Monday, September 26, 2016

Mind Body Soul Mountain Bike Monday


Traffic jam on Trail 100 on Monday morning

Taking a day off to refresh mind/body/soul, and what better place than Trail 100 on a mountain bike. Although the weather was perfect, not surprisingly, there was almost no one else out there on a Monday morning. A few hikers, a few stray cyclists like me, but very, very quiet overall. 

I stopped a few times to listen to the wind, and look at the mountains. Spent some time watching a lizard darting around. Went slow, then fast, then slow again, with no one around to judge. Superb.

Got to the parking lot at the east end, and was greeted by the welcome site of no one parked there. Excellent.

Monday morning parking situation at the Tatum lot on Trail 100

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Just Be Glad: When Wheels Break


It's not supposed to be like this, but wait for the whole story. Expelled Slime sealant evident, but tire not flat.

"In an upstairs bedroom of Mrs. Florence Johnson's former home, I came across a dusty but beautiful blue padded box labeled 'Old Programs -- New Century Club.' Most of the programs from 1923 to 1964 were there. Each listed the officers, the club flower (sweat pea), the club colors (pink and white), and the club motto ('Just Be Glad')."
--from "Becoming Native to this Place," by Wes Jackson

I bought these wheels six and a half years ago, on sale, put them on my commuter bike, and rode them until the rear one broke. Six and a half years represents about 20,000 miles of commuting @3000 per year, so that's not bad at all. Excellent, in fact. When the wheel finally gave up the ghost, it did so gracefully. Although one spoke connection location was completely broken, and at least two more were close, I still rode home on it. It failed just when I pulled into work that morning, I think, because the wheel started making a funny noise with each revolution right about then. That it lasted so long, and still got me home when it was used up, is what I ask for in bike parts: last 20,000 commuting miles, and let me know gracefully when replacement time comes. Thank you, cheap commuting wheels: I'm glad like a member of the New Century Club may have been, in the ordinary things of everyday life which do their jobs well, without complaint or excess trouble.

Another one ready to go

Used up. Duty completed.
These rims have two layers, the spoke bed and the inner tube bed, so that explains why the top photo didn't mean a straight tire blowout when the spoke broke through. I'm sure they've been cracking for a while, since I noticed the back end feeling slightly wobbly on certain turns. Like the tire was a little low, or the rear rack a little loose. Both of which have been true, too, at times, so failing rear rim was not my first thought.

I explained in the first "Twenty Dollar Rule" post why sturdy, cheap parts that still ride fairly well are important to me on my commuter bike: since it could get stolen and/or vandalized any day, I don't want to invest much in it. If I had a more secure place to park, I would probably be riding Schwalbes on a Rivendell with a hub generator and lights, but my urban parking situations mean more risk and more abuse than I would be willing to put a bike like that through. So I try out different, less expensive, sometimes ugly components to see which ones work but don't attract unwanted attention at the rack.

These wheels with the stickers peeled off do the trick for me. Your mileage may vary. I think my riding style, the desert weather where I live, and my specific road conditions are unique and may not mean these would work as well for anyone else. But, since you may be wondering, yes: I replaced this one with another Vuelta Zerolite. Next time I see them on sale, I probably buy another set, too. So, 20,000 or so miles from now, I'll be ready.

    

Monday, September 5, 2016

Into Each Tire Some Cactii Must Poke


Cholla ball in my tire. Use a stick to remove. Did not flip up into my knee this time.

In enjoyment of Labor Day morning off, a wee dram of mountain biking was had. In the process, I got briefly up close and personal with some Teddy Bear cholla cactus, Cylindropuntia bigelovii, which is wonderful, beautiful, Sonoran Desert signature stuff, so long as you don't touch it, or run over its plentiful balls. The puncture protection layer in my tire seemed to work just fine, though, so no problem with a little kiss from a teddy bear cholla. I used a stick to remove the ball and associated spines, as I mentioned in the caption. No matter how easy it looks, you can't touch these things--they stick on you, and in you, and work their way in, and you can't get rid of them. Very affectionate, like. And they look so white and fluffy!

Here Teddy Bear, please hold my bike that you already put spikes into (bad idea 2). Balls=clone plant starters.

Into each tire some cactii must poke. With proper preparation, sealant, and puncture protection layers, though, it's no big deal. Remove ball with a stick, keep on riding. Since the dropped balls can root and grow on their own, these dense stands are often clones of an original teddy bear that moved into the neighborhood. The Cholla family stares as I pedal past them, shimmering in the morning sun. As far as I have been able to determine, the balls do not actually launch or jump at you, just cling tenaciously and painfully if you happen to brush by them, or otherwise contact them. Although it is a bit terrifying to think of that family of clones sitting there, quietly waiting for the unsuspecting mountain biker to pass them, launching a volley of pokey-sticky clone balls in the general direction of the motion, sound, shadow, or vibration. C'mon teddy bears, don't do it!
   

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Riding the Live End


Only in a car. On a mountain bike, life begins here.

Sticker to add to this sign: UNLESS YOU ARE ON A MOUNTAIN BIKE (or horse. Or on foot). Or more or less anything else OTHER THAN A CAR. Bring your dog, he/she will love it. It will bring a smile to your / your dog's / your horse's / your friend's / your friend horse's / your friend's horse / face. Come to think of it, park your car right here, sell it, use the money to buy a mountain bike / horse / dog / friend / and keep on going. This is the DEAD END FOR YOUR CAR, but not for you. CAR DEAD END, that works.

I kept on mountain biking this morning. No rain last night, or for the last few days, so the trail was more settled and clearer than it has been. So, more people were out, too, even though it's still pretty hot in Phoenix. Ah, September in central Arizona, when summer will just not end, while Autumn makes the futile effort to show her face. Hang on, Autumn, let's do coffee sometime in October, unless you want to meet up in Flagstaff, where it's quite pleasant now.

Lots of chill people on the trail. A few glarers, but I wear lots of glare screen, and just happy back at them full force. (by the way, glarers, maybe that's some baggage  you want to leave at the trail head).

I added a few lightweight but potentially useful/vital items to my hydration pack: a whistle, some waterproof matches, a space blanket, small roll of gorilla tape, knife, a compass, hank of paracord. I've already been carrying a snack, because you never know when a snack will come in handy. Plus a pump, a repair kit, cell phone w/Trailforks app, tire levers, wallet. I think that's it, so far. Be prepared, etc. Too much? Not enough? It's all for sharing, except the wallet, in case any fellow trail users (even glarers) need some.

The hills are getting a little easier. Progression! Most of it is mental, I'm certain. That sums up many feelings and perceptions, I suppose, that would otherwise hold us back, unless we just push through them, ride beyond the DEAD END signs, and keep on going, up and down the trails, staying relaxed and positive. While I would say that I observed myself staying more relaxed and loose today, I did notice myself grimacing either just before or during some just slightly rough or bouncy sections, and I thought, why? 

What good is it to grimace, and doesn't that facial expression just mirror or even induce a counterproductive state of not flowing through? For example, approaching the bottom of a hill, looking upwards, then grimacing: what effect is that going to produce which is supportive of going up the hill smoothly? Not a useful one, I feel, so grimacing was frown upon this ride. Smiles, or relaxed looks, only. Leave the grimace next to the car parked (FOR SALE) under the DEAD END sign, far behind.

I was kind of mesmerized by the vertical lines and the swirly straw erosion controllers.