AZ05 (3/16 - 3/21)
August 26, 2005 -- Update. AZ05 Koyaanisqatsi video.
Sedona & Tucson, AZ [6m 34s. 44Mb]. Right click and download. Requires Quicktime 7.
Music by Philip Glass.
August 20, 2005 -- Update. The Tucson 50-Year trail video is done. Check it out.
50-Year Trail. Tucson, AZ [7m 31s. 49Mb]. Right click and download. Requires Quicktime 7.
Music by Radio Elsewhere and e pluribus.
My friend from Austin and I met at the Phoenix airport. We got there last Wednesday, and stayed with my sister who lives pretty close to South Mountain. It's a good thing because Phoenix is getting huge and it seems to take forever to get from one place to another, even though on the map it looks like a short few blocks away, that is until you realize blocks are a mile long in Phoenix.
Sprawl: Phoenix is growing fast.
I nearly missed my connecting flight to Phoenix - I had five minutes to book from Terminal E to Terminal B. I made it but my bag didn't. My bag held my clothes, helmet, shoes, tools and camera mounts. My bike was still boxed, sitting there in the garage waiting to be put together and I didn't have tools or a pump. I bought a tool when we went to pick up my friend's rental bike and managed to put it together but I still couldn't ride it yet. The next morning we were planning on driving to Tucson to ride with a large group. While I waited for my bag I put together my old bike rack that I had given to my brother who never used it. I had him send it to my sister so I could carry at least one bike on top of the car. Well it was in a hundred pieces and I couldn't figure out how to put it together. It was dark so that made it even harder. I gave up after what seemed like a few hours.
I didn't get much sleep that night. I had called the missing bag phone number (they refer to it as a "luggage irregularity") only to be forced to talk to a computer that calls itself Alex. How many others find it degrading to talk to a computer? It's even more degrading when the stupid computer can't understand what you are saying and then says "I can't understand you, please try again later. Goodbye." "You piece of crap goddamn computer! I'm going to rip out your wires and stomp on your circuit boards". After several unsuccessful attempts, Alex finally told me that my bag was picked up by the delivery service at 9:30pm and should be delivered to my address within 4 to 6 hours. Well now it was 6am the next morning and I still had no bag. I called back and told the computer to shut-up. That apparently was the key to talking to a real live human. It seemed offended in some way. Go figure. I learned that the computer is also a big fat liar, as the delivery service is apparently closed all night and reopens at 8am. So I got the number and left a message at 6:30am. The driver called promptly at 8am and told me it would take about three hours to deliver my bag. I begged him to drop my bag off first but could only get him to say that he would do the best he could. There would be no Tucson ride today.
If I couldn't ride my bike maybe I could just admire the greenery and pretty desert flowers which were in full bloom thanks to all the recent rain
My bag arrived around 10am. In the meantime, we finally figured out how to get the roof rack mounted properly, but then we had another problem. I had already known that my bike would not fit on the roof rack because I have a 20mm front axle. But I didn't realize that the rental bike would not fit either because of the disk brake caliper and fork interfering. Apparently bikes have changed since I bought this rack 7 years ago. So I just set the bike in there and used a bungee cord. I had Dan hold onto the fork through the sunroof. We were going riding come hell or high water.
We decided to ride South Mountain because it was already 11am. When we got to the trail and were getting ready to ride, I needed to adjust my rear derailleur by taking the slack out of the cable. But when I tightened the cable bolt, I torqued it too much and ripped the head right off. Noooooooo!!!! Now we would have to wait until noon when the bike shop opened. No way. I started surveying my bike looking for any bolt or screw that I could use as a replacement. I was in luck - the disk brake lever clamp bolts were an exact match. I could remove one bolt, and tighten the opposing one until the lever still held firm on the handlebar. It worked. That was a close call.
Dan walking up the tricky lower waterfall section of National
Despite being very tired and mentally exhausted as well, it was my best ride of the entire trip. I have to say that after doing several rides here, these are probably the best trails I've ever ridden. I didn't take any video here because I had already filmed the trails in '03 and I wanted to just enjoy them. I couldn't believe how good I was riding. I was in some kind of zone. People were watching me. These two guys watched me go down the lower waterfall and then asked my friend behind me if I would show them what line to take. Here's a video clip of the line I took (there are other lines, both easier and harder).
I made it up the upper waterfall. In fact, I never dropped into the small chainring...for the entire trip. Must be all that riding through the Wilmington sand or something. I felt good on the climbs, despite carrying about 25lbs on my back (water, gatorade, video camera, video helmet, GPS, digital camera, camera mounts, tripod, tubes, food, pump, tools, etc.). Going downhill I launched every drop I could see. I bunny hopped over rocks. Everything just flowed. Gawd it was so fun. Dan wasn't so lucky. He made the unfortunate mistake of following me over a big rock with about a 3ft drop off the other side. He endo'd and busted his watch, got some cuts, but otherwise was ok. The funniest thing was you could see the outline of the watch which cut into his wrist. I never thought he would follow my line but I was mistaken. Here's a video clip of the rock he endo'd over.
After the ride we went to REI to look for a Yakima 9mm skewer to replace the locking skewer on the rack. No luck. Found another locking one but it was $50. Doesn't REI stand for Rip-off Equipment Incorporated? So I just took out the locking skewer and used the skewer from the bike. Good enough. (Have I said skewer enough?)
Sedona in springtime
Now we heard it was going to rain Saturday, especially up north... as in Sedona. So we decided to go to Sedona Friday instead of Saturday. We rode all day Friday. We did a big loop in Sedona (Bell Rock to Llama to Little Horse to Chicken Point to Broken Arrow to Submarine Rock to Mystic to Back O Beyond to Cathedral to Templeton and back to Bell Rock. Whew!). I wanted Dan to see as much trail as possible because we figured we had only one day.
View from along the Llama Trail
Just as we were finishing our ride in the late afternoon it began to rain. And rain. And it continued to rain throughout the night and all day Saturday and we left with the satisfaction of knowing we did a smart thing. So the luggage irregularity actually turned out to be a blessing because had my bag been on my flight we probably would have gone to Tucson on Thursday and then ridden back in Phoenix on Friday completely missing out on Sedona.
View from Submarine Rock in Sedona. Rain is headed our way.
Standing on Submarine Rock
View from Templeton Trail in Sedona
Dan coming down the end of Templeton trail
Cathedral Rock. Can you spot the people?
The flooding from all the rain has completely wiped out this section of the trail. If you can ride this, you're good.
Unfortunately, both of us developed colds Friday after the ride. I was all stuffed up. So I took cold medicine and Saturday we decided to get out of the rain by driving all the way down to Tucson. We rode the 50-year trail on Sunday. A few folks on the trails but not too bad. Weather was perfect. I like it when it's cloudy because the sun isn't beating down on you tiring you out. The AZ sun is extreme. The IMBA/Subaru trail care crew was there doing a ride. One of the guys was filming too. I spoke to him afterward and told him to check out my website. What a job he's got. Driving around the country riding trails all expenses paid.
50-Year Trail in Tucson features diverse plantlife
Dan rounding a bend, 50-Year Trail, Tucson
When I went back on Monday to ride South Mountain again, I didn't do as well. Maybe my legs were tired from all the riding but I thought I would do better because I would be more familiar with the trail. I don't know exactly why but there were a lot of hikers on Monday. That's the only downfall of South Mountain. Hikers everywhere.
But it was great to just be able to ride fantastic trails and not worry about having to get back on time or work or anything.
Low-lying clouds blanket the Catalina Mountains
We'll be back next year