Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lata AZ.

Hayooo. Getting out of town this weekend to the great state of Utah. I will be doing family friendly adventures and camping at the Bryce and Zion but I will try to persuade my girly sisters into getting dirty.

This week has been crazy busy getting ready for my mini vacay, starting organic chemistry, and wrapping up my application for school. I am tired but I still have to pack, pic up fam at the airport, grocery shop and do laundry by tomorrow morning early and it is already 9 pm.

Anyway, enjoy your weekend and may it be labor free.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Absolute Bike Flagstaff Race Report 2008

I was able to watch the Olympic MTB races online, so all was good. The US women represented well with a 7th and 8th place finish. Coincidentally, I finished 7th in my own race (sport division) on the very same day around the very same time that the race was taking place. My effort was not quite as impressive unfortunately, as I more resembled a martian who landed on the Earth by accident and who is trying to breath air for the first time.

The 2008 Absolute Bikes Old Fashioned MTB race was this weekend in Flagstaff. Wah wah, 8000 feet is high. Guess who got gassed?

Sarah and I at the start. Do yo like my cruiser helmet?
Someday, I may consider getting a real one... but not yet.

Raced okay on the first lap... definitely rode the trail better with no wrecking into trees and other such nonsense that occurred last year. But I still felt like I had no fitness business being in that race with all the feelings of lungs threatening to explode and brain dizziness. Sarah was gone from the beginning of the singletrack and I knew that only a flat tire would help me now. Unfortunately, she was installed some 5 pound flat-free tubes that came in a box bigger than my last pair of Solomons so I was pretty sure that I wouldn't see her again until the finish. I didn't.

A fist pump after one lap, just to prove how tough I am.

Second lap, started strong up the fire road and even at the beginning of the singletrack climbing, but then I just completely died, no energy, riding into things...very bad. I stopped when my good quad starting cramping and watched my bad leg do the uncontrollable shaking thing that I have come to equate with "pushing past my limit". I tried to eat some weird gu called Almond Butter that I have received free at a recent race to get some calories in, but it tasted like sand and I am pretty sure that company is out of business. After having a solo pity party, I finally got to the downhill part and then just let off the brakes and flew mostly because braking was more work than not.

Someone is happy to be done.

All told, I rode 20 miles in around 3 hours at 8K feet with 2K of climbing. I definitely was a better rider than one year ago and I laughed at the hill that I will admit to walking down last year because I was afraid. Unfortunately, I seem to have a 2 hour limit on my energy reserves lately and seem to bonk hard after that time period. Sarah ended up beating me by 18 minutes for 2nd in our age group (good job my friend) and then we both watched a girl (who killed us) with actual jiggle in her calves accept her award. This was a common theme as plenty of girls who look slow and out of shape destroyed us. Is it the years of experience they probably have or are they just stronger than us, underneath their exterior?

Regardless, I got to accept my default prize for third in my age group (out of three) and wipe a tear away for my proud moment in history. This now means that I have placed in all three of my bike races I have attempted. What that obviously means is that more women need to start riding and entering these things. Next race, the Gilmore Adventure Race is about a month out so more running and biking training needs to occur.

I see myself as a paint by number. Each month I will get a little stronger and hopefully a little tougher. Picasso didn't happen overnight people.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I concede.

Oh are...almost indescribable. You win. You toy with my emotions you tall freakish rascal. You anger me only because I care so much about you. You blow me away because it is impossible not to be humbled by your amazing abilities. You did as I asked and therefore you are redeemed in my eyes... for now, but there is a fine line. You definitely have left your mark on this Olympics and I will admit that I can't wait to see you run again. You are a boyish man among boys who are men. Get it?

Anyway, onward. I continue to be impressed how China is just destroying every event, and not just the badminton and table tennis. They are dominant players in everything now. Crazy how ultimate dedication mandated by the government can create these machines. Just goes to show that with the right effort and dedication, anything is possible.

Speaking of dedication and effort and machine like performances, guess who is actually racing in a MTB cross country race this weekend? Oh yes, my own humble self will be lining up in the sport division of the Absolute Bikes Flagstaff Bike Race. It is around ~20 miles (2 laps) with about 900 feet climbing each lap. I did this race last year as my first ever bike race about 2 months after starting riding. I got owned by the trail and wiped out 5 times and hit a tree in my first lap alone. Let's just say I was a total beginner who had never ridden in trees or with pro men driving me off the track.

I really want to do the race just to see how I have improved. I know my fitness isn't that great right now and I still have a full inch difference in my two quad muscles (measured this morning...lame). But I know my technical skills are much better so my time should destroy last year and I have the experience of one whole other bike race under my belt [sarcasm]. We'll see how it goes. Sarah is racing too so we both will have the motivation to race each other, although if I was a betting women, I would bet on her (I think she has 20:1 odds). She likes to flat though so it gives me so I can hope.

Anyway, my fam is coming into town over the next week (my British bro-in-law and sister arrive tonight) and then we are heading to Utah (Bryce, Zion, Coral Pink Sand Dunes) for the labor day weekend. Sweetness, never been to Utah. I know I know, bad girl.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Are you Insane Usain?

So the Olympics are killing me slowly. Do I really need to stay up late watching all 30 heats of BMX biking and white water kayaking? Apparently. Speaking of exciting Olympic events, did you know the 200 meter final will be on tv tonight**? So we get to see him run again.

With a name like Usain Bolt, it was like he was destined to be an insane bolt of speed.

I will admit, I didn't know much about him before this Olympics. In fact no one did until about a year ago when he broke the world record out of the blue. But then I watched the 100 meter quarterfinals, and thought, woah this guy is good. Then the semi's rolled around and he destroyed the field while getting the number from the cute girl in the third row, stopping to tie his shoe and of course, a little celebration all before crossing the line.

I had no doubt this tall young phenom from Jamaica was going to cross the line in first place during the finals, but I was still pretty excited to watch it. As a former sprinter who made track and field my life for 7 years year round, I know enough about the sport to appreciate pure unadulterated talent. I grew idolizing the American Olympic athletes like Jackie Joyner-Kersee who represented a talent I couldn't even dream about.

Then Bolt did it. He did the unthinkable. He took the biggest stage in the world for the most popular running event in the world and he made a mockery of it. He stopped running at 80 meters and coasted across the line hitting his chest in celebration. My first way, there is no way he blew away the field that easily. That thought was fleeting though, followed quickly by disbelief, disappointment and most definitely anger.

Usain Bolt cheated me. He cheated the world. In order to show the world that he is so fast he doesn't need to try to beat the world's best sprinters, he gave up what was sure to be one of the most amazing times ever recorded in the history of time by a margin that may have been a record of it's own. So what that he still got a world record. He beat it by a slim margin when he could have crushed it. That time is not safe, and will be beaten, probably within the next couple of years.

You may say, well he will surely beat it himself in the next two years and that may be true, but you can never guarantee it plus who cares if a billion people aren't watching it occur. Look at Tyson Gay. During the Olympic Trials two months ago, he that same time (albeit with wind so it didn't count). Two days later, he ripped a hamstring and just like that his speed was gone, his chance was gone, and his dream for four years was gone. He talks about it here. It's fleeting folks. It can happen to anyone, and historically, it is very difficult for anyone to remain the "fastest in the world" much over two years. That is why you take every opportunity you get when you get it and you put your best effort on the track.

A true champion, someone like say, oh Michael Phelps, doesn't take his gigantic lead in the 200 meter fly and cheer before hitting the wall, mocking his opponents. He takes the opportunity to put a time in the record book that may last for 20 years. Then he turns to his components and congratulates them. Always respect your opponents and what struggles they overcame to get there, even if you crush them.

Now I realize that the 100 meter race is different and its competitors have and need to have a certain arrogance to them. Showboating in the preliminary races is expected and really no one should push across the line harder than they need to qualify. But that is what those early races are for. Not the final. Never the final.

I have argued with a number of people about whether what Usain did was amazing or awful and I am sure it was a little of both, but I will leave you with one final question.

If you could see Bolt run one more 100 meter race, all 100 meters of it, with 100% effort, would you be interested in that? We all want to know what he is actually capable of. And that, ladies and gentlemen of the Internet was what the Olympic Gold Medal 100 Meter Finals race was created for. Like I said, he blew it.

Now, Usain Bolt has a chance for redemption, at least in my eyes tonight. He needs to blow me away, not with how easily he crushed the field, but with his total dominance that continues through the line. A world record would be nice also. And maybe breathing hard at the end, like he is tired from trying.

**Pretend there is no such thing as time changes, previously taped events which pretend to be LIVE in the west coast but really aren't and just pretend it hasn't happened yet.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Christopher Creek - Dos

We hit up Christopher Creek for another quick canyoneering trip on Saturday. It was pretty sweet once again and I definitely had more mobility and strength than last time. We found a way to waste lots of time jumping from ledges, sliding down natural slides and playing on logs. I just love this place. Once we left the box canyon at the top, we saw no one beyond for the rest of the canyon. This place is awesome and I am glad that the technical skills required to get through the canyon the crowds away. The secret is though that pretty much anyone who can jump off a cliff can make it. We won't tell them though.

Sarah always creates water slides out of rock.

Who can stay on the log roll the longest contest? Not me.

Moving down the box canyon, leaving the crowd behind.

Sarah and Emily jump an extraneously unnecessary but amazing cliff.

They talk Martin into it, but he isn't too sure yet.

Sarah gives him a good shove off... joking, he jumped himself. I was okay with being the master photographer for this one. I am not ready for large force knee landings quite yet.

I finally get my chance for jumping glory. The choice at this falls was either jumping or jumping, climbing wasn't an option.

Yes, we are all blond which is strange and doesn't usually happen.

This is the largest falls of the canyon. Sarah jumped, the rest of us chickens climbed around.

Martin shows off his yoga skills.

We decide we might need this log for later... foreshadowing?

This log crossing may have been unnecessary, but who doesn't love 'bet you can't make it across' competitions.

We find another good use for the log. The water below was pretty stagnant so the desire was to avoid it. I think the log made it harder.

We spot another log set nicely across the canyon. Of course we must climb up to it.

Here I am doing one armed pull ups. Just call me GI Jane. Okay, maybe I was falling off.

Swimming the last part of the canyon. I channeled my inner Michael Phelps.

Sarah called this thing a staghorn beetle. I call it a mini rhino. It was cool though.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Computer Gets Drop Kicked

The last two days I have been feeling the curse of the dreaded RFTDTBAT. RFTDTBAT = Randomly Failing Technology Due To Being A Technologist. It sucks mostly because when you are a computer engineer and your shit fails, you have no one to call but yourself. Hey self, fix this! Okay self, when I get a chance, I am busy. Still aren't listening self? I will break something else until you heed my call. :::COMPUTER SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTS:::

My work hard drive failed, AGAIN, and therefore I am once again having to wipe the damn thing clean. This will mean that I have to try to recover all of my docs plus pics and reinstall all of my illegally downloaded software (just kidding...sort of).

My alternative computer, the old developer box (aka desktop at work) is also on the fritz due to IE 7 corrupting my video driver and forcing a system restore to the pre-install of IE 7. What the hell Microsoft? Your software is crap.

So now two of my computers are not working which made me switch to a third older and less technologically advanced box that has been sitting in my cube for two years now and although it is working, it has such an old integrated graphics driver that it doesn't support widescreen resolutions on my 24 inch flatscreen. So I get to use it in 1024x768 VGA mode. Which is like watching old black and white movies on an 75 inch HDTV. It sucks.

I appologize for all the mumbo jumbo in this assured all of the above just equals = TGIF & I need a beer. Cheers to the weekend.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Go World.

Whose is obsessed with the Olympics? Ew ew pick me!!! Sports with a team I can cheer on all the time...with back stories? Sign me up.

I still can't figure out when things are going to be on so I have to just watch it all. Phelps may not be human, I think we should test him for fish DNA. His individual events are boring since he is so far ahead in every race. He was one lucky SOB in the 400 meter relay. Damn. That was the most exciting swimming race I have ever seen.

I am anxiously awaiting the track and field events to start. But I have a question, why do they show women's soccer and softball on prime time, but not basketball? Why is this stuff not streamed live (and not live) online from Hello NBC, haven't you heard that the Internet is a great place for advertisements? I would watch the 30 secs of advertisements to watch some of the sport that don't make it into their normal shows.

Oh and why is there an HD channel completely dedicated for four straight days to mens boxing? It isn't even normal boxing, there is no blood and the scoring is completely undecipherable. One word...BORING. NBC owner's nephew must be a boxer or something.

I am mostly worried they won't even tape the mountain biking races. I will be angry if I can't watch them in some format. Don't piss me off NBC...

Otherwise, I have enjoyed watching some of the more esoteric sports such as badminton. It make tennis look like a slowing moving match between turtles. Those shuttlecocks sure do fly around the speed of light.

Also, who doesn't want to pick little Raj Bhavsar up, pat him on the head and put him in your pocket. That little gymnast smiles so much that he is impossible not to love. Plus he is a former Buckeye and that is enough for me.

Anyway. I like the advertisements by Visa. Go World. Indeed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Extreme Heat Dreamy Draw AR 2008

Team ODP represents for the ladies - #1 WOOHOO!

The second of the Extreme Heat ARs was this past weekend in Phoenix and the name lived up to it's billing. The race director received some flack last year for making this race too easy/short so he decided to pretty well double the difficulty of both the biking and the trekking. I am glad I didn't know that ahead of time because I never would have predicted what happened.

I didn't say much about this race this past week because, frankly I was a bit nervous. I was fighting off this weird upper foot tendon **pain on my good foot that I screwed up a week ago and the two times I tried to run this past week resulted in quite a bit of pain. I only mentioned it to my teammate Friday night because I didn't want to alarm her, but the reality was that once it would get inflamed, even walking was painful. So basically I did nothing all week but ride my bike and tried to baby it.

So Saturday rolled around and I just put it out of my mind for the 7am start. They started the race with a team challenge (find a ball in a field with your team number) and then passed out the map one you started. This basically gave us no time to study the map before we were off running. The first five checkpoints were basically mountain tops in a nearby range, with one of them being a mystery event a park on the way. We decided to skip this for later since we didn't want to have to wait for a line.

We decided to go from North to South along the ridge of mountains while most everyone else did the opposite. I think there was less backtracking on our route and we avoided the mass chaos of the group. I set a nice steady pace that I thought I could sustain for the long run over to the mountains and tried not to care when people blew by me. Looking at the map, we estimated that the trekking was going to be around 8 miles which was fairly long considering most was on trail and it was freaking hot already.

The first three checkpoints consisted of running up to the top of a steep point, grab the next checkpoint, descend the other side and then go up the next one. Not very challenging navigation but the heart rate was extremely high. I had a strategy of eat a shock block at each checkpoint so I wouldn't bonk like I did in the last one. I felt pretty good for most of this and we tried to run the few flats we had, fast hike up the steep grades and job the downs that were not loose.

We had no idea where we were in relation to the other women's teams since we were sort of on our own for the direction we had taken, but the couple of men's teams with us seemed fairly althletic (always a good sign). We finally got our fourth mountain checkpoint and descended back onto the road to head to a park for one last event. After tossing hula hoop over a cone, we had the mile road run back to the park. This was hot, tiring and I was just plain ready to be done with the running. My knee was definitely at a point where I could feel it had tightened up and no amount of effort could make my limp go away. But the good news was, no foot pain, only the occasional manageable twinge.

We arrived at the TA for another mystery event, which turned out to be diving into a pool to pick up 15 pennies from the bottom. Water never felt so good. We were told that there were a couple of womens teams ahead of us and that we were around 15th overall (out of 35 teams). Okay, not bad for the running part, we knew that was our weakness. They gave us a new passport (map) for the next five checkpoints on the bike and we quickly refilled water and studied the map.

I know the trails in all the mountains around this course and they put together a dynamic set of points that hit a lot of the good ones. It was much harder than I would have guessed and I knew immediately that new riders were going to have a tough time on this course. Sarah and I were thrilled, this is what we hoped for... the tougher the biking the better.

We were off ready to real in some women's teams. The first checkpoint was easy at the edge of the trails. We saw some teams leaving it as we rode us so we knew were could get them. Sure enough our second CP we already reeled in a women's team and two guys teams. Next started the actual hard trail. There was some hike a bike up some unrideable steep hills and the bomb down the other side. The trail conditions were bad for this area. We had water dumped on us two days ago and everything was completely washed out with huge football sized rocks everywhere.

We finally hit Trail 100 (on of the more ridden trails) and it got slightly better but Sarah and I were loving it. We were flying and soon caught two other men's teams and passed them. We had one more checkpoint at the top of a ridge which is hard climb and then a long fun decent back towards the park entrance. We caught up with another men's team and were following them for awhile.

The final checkpoint of the race was across the highway around the back side of a mountain. We had two choice of trails left or right around the mountain. Right was obviously closer, but we knew it was a shitty hike a bike over that side followed by an unrideable down hill. We decided to take our chances on going left around the longer side. The men's team went right. We soon realized that this was a stupid move as we still had a hike a bike to the top but then the trail dropped steeply down the wrong side and we then had to hike a bike up the back side again to get to the checkpoint. Easily a 10 minute mistake three hours into a race with temps easily closing in on 105 degrees.

After a little cursing we hit the checkpoint and with a team we had passed more than 30 minutes ago. We let the go ahead and then took a hidden shortcut through a back yard onto the road and put the hammer down back for the three mile road ride to the finish. We pulled in a little discouraged from our recent blunder, but were immediately cheered up with they told us we were the first women's team in and 7th overall.

As far as I can tell, we lost 1 or 2 spots to men's teams with our mistake but other than that, it didn't really affect us. I was pretty pumped as this is my best finish ever and made me realize two things: 1) Sarah and I have become pretty competitive in biking, at least in the venue of ARs where the trails are typically easier and people are typically more runners than bikers and 2) If we could actually become good trail runners and better navigators, we would be more competitive.

I am not sure of our time (I think around 3 hours) but I think that were only beat by two coed sponsored national teams Big Fish/Monster and four men's teams (2 of which are also sponsored and were training for an expedition race). We were pretty pumped also that our team name Team ODP is becoming recognized as many people realized that we have won the women's division the last three races and have been competitive with the good teams. When we created this concept of this women's Team ODP over a year ago, this was one of our goals. Now we just need to get sponsored so we don't have our spray painted jerseys...haha. Joking, those rock.

I can see it now, our new motto:
Team ODP: CHicking your butt from trailer park to peak. Bam.

Our next competition is in about 5 weeks at the Gilmore Adventure Race which is a longer race of trekking and biking held in one of our favorite locales, Prescott. Angel will be joining us for a three person time.

**It may seem as though I am always hurt, the reality is that this is almost completely expected. When you start to run again after something major like ACL reconstruction, you always favor your bad leg and this leads to complications on your good leg. It happened with my first surgery and I am sure it will happen again with this one.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Phoenix Landscape Gone Awry

I had previously discussed my brown thumb, or what I like to call "the fact that I can kill even cactus" in my yard. I don't like showing off such startling evidence of my failures, but in the spirit of self analysis and authenticity, I give you Phoenix Landscape Gone Awry: A Photographic Word Essay.

Fighter. This palm-like bush/tree/plant is the epitomy of a fighter. She has survived many weeks during the summer when guardians just disappeared and left her to fend for herself without the nourishment of water, shade or other essentials of life. Like a single mother of five living in the trailer park, she is showing her wear and tear, but as proven many times, this one although not attractive in any sense, won't go down without a fight and may be my favorite of the lot.

Sacrifice. While this previously green but now mostly brown plant seems at first to be weak and dying no matter how often I water her, she really epitomizes the spirit of the ultimate sacrifice. Because if you look closely, she has give her life to nourish the most remarkable and rare of living creatures: the common weed. Us Phoenicians know that we really don't get weeds without a tumble in front of them. This plant died in order to provide much needed shade for its weaker friend the weed, while not consuming precious water resources. Her efforts haven't gone unnoticed.

Dry. Tres Amigos here represent the cactus side of my arsenal. One figures, one can't kill a cactus, even if one doesn't water it right? So they purchase said cactus, only to immediately start to kill it. The succulent on the far left is the youngest child but alas it is already getting brown along all its edges. It's friend in the back is really my crowning joy as he has maintained his healthy cactus persona for over a year now. Shorty in the front has been dead almost as long as that, but his brown fluffy arms have yet to crumble and I think he looks nice even if he is dead. So he gets to stay to memorialize all that have gone before him.

Beauty. This bouquet of flowers adorning my side yard tea table seem to be the embodiment of fall beauty...and they are. They have stayed remarkably fresh and never changed color, shape or texture for over 6 months now. They seem almost everlasting. Unless the plastic die runs or melts under the hot summer sun, they may actually be invincible.

Hidden Evil. This apparition of pink and green is like a wolf in sheep clothing. While maintaining its place as my most impressive growing creation, the bouganbilia bush's outer shell hides an evil and hateful heart. I have bled the blood of a thousand tears while maintaining this beast of a bush. He has thorns 3/4 of an inch long, can easily die in the slightest amount of cold weather and will require hours of cutting to trim off his dead branches only to reemerge healthier and with longer thorns than ever. He has also single handedly, broken our front yard sprinkler system creating a geyser of water which took hours and many holes to fix. But alas, no one can kill him and he does provide us a measure of privacy as he quickly grows as tall as the house. He is the incredibly good looking but annoying hottie who would be much better if he didn't talk, but serves as really good arm candy for class reunions.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

He's a bigun.

Some photos from this past week...
Below is a large crazy looking lizard that I looked up as being the male Common Chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater). I saw this guy (and two others) on my hike up Camelback Mountain in Phoenix last Saturday. He was pretty large, with around an 8 inch body and a 12 inch tail. More info on the species here.

I snapped this picture on my ride through South Mountain last night. I have come to realize that I love riding at dusk, once the sun is below the rim of the western mountains. The light is the best then and I totally forget about the heat. I also love the solitude of riding alone, no music just the soundtrack of life to help me release the stresses of the day.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Land of the Wolves

So a friend sent me this link to a site about Chernobyl. We have all heard of Chernobyl and we may even know the basic details of the tragedy. But until I got engrossed in this site and couldn't stop reading it, I didn't know much of the actual events that occurred and what a massive event it actually was.

I think about the collide between nature and human technology quite a lot. You see it everywhere. Many times, the nature loses to the machine. We bulldoze mountains and divert rivers to make nature fit our lives instead of the other way around. We try to build our houses to be indestructible to nature's fury, making them hurricane proof or flood resistant. Even in the medical field, we are in a constant struggle against the natural inclination for the body to fail and trying to cure the abnormalities that seem so prevalent. But time and time again, nature proves that it is the master of itself and that while we can affect it, we can never tame it.

Chernobyl is no anomaly to this concept. We ruined nature for us, but we didn't ruin nature for nature. The area around the nuclear reactor that exploded has become a 600 mile wasteland. Major cities are left abandoned and will remain as such for another 300,000 to 600,000 years, the time required for the radioactive material to decay enough for human life to resume. But the funny thing is that nature has flourished. The land has become known as the land of the wolves, who seem to handle the high levels of radiation with apparent ease. This website, created by Elena Filatova, a 30s something Russian motorcycle rider tells the story in a way that is absolutely fascinating. Her photo story of riding her bike through the wasteland while monitoring her radioactive exposure by a Geiger Counter is amazing. Check out her story of Ghost Town and the Land of the Wolves.

Also, FYI, the new header photo is the sun rising over Lake Roosevelt ...courtesy of the Brown's Peak trail head. Fittingly enough, I did go over the handlebars in a slow motion wipe out tonight on my two hour ride through South Mountain. It is not just a catchy phrase folks.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Courtesy of a boring Sunday night.

I am enjoying my time off of school and not having to do homework right now (although I am supposed to be working on my application). I wanted to do something really cool this weekend (temp or otherwise), but it was not meant to be and I spent the weekend embracing the heat locally.

It is probably a good thing anyway because next Saturday I am competing in the second race in the Extreme Heat AR sprint series so heat acclimation is important. Friday night, my ODP teammates Sarah, Angel and I went out to the TA zone (it is at a pool this year) to look for access points to the trails that I am sure we will be riding on. We found some good hidden ones in neighborhoods and alley ways so we may get an advantage on anyone who doesn't check it out. We also rode some of the west side of Trail 100 and I named a portion of it my favorite trail yet. It is a quasi technical rocky loopdy loop section that is super fun either up or down hill. I feel that Sarah and I (two person teams) will be strong on these trails if we get to ride them as they are definitely suited for riding fast and knowing the trail. We finished in the complete dark without lights which I love because it cools down so much once it gets dark that suddenly I get an additional surge of energy. I really need to stop being cheap and get a suitable light for riding singletrack at night.

I am just hoping that the biking is the majority of this race, as the TA is at least 2 miles from any single track and I really don't like the idea of that much road running. Normally the trekking checkpoints are at the top of different mountains, but if we have a couple of mile run to the trail, that really puts me and my bum scrawny leg at a disadvantage. My running is getting better, but even a snail could still put me away on the road. I was hoping for a lot of loose scrambling up steep mountains to equalize the "runners" out there. We'll see.

Saturday, M & J and I hiked the long way up Camelback Mountain. We planned to run it, but we started way too late and it was already near the high of ~108 F so we revised our goals to just making it to the top. We weren't blazingly fast (2 hrs) but we chatted the whole way and really didn't push it since it was high noon when we finished.

Then I came home and spent an hour cleaning up the backyard raking my dirt. There were two huge trashcans full of dry leaves that had fallen that needed picked up. I tried to rake the side yard (which is rocks), but kept getting rocks in my pile and had to pick them out so I didn't throw them away. Welcome to Phoenix Internet. We rake our dirt back yards and our rock front yards.

Sunday, I went to open play for ultimate frisbee just to see how it felt. It felt just how I guessed it would...pretty slow and uncoordinated and not all that fun. I think I will pass on this for awhile longer. I sat on the sideline waiting for Tom to finish playing and wished I was on my bike.

This afternoon, I also booked us our tour to Machu Picchu in Peru this coming November. Tom and his sister and bro-in-law and I are going to do the four day trek to the lost city along the famous Incan Trail. I am really excited as this has been on the list for a long time. I was checking the distances and altitude climbed and it seems pretty day you go over a couple of passes of over 14K feet. I will be forced to do more "training" hikes I guess :)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Biking is fun.

The bar has been raised...

Wow. All Huffy bikers beware, you bike is no longer the hardest bike to ride on top of the mountain. (I lived on this mantra for a year..."but I ride a $200 K2, that is why I suck"...blah, still suck and now I have a nice bike.)

I have been trying to bike more lately, since I have a predominantly biking AR coming up next weekend...woohoo go TEAM ODP! Crazy Rower #2 aka Sarah aka my biking buddy and I have great dreams of glory on the bike. Only problem is that there is that whole trail running part that we are not all that good at. So we need to do really good on the bike.

Some friends J and Angel and I went "training" in Prescott last weekend to escape the heat since it was only in the 90s and humid there. Yippee... We climbed a big mountain of fire roads for 10 miles, then descended a moto trail that J used to ride his motorcycle on. It was an incredibly long and loose descent with large rocks and some nice exposure to worry about. I had one slow motion tip over which threw my head over the side of the trail with my feet remaining planted above on the trail. It was pretty funny because I couldn't get up without my friend's assistance.

Here we are at the top of a lookout overlooking Skull Valley. This is part of the Whiskey 50 route in Prescott.

A decent part of the trail. It was much more loose in many areas.

Partway through the ride, it started to look like a big storm was coming and just about then, the trail dropped us off on a highway so we had a nine mile uphill road ride back into town trying to outsprint the storm. We arrived in the Prescott square about 15 minutes before a major storm blew through so I was happy with our luck on that one. After some great food at the Prescott Brewery we headed back to dry hot land in Phoenix. Overall a good day on the bike. Plus, I realized once again that I am a giant climbing weenie.

Outracing the storm.