Monday, December 14, 2009

I know I posted this last year but its so cool that I thought I'd pass it along again this year.  Merry Christmas!


Click on the picture to see the animated Specialized Christmas Card.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nothing like a brisk morning ride to wake you up!

7.5 miles

Ok, so I didn't really go out for a joy ride this morning but I did get on the bike and pedal more than my usual 3 mile commute to and from work.  I was asked to help out with the Cub Scout Construction City issuing utility permits for their cardboard castles that they built later in the afternoon.  I didn't want to stick Sarah at home without a car all day so I rode out to the event, although she didn't leave the house while I was gone.

The riding wasn't too bad today.  It was warmer than it has been all week, somewhere between 25 and 30 degrees, which just means I wasn't risking frostbite.  The only difficult part of the ride was that the snow pack started to loosen up in the afternoon and turn into mashed potatoes on the road, a really dry, slushy mess.  When your front tire hits that stuff there is no telling where your bike will go.  You just hold on and hope you can ride it out.  I made it back without incident so it was a successful ride in my book.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Crazy Cold!



This is what I looked like as I got home from work tonight.  I stayed pretty warm except my eyebrows and that strip of skin on my neck that I couldn't seem to cover up.  And so it begins...

Sub-zero

I usually don't comment on my ride to or from work unless it is an exceptional ride.  This morning was exceptionaly cold.
-7 degrees
My first sub-zero ride of the season but definately not my last.  I am rather surprised that its started this early in the season.  Come January, sub-zero rides will become mundane although I'll still look forward to the occasional break in the weather when it peaks above 20 degrees.  But for now, I'm still wishing it were 50 degrees. 

It was quite the ordeal getting ready for work this morning.  On top of taking the kids to the bus stop at 7:15 then coming back home to make my lunch, eat breakfast, and gather my stuff scattered around the house from this weekend, I had to prepare for a winter ride.  I dug out the ski mask and donned my new water-proof pants and high-top work boots.  Then I threw on my coat, gloves, and somehow squeezed my helmet on over the ski mask.  Then I was off to fight the hardpack snow and the cold.  My breathe fogged up my glasses which then froze in the cold.  I had to take them off and rub the ice off at one point.  I really couldn't see much the whole way to work.  I just trusted that everyone else saw this idiot on a bicycle and gave me plenty of room, and they did.  I stayed relatively warm except for the opening in the ski mask.  My cheeks and forehead stung with the cold all the way to work.  Although I couldn't see through my glasses, I didn't dare take them off because I knew how bad that cold wind would sting my already sensitive eyes. 

I survived my ride in and get to look forward to doing it all over again tonight!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lacking motivation

9 degrees

Right!  It was 9 degrees on my way to work this morning.  Yesterday it snowed about two inches on the roads.  I finally broke out my winter coat, winter gloves, and stocking cap (which doesn't work very well with my helmet).  To tell you the truth, I don't mind riding in 30 to 40 degree weather if I'm properly dressed for it, but when it gets below 20, its just downright miserable.  My beard freezes, my nose runs, my fingers, ears, and cheeks become numb and I shiver all day long in the office.  Sure, come January and February I will gladly welcome 0 to 10 degree weather and maybe even go back to my jacket, but for now it's just plain cold, frigid actually.  I think I'll be suspending my joy rides for awhile and sticking with just commuting.  I don't trust my road bike on ice and I'm sure the mountain bike trails are just a muddy, icy mess right now.  So don't be surprised if I don't post for awhile.  I don't see a break in this cold streak in the forecast.

Don't worry, this will in no way affect my image at work.  The people that think I'm a Bad A** for riding during lunch in 30 mph winds and 30 degree weather will still think I'm a Bad A** as I show up to work in -20 degree weather or on slushy roads this winter and the people who think I am freakin' nuts will be reassured that I am by doing the same.

I will miss it though.  I've ridden over 10 miles a day, almost everyday (excluding Sundays) for the past 6 months.  Well, there's always spin class.  My legs hurt just thinking about it. 

Monday, November 30, 2009

Feel the burn!

7.75 miles
45 degrees
26 mph winds

It took some coaxing (body said no but mind wouldn't give up) but I finally decided to leave the office and go for a ride today.  I've been tired so I wasn't sure I'd enjoy it.  I tried to meet up with Mike, who's been doggin' me but said he'd ride today.  When I got to our meeting spot, neither he nor his truck were there.  I left and since I was already pointed in the right direction, I rode up the hill, up 27th Street into the wind.  Probably not the best decision for someone who was tired to begin with.  I crancked it up the hill and wouldn't allow myself to slow down.  My thighs started burning but I wasn't about to quit.  I finally made it to the top, exhausted and out of breath.   I don't remember much of the rest of the ride except for a few mistakes that put me in compromising positions that I didn't enjoy to much.  I didn't go down though.  I think I was on autopilot and my mind just shut down as I rode.  I probably should have paid more attention.  I think I'm doing an easier ride tomorrow like Two Moon Park.

Friday, November 27, 2009

'Cranks'giving Day

19 miles
50 degrees

 Last year on Thanksgiving Day I rode from my parent's place in Shelley, Idaho to my aunt's home in Rigby, Idaho for Thanksgiving dinner.  It was freezing too.  I decided to carry on the tradition but since we were eating at home I got to pick my destination.  There is a park on top of the rims, Zimmerman Park, that is known for its excellent mountain biking but its always been too far away for me to go for a lunch or early morning ride.  Since I had a couple of hours yesterday I thought I'd give it a try.


I started out on the rims trail that I have ridden many times before with Mike.  The picture above is part of that trail.  As I rode along this familiar trail a tree branch reached out and nailed my left hand turning my front wheel down the steep slope.  Luckily it didn't rip the handle bar from my right hand and I was able to right myself before riding off the trail and down the slope.  That would have been fun, Thanksgiving in the Emergency Room (like my sister and brother-in-law).  Sarah said she wouldn't come get me from the ER until after the bird was done if I actually had hurt myself.

I finished this part of the trail which ends at Zimmerman Trail Road going up the rims.  I hopped onto the road and pedaled up the hill until I reached Zimmerman Park.  At Zimmerman Park I tried a few trails that really rattled me.  It seemed more of an obstacle coarse than a fun trail.  I soon found a trail that lead out of the park to the West.  I'd heard there was a trail that would take me clear to Molt Road so I decided to try and see if this was it, although I knew I didn't have time to ride it all. 


Goofin' off


More of the trail


View of the temple from the trail


Time to turn around

 I made it as far west as the temple when the trail turned into the rock shelf of the rims.  Its a really rough ride and I couldn't tell where the trail continued so I decided to turn back.  It was getting late anyway.  I told Sarah I'd be gone only two hours.

I got back in just a hair over two hours.  When I opened the door I got a whiff of delicious turkey and other Thanksgiving treats.  After cleaning up, I helped Sarah out with the feast although I probably wasn't much help.  Everytime I got a chance to sit down I could feel the drowsiness taking over.  I'd never gone moutain biking for more than an hour at a time before.  It is really taxing on you.  I have dreams of big rides doing 40 miles a day and camping out but I'll need to work up to that point.

Thanksgiving was great.  Sarah did a wonderful job with the dinner.  I really messed up the sweet potatoes and squash so no one ate them.  In fact, I fed Evie some sweet potato and for the first time ever, she pulled a disgusted look and spat it all out.  I tried my sweet potato later and realized why.


Sydney's ready to devour dinner.  This is our feast with exception of a few items like Sam the turkey.  The girls made placeholders for everyone and ended up with one extra so they decided to make one for the turkey and called him Sam.  Sydney, instead of asking for turkey, asked more more Sam.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Clutz

11 miles
45 degrees

I went back to Riverfront Park today during lunch and found some trails I've never been on before. I probably took them a little to fast for comfort since I wasn't familiar with them.  I ended up nailing several limbs with my face and even more with my arms.  One of the trails was so tight that I was constantly dodging limbs while ducking down below the canopy.  It was a pretty cool trail though and I had a good time riding through the new terrain.

When I decided to head back, I found a trail that I knew and took it back.  Somewhere along the trail, in some dense shrubs and trees, I started to feel needle-like sensations poking me all the way down my right arm.  As I rode into the clearing I looked down and saw that my right shoulder, arm and glove were completely covered with huge cockle burrs.  I stopped and started picking them off.  I was surprised to find that they would even stick to my bare fingers.  They were everywhere and for awhile it seemed like I was just spreading them rather than picking them off.  I was also surprised to find that they would break apart as I pulled them off leaving a dusting of grainy material all over my clothes and in the air around me.  I can still feel the stuff in my throat.  Yuck!

I finally rid myself of all of the burrs and got back on the bike to head back.  Just as I started, a woman with a golden retriever came around the corner.  She held the dog back as I tried to pass.  The path was narrow and I was hardly moving and still not really situated on my bike.  Just as I was passing I hit a root with my front tire that threw me forward enough to raise my rear wheel several feet in the air while my feet are flailing to find the ground.  I recovered and rode off embarrassed.  Its bad enough when I do stupid stuff like that by myself.  Not a real graceful day in my book.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Oh deer!

11.25 miles
43 degrees
24 mph winds

I was much better prepared for the cold weather today but I knew I was going to be in trouble when I started flying down the road effortlessly at 27 mph. I had a nice tailwind that would turn into a strong and cold head wind on my way back to the office. I took advantage of the tailwind and got to Two Moon Park as quickly as I could, leaving more time to play at the park. Since I was traveling so fast to get to the park I wasn't about to slow down once I got there either, not until I encountered my first dog that is. It was a huge Great Dane, luckily on a leash. I was at a Y intersection in the trail an opted for the trail without the huge beast. It didn't matter though. There seemed to be dogs and walkers on every trail I took so I started taking some of the smaller, unmarked single-track trails.

I was having a grand ol' time and again burst out of the woods into a clearing and standing before me about 100 feet away was that same 4 point buck from a couple days prior. In fact, I was in the same clearing that he startled me in. He didn't seem to care that I was there and didn't budge from his location on the trail. I slowed down and saw something to the left of me. A doe, another doe, then a huge 6 point buck staring me down from thirty feet away directly to my left. I stopped to watch. The buck wasn't budging and wasn't taking his eyes off of me. He then leaned forward ever so slightly and tilted his rack towards me, not aggressively but enough for me to get the hint. 'Keep moving.' I slowly rode passed the smaller buck who longer was paying any attention to me and got out of there.

I still had plenty of time left to goof off so I headed back deep into the park jumping from trail to trail until I ended up back at the same clearing. This time I entered more cautiously. The deer had moved back behind a group of trees but I could see them quite clearly. This time I counted six deer, two bucks and four does. I moved on quickly to do one more loop of the park.

As time ran out, I decided to try the outer trail to get back. I came out into a clearing where I could see the rim wall with the paved trail on top. Then I saw it, a small dirt trail leading all the way up. I decided to try it. I worked through the rough trail to get to the wall, shifted all the way down and started up the steep climb. I was pedaling like mad when, BUMP, my back tire hit something in the grass just hard enough for me to take my foot off the pedal. It was all over. I had lost my momentum and couldn't start up again on the hill. I turned aroud to head back when I saw another small trail heading back in the general direction I wanted to go. It didn't take me long to realize that this was an animal trail an not a mountain bike trail. I soon ended up in some marshy terrain with tall grass and decided I'd had enough. Time to turn back. As I hopped off the bike to turn around I saw another doe just inside the thicket staring right at me, then slowly walk off.

I slowly worked my way back to the trail through the tall grass. All of the sudden I heard some thrashing up ahead. Something had startled three does up on top of the rims and they started racing down the hill infront of me with their white tails raised high. "That's 10 deer for the day," I thought. I finally made it back to the trail, looked at my clock and realized I was really late. I bolted back down the trail. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something. Another buck, this time a two point, with a doe. There are deer everywhere. Twelve deer today. I swear I'm going to hit one someday. Maybe I need to get one of those deer whistles you stick on the hood of your car and mount it on my helmet. I already look ridiculous in all of my bike gear anyway. What's one more accessory?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ice!

13 miles
43 degrees


I looked at the weather before I left for today's ride. 43 degrees. No big deal. I've been riding in that for weeks so I decided not to wear my base layer leggings. I've only worn them once in the last two weeks. Boy was I wrong. It's cold out there. I don't care if the internet says 43 degrees, its wrong. I went over to Riverfront Park and noticed frost on the trails. It was shaded so I didn't think much of it until I burst out of the woods and saw the pond with a thin layer of ice forming on its surface. Can it really be 43 degrees and there still be ice on the pond? I don't know but I decided then that I was crazy for being out in only shorts, a jersey, and a thin base layer top.

I decided that I needed to keep moving to keep myself warm so rather than mess with the single track trails that are often discontinuous and difficult to navigate causing frequent stops, slow downs and occasion back tracking, I decided to stick to the larger trails. The trail I selected ran next to the river (even colder but by then I was numb anyway) and lead over to Norm's Island. Norm's Island was nice but I had to watch closely since there were several pedestrians with dogs. I didn't want to come around a corner and nail a golden retriever or collie. OUCH! It's bad enough having to worry about hitting a deer, with which I also had a close encounter today. I flushed up a pheasant hen as well. Luckily the vegetation wasn't nearly as dense as it is at Two Moon Park or Riverfront Park so I was able to spy anything in my path far before I reached it. I found myself cruising along the trails at 15 mph in one of my middle gears. Months ago I would have considered that a good speed on a flat, paved road on my road bike in the highest gear.

I need to get a small camera that I can pack around with me to document my travels with photographs, but until then, these found pictures will have to do. It looks a lot different right now since the leafs are gone but there is no snow yet.

Yellowstone River from Norm's IslandBridge at Riverfront Park

Across the river from Norm's Island (I rode over here today too)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Close Encounters of the Four Point Kind

Yesterday
9 miles

Yesterday I went back to Two Moon Park for a nice ride. Although I was swamped with work I couldn't pass up the beautiful weather. It was calm, sunny and almost warm. I had a great time cruising around the park. I did have a scare though. I burst out of the trees into a clearing and right in front of me was a set of antlers. Right next to the trail was a small 4 point buck. I startled him but he stood his ground. I came to a stop about 10 feet away from him. I kept expecting him to bolt but he didn't. My heart leapt out of my chest. The buck was still holding his ground although not aggressively. I thought, 'here it is. I'm finally getting gored by a deer.' I've been telling people that's how I'm going to go because I keep having close encounters. We stood and just looked at each other for several seconds when I decided that I needed to move on and get out of there. I pedaled forward cautiously and the buck took two leaps away and turned to watch me again. As I pedaled off down another trail the buck followed parrallel, very intent on keeping an eye on me. It was pretty cool but a little creepy. I ran into him one other time but at a much more comfortable distance.

Today
7.5 miles
40 degrees

Today was much colder but I decided to go anyway, partly because desperately I needed a break from work and partly because I knew that I couldn't go tomorrow because of a work luncheon. I needed to work through lunch but I think I was more productive after lunch because of my ride. I headed up 27th Street to the top of the rims and caught the Black Otter Trail going East. As soon as I could I hopped off of the paved trail and onto the dirt trail. Today was rough. I flew off of the pavement onto the rock shelf a little to fast and got rattled to the core. The ride was so rough that my wrists started to ache immediately. I had to slow down just so I could hold on. Off if the rock the trail was soft with a lot of loose silt and I could feel both tires slipping as I rode, another reason to slow down. It's a good ride with some technical obstacles that remind me how much I have to learn about mountain biking. I did drop off a few small ledges which was a little victory for me but some of the other obstacles still freaked me out. I need a buddy to go with that will push me to improve. I enjoy road biking by myself but mountain biking I feel is a group sport. I take what I can get though.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Free at last!

9 miles
45 degrees

The last several days have been full of hectic project deadlines and frigid temperatures. I missed my rides towards the end of the week because I had to work through lunch and put in about 12+ hours of work each day to finish a couple projects. This weekend would have been nice for a ride but it was cold and I had projects at home to do. Today's ride was especially nice because it meant that my projects were done, at least to the point that I could go for a ride. The weather wasn't too bad either.

Today I went back to Two Moon Park after a two week hiatus while exploring other places. I was a little worried about it because of the snow that we had this weekend. I thought the bridges might be iced over or the trail might be really muddy. Luckily it wasn't too icy or muddy, just enough that I had to pay closer attention to the trail and go a little slower. I had a good time and somehow found a new trail. I thought I'd ridden them all but I was wrong. I rode around for awhile having a great time, then looked down at the clock and decided I'd better head back. That's the problem with noon rides, I feel like I just barely get to my destination and then have to turn around. It's always rushed. Change clothes, a 15 minute ride out, 20 minutes of play, and a 15 minutes ride back, and shower and get dressed. Seems like a lot for just 20 minutes but I enjoy the ride out and back as well.

No ride tomorrow :( I'm on the road for a job in Great Falls. I'll have to make up for it on Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lost - not the TV show

12 miles
50 degrees

Ok, so I didn't really go out intending on a 12 mile ride today. I went back to Riverfront Park and ended up taking a trail that looked like it'd be a good one. A few minutes into it the trail became more and more obscure. I started getting into some heavy brush and was really getting beat up by it. Twigs and branches kept smacking my hands, arms, and legs. Trees were grabbing my clothes and there were cockle burrs everywhere. I was already pretty far down the trail so I didn't want to turn around. Finally the trail opened up and I continued on. Then I saw something up ahead that I recognized, the sand from yesterday. I shifted all the way down and spun my rear tire through the sand while my front tire slid all over the place. I continued down the trail but it was just more sand, everywhere. The trail finally stopped at the river so I turned around to go back but I definatelly was not taking the same trail back. I found what I thought was a trail and followed it for awhile until it completely disappeared. I looked back and couldn't even tell where I'd come from. So what did I do? I kept plugging along hoping that I'd find a trail somewhere that would lead me back to something recognizable. I finally found a tiny, obscure trail but hey, it was better than what I was on. I took it in hopes of finding a larger trail that would take me back. I followed it for awhile and occassionally turned off on a different trail that seemed like it was heading the right direction and looked a little more promising. Finally, after wandering through the park for twenty minutes or so, I found pavement and knew exactly where I was.

I took off down the paved trail and looked at my clock. Man was I going to be late getting back to work. I decided to take the same trail that I took yesterday to get out of the park so I wouldn't get lost again. Whoops! I somehow did it again. I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in some sort of bird sanctuary with bird houses everywhere. I could hardly decipher the trail in the tall and thick grass. Then, out of nowhere , I hit a small log with my front tire. I'll just say OUCH! (high pitched voice implied by small font.) After recovering from my near endo / frame in crotch moment, I noticed that I was on the wrong side of the creek. At that point I'd had enough of this trail and turned around to find my way out.

After back tracking and taking a few more wrong turns, I finally found the pond at the east side of the park. I hopped onto the familiar trail and raced off toward the park exit. Overall, it was an enjoyable ride and without a time restraint, I probably wouldn't have cared about the wrong turns. I was just out exploring. But as it was, I was really late getting back to the office and even later getting back to my desk. I took a long, thourough shower to get all of the grass and burrs off so I wouldn't itch all day. Doesn't matter, I'm still itching.

As I write this, I realize that its probably really difficult to envision getting lost in a park. I really need to take pictures of this place so you can see for yourselves how overgrown and dense the vegitation is in this park. With exception of the trails and a grassy play/picnic area around the North side of the lake, the entire park is essentially virgin forest and wetlands. I'll bring a camera with me one of these days. But until then, these internet images will have to do.

I ride in the dense willows and cottonwoods on the other side of the lake.

Aerial image of Riverfront Park. Its the entire vegitated area to the North of the Yellowstone River.

End of the road

This summer Mike and I found a new ride that we've really enjoyed since. We go up South Billings Boulevard to Hillcrest Road a take Hillcrest to the end of the pavement. Its full of hills; long, steep hills. I always beat Mike to the top but seldom beat him back to the bottom. His motto; F=MA (Force = mass x accerelation).

Mike pulled out his phone and took a picture at the end of the pavement on our first ride out there. We were holding our bikes over our shoulders, so you are seeing saddles and saddle bags next to our faces. There is always some satisfaction in riding to the end of a road, even if you didn't have to travel that far to get there.

This picture makes me miss summer.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Trailblazing

11 miles
44 degrees

I got my rear wheel repaired this weekend on my Mountain bike so today I thought I'd try it out and head over to Riverfront Park. I love riding through Riverfront Park because there are so many trails to choose from. The problem with Riverfront Park is that there are so many trails to choose from. What I mean is that some of the trails are not very well maintained or even clearly marked. But I'm mountain biking so what do I care. I started on one of my favorite trails and had a blast. The trail was somewhat slick with wet and decaying leaves so it was a bit tricky at times and I did slide a little. When the trail hit the pavement I turned off and looked for some smaller single tracks. The single track trails that I found were not frequently traveled and its possible I was the first person on some of them for months. As I pedaled along I kept getting whacked my branches, grass, and shrubs. I felt like I was trailblazing...with my face. Its a good thing I had glasses on. As I fooled around on these smaller trails I realized that I had no idea where I was, and although I knew I could get out of the park by heading a general direction, I was lost. It didn't bother me much except I knew I needed to get back to work soon.

As I was working my way back to the main path, I came flying out of a thicket and hit thick, dry sand. Talk about a shock. I sunk right in and came to an immediate stop. Well, my bike did anyway. I stayed on the bike but it was quite a surprise. After passing the sand, I finally found the main path and started on my way out of the park. As I was leaving I found a trail that I thought I had ridden before that I thought would take me out. It did but not without it's surprises. It was a smooth, wide trail so I really flew down the trail. Up ahead I could see the river. The river got closer and I couldn't see where the trail went. Closer and closer and I still couldn't see which direction the trail was turning. Then I see it. The trail had been washed out by the river. I stopped just in time. If I'd kept going, it would have launched me 15 feet into the river.

I quickly turned around and found another trail that I was sure was going to take me back. The trail narrowed, then it closed in around me. I found myself ducking under a canopy of thick brush and trees, dark leafless trees that reminded me of Sleepy Hollow. Its was kind of creepy but definitely a fun ride. I came out of that thicket, connected with another trail and finally burst out of the woods onto the road. Time to go back to work. Bummer!

After I got back to work I looked at my bike computer. I'm up to 2999.4 miles on my mountain bike and will turn over 3000 miles on my way home today.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

30 miles
52 degrees


I finally made it back out for a Saturday ride. I love Saturday rides because I can go far enough to really get out of the city. Today I went up Blue Creek Road to the top where it turns and drops into the valley on the other side. Besides a few deer at 2 Moon Park, I haven't seen any wildlife on my rides for weeks. Today I saw a dozen deer, a red tailed hawk perched in a tree and a peregrine falcon perched on a fence post. (Or at least I think it was a peregrine falcon but it was only about 25 feet away.

As I trucked along, it started getting cooler and cooler, especially in the shade. After yesterday's 70 degree ride, I didn't even prepare for colder temperatures. Flying down hills at 40 mph with just shorts and a jersey can get pretty cold.

It was a fun ride but as I stepped off the bike when I got home I realized that my legs wouldn't work. I hobbled into the house and have been taking it easy since. Maybe riding, running, and spin class is a little too much. I'll give my legs a break tomorrow.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Huffin' and a puffin'

15 Miles
70 degrees
39 mph winds

It was 70 degrees during lunch today. Perfect day for riding, right? WRONG! It was so windy I struggled to keep the bike upright. I had the road bike today so I couldn't even tuck into a park and ride sheltered from the wind by the trees. I decided to ride into the wind so I'd have an easier time coming back. I took some roads that I thought would give me cover from the wind because of trees and hills and such. It helped some. Riding into the wind wasn't too bad. I sure thought it was at the time because of how slow I was moving but I quickly discovered that gusty crosswinds at that magnitude were much worse than any headwind I've ever encountered. I had to lean so far into the wind, that when I finally got a reprieve I'd swerve erratically into the road or shoulder. After recovering I'd get hit with another gust that would just about knock me off the bike until I could lean back into the wind. See a vicious cycle forming here?

I fought the cross winds until it was time to turn around but at that point I was in the foothills, which was a little more protected, and wanted to keep going. I pedaled on until I got to the Briarwood Golf Course and decided that I'd gone far enough. When I turned around though I realized that crosswinds were much stronger on the other side of the street. Going up the street I was somewhat sheltered by the negative pressure on the leeward side of the hill but coming down the street I'd moved out far enough that I was getting the full force of the winds. It was a rough ride back.

I eventually turned to go back into town with the wind at my back. It was awesome. I flew down Montana Ave. with very little effort and was able to keep up with traffic. I topped out at 34 mph on a flat with that tail wind. I'm glad that part worked out as planned.

New sport!

Well, I've tried roller basketball and really loved it. Why not try something new like bike jousting?


Maybe not. Ouch!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hillcrest

15 miles
45 degrees

I decided to take the road bike out today and tried the roads to the South of town. I headed out to South Frontage Road and up South Billings Boulevard to Hillcrest Road. I couldn't believe how fast I was going. I flew up the hill at 20 mph. Its not real steep but it is a climb. Of coarse I slowed was down once I got to the real climbing but because I was so quick at the beginning of my ride, I was able to cram in 15 miles in an hour lunch break including changing clothes. I averaged 17.5 mph today. Sad thing is, I was slower going down the hill than I was going up it. While I was out the wind picked up and I had a head wind for part of the decent. It was still a good ride. I miss going out that direction. Its just so much easier to go East from work.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Broken spoke?

7.5 miles
50 degrees
30 mph winds

I rode the Black Otter Trail again today and I am pooped. I had to climb 27th Street with a head wind but at least I was able to use all of my gears. I got on the dirt trail as soon as I could and tried the same trail that Mike and I took a couple weeks ago. Its a tough one and I found myself in the wrong gear too many times. I had to walk it several times. Before I even got on the dirt trail though I noticed a lot of road noise from my back tire. I looked down and could see the rim was way out of true. I stopped and noticed a broken spoke. I must have done that yesterday on my ride. I really need to figure out how to replace those things and true a rim.

I babied it a little partly because of my rim but mostly because I'm still not comfortable with this trail yet. It would be too easy to end up at the rock ledge 20 feet below me or even worse, off the rims. It was a fun ride and despite the wind, I did it fairly quickly. I really need to bring a camera one of these days.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Back in the Saddle again

9.5 miles
46 degrees

We had a great Halloween weekend with way too much candy. Even though it was cold today during lunch I decided to go for a ride just to get in some exercise before all of that candy clogs my arteries. Actually, I really wanted to go today. I took my bikes in, both of them, on Saturday to have them worked on. I had a full tune-up and bottom bracket cleaning on the mountain bike, plus I made them replace my faulty chain. They also trued up my back wheel and fixed the broken spoke, re-adjusted the derailers, and lubed up the cables. Everything seems to be working well. I was even able to climb the hill today in something other than my lowest gear without the chain popping and slipping. The road bike was a simple repair, adjusting the brakes. I felt dumb taking the bike in for such a minor repair but when the shop guys couldn't figure it out, I felt better about it. They had to strip off the top of the rubber brake pads so it wouldn't rub up against my tire. Strange fix. I'll try a different pad next time.

Anyway, I had a good ride today. I went back to Two Moon Park and was able to fly through it without having to "baby" the gears and chain. I had a lot of fun and tried a few new trails. One of them Sarah and I found yesterday as we went for a Sunday walk with the girls. Its called Dull Knife and I'm fairly certain its called such because the guy who blazed the trail did so with a dull knife so he did only the bare minimum. It was a tight fit with me on top of my bike in some places. I consistantly got smacked by new growth and small limbs. Its a cool trail. I just hope I never encounter anyone going the other direction on that trail. There's no visibility and nowhere to swerve. It could get ugly real quick.

Friday, October 30, 2009

2 Moon Park

9 miles
50 degrees

I took advantage of the nice weather today and went out for another ride during lunch. I decided to go back to Two Moon Park even though my bike is really acting up. I'm taking it in tomorrow. I really babied it today, which is fine because once I got on the bike I realized how sore I was from running last night. I did three miles in under 27 minutes which is big for me since I've never run three miles straight without walking. I'm pretty proud of myself. I'm glad I figured out how to strengthen my running without actually having to run. This cycling thing is pretty cool.

Nothing real exciting or usual happened today on my ride, pretty much the same ride that I've done several times now. I tried to mix it up a little by taking some single track trails when I saw them but I quickly lost most of them and had to turn around back to the main trail. I did find a few good ones but I doubt I could find them on purpose again. It was kind of tricky because my trail would disappear in a field of fallen leaves and I'd have to pick it up on the other side. Either that or the grass had grown over the trail making it too difficult for my busted up bike. I can't wait until I get both bikes fixed up.

At one point, I was pedaling down a trail and had to hit the brakes because there were two dogs and a woman walking up it the other way. No big deal usually but I kept running into her over and over again, and its not a small park. Later, when I saw her, rather than stopping to wait for her and the dogs to pass, I just turned around and found another trail but I quickly ended up on their trail over and over again. Oh well. It forced me to explore more of the park. I think I could bike that park for hours before tiring of it. There are so many small trails all over the place. I'm glad I found it. I just need to get back over to Riverfront park again some time to play there aswell.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Feel like what?

11 miles
46 degrees
29 mph winds

I was cold in the office this morning and I really debated whether or not to go for a ride today so I looked up the weather on the internet. Although it said there were 29 mph winds out, the temperature was 46 degrees so very much like yesterday's ride. The weather site also said it feels like 46 degrees, even with 29 mph winds. What happened to the wind chill factor? Anyway, I decided to go out and see if it really feels like 46 degrees with the wind blowing. Well, it doesn't. Add on my 10 mph (I know, but I was riding into a 29 mph headwind) for 40 mph winds and I was getting pretty cold.

Despite (or because of) the wind, I decided ride up the rims on 27th Street and out Airport Road into the wind as far as I could go in my lunch break. I have to admit that it was not enjoyable. It felt like a bad spin class where the instructor keeps yelling "Add it on" without any kind of recovery. I finally hit five miles on my speedometer and figured I'd had enough. I turned around and suddenly the world fell silent. No more wind howling wind in my ears. Even hauling down Airport Road at 35 mph, I couldn't feel any wind. Let me tell you, its pretty cool to effortlessly fly down a flat road a 35 mph. I quickly hit 27th Street to drop back down the rims. Without pedaling I hit 42 mph. The rest of the ride was a cinch, except for the moron who stopped in the middle of the road to let me cross instead of letting me slip behind him. Nice gesture, but he held me up long enough that the other vehicles were quickly approaching and put me in a bad situation. I wish drivers would just treat cyclists like all other vehicles because when they don't they put cyclists and other drivers in danger.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Up Coburn Road

12 miles
53 degrees
26 mph winds


I'm trying to squeeze in as many rides as I can before the weather turns sour. This morning was cold so I was expecting a miserable ride at lunch but it warmed up nicely. My bike has been acting up as well and I didn't get a chance to take it in this weekend so I babied it today. I did some climbing but on roads only, no mountain biking. I climbed up Coburn Rd to the TV antennas on top of the rims to the Southeast of Billings, touched the gate where they close the road going down to Pictograph Caves, and turned around. Everything was smooth sailing until I turned around and had to deal with the cross and headwinds. At least I was going downhill most of the way.

On my way down, I turned down Canyon Trail Road, a gravel road thinking it would take me into Lockwood. I flew down the road at 20 mph with loose gravel underneath. It felt like I was riding on slush again, but when a wheel would slip, it would grab again almost instantly. I went down the road about a mile but I couldn't see where it was going because of the rolling hills and the bends in the road. I gave up and turned around to go back to the paved road that I was on. Its a good thing too. I just mapquested the road and it goes nowhere. In fact, I was near the end of it. Anyway, I cruised back down Coburn Road and into town and fought the wind back to the office...And here I sit wishing I were back out there.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tired

15 miles
56 degrees

Not much to say but I am tired. I left work early today as to not put in too much overtime. I left at 4pm and rode my mountain bike up the Black Otter Trail over to Zimmerman Trail and back down to the YMCA just in time for spin class. I'm pooped.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chain...Grrrr!

9 miles
44 degrees

So my chain broke again today at the very "Power Link" that was supposedly NOT recalled. I think I'm taking it back anyway and having the bike shop install a new one. I'm not touching it again. I have some shifting/sprocket issues that's driving me nuts as well. It's not bad unless I'm climbing on a trail. Its frustrating because I have to stay in a very low gear while riding because if not, and I get caught off guard with a steep climb, its POP! PING! GRIND! and I'm tired of it.

The actual ride was a good one though. Mike and I took off and climbed 27th Street (not an easy feat) up to Airport Road to get on the Black Otter Trail going the opposite direction that I went the other day. We rode the trail until I found a dirt trail. Man! This trail is incredible. I need to bring a camera. I've never even noticed the rock formations while riding the paved trail but on the dirt trail we rode right through and over them. We had to walk parts because the rock was too steep and running perpendicular to our path with no shelf to ride on. At another point we ended up right on the edge of the rims with only 3 or 4 feet to the ledge. Needless to say, we were a little nervous. We were having a great time, when POP! my chain falls off. I griped enough above so I'll spare you this time. I was able to put the chain back together and we decided to play it safe and take the paved trail back, plus we were running out of time.

On the way down the backside of the rims, I convinced Mike that my chain could handle the single track trail down to the bottom that I found the other day. (I'm not sure my rims can though). We took it and at the bottom we came to several drops. I rode the brakes, hung back over the saddle and dropped off. The next thing I know, I have cleared it but I'm behind and below the saddle pretty close to the tire and instinctively pulled myself back up. It was pretty cool. I didn't know I could do that. We made it back down to the road and Mike found another steep shortcut. It was a really fun shortcut with some steep rock faces. Steep enough that I could never get up them.

Besides the chain, it was a really fun ride. A keeper in my books!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I can feel my fingers again!

9 miles
38 degrees

Mike's back in town so we decided to go for a ride during lunch back down to Two Moon Park to see the Weeping Wall. It was a nice ride. On the way back, however, my bike started acting up again like it was the other day on top of the rims. As I was climbing the final hill, my chain kept popping and skipping. I worked through it by shifting down to the lowest gear and just spun the pedals all the way up the last of the hill. When it leveled out at the top, I tried shifting up when I heard a loud metallic PING! I stopped to check out my gears but didn't see what the problem was. I got back on the bike and took off to catch up to Mike and as I shifted, I heard it again...PING! I'm really confused now and Mike and I tried to figure it out but couldn't see the problem.

As we approached Main Street, Mike bolted and I started mashing pedals to catch up. All of the sudden my feet are flying everywhere and I lost contact with the pedals. When I found the pedals there was no resistance. That's when Mike saw my chain lying on the ground. "Do you have a chain tool?" he asked. "Nope," I replied. I could see it in his face. He was thinking, 'great! I'm going to have to pull this guy back into town or walk back with him.' That's when I pulled out a surprise.

Several weeks ago I found out that a special chain link called a "Power Link" was being recalled and I thought I had it on my bike. The advantage to the special link is that tools are needed to put it on the chain. I took the chain off to get it replaced but found out that mine wasn't being recalled. I tried re-installing it but but couldn't do it, so I put a regular link back in. In the meantime, I'd seen a keychain made from old bike chains and decided to make one and use the special link. I've now had time to practice using the link and had the key chain with me so it was a quick fix and I was back on the road. I think Mike was really impressed.

Bike chain "Power Lock" Push it together to open it and pull it tight to lock it.
My key chain is similar to this with more links and the "Power Lock" above.

Oh, and in regard to the title of this blog, I forgot my long fingered gloves today and it was cold. I showered at work, not because I was sweaty, but because I was freezing.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bike to the Beartooths Jersey

No ride today. Even though it was a beautiful day today, we couldn't get our acts together to do anything. Of course, for the same reason (or two reasons) we never get to do anything we plan on doing. I won't mention their names.

I did get a lot of yard work done today like mowing the lawn and cleaning up the garden. I also worked on my bike a bit, replacing a chain and the brake pads. Somehow I messed up the brakes so bad that I can't ride it until I fix it. I have a friend who said he'd take a look and help me out with it. The chain seems to be good so far but I still have a shifting problem to work on. I wish I knew what I was doing when it comes to bike repair. As bad as I can screw up a car, I thought that bikes would be much simpler but in a way, they are even harder. I'd rather change brake pads on a car than a bike.

Anyway, I thought I'd post a picture of my new jersey from the MS ride. I really like it. Can't go wrong with orange. I wore it a few days ago and Sarah washed it today so it's still wet so I didn't feel like modeling it myself. However, last night Sarah and I were talking to an employee at the gym and he asked about my jersey. I was wearing one of the Cyprus jerseys that Ashley designed and he told me I looked like a shirt model. Weird!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Get it together, Russ

12 miles
48 degrees

I went for a ride during my lunch break but I don't think it was meant to be. I started off by gathering up my stuff and heading to the basement to change. I made to the first floor when I realized that I left my shorts at my desk. I trucked it back up the stairs, got my shorts and went down to the basement. I got completely changed when I noticed that I didn't have my shoes. Being sheepish and not wanting to wander through the building in my lycra shorts and bike jersey, I put my clothes on over my bike gear and climbed the stairs back up to my desk to get my shoes and then back down to the basement to finish getting dressed. Finally, back up the stairs and out the door. By now I'd already lost 10 minutes or so but I guess I still got a workout with all of the stair climbing.

My original intention was to work my way through traffic over to the North end of Lockwood on the country roads and then come back. I couldn't make it that far with the time I lost trying to get my clothes on so I settled for the paved trail system. On my way out I hit a pothole and noticed how low my rear tire was. I kept riding anyway since I was pretty sure I didn't have a flat.

I was really shocked that I was able to fly down the trail at 23 miles an hour and I wasn't really pushing it either. When I turned around I noticed that I'd been going slightly downhill with a tail wind. Now I was fighting the wind, a low tire, and the slight incline. I gave up and finally stopped to pump up my tires. I slipped once and hit my hand pretty hard but didn't think much of it. When I got back to the office, I looked at my hand and my finger was a bloody mess. It doesn't hurt but I somehow peeled the skin off.

So between all of my obstacles, including a few chain malfunctions that I didn't mention, I determined that maybe I shouldn't have gone for a ride today. I should have gone to my continuing education course or gone to lunch with my family since the kids are out of school. I'm tired and still get to look forward to spin class this evening. Yeah!!! (sarcasm)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Black Otter Trail - Part 2

10 miles
54 degrees
20-25 mph winds


I attempted the Black Otter Trail again today, this time on road bike. Sticking to the paved trail I thought I'd be able to get in a few more miles. However, with the 25 mph winds, I didn't move much faster than yesterday. Given our proximity to Wyoming, I thought this picture was appropriate.
I fought the wind the whole way but it was satisfying to be able to ride without bundling up. I got to try out my new jersey today as well. I received my MS tour jersey in the mail last night for raising over $500. Really Sarah and I raised $800 together so we'll try to get her a jersey next year. Thanks to everyone for supporting us. I'll have to post a picture of the jersey because its pretty sweet.

My route varied a little bit today since 1) I found the entrance to the trail, 2) I stayed on the paved trail, and 3) I avoided the heavy traffic of 27th Street through town (I peeled off at Rimrock Rd). I also rode down the hill on 27th at 46 mph today instead of 35 mph on my mountain bike.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Black Otter Trail

34 degrees
~9 miles

Today during my lunch break I headed out toward Two Moon Park again but as I crossed Main Street I thought I'd go check and see if one of my favorite rides was open. There has been some major road construction on Airport Road and in the process of the work, the lower half of the Black Otter Trail was removed. I bolted over there on Main Street to Airport Road and saw that entrance to the Black Otter Trail was still there. However, when I got there I noticed the road went down into the ground instead of up to the top of the rims. They used the land where the Black Otter Trail was to put in an underpass to the neighborhood North of Airport Road. I'm a little ticked off but I know other ways to get to the trail. So I turn around and truck it up Airport Road until I can see the old Black Otter Trail. I cut across the road and over the re-grading they had done until I reached the trail. When I got there I noticed that the road was now solely a bike path...Nice! I can't complain anymore. The entrance to the path was only 30-50 feet from where I was near the underpass. I'm still not sure how to safely get there but I'm sure there is a way.

Anyway, I start cranking up the road remembering how hard this ride is. When I get to the top, I notice some double track paths carved into the landscape. I really have the mountain biking bug now so I took one of them that lead me to a single track. I followed the single track along the hillside until I hit the bottom near where I had started, turned around and trekked back up the trail. At the top I found more off-road trails. These trails are much harder than the other trails I've been riding, mostly because the ground is so soft that your wheels spin out on any incline. I played for awhile but the trail was slow and my bike was acting up. Since the end of my lunch hour was quickly approaching, I worked my way back to the paved trail and flew down it to the end at 27th Street. I have a lot more exploring to do of that area now.

At the end of the trail there is a new tunnel that goes underneath 27th so you don't have to cross it anymore. I took the tunnel and scrambled up the other side to hop the guardrail and ride 27th back into town. 27th Street is a steep road going from the top of the rims right back into town. I flew down 27th at 35+ miles an hour when some idiot in a large SUV pulled out in front of me. Not want to brake, I popped into the left lane and passed the SUV. He never even saw me until I pulled out in front of him. As I got into town, traffic picked up and I was now riding in bumper to bumper traffic with no shoulder. I don't know what's scarier, passing a vehicle at 35 mph down a hill, being forced to keep up with 25 mph traffic in downtown, or trying to get into the left lane in that traffic to make a left hand turn. I made it but its not an experience I'd like to repeat any time soon.

Friday, October 9, 2009

And so it begins

2 Miles
18 degrees
**SNOW**

This morning was my first snow ride of the year. No, I don't do it for pleasure. Its a necessity since I bike commute to work. The way I see it, its still faster to ride my bike the one mile to work than it is to start the car, warm it up, scrape the windows and brush off the snow, drive to work, park a block or so away, and walk to work. Plus, during the winter, its sometimes the only outside time I get during the day unless its shoveling walks.

I was at least prepared for the snow though. After getting wet on Wednesday's commute to and from work, I decided that I needed some rain pants to slip over whatever pants I'm wearing for the day. I finally found some that weren't just cheap plastic at Big Bear. I'm pretty excited for them since they are nice enough I can use them for skiing and playing in the snow with the girls as well. They are not insulated so I still have to wear pants underneath but after skiing last year in jeans, I've determined that I need something to keep me dry.

Anyway, I took off this morning all bundled up with gloves, coat, scarf, hat, and rain pants and felt pretty good. The snow was sticky and hadn't melted yet so the roads were not slick. I didn't slip once and felt pretty confident. This fall (if you can call it fall) I been dreading winter, not because of the cold or snow, but because of the ice. I took a spill last winter and hit my elbow pretty hard. Looking back, I'm pretty sure I fractured something but I toughed it out. I developed a big pusy cyst on my elbow that finally burst with some foul smelling green stringy pus. Months later I was able to squeeze out some solid, somewhat spongy, white pieces of something, bone? Yeah, I know, gross! But it has had me paranoid, especially because it's still somewhat sore today. But no falls today. We'll see what happens tonight after it melts a little and freezes again.

I took it slow this morning. Partially because I was unsure of the roads but mostly because I was unsure of the drivers. I met up with Robert along the way. Robert also rides in to work everyday and lives about three blocks from me. As we get to work, I sigh with relief and comment on how glad I am that that was over. I pull my bike over to the rail to lock it up and notice that my bike lock, my new heavy duty bike lock, is gone. It had fallen off my handlebars (velcro strapped on) but with all of my bundling, plus the snow on the road, I didn't hear it fall. I turn around and get almost halfway home when I see the lock lying in the middle of the road at the busiest intersection of my ride, luckily not in the intersection. I wait for traffic that is swerving around the lock, see my window, bolt out and grab the undamaged lock, hop back on my bike and ride back to work.

I'm glad that's all over. I can't wait to do it again tonight!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Weeping Wall

9.5 Miles
40 Degrees
Wind - 20 mph


So after a miserable Monday riding on slushy roads to and from work, I decided to take advantage of the brief break in the storm during lunch today. Its supposed to rain or snow for the rest of the week and just get dang cold. I ventured out towards Two Moon Park again. I got there with about half an hour to explore the park. The riding was slower today because the trails are muddy and, at some points, icy. I took a different trail today that we did on Friday. This trail took me over several wooden bridges that were still icy. At one point I started sliding all over the bridge until I finally hit the mud on the other side and was able to right myself. I brushed out several deer as I rode through the park. This side of the park is pretty dense foliage and the trails were somewhat over grown. I had to continually hug my bike frame to clear some of the lower branches and fallen trees.

As I was cruising along, I noticed a sign marking a trail. I immediately hit the breaks to turn onto the trail called The Weeping Wall. After flushing up a couple more deer, I finally rode out of the thicket and was able to see the weeping wall. It was absolutely incredible, something that probably few people actually know about. The rims were sloped enough that green vegetation just cascaded down the wall appearing like a green waterfall. It really was something to see. In fact, I was probably watching the wall too closely. As I followed the weeping wall, I suddenly had to hit the brakes. I wasn't watching what was in front of me very closely. What was in front of me was a huge fallen tree, nut just the trunk but the whole plumage. Wanting to continue the trail, I scrambled around the fallen tree through the thicket with my bike on my shoulder. Not an easy task. I finally made it through the mess and looked down at my legs. My shorts, leggings, socks and shoes were all covered with cockle burrs. I spent a few minutes picking off the burrs and then hit the trail again.

As I continued on, the scenery started to appear more familiar. The thicket broke and I exited right where the creek dumps into the Yellowstone River. Straight in front of me was a small doe whitetail holding its ground cautiously as it watched me. Thinking this was sort of bizarre since all the other deer have taken off as soon as they saw me, I continued to ride toward her. She didn't budge. I finally stopped about 20 feet from her. We sat and watched each other for a few seconds before she calming walked off and jumped the creek.

It was time to turn around and head back to work. I climbed the hill and finally noticed the 20 mph headwind that I was going to have to fight all the way back to the office. All said and done, it was a pretty invigorating ride.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Feel the burn

Aaggh! My lungs and throat are on fire!

I should explain. I came down with a bug on Tuesday and haven't really done anything since except ride to and from work (in the rain on Wednesday). I am finally feeling a bit better today so I agreed to 1) meet up with Mike for breakfast with our wives and 2) go riding during lunch.

Breakfast was great although I biked over there in front of Sarah, who was in the car. I worked hard to get there so I was coughing all through breakfast while my nose ran like a faucet. I'm sure it was pleasant for everyone.

Later I met up with Mike during lunch, and after his act of public indecency, we found Janet and rode over to Two Moon Park. I had told Mike about it before and since it is close, we decided we could try it during a lunch break. We booked it over to the park on 4th Ave. with the traffic and I could feel the fire in my lungs but it felt so good to be off the couch that I kept going anyway. We scrambled down the switchbacks into the park and took off through the trails. The trails go on forever and only once did I see something I recognized from my previous trip. At one point I had to slam on my breaks and yell "Duck!" back to Mike and Janet as I hugged the frame of my bike to clear a huge fallen tree in the path. I scraped it with my back, almost missed it.

I was leading since I'd been there before and Mike caught me skidding around corners instead of slowing down and was shocked that I could do that (simple maneuver). So on the gravel road I told him how to do it and then demonstrated a skid spraying gravel all over. Only problem, I had nowhere to turn so when I released the brake and tried to straighten out, I almost went over the other direction. I made it look smooth and no one knew the better.

Anyway, I had a really great time but now my lungs are burning. Hopefully I'll be ready for Monday's ride.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oops!

13 Miles
44 degrees

I wasted too much time getting out the door this morning and was late meeting up with Mike. He had taken off by the time I got there so I took off sprinting in the direction that I thought he would have gone. I never did find him but I pushed myself harder than I
normally would have when riding alone. I gave up trying to catch him after about 20 minutes figuring that he was either long gone or had taken a different route. I was tired from riding so hard so when I got home I rewarded myself to a slice of Sarah's "healthy" cherry cheesecake for breakfast. I probably shouldn't have. It was too rich and heavy for that early in the morning but when the choice is Fruit Loops or cheese cake the decision was not hard to make. Mmmmm!

Monday, September 28, 2009

What are we thinking?

14 miles
38 degrees

This morning was a cold one and I knew it would be. I dressed well so only my hands and feet where cold and Mike shows up again in shorts and a jersey. At one point he told me that his hands and feet stopped hurting and felt fine now. Sounds like frostbite to me. I hope not! Anyway, I think we have both decided that we've had enough cold and dark rides but we are stubborn so we are holding out until the end of the month. Come October we will start riding during lunch, and I can sleep in my warm bed a little longer.

We went for a short ride this morning since lately the sun doesn't rise until we finish. We headed out through Billings on Lewis and cut down 19th down to King and crossed the Freeway to catch Frontage Road to head back. Since I was prepared, I wasn't too cold but my legs sure did not want to work and I had a hard time talking and breathing with that cold air rushing into my lungs. I am not ready for winter!

Grand Teton National Park

Ok, no rides to report on since I've spent the last several days in Grant Teton National Park participating in the Yellowstone Business Partnership Uncommon Sense program. I went with a co-worker and brought my family. I even considered bringing my bike but didn't feel that I'd have much time to actually ride except Friday morning when it was forcasted in the 30's. Not my idea of a fun ride through Teton Nat'l Park.

Anyway, the conference was great. We discussed transportation issues and climate change and I came away from it with some really great information. It was actually a great setting, being in a picturesque place and discussing how to preseve it. There was a forest fire on the other side of Jackson Lake that we observed for the three days that we were there. It was interesting to me that with all the destruction that the fire was creating, it was a natural process that would eventually bring new life to the forest. Much of the harm and destruction to our planet caused by human actions is irreversible (and possibly catostrophic) unless we react now. It was an eye opener for me, even though I was already a believer in the cause.

Anyway, enough of the preaching because that is not what I set up this blog to do. Saturday morning we drove around the park for some field trips of various sites and then headed home. As we drove around we discovered a great bike path that went around Jenny Lake and down quite a ways towards Jackson. I think that Sarah and I will have to ditch the kids and go for a ride down there some day. I wish Yellowstone would provide a similar path. As much as I want to ride Yellowstone, I'm nervous of the narrow roads and the traffic.

More to come on the Grand Teton Trip on Tree Squirrels.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dreams

14 miles
about 45 degrees

As I struggled to wake up this morning between snoozes on the alarm, I had a semi-conscious dream of riding but I could hardly move. It was actually more of a sensation than a dream. It was as if I were riding one of those spin bikes at the gym with the resistance all the way up. I think it was probably because I adjusted the brakes just a hair to tight the other night and at the beginning of yesterday's ride, they rubbed ever so slightly. It seemed to work itself out before I even met up with Mike so I just left it alone but I've been paranoid about the brakes nevertheless. Anyway, I've had similar dreams/sensations before of trying to run and my body just won't move and the classic falling off a cliff dream where you are powerless to do anything about your situation and not awake enough to just snap out of it. This was my first bike dream experience though. At least I wasn't changing flat tires in my dreams.

This morning was another cold one although not as cold as yesterday. This time I put on a heavier shirt, wool socks, and booties (covers that go over the shoes to block wind and water) in addition to the leggings, shorts and jacket that I wore yesterday. It was much more tolerable and I was able to enjoy the ride a little more this morning. Mike, however, still showed up with nothing but shorts and a jersey. I feel like a wuss riding with him but I don't like the cold, especially first thing in the morning. I get used to it and can tolerate commuting to work in -20 degree weather with the roads iced over, but I don't enjoy it. I had frost bite on my hands twice last year and don't intend to make a tradition out of it. So I dress for the weather, and if I sweat, so be it. Its better than being cold.

The ride was pretty uneventful this morning. No traffic mishaps, no deer chasing, no flats and no accidents. Just a nice ride through the city streets. We had a good conversation this morning and the ride was over before I knew it. I even got home in time to take the girls to the bus stop. Remember what I was wearing? It gets worse. I was self conscious about the bike shorts and black leggings but didn't have time to change so I threw on a pair of khaki shorts over the bike shorts and put on a pair of white tennis shoes. Classy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Brrrrr!

15.75 miles
about 40 Degrees

So why is it that the Kevlar the troops use in Iraq and Afghanistan can protect them from bullets and shrapnel but the supposed Kevlar lining in my road tires won't even stop a thorn or sharp rock?

Knowing that I was doing a road ride in the morning I ventured out to the garage after watching Heroes last night to fix the flat on my back tire from Saturday's ride. On my way out the door I noticed the three flat tubes from the MS ride and decided to patch them first. About half an hour and four patches later (one patch didn't take so I had to use another one) I'm finally out the door and into the garage. I reach for my bike and set it down on the ground and noticed that it felt funny. What the heck, the front tire is flat as well? Remind me not to by Nashbar cheap-o tires again. I changed out both tubes with the newly patched tubes and kept my fingers crossed that they would hold for the morning ride. I could have put new tubes in, but why, when I'm just going to puncture them in a day or so anyway. I then proceeded to adjust my brakes that are almost worn to nothing after 2000 miles. I just haven't been near a bike shop during business hours for awhile to buy new ones. After adjsuting the brakes, I went back inside to patch two more tubes because I will need them later. Finally I am done fixing up the bike and patching tubes for the night. I head back out to the garage to put things away and notice that it is actually chilly already. I instantly think of my morning ride and how I'm going to freeze my ...toes off so I go back into the house and start rumaging through my gear to find my leggings and a long sleeve shirt for the morning.

This morning I woke up and crawled out of bed and could tell instantly that it was cold outside. I shivered in the house after putting on my gear and I hadn't even stepped outside yet. It was about 40 degrees or less outside and I felt it instantly, even with my long sleeve shirt, leggins, and jacket. I rode over to the Y to meet up with Mike and its still pitch dark when I get there. Mike shows up in shorts and a jersey because he has no sense of cold. I think he felt it this morning though. Upon deciding where to go, I stated "nowhere near water" and not thinking much of it, we headed out to the paved trail that leads into the Heights, you got it, along the Yellowstone River. I forgot about that portion of the trail. It was cold and of course the faster we went, the colder we got. My toes quickly went numb. I guess I should have worn my insulated socks. Poor Mike was freezing. He wouldn't say so but I could tell because I did all of the talking this morning and even I had a hard time with that. We proceeded down the trail, chasing deer as we rode, until the sun finally started to illuminate the tops of the rims with an orangish glow. We decided to turn around and head back, however Mike wanted to look at Bench Blvd. for something dealing with work and told me to head back so I could get home in time.

I took off alone and decided that the surface streets would get me back faster that taking the trail all of the way back. As I approached the intersection of Main and 6th at Metra Park, I realized that the traffic sensors were not going to pick me up on a bike so I tried to work my way across the street. I found an opening in the North bound traffic and bolted but wasn't quick enough to hit my window through the South bound traffic so I hit the brakes and skidded to a stop in the middle of the road next to the median. I felt like I was playing Frogger on level 100 assuming that anyone has ever had the attention span long enough to make it to that level. Cars had wizzed by on both sides without an opening for about 3 minutes when I looked up and saw Mike flying down Main St. and turn right onto 6th Ave, right where I needed to be. I doubt he saw me since he was focused on not getting clobbered in the traffic. So much for my shortcut. Mike fades off into the distance and I am still sitting there in the intersection. It has now been atleast 5 minutes and there is no sign that the traffic is letting up or that the light will change. Finally, there it is, a small window. I bolt and am now surrounded by cars on 6th Ave. Someone lets me onto the shoulder and I'm off towards home. Of course, I was late getting home so I rode over to the bus stop just in time to say 'hi' to the girls and get them on the bus. I took a long, hot shower when I finally got home. I still feel cold.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Getting cold!

It was in the low to mid 40's this morning and I'm thinking, why do I do this to myself? I enjoy the riding but I have to second guess myself when its cold, windy and dark. To top it off, Mike didn't show this morning for some unknown reason (haven't talked to him yet). After waiting a few minutes I started the ride along the side of 27th Street with blinding headlights from oncoming traffic obstructing my view of the trail. I made it up the trail without incident (I didn't fall off the cliff) and even "cleaned" the loose portion of the trail that was disrupted during the recent road construction. It wasn't the same riding alone since I didn't have anyone to push me or joke around with to keep me awake. The sun came out somewhere near the end of my ride and it became easier to navigate the trail. I missed the trail a couple of times this morning and had to turn around and go back once. Nothing really exciting happened except that I almost experienced a "nut cracker" as I hit a rock that I was trying to climb but the bike stopped instead of climbing and I kept going. I stopped myself just short of smacking the frame. I've discovered that padded shorts don't help in that circumstance. Anyway, I finished the ride just in time to see my girls off to school. I guess they got ready in a hurry this morning so they could watch their boxing video from last night. It's pretty intense and a little terrifying. Check it out at our Tree Squirrels blog.

On a completely unrelated topic, I came across this bizarre tandem bike this morning. Mike and I rode a tandem bike once this summer and it was incredibly awkward and very difficult to climb with. I wasn't terribly impressed although newer models might be easier to use. However, if you've got to ride a tandem, this has got to be the way to go. I imagine the conversation may be a little dry and one sided. I'd hate to pedal that thing if the robot's battery ever died.

Original post at Endless-sphere.com

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A ride and a move

Ok, so I was asked to help move a family into their home this morning. My dilema, I was really lazy this week since Mike was out of town so I didn't ride Thursday or Friday with the exception of the "spin class from hell" as Sarah calls it. Friday was usually an easier class but they switched instructors to the Monday/Wednesday instructor and she kicks our trash in and out of that room. I made a snide comment yesterday and she told me to shut up because if my mouth was still running, I wasn't working hard enough. Back to the dilema, I really wanted to ride this morning and so did Sarah. I compromised and rode to the move and back home which was all together 21 miles. Nothing exciting happened but it was good to help this family out.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hills

Mike called last night and I smugly told him to be ready for hills, his favorite. Since I didn't ride yesterday (drove to Great Falls) I thought I would be fresh and rearing to go. I was wrong. I was so stinkin' tired that I struggled to keep up with Mike. I think he added a couple extra scoops of sugar to his Wheaties this morning. We took off up South Billings Boulevard, turned on Hillcrest and rode out to the end of the pavement. I just wasn't feeling it this morning, plus my bike seemed off and I couldn't figure out what it was. Mike beat me to the end of the pavement and we both turned around. All of the sudden Mike is gone, up ahead of me 1/2 a mile or so. I'm thinking, "Who is this guy? He's not the same guy I've been riding with all summer."

In an attempt to gain back some of the lead, I bolted down the last hill and was ready to blow through the stop sign at South Billings Boulevard when I saw six vehicles flying down the road right where I needed to be. I grabbed my brakes hard and skid to a stop right before the intersection. Well, Mike's gone now. No way I'm catching up.

I started pedaling again and noticed that my bike is really responding differently now so I give it good bounce and feel my rim hit the ground. Yep, the tire is flat. I'd checked it before I left and tested the tires a few times as I rode but I couldn't tell if it was flat or not but I knew something was off. So much for my new Kevlar lined tires. I think I had great visions of riding over thumb tacks and broken glass without incident when I bought these things. Looks like its going to be the same routine. I've got it down though. I can change a tire in my sleep now. I hope they finish the road construction by my house soon. I'm sure its to blame for most of my flats.

Now I could say that Mike cleaned my clock only because I had a flat this morning but I am just spent today, no energy left at all after trying to keep up with him. I'm going to count it up to that nitrous-oxide he added to his cereal before the ride. That and the free ride up the hill he got from grabbing hold of my jersey!

Monday, September 14, 2009

More deer

Mike and I did a quick morning ride on the Heritage Trail from Metra Park to Mary Street in the Heights this morning, as well as the sprint with traffic to Metra Park from downtown. It wasn't too bad today. All along the trail in the Heights deer jumped out in front of us. I had to brake once for three deer crossing too close for comfort. We must have encountered at least 20-30 deer on that narrow corridor of the trail. I keep telling Mike and Sarah, I am going to hit one someday and it won't be pretty. Hopefully it won't be a big buck! I can't say I won't deserve it when it comes though since we take any oportunity we can to race the deer. I'm sure they don't see it that way.

Anyway, we got to the end of the trail and turned right onto Mary and headed out a couple miles towards Shepard (via back roads) and turned around and came back. We cranked it all the way back along the river down to Colson Park and back to my house for a total of 17 1/2 miles this morning. Not bad for just goofing around on a Monday morning.

I added a few extra miles during lunch to run some errands downtown. I'm a little hot and sweaty now but actually awake after lunch. Maybe I should try that more often.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rims

I went for an early Saturday morning ride with a few buddies this morning up on the rims. Mike, Nathan, Spence, and Ed came along. Nothing too exciting happened this morning. I chickened out and didn't drop off the rock this time. I watched Nathan do it again and he looked a little shaky and almost got bucked off the bike. This was Ed's first time riding that trail and first time on a mountain bike in several years. We told him about this rock but he got ahead of us at one point and was first to the rock. Not knowing that it was there, he took it and went right off the face of it. He "cleaned" it. However he did take a few spills at other points in the ride.
It was fun to ride with a bigger group although Mike, Nathan and I can really fly through the trail in no time. We might try it again next week. Hopefully we'll have more time and try the trail on the other side of Zimmerman.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I hate traffic!

I know. Everyone hates traffic but its especially difficult on a bike. This morning Mike and I ventured over to beautiful Lockwood (sarcasm) via Highway 87. That's right. I said highway. It usually isn't a big deal since there is a wide shoulder, but to get onto the highway we had to take a left hand turn in one of the two turning lanes provided. Of course, to avoid getting run over, we opted for the furthest left lane which puts us in the center of the highway when we turn. The tricky part is getting back to the shoulder. So we are stopped at the red light and Mike yells "I'm taking it" and he's gone. Before I can react, my window has closed and the light turns green. The Ford Expedition to my right, which I was hoping to cut out in front of, hits the gas and flies out in front of me. Now I'm surrounded by cars in the center of a busy highway. I finally found my window and cut hard to the shoulder. I hate traffic!

We proceeded to do our Lockwood loop, which is actually to the North of Lockwood and much more scenic until with exception to the Exxon Mobile refinery, trailer parks, and livestock auction yard. The rest of it is actually pretty nice. As we come back, a truck with a water tank in the back turns into me forcing be to hit the brakes. I catch up again and he swerves into the shoulder in front of me again. I drop back, catch him at the intersection and make a right hand turn and he tries to turn into me again. I don't think this guy was being aggressive but rather was totally oblivious to my presence. I hate traffic!

I finally lost the truck without any real incidents. As we came back into Billings, we jumped back on the highway again. No problems this time but still not fun. I peeled off and went home fighting traffic the whole way. At one point I had to turn in front of a back hoe on the cross street with a tractor trailer on my tail and a sedan quickly approaching in the opposite direction. I made it home alive and my ride to work was much less eventful besides the two cars that rode my tail all the way down Montana Avenue even though there were two open lanes. I hate traffic!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Riverfront Park

We are quickly running out of daylight in the mornings. I've had a lot of fun riding this summer so its frustrating to think its coming to an end. But hey, I'll be able to sleep a little longer.

Anyway, after the MS ride, Mike and I have been riding more for pleasure rather than training. We decided to go for another mountain bike ride this morning. When I told Sarah, she asked "mountain biking? Two days in a row?" and I just responded "We are riding for fun now." And it has been. Today we rode the trails at Riverfront Park. We tried to ride East along the river but we kept running out of trail. At some points the trail was so overgrown that we had to plow our way through the grass and brush. At other points the trail was so sandy we just couldn't ride anymore. We turned around several times and found more trails to ride. There are trails all over the park.

As we rode down one of the trails, I came to a screeching halt as the trail disappeared in a small clearing. I looked up to see a deer about 15 feet away from me. It quickly scurried off into the thicket. Another trail ended at the river bank where we saw 6 deer swim across the river to the other side. They probably didn't like us disturbing their peaceful morning graze in the park.

As time ran out, we rode back towards some familiar trails. We had a blast as we flew down the trail, ducking for limbs and sliding through turns. One day we are going to hit a deer sitting on the trail, or worse, another group of riders coming from the opposite direction. There's not much visibility on some of these trails with all of the trees and turns.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"Triple Crown"

Got up this morning at oh dark 30 and tried to open my eyes. I really enjoy my morning rides, but anyone that knows me know that I am NOT a morning person. Anyway, I finally convinced myself to get ready and get out the door. Since I had stalled, I had to crank to get up to Rimrock Road by 6:10 to meet up with Mike and Nathan. I hate this part of the ride since its all uphill, first thing in the morning, with no warm up. Anyway, I'm cranking and finally get up to Rimrock when I see Mike and Nathan turn up Yucca to the entrance of the trail. They had been cruising down Rimrock (downhill) so they slowed down to go up Yucca but I was already geared down and warmed up so I flew past them up the hill. Of course, I got the usual "Your feet don't see hills!" And I responded with the usual "This isn't a hill." Oh, but it was. And it wasn't over yet. We got up on the trail and crawled up the rest of the climb to the top of the rims. I was glad to have my headlight today since it was still somewhat dark halfway into our ride.

I rode sloppy today. I think that as I become a stronger road rider, I'm becoming a worse mountain biker. That was evident today as I failed to "clean" fairly simple obstacles. Nathan put both me and Mike to shame this morning. The last time we rode the rims as a group, Chris "cleaned" a rock that Mike and I have both done but our experiences have lead us to dismiss the possibility of trying it again. Mike hit hard and couldn't sit for days and I hit hard and broke my seat and stripped the pedal right out of the crank arm. I hear that Sarah "cleaned" the rock fairly effortlessly although she won't tell me how hard she hit. So Chris, on our last ride, rolls right off the side of the rock onto some smaller rocks all the way down and makes it look easy. Nathan saw this too and even though Mike and I have reconsidered trying it again, Nathan was the only one that took the courage to do so today. Not only that, but Mike dared him to drop off the rock, then climb the rock face on the other side and finally climb the steep hill at the end without dipping for the "triple crown." Chris hasn't even done that yet. Nathan pulled it off and made it look easy. I didn't even try the first and third obstacle and couldn't even "clean" the second today. However, after seeing Chris and Nathan, I'm reconsidering and will probably try again. The rock is calling to me. I'll probably end up landing in the bushes when I try but it will make a good blog entry.
Anyway, we finished the ride and I booked it back home in time to take the girls to the bus stop. Then I sat in the shower for twenty minutes trying to thaw out. I think summer is finally over. Bummer!