A place to share words and pics. Mostly bikes, but my photog eye does wander.

Bikes let the good times roll. In solitude or with friends. For a half hour or 8 hours. Pedals become the gears that turn the earth as the sun seems to track their motion, day after day. Miles become food, and you're hungry. The bike stops being a vehicle, or toy, or transportation and becomes an extension of will, allowing you to journey beyond the pain of self into the realm of almighty, joyous nature, she that feeds our souls. Pedal yourself into the maw of creation. Pedal yourself silly.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Mining the Goldfields

John has been working on a nice bikepack route from his house, now that his obsession is hitting full stride, and we were to do some route scouting through the Goldfield Mountains in north Mesa, which would connect Hawes over to the Superstitions, where we'd pick up the Gold Canyon goodies, then to Picket Post, etc. etc...... It was the last day of the year and there seemed no better way to end it than with some fresh exploration. Let's prime the New Year for new experiences. I've never been familiar with the Goldfields, but I know that Mtbikeaz has an sweet header from there on his homepage, so that is what I was expecting.

Well, that was about what we got. It was chilly with a hint of rain in the air, but the clouds were opening up enough to let spatterings of light through all morning and drifting clouds revealed snow on top of Flat Iron. We didn't know exactly where we were going, or how long we were going to be, but the casual flow of the ride was relaxing. I knew there were no Strava segments out there.

An early morning heading east on McKellips Road. Flat Iron and the Tonto National Forest are directly ahead. The clouds hide a chilly blanket of white.

Excellent morning for a ride.

The patchwork of clouds gave forth exuberant pockets of light that seemed to dance as if they were rocks at the bottom of a crystal clear aquarium that is next to a window with the sun shining in. I felt like a wheeled bottom feeder, taking up all the best parts of the dirt. I was happy with that.

Dance! You magnificent expression of Earthy Nature and Atomic Fusion! Your pallet would tickle Bob Ross's soul. 

So we were only about 20 minutes into the ride, clearly enjoying it to the max. Here I play with a color accent on John's jacket.
Soon enough we get close to the 88 and snow is revealed on the top of Flat Iron. That's at about 3500ft.

I guess you don't have to go too far to find snow in Phoenix.

A juxtaposition of dichotomous natural elements, each representing thermal extremes.

Weaver's Needle peeks out from the Tonto National Forest.
And we broke through to Rt 88. After this we'd head to Jacob's Crosscut or somesuch trail. I've never been there. That would lead around toward Gold Canyon.

Entrance to the new Secret Trail.

Because it's awesome.

As we made our way back to the TH, we ended up climbing on top of the ridge where we were greeted with this playground looking area 52 type place. We didn't explore much, so there's some taste of the pie to go back for.

I contemplated my short Redbull Rampage career.

Heading off the ridge, we were greeted with this view.  And as I look at it, I think I finally spy where Mtbikeaz got his header from! I've been wondering for years. Ah, Phoenix. For a big city, your mountain biking rocks.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Rockin' National Session Style

So I'm a miles guy, mostly. I like eating them up. Each one is worth about five experience points which I trade in for coins that I use in Strava for powerups, upgrades and nitroboost. Big mile days just tickle my fancy. But you've got to mix it up a bit or you solidify in your routine, your joints  move in pre-programmed, pre-meditated, pre-vious directions, your creativity wanes, your vision blurs, and your motivation is maintenance rather than exploration. The river of life stands still. So this calls for a day of sessioning, or riding over the same shit over and over for experience points, to move the waters along (and buy nitroboost).

JB from Rocks and Blogs was up from Tucson looking for a techy ride, and Schillingsworth was smart enough to advise National over my McD's suggestion. I guess I block out SoMo from my weekend plans, since I'm there during the week often! But with new company and new rhythm, it would be good.

Luck would have it that clouds were voluminous and plentiful! Shade for hours. Very rare for an August day.
Four Peaks. I like their beer.

JB had never been up National so it was fun to see him interpret lines, and give them several tries. Usually by myself I zip up and down the mountain. Today had a new mountain bike chill to it.
I tried and tried on this move, but the closest I came was about half a pedal stroke from getting over. The crease made it tough.

Taking the high left line around the turn.
Working on the center line through the Triangle.

Hey! You're fogging up my lens!

The man is on fire!

MMmmmm....tasty treat the water fall. There were already a few bikers hanging around, debating the merits of giving it a go. One fella had it down and blew through it like a steamroller on crack. All big bike eating the mountain in gulps.

The spine is the easy line to hit, but you've got to commit to the exit.
I was all in. It was time. It was well within my bag of tricks. The OctoCog and I are becoming one. Which isn't hard considering it's 80% Voodoo, which I liked quite a bit.

I was just itching to roll the water fall, especially after my by the lights first run a few days before so I have it to it while those in armor hemmed and hawed about the line and blah blah blah. Get on your bike! Your mouth ain't gonna pedal it! It felt good, but long overdue since I ride SoMo probably the most often of any place and this is one of the more well known features. Scratch it off the list now! I'm done sandbagging on this pile of rocks.

Taking the high road through the Triangle. Heading east on National you get the chance to hop up on the rock face and bypass a nasty little switchback, but you've got to heave to get your bike up there. Bashguard recommended.

Traverse the little left turn rock connector as you get both wheels up then roll downhill to the exit.

It's a bit of a drop, but get back off the seat and it's done.

Sitting at the saddle before turning back. I spied a coyote moving to the east amongst the rock. Can you find him? He eventually met up with another one and it looked like they were flushing rabbits out of the rocks. Teamwork.

I think JB had some fun. National has a lot going for it. Challenging but doable, tough but inviting. I've been riding there 14 years. Sheesh.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Solo Night Riding with the Trickster

I had a hankering for a tough ride, and looking at that little mountain to the west of me - South Mountain - I felt like gobbling it up this fine evening. No C2C2C mind you, but just a journey deep inside the belly, up Mormon, and up further still up National, until the saddle just before Buena Vista. I'll get a view of the towers. Typical ride, other than the fact that I was solo, in the dark at about 9pm rolling around the techy parts of the mountain. There was a threat of monsoon rains all day for the evening, but they missed about 25 miles to the east, so the whole mountain was mine, and with temps that dropped at least 15 degrees. Yes, this apple was ripe for the pickin'.

The cityscape is pure flat desert. The Grid. Light bikes roll around between the predictable squares. Lights zoom in from the sky. Hues of blue, red, yellow and green. Human self-organization - I see proteins, a nucleus, messages, metabolism, catabolism, evolution. Isn't everything just a model of what is above and below it? We ebb like stars, die like black holes, change like the wind, and self-manage like an ant hill. Symmetry of form, symmetry of function. The entire physical universe is alive.
The night life is half the fun. Caught this Sonoran Ground Snake cruising down the trail. Never seen one before. I chased and took pics for a good 10 minutes. I was in no hurry. Strava was tucked away deep in my pack. My eye was on my lens tonight.

In the darkness, come playful light. Time moving, non-moving. I was there, but captured not. Ghost wheels carry me past.

The Octocog was poised for the night. My creature of the garage works as if it is normal. As if it is not function groomed to a form. It's been liberated from its Mono ways. It plays as if it's more than 8 times what it was, which it is.

A what? Imagine my surprise to find a toad on National. I had no idea.

The saddle. Towers in the background. What better time to dance the light away!

The clouds drifted silently across the moon all evening, showing small hints of red along the fringes. Parts of the city were getting hammered up north, but tranquility was mine here, alone, yet not.

Lights from the sky streak down across my darkened canvas. Patterns. Waveform. You think lights are attracted to lights?

So I make my way back from the saddle. The water fall is on my mind. It feels very attainable. It feels easy thinking about it. The line is clear in my mind's eye. The nerves are placid, the sky dark, the light focused. I think, "Shall I?" I don't answer. The feature shows itself, I roll to the top and without hesitation am rolling down the spine as I figured it would go. I've got this. My first water fall run. Whoa! What am I thinking?! Then the transition after the spine get dicey and I stall out. Re-situate and then roll the last half. Not bad. Now I've got a real appetite for it. 

I'm now past the Mormon junction on National coming up to the steps when I hear a guttural growl to my right. I try to place it - Coyote? Cougar? Javelina? None seemed to match. None other than the Trickster matched as it was slobbery and strangely human-like. Then....laughing? Too anthropomorphic, but not quite human laughter...the dark has caught me. The Trickster is already working my mind. My helmet light darts back and fort like a beacon of my location while I remain still as can be to hear another sound, to place this unknown from me, but nothing. Then the chills. "Go! Gotta get out!", is all I feel. Feet seem to follow me. I hear rocks falling behind me. Was that shadow moving fast, climbing the ridge? Is something following me? I try to let the techiness of National distract me, but the moves are too practiced, I can multitask the growing irrational fear. Care to it and make the Triangle. There's a strange satisfaction in running from unknown spirits yet hitting your marks. I glow in my own concentration. Finally reason fills the space between my ears again as I roll off National. See, there's only Nothing in the dark. I've been running from Nothing. The Nothing that gobbles you up, and leaves you empty. Fear drives solutions, but shouldn't manage outcomes. This is for the will. I made it back to the car.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Shultz to 418. A Mountain Biker's Delight.

This ride was the impetus in my mind for getting to Flag. We did it last year and both the climbing and descending were stellar. The AZT from Snowbowl road, up and past Aspen Corner and down to 418 is a great section of trail, one that I'll always want to come back to. The climb up is relentless, but attainable, and rolling through fern laden Aspen groves at 20mph down the backside is severely grin inducing. We planned to start at Shultz and make it an out-n-back. After the 56 miles the day before, we'd only need 44 more for a century weekend. How would it play out?

I was feeling a bit tight at the start of the ride, since I had only been off the bike for about 18 hours after the big ride the day before, but I worked through the morning aches quickly as we wound our way through the Fort Valley goods on our way to the AZT. Soon enough we were starting our ascent up to 9k ft.

The red hues make me think of Sedona, down on the bottom of the Kaibab. The speckled shade tickled my otherwise sun tattooed skin. I really like a good climb. Mabye more than a good downhill. The skill is more zen, more mindful, less reactive - its narrative is of will power and resource management, where blasting downhill is guts and glory, balls to the wall, blind faith in your assessment of your own stupidity to skillful ratio. Well, I do enjoy that too, but climbing makes me dig. It makes me breathe uncontrollably. I have to relinquish control for a few moments, at the summit. Slow can be cool.

Freeskier getting some EL. (-avation, that is.)

A little ways up the climb is this nice lookout. Be sure to stop and take it in.

Pano-attack with Wing Mountain in the background.

Getting geared back up for the 1400ft left to the top.
We start to crest and the ride evens out after about 2.5 hours of climbing from 7200 to 9000ft. Great workout. Now come the aspens.

CW clips a pedal and takes a digger! Could have been ugly, but a fat lip will allow him to say, "You should have seen the other guy!"

Freeskier exiting fern gulley.

Is it a cow? It made me think of some prehistoric predatory worm-fish.

Rolling off the back-side of the San Fran Peaks to 418 is easy rolling hold on a holler old fashioned good times. You'll feel like a kid, you'll feel like a sprite of the forest.

Gazing to the skies.

Freeskier ahead! Caught him by chance.
FS was nice enough to catch me in action.

Stopping at mile 19 for a belly refuel of PBnJ and some Gu, shadows seemed crisp to me, my awareness slightly heightened by the impassioned communion with nature.

The area begs for some bikepacking, and Utah isn't even that far away.
Mexico is a bit further though. We were down there for the AZT300 in April. Boy I sure would like to give either AZT race a go. The 750 sounds like a great vacation.
Back down at Snowbowl Road. What good trail!
 I was a bit pooped at the turn around point, but still feeling plenty of reserves inside. The worst part was the saddle rub I was getting form my seat that apparently had a seam cutting right across the cheeky part of the seat. Great design. The 19 miles back were a bit painful. It didn't help that my belly went belly up about 10 feet from the summit on the way back. It settled, but had made its self known. Heading back down the south side was done at mach 7, or as close to it as I could get. I was relishing the non-control/control of bouncing off of everything and dodging half of everything else, it was a blur, and to be spit out at the bottom was a relief - because my ass was done, literally. Back down through Fort Valley. FS takes the AZT to Shultz to get the 44 miles needed for the century. I just want to quit sitting on my bike. My jump stop spins around, hits my rear tire. Don't want to fix. Hit with rock. Fixed. Poorly. Chain keeps jumping. One more drainage. One more drainage. Last one. Shultz. CW's truck. Finally. Store. Choco milk. Ruh-roh. Don't upchuck in Chuck's truck! Fades in a minute. More Choco milk consumed. Dinner. Fire. 94 mile weekend. I'm pleased.

The profile. Up down. Up down. That easy. 38 miles total. I was thinking about 25. Oops. I was happy to work on the difference though.