Saturday, July 24, 2010


53 Miles
I met up with some fellow riders from the Conoco Phillips MS team today and rode out to Molt and back.  I was pretty tired starting out and my knees were really bothering me to the point that I questioned being able to make it up the hills.  I rode out 10 miles to meet up with the team and get myself warmed up before we started.  By the time I got to the starting point I was feeling much better although I did take two Aleve and a Claritin when I got there just to be sure.  We started out pretty slow but I was patient knowing everyone else was starting out cold and I was already warmed up.  I tried to stay with the group and even hung back to talk to one of the riders but once we hit the hills I attacked.  Hills are kind of my thing and I hate to creep up them no matter how painful it might be, unless it's the endless "hill" we call the Beartooth Highway.  I quickly moved from the back of the pack to the front leaving everyone else behind.

We stopped at the top to wait for everyone else.  While stopped a mountain biker passed us.  We watched him ride off in the distance.  Then I mentioned to Don, "We can't let a mountain biker beat us to Molt!" and Don and I took off charging towards the mountain bike.  We kept a 20+ mph pace and at one point hit 34 mph.  We saw the mountain biker up ahead.  He was stopped at the side of the road waiting for someone.  We whizzed by, pretty anti-climatic if you ask me.  Here we thought we were racing and this guy just pulls over and lets us take it.  Oh well, it was kind of fun anyway.

We rode Molt Road to Buffalo Trail and took Buffalo Trail down the canyon.  We fought a headwind down the canyon so we had to work even on the downhill.  We got to the bottom of the canyon and in no time, we were back at our start point.  I said my good byes and cranked back home to meet Sarah and the girls in the front yard working in the flower beds.  My bike computer read 49.5 miles and I really wanted to get 50 in today so I pedaled with Sydney around the block a couple of times.  Tara got jealous so I they both followed me around the neighborhood for awhile.  I must have looked pretty silly all decked out in my cycling gear putting along at 6 mph with my two girls riding their bikes right behind me in dresses and no helmets.  (Spur of the moment thing.  We forgot the helmets.)  I had finally had enough and took the girls back home with 3-1/2 more miles on the bike.

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Paved paradise and put up a parking lot"

10 Miles

"Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got 'til it's gone?  They paved paradise and put up a parking lot!"

Ooh!  Believe me, you don't know how painful it was to quote such a lame song but it's kind of the way I feel.  I finally made it back to Riverfront Park this afternoon.  I haven't been back since the Yellowstone River flooded and turned the park into a mosquito infested swamp.  I wanted to go back today to check it out.  Unfortunately part of my favorite trail was still under water but I was able to see a trail through the trees which took me around the mud hole.  I had to hop off the bike and lift it over some fallen logs while pushing the bike through the brush.  I made it through but not before the swarm of mosquitoes found me.  I quickly hopped on the bike and took off while brushing away the mosquitoes.

The park has really changed since I last bike through there.  With all the recent rain and flooding, the trails have become overgrown and sometimes barely recognizable.  Even the on the wider trails the weeds and grass encroach to the point that they appeared to be single tracks.  Worst of all, the park is redoing the trails, putting in gravel trails in place of some of my favorite mountain bike trails, hence the "paved paradise" quote above.  It wouldn't be so bad except the gravel is loose and really slows down your bike, plus the loose stuff pulls on your tires pushing you in all directions.  On top of that, the trail never was very technical but there were some dips, holes and roots to hop or avoid that made it a little more challenging.  They flattened the trail out now.  Its great for pedestrians but they have ruined it as a biking trail.  I'm sure they'll trim back the trees as well ruining the awesome canopy tunnels that give the trail its character.  Today I noticed that they have begun grading another trail for pedestrians. 

I guess I shouldn't gripe too much because its still an awesome park with plenty of mountain bike trails and single track left.  If I'd never ridden these trails prior to them grading and filling with gravel, I'd probably still think they were cool trails.  I just hope they know when to stop and which trails to leave alone.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I had to go to the church last night for scouts and since I decided to sleep in rather than ride in the morning, I decided I'd ride to the church instead of drive.  I got home from work and rapidly patched my tire and threw a spare in the bag.  All was fine until I was about a mile away from the church and 6 miles from home.  The back tire went flat.  I stopped to change the tire and watched the thunderclouds roll in from the West.  I quickly threw on my spare tube but as I did, I noticed it was a patched tube and not a new one.  Now, I have not had much luck with tire patches on my road bike so I knew I was in trouble.  I tried the tube and it seemed to hold air until I got it to about 50 psi and ...FFFFFF.... FLAT!  I then patched the old tube and threw it on.  Same thing.  I took a look at the spare and noticed that the stem was severing from the tube.  That one's trash.  My only hope was the old tube that was currently flat on my tire.  I had one patch left!

I  glanced up to see the storm rolling in.  It was getting dark too!  I looked around and across the park and saw the mall off in the distance.  "Scheels!  Awesome.  I'll go buy a tube and get back on the road."  Then I looked at my watch.  9:03.  Scheels and Sports Authority are now closed and my only bet was Walmart, about a mile and a half down the road.  I pulled my out my last patch in a last ditch effort to fix my tire before I conceded to the circumstances and hoofed it over to Walmart for an emergency tube.  Just then a gust of wind hit and blew the patch right out of my hand.  Nothing left to do but walk to Walmart, my favorite place on earth.

I called Sarah and told her of my plan but she would have nothing of it.  She was coming to pick me up.  The storm had already hit at home and was dumping buckets and breaking limbs.  She asked where I was but I didn't know.  Some park behind the mall somewhere.  We decided to meet at Walmart.  I still had it in my head that I was going to buy a tube and fix the tire.  Yeah, I don't make much sense when I am determined.  The determination ended a few moments later when the sky opened up and hit me with all it had.  The weather report said that we had .88 inches of rain in the 20 minutes it took me to walk/run to Walmart.  When I reached the end of the park, I could see the lights of the mall and through the torrent I could hardly see the Scheels sign.  Oh, if I had just given up earlier and walked to Scheels for a tube!  I tried to call Sarah to change our rendezvous point to the mall.  I was already completely soaked and I'd only gone about 500 yards.  No answer so I trucked on through the torrent.  The water on the streets and parking lots was 3 to 4 inches deep in places.  Gusts of wind pushed me down the street.  I took advantage of the tail wind and ran part of the way in the windiest moments.  My backpack now doubled its weight and its contents were soaked.  It was so heavy that I couldn't even keep it in place as I ran down the road.

I finally made it to Walmart and Sarah arrived just moments afterwords.  I bagged the notion of buying tubes, I just wanted to go home.  I threw the bike on the rack and jumped into the car, soggy, cold and shivering but still in good spirits.  Hey, it was an adventure!

I went back to Scheels today to pick up some tubes.  As I pulled out of the mall parking lot, I looked to my right and saw Target and to my left, no more than 200 yards away, was where I had the flat.  Yeah, I know!  Target sells bike tubes.  What a moron.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More wildlife!

I've been slacking off in my blogging again but not in my riding.  Mike an I have been riding almost every morning for two weeks.  We've done a couple of road rides but mostly mountain biking along the rims and Two Moon Park.  While riding we've seen deer, fox, frogs and turkey but evidently there is another animal to see on one of our favorite rides.  The sign above appeared at Two Moon Park over the weekend.  Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks is trying to figure out who posted the sign and verify whether or not there was a mountain lion encounter there.  FWP doubts there is an "aggressive" mountain lion in the park but also said that mountain lion sitings at Two Moon Park, the rims, Alkali Creek and along the river are not uncommon and that the mountain lions thrive in such a setting with so many deer and other game around.  Makes me want to strap on my helmet and go for a ride right now!  Maybe I'll have to use more caution from now on as I whip around the trails.  I'm sure a startled mountain lion reacts much differently than a startled deer and I'm not sure I want to find out what that reaction is.  It'd still be cool to see a mountain lion in the wild though.

Billings Gazette Article

This week Mike an I also found a new set of trails along the rims between the Main Street and 27th Street.  It eventually hooks up with the other trail that I've been riding up there but it has some fun obstacles and nearly impossible climbs.  The recent storms have washed out part of the trail and we had to find a different way down off the rocks onto the trail below.  Mike found a path with a drop off.  Problem is that you drop and have to land almost perpendicular to how you dropped.  Mike went first and almost endoed it before his back end dropped back down.  He's rubbing it in my face that he made it but I think he got lucky.  He can brag if he can do it again.  I tried twice, both times getting bucked off.  The last time I got launched over the front of the handlebars but held on.  The back end of the bike lifted up and swung over the top of me.  I'm sure it was a sight to see and I'm really surprised I didn't get hurt.  We thought this route would be the easy way down.  I'm now thinking I need to just bomb it straight down and just drop off the rock edge.  I will be a lot more impact but less technical.  Hopefully I can do it next time. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Shouting Match

20 Miles
I don’t know how I forced myself out of bed this morning and I barely remember riding out to the Y to meet up with Mike.  Maybe I was sleep riding.  I just hope I can adjust to this early morning schedule.  I really need to start going to bed earlier but Sydney and Tara have come to enjoy the night life of summer vacation, thus I can’t go to bed until they are in bed.
Anyway, we went for a nice hill climb this morning up Hillcrest Road.  Mike told me to go up a head to the end of the street and meet him on my way back since my “feet don’t see hills” and his know when there is even the slightest of inclines.  I took off up the hills, exhausting most of my energy.  I slowed to almost a crawl after I hit the flats up top near the end of pavement.  I reached the end then turned around and flew back down the road towards Mike.  The flats weren’t as flat as I thought they were.  When I found Mike a mile back he was stopped to change a flat.  I stopped to help but really to get my wind back.  We finished changing the tire and took off again.  Now Mike is much stronger on the decent than I am.  As he says “F=MA” or Force = Mass x Acceleration.  He has more mass.  Anyway, with much effort I was able to match his speed all the way down the road. 

At the steepest part of the decline approaching the intersection at the bottom of the hill, I watched as Mike approached two deer at the side of the road.  Suddenly a dark figure, probably a wood chuck, darted out in front of Mike and spooked the deer.  I hit my brakes.  Mike screamed!  The deer panicked and took off aimlessly kicking up dust everywhere.  One bolted down the road in front of Mike and the other tried to join her, crossing the street right behind Mike, nearly hitting his back tire.  I thought Mike was having venison for breakfast but somehow he pulled through.  I’m glad someone else got the deer experience for a change.

On the way back into town, I followed closely behind Mike, just to the left of his back tire.  We tried talking while riding and trying to stay out of the lane of traffic.  We hugged the white line as closely as we could.  Suddenly a white sedan erratically swerved around us with horn blasting.  In retaliation, Mike gives him a friendly wave (not sarcasm, seriously just a friendly wave).  Then we see another not-so-friendly wave from inside the vehicle, then brake lights.  Great!  This punk really thinks he’s got a leg to stand on by telling us not to ride bikes on the road.  “YOU CAN NOT RIDE SIDE-BY-SIDE ON THE HIGHWAY!” he yells repeatedly like a broken record.  At this point he is driving next to us swerving in and out of the turning lane, sometimes into oncoming traffic.  The whole time I’m thinking “We weren’t riding side-by-side and you are going to kill someone.”  We tried yelling back but his response was always the same.  What an idiot!  I don’t know what he was trying to accomplish but we weren’t listening and neither was he.  Mike finally yelled “Eat Rocks!” and then we ignored him until he drove away.  I don’t know how my riding near the white line was more dangerous than this guy holding up traffic while swerving all over the place.  What a moron.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Misadventures in Cycling

13 Miles
Monday was Sarah's and my anniversary so to celebrate we took the mountain bikes up on top of the rims for a joy ride.  Of course she enjoyed floating over the sandstone rims (I'll probably get corrected on the type of rock) with her new mountain bike with 4 inches of travel on the suspension.  Me, however, I got rattled to the core.

The ride started out to be treacherous with the trail leading to the main trail being washed out and rutted deeply from the last rain storms.  It was bad enough that we had to walk most of it.  The parts that we did attempt were challenging and I ended up slipping or hitting a pedal on the ground several times, once causing me to slam my knee on the handlebars.   We finally made it to the top and started the trail.  There were areas that were really washed out or covered by landslides there as well.  We took the trail slower than normal because we didn't know what to expect up ahead.

I pulled a Lance Armstrong on this ride.  Anyone following the Tour de France knows that Lance was involved in three collisions on Sunday in Stage 7 of the tour causing him to loose 10 minutes on the leaders and essentially ending his hopes at an 8th Tour victory.  My wrecks were in no way as severe as Lance's but they did hurt my ego.  I hit the ground with my pedals two more times, once bucking me completely off the bike and the other banging my knee on the handle bar one more time.  On the final spill of the evening I hit some loose sand and my back tire slipped sending me skidding to the ground.  Besides whacking my knee twice, I was not physically hurt from the wrecks but my pride was black and blue.  Sarah really showed me up on this ride.

It didn't last long though.  On our way home, while in Downtown Billings, the sky turned green, the wind kicked up, and it started pouring.  The rain was weird though.  Rather than dumping on us, it was a slow, steady rain with enormous rain drops that soaked everything they hit.  The roads were wet and slick almost instantly.  I hollered at Sarah to take a right but a little later than I should have.  She braked hard, locked the disc brakes, and her tires slid out from underneath her.  She hit hard.  When she was able to stand up she was covered with road grime and beneath the grime somewhere was some good road rash.

Regardless of our mishaps, we had a great time.  Not the most romantic anniversary date but it was sure fun despite the wipe-outs, bad weather and a flat tire. 

36 Miles
I've been riding again with Mike in the mornings.  This morning I met him at his house and we rode out towards Laurel for a country ride on flat roads.  I did 24 miles this morning with no incedents.

Later this afternoon I had a meeting to go to and couldn't get a company vehicle so I decided to pedal the 4 or 5 miles to the meeting.  I was already running late when I noticed my tire was completely flat.  I quickly pulled the tire off and found the problem, the valve stem had severed from the tube.  The tube was trashed so I pulled out my spare, a patched tube that had been sitting in my saddle bag for who knows how long.  I pumped it up the best I could and headed out to my meeting.

I missed the meeting so I talked to the client briefly, had him sign some documents and then headed over to the contractor's office to follow up and get his signature.  All was well until I was about halfway back to the office and noticed that my tire was getting spongy again.  I stopped to add some air and in the process I snapped the valve right off.  The tire still held air so I booked it back to the office as fast as I could hoping I could make it all the way.  I made it and it ended up being an 11 mile trip.

When I left the office this afternoon I felt the tire, really spongy, but I thought I'd give it a shot.  I made it about 50 feet before I decided to walk home.  Bummer!  In three years this was the first time I've had to walk the bike home.  And I was prepared with a spare tube and a patch kit but there's not much you can do when you destroy two tubes in one trip.

Monday, July 12, 2010


13 Miles
This morning Mike and I set off for our first morning ride of the summer.  I could barely crack my eyes open and tried desperately to wake my legs up before I met up with Mike.  I started to wake up as we rode out to Two Moon Park.  I definitely woke up once we got there.  It either rained last night or we had a really heavy dew.  Everything was soaked including the tall grass next to the trail.  The grass was weighted down by the water and laid down over the trail making it difficult to follow.  I felt like I was taking a cold shower first thing in the morning.  The grass was so wet that I actually had water sloshing around in my shoes before too long.  The trail was muddy too, and I mean muddy.  I had to gear down to get through a 30 foot mud puddle without dipping my foot.  Every time we stopped Mike complained about the mosquitoes and urged me to "Keep Moving!."  Definitely an interesting ride for the middle of July.

On the way to Two Moon Park I turned over 4,000 miles on my mountain bike.  I've had this bike for just over 3 years and it has really taken a beating.  In 3 years and 4,000 miles I have replaced the following components:
(2) Chains
(1) Rear Cassette - I completely broke an entire cog off the cassette.
(1) Crank Set (crank arms and front cogs) - I stripped the pedal out of the crank arm on a hard landing
(2) Saddles - One because of preference, one because of the hard landing mentioned above
(1) Rear rim - I need to true it up or replace it again
(2) Spokes
(2) Set of pedals -Purely because of my own preferences
(3) Water bottle cages
(1) Set of tires
(1) Set of brake pads
(3-4) Tune-ups and several repairs
(?) Tubes and Patch kits - I lost track long ago

Added Accessories:
Front and Rear Fenders
Front and Rear bike lights
Bike Computer (spedometer)
(2) Water Bottle Cages
Frame Pump
Saddle Bag
Set of studded snow tires with rims

I'm scared to add a dollar value to everything I've done to the bike.  It might have been cheaper to buy a new bike.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

2,500 miles (Road bike)

So I've laxed-off in both my bike riding and blogging in the last week.  We took an enjoyable trip to Idaho last weekend where we hung out with some friends in Island Park and did a little mountain biking and river rafting.  Then we headed out to Shelley to enjoy an Idaho Falls Fourth of July with my parents, grandmother and sister's family.  It was a great time and I have really missed being in Idaho Falls for the 4th, its been 10 years since I've been able to do it.  While there, I took a short 8 mile mountain bike ride along the canal to Gem Lake Reservoir.  It was a super muddy one.  I had to cut through a field as it was being irrigated.  I ended up in 6 inches of mud and water with no choice but to continue or stick my shoes in 6 inches of mud.  After all the excitement of the 4th of July, we took our time getting home and visited Yellowstone.  We had a great time an hopefully I'll get on top of things and blog about it all on  the family blog, 

9 Miles
Because I was so wiped out from our trip and had a backlog of work to do, I was only able to sneak out once this week and do a ride.  I went to Two Moon Park and enjoyed the dry parts of the park although I did encounter some muddy sections.  I went back to the spot where I found the fox den hoping to see the kit foxes again.  No luck there so I turned down a trail called Fox Trot.  Out of the grass jumped a large adult red fox.  I followed it down the trail for at least 100 yards before it ducked back into the grass.  I'd always wondered why the trail was called Fox Trot.  At least I have an experience now to explain it. 

50 Miles
I slept in this morning and since I didn't have any real plans for today and Sarah didn't feel like riding at the time, I decided to take the road bike out and get some mileage in.  I did the Pryor Creek loop.  I really need to find out what kind of elevation change I encounter along this ride because it seems like all but about 8 miles is hills, and not gradual ones either.  I am pooped now and have been since I got back.  It was a nice ride but I felt that I was battling a head or a cross wind almost the entire ride except, of course, on the flats. On the way up the last hill I encountered a huge snake sunning on the road.  It wasn't a rattler but it was big enough that I gave it a wide girth.  

On a different note, I just turned over 2,500 miles on my road bike toady. I should have been months ago but I've been busy on Saturdays and have enjoyed playing too on the mountain bike.  In 2,500 miles (and two years) I have changed the chain once and bought new handle bar tape and desperately need to re-wrap the handlebars.  I have also gone through two water bottle cages and serviced the bike twice.  I only mention it because on my next ride on my mountain bike I will turn over 4,000 miles in just over 3 years.  I have a long list of things I've had to replace on that bike.