Tuesday, February 28, 2006

It Smells like Rain - Does That Count?

But it's not raining. It's just not raining. 132 days and no rain. I shot some film over the break for the holidays. This is the Little Colorado canyon as seen from Hiway 89. Above is the beach in San Mateo County, California, at Pelican Point I believe.

The Death Ride and the Kiss of Death Ride

I am not sure I could ever be ready for this Death Ride. or it's junior companion The Kiss of Death Ride

Monday, February 27, 2006

Is There Life Before Coffee?

Ok, so I made it to work, but to do this I had to ride four seven miles without coffee, and then retrain my friends at the Cafe of the Beautiful People to put the drink into this fancy multi-colored politically correct thermos, which earned me a 10¢ discount. Jeepers, I remember when the entire cup of coffee was 10¢. So here I am at work with the coffee, trying to drink it so I can end this life before coffee feeling.

Date: February 27, 2006
Mileage: 19
Average: 12.2
Total Mileage in February: 211.7
Temperature on Arrival: 57/70 F.

I also made it home.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Tall Saguaro Near Pass Mountain

Tall Saguaro Near Pass Mountain. Digital Photograph. &copy 2006 Shawn Kielty. All rights reserved.  <br />
Tall Saguaro Near Pass Mountain. Digital Photograph. © 2006 Shawn Kielty. All rights reserved.

Today I hiked around the backside of Pass Mountain, ~3 miles. After yesterday's haul I was really hungry and am still eating -- right now it's a Haagen Daas™ bar. I think I need to get some goldfish and pepsi.

I got a new deck bag and rack today -- so maybe starting tomorrow I will take on the Brown Cloud -- i. e. commute to work. Put all the new gear on the bike and rode it around the Gravel Velodrome (my driveway) a few times. Is starting to remind me of a sailboat.

It's a Dry Heat

© 2006 Shawn Kielty. Digital Photograph. All rights reserved.
Hell, it's a Dry Heat. © 2006 Shawn Kielty. Digital Photograph. All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Pearly Gates

"It's all in the journey," the mystery biker states as he rides away from our conversation climbing up the "backside" of Usery Pass. I had remarked that at 7 miles an hour, it was going to some time to get up that 4 mile incline. He had a cool seat mounted holder for two water bottles. I'll need one of those in a month or so. Notice the temperature of today's ride is over 80 degrees. Today's ride was quite thought provoking. I guess there's some advantage to spending 3 hours in the saddle. Gilby will be happy to note that my love affair with my Brooks™ saddle has started. Maybe I won't be so lonely from now on.

Date: February 25, 2006
Today's Mileage: 34.12
Temperature at Departure: 83 F.
Average Speed: 11.7
Total for February: 192.8

One thing that it wasn't today is lonely out on the road. I had conversations with several people today, including one interesting group of hikers over at the drinking fountain at the base of the Wind Cave trail. I don't know if this is just because I spent more time out, or as a result of the rather outstanding weather. The hikers were talking about a 50 mile ride tomorrow. So I asked them what the thing I just climbed was called -- "The backside of Usery Pass" was the definitive answer. It seems this is one of the more notorious climbs in the area. Another -- namely "King Kong," or just "Kong," was responsible for last weeks cramping incident. During this conversation -- I learned of a third, The Pearly Gates. "That will break your hump," says the elder hiker.

The Pearly Gates was a nice ride. I don't know how far it was, but it actually required me to use all my gears. The ride requires that you one, trespass, and two, avoid the copious amounts of coyote crap on the road, and three, work. I can just hear her saying it now, "Coyotes do not prefer to crap in the road. I know you say you've seen them, but it just isn't true." Coyotes and foxes, both share this desire (perhaps wolves too). They would really rather do thier business in the middle of the road. I have seen them more than once, me slamming on the brakes to avoid killing them, trying to take their picture, them, hobbling off so as not to soil themselves, and me again -- failing to get the picture. I want to show it to my friends, and say "See, if you spent any time outta the house you would know this. I secretly suspect they like to do this because it is warmer in the road (you know how you like it warmer in the john than anywhere else). The other possibility is that they know that this is one part of the world that is pretty much screwed, so no one (none of the other critters - except maybe the crows who eat off the road) will mind if they take a squat there.

Anyway, the road to the Pearly Gates is closed (go figure, eh?), which means all those instances of Coyote squat, aren't getting run over, so there are many there to prove my theory, which finally may become a law. It is interesting to note that coyotes seem to urinate and deficate in the same place, leaving two kinds of evidence to both prove my theory, and prove that they are not dogs. The ride, as a result of the road being closed (not the coyotesquatsi) was very nice. With the exception of the automatic machine gun fire from the neighboring shooting range, the ride was oh so quiet and worry free.

Out on the road I was reflecting on this article I read last night, and thinking yet again that I have too much stuff (she -- the woman from above -- said that too), and wondering if I could change my life just by cutting down on the stuff I have (not that I want to suffer a fire), when I remembered the end of that article, which reminds me of what inevitably happens as we force ourselves to dig deeper:

I've learned to recognize a particular moment on a backcountry trip. It's the moment when I can't remember what I'm doing there. It usually comes after some grueling slog, after the pack mysteriously gains weight against all rules of fairness and physics. Everything rubs against me-the shoulder harness, the salt of my sweat, the relentless weather, the earth against my feet.

It's like pushing through a membrane, that instant when misery transforms into surrender. Nothing becomes lighter, faster, easier. Now I can keep on, just for the power, the quiet ecstasy, of keeping on, discarding burdens as I go, growing lighter and lighter with every step, because this-this freedom, this moment, this willingness to trust myself in an untrustworthy world-this is the one thing I cannot do without.

Meanwhile, Pearl the Cat is out the window trying to catch a cottontail. It's hysterical. It's all in the journey, kitty. Look for that quiet ecstasy. Discard your burdens.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Hotel California

&copy 2006, Shaawn Kielty.  All rights reserved. The Hotel California in Santa Moica CA,
Date: 23 February 2006
Temperature on Arrival: 67 F.
Mileage: 4.2
Mileage for February: 158.6
Average: 11.8

Looky, it's the Hotel California. It looks kinda like this guy is leaving, doesn't it? We know better-- he's just checking out. You can never leave.

The Brown Cloud

Bicycling in the Brown Cloud. Digital Photograph. © 2006 Shawn Kielty.  All rights reserved.
Bicycling in the Brown Cloud. Digital Photograph. © 2006 Shawn Kielty. All rights reserved.

Today there's yet another hazardous day in the Phoenix metro, with unhealthy levels of PM-10, which you will all recognize as particulate matter with a size of 10 microns or smaller. I like to think of that as smog, but it could really just be dust. Frankly, it's ugly. They recommend alternate transportation to work, but not bicycling. Exercise outdoors is possibly not a good idea. Sensitive groups should reduce heavy breathing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Evening Commute

Date: 22 February 2006
Temperature on Arrival: 67 F.
Mileage: 7.6
Mileage for February: 154.3
Average: 15.6

Cool Guy

Collared Lizard Male, Usery Mountain Recreation Area.  © Shawn Kielty 2005.  All rights reserved.
Collared Lizard Male, Usery Mountain Recreation Area. Digital Photograph. © Shawn Kielty 2005. All rights reserved.

The Morning Commute

Date: 22 February 2006
Temperature on Arrival: 45 F.
Mileage: 8.1
Mileage for February: 146.7
Average: 11.9

Sunday, February 19, 2006

So Here I am ...

In Pasadena. Rain. Wow -- I remember. I am having an unusual trip. Seeing old friends in a place I have rarely enjoyed. Strangely, it feels remarkably like home; it is, after all, coastal Califonia. I am surprised to find these places in Los Angeles to be so friendly, so homey, to have so much history and charm. All this time people have been telling me that Phoenix is turning into LA. Well, Phoenix has a ways to go before it can turn into LA.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Off to a Veritable Paradise

Gosh, I'll be in LA -- that mecca of Smog and the wisdom of film. I'll be picking up one of these and some of those ... I think there's a dinner and a darkroom -- and friends of all ages. I never knew so many in LA.

I'm Not Talking ....

Date: February 14
Today's Mileage: 10.0
Average: 11.9
Mileage for February: 138.6

Monday, February 13, 2006

Mondays ... I Like

Date: February 13
Today's Mileage: 10.70
Average: 11.7
Total for February: 128.5
Temperature on Arrival: 70 F.

Today's ride went up the hill to the entry of the Usury Mountain Park. I actually passed another rider. Now I am going after some carbs at the Thai place.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Pearl the Cat

The static electric cat. I am watching Jill (the "are people crazy in Alaska" Jill) because I want to cheer her on. She showed a picture of her cat -- so I thought I might show off Pearly.

Arizona Fire Season Starts Early

This is a haboob (pronounced haboo -- no giggling). It's a phenomena that occurs in the Sahara Desert and in the Southwest of the US. It is a duststorm proceeding a squall line in a thunderstorm as a result of the downdraft. It can be blinding and scary. I shot this photo on August 7th 2005. It rained hard on me that day -- I had to run with camera for about a mile to sanctuary in the truck, out of fear of a lightning strike. It's been hard to remember it raining here and I miss it.

I think the fire season has actually officially started here in Arizona. Over the last few days it has been fairly windy, with strong winds at night and in the morning coming from the norht and east. These winds have made riding a tad miserable. Today when I was sitting here playfully at my desk gazing out at the view to the east of the Superstition Wilderness, when I saw a plume of smoke. Panic was my immediate reaction.

You might wonder why would that guy panic, it's the middle of the winter. When you spend a lot of your life in the west -- and a lot of your time out doors -- an innate sense develops that tells you when it is dangerous, a mistake, to light a fire. The forest and the desert smell different (more like firewood, and less like a salad). They look different. The sonoran desert can be extremely lush and green. Right now the plants have sucked in all their moisture and sealed themselves against a serious dry spell. The desert is grey and dull and flat. It is so dry that when I pet Pearl the cat, it is a continuous electrostatic discharge. This doesn't phase her at all, in fact I think she likes it. I have never experienced this, and have discovered that other cats do this as well, so it can't be attributed to my formerly feral cat.

News reports have talked about the fact that it hasn't rained in forever, longer in fact, than in the entire recorded history. Normally things are more like this Wikipedia entry for Phoenix:

The normal annual rainfall at Sky Harbor International Airport is 8.29 inches (211 mm). March is the wettest month of the year (1.07 inches or 27 mm). Rain is particularly scarce from April through June. Although thunderstorms occur on occasion during every month of the year, they are most common during the monsoon season from July to mid-September as humid air surges in from the Gulf of California. These can bring strong winds, large hail, or tornadoes. Winter storms moving inland from the Pacific Ocean occasionally produce significant rains but occur infrequently. Fog is observed from time to time during the winter months.

Now 8.29 inches isn't really very much rain at all, especially considering that one day last year it rained between 3 and 5 inches in just a few hours here in Mesa. That means it really doesn't rain very often. According to this statement from the National Weather Service:


I believe that we might have had a few drops fall the other night here in Mesa, with my only clue being the interesting pattern of circular shapes in the dirt on my windshield, proving clearly that not very much of it got wet. The absence of rain for so long clearly explains why children ask their Mothers questions like "Why is there water falling from the sky?," or run around trying to catch a raindrop on their tongue.

According to this in the Arizona Daily Star, a fire has gotten started near Payson, as of few days ago. The northern sky tonight had that wonderful red glow that frequently accompanies a fire up on the Rim. If the wind stops then Phoenix's infamous "Brown Cloud" will return. The contributions that a fire burning might make to the brown cloud could be severe. The easterly wind is currently blowing the cloud toward Los Angeles. If I were there -- I might consider blaming Phoenix for the pollution.

The fire out to the east went away as fast as it started. I am sure it was someone using the day (no burn ban, because of the wind) to burn off some trash. SO there was no reason to panic after all.

It's Sunday Again

Date: February 12
Today's Mileage: 14.60
Average: 10.6
Total for February: 117.7
Temperature on Arrival: 78 F.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The New Lights

© Shawn Kielty 2006
The New Lights, Digital Photograph. © Shawn Kielty 2006. All rights reserved.

Oh the wind

It's been windy here, and although this is a joy when it's behind you, there's is always the revenge of the wind. Riding in this morning, I had a max speed of 30 and an average of 16+. Look what happened on the way back.

Date: Feb. 11
Mileage: 16.4
February mileage:102.9
Today's average: 11.3
Temperature on arrival: 62

The MD has instructed me to massage my prostrate, leaving me thinking, how am I supposed to do that?? The new saddle is good -- my sit bones are sore in a much more appropriate place and the gentler massage on my prostrate (as opposed to the previous hammering) could probably meet with the docs approval. The adaptive process has started.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Moonlight Ride

Ohhh-la-la. My new Brooks™ saddle came in the post (how British can I make this sound?). It's very firm and I am sure it's really going to hurt to break in. A masochist, I must be. I took it for a spin around the gravel circle (my driveway), and it already feels better than the stock Bianchi™ saddle.

I bought some additional lights. So now I have a redundant system. I rode over to the friendly guy's bike place for them and rode home in the moonlight.

The light I got was a Cat Eye rechargeble halogen. It seems very bright. Hopefully I can see better than tonight when I was coming up my driveway with the Cat Eye LED headlamp and my streamlight LED headlamp strapped to my helmet (I haven't decided if this is a good idea yet -- but it works ok). I added an additional tailight so I can have one flashing and one solid.

Date: Feb.10
Mileage: 20.5
February mileage:86.5
Today's average: 12.2
Temperature on arrival: 62

I only had one small indication I was going to cramp up the way I did yesterday -- and it passed after a few minutes. Today's average speed was higher than yesterday's. I find this surprising, because the return trip in the dark was for the most part less than 10 miles an hour.

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Something Wrong Here.

This is ... well, what it is. Found at the Bike Refugee.


I just read a bunch of the comments on the link referenced above. That article has been viewed 365954 times in the last 2 weeks, so there are a lot. The story goes something like this, according to the photographer. Driver throws some trash out the window of his vehicle. Courier picks it up and throws it back in the open window. Driver throws a cup of coffee onto courier. Courier assaults vehicle with key or something else. Driver gets out and grabs courier. From here the pictures are somewhat explanatory. After that the photographer follows driver back to car to photograph the license plate. Driver pulls a base ball bat out of vehicle and chases photographer -- who -- wisely -- flees.

So where's the line? The line gets crossed when you actually intend to physically harm another person. In a civilized society that's a crime. Her throwing his trash into his car might be defined as a political statement -- in the crafty mind this could be protected by the first amendment, perhaps not. Damaging his property (keying his car) may be both insulting and vandalism (also a crime). But it doesn't compare to trying to hurt some one.

Attempting to cause physical damage to another person is bad. Pouring coffee on someone -- maybe. It is absolutely assualt, if it is scalding hot. Throwing someone to the ground against a car -- is definitely assault. It's clearly a life threatening attack. In Arizona ... you could easily (and quickly) die for much less. Were a man like that to attack me, I would want to disable him very quickly, in a way that he would remember. Stepping on his running gear comes to mind.

Where I grew up -- Men didn't beat up on women. It is just wrong. It's bad -- I hope that guy never gets on a bike. There's a lot of instant karma that might show up there.

Road Rage Kindness

This morning when I went over to the cafe of the beautiful people, I was pulling in to park in the way I do every morning -- occupying the opposing lane with my truck and targeting a spot directly across from the front door. Gloria (we're total strangers at this point) -- coming directly at me -- is coveting the very same spot. We simultaneously turn on our blinkers, and then both decide to relinquish our claim on said spot in favor of a spot behind Gloria. And both immediate drive toward it. So busy were we being nice to each other, Gloria (we never actually met -- I picked up her name out of her conversation with the barista) and I, that we almost collided. An imaginable world where I was trying to be nice to someone and ran into their car appears before me. We laughed a bit about "Road Kindness" and the kind of trouble that can get us into. Too bad we all always aren't so busy being nice to each other.

Date: Feb. 9
Mileage: 11.0
February mileage: 65.8
Temperature on departure: ~68

For some reason today (so that I would bring the bike in to work) my riding/hiking buddy decided, at about 6 in the morning, to call and change today's hike plan to a ride plan. I am better that it was a ride.

Today's ride wasn't exactly uneventful. I rode up past Red Mountain and into the Salt River canyon for a round trip total of 11 miles. I think this is the spot where the water mongers hijack the entire Salt River and put it into a canal. On the way up to Red Mountain I seriously cramped up, but I tried to just ignore it and push on. The cruise down into the Salt River went okay, but the trip back up out of there was tougher. On the way up the cramps in my calves were so bad I had to stop and walk for fear of just falling over.What the heck causes this to happen? I didn't think Tums™ were a required part of my diet. Maybe I could combine Tums™ and dried papaya to make an interesting gorp for riding. This is the first time I have been stopped from riding by this. On a more positive note the average speed for the ride was 11 miles an hour, up slightly from the other day.

Despite a somewhat painless day, I did order a Brooks™ saddle, which I hope will arrive soon. The promised pain from breaking it in will make me feel like I am riding a bike again, which seems good. There should be some measure of paradise immediately following.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Grumble - More from the Archive

Mohave Desert. Digital Photograph. © 2005 Shawn Kielty. All rights reserved.
Mohave Desert. Digital Photograph. © 2005 Shawn Kielty. All rights reserved.

Mileage today: 0. I've been asked to go for a three mile uphill there and back hike tomorrow. I am a little nervous; I haven't been up a hill since the hike of the serious downhill pounding aka the hike of the injury. I was just starting to feel comfortable that hauling my (sore) tail around on a bike wasn't going to damage my knee. I'd prefer it if it was downhill first ... but there ain't much of that around here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Pick from the Archives

Mono Lake Rainstorm Clearing. Digital Photograph, © 2004, 2005 Shawn Kielty. All rights reserved.


Date: Feb. 7
Mileage: 4.0
February mileage: 55.2
Temperature on departure: 65

All my lights work! It's just now dark so I really didn't need them to see. I think I'll be buying that Brook's Saddle.

Monday, February 6, 2006

A Century to Ride

Ok -- so i have decided to try to find a century to ride in. I was looking at one from St. George to Zion -- which would be cool. Except that they have an eight hour cap on the ride, "All riders must be off the road by 4:30." I am not sure I can complete 100 miles in 8 hours. I know, that makes me a bit wimpy. But, at my current pace of ten miles an hour, I either need to better make a road bike or get busy riding faster.


Date: Feb. 6
Mileage: 2.3
February mileage: 51.2
Temperature on departure: 68

Total, not far, Tonto National Forest, or tushy ... Today's ride went ok -- I had to struggle a bit to bring myself to Saddle up. A short ride helps to get my sitter in better shape.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Push Myself

Date: Feb. 5
Mileage: 25.6
February mileage: 47.9
Temperature on departure: 62

So today's ride was supposed to include pictures of an overcast day here (maybe tomorrow I can figure that out). I thought I could do something like this woman with the pictures. I could be like her if I was tough enough to ride 60 some odd miles through the snow. That's almost unbelievable after my little ride today. I am impressed.

Today was our first real overcast since I can remember in a while. It hasn't rained here in over a 100 days. It took me a while to make today's ride, with an average speed of about 10 mph. I tried to push myself early in the ride when I was running up the hill into Tonto National Forest. But toward the end I was mostly just trying to cruise back.

I stopped for a sandwich and made a stop at the cafe of the beautiful people. The regular aged road bike crowd at the cafe looked at me so overly thoughtfully when I said "Hi", perhaps because of my ugly old bike and ever so bleu jean grundgy appearance. Not exactly road racer chic. I just think they were suprised to see me on a bike. I didn't much mind; I had just ridden 18 awesome miles. My friend was there and his gf bought me a coffee. We laughed at my old ugly bike -- and enjoyed the coffee.

Everything worked really well, except my seat, which needs a bit more of a break in period, or I need one of those donut shaped butt pillows to sit on. Rumours that a hard day in the saddle might make me impotent are probably a bit far fetched, but nevertherless a possible good excuse for some. I'll be ok in a couple of days, I reckon; I shouldn't need to sit down 'til then anyway. I'll be dreamily admiring those BrooksTM saddles over at the friendly guy's bike place, and hope that the ongoing pain of breaking one in won't damage my virility.

Saddle recommendations are more than welcome.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

Riding and Ranting: Windy Day

Wow -- nice shot Brian Parker. Riding and Ranting: Windy Day

Ice Storm

No silly, not here. In this cool stuff here, I don't see anyone on a bike either.

Google Saturday Morning Coffee

I took a ride to practice getting the morning coffee.

Date: Feb. 4
Mileage: 19
February mileage: 22.2
Temperature on departure: 60

That's right -- I am contemplating riding 8.5 miles in to get the morning cup at the cafe of the beautiful people. I need a rack I suppose so I can carry the newspaper home, and cart my camera around.

Where I went to school, at the College of Arts and Letters, we put two spaces after a period, unlike Google's blogger, which for some reason thinks that it's wiser to strip them down to one. They are very smart over there, so they must know better than I. Another possibilty is that they think they are doing me a favor. I'm very happy that they haven't decided to edit any of the other characters in my text.

Does a <pre> tag help.  Look, it does.  And in a most
attractive way, too.

Friday, February 3, 2006

Short ride tonight

I am going to use the same format to report my riding as I have seen some other winter riders use. This young woman is actually riding in winter; most people refer to what I have here in the winter as summer.

Date: Feb. 3
Mileage: 2.3
February mileage: 3.3
Temperature on departure: 73

I squeezed in a short ride tonight, just before dark, out in the saguaros. If a groundhog came up here - he would say, whoa -- I think I overslept, summer has already started. It may seem a bit crazy to talk about the temperature on a ride when it is a splendid 73, but it will start wearing like a badge of honor when the milege is 20 and the temperature is 120. Like I could do that ...

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Ready to Roll

The bike is up. I am ready. It's 27 lbs...too heavy. I think it deserves a Brooks saddle...