It's been an interesting year. As with so many other places in life, things get better. Things get worse.
Things are a ton better than they were last year. I think for just about everyone 2020 was a year we're all glad to have in the rear view mirror.
However, due to a ton of abrupt changes in my life, it's led to less time behind bars. Fortunately, there's still the always reliable Thursday Night to look forward to. And there's always Santan right around the corner.
I managed to get out there last night on the single speed. Apparently, I felt the need to beat myself up a bit. Weather was great. In this chaotic life, it was nice to clear some headspace.
Hopefully, this will light a spark and lead both towards more riding and more writing.
See ya'll down the line!!!
To say that 2020 was a funky year for everyone would be an understatement. Obviously, COVID was in all of our collective consciousness. Compound that with all of the political nonsense going on in the world, life has become a bit of a pressured cooker.
For me, there was the added element of struggling with some very unexpected health issues, including a bout of Atrial Fibrillation and a Frozen Shoulder. Pretty much the entire second half of 2020 was consumed with not feeling well and wondering if it was time to hang up the bike shoes for good. By the grace of God, I seem to have gotten the health stuff under control.
With the majority of the health stuff in the rear view, I have been chomping at the bit to go bang out some miles and hang out with the boys for a weekend. Scotty B and I talked in Mid December about a variety of bad ideas including one to do an overnight to Tucson to check out their recently completed loop system that wraps all of the way around the city. After consulting with Marcos and Ryan, finding a place (Thanks Marcos) and pinning down dates, we were all set.
Marcos, Robert, and I wound up getting to Tucson Friday night which gave us the proper opportunity to break in the place a bit before Ryan, Stratman and Scotty B made their arrival Saturday morning to get the main ride in. The main criteria for the place was that it was close enough to the trail that we could easily get to it and that it would accommodate all of us. The place was very comfortable and we could more or less fall onto the trail system from where we were at.
The ride itself was pretty straightforward. A couple notes of interest was that this was by far Rob's longest ride (Kudos Rob) and that we had the perfect day of riding other than the nasty little sting in the tail headwind at the very end. Thanks to Ryan for making sure that we were properly plied with Tecate at our last stop.
Classic Riding Dirty Road trip. Shit show on wheels...just the way we like it.
Saturday post ride showed up with steaks, mashed potatoes, aspargus and a substantial amount of beer. After a hot tub, eating too much, not being used to alcohol and a sit around the fire pit, I shut it down fairly early. Fortunately, there were a handful that took one for the team and burned the midnight oil.
With no real action plan for Sunday in place, I wasn't sure I was going to get a ride in. Fortunately, I had a partner in Marcos for a follow up "bad idea" which was to catch a spur route off of the main trail system up to Oro Valley. As it turns out, it was a blast. Marcos rode like his hair was on fire. I did my best to try and hold his wheel.
Looking back, I feel blessed that I'm finally back on the right track. At the risk of sounding like a suck up, it also made me realize all of the things that I'm fortunate to have, not least of which are the friends that surrond me and have put up with my whining over the last year (some a whole lot longer than that). With any kind of luck, 2021 will be a much better year for all of us...at least we can hope!!!
Here at Riding Dirty, we have a page dedicated to trail systems local to the PHX. Like any other red blooded American, spend a lot of time fantasizing about rides. I thought it might be fun to also post a link to some of the bad ideas of come up with through the years. Some of them have been used and are tried and true. Others exist as a figment of my imagination. Many of the rides revolve around trips from my house or work, friends houses or other destinations of interest. For more of my stupid ideas, check out my Strava account for a laugh or two. Here's a sampling:
The second thought revolves around night riding. Since summers are a bit tough here in Arizona, we tend to seek out the trails at night. Year round, we have a standing Thursday night ride. Unfortunately, I had to miss out due to family obligations last night but our own Solar Wind managed to capture some of the Usery/Hawes action last night. I think it captures the essence of what our Thursdays are all about (with the exception of the post ride cocktail or two). Hopefully, you find it entertaining.
It's a test of ultimate will
The heartbreak climb uphill
Got to pick up the pace
If you want to stay in the race
More than just blind ambition
More than just simple greed
More than just a finish line
Must feed this burning need
In the long run -
Like many Rush fans, I spent the day in mourning on Friday. Word came out that Neil Peart from Rush, who was one of my personal heroes growing up, had passed away. I was fortunate enough to see them on their second to last date in California years ago and always made the assumption that the talk of not touring again was just talk. Many of the songs from Rush formed the foundation of my formative years and many of the lyrics he wrote provoked (and continue to provoke) thought and provide inspiration even to today.
Rather that pissing and moaning over the loss of a hero, we rallied the troops on Saturday. It was a small but aggressively crazy group comprised of fellow Rush fans Ryan, Scotty B and the Strat Man. As a part of the agenda behind the ride, we agreed to jam nothing but Rush through the mini speaker. As usual, our stomping grounds for the day was Brown's.
We had agreed to meet at the main lot at 8.30 because it was as cold as a witches tit. At some point, it was agreed upon that we would attempt to do a loop of the entire park. Ryan had the (mis)fortune on being on my fat bike since his trusty SS was stolen over the holidays. There was plenty of hooting, hollering and air jamming to be had during the ride. Good times.
#smilesformiles #ridingdirty #ridingdustymexicanborderlines
Santan Regional Park is our local stomping grounds. I've spent many a Thursday night or Saturday afternoon there riding and working out whatever personal issues that I'm dealing with at the time. I love it there. It feels almost as as close to home as my own living room in some respects.
With all that complimentary crap being said, I fixate on how little effort is put into taking what is a (overused) gem and polishing said gem up a bit. Post ride Thursday night beers are often accompanied to heated conversations between Scotty B and myself about what needs to be done. It's pretty said when you have user groups approach the park and offer to assist in the building and maintenance of the trails there. It's also a bit exhausting to see my annual fees go towards other parks within the park system while my local track gets no love.
As a byproduct of all of that, I sat down a couple weeks ago in one of my more frustrated moments with the thought to draft some new lines out there. Some of what I included was based off of an original plan of the park that was drafted in 2003.
When you look at what was planned, it makes you sad. When you talk to the people at the park, the discussion usually veers towards topics (excuses?) like sustainability, necessity and sensitivity and I get some of that but for the most part, they just feel like excuses.
Anyway, as previously mentioned, I decided based off of the original map to draft Santan Reimagined. I took what I thought would be sustainable lines and tried to make the set up of the trail system such that it would do a good job of spreading the users out. Also, I re-routed some of the worst sections that were poorly designed. Anything you see in RED is a re-route.
I know it's a pipe dream, but a boy can wish.
For a couple of years, I've heard rumors about new trails behind Hawes that link into the Hawes network and cross over into Usery. I'm prone to dismiss rumors since there have been far too many times that I have heard about new trails and they're either far too rugged to be ridden or their jeep trails.
In spite of this, on Saturday, with a heavy dose of skepticism, The Gov, Scott B and Dave Baker hooked up at the bottom entrance to Usery Park with the intent to link Usery and Pass Mountain to the backside of Hawes. The weather was perfect and everyone was in high spirits with the exception of the fact that Dave thought that Pass Mountain was going to be a disaster. As it turned out, Pass Mountain was a mother of an awesome climb but entirely "passable" (pun intended). Honestly, Pass Mountain was a great prelude to what was to come. Unfortunately, the Gov had to bail since he was on a limited time basis with a wife at home with a sick one. Mad props to him for making it out and even more mad props for clearing Pass Mountain on a single speed. The finishing touch to the Usery side was a side track off onto Clint's Trail instead of the heavily used Bulldog Canyon. Shout out to the guy at the top of Pass Mountain who recommended it.
Once we crossed over from the Usery side to the Hawes side, we picked up the NRA connector. Years ago, we would ride Twisted Sister from this area and all I remember was not being in the flow and having the deathgrip on the bars most of the time. Totally different experience here. Climby, undulating and just enough tech to keep it from being boring. Probably my favorite trail of the day. After NRA, we immediately dropped into the long descent into Wildhorse. Smiles for miles. The only concern we had was that all of the fun downhill we were hitting was going to lead into a rather long ascent back to our cars.
While we were stopped on Wildhorse, several people rallied to give us advice on where to ride and what to do from where we were at. We linked back on Stinger and Scorpion Alley, but from the advice we were given, we were left feeling like we had just scratched the surface. We had a long climb back to the car but we had a relatively mild grade to climb. We stayed on the trails most of the way back up to NRA and jumped on the road back to the park entrance where we picked up Chainfruit, Moon Rock and Levee back to our cars.
From there, it was beers, chicken wings and whiskey back at Dave's place. Thanks for hosting our shenanigans on Saturday, Mr. Baker. Epic sunset and an epic end to an epic afternoon of riding.
Bella came home in a sour mood after getting in a fight with her best friend. She was clearly in need of some dad time and a ride and asked me if I would go out with her. Never missing an opportunity for a ride, we agree to try to link a ride to some canal trails that we've ridden before but never from our house. I knew the ride would be a bit ambitious for her but I felt confident she could handle it.
Every time we ride, I'm reminded of how much faster she's getting and how much she's growing. We wound up doing over 14 miles which is by far the biggest ride she's ever done. Arguably the best part was that a girl that complains about just about everything didn't complain once, even in the face of a nasty headwind on the way home. Her hoots and hollers in the video below should serve to tell you how much fun she had and how much fun riding bikes are in general. I'm already looking forward to the next time she wants to go get muddy and drag her old man out for a ride.
Wait a sec...did you say Scotty B is a roadie?
Photos never lie.
He's officially been indoctrinated. Next thing you know, he'll be shaving his legs, buying chamois butter and discussing whether or not Sean Kelly was a better classics or grand tour racer.
Truth be told, I haven't been riding much lately. I'm not entirely sure why but in 2018, everything hurts. My knees ache. My neck and shoulders hurt. I even managed to hurt my back on Friday getting up off the crapper. Life has started to feel like a sad Jimmy Buffet song.
With that being said, I've been chewing on setting some lofty goals for myself coming into the fall, winter and spring months. More rides. Bigger rides. More races. More activity. The body in motion tends to stay in motion, they say.
Given the fact that the back felt well enough to jump in the saddle and given the fact that the house was empty due to my girls all making the decision to go see a movie, I made the decision to quit feeling sorry for myself and get my ass moving. I had no ride in mind. I thought about the canals but given the monsoons lately, I was afraid they'd be blown out. Same concern with the trails at Santan. As a path of least resistance, I went with a bastardized mix of canals and seldomly used roads. I left at 1pm hot, which may have not been what I wanted but as it turned out, it was what I needed. Painful miles on a single speed plus bike. As with most rides, I left worried about life and pissed off for how I've been feeling and just my general attitude towards the world lately. As with most rides, I finished feeling a whole hell of a lot better about myself.
Every year, like clockwork, the same weekend opens up for me. You see, my wife is an educator. You know....the whole seven weeks off during the summer thing. We'll, we're blessed to have a condo in Cali where she can drag the kids off to in order to beat the 110 degree heat. Of course, when that happens, old Scoot likes to log some miles. Usually, I have the good sense to head to the mountains to get out of the heat but given the fact that the forests are all closed due to the extremely high fire danger this year, I decided to stay close to home.
After sucking some beers down by the pool at Scotty B's place on Friday night, an early Saturday ride beckoned at Brown's Ranch with Rasta Ryan, Marcos and the Gov. Showing up with a hangover wasn't the best decision I've ever made. With that in mind, we still made the best of it. We wound up getting a bunch of trails out there that I had never ridden, including the west section of Stagecoach, Diablo North and Axel Grease.
Here's Marcos's near death pogo on Diablo North...
The post ride brews went down like water on Saturday. Unfortunately, they turned a 1 day hangover into a two day hangover.
The fiddler had to be paid early on Sunday morning. As with any ride with Dave Baker, you are starting at zero dark early. Scotty B and I rallied to DB's place by six for a loop of Usery followed by a long downhill of Hawes and back to Dave's. I felt pretty good early on but the two days of drinking and riding caught up to me. Disappointed to not get TRW. All things considered, I really good weekend of riding, however. I napped like a two year old yesterday.
Pretty much every trip we get the gang together to head to Mexico, we host what we only somewhat jokingly refer to as the Bocce Ball World Championships. We try to keep it light hearted but the crap gets serious quickly.
This year, Rob and Marcos won the team event 2-1. The third game went extra time after AB and I spotted Rob and Marc a 9-0 lead. AB won the individual event. I don't know what the score was. I think I was drunk enough where score keeping wasn't a priority.
All in all...complete success.
Generally, when there's a long weekend, the troops use it as an excuse to rally. We call it a quorum when we have a total of three or more usually. Plans came together rather quickly for a Saturday morning ride at Baker's house. The assumption was that we would four or five at the most. Once everyone showed, we wound up with a total of nine. A sizable presence indeed.
Plans were to leave his house at 6:30 which usually means 7 with this large of a group. The thought was to link together two trail systems with some roads tied in between. Road...Usery...Road...Hawes...Road...TRW...Road.
Early on, there was a ton of trail traffic at Usery, which was to be expected on a 90 degree day in May. It was one of those days that you want to bottle up and save for Late August. Somehow, we even had cloud cover due to a "cold" front. Even though it's been months (years?) since we've seen rain, the trails were in remarkably good condition. Good flow. Good friends.
The good news post ride was that Dave has a pool immediately adjacent to his house. The plan was to hit the pool, hit a few beers, hit some delicious french dip, hit some washers and then hit the road. Needless to say, I think we ticked all the boxes.
Riding Dusty Mexican Borderlines
As I've alluded to recently, I've had a major itch to scratch by the name of Mexico. In bad need of a recharge, I headed south of the border with a few friends to Puerto Penasco to scratch said itch. I was lucky enough to have a three day pass from my wife to go cause some trouble and, for the first time, I had the means to be able to ride on the beach courtesy of my Salsa Mukluk.
In between games of bocce ball, I managed to get three decent rides in. Total riot and yet another way to make me fall in love with the beach all over again, as if I needed an excuse.
Here's a couple videos. I hope you don't mind the lack of quality. No one ever accused me of being a cinematographer...
Muchos Gracias, Mexico. Hasta la proxima vez.
When I set out today, I wanted to ride something that would give me the feeling that I was at least riding towards Mexico. You see, back in the day, the natives around here used to band together for an annual trip south of the border via bike. It would frequently include some camping, a lot of beer and tequila and tons of bocce ball. Frequently, it would be in weather like today...block head wind and dry as a popcorn fart. Lately, I've had a jones to repeat those shenanigans.
Anyway, with no real plans, I hopped on the single speed and pointed my bike south into the previously aforementioned gale. The goal was to link together canals, jeep trails and maybe, if the cards played themselves out right, some single track.
Riding Dusty Mexican Borderlines
AB has himself a YouTube thingy.
Check him out at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdzaZXrTeLj40FnmISz83iQ. You might even have a chance to stare at my butt on a ride for 10 minutes.
Spring break for me normally means tagging along with the wife and girls for some fun out in California. Days at the beach and pool. Nights by the firepit, beer in hand. Unfortunately, given some issues with staffing in my office right now, I didn't have the luxury of taking the time off to head to Cali.
Saturday morning saw the wife and kids hit the road. My wife let me know on short notice that she was still going to go so I didn't have the lead time in planning that I normally do for this type of situation. Nothing was really coming together on Saturday so I binge cleaned my house. I talked to the Gov a bit on Saturday morning and bounced the idea of bombing the canal by our house up to the airport to grab a bit of Barrio Brewing. Finally, a partner in crime.
Kids were napping and we hit the road. After some finagling our way through the myriad of canals and roads to get there, we were greeted with some of Tucson's finest beers in a great setting by Mesa/Gateway Field.
After a couple brews, we decided to ride back into increasing cloudiness. No one that lives in Arizona puts much stock in the weather forecast when they call for rain but towards the end, we started to get spritzed on. Of course, when the weather turns, something mechanical inevitably happens. Sure enough, I wind up flatting. Fortunately, even though I had switched to what I was advised by someone who will remain nameless would be a foolproof system, I had an extra tube with me. A few thousand pumps later and I was back on the trail to more beer in my fridge.
Sunday opened with a more well formed action plan. Or at least that's what Scotty B, Baker, Bryan Doyle and I thought. The idea was to throw down a chunk of Brown's. Unfortunately, the unreliable Arizona weather that I mentioned earlier reared its ugly head. Hey, you take rain when you get it. Fortunately, Brown's and the decomposing granite that it consists of drains super well. Ride on.
It wouldn't be a Sunday funday without a couple of post ride barley pops with the Gov. Viet even made an appearance.
Riding Dusty Mexican Borderlines
Usually, when we do a Brown's Ranch ride, or any ride in general with a group, things tend do de-evolve into a back and forth over who wants to do what. Ivie and I talked earlier in the week about doing a cx ride from his house to Brown's Ranch and when that didn't happen, I was fortunate that the group let me do some intel and design a ride for this last Saturday. The objective was to throw in some new with some old favorites and try and hit all corners of the park.
The goal was 8 am at Fraesfield Trailhead. I like using it as a starting point due to the fact that it isn't usually crowded and it is a good start and finish point for a myriad of different rides. I showed up with my usual co-pilot, the Gov in tow. Ivie was there with the Strat man.
Somehow, we managed to link together a series of awesome old (to us) trails and introduced us to some new (to us) trails that we had never ridden. West Express was a riot. We managed to break off a big chunk of Stagecoach which was new to me. The only regret was a relative lack of time and the fact that I missed the turn to Stagecoach from West Express. I must have been to busy having a blast.
As we say, it's hard to mess Brown's up.
Here's to next time.
Riding Dusty Mexican Borderlines
Now that we're into 2018, I figured it might be cool to put some new designs out there for anyone that is interested. We have full kits, head to toe, available for both road and mountain. The more we buy, the better the pricing is as well.
Here are the designs along with some input on the pricing:
The pics kinda suck so if you want more information on the designs or a better look at them, let me know. This stuff really pops when you see it properly and it's all really well made stuff. My goal is to have an order places by 3/15.
Riding dusty Mexican borderlines.
There's a bunch of us that live really close to the local trails, Santan Regional Park. I've lived by out here since around 2003 and have been riding Santan for almost as long. I love Santan. I feel lucky to have it out my backdoor. With that being said, there aren't a ton of miles. Some of the trails I feel like I could ride on muscle memory.
With all of that being said, recently, Scotty B, The Gov and I have been trying to find a way to get more out of the area out there. Truth be told, there are some dirt(y) roads and double track out there that you can ride adjacent to the park itself that can get you there differently, allowing for a loop rather than just your usual out and back on Dynamite.
Saturday came and plans were laid to start from The Gov's office, aka, the Porn Studio. His office has gotten the moniker due to the fact that it has the layout of the typical porn studio. Very barren. The idea was that we were going to work our way back out on some dirt to get to some trails and have some adventure.
The road in was a sweet temptress leading us to believe that things were going to be much easier than they were. There were multiple fence crossings. There was Santan Death Sand. But, in the end, we were not going to be denied. We managed to link up with a route that lead us to where Santan meets Dynamite. Not our actual goal but good enough. From there, we linked our usual loop of Moonlight, Stargazer and Santan back to Dynamite and out.
The post ride beers we delicious...as always. :)
Riding dusty Mexican borderlines, one beer at a time.
It sometimes seems like the best rides are the most impromptu ones.
Last Saturday, the wife had a big day planned of going to Ikea and running around town which usually means kid type fun for ole Scoottay. Riding around the neighborhood and to the park and back with the kiddos.
After her shopping excursion was complete, the wifey graciously asked if I wanted a ride. "Hell yeah" was the customary response. A quick check of the clock indicated that it was 4:30 and time was a at shortage. After consulting with El Gobernador, who put some CX skins on his town bike that morning, the decision was made to go for a neighborhood gravel cruise. The objective was to throw down some local paths and dirt roads and, with any kind of luck, get to our local watering hole, Skippys.
If there's one thing that there is zero shortage of is gravel and dirt out in Chandler Heights. Beautiful January weather and a pretty righteous ride.
The funny thing is, I've lived where I am now for 9 years. The good thing is that I have a friend who is good enough to show me places that I should be riding and, to my shame, haven't yet. It was a great mix of gravel, dirt and a wee bit of pavement that left me with a strong urge to ride more gravel.
I''ve been slow to post because I've been dealing with the mother of all sinus infections. It started in Early December, lingered through Christmas and even had the nerve to follow me to Mexico and back home. I've been using it as an excuse not to get outside and ride...the whole "rest" thing. Highly overrated.
Before the holidays started, Scotty B and DB worked to book a couple of campsites for the first weekend of January. I hemmed about booking through the holidays since there were about 900 other distractions like there is every year. Out of respect to those guys, I didn't want to wait forever to give my commitment so one of my Christmas presents to myself was to go camping. It didn't hurt that I booked a slot in Scotty B's popup, which is equipped with a heater and something other than a blow up mattress.
They got out Friday night for some first day debauchery. I wanted to keep some days in the bank at home so I rolled out early Saturday morning for the big ride. Fortunately for me, my timing was perfect. As I was pulling in, Dave and Scott were pulling a quiche out of the smoker. Pretty good way to start a ride.
After what felt like about an hour of debating what we were going to ride, the decision was made to do a loop of some of what we had been riding a bunch lately mixed with a big, classic climb that we hadn't done in a while. The loop from the campsite was to be Granite, Delsie, Pemberton, Dixie Mine, Windmill, Coachwhip, Pemberton, Tonto Tank with Granite back to the campsite. Like a fool, I brought a single speed. I felt good up the lesser climbs but the lack of any type of training crushed me going up Dixie Mine and Windmill. Even though I suffered, it was still a blast.
After the ride, the real fun started, Scotty B fired up the smoker with the intent of doing three racks of ribs. Bourbon showed up out of nowhere (Names won't be named to protect the innocent). Beer flowed freely. Rack ball (?) and Big Jenga came out.
The Jenga got REAL serious...
After dusting off ribs, my secret dirty rice burritos and mucho cerveza, someone had the bright idea to ride up to Jackass Junction from the campsite. I wasn't thrilled but in retrospect, the fresh air did good. It definitely made the beers go down easier when we got back to the campsite. Back to the big campfire. We managed to go through five bags of wood due to our resident fire stoker, Veronica.
Like most trips, it was over before it seemed to even start. All things considered, it was another bang up success by the Riding Dirty bunch.
When you have a passion, your hope is that your kids will someday share the same passion. My daughter has been after me for a while to go mountain biking. I watch her race around our neighborhood on a way too small beach cruiser with 20" wheels. She seems to love it. Of course, anyone that knows me knows that I never jump in with one foot so, rather than renting a bike or using some other method of gauging whether or not she'll like it, I jumped in and bought her a new mountain bike for Christmas.
The best case scenario was she'd love it immediately. The worst case scenario would be that it would be something that would collect dust in our already crowded garage while occasionally getting used to cruise to the park on.
Christmas morning came and we saved what turned out to be the best gift for last. After we opened everything else up, we walked out to my garage where her new ride was sitting on my workstand. I received arguably the biggest hug of my life and Bella proceeded to thank me what felt like about 100 times.
After seeing her gift, she immediately asked me if she could go mountain biking like I do. Of course, if you buy the kid a bike, you need to take her out and ride it, right? I thought long and hard about where I could introduce her to riding without killing her. Santan, which is close to me, has some easy bits but enough there to scare a first time rider. My mind went right to Usery after that which is flat and easy with just enough rollers to allow her to feel what mountain biking is like.
One thing led to the next and we found ourselves out at the trail head the day after Christmas. I had an easy four to five miler in mind with options to shorten or add if we needed to. After a few moments of trepidation, she looked and felt comfortable on the flats of the Levee Trail. From there, we dropped into Spillway up to Blevins and down NoSo back to the car. The section that got the greatest amount of hoots and hollers from her was Blevins. In fact, she seemed bored by the flatter sections. All things considered, it was pretty cool to see the trails through the eyes of a new rider.
Needless to say, she already has me planning the next trip to the trail.