Sunday, July 19, 2009

RAGBRAI Starts Today

As I write this, some 20,000 bicycle riders and support vehicles are taking to the road for the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. I wish them safe travels, and "rubber side down".

A couple of years ago, when RAGBRAI started in Onawa, I thought about riding a day. Since then, my interest has changed, I look for sweet singletrack. I enjoy a ride with a few friends. The longest day I have ridden is just over 40 miles.

This morning, I am somewhat disappointed then I did not train and plan to ride for a day with my friends. Too late now - and not sure that I will have a better opportunity, specially if I get serious about moving to New Mexico.

On the other side, I had an awesome trip to Arizona. Rode lots of singletrack. And I am not a "crowd" kind of guy. Give me ride with a couple of friends or a peaceful ride in the woods any day.

Beautiful Fall type day here. The last 3 days have been the same. Rode pavement Friday (28 miles), and the Wabash Trace (20 miles) yesterday. Word is that the dirt is in good shape. I can hear the trail at Lake Manawa calling me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Best of the Trip

Some of my friends have asked me what I liked best on the trip. Here's the high points from the trip.

The reason I made the trip was to attend my Army Reunion. Well, the unit I lived with in 'Nam. It was great to see the guys again; See you next year in Myrtle Beach. And, of course, great to see my cousin Don and fraternity brother Craig and his wife Janie.

Now most of my time was out playing tourist. I wanted to see the sights, capture some beautiful scenery photos, and visit the SouthWest. The most spectacular spot was (of course) The Grand Canyon.

Second Place goes to Monument Valley

Now for the bicycle trails I rode.

For outstanding scenery while riding, the honor goes to Bell Rock Pathway, Sedona, AZ.

Boggy Draw, outside of Dolores, CO was the trail that made me most at home.

The most tense time on the trail had to be when I encountered the rattlesnake on the trail at McDowell Mountain Park.

The most difficult trail I rode/walked -- its a tie. The Long Loop at McDowell Mountain Park, Scottsdale, AZ and Mike's Trail, Horse Gulch, Durango, CO.

Where I learned about riding rocks and honed my skills most was Big Park Loop, Sedona, AZ.

Best trail signage goes to Trails2000 (Telegraph Trail System - Durango, CO). At each intersection there is a sign showing the trail names, a map, directions, and compass direction.

The best weather during the trip - Albuquerque, NM. The most disappointing ride - Foothills trails, Albuquerque (thanks to the %$#@ goatheads). The city I would least think of living in: Scottsdale, AZ. The city I would most think of moving to: Albuquerque, NM

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Home at Last

Late last night (or should I say "early this morning"), I got home. 1040 miles, 16 hours from Albuquerque to Treynor. Was a long drive but as I aimed the car toward Iowa, I just wanted to get home.

Friday, I was planning to ride the ski slope dirt trail. Alas, the day was overcast and drizzling rain. Had breakfast with my cousin and met with a real estate agent friend of his. From there, It was off to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

From there, it was down time and start packing the car.

In the evening, I visited a fraternity brother and his wife who live in the Albuquerque area. We had a nice visit. We sat on the patio. Pleasant temperature, no bugs, good conversation.

Yesterday, I had breakfast and was on the road at 7:30am MDT. My plan was to overnight in Ft. Morgan, CO. When I got there, I decided to push on. Eventually, after a stop at the local grocery store, I got home about 1am.

Today's photos are of me with my cousin Don, and me with my fraternity brother Craig. Oh, yeh, If you are interested, 3776 miles, 21 days, 20 nights on the road. Rode my Fuel EX7 in Durango, CO, Dolores, CO, Sedona, AZ (2 visits), Scottsdale, AZ and Albuquerque, NM.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Can I have a "do over"?

This morning, I headed to the Foothills area to ride singletrack. As I was checking out the trail, I met Todd - previously from Bellevue NE! We chatted a little and he suggested I ride the ski slope.

Anyway, I headed out on foothills trail 365. Today's photo is of that trail - about a mile from the Montgomery Rd Trailhead. Just as I was feeling good about riding this rocky section, I realized my rear tire was going flat. I realized it was no slow leak - I decided to walk the bike back to the car.

On my way to the bike shop, I stopped by Jiffy Lube, since my car needed that service. The service advisor spoke very fast. Had problems even when asking him to slow down. Of course, he wanted to sell me all kinds of extras. Never will use Jiffy Lube again. By the time I got out of there, I had a headache.

Next stop was at Fat Tire Cycles. I told them my problem and Ed explained to me about the "goatheads" - little thorns that puncture tires in the area. The plant is also know as Puncture Vine and Tribulus terrestris. Ed suggested new tubes the thicker walls and slime inside. He installed the new tubes. Thanks, Ed.

By now it is now too hot to ride up in the foothills area. Went to the hotel and thought about riding at the ski slope. Searching the web, I found that they will only be open on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holidays. Next idea was the Botanical Gardens since that is just a block from my hotel. Killed a couple hours at the gardens and Aquarium. Took several good photos.

Finally, drove around to the other side of Sandia Peak. There were questions about the ski life opening. The web site said that it will be open July and August for Fri, Sat, Sun from July 7th. Of course, the phone numbers do not allow speaking to a real person. They are just recorded messages and a menu tree. Drove on up to Sandia Peak Crest. Took a couple photos and headed down to the hotel.

While up at the foothills trail area, I got a phone call from Craig - a fraternity brother. We are planning to getting together tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Paseo del Bosque Bike Trail

This morning, I rode the Paseo del Bosque Bike Trail in Albuquerque with my cousin, Don. Don is a Albuquerque resident.

After the ride we had breakfast and did a walking tour through Old Town. Don had some business for the afternoon. I headed to find a bike shop that could give me recommendations on where to ride dirt in the area.

Stopped by Fat Tire Cycles on Montano Road. Picked up a New Mexico jersey as a souvenir. Visited with Eric - of Fat Tire Cycles. He recommended the Foothills Trails - off the end of Montgomery Blvd. Thanks Eric (and thanks for the t-shirt). Will be checking out the trails in the morning.

Dinner with Don at the Route 66 Diner. Tired tonight. Should be able to sleep well.

Gallup to Albuquerque

Its only about 140 miles on I-40, but yesterday it took me all day to go from Gallup to Albuquerque. In Gallup I stopped by the train/bus station information booth. That verified my plan to play tourist on the way.

South on 602, I saw signs advertising Winfield Trading. Now, I had to check it out.
the store is a seller of fine Indian jewelry. Besides us having the same surname, we are both Nam vets. Had a nice conversation. Left with (bought) a new money clip.

As I approached Ramah, NM, I was getting hungry for breakfast. Not sure what I might find in a small town, I opted for the first eatery I saw. That was Ramah Valley Diner. As it happens, the owner grow up in Iowa and used to run/work at the Perkins Restaurant in Council Bluffs (I-80 and I-29).

On to El Morro National Monument. I hiked the Headland Trail. the trail climbs the bluff and past Ancestral Puebloan ruin, Atsinna. From there, it traverses the top pf the bluff (see photo) and back down. At the bottom you are treated to inscriptions carved into the stone left by visitors years ago - from ancients to early conquerors.

From there, it was a short drive to El Malpais National Monument. I hikes a little of the El Calderon trail. From there I went down Hwy 117. Drove the road up to the Sandstone Bluff Overlook. Then down to La Ventana Natural Arch.

The day was capped wth a dinner with my cousin (an Albuquerque resident).