Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Bicycle Tour that wasn’t.

The plan was for brother Carl to drop me off near the Roosevelt Reservoir.  From there I would ride to the town of Young, AZ (about 2 days), then head south taking Highway 88 back to Mesa (3-4 days).  
From More Arizona

I had some anxiety about how the bicycle was loaded.  No front rack meant everything had to be stuffed into two small panniers.  What wouldn’t fit was put into a small back pack but the pack became heavier than I would have liked.  Strike one.
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The drive out to the drop off point was going to take longer than I thought, and Carl had plans.  Strike two.
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Inside the van, the bike, packed and ready to go, sat on a flat tire.  Strike three.
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So instead, after fixing the flat tire, I took the loaded bike out for a for a short (26 mile) day trip.  It gave me a chance to see how the bike handled fully loaded and if it was still possible to climb any kind of a hill with the nearly 80 lbs of bicycle.
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It was a good ride, I learned a bit and hope to be able to complete my plans in the near future.  For now I’m winding up the winter, packing up the van, and getting ready to rejoin the racing team for another season.   See you at the races?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Still in Arizona.

It’s been a while since I updated the blog but that doesn’t mean I’ve been sitting around watching the latest episode of “Boring Activities with Famous People.”  I took off for a couple days of camping and bicycle riding in the Tonto National Forest followed by a hiking trip back to the Superstition Mountains.  Here are the highlights...
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WATER CROSSING

A river flowing across the road., but I wonder what to do.  In front of me, a truck pulling an RV trailer left river and stopped; the passenger got out and walked back to the water’s edge with a camera.  There he stood and waited, watching me.  I learned long ago, people don’t want to take pictures of some stranger’s success, they want to see a disaster.  
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On a motorcycle or bicycle I would hardly pause.  The wet tracks coming out of the water tell me it’s crossable.  But today I’m in the van.  And getting the van stuck in a river would be a major bummer.  While I contemplated, I watched a forest service truck plow through.  He bounced around a lot and the water was up to the axles.  I decided not to do it.  Could I have made it across?  Absolutely.  How can I be so sure?  Because while I was doing my 8-point U-turn, a FedEx van, same model as mine, came flying across.  Maybe the difference is if you own it or get paid to drive it.

CAMPING
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I camped in the southern part of the Tonto National Forest.  Finding a decent spot was easy enough, but I was amazed at the volume of trash previous campers had left behind.  Bullet casing of every caliber, shotgun shells, targets and an assortment of target stands, empty bottles....  Almost as if there was a prohibition on taking trash out.  

BIKING
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I was here to ride my bicycles.  The first day, I unloaded the mountain bike late, around 3, and figured I’d ride for a half hour, maybe a little more.  First, I wanted to see where the road next to my campsite led.  I got on the bike and went over a slight rise to find a dead end.  Good news, as this meant very little chance of traffic passing my camp in the night.  Turning around, I hit something, I’m not sure what, but certainly a piece of trash left behind by a previous camper, and cut a slice in the carcass of my rear tire.  Literally, thirty seconds into the first ride.  The tires have been treated with a product designed to stop leaks, but it has it’s limits, and I had apparently exceeded them.  

I did nothing with it that night, the next day confirmed that the latex had not sealed the hole, and rode a different bike.  This worked out for the best, as I was riding the fat tire bike that works so good in the sand, and found myself following a dry riverbed for a couple miles.  The skinny (by comparison) two inch mountain bike tires would have been hopeless in the soft sand.  
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Not much of an adventure, but it was something.  
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CAMPING/HIKING TRIP
I took a little hiking trip, back to the Superstition Mountains.  Here’s a couple pictures from the walk...
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Despite out there having the ability to do this, only one thing stuck me with a handful of needles that I needed a pliers to remove.
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This self portrait required me to run halfway across a riverbed and up the hill to the cactus.  Wikipedia says the Saguaro Cactus can grow up to fifty feet tall.
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A room with a view.
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I hiked in to a natural spring to refill my water bottle.  Since it was hot and I hadn’t seen another person all day, I decided some skinny-dipping was in order.  Here’s an actual shot of me walking into the water, naked except for my hat.  (Of course it’s cropped.)
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The water was like ice and I only went in as far as my waist.  Then got out of the water due to a high pitched squealing noise that was coming from my mouth....

Cold nights indicated by frost on my backpack in the morning.  It was 28 degrees F. at 5 AM and I pulled the thermometer into my sleeping back where it quickly reached a balmy 50.
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Don’t ask me how, this bugger was stuck to my boot so tight I had to pull the needles out with a pliers.
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Wildlife was a little scarce.  Here’s a bird though...
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I’ll be with the racing team again this year.  I’m excited about it, I still enjoy being part of the competition, even though I recently found myself frustrated that time seemed in short supply.  There were so many things I wanted to do this winter, but there just wasn’t time for all of them.  Despite the fact that I’ve been off since November, and don’t start again till February; three months off just isn’t enough anymore.  Maybe next year I’ll hike the Arizona Trail, mountain bike the Continental divide, ride a motorcycle to Argentina…