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


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


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

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.

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


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


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.