, the schools are in session again also, that creates a lot of traffic. Lately I've actually been going up and down Price Rd instead of the L101, simply because it's faster and less stressful.

On to today's ride report. Today's ride was fun, but a whole different animal than National-Mormon loop. We decided (or I decided) to do the Javelina-Beverly Canyon loop, which is not as technical as National-Mormon, but still quite challenging. When the trail branches off of Mormon, there's a tricky switchback with a drop-off that almost bucked me off the side. I found a better way that takes you straight through it, just stay left and go over the rocks, straight into the wash. It's not that much easier, I just happen to be somewhat switchback-impaired. Especially if it involves an extremely sharp turn, followed by some fairly tall and rocky step downs. There are some sections like that on the Red Mountain Mine Trail downhill, that I actually used to clear on my hardtail, but now for some reason get stopped up on everytime. I'm getting there though, I think I hit a plateau, and am slowly starting to step it up a little.

This loop should not really be underestimated, just because it is not National, Geronimo, Holbert or any of those trails. The technicality in this trail is the many different climbs, and very loose rock. At this point I am not quite clearing all of them yet, but there is definately progress there. I am not sure whether it is skills or leg power that I need to work on more, but both areas will get lots of attention this season. I haven't really set any goals yet (which I should, so I can work towards something), but I'm doing more group rides, and riding with different people. That has made a big difference so far.

Luckily it wasn't as crowded this morning, we only came across a few hikers, which were all friendly. I took it easy, trying to not get frustrated over my own riding. The challenges out there this morning were all doable, I'm just not there yet. I would like to go out and session some of the features I am having trouble with, but now I'm thinking I might be overdoing it. Been riding every morning since Saturday, except for Wednesday, and was feeling a little tired this morning. It also took me a while to warm up and get started, I am less energetic and don't really give a 100% trying to clear things. Wondering if I should back off a little bit, or just keep hammering on and get with the program...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Early Morning South Mountain

Woke up this morning feeling a nice breeze coming through the window. Perfect weather for a ride! Me and Mike met up at the Pima Canyon parking lot at 6AM for the 'hairball-before-work' loop, AKA Mormon-National. The last time we did this one was probably in March or April this year, and I remember it being a lot of fun with a few really nasty spots. Wow, I must have been in awesome shape! I just tell myself that it is the beginning of the season, and that the summer night riding really doesn't prepare you for climbing Mormon. We should have incorporated it into our night rides, even though drops in the dark can be grueling. Oh well, now we'll know what to do next summer...

Starting up the jeep trail is a nice warm up ride, though extremely boring. Oh, and you gotta love those groups of hikers that just spread out over the entire width of the road, emphasizing their right of way. They saw me coming from a mile away, but didn't bother to make a little room. So no "Good morning, how y'all doing" from me there, I just gave them stink eye.

Riding from the trailhead, I couldn't remember the lines that used to work for me on the trail, then when I also lost my momentum in the sandwash, I got stopped up on the very first obstacle. Which really isn't much of an obstacle, shame on me. From there on that was pretty much how the ride went: the climb up mormon wasn't even close to smooth, and I had to stop quite a few times to take a breather, and to decide on my climbing strategy (I seemed to pick the right line, but my leg power is letting me down).

I'll just have to keep trying and trying until this trail stops kicking my butt. I am probably going to practice the technical climbs, descends, and obstacles on the Pass Mtn trail though, less hikers stopping you up. Generally the hikers at Pass Mtn seem to be a little more respectful towards mountain bikers also, most the time even stopping for some small talk.

And again, I didn't get to see Mike's crash, he always manages to crash out of my eye sight. No crashes for me this morning (knock on wood), some close calls though.

We managed to only spend about an hour out there, even with stopping and sessioning a few spots. Sometime I need to come out there with my full face and armor, and try getting up the stairs (see picture). I saw somebody do it this morning, and make it look easy. The world's not fair...

Monday, September 21, 2009

NRA Pit this morning

After a day of doing absolutely nothing I felt plenty energetic this morning at 5AM to hit the trail. For a change it was actually nice and cool outside, so I decided to gear up and go up and down the NRA pit a few times. I'm not so sure about the big jumps, so I usually just go and have a ball on the 'pee wee'-track that runs parallel to the monster jumps. Someday I should really get my guts together and give them a try, I'm sure they'll be a lot nicer for my bike than the little ones. I tend to over jump the smaller ones, and I beat up my bike quite a bit on the flat landings.

After doing the run about two times, I noticed a guy on a horse, standing on the hill top, watching me go. That was the only other person, I saw out there. Apart from all the roadies on Usery Pass Rd. They should really get themselves a real bike ;)

That reminds me of a group of girls I saw on road bikes by a gas station in Hurricane, UT. They rode into the parking lot, yakked for a little bit, and took off again. As one of the girls rode off of the sidewalk getting out of the gas station, she did a big old face plant. I tried real hard not to crack up. Poor girl, I'm pretty evil.