McDowell Loops & Pemberton Ride

Sorry for the delay - it's been crazy.

Saturday we drove out to McDowell and made a big loop ride out of the Sport, Technical and Long loops (this was a good idea, Mark). Mark's brother, Paul, was fresh and made us work, plus he's the better downhill rider. The loops were fun and Paul made the ledge climb (see the video). We did the big loop in just under an hour - not bad pace.

Next we drove a few miles to Pemberton and headed up the Stoneman Wash trail. It's a mellow incline but it you feel it after a while. They put me up front, even though I've been the tail man all the other rides, so I tried to pull a respectable pace. It was nice to get in a a good rhythm and roll along. The trail is fantastically buff - I wish we would have come down it, but, well, I'll get to that.

At 6 miles out we made a short out-n-back on the Secret trail, then with daylight waning, we went north on the Pemberton trail to take it around and close the loop. The riding was nice, but even with us racing down the old double-track the light was getting dim. By the time we hit the single-track it was hard to see and we kept getting surprised by features we couldn't make out.

I went cycled through feeling good, feeling dead, and back to feeling good. At least I ended strong (for me) - I took the lead and held it back to the cars. I have pretty good night vision so maybe that was factor.

Back at the house Paul treated us to delicious teriyaki chicken and pineapple sandwiches. One last session of Rock Band and the vacation was pretty much over.

Mark and I drove back Sunday - through Flagstaff this time. The drive was pretty good.

Big thanks to Mark and Paul for another fantastic mid-Winter Arizona mountain biking escape.

McDowell Sonoran Ride

Today Mark and I rode into the McDowell Sonoran Preserve (interactive trail map).

We went up the Desert Park trail, then up and over the pass on the Windgate trail, then down Windmill / Coachwhip, then south on Dixie Mine which dumped us onto a road. We rode pavement a few miles then jumped on the Lost Dog Wash trail, then Quartz, Paradise, Gateway Loop, and Horseshoe took us back where we started. 31 miles and 3850' climbing.

Riding up the Desert Park trail.

Looking down the Windgate trail from Windgate Pass.

Windmill trail.

Coachwhip trail.

Dixie Mine trail.

How To Start A 3 Day Bike Vacation: Crash

Crash hard.

On the first day.

1.5 miles into a 17 mile ride.

On a moderate foot high drop.

In the lead so your riding partners get to witness it and wonder if you broke a bone.

And have to brake hard so they don't run over you.


Mark picked me up at the Phoenix airport around 3 PM and headed straight to South Mountain to ride the Desert Classic trail. I changed, we met Mike (a local who runs an excellent website covering the area trails) and headed out.

I felt good to be back on the bike - maybe too good.

I spotted a short, 1 foot drop and decided to pull up the front to air it out a bit. Except I spazed and for some unknown reason yanked the bike to the right. I instantly knew I was going to crash. With me in the air and the bike angled to the right the front wheel hit the ground and instantly washed out, slamming me down on my left side.

I hit hard enough I bounced (Mike saw the bounce). I lay there letting the waves of pain register and hoping none of them are the bad kind that means serious injury.

At this point Mark says "Dude, you didn't break your collar bone, did you?" This has the opposite of a soothing effect as I frantically feel my collar bone, half expecting to feel something bad. (While Mark's comment was alarming, it wasn't nearly as bad as Fish's buddy.) Turns out it was not broken, thankfully.

Slowly I figure out I'm not seriously injured. I have some good rash on my elbow, shoulder, hip and knee, but it's not too bad.

I try to block out the confidence chilling effect of the crash, but I was only partially successful and rode pretty timid and without much gusto. Still, it was a nice ride and the Helipad trail was good.

Mike was great to ride with, even though it was obvious he could have gone much faster.

It's sweet to ride in short sleeves, sunshine and 70 degrees.

Reviews: Planet Earth, Naked Economics, Bobke II

Planet Earth is an 11-part series of absolutely stunning nature cinematography. Co-produced by the BBC and the Discovery Channel with a budget of $25 million and shot completely in hi-def, the result is a true work of art. The first episode, Pole To Pole, introduces the series then each episode portrays a different habitat: Mountains, Freshwater, Caves, Deserts, Ice Worlds, Great Plains, Jungles, Shallow Seas, Seasonal Forests, Ocean Deep.

I rented the BBC DVD set from the Orem Library and was mesmerized as I watched African Hunting Dogs setup an ambush, Great White Sharks attacking seals in super slow motion, Birds Of Paradise perform their flamboyant mating displays, the freakishly giant crystals of Lechuguilla Cave, intimate footage of the elusive Snow Leopard in the Himalayas, and much more.

Following each 50 minute episode is a Planet Earth Diaries segment showing how some of the shots were accomplished. A gimbaled camera aboard a helicopter, days sitting in blinds, tracking camels - it was amazing what went into capturing these images.

My only complaint was the audio mix - the narrator, David Attenborough, was too quiet (or the music too loud).

Hours of gorgeous imagery, stunning scenery and fascinating animal and plant life. Watch it, buy it, rent it now. Get the Blu-Ray hi-def version if you have the player for it.

Naked Economics takes you beyond the (oversimplified) basics of Econ 101 but still keeps the concepts clear and fairly easy to understand. The academic nature of economics has filled it with an arcane language (almost like law) that presents a barrier to the lay person, but Charles Wheelan translates and boils it down to the essential concepts. A timely read for our currently troubled economic climate, this book helped me understand economics so I can better evaluate the current problems and the proposed fixes. Recommended.

Bobke II is the follow-up to the original Bobke which is out of print, rare and quite expensive. It wanders and feels like pages from his journal torn out and plastered into a book. Bob's style is unique and feels incoherent, but just go with it and enjoy the wild ride.

Some of his stories, and the way he tells them, are hilarious. His story about being constipated during a stage of the Tour Day France and how he remedied the problem had me laughing so hard I cried.

This book is not a monument of literature, but most cyclists will find it entertaining. Recommended for cyclists. (How did I miss this in my review of cycling books? I've added it now.)

Day 1 With Shaved Legs

I've had shaved legs for 24 hours. The sensations and impact have been more than I imagined.

As I mentioned at the end of my leg shaving post, my legs now feel cold most of the time. And clammy, almost like they are wet. I had no idea that that relatively small amount of leg hair made such a difference.

I thought my wife would like the smooth legs, but she says they feel fake, like plastic, and it's freaking her out a little.

Slipping into bed didn't feel so amazing, as others suggested. But it may be our cotton sheets. I imagine if you had silky sheets (ie satin) the difference in feel would be more noticeable.

What feels weird is when my legs touch together. It feels like my skin is numb - like they've been sprayed with anesthetic. It's disturbing.

The second strangest sensation is pants. I don't like the feel of my pants against my legs - the numb feeling, but not as intense.

I found a few stubbly spots that feel weird compared to the surrounding smoothness. It seems I'm already getting stubble on my thighs.

I shaved up to mid-thigh. For looks I should shave higher, but for comfort it's as high as I care to go. See I sit almost all day and the stubble feels itchy when I sit on it.

On the upside I like how my legs look, generally. They look smooth and sleek and my modest muscle definition is more visible. But removing the hair revealed some previously hidden flaws.

These two scars near my knee from the crit crash last year are more clearly visible (and look much darker purple in normal light - the camera flash washes them out).

Another scar from the crit crash down near my ankle, and a pair of diggers on my shin. And what is that bump left of the diggers? It seems to be a bulged vein.

And the shins of a mountain biker. I've been whacked in the shins many times over the years by pedals, rocks, branches, etc. - and it shows.

My overall feeling is: I don't like shaved legs. They feel cold and just plain weird. But I'll keep them shaved until April, as I agreed. Perhaps I'll get used to all these new sensations and how different my legs look.

I'll be heading down to Phoenix for some mountain biking Thursday so I'll see how the shaved legs feel while riding.

The LEGSHAVE Challenge: Shaved

Much to my consternation, the fund raising goal for my LEGSHAVE Challenge was met with Mark's donation (I'll never forgive him for this treachery). A deal's a deal so tonight I made good.

As Mark suggested, I started with the clippers. Can you see a hint of dismay in my eyes?

Here's what the clippers took off (sorry if you were eating something just now).

Then came the razor. Still not happy to be shaving - it felt emasculating. (Don't worry, I have a swimming suit on. This isn't THAT kind of blog!)

Why am I smiling? Because my wife was laughing at me and when she laughs I can't help but laugh along, even though I'm dying a little inside.

Here's the result - before and after:

I didn't notice much difference until I put on some warmups. It felt really strange. Mark says it feels good to slip into bed with shaved legs - I'll find out in a few hours, but I'm a little frightened.

And I'm not looking forward to keeping the legs shaved until April. I know many of you hope I'll decide I like it and keep my legs shaved. We'll see. In any case I'm sure I'll blog more about having shaved legs for the first time.

Thank you to all who donated - I'm excited by how much good this money will do in the fight against cancer in the hands of the Lance Armostrong Foundation and in honor of Susan via Team Fatty.

Update: My legs feel like they're wet and cold all the time - creepy.

20th Valentine's Day

Business first. Thanks to my (ex?) friend Mark the goal for the LEGSHAVE Challenge has been reached. I'll shave my legs tomorrow. I hope the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Team Fatty appreciate this sacrifice. Yes, I'll post all about it.

20 years ago was my first Valentine's Day with my soon-to-be-wife. I'm a lucky man to be with a woman who understands, tolerates and loves me.

We had planned to go cross country skiing and I convinced her it was still a good idea even though it was snowing and windy.

We drove to Canyon Glen Park and skied up the trail to Johnson's Hole (I mentioned it in this post). Then skied across the hole and bushwhacked up the back (north) side to the watertank road and down Dragon's Back then back down to the car.

We saw some deer and elk and generally had a good time skiing the new snow. The wind made it cold at times.

Here's a quick clip of Jolene skiing down a hill.

Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Biz Trip To California

LEGSHAVE Challenge update: More donations are coming in and I'm getting nervous that I'll have to make good on this deal. The goal is only $106 away! If you want to make me shave my legs, donate now because the challenge ends Saturday (Valentines Day - fitting).

I've been in Southern California the last three days, hence the lack of posts. I was down there for a trade show (MDM West) at the Anaheim Convention Center.

We stayed in the Marriott next to the convention center (it was nice to be in walking distance). I got a suite the first night.

On one side of the room is this swanky sitting area.

I also had this cute mini-bar. I kept feeling like I should be shaking a martini.

And a nice bathroom (the toilet is standing at attention for dug's inspection - flush lever on the proper left side, check).

A desk (for writing my memoir) and a nice LCD hi-def TV - too bad the TV was fed a fuzzy and distorted analog signal, thus wasting its capabilities and causing me to weep. But I still watched some Comedy Central.

And the grand bed.

There was only one problem with this room: the elevators are on the other side of the wall against the bed. I didn't discover this until I turned off the TV to go to bed and heard the noise. It sounded like a heavily loaded Home Depot cart being rolled back and forth across a concrete floor. And some whooshing. And clanking. And chimes dinging.

I called the front desk to switch rooms, but they were booked solid. Amazingly I got to sleep, but it took a while. The elevator traffic slowed down after 11 PM.

The show didn't open until 10 AM, so I went for a swim. The air was cool, perhaps even cold by California standards, by the water was warm (heated). I swam some laps in preparation for total domination of my neighbors this year at the Salem Spring Triathlon (I registered last weekend - this may have something to do with my current enthusiasm).

The show was good - lots of walking.

The next day they moved me to a smaller, but still nice room.

That evening we drove down to Laguna Beach, but arrived after sunset. There was still plenty to enjoy. We walked along the beach breathing in the sea air, listened to the crashing waves and feeling the sand beneath our feet. I love the beach.

At a rocky point we ventured out to look in some tide pools. Lots of muscles and a few anemones. (I admit, I pulled off a small muscle and dropped it into an anemone to watch it's tentacles collapse upon it.)

Today I did another morning swim, went to the show in the morning then flew home. Back to the cold and blustery Winter. I miss California already.

Frozen Hog 2009

LEGSHAVE Challenge update: Dontations keep trickling in and I'm starting to get nervous that extending the deadline was a mistake. The goal is only $156 away? If you want to make me shave my legs, donate now.

Jolene and I helped out with the Frozen Hog again this year. I was happy to be a cog in the Utah Mountain Biking race machine (I was parking and lap director, Jolene helped with registration and pulling tags). It was great to see so many friends and acquaintances.

Unfortunately the hoped-for overnight freeze didn't occur so the course had a lot of mushy snow and mud. But most racers had a good attitude and made the best of it.

We took a few photos.

I took some video with my new(ish) Flip Mino and put together a little video to give you an idea what it was like:

Sundance Date Ski

Jolene and I went skiing today at Sundance. Only cost us $20 each since they were celebrating their 40th anniversary. (Update: Ski Sundance for $20 again this week, 8th-12th.)

It was an OK day for skiing. Overcast, but not cold or windy. The snow was old, but you can do a lot worse than packed powder (icy in spots). We had a good time skiing pretty mellow.

It's hard to believe from this photo, but I didn't crash. I call it a spaz air.

Hoping off an edge - just goofing around.

Swa-swishing down the slope.

My sweet bride.

Don't look too closely at the gear - we've got a mashup of old and new going on.

And here's a video of Jolene skiing. (I think I could be a ski cameraman!)

LEGSHAVE Challenge Extended

Sorry for the hiatus - I've been busy.

Since the donations trickled in towards the end of last week, I'm going to extend the LEGSHAVE Challenge to Valentine's Day. Will my wife enjoy my shaved legs? You decide. Donate now.

I've been trying to complete my 29er, but keep running into snags. I assembled the wheels and put them on the bike only to discover the tire hits the front derailer. (The previous owner ran it as a commuter so never noticed.) I have a different derailer style on order to (hopefully!) solve that problem. THEN it should be ready to ride.

I'm skiing Sundance tomorrow. Last day of their 40th anniversary deal - $20.

I'll be on some newer boards thanks to my sister-in-law. Still not current, but 2000 model skis are better than 1980s skis. A pair of K2 Merlin VIs. I'll post more about them later.