Got a Spare?

Just before we headed out for our Sunday ride, Dave mentioned that he forgot to grab his spare tubes, but at least he had his patch kit. I glanced at my bike and sure enough, my spares kit was missing too — I hadn’t reattached it after doing some maintenance earlier in the week. I grabed my kit, mounted it to the bike, and we took off.

About 15-20 miles into our 35 mile route, Dave picked up a flat on his rear tire. Not a slow leak that hisses rythmically while the wheel spins. It was a dramatic HISS/Whoosh and the tire completely emptied in just seconds.

While I dug a spare out of my kit, Dave removed the wheel and tube and began double checking that whatever caused the leak wasn’t still in the tire. It wasn’t. There weren’t ANY holes in the tire. Checking the tube and wheel, we discovered that the valve-stem had come completely off the tube — in fact, it was still in it’s proper position on the wheel.

With a spare tube, everything was reassembled and inflated, and we were back on the road in just a few minutes. It was rather fortunate Dave had mentioned spares before the ride or I wouldn’t have had one on hand — this incident drove home just how essential it is to carry at least one spare. Had we only had the patch kit, we would have been looking at a rather long walk back to the house.

Don’t Trust your U-Lock!

Kryptonite U-Locks have traditionally been one of the strongest and safest bicycle locks available. However, acording Chris Brennan in a posting on Bike Forum, they have a major security problem:

As you guys might remember, I recently had the nicest set of wheels I’ve ever had stolen from me. Today I was hanging out with a friend and we got to talking about that – he said his friend showed him just recently how to open a U-Lock with a ball point pen.

Of course I didn’t believe it. That is until just thirty seconds ago when I opened my own Kryptonite Evolution 2000 with a bic ball point pen!

This has to be the most absurd thing I’ve ever seen. Try it. Take the end off the pen, jam it in the lock, wiggle around and twist.

In a follow-up post, he includes links to movie clips showing, in one case, how a pen can be used just as quickly as the lock’s key:

Movie #1: video.bikeforums.net/1.mov – 524KB
Movie #2: video.bikeforums.net/2.mov – 954KB
Movie #3: video.bikeforums.net/3.mov – 251KB

And an NRP interview (audio):

video.bikeforums.net/npr-interview.mp3

In response, Kryptonite has begun offering free upgrades to customers who have purchased certain locks during the last two years:

Canton, MA September 17, 2004 – Kryptonite today announced it will provide free product upgrades for certain locks purchased since September 2002, in response to consumer concerns about tubular cylinder lock technology.
· · ·
Consumers who have purchased an Evolution lock, KryptoLok lock, New York Chain, New York Noose, Evolution Disc Lock, KryptoDisco or DFS Disc Lock in the last two years are eligible for a product upgrade free of charge from Kryptonite.
· · ·
Specifically, Kryptonite will provide for free cross bars featuring the company’s new disc-style cylinder lock technology to consumers who have purchased Evolution and KryptoLok series products. In addition the company will replace for free recently purchased Evolution Disc Locks on New York Chain and New York Noose with its “Molly Lock”, a heavy duty solid steel padlock. Kryptonite also will upgrade recently purchased disc locks.

Thus far, the discussions have all been about Kryptonite locks, but there are hundreds of different locks, from bike-locks to storage-lockers, that use round keys. I’m curious: is this problem strictly an issue with Kryptonite or a generally inherent problem with all locks of this style?

UPDATE 09/22/2004:
As I suspected, this is a much wider problem than just bike locks. Both CNN/Money and The New York Times indicate that vending machines, alarm panels, computer cable locks, and even some ignitions are vulnerable, as could be just about anything else that uses this tubular cylinder technology.

Scottsdale Greenbelt

Yesterday morning was rather crisp, so I waited thirty minutes past the start time for stragglers before taking off — nobody showed.

Since it was cold starting out, I kept the bike in a low gear and pedaled quickly to build up body heat. By the time I completed the first mile, I had warmed up nicely. With the cool morning air, the light fog hanging over several of the small lakes at the North end of the Greenbelt, and the smell of pine trees that were scattered along the route, I felt as if I was riding somewhere other than in the Phoenix area.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it all the way to Tempe Town Lake. The trail was closed for construction at one point near the South end — fences, workers, and heavy equipment everywhere — and since I’m not familiar enough with the route or the area, I decided to turn back rather than try to find my way around the closure. Still, the route made for a nice quick 25 ride.

Slate & Flume Trails

Yesterday, David and I took an fairly easy MTB ride on both the Slate and Flume trails at the Cave Creek Recreation Area.

Since I live near there, we started at my house and rode East along Cloud Road to 32nd street then north to the Park. The trails are each only about a mile and a half long with Flume Trail starting in the middle of Slate Trail. We rode the length of Slate, then turned back and picked up Flume, riding South until we reached a service road heading back to 32nd Street & Cloud Road, then back to the house.

Round trip was about 17 miles and included a couple of fast down-hills and a few moderately technical spots — a nice morning’s ride.

A map (PDF) of the trails in the Cave Creek Recreation Area can be found on their website.

AZ MS150

This year, several of us from work and a friend from a previous job rode the AZ MS150. Since our riding and fitness levels vary, we rode in small groups rather than forcing everyone to ride in a large one.

The first day of the AZ MS150 started out a bit on the cold side, but was otherwise perfect riding weather. Starting from Cesar Chaves High School (Baseline & approximately 40th Avenue), we took our time, stopping for a moment at each SAG stop, and still managed to arrive at the Gila Bend High School in Gila Bend about an hour earlier than in years past.

After pitching our tents and showering at the school, we had an opportunity to check out the Desert Shrimp Festival that also happened to be at Gila Bend that weekend. The MS team provided all of us riders with an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner while we listened to SRP’s Second Shift Band.

Sunday morning, we were up early, packed up camp and had breakfast provided by the “Pancake Guys” … unfortunately, I can’t remember their real name, but they’re a couple of guys from Iowa that produced hundreds (thousands?) of pancakes on a couple of custom made, 8-foot griddles. The hard part was trying to catch your cakes when they were flipped several feet into the air to you.

Unfortunately, Sunday’s ride was not like Saturday’s, we had to contend with a nasty wind out of the Northeast — against us almost the entire way. Needless to say, this made the ride back very tiring, although we were able to join a couple of pace lines which helped ease the force of the wind. It took two hours longer to make it back to Cesar Chaves than it did to go to Gila Bend the day before.

All in all, it was a good ride. I think my riding partner and I exceeded our personal best, especially considering the nearly total lack of training we did beforehand.

AZ MS150 Just Around the Corner

The Arizona MS150 — a benefit bicycle ride for the National MS Society — is just barely over a week away. On Saturday and Sunday, November 8th & 9th, I plan on joining approximately 2000 other bicyclist to ride from South Phoenix to Gila Bend and back, approximately 150 miles over the two days … only this weekend left for training rides and one last week for soliciting donations and pledges!

Route Map for November 8th
Route Map for November 9th

The only difference between these maps are the order and locations of the rest-stops.

Tom Adams did a little bit of research on the weather we can expect next weekend:

Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2003 14:26:26 -0800 (PST)
From: Tom Adams
To: azms150-Teams
Subject: AZ MS Rides MS150 Weather

I looked up the Phoenix and Gila Bend climate history for Nov 8 & 9 to see what we can expect “weatherwise” for the MS150.

Sunrise will be about 6:55am, and sunset about 5:30pm. The average daytime high is 80, the record high was about 92, and the record low high was about 63. The average nighttime low is 50. The average rainfall is 2/10ths inch. The average wind in November is from the East at 5.3mph, although we can expect 7 days with gusts between 20 and 39mph. The long-range weather forecasts put our area at 40% above normal temperatures and 40% below normal precipitation.

Based on this, I’m forecasting a high of 85, a nighttime low of 56, no rain, and a 6mph East wind. Perfect weather for the ride, I just hope it comes true!

Here are the weather and climate sources so you can make your own forecast.
NOAA Phoenix weather www.wrh.noaa.gov/Phoenix/index.html
Arizona climate history www.wrcc.dri.edu/summary/climsmaz.html
Phoenix climate (Wind) geography.asu.edu/cerveny/phxwx.htm

tom adams

I certainly hope Tom is right. Year before last, the wind was terrible and blew against us both days — much harder to take the second day.

A quiet Sunday Ride

Finally reaching the top of yet another long, torturous climb, the thought occurred to me, not for the first time today, that this route didn’t look particularly familiar.

Being bored with bicycling the Union Hills Loop in the normal, socially acceptable, clock-wise direction, I decided this morning to ride the trail backwards, hoping that the perspective change would make it appear new and interesting again. It did. The Union Hills Loop is riddled with trails that branch off at a variety of angles and leading off in a multitude of directions. Shortly after the second unexpected climb — most of the Loop is relatively flat — I began to suspect I had chosen a wrong branch a mile or more back. Rather than turn back, I pressed forward and started looking for side trails that would lead back toward the main route — it’s virtually impossible to really get lost in the Loop area since it’s completely surrounded by out-reaches of Phoenix and adjoining communities on three sides and the I-17 on the West.

The trail up this last hill, the fifth, was at least heading in the right direction. Riding the fast switch-backs down the other side was a pleasant supprise and I reached a mud plain — the only remaining obstacle before rejoining the Loop trail — very quickly.

Last Friday, the North Phoenix area received a record 2.5 inches of rain. The mud plain was a reminder of Friday’s torrential downpour and was already partially covered with desert grass. The grass had probably been laying dormant for sometime and was growing rapidly in the unexpectedly wet soil. In only two days time it was already a couple of inches tall and will probably have seeded and died out by the time the ground dries out again.

I still had plenty of momentum from the downhill run and decided to follow the trail across the plain rather than try to find my way around it. I almost made it. Momentum carried me nearly half way across. Careful pedaling — trying to keep the back wheel from spinning and loosing traction — got me within a few dozen feet of the edge of the mud plain. Unfortunately, every rotation of the tires deposited mud between the rims and the break pads. By the time I lost traction, I had a solid ball of mud, about eight inches across, jammed into and collected around both sets of breaks. Friction at the breaks finally over came the front wheel, while conveniently disappearing on the ground.

Picking myself and the bike out of the mud, I trudged to edge of the plain and spent several minutes removing as much mud as possible from tires, breaks, and pedals as well as the cleats on my shoes. Not an easy task, since the mud was completely packed with fresh green grass and was quickly gaining the consistency of Adobe.

The rest of the Loop was uneventful, except that chunks of mud I had been unable to scrape off would periodically get somewhat dislodged and wedge against a rim, adding a bit more resistance to the spinning wheel.

Tiring, but a good ride.

Riding

I finally got off my duff and went riding. This is the first time I’ve gone out to do any real riding since May. I wasn’t as concerned about milage this morning as much as just getting out and spinning for a while — I do need to start training every weekend though if I’m going to be ready for the MS150 just a few short weeks away.

While riding, I came to the conclusion that bicycling is a lot like finances. The fun parts — down-hills — must be paid for with up-hills. It’s your choice to pay for them in advance or afterwards, but there’s no getting around having to make that payment. The gear you choose to climb with is similar to installment payment plans: either large payments with a short duration, or smaller payments and longer time spent climbing. Your fitness level is like a bank account: paying for down-hills is much easier when the balance is high …

… that sounded so much better when it popped into my head an hour ago while I was still on the bike.

Lazy

I haven’t done much bicycling lately. “Lately” meaning for several months — my last real ride was this one. I’ve been having trouble dragging myself out into the heat and haven’t been able to get up early enough on the weekends to ride while it’s relatively cooler. I’m getting lazy.

Late Friday evening, I signed up for the Arizona MS150, a 150 mile charity bicycle ride for the National MS Society. It’s scheduled for the second weekend in November so I should have just enough time to get back into okay riding shape. This will be the sixth year I’ll have participated — hopefully, it’ll be enough incentive to actually get out and ride.

Yesterday I took my youngest, Zach, out for a short ride. We loaded the bikes and drove over to a nearby section of desert — mostly flat and few rocks. He was enjoying the ride until he crashed and banged up his arm on the ground. Nothing broken, no swelling or redness, but he was hurting. We called the rest of the ride and went home. Hopefully he had more fun that not and will be interested in riding again another weekend.

Sheep Bridge

We decided to ride somewhere different today. I recently discovered an old (January 16, 2003) article, in the Arizona Republic’s Travel Guide, about Sheep Bridge, an historic bridge spanning the Verde River several miles north of Horseshoe Dam. The article describes the 27 mile, round trip, bicycle ride to the bridge and how to get to the starting point at the dam.

A note of caution: The article describes the road to Horseshoe dam as “… unpaved … easily passable to family sedans.” It may be “passable” but the wash-boarding is terrible! We drove slowly, but by the time we got to the trail head at the dam, one of my mirrors had shaken loose from the truck due to the constant vibration.

It was a good route, but it was definately too late in the year for this one. We started riding at 8am and made it to the bridge by about 10. But the Summer heat was just getting started, which made the ride back much, much harder. When we got back to the truck, at about 1-1:30pm, the temperature was already over 100 degrees. This is one ride that should be done in early Spring or late Fall.

Commuted to work again

It’s getting easier, although I’m still rather slow. Took about an hour to get into work and an hour and forty minutes to get back home. There’s a slight incline to Carefree Highway and Cave Creek Road, but after that it’s pretty much smooth sailing.

Riding

It’s nice having easy access to the desert now. Took an easy spin along desert trails to get my knee feeling better again — I’d twisted or pulled it a couple weeks ago while putting in the water line at the house.

Go Diamond Backs!

Rode in the MS150 last Saturday & Sunday. This year, due to road construction on our usual route to Parker Dam, we rode from a South Phoenix High School to Gila Bend and back the next day. The distance was about the same as in years past — 150 miles — but this year the wind was stiffly against us both directions. One bright spot: In Gila Bend, the ride organizers setup a satellite dish so we could watch final game of the Series Saturday night — the Diamond Backs won the World Series!!

Union Hills Loop

Rode in the Union Hills Loop area with David and his son — we decided to ride the loop in the reverse direction. On the way back, near the end of the ride, Dave and I were talking while Jacob ranged on ahead. We were following the youngster on automatic and weren’t paying any real attention to where we were going. Naturally, we ended up lost and found ourselves riding another 5 miles of steep hills to get back to where we had parked the trucks.