Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Road Ride Report

Art, Willy and I did a road ride on Easter Sunday. The plan was to head west, right over Skyline Dr, around behind Ringwood and up 106 into Harriman, straight across and back down to Bergen County, an estimated moderate 55 miles.

I really can’t complain about the warm weather we’ve had this winter, but being that it was technically now spring, it felt like a disappointingly total winter ride out there once again. I must be getting weak minded, not to mention that I felt like crap right from the start. This was the third day in a row of my legs being flat. I tried to suck it up and not ruin the ride for the boys, but it became a suffer-fest.

This was my first time climbing Skyline in 08, and it felt ok in a painful way. I tried to take it slow so that I would not get too sweaty, but it was long enough to soak me through. It was also a bit windy coming down the other side and I had to tell myself to relax to keep the bike stable. I don’t know if any other small riders get tossed around in the wind, but I find it feels worse if I tense up.

On Long Meadow road I spotted a red fox along the road. I stopped maybe twenty feet from him, and he just stared at me. We actually made eye contact and that seemed ok with him. It was really cool, and I’m glad I got myself out riding and saw him. Oddly, I have seen more wildlife on this road than when mountain biking in the woods.

From there we headed up 106 into the park, and I was reacquainted with an old friend of a climb. That long, twisty, low-grade climb is one of my favorites. This may have just been a perception, but I thought I started to feel stronger, or maybe Art and Willy were starting to get tired. At one point I thought I had completely shed my funk, then it was obvious that all 3 of us were bonking bad and not thinking straight. We were out of food, and split the last of the water three ways and stuck together until the next open store where we bought some food. It was only 8 miles short of home, but we needed food and water badly.

I never knew the 7/11 in Monsey was such a hopping spot on Easter. Cars were lined up to get parking spots. I was so spent, that I wanted lay down on the sidewalk, but Art thought I would get run over by the uppity drivers. There were all these kids in yamacas staring at us and saying “Look, bikers!” It was cute, but made me wonder if they were ever allowed to ride bikes, if seeing us was so special. It reminded me of the story of the city kid being amazed with the farm animals and the farm boy being amazed with seeing a taxicab.

We ate up quickly and got home with 55 miles that felt like 80. Only a tad over 4000' vertical gain and yet exhausting, and just another day on the bike. I was happy to see a fox and put a sparkle in a kids eye .

Monday, March 17, 2008

Titus Factory Tour

Wednesday, we drove up to Tempe to visit the Titus factory and ride South Mountain. Some cool trails there for sure. We may have ridden them in the wrong direction, as they were pretty tough going up hill. Very challenging and less cactus but a lot more people on the trails. It is a pretty amazing and busy park with rocky technical trails right in the congested city of Phoenix. Besides the technical trails, the flowers were in full bloom, as seen in the photo above.

I was pleasantly impressed with the visit to the Titus factory. My impressions were that it was a small company made up of regular people with a passion for bikes, just like myself. They seemed to operate in a very custom manner,working in a high end exotic material, with a fleet of custom jigs, and a row of buckets of tubes waiting to be welded into the next bike. I think there was some exogrid lust going on that day. I didn't have to go to the Titus factory to love the ride of my bike, but it certainly confirmed my positive impressions of Titus.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Arizona 2008

Art, Mike, Marianne and pixy

Each March, as soon as the snow melts, the days get longer, and temperatures begin to rise, I become excited with the thoughts of riding my bike in spring, yet spring’s actual arrival seems to take much longer than expected. After 14 years of riding mountain bikes, and going through this scenario, I have pretty much resigned to the fact that March is the time to get out of New Jersey and find some much needed sunshine and warmth to rejuvenate my soul.

Destination: Way Out West, Tucson Az. – A small B&B style retreat, just north of town, with trails right out the back yard.

Each morning Art and I were served an unbelievable breakfast including fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh blueberries, blackberries, mangos, kiwis, melon and fresh baked muffins. We built our bikes in the shop on arrival and went out to ride, along with Mike from NJ who was visiting his Mom, and Marianne who joined us on day two. It was quite a treat to ride in shorts and short sleeves and feel the wind and sun on my skin.

Some of the trails were fast and bermed, some technical, some tight and twisty and some lined with nasty cactus. The dessert flora and fauna have a pretty bad attitude to be able to survive the extreme conditions, and although the thorns can be intimidating, I find this whole experience to be both exciting and refreshing. Each tiny little scratch was just another reminder of how lucky I feel to be alive. Riding new trails in a new environment brings discovery on every ride, and on and off the bike I enjoyed clean air, mountain views, the sounds of nature, beautiful sunsets, and good times with friends.

Thanks to our WOW hosts CJ and Mary Ellen, we rode great trails, explored a cave, spotted a gila monster, visited an ancient metate and a rare crested saguaro. A whole week of good times had!

pixy on the upper 50

leftover's from someone's dinner?



resident road runner

CJ and an ancient metate used for making cornmeal

photo by Marianne

photo by Marianne

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Big Weekend

Wow, what a weekend! With the weather forecast for snow Friday night, I was sure for a XC ski on Saturday. What a disappointment to wake up to the sound of rain. I went back to bed, and was awakened by the phone. Apparently, Minnewaska was in good shape, and the gang was chomping to go. Minnewaska Preserve is a real special place, filled with beautiful views, cliffs and crystal clear lakes. They also groom a XC track in winter. The conditions were primo. At one point Henry was down to a short sleeve t-shirt. We went for some extra skiing and broke track around Lake Awosting. Then this squall blew through. We could barely see, and keep warm. One hour later, the sun was out again. Great ski, and I wasn’t quite as sore as last week.

Nate talked us into a road ride from Morristown for Sunday. It was brutally cold at the start, and Art and I rode fat tire tandem. The first few times my heart rate went up, my fingers shut down completely. Luckily, there were a few stops to re-group, where I could get them back. I only warmed up climbing up the Black River Wildlife Walls, and then got cold again. Thankfully, we stopped for snacks indoors in Oldwick, and afterwards I was much better. It was my longest ride this year, and with legs hurting from the ski, I struggled to get back. Turned out to be 73 miles with 6,330-elevation gain, which is more than I thought it would be. I'm ready for bed now, but it was an awesome weekend full of adventure and challenge.