Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Epic Flag Ride – Redoooo

A couple SS friends of mine decided to come up to and stay with my wife and I in Munds Park. We planned to do a very similar ride to what I did 2 weeks ago…the Epic Flag ride. Started at the bottom of Schultz around 7AM…a nice leisurely spin up Schultz Creek then onto the AZT heading west. It’s generally downhill to where the trail crosses Snowbowl Rd and tons of fun. We decided we’d climb the road up to Aspen corner…good decision as we’d later find out…Up the AZT going north…the ferns had grown a bunch from 2 weeks ago…handlebar height in some sections…took the AZT out past the White Horse Hills and Walker Lake almost to Kelly Tank. The wind was blowing pretty good from the south so we decided to turn around and begin the grind against the wind and back up from about 7700ft to 9000ft. At only an average of 3% grade over 8 miles, it’s not a brutal climb but one that seems just steady enough to keep your heart rate up. The scenery sure helps too…We encountered a family with some small kiddos on SS’s… What a great way to start them out. Responsible parents don’t let their kids have gears.
Back up to the connector trail junction to Aspen corner, we decided to see how far the AZT had been finished…We took it about another 1.5 miles…a very new section of trail that begins to decend some very powdery soil…super cool trail. Then the trail pretty much ends and we followed flags for a while, bushwacking our way through until my friends had a brilliant idea to check the GPS and see where the paved road was wrt our position…Thank God they did…we were only about 400yds away yet it may have been 2 miles of bush-wacking had we followed the flags.
Back on the road, down to where the AZT crosses snow bowl rd… From there, it’s a gradual ascent back to Schultz pass…not that we had to go that far east, but we wanted to enjoy the Schultz Creek decent. However, the price for that decent was an uncomfortably warm 45 minutes of riding…probably the warmest I’ve ever been riding in Flagstaff. The southern flanks of the peaks have some sparsely treed areas that offer little shade.
All in all, it was another great ride…51.3 miles, 5844 ft of ascent (per Garmin connect), 6:36 of ride time.

I don’t think I’ll ever get ALL the dust off my bike.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

SS Climbing Nirvana

First, let me lay a bit of groundwork…I got into mountain biking back in the late 80’s as a senior in college. Bought a Cannondale mtb which was great although the wheelbase was long and it felt like driving a yacht..a very stiff yacht. Then in the mid 90’s, I found a Specialized Stumpjumper Comp used from a kid at ASU that did nothing with it except ride it to school…major deal. Wow, what a difference; short wheelbase, steeper head tube angle...twitchy in comparison. However, after some getting used to it, it was great…did some races and had some fun. Then….took a long hiatus from riding. Fast forward to 2008, I was on a business trip back in Ohio, when a friend at the client I was visiting invited me to come riding. I figured why not? Then I caught the bug again…a couple months later and I was the proud owner of a 2008 Specialized Stumpjumper Elite…man, that bike was sweet. Living fairly near the McDowell Mountains, I frequented those trails. I routinely suffered up Windgate and Bell. My goal was to do the Quad Bypass in 2010…done.
Then, like all of us bike owners, we get the itch…simply because we spend our spare hours surfing the bike porn as my wife calls it. I kept thinking that the whole SS thing might be for me. However, I was worried that I wouldn’t ride my favorite trails in McDowells…Could I still do Windgate? Would I be stuck with SSing the flatter stuff only? Would I still ride the SJ?
I probably spent 8 months trying to decide what bike to build…steel? Low dollar or high dollar frame? Then in a moment of weakness, I decided to buy the Lynskey Ridgeline…I figured worst case, I’d put gears on it and at least I’d join the 29er world.
Spent most of the summer weekends of 2010 riding it up in Flagstaff. Geared it at 32x21 so the steeper stuff wasn’t too bad. Then it happened…the epiphany…the moment when I decided it was right…. I was riding up Mt. Elden Rd…simply standing on each turn of the pedal…no excessive pulling on the upstroke…a nice steady HR of about 150bpm… it just seemed so right to climb like that...The perfect combination of grade, gear, and guts (by guts I mean fitness) that seems to make everything else go away, even if just for that climb. People say when you ride an SS, you’re always in the wrong gear… In this case, nirvana happens, it is the right gear.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Epic Ride in Flagstaff

It was a nice cool morning last Saturday so I figured it was time to do a ride that I'd been wanting to do for some time...start at the bottom of Schultz Creek and ride up and around to the west making a loop around the White Horse Hills and returning. Headed up Shultz making a left near the pass to find the new AZT that then traverses to the west. Nice flowy stuff there, some ups, some downs and generally parallel to pipeline. After it abruptly ended, I bushwacked for a few hundred yards to find Snow Bowl Rd. Headed up the road to Aspen Corner where I stopped, ate a snack then pressed on north, up the AZT. Past the Bizmark lake turnoff, and the trail starts to descend...an almost magical decent....gradual switchbacks through thick aspen and fir forests till I hit FR418 and hung a right...bit of a climb then left on the moto trail around White Horse Hills. Minutes after being on the moto track, I busted a nipple on the rear wheel...damn. Luckily the wheel was still pretty true. Onward I went, encountering some chunky ups and downs...the ups were a HAB...prolly rideable with gears. Through the saddle where some bizarre volcanic rock formation sits, then down and back to the AZT. Feeling a bit tired, I considered taking forest roads back but decided I HAD to ride the AZT back up through the aspens...super glad I did. The switchbacks seemed almost downhill as I stayed in the saddle turning a comfortable cadence with the 32x20. I would attribute this to the high I was on constantly thinking about how life could be so much worse... Back to Aspen corner I was feeling pretty torched and my lungs giving me issues (and the broken nipple), I decided I'd take the road back... Great day on the bike in Northern AZ...
Dales map of the area
My Garmin Connect data