Monday, November 02, 2009

Single Speed...Anyone, Anyone?


My Primary SS Steed

This blog thing has suffered from serious neglect lately, and as a result is atrophying at a rather rapid rate. So, that being the case, I thought I'd inject a little life into this thing by writing about my current cycling passion: single-speed riding. A local bike shop owner who I've done business with in the past got a whole bunch of fixed gear bikes in inventory and was anxious to show me how great he thought they were. "Here" he says, "Take this one out in the parking lot and give it a spin." So, what does a bike enthusiast as myself do with such a suggestion? Why, take the bike out in the parking lot and give it a spin. He also said, in kind of muffled warning sort of way: "Be careful. Mounting a fixed gear is a bit trickier than mounting a regular geared bike." Paying half-attention to his warning, I attempted to mount this bucking beast in true geared-bike fashion. I soon found myself being launched over the bars and careening towards the not-so-soft asphalt. That was it for me, and I said, "no thanks, not for me. I'll stick with a geared bike!" He said, "well, ya know you can flip-flop the hub and ride it single speed." Unconvinced, I ignored his statement and politely put the bike back up on the rack thinking, "nope...not for me." Well, here I am about 2 years later with two single speeds in the garage soon to be joined by a third. I'm not sure what got me into this: boredom with no project to tinker with, or just plain curiosity as to whether or not I'd really like riding with just one gear. After all, it did seem rather odd that anyone with any sense, would want more gears than just one. Well, one day while I was just sitting there in my garage contemplating my navel and drinking a glass of wine (my favorite mind stimulus drink), I thought to myself, "self, I bet I can turn that old Trek 2300 into a single-speed bike." With some net surfing and further sleuthing, I came up with the perfect, not too expensive, morphization. Is that a word? Anyway, I bought a single speed conversion kit from Performance, dug out an old set of wheels, purchased and mounted some of those "old style" brake levers and whoola! A single speed mut is born!


The Next Member of the Stable


I had to draw upon some Mozam engineering here to add the additional water bottle cage.


Added the "Detours" bag for the long rides. I will be doing the Solvang Double this spring on one of the Single Speeds

While I've never been too "geeky" about things in general (at least I don't think so), I was curious about what all these guys were talking about when you get a bunch of single-speed and fixed-gear riders together. The inevitable first question one asks when realizing there is a true bond here is: "hey, what gearing are you running on that thing?" The usual response consists of the size of the front chainring followed by the size of the rear sprocket (both are referred to in numbers of teeth). Goes something like this: "I'm runnin' a 48 by 18." "Cool!" is usually the other response, followed by: "yeah, that gives me a perfect 71 gear inches." Now depending how geekinzoid you really wanna get, you would understand perfectly what the last part of that conversation really means. If you are just a bike rider, like I am, you just say "cool" like you really know what 71 gear inches really means. After all, you don't want let anyone know that your geekinzoid factor isn't what it's supposed to be, right? Actually, I was curious what all this meant and found out that there are really three ways to address these various combinations: Gain Ratio, Gear Inches, and Meters...yep, meters. I won't go into too much detail but here, at least, is a definition of gear inches. If you want more details, I highly recommend going to Sheldon Brown's bike site for a little light reading. I'll paraphrase about gear inches from him here:

Gear Inches: The simplest system in common use is the "gear inch" system. It is very easy to calculate: the diameter of the drive wheel, times the size of the front sprocket divided by the size of the rear sprocket. This gives a convenient two- or three-digit number. The examples, 46 by 16 and 52 by 12 are all around 74-75 inches. The lowest gear on most mountain bikes is around 22-26 inches.

Surly, manufacturers of Single Speed/Fixed frames also has a good article on the various nuances of single speed/fixed gear riding here.

Here Are A Few Pics of the "Mutt"


A Close-up of the Chain Tensioner. You can use any regular wheel. You just need to add the spacers to make the chainline work


Now, what do all these numbers really mean. Well, I translate them into "feel." Yep, feel. Basically, the smaller numbers make it easier to pedal and the higher numbers make it harder. What is the "nirvana" number, you ask? Well, it depends. It depends on what is comfortable for you. For me, it is any combination of gears that gives me anywhere from 68 to 72 gear inches. So, guess what? The more bikes you have, the more combinations you have available! And that...makes me happy. For example, I use the old Trek 2300 for commuting and it also weighs in a bit heavier than the other two bikes. Besides that, I load it down with "stuff." So, I run a 44 by 17 on that one, translating into 68 gear inches. On the Leader bike, I'm running 46 by 17 giving me a comfortable 71.1 gear inches. I can spin the Leader out at about 28 mph. On the new Single Speed, I'm gonna run 48 by 18 as a trial. That gives me about 70.1 gear inches and I think that combo will be good for Centuries or Double Centuries that require a bit of climbing.

So, am I hooked on Single Speed riding? Most assuredly yes! Will I ever go fixed, Nope. I like coasting down hills too much. Single speed is really the "bomb." So, come on over to the dark side and join us!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

A Recovery Ride—And Retrospective

The Copper Triangle left both of us a bit trashed. The day after the ride was the worst we both felt after a cycling event in some time—legs of cement and that no energy feeling. There literally wasn’t any strength left in the legs, especially for hiking or climbing. So, we opted for a nice relaxing day of exploring Frisco and Breckenridge. The next day, however, things were back to normal and we both felt surprisingly well. We decided to have a nice leisurely breakfast in Copper Village, let the temps warm up a bit and then go for a ride. The original plan was to drive down to Frisco, take the bike path back to Copper Mountain and then return the way we came. That would give us about 15 miles or so for a nice recovery ride, and our last ride in the high country. Feeling pretty good, we changed plans in Frisco and decided to follow the bike path back over to Breckenridge. We figured this would be a much more scenic ride, as the bike path back to Copper Mountain just follows I-70…As it turns out, we made the better decision.

You couldn’t ask for a better day for a bike ride. The air was cool, the sky was a brilliant blue and dotted with white puffy clouds, and best of all, there was very little if any wind. We parked the car at the Frisco marina on Dillon reservoir and went in search of the bike path over towards Breckenridge. After some meandering about, we finally hooked up with the path. The initial portion of the path that follows along Highway 9 cuts back into the Aspen forest just above and to the west of Hwy 9, and eventually drops you out again paralleling Hwy 9 towards Breckenridge. This is where you get your first view of the vast Breckenridge Ski area. I was struck at just how close to the tree-line you are over on this part of the valley. Focusing back on the path in front of me, I was impressed as to how many people of various cycling flavors you see on this path. It was just plain cool seeing so many people on bikes!

Frisco Bike Path Video

A long straight shot takes you right into the heart of downtown Breckenridge and along the Blue River. It was fun to stop and watch everyone just taking it all in by the shore of the river. Bobbie even got to dip her toes in the frigid water. Hanging around for awhile, we got to talk to the “flower” lady whose job it is to keep all the pots of flowers fresh and nice looking for the tourist—and there are a ton of these flower pots all over Breckenridge. Reluctantly, we left Breckenridge behind and retraced our pedal strokes back to Frisco where we would dine on some yummy New York, Colorado hot dogs.

Colorado is definitely one of my favorite places to visit. The high-country, however, does take bit of getting used to and I recommend about 5 days of acclimation, especially if you are going to do any strenuous activity above 9,000 feet. Maybe next time we can get a little more time off and get here a little earlier for some Copper Triangle preparation.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Copper Triangle — 1 Aug 09


Bobbie Sports the Coveted Copper Triangle Jersey

Almost every mile above 9500 feet mean sea level. Who woulda thought? I’m not sure if I realized what I got us into by signing us up for this one, but it sounded like a real good idea at the time and besides, it is Colorado—one of my favorite places to visit on this planet. So, off we go at 0615 in the morning accompanied by about 3000 other hearty soles to explore a mountain paradise devoid of oxygen. Appropriately, Bobbie and I sported our Club Hypoxia jerseys to let everyone know that we, indeed, willingly picked altitude today, over oxygen.

The Copper Triangle ride is in its 4th year and was started as a fundraiser for the Davis Phinney Foundation to help its quest to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease. This year, the ride raised over $105,000 for the foundation. That’s a pretty hefty amount when you consider the ride was limited to around 3,000 riders and also considering the costs of putting on such an event. Thanks to a host of volunteers and sponsors like Cliff Bar, Colorado Cyclist, and Copper Mountain Resort the ride was a huge success, and I’m sure will continue to be so well into the future.

As expected, it was just a wee bit chilly this early in the morning with the temperature hovering around 33-34 degrees. Here it is the first of August and we hadn’t seen temperatures like that since January back in Vegas. We came fairly well prepared, however, so the cold air early on in the ride didn’t affect us too much. I wouldn’t ordinary say this but the route actually helped keep us warm because right off the bat, you are faced with a monster climb of 11 miles at 6-8% to the top of Fremont Pass—all 11,318 feet of it. Now that may not seem like much starting at 9500 feet, but you gotta remember, there isn’t a whole lot of oxygen up there. So, we geared down rather early and set a pace that was actually quite comfortable. I will say this about climbing in the mountains: If you don’t have a triple chainring, or a well geared compact setup on your bike, you will suffer and spent a lot of needless energy getting over these high peaks. And, oh by the way, you will be mighty tired when it is all said and done with—go with the gears, trust me.


The "We made it!" Picture

With all “mombo” climbs come bomber down-hills and Fremont Pass did not disappoint. The major problem with these steep and long descents this early in the morning is you guessed it: wind chill. I think Bobbie would agree with me, that this was the only time all day we both felt chilled on the ride, especially the hands. The next bit of climbing seemed quite a bit easier and I would attribute the ease of climbing to our technique used going up Fremont. We passed uneventfully by Leadville (home of the Leadville 100) and were greeted with another long, but not so steep descent into a picturesque mountain meadow that lead us to another gentle climb into our second rest stop located at Tennessee Pass, and the 10th Mountain Division WWII monument. If you don’t like waiting in line; for the porta-potties, to fill your bottles, or to get food, these big rides are not for you. I’m always amazed that no matter how big they make the food tables or increase the number of volunteers at these stations, there are always throngs of people waiting in line. So, patience is always the order of the day. There was always enough food, water, and plenty of smiles to go around.


On Our Way to the Climb to Tennessee Pass

By this time, the air had warmed up quite a bit and we found ourselves, along with several others, peeling layers off by the side of the road. A long and rather speedy downhill dropped us at the base of the Battle Mountain climb where we still enjoyed enough coolness in the air to keep us from sweating as we inched our way upward. I was pleasantly surprised to realize just how much more one can enjoy by just slowing the pace down by a couple of miles per hour. I guess I was paranoid about “blowing up” rather early on these climbs because of the altitude more than anything else. As things turned out, discretion was indeed the better part of valor and that discretion added the additional bonus of letting me really enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of Colorado high country—I’m sure Bobbie would agree with me on this one as well.


Bobbie at Tennessee Pass

The descent from Battle Mountain along Highway 24 was exhilarating to say the least. Unlike the previous very looooong downhills this one serpentined its way all the way down the mountain to the tiny community of Minturn. Flowing out into a valley we followed a delightful river all along Highway 24 until finally reaching the outskirts of Western Vail. It is at this point where you join the Vail bike path and where the last climb of the day begins. The route cuts right through the center of Vail where you are greeted with an enormous mountain vista on your left and right that is covered with mountain homes. We were both stunned at the enormity of some of these homes and couldn’t help but wonder how anyone could afford such castles. The town is amazingly clean and neat. There are no “in your face” signs anywhere along the way. So, at least, the town’s folks are keeping things quaint despite the obvious sprawl all over the mountain side.


The Road up Battle Mountain

We would like to mention the Colorado State Police at this point. Despite their efforts to curb these types of rides throughout Colorado and the number of participants, I found these officers to be very courteous, professional, and very caring for our safety. On numerous occasions, we were escorted safely through some busy intersections and protected from passing traffic on some pretty narrow highways—so, two thumbs up and a z-formation for the Colorado State Police.

At the second to last rest stop, the “beast” begins. I say “beast” because I think it was tough because of all the previous climbing we had done so far, especially at altitude. The route starts out tame enough at about 3-4% and parallels I-70 using the old road before I-70 was built. A steady climb drops you out on the bike path that eventually leads to the summit of Vail Pass at 10,660 feet. The path itself is not difficult, but the grade changes are numerous, and after all the previous climbing, these relentless changes took their toll on our legs. The path was not without merit however. There were numerous places along the way where the view was just spectacular. I only wish we didn’t have quite such a need to get “this beast of climb over with.” The key, again, was to select the right gearing and just settle into a nice comfortable rhythm. Something that is a bit difficult to do after an already long day of climbing in the legs. Reaching the summit was quite a treat so we stayed there for awhile chatting with other riders, as we knew the last 7 miles was literally all downhill. If fact, we wouldn't go back “up” again until we climbed the stairs to the elevator that would take us to our room.


The Elevation Profile

We topped the ride off with an outstanding free lunch of salad, chicken picata on wild rice, iced tea and a couple of “Fat Tires.” Then it was off to the comfy grass to lay around in the balmy sunshine and take in the free concert. A truly great day in the Colorado high country, indeed.

Monday, August 03, 2009

A Rocky Mountain Preview


It was an early get up at around 3:00 a.m. to catch the 6:30 a.m. flight from Las Vegas to Denver. Blurry eyed and coffee craving we start our journey. To our delight, it is 91 ˚F at 3:30 a.m. Yeah baby! Love the desert!

It is amazing how many Vegas cops we saw this morning, 5 in all, and all with someone pulled over for some reason. They even had a Cabi pulled over for some reason. Now why would you pull over a Cab driver at this hour of the morning anyway? Curious for sure.

Travel tip number one: never trust the little cart rental machines. Aaaah, only 4 dollars to rent one. So, in goes 4 dollars, machine thanks me very much, and says, “that will be 4 dollars please.” “I just gave you 4 dollars you low-life piece of shit, now give me my cart.” “No can do, that will be 4 dollars please.” So, I look around for someone to give me a refund and guess what? Nobody in sight at 4:45 a.m. Who woulda thought? So, I spie another cart-offering machine and try again, but this time with a 5 dollar bill. Well, I think. I’m gonna get suckered into this again. Much to my surprise and satisfaction, the machine coughs up a cart. Not bad.

We arrive into Denver without incident and are marveled at the size of this place. I would describe this place as, “one big-ass airport.” Anyway, we finally collect all our bags and load them onto another 4-dollar cart; scurry over to the shuttle area, and eagerly await the Enterprise Rental Car shuttle. Man, what a long ride to the rental counter…this is a big ass place! Turns out the attendant is a bike freak, kinda like me. I guess it was the Specialized, “Ride First, Work Later” t-shirt that gave me away. We talk bikes a lot and very little about the rental car. I think he forgot what upgrade I had asked for because he gave me a full-sized SUV for the same price that I was quoted for a smaller version. A nice little prize for us after all the early morning expenses we incurred.

Our first day at altitude was spent visiting Bobbie’s sister, Jean and brother in-law, Dave. It is monsoon season here in Colorado so the weather has been a bit on the stormy side. However, this day was perfect, scattered clouds, temps in the 70s, and the air had that cool, soothing, sleepy feeling to hit that you might expect from being in a Midwest forest in the early fall. Anyway, We all talked while they watched intently while I used their front porch as my personal bike shop. Since neither of them ride bikes per se, we struck common ground and decided to take up fly-fishing together sometime in the near future and plan a trip either here in Colorado or some place along the Snake River in Idaho. All in all, it was a great visit, but I was ready to get some miles in the legs at altitude.

Bikes packed and good-byes exchanged, we headed off to Ft. Collins for some riding and a visit with some Bike Journal virtual buddies we’ve made on-line. The weather wasn’t cooperating very nicely as the front range was covered with cloud adding the additional threat of rain. This didn’t look too good for our “mountain” training that we so desperately needed. As we cruised what looked like western Kansas for most of the drive, we finally arrived in Ft. Collins. We contacted our virtual friend Howard as the pitter patter of rain drops hit our hotel window. He assured us this rain spell would pass and that we could get in a couple of miles around Ft. Collins. Skeptical, we agreed to meet and give it a go. Well, the mountains were outta there for sure. So, we parked the car along the side of a road out in the country and hit the flat lands for a quick 18 miles or so. I gotta tellya, after living in 100+ temperatures and then riding in 53 degree temperatures takes a little getting used to.


Bobbie Getting Ready for the Horse Tooth Epic

Howard was so pumped up to ride, he said we had to go over and do the Wednesday night Hypoxian ride and take advantage of the situation to meet the other Hypoxians. Again, we were skeptical about the weather, and could have just sat around the room after a good dinner and some wine. But, we were glad we decided to join everyone.

Getting ready to ride, the weather loomed ever so close to the teetering point of misty rain or an outright downpour. It was getting darker by the minute as well, and the whole situation made you feel like crawling inside your now dry cycling clothes, walking inside, and curling up to a fire. But as the Nike slogan says, “We just did it.” All of us enjoyed a nice ride of about 20 miles along the rolling hills of the front-range, and even got to experience a little of that cool rain that returned from earlier in the day. I must say, it was great to meet Deadhead, Bike Princess, and Baltic Tiger. What great folks! Thanks for the hospitality guys, we really enjoyed the New Belgium recovery drinks and our conversations with Bogey the parrot! My only regret was that I didn’t take the camera with me that evening. Live and learn.

Day 2 in Ft. Collins was nothing less than spectacular. Once again, the threat of rain in the mountains curtailed our training plan up in Estes Park so Howard suggested we take a “Tour de Ft. Collins.” I had mentioned earlier that the Horse Tooth Reservoir loop sounded good to us, so unbeknownst to me, that is exactly what Howard had in mind.


Howard, Our Gracious Ft. Collins Tour Guide

Ft. Collins has to be one of the coolest bike cities I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. There are bike routes, parks, bike friendly conveniences all over the place. According to Howard, Ft. Collins is one of the “Platinum” rated bike friendly cities in the United States. I can certain see why. I mean, the bike paths throughout town actually go under the streets around here! That means you don’t have to cross busy intersections anywhere in the city. How cool is that? Well, after down and around, here and there, we end up at the front range where the road turns up. Not just up, but up for a long way. We have now entered the Horse Tooth Epic, as Howard calls it. The first of three stinger climbs up to Horse Tooth reservoir.

Partly cloudy skies and cool temperatures made for perfect climbing conditions and spectacular scenery as we made our way skyward. The vastness of eastern Colorado could be seen to our right and the breathtaking views and depth of the Colorado Rockies was to our left. Cresting the first climb gives one the first peek at Horse Tooth reservoir, and what a peek it is. This reservoir seems to go on forever, both north and south. Words don’t describe the scene adequately so I’ll just provide some pictures. We stopped at the summit of all three climbs just to take it all in. With all big climbs, come bomber downhills and this ride did not disappoint. I watched Howard disappear in front of me on the final descent and came to find out he hit, in his words, “a disappointing 56 mph” on the way down. He said, “my best is 63 mph!” YGBSM.

The Horse Tooth Epic concludes with join up of the Poudre River bike trail system that ultimately leads you back to Old Town Ft. Collins. Old Town Ft. Collins is a must see for anyone traveling here. Folks here have preserved the flavor of the older part of Ft. Collins and the resulting atmosphere is just something to experience.


Looking South on Horse Tooth Reservoir


Taking a Break after Lotsa Climbing!

After a fantastic lunch at Rasta Pasta (I highly recommend the curry chicken dish) we headed over to the New Belgium Brewery to sample a few of cycling’s best ever recovery drinks. Every time I go visit a place where people work, I say, “gee why can’t I work here?” I’m sure people say the same about my place of employment, but I’d be willing to bet they don’t say it as often as they say it about this place. Just to give you an example, if you work for New Belgium for a year, they give you a bicycle! Not just a bicycle, but a Fat Tire bicycle! How cool is that? And, if you work there for 5 years, they give you an all expenses paid trip to Belgium for brewery training. How cool is that again!


The New Belgium Cycling Recovery Center

As guests, we were entitled to select 4 types of recovery drinks. My personal favorite is 1554. I’m not sure what that means, but it sure does taste good and I won’t forget the number, that’s for sure. Satisfied and fully recovered, we made our way back to the bike path and to our hotel for a little recovery nap. What a great day. Thanks Howard. You made our stay in Ft. Collins a memorable one! Now on to the Copper Triangle…

Monday, July 27, 2009

Copper Mountain Here We Come!


Here we go. Out of this furnace for some nicer temperatures. Although the low in Colorado is 70 degrees lower than the high temp here, we are looking way forward to it.


Pack the Bikes, Unpack the Bikes...I'm gettin' good at this!

After a few days in the Ft. Collins area to visit and ride with some BikeJournal buds, we will be moving on to Copper Mountain for the Copper Mountain Triangle ride. About 72 miles altogether with most of it at altitude. Should be fun. Bike story write up and pictures to follow.

Cheers, Kent

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pay Back Time!

They say that, “pay back is hell!” Without a doubt true as of lately in Vegas. We enjoyed the coolest June on record and now we are paying for it big time. Bobbie and I managed to get out on the bikes 3 times this week before work and each time out the temperature had cooled down to a mere 85 °F. Now that isn’t all that bad really. But, and there is always a “but”, you had to be on the road at 0515 to enjoy the 85 °F temps! Because if you weren’t, and Mr Sun started showing his angry head budding up over the horizon, it got to the mid 90’s in mere minutes. So early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and cool my friends.

What’s truly amazing is how the pavement around here really doesn’t cool off. The air temperature is what the weather guessers measure, not radiant temperature. You can add at least 10 degrees to whatever is posted, and that get’s you the “real feel” on a bicycle. But hey, we can’t complain. At least we get 365 days of riding around here. I wouldn’t trade the heat for 12 feet of snow any day.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Children of the Corn Part Deux - Normal, Illinois

The original plan was to ride all three days while in Bloomington/Normal, but Mr. Rain came by for a visit and decided to stay awhile. The forecast called for a break in the weather around 1pm, but like all really accurate forecasts (hint of sarcasm) this one was just a little off the mark, and the rain stayed around all day long. Not all was lost however as we decided to just go for a nice long 2-3 hour walk along the Constitution Trail and see what we could see.

Sunday, we hooked up with the Vitesse Bicycle shop group ride that takes place every Sunday morning at 0815. Andre, the bike shop manager gave us word that this ride would be mellow and would be centered around getting some of his “running” customers into cycling. Like every other group ride I’ve been on, the actual ride time isn’t really the ride time, even though it is clearly stated that the ride will start at a certain time. This one was no different and we didn’t really get rolling until about 0830 or so. After a little social time, we got rolling and headed out towards Lake Bloomington again, but his time we took a little different route to get there which was a nice change of pace. Speaking of pace, Andre did not disappoint and kept everything within the groups’ abilities to allow a little social time on our way out to the lake. I got to know a whole host of different folks: a biology professor, ISU cross-country runner, several shop mechanics, Andre himself and the one each racer-boy who looked all of 12 years old.

The weather did not disappoint and the ride around the lake was as gorgeous as the day before. We added a little twist today and added the Evergreen Lake loop. Evergreen Lake sits about 5-6 miles to the west of Bloomington Lake and appears to be another man made lake similar to Bloomington Lake. Once again, our route just dumped us off into the endless fields of corn segregated by country roads with little traffic. The pace quickened as the professor and racer-boy got on the front and unknowingly jacked up the pace. Andre was quick to settle them back a bit and we all regrouped for a nice uneventful return to the bike shop.

I rather like these types of unknown group rides. You never really know who’s gonna show up and what the pace will really be like. I guess it is sort of an adventure. I was impressed with the friendless of everyone and the consideration that was given to the new riders. If and when I get back to Normal, I’ll definitely meander on down to Vitesse and join another ride.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Children of the Corn - Normal, Illinois


You Won't See Many of These Barns In Nevada

I'm totally convinced after today's ride that old brain cells never die, they just need a familiar smell to wake them up. Cows, pigs, horses and the myriad of other farmland smells brought back fond memories of our childhood as we pedaled our way through the heartland. And what a great ride it was!


The Constitution Trail


Bobbie Rides the Trail

We managed to find the Constitution Trail that makes its way through the Bloomington/Normal metropolis and suburbs. This trail is a real piece of work and the usefulness of which can be gauged by the number of folks actually using it. Our start came a bit late in the morning for us, but we were pleasantly surprised by the coolness at this time day. Both of us expected the temps to be in the 90's with the humidity well up, as that was what we were used to as kids this time of year. So, the pleasantness of the day was a welcome surprise. As we completed our tour of the trail we opened up into the vastness of midwest cornfields, literally miles and miles of fields covered in corn. The complementary colors of the blue sky and green fields added to the pleasantness of the experience and did not abate for the entire ride.


Miz Bobbie Cruises The Farmland


Tons of this Stuff!


Lake Bloomington and Surrounding Area

We arrived at Lake Bloomington and decided to just take a tour of the surrounding road. The tour is mostly tree covered and you only get a glimpse of the lake here and there. The speed limit is set a 20 mph for moving vehicles so that gave us a little added comfort. There is a little bar-and-grill located at what is called the main entrance to the and is also to have the best hamburgers in Illinois. We decided to come back later with the car as a belly full of hamburger on a bike ride didn't seem like too good of an idea. So, the sharing of a 65 cent Coke and sit-down was the order of the moment.


Best Burgers in Illinois!!


Creative Flower Pot

If you ever get to Normal, we highly recommend a trip to Lake Bloomington either by bicycle or car. You won't be disappointed.

Cheers, Kent and Bobbie.


Happy Birthday America!!


Just Chillin' at Lake Bloomington


One of the Smaller Homes Along the Lake

Friday, July 03, 2009

No Bikes...Unless You Got 50 Bucks!

The crack of dawn came early this morning as we started our journey to the midwestern town of Bloomington, Illinois. The temperature was up again in the Vegas valley, along with humidity and it almost felt like Florida around here. Yuk! Funny how you can break a sweat walking the dog at 0430 on a very hot and humid Las Vegas day.

The jaunt to the airport was uneventful and the gut wrenching flu bug I managed to catch two days ago finally abated. Lord knows I wasn't looking forward to travelling with that. I did say the trip to the airport was uneventful, but the arrival was a bit frustrating. It seems Southwest charges for bikes, 50 bucks for bikes. Even though mine is broken down into a nice tidy little suitcase, they still charged me 50 bucks. She asked, "what's in the bag?", A bike... "Oh, that'll be 50 bucks. We've always charged for bikes." Bobbie says, "You've never charged for this bike before." She again says, "we've always charged for bikes, that'll be 50 bucks." Seems the operative word was a bike, not suitcase. So, I call customer service. "Sorry, all of our representatives are at a staff meeting until 0830 central time, please try your call again." It's 0848 central time. So, I hangup and wait at 37 thousand feet.

Funny what and who you encounter on airplanes. I kindly asked the flight attendant, they were all stewardesses when I was kid, for another coke. She says seriously but at the same time rather jokingly, "No, I'm busy and I have three other orders in my head." I smile and say, "I'll pay you." She gives me that police, vice-undercover look and says, "Ok, 5 dollars" and then walks off. I smile and feel satisfied with the humor of the moment. She returns with my coke and says that she was sorry but she has had a lot of crappy passengers to deal with lately. "It must be the travel season or something, people just don't know what they are doing.", she says. I say, "yep, probably is something like that" and listen attentively to the rest of her story. Then she says, "You won't believe this, but I actually had one lady do something really astonishing the other day." I say, "Oh really, what was that?" ever so curiously. She says, "Well, you know how we go down the aisle collecting trash every so often." I say, "yes" "Well" she says, "this lady reached down to give me her peanut rapper that was lodged in her seat pocket, and before she gave it to me, she blew her nose in it! Can you believe that?" I say, "no, that's disgusting." "Some people" she says, as she walked off. We look at each other in amazement and disgust and Bobbie says she doesn't know how these people do this kind of work, and that she'd rather deal with snotty little kids all day then deal with adults sometimes. Me too. Hopefully we won't have to experience anything like that on the rest of this flight.

The plan for riding over the next couple of days is to explore the flat lands of Illinois by bicycle and try to document a bit of days gone by from our past. Should be fun and pictures to follow. The plan on day one is ride over to Bloomington Lake for a tour and maybe a picnic. Then, we will had west over to another lake that I can't remember the name of, spend some time there and head back through a couple of small Illinois towns located just north of Normal. We will also be using the Constitution Trail. I did a little research and the trail appears to head both East and West as well as North and South. We will be making our way on the North South portion and will hopefully explore the rest in the next couple of days, either on foot or by bicycle. Should be fun either way, especially if the weather holds out. So, we'll see.

Now, time for a little rest while I enjoy the message from the 6 year old behind me kicking my seat and listen his ever so loud lulliby out how big the clouds look up here.

Cheers, Mozam

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Ride Through Zion National Park


With out a doubt; God's country! Zion is one of those places that gives you a sore neck because you spend the entire time looking up. Vista after vista presents itself at every turn throughout the park. While compiling this Blog, I couldn't get over how many pictures I took on just one ride. Check them out below.

We decided to make this a no hassle weekend and just take things as the come. Apart from the hassle with the hotel and a crew of rowdy family reunion folks at our hotel, the weekend was just spectacular. The ride from Springdale dumps you almost immediately into the park. You are redirected onto a bike path that is shared with hikers, walkers, dogs, bugs of all kinds, and yes gawkers with their necks craned skyward. It is advisable to be a little cautious here. Once off the path and into the park the ride is really tame so there is plenty of time for viewing and enjoying the landscape. About 10 miles or so in, you reach the turnaround at the Temple of Sinawava. The ride back out is just as spectacular so there is any boredom to be had that's for sure.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Race Across America - RAAM 2009


My virtual friend Bob Avrit from BikeJournal will be riding RAAM this year with 7 other folks who have Type 2 diabetes to not only to conquer a challenge, but to promote awareness of the disease. It is quite a feat indeed for 8 guys riding relay style. They kick off today on their journey. You can follow them on the RAAM site. Their team name is Team Type 2. Should be quite exciting to follow. Team Type 2 Website

I gave some thought once to riding my bike across America, and I may just do that given that I'm still able and have the time. But racing across America, I'm not sure about that. I'm all over these endurance sport type thingees, but I'm not that obsessed. I do, however, enjoy reading about RAAM from the comfort of my office chair and the companionship of my PC. Having done both the Furnace Creek 508 and Hoodoo 500, I can at least say I have tasted a bit of what RAAM is all about; tasted but not experienced. One can only truly appreciate the suffering by being there. It is kinda like putting drop of really expensive wine on your pallet. You get the idea, put not the appreciation of what really goes into a fine glass or bottle.

RAAM 2009 kicked off this past week with the solo male riders and solo women going first. The team riders will follow on the weekend as they are a faster bunch and tend to catch the solos about one-third of the way into the race. The race organizers have added another flavor to the race by adding an event called RAW, or Race Across the West. This little gem is about 1000 miles long, ending in TAOS, New Mexico. Fast and furious this will be I'm sure.

Good luck to all!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Boulder City and 86 °F in June!


I've been here in this over sized cat box since 1989 (geez, that makes me feel old) and I never have seen weather like this in the middle of June! The high today was 86 °F. Now that has to be some sort of record. Along with the great weather comes some great cycling! Yahoo! It also brings a bit of wind, but I gotta tellya, I'd rather have a little wind than 110+ temperatures by 9am.

We decided to just do our own thing today and head over to Boulder City for a loop around the neighborhoods and then make our way back to Anthem. It has been awhile since Miz Bobbie has been on an extended ride so I willingly obliged her desire to put in a few more miles. The ride down Hwy 93 isn't the greatest road but it is the only way to get there, at least until they get the River Mountain Trail finished. They are doing pretty well, however. I noticed a section of paved path from Boulder City to about halfway to railroad pass. So, it at least looks like things are progressing.


The Very Old Boulder Dam Hotel

Like I said, the weather was superb while we made our way past the airport and on up the short but steep incline that leads you back to "horse country." It is kinda odd seeing all these really expensive homes backed up to horse stalls that radiate with the smell of horse shit. Well, I guess if you are a horse person, that never ending smell must be a treat. Not for me however. It was all I could do just to get through the place. Well, the loop through the old part of town basically dumps you back onto Hwy 93 where you get to make the trip back, you're just on the other side of the road...


I could tell that the ride was wearing on Bobbie because she gets real quiet when she gets tired. And the fact that she so quietly said to me while we were stopped at a traffic light, "I is tired boss..." The paced slowed, the head hung over the handlebars, and the cadence also slowed as we crawled our way up another 600 feet to Anthem. All in all, a really great ride and good initial training for my Copper Mountain riding partner.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lake Las Vegas


The original plan today was to hook up with the GVC “Old Guys/Gals Rule” ride through Southern Highlands and back to Green Valley. Somehow that just didn’t work out. I think I miss judged the “hook up” time, or the group just passed us by. Oh well. As it turned out, we changed mindset and headed through Henderson and on down to Lake Las Vegas for a fun loop and then retraced our tire tracks back home. On any other day this ride is pretty routine, but today things were a little bit different. Normally, it is hot as hell around here in June and the ride feels more like a long slog through a sun baked oven. Today, however, the weather was just gorgeous and the air had that cool, California coast feel to it. The sky was bright blue and dotted with pure white-puffy clouds.


Up the Henderson hill we went! Actually, it is called Horizon Ridge Parkway, but most everyone around here just refers to the climb as the “Henderson Hill.” I figured since school was finally OUT and Bobbie wanted ride…and the fact that we are doing the Copper Triangle in Colorado in August…it was time to get some climbing in the legs. A quick tour through Henderson proper and it was down Racetrack Road on our way to Lake Las Vegas. Lake Las Vegas is kind of an interesting place really. The project was started several years ago in an effort to offer visitors and residents something other than just the, “Strip.” Before the great recession, this place was a highly sought after place to live and play…just about every square inch of desert is covered with golf course, hotels, or Mac Mansions! It is part high-scale resort and part high-scale residential, mixed with a few golf courses and a small village by the name of Montelago all quaintly set in a quazi European theme. The ride through the area is a small loop that swoops sharply downward into the area and then culminates in a steep climb through the residential area and attached golf course. A bit of irony also hangs over this place. The “lake” part is actually man-made because the entire development sits directly below the Las Vegas waste-water treatment facility. Apparently, in order to build such an upscale development the waste water had to be routed underneath the man-made portion via tunnel which ultimately directs the water into Lake Mead. Take that California! Usually we just haul ass through here, sometimes grabbing a coffee at Saxby’s, and then starting our climb back out to the city. Today we just took our time to discover some things we missed during our earlier haste-filled rides. I think I was most impressed with the waterfall coming off a man-made rock structure located at the base of the Ritz Carleton Hotel and Casino. I must say, however, I was also equally unimpressed with the poor attempt at a white sand beach that is also provided by the hotel. The beach thing, for whatever reason, just seemed so out of place in this environment.


Our climb out and back home seemed pretty much the same and we couldn’t help notice the impact of this recession thing going on. There are a lot of empty graded pads out in the middle the desert that give evidence of projects either abandoned or left unfunded. This is really a shame because these abandoned, austere geometric shapes significantly detract from the natural desert landscape. Back in the concrete jungle, we stopped for a nice refreshing ice-cold coke and a respite before making the climb back to Anthem. Truly a great day and a great ride!

Ritz Carlton Waterfall



The Bridge over to Montelago Village. You can ride your bike through here. Pretty cool indeed.