Little Things and Semi-Interesting Moments...

Arizona Trail between Picketpost and Gila River.  
(Zoom in...spectacular!)

I love riding my bike.  You all know that.  Racing it?  meh...not as much.  Sometimes.  What I mainly love is how it takes me out and beyond, beyond the pavement, beyond 'civilization'...criss-crossing the terrain via my own legs and lungs and imagination.  Alert only by things primal...thirst, hunger, caution of mountain lions, not much else.

So, when I have to ride the bike for 'training' (e.g. hit certain efforts, ride for set "x" duration of time, do intervals inside on a trainer, etc.), it can take a little bit of the fun and flow from my ride mojo.  But sometimes ya gotta do whatcha gotta do, and I wholeheartedly am surprised  proud  that I stuck to the 5-week (short) training plan as well as I could for my upcoming South America trip.  Barring any knee/back issues, I'm now pretty confident that I will finish the race...with a smile and hopefully while embracing some spectacular views and new experiences.

So, back to my original rant.  While the past few weeks have been more about puttin' my head down and gettin'er done, I had some interesting moments. . . .

--Going through so much trouble to set up my wildlife cameras up in the desolate wilderness/forest, then coming face to face with a  bobcat  along an urban trail in Phoenix.

--Getting to ride on some trails new to me...all very different in terrain and some definitely going in the "epic" category.  A highlight would be on a fantastic segment of the Arizona Trail (AZT)...Picketpost toward the Gila river.  As much solitude a girl could ever want!  Only a few mountainbikers who were actually bikepacking far in....running across them totally inspired me to get back out there and do my own bikepacking...when it warms up of course.

--Spent my first Christmas at 'home' in about 10 years;  further, this was only 1 of 2 in that same period NOT in a muslim country for work.  Ya know what?  I think I prefer the muslim countries for xmas....nothing to do w/religion but pretty much everything to do w/the chaos and stress and jinglebell songs that permeated through the air here in the commercial USA for the weeks prior.  As for me, all was still and flowy and chill ...except of course I didn't see my family; soon though!  Some pretty fun holiday get-togethers and dinner parties kept it from being too chill!

--Neglecting to grab my long-time GPS off the truck tire and subsequently ran it over w/theexcursionator.  Doh!  That wrist model had travelled/biked/ran/got shot at (by direct and indirect fire) all over the world.  RIP little Garmin.

--Successfully completed my mental mindgame of pedaling up the same mountain a few weeks in a row.  Four Peaks Mountain.  Nothing terribly exciting about the long fireroad to its top, but good pedaling opportunities and most importantly the mental aspect.  (WHY am I doing this again? I KNOW where it goes? There's nothing FUN about this.  Suck it up and drive on anyway!)  A few lil' surprises always occured up there...  

      _ Was encouraged by lots of jeepers/ATVers as they passed me.  Usually this would be annoying, but they were few and far between so seeing humans every 20-30 mins would motivate me to keep pushing (and give me a little extra confidence that a mountain lion would stay away from the road :-)  Maybe this too will encourage a few of those 'types' to get back on a bike sometime.  I mean, obviously, a bike can take ya pretty much anywhere AND keep ya healthy! 
     _ On one of those days up there, I was freezing/shivering, making mental deals w/myself about heading straight to starbucks when I finished.  Coffee!!  Visions of Coffee!  Right as I crested the top saddle, lo and behold, there were a group of canadian guys on atv's (who'd passed me earlier apparently) and yelled "Do ya want some hot coffee?"  I threw down my bike and headed straight over to them.  They pulled out an old school thermos that sure enough had very hot coffee.  It was perfect!!  Way up there on top of a mountain far away from any store, any building, I got hot coffee!  Best tasting coffee ever.  (They also pulled out a bottle of cinnamon schnapps, but I declined on that one, thinking that wouldn't help the ~17 more miles of pedaling I still had in front of me.)  
      _ While most of the people I'd see up there were getting their version of what I usually do -- trying to get out of the city and go explore -- a few were pretty obnoxius: catcalls and even a promise/threat that they'd be waiting for me at the bottom for a 'good time'.  (Not a lot scares me, but those two sketchy dirtbikers had be alert enough to at least send a text out to one of my friend's as a "in case you don't hear from me later" message.  Also, got a catcall from two ATVers which 20seconds later resulted in one of them crashing his ATV.  Thought he was all cool as he hollered out a (stupid) flirt while simultaneously trying to do show his "impressive" cornering skills; instead he screwed it up, flipped the ATV and bent all sorts of parts on the huge boulders alongside the road.  He was pretty shaken up, but OK.  Couldn't say I felt too sorry for either of them.  Hopefully, they felt pretty stupid.
      _ Saw more pistols, assault rifles, shotguns, pickup trucks, ammo tables, etc. than I've seen in a long time.  The first 1-3 miles is all the cityfolk heading out to the 'desert' to target practice.  Sadly, I saw A LOT of user error out there, mainly in the form of target (non)awareness and mishandling of weapons flailing em in all sorts of directions.  Those roads curve, people!  Just because you're shooting away from the 'main' road doesn't mean that there's not another road behind your target.  And, probably not the best idea to shoot from on TOP of a knoll.  Use a wash/wadi people!  That said, most were trying to do the right thing.; I am just surprised there aren't more accidents out there.

--Got to show my costa rican friend and MTB inspirator, JC, our red rock trails.

--Got to ride w/some fast buddies who pushed me waaaay beyond my comfort zone on the bike...hopefully this will pay off at some point.

--Got a christmas card from one of my BFFs....dated 25 DEC 2011 (that's last year folks)!  Thanks Kir!

About to passout/puke from a 
trainer session.

--Finally getting some better use out of my  Edwin  roadbike, albeit on the trainer, albeit in the warmth of my own casa (it's freezing outside).

--Even added in a few 'social' rides rather than my usual solo sufferfests.  Fun! 

--Wish I could say all the riding has made me scrawny and lean, but really, as expected, it just beefed me up.  I thought I'd be doing a lot more running this winter which usually keeps too much bike muscle/mass off, but with the race being added to my calendar, I just couldn't do much more than a handful of ez/recovery runs each week on top of the 12-14 hrs on the bike.  Plus, all the pedaling and the frigid temps (that are a new concept for me) just made me want to cram in more calories.  So, now I'm muscly and tired...kinda resembling a Russian power-lifter zombie.  (Not for long though!)

--Yoga, yoga, hot yoga.  Three times a week.  I forced myself to go those early cold mornings.  Hot yoga, Bob Marley remixes, Jen's flow...totally worth it in the end.  I'm still one of those girls who is on the fence about yoga, and I'm definitely not into the esoteric part of yoga (sue me).  I know it has it's uses, and I've learned it's not all about gaining flexibility.  For me, I usually try to focus on one or more of these: strength, rehab/prehab (injuries), working out all the little muscular/structural imbalances I build up from too my forward motion (e.g. biking, running, swimming), flexibility (gentle, often incorporating some self-resistance-stretching), the tribal music that Jen plays (definitely gets me moving), the heat...ahhh the heat.  This body loves the heat.  Suddenly, a lot of the little injuries/knots/etc don't hurt anymore.  Anyway, am glad to have been able to go more often lately.

-- Having Getting to ride up my favorite killer mountainside Schnebly with a bunch of pro Australian football players.  Turned out, a few of em could hold their own (they're roadies back in Australia).  Then, led them down some sweet singletrack.  Cool guys to play outside with, as usual.

--Definitely, some sweet off-roading in the truck.  One of the best recovery activities there is!  Add in some off-the-grid camping...even better!

--And the best was probably on my FINAL long day in the saddle (up the same ol' Four Peaks Mountain), I was pretty spent, freezing (there was still ice on the road), but I was almost to the top.  It was steep.  Really steep.  Legs were already smashed.  Mashing and mashing and making deals w/myself to never go near that mountain again, a hot looking jacked up 1970s Ford truck came rumbling by me on the road, driven by a few young jock hotties (donning surfing trucker hats no less), and yelled "That's badass girl. Get some!"  Who woulda thunk it?  That small moment of ego was the impetus for me to hammer up that mountain and hells yeah I got some.  (Even earned me a QOM, although I don't really care about that part....damn strava...although was funny to later realize the correlation! :-)

Four Peaks Mountain -
~19 miles from the top from here. Taken from the paved road; that sign was 'inviting' :-)

Arizona Trail (AZT) down near Picketpost.  Zoom in on it! 

Recovery day in the "4x4 Purse".
One of the holiday get-togethers. The Bike and Bean crew.
Black Canyon Trail (BCT)  with the Bean boys


With the Aussies - atop Schnebly.

ABOVE: The first few miles climbing up Four Peaks....where the real climbing begins (and where the 'target shooting' generally ends).
Arizona Trail (Picketpost)

* Thanks especially to Jen, John, David, Ray, Stravaguy, etc. for pointing me toward some great trails and great days on the bike! 

** Strava shall soon be fired.


1 comment:

Jennifer richards said...

Wow!!! You are one smart, talented, dedicated, driven, deciplined, committed, kick ass, hardcore, sweet, passionate woman! So happy and proud to be a part of your day <3