Tuesday, October 31, 2006

September Bike Vacation

Sure, I know it's almost November, but I've been busy!

Have you ever heard of the White Mountains of Arizona? How about monsoon season?

I personally had never believed the words Arizona and monsoon would be joined, but apparently, monsoon season hits Arizona every summer and this year's was the wettest anyone could remember.

So, my girlfriend 'Punkin' and I headed to Arizona for what we thought would be riding much like our riding at home. That didn't turn out to be the case. On the bright side, we got there at the tail end of monsoon season, so we only got rained on once and that was for only a short time, but the skies were threatening the whole trip. Punkin is also a beginning mountain biker, so I figured I'd take an easy ride with her during the mornings and then hit some challenging trails alone in the aftenoon, but that didn't turn out to be the case either.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. First of all, we stayed in Pinetop Arizona, which is a bunch of hours east of Flagstaff and then another hour or so south. The White Mountains are known as the rainforest of Arizona. Well it wasn't quite jungle like, but the area was heavily forested and covered with spring flowers. The folks out there have also created the White Mountain Trail System, which consists of roughly 180 miles of trails; more than enough to keep us busy for a week.

On our first day of riding, we decided to take it easy and give Punkin a chance to get used to riding in the dirt. We rode our bikes to the only easy trailhead we could find, rode the trail, and headed home. We covered about 14 miles total with no ill effects. The trails were damp, but it wasn't a big deal.

On the second day, we rode our bikes to another trailhead fairly near our condo, but for this one, we jumped right over intermediate and headed for a difficult trail. For most of the ride, this one wasn't too bad either. I would ride ahead a bit, wait for Punkin, and then repeat the process. I stopped just after one particularly narrow, damp, and rocky downhill section and looked back just in time to see Punkin's rear wheel lifting off the downhill and her tumbling over the bars and into the rocks. I called back to find out if she was OK, but it took a while for her to respond, mainly because she hadn't fallen off of a bike in 30 years and she didn't remember what it felt like. As it turned out, she had a few scrapes and bruises to show off to the girls at the office, but nothing serious. We kept riding (what choice did we have?) and didn't have any other problems that day other than the swarms of mosquitos that kept us moving at a good pace.

Did I mention that Punkin is new to mountain biking? Since she is new, she doesn't have much in the way of riding gear. By day three, she kindly asked (or demanded with threats of bodily harm) for a pair of my biking shorts. I happily obliged. We decided to take the premier trail in the system on this day, so I wanted to keep her as happy as possible. We drove to the trailhead, which was kind of a drag because it was over either 7 or a million miles of washboarded dirt road and then it started to rain as we pulled up to the trailhead. We weren't about to let a little rain stop us after that nasty drive, so we hopped on our bikes and proceeded to get wet. The rain didn't last long, and soon we were riding along a pleasant trail that was somewhat wetter than the other trails we had been riding. That didn't last either. The farther we went, the wetter the trail became. The pleasant trail turned into a pleasant trail interrupted by small lakes. We thought the worst was behind us and then we dropped into a meadow. Here it was really wet. Where the trail used to be was standing water deep enough so our pedals almost hit it with pedal stroke. And there was tire sucking mud too! We sunk into the mud over our rims at many times and pedaling through it was much like pedaling uphill on a single speed. This trail was in a figure 8 configuration and we bailed out after the first loop. By the time we got back to the trailhead, we were wearing most of the trail and the parts that weren't on us were clinging to every metal and rubber part on our bikes. The car sagged heavy on its springs during our ride back to the condo.

We were trying to avoid another mud bog ride on day four, so we headed as high into the mountains as we could. We didn't care that the trail was rated as very difficult and was notorious for eating low hanging parts like derailleurs. It was a mountainside trail with great views once the clouds cleared, if you ever trusted the trail enough to take your eyes off of it. I crashed at least once and then ran my tire into a rock on the trail and vaulted over a cliff. My catlike reflexes allowed me to land on my feet and run down the slope until I could stop. I started climbing back up the cliff and got back to my bike just after Punkin got there and started wondering why my bike was lying in the trail while I was nowhere to be found. A little later it was Punkin's turn. I had ridden ahead and stopped to wait like normal. Then I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. Finally, just as I was about to head back, I saw her come around the corner, and she was saying something about owing me $20. When she finally got to me and I asked her about the $20 she turned around and showed me her butt; literally. There was a big flap of spandex hanging down from the shorts I loaned her and the sun was now shining on places she was not accustomed to. Punkin had a run in with a Manzanita bush as part of a crash and then she couldn't get out. Trooper that she is, her response was "You should have seen the bush!"

For the last two days of our trip, we found what turned out to be the best trail for the conditions. We found a mountain trail that was rain shadowed out and was pretty dry. It was intermediate difficulty and full of rolling hills. The only problem was the killer cows. You see, this trail was on open rangeland. Punkin told me cows are just like big, slow, happy dogs. If you get near them, they'll run away. I'm not sure what she was smokin' or what domesticated cows she had met. These cows had revenge in their eyes for every burger I had ever eaten and they weren't about to be moved. Naturally, I did what every strong, macho, and self confident man would do. I rode around them and then pedaled like hell until I was sure the wouldn't be able to catch me.

This was my first trip fully devoted to biking, and of course it was a blast. My dance card is already set for next year. I'm heading to Durango Colorado for another bike trip.

Happy Halloween

For those of you slackers who failed to make the ride today (you know who you are) these were the socks I wore. Patrick offered me a dollar for them if I would let him ride with us. Strangely, by the end of the ride I felt I owed him a dollar for the entertaining stories of his most recent diving adventure in Thailand. Something about beer, diving, women, cold showers, and never enough towels on the boat.

You should have been there....

Bicycle Addiction

I have been riding a bike since I was a kid but not really riding until recently. I am past the sore butt stage and the falling down stage (I hope) and now I am really starting to enjoy riding. I am learning that in order to improve I need to push myself harder and harder each time. Knowing that my rate of improvement is directly proportional to the pressure I give myself. Now each time I ride I can't stop pushing myself, it's as if I crave it. I am addicted to the pressure because I do get better and better each time. Plus each time it's more fun too! Conquering parts of the trail that were too difficult the day before are now easier. My life is starting to revolve around it and I can't seem to get enough, sounds like an addict doesn't it!

I am sure my friends and family think I am nuts. Riding several times a week, buying winter riding gear and planning my day around the ride. One of my friends asked me if I was going to start racing. Yeah right! I am just a beginner gone nuts! I am sure my erratic behavior has caused alarm but I hope that the positive glow will shine through. I don't even seem to mind the after ride fatigue that used to stop me dead in my tracks. Funny, I even enjoy it now.

I am glad I finally listened to my husband who has been trying to get me to ride with him for several years.

Lets, go ride!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Car of the Future?

We saw these pedal cars in Monterey, California over the weekend. We saw quite a few bicycles in fact. The town was setup pretty well for bicycle travel, and I can see not wanting to drive there with all the parking issues. I would love to come back here some day with the bikes, and just ride the coast.

More on my trip to Monterey HERE.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cool Job

I would love to have THIS JOB!

(Link courtesy of my Spanish American Friend.)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Surprise Inspection!

Listen up Ladies! This goes for you girls too. The Sarge will be in town November 1st through the 9th, and he WILL show up on at least one of the days for a ride. Check that PSI. Lube that chain. Tuck in that shirt. Believe me...nobody wants a night in the box.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Buffalo Canyon Loop

Today Kristy and I did a ride out in the Pine Nut Mountains just a few miles to the Southeast of our house. It's been a popular place for dirt bikes for many years, so there are tons of fun trails for mountain bikes. The first five miles was on singletrack, and then we got to the entrance of Buffalo Canyon.

After posing for a self portrait, we were on our way again.

Buffalo Canyon is a long steady climb up an off camber jeep road. The rocks, ruts, and washouts make the climb interesting.

We stopped for a Clif Bar and water break along Pine Nut Creek. It was totally relaxing listening to the little creek. Until... We were tucked away from sight in a little stand of sagebrush. A pickup truck full of kids came flying down the road, slid into the corner, and then gassed it hard into the creek, sending gravel our direction! There was no way they could've seen us, so it was hard to get mad. It was however a big contrast to the complete and total relaxation from just a couple moments before.

As we were shooting this last picture a man came walking out of the hills. We talked to him for a good while, and he turned out to be a local artist. He'd been up hiking looking for rocks and other treasures. We talked about the Carson Valley for a bit, and then we were on our way.

We made the long descent back to the car, and then headed to Carson City for Beer and BBQ. We scarfed down a huge mug of beer, and a large helping of ribs, chicken, and sausage! Obsidian Stout is just wonderful this time of year!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Brokebike Mountain

Found this little gem over at Masiguy!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Good-bye South Side Run

This will be the final year of riding the singletrack on the south side of C-Hill. It appears the developers have plans for the canyon. Sigh...

This means this singletrack is history!

Lakeview to the V&T Railroad Grade

On Monday's we usually do the Lakeview Loop. The climb is somewhat gentle, and you get some miles without being overly strenuous. It's a good warm up to the riding week. The climb is mostly on pavement, and has always been a good place to race each other up the hill. From the top of the climb you can look north towards Washoe Lake.

The dirt section begins here with a climb over the saddle.

Before you get to the Railroad Grade, there is a fast, fun descent down a deep sandy road. You can go as fast as your courage will allow...a great test of your sand riding skills.

The final leg of the trail goes along the old V&T Railroad Grade. Most of this section is a gentle downhill grade, but there are a few challenges. Sometimes the grade is blocked by huge mounds that now have fun singletracks across the top.

The dirt eventually ends, and it's pavement back to work.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

New Pictures on Flickr

Thanks to a tip from blogger Dan, I was able to get a lot more pictures on our Flickr account. The Flickr Uploadr lets you resize the pictures down to 800 pixels, letting you upload plenty of pictures! Click on the Flickr Badge in the Sidebar to see pictures from the last five years, or click HERE. Plenty more to come too...


One of my favorite lunch time rides is a route we call Timberline. It's around 10 miles and climbs 1,000 vertical feet. We barely have enough time to get it done in a lunch hour. All but a mile or so of the climb is paved. You can see the road up in the picture below.

Once at the top, you are treated to a great view of the city below. Unfortunately, most of the trees are burned down from 2004's waterfall fire. The first part of the descent is a rolling roller coaster like fire road.

The fire road comes to an intersection at this saddle, where you are treated to views of Kings Canyon, and south Carson City.

From the intersection, we take a steep road down, and connect to our favorite single track for the remainder of the descent.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mt. Rose Meadows to Ash Canyon via the Tahoe Rim Trail

This past Sunday Kathy and I and our respective husbands went on a ride together. It was a beautiful day and a great ride I highly recommend it.

You take Mount Rose Highway to the meadows and park in that parking lot on the left hand side (free). You then proceed north out of the parking lot toward a bulletin board and then after a switchback you are going west and then south through the meadow.

You follow this until you are at the intersection where you can take the red flume or go to Hobart. Take the turn to the east toward Hobart. Then you proceed and walk across the dam and head past Hobart to Ash Canyon. The trail leads you down the canyon right past the entrance to our very own Deer Run! We left Mike's truck up there and they went and got it later. We did see some folks do a loop but I do not know if that is as fun as what we did. I think it would be more challenging though. This section of the TRT is only open to MTB on even days so it was pretty active out there.

Here are the stats:

Miles ridden: 20.5
Crashes that happened: 2
Flat tires: 0
Broken shocks: 1
Carvings of naked ladies: 1
Post ride latte's: 4

You can read the more here at The Ruybalid Family Blog

Monday, October 09, 2006

Surreal Cycling

We saw this abandoned bicycle on our ride today. It looks like a bicycle that Salvador Dali might have ridden! I don't think any amount of time on a trueing stand would make this thing roll again. Hopefully the rider fared better...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Deer Run

Here is some footage from today's ride on a trail we call "The Deer Run". In the valley below, you can see the city where we all work. We're pretty lucky to have such cool trails just a few miles from work!

Here's a still shot of the same trail. This is what the area looks like 2 years after the big fire. Not too bad...

This short climb is never easy. You need a good line, good traction, proper weight distribution, and a strong heart to get up it.

Monday, October 02, 2006


I added a Bloglines Blogroll Script to the sidebar under "Other Biker Blogs". What a cool tool! The problem though is it's a giant font that doesn't match the rest of the page. I've noticed other blogs that don't have this problem. If anyone reading has a tip to correct this, it'd be appreciated! I'm guessing there's some CSS tag I can put somewhere...



Rain seems to be the subject matter in a lot of blogs over the last few days. We got our first rain in recent memory just last night. I don't think it has rained since July. It rained most of the night, and the ground soaked it up like a sponge. By the time we road at lunch, the trails were dry again, but you could dig down an inch and find wet sand. This made for great traction! We took our normal Monday route that leads us down a long sandy trail. Normally you just hang on tight and fight the bike all the way down. The bottom of the run is like a runaway truck ramp, sucking your speed and making it hard to make the final uphill out of the wash. Not today though! The tires were hooking up, and we flew down that sandy wash with enough speed leftover to make the final uphill without pedaling.

This is a great time of year to ride around here. Great dirt and cooler temperatures.