Thursday, May 16, 2013

Warm weather commuting lesson

Commuted yesterday for the first time in a couple of weeks due to illness and other commitments. This is the first real warm weather commute that I have done and I learned a thing or two - I just wasn't feeling right on the way home. Almost bonk-ish. Needed some carbs for sure prior to my afternoon portion.

First, there is a huge difference between riding in when it is close to 80 degrees at 5AM and 60 degrees. The extra temp means you go through more of your body's resources.

Second, I need to eat something before I leave the office on the way home, and I need to have some food with me. I felt like my blood sugar was low for pretty much the whole ride home. Oh, and the headwind was stiff so it was not very fun. I kept my eyes peeled for an outdoor vending machine so I could buy a soda, but it never happened. I ended up trying to keep the intensity dialed down; I made it home so I guess I accomplished that. I guess sometimes it is good to have to push myself through discomfort like that; it is good practice for when it will inevitably happen out in the mountains.

Post sickness ride

I haven't been riding as much this May as I wanted to. First I ended up subbing for a bass player in a musical that had my schedule packed Wed - Saturday. I woke up Sunday feeling terrible, but went riding anyway. I took it pretty easy and did some exploring to check out some new but incomplete trail that has been being constructed:

I really shouldn't have rode, but I did anyway. Got home and it really started to hit me and my body kinda shut down. I ended up sleeping most of that Sunday. The rest of the week was basically a self-imposed no-ride week. I wanted to get healthy as fast as possible, so lots of rest and probably a few too many calories. By time Friday came around, I figured I was going to be good to head out on Saturday, so I did. I wasn't really planning on this big of a ride, but at my turnaround point, I ran into someone I knew and one thing lead to another and I ended up riding with him up to a summit which at that point I was committed to doing the full enchilada:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Monday long ride at PSP

Headed to Sonoran Preserve to hit the full North and South loops and see how I compare with some other Strava people on the segment. I know I wasn't going to get anywhere close to the top two people who are more than an hour faster on the segment than my last attempt. But I did have my eye on 3rd place currently owned by my friend T.

I headed out and had some wind to deal with. It was mostly at my back or a cross wind and would remain like that for the first half of the ride. Kinda nice, but kinda not because I knew I would be pushing straight into it on the second half.

All in all, the ride went great. I didn't burn too many matches at all, I was never on the verge of "blowing up" as I made a conscious effort to dial back the intensity on the climbs. In fact my biggest goal was to minimize my stopped time, which I did a great job of. My stats show about five minutes of stopped time which is about 3 minutes more than it actually should have been as I ended up in a conversation with a biker who had killed his back brake and I briefly helped him find it. Other than that, I had two small breaks where I grabbed a snack from my bag. I also had a couple quick stops to let some bikers by who were approaching me from a downhill.

I ended up with a time of 3:11, which should be good enough to place me solidly in 3rd place for the segment. BUT, strava apparently didn't think I rode the segment. The only thing I think could have caused it was that I started IN the parking lot, but the segment actually starts outside of the parking lot. Interesting.

I guess I'll have to try again to make it official.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Saturday Ride

I had intentions of getting up early - it didn't happen. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do so I started at Deem and hit the big climb right off the bat. Heading down from the ridge, I decided to hit the east side of Deem (mostly downhill) to try to beat my fastest time. I ended up missing it by six seconds. I'm sure I could have beaten it, but hiker traffic was heavier than normal, especially for that section of the trail.

It was already starting to get warm. Actually, now that I think about it, it was just that the sun was intense. In the shade it was beautiful. Anyway, motivation wasn't very high but I decided to make the best of it. I definitely wasn't going to really push it at this point.

I hit the southern loops at Sonoran but just was going through the motions. I got off the bike a few times to take some pictures and just chill out. It was that kind of day on the bike.

The bike wasn't feeling great (low on air in shocks) and overall I was just off a bit. I decided to cut it a bit short and not hit the northern side of the southern loop. Bailed out and headed home.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wednesday Commute

Another normal commute day. In the afternoon, the weather was glorious for April in Phoenix. Mid 70's with a bit of a breeze. I felt like I could have rode all day, so I threw in some extra miles my branching off and heading towards Rio Vista park and then continuing home. This upped my afternoon mileage to just about 38 instead of the normal 25. The last (only haha) climb towards the pedestrian bridge on 59th and Pinnacle Peak was a grind. I made it up, albeit slowly. That is the only place where I wish I had some gears.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Recovery ride

Got a good recovery ride in on Sunday after Saturday's beatdown. I was surprised I was as motivated as I was. Ended up riding from Deem over to Humble Pie for some excellent brews and a few slices while sitting on the patio. Nice. Saw a couple of snakes and have some other stats to add to the totals: Refer to here  for an explanation of the abbreviations...
 TSD +2; YTD = 3
TBT + 0; YTD = 1
GCI + 0; YTD = 0
SS + 2; YTD = 4

Miles toward goal: 868/3000


Long rides

Sometimes, I just need to get outside and push myself. When I first started biking, it would have been a near miracle to ride any kind of trail that wasn't completely flat more than a mile without stopping. These days, if I don't get in at least 10 miles in on a ride, it doesn't even seem worth it. It's amazing how our bodies can adapt.

I guess with that being said, distance isn't really the key piece to what brings the pain. My 25 mile one way commute to work is pretty straight-forward. I could probably do it every day if I wanted to commit the 3+ hours a day it would take to pull it off - not likely at this point.

That said, forty miles on mostly dirt with some good climbs thrown in equals some pretty good pain. It all started off well. I cruised east from my house skirting the northern edge of Deem Hills park and trails and following the CAP canal. I crossed over I-17 via the pedestrian bridge and continued to follow the CAP until I had a road crossing and then proceeded to do a little road riding to hit the Desert Vista trailhead to begin my trek around the southern loops. It was around here that I committed to doing the full southern and at least a partial bit of the northern loop.

The southern side of the preserve went well. Saw quite a few people out, including a group of three riders who couldn't bother with any kind of response to my greeting as I munched on some trail mix and drank some water after the transition climb to the northern half of the southern loop. No worries; I finished up and then they acted as trail rabbits about 100 yards in front of me. I kept up with them and was constantly gaining ground on them. Even with me stopping for approaching traffic (like the lady who jogs with 3 on leash dogs). I caught them for good on the descent, and had to slow up because I didn't feel like trying to pass 3 riders on that part of the trail. No matter - the intersection was coming up for me to head north. They headed SW toward the DV trailhead.

I meandered through the neighborhood network of paths and jeep roads to meet up with the northern loop. I was still feeling pretty good at this point, so I rode at a decent pace but wasn't really pushing it. I made an effort to not attack the climbs to hard - I granny geared up some of the bigger ones because at this point I was at least twenty miles away from home and didn't want to bonk. I was eating every hour and I was still good on water as I started the downhill part paralleling carefree highway heading east.

I passed some other riders heading the opposite way and the warned me of a snake off the trail - you know they are out there and you know that you are probably passing them quite often in this weather, but it still makes you paranoid.

Anyway, it was all good. Just a slowish constant grind and fun going down the hills.

At the eastern end, I made a wrong turn and ended up doing a bit more climbing than I anticipated and it was at this point that I was starting to want to be off the bike. And so it begins. The epic grind to get back home. Funny enough, there are a couple of options to bail off onto the paved road they are working on, but I neglected to do so. I decided to keep on the trail and just stick it out. I knew I was getting low on water, but there were a couple of parks in the neighborhood, and worse case, I could stop at a friends house and get some water from his hose out front.

I made it off the southern loops, but wanted nothing to do with the jeep road path on the eastern edge of the housing development, so I made my way through the neighborhood hiking paths. I stopped at the first park and enjoyed the shade and sent a text to my wife that I was about an hour away. I shoved some trail mix in my mouth, grabbed my bladder out of my pack and walked to the drinking fountain. Pushed the button and nothing. Crap.

Got my stuff put away and hopped on the bike more more meandering through the neighborhood. Next stop at the next (and larger park). Stopped at the drinking fountain and again - nothing. What the hell?

Resigned myself to stopping by my friends house and getting some water from his hose bib. I did so, but I was starting to feel like crap and neglected to let the water run through the hose for a bit. I didn't really think about it much until I was about 5 minutes away from his house and I took a sip. Bleh! The water was hot and nasty. This is what happens to water that in a hose that is sun exposed. Gross.

Hitting the western edge of the southern loops was OK, but I had to walk the end of the last climb. Once I was down to the parking area, it was just pavement back to the CAP canal. Once I was to the CAP canal though, I knew I was done. This is basically all flat and gravel for the most part. It sucked and I just wanted to be off the bike. Crossed the I-17 bridge again, and then the final stretch home. Seemed like it took forever and at the very end, there is a hill climb that is steep, but not really that bad. It's loose, but ride-able for sure. Just seeing it made me just about get off of the bike. I rode up to the base of it, hopped off the bike and walked. At least going down the other side was fun. =)

All in all, it was a good ride and pushed me to my limits - which aren't great at all. I see guys out there doing crazy rides. This would be a recovery ride for them. I guess the thing is that I'm striving to get better. I never thought I would be a guy who searched for these kind of rides; long hours in the saddle and pain. Here's to finding more about that guy...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Wednesday commute

Nothing earth shattering here. Just a regular commute day. It really is an interesting thing to ride a bike through town. Areas considered "shady" by car really don't feel that way on the bike. It's hard to explain.

One of my favorite parts is watching the city "wake up" during the course of the morning commute. It's pretty much dead quiet when I leave my house, but as I continue on my way in, I start to see joggers, walkers, etc. The smell of breakfast getting cooked. The increasing car traffic. The sunrise. It's an amazing way to start the day.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Monday "medium pace" ride

Great ride today. I headed out for my normal Monday long ride but rode to my buddy Geoff's house. Hung out there waiting for "T" - he's very secretive apparently based on his Strava name haha. Anyway T showed up and we headed to the gate at the trail head.

We got there and T asked what pace we were going to ride at. I was already ~10 miles into the ride plus I had to make it home. I think Geoff was tired a bit from riding both days over the weekend so he said "medium pace". Adam Sandler fans are laughing right now at that reference. I didn't have any problem with medium.

So T heads out and all of the sudden it is a freaking hammer fest. I'm trying hard not to blow up following both of them - about half way to the first turn off Geoff turned looked back at me and did a "wtf" hand gesture in regards to the pace T was setting. I guess we should be used to it as it's pretty normal for T to spend himself early into the ride and then slow down and complain the rest of the time.

Anyway, the rest of the ride was smooth and the early pace caught up to T and true to form he was slower and started complaining about his back or something - I don't know, I tune that stuff out or make fun of him. Our rides are typically like that. For these friend group rides, I'm going to keep track of some stats. I'll explain them here and keep a running total through the year.

T switchback dabs (TSD) - We normally ride with T in front. It's entertaining and he usually keeps a steady pace once he calms down. Anyway, he's always good for at least one switchback mistake that causes us to all have to stop.

T bike throws (TBT) - Self explanatory. He pulled this sweet move at BCT a couple of months ago.

Geoff cactus injection (GCI) - Geoff has the worst luck with getting stuck with cactus.

Snake sightings (SS) - Self explanatory

For the record, I typically get to see all of this stuff first hand because I am usually in the back of the group. Both of those guys ride the downhills better than me, so I let them do their thing and I try to keep up.

Anyway stats for the ride are below:

TSD +1; YTD = 1
TBT + 0; YTD = 1
GCI + 0; YTD = 0
SS + 1; YTD = 2 (Second rattler in two weeks at the south loop)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Saturday at N Sonoran

I've been trying to get decent rides in on Saturday mornings, but this was just more of a chill ride with some friends that I haven't seen in a while.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Yesterday's commute home

Miles Goal Progress:


I have several goals I am chasing at this point as far as bike/fitness stuff goes. I'll do at minimum a monthly update of progress. Here we go:

Ride 3000 miles - Last year I did 1200.
Get weight down to 160 - Right now I'm at 178.
Get a bikepack trip scheduled for this summer with friends.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Windy Saturday

I try to get a decent length ride in on Saturday mornings. This one ruined me, mostly because of the wind. Pretty brutal out there on Saturday...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Commuting via bike

I've had the best intentions of bike commuting once a week for quite a while now. I even bought a simple single-speed road bike for the purpose. It just hasn't happened. There was always an excuse: I need a rear light; I don't want to get up that early; It's dangerous; It's too far; And many other logistical questions.

Well, I started last week and it went great. I came in today via bike and it again, went great. So Wednesdays are going to by my official bike to work day.

Here are the stats of the one-way trek:

Anyway, in order to start...I had to blow away the excuses that had been holding me back. I'll explain how I did that.

Need a rear light - Since my commute (for now) starts in the dark, I need a good rear light. I already had front lights. The solution here was simple: buy one. There are some great inexpensive (25-50 dollars) and effective lights. Research and pick one.

Don't want to get up early - In order for me to be at my desk and working by 7AM, I need to leave the house at 4:55am. Well, I had to stop crying and harden the heck up and get it done. There are worse things in life than needing to get up early and ride my bike.

It's dangerous: Yes there are dangers to riding a bike on the road, just like there are dangers of driving a car on the road. The bottom line is that I needed to find ways to minimize risk. This includes things like wearing a helmet, using lights, riding defensively, etc. Also, I used Google Maps to create a route that minimizes riding on any main roads. 90 percent of my route is on residential type roads. The speed limits are lower (25MPH) and the number of cars is significantly less.

It's too far: Well, 25 miles is the commute one way. It's not ideal, but not impossible either, especially for a one day a week commute. Again, harden the eff up and get it done. If your commute is longer, maybe you could drive part of the way and bike the rest?

Logistical stuff: Luckily, my work has a shower and lockers so that helps a ton. Other than that, there isn't much to think about. I make sure my bike and pack are ready to go before I go to bed, and when I wake up, I basically get dressed and leave. Simple.

At the end of the day, I'm not doing this for any reason other than I like to ride. It isn't to save the earth or be more "green" (though those are nice side-benefits). It helps me with fitness. It helps me be more productive at work and helps me de-stress on the way home.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Windgate and Bell Deathmarch

So it has been a few months since I got some good climbing in at MMRP. Since the weather is still pretty good, I decided to give it a shot yesterday. I ended up hiking a bit more than I wanted to, but I guess that was to be expected since the rains have wrecked some havoc on the trails. All in all, a good ride.

Just creating this as a place to write about ride experiences, etc. Will post a link to here instead of creating huge facebook posts.