Dec 28, 2009

2009 Year End Recap Vid

Here's a little video recap of some of the adventures of this past year. The Edge makes a special guest appearance as the narrator.

Happy New Year!


Dec 20, 2009

Sunset 12/19/09

Here is last nights sunset wrapped up in 20 seconds:

Dec 19, 2009

Snowbowl Lift Day 12/18/09 (Flagstaff, AZ)

Yesterday, I had the day off and met up with Maadjurguer, and Chollaball, and then we drove up to Snowbowl in Flagstaff, where we met up with Jrock and B. for a little lift area skiing. We finally made to lift area season. Woot.

It was a bluebird day, and my upper layer consisted of a shell and t-shirt. We pretty much stuck to the groomers, and focused on the sunny spots where the snow had loosened up.

We did find a pretty fun tree run that led us down a gully that actually had good coverage.

I'm still trying to get my boots dialed in, as my tele-turns really suffered. Time to get my boots fitted, cuz the blistering and shin bang were pretty bad.

Everybody ripped it up. Pretty fun day, and other than my feet, I felt pretty good; not to much anaerobic burn in my legs. I need a few more days like this.

My go to video camera was acting up, so I was limited on the footage I got. I did piece together a video. It features Chollaball letting his freak flag fly, and is accompanied by fine suggestion from Maad using of Wide Spread Panic's 'Going West'. Along with the soundtrack, Maad also provided the super pic of CB.

Great day.

Here's the vid:

Dec 12, 2009

Snowbowl Preseason

The big snow finally fell in Flagstaff, but just not quite enough to open the lifts. I couldn't wait, so I decided to head up anyways and skin up the groomers. The road to Snowbowl was open, so the only other obstacle was making sure they wouldn't mind if I did a couple of laps. I asked a couple of staff up there, and they said it was okay, but just stay outta the cats way who were laying had lines up for dragging snow.

My plan was to skin up from the bottom of Sunrise Chair which sits at 9,200 vf to the top of Agassiz Chair which tops out at 11,500. Heading up the groomers was easy except a couple the steeper slopes hadn't been groomed on my first trip up. Can't complain at all.

It was rather cool up there,spitting snow and low visibility. I had some new Scarpa T-2 tele boots to try out. They were much lighter than my old T-1 bumble bees, and they made the trip up a little more pleasurable. Despite a similar buckle system, they just didn't have the same rigidity, because the don't come up as one my calf. Despite this, I think once a get a few days of running them on the lifts, I get them dialed it. I might also opt the have the liners form fitted, so the fit a little more comfortable.

This was my first trip on the snow since Camp Muir trip the end of June, so I wasn't expecting much in my performance. I did end up doing two laps, for a total of 4,600 feet of ascending. I gotta admit, that I was pretty fatigued at the end of lap number two, but it was a good start to getting my fitness back.

Not much video footage, but here is short vid of what I got:

Nov 28, 2009

Six Shooter - Pinal Mt. - Globe, AZ

I needed a long grind, and I knew exactly where to find it, Pinal Mt.

I've done several posts already on this ride: Six Shooter Trip Reports, so I won't spend a bunch a time rehashing the maps and stats.

I started pedaling up the road at 7:40 and 3 hours and 15 minutes later I was at the top of Six Shooter Canyon Trail. It was boring and painful, but I didn't bonk so its all good. I've done it faster, but this time I pedaled my Giant Reign X up. This thing pedals great, but it weighs in at 37 lbs. It is slow a fatiguing.

It was overcast when I started, and really windy up on top, but when I blasted out of the the trees near the bottom the skies were blue. When I looked back up on the hill I could see some ominous clouds building.

Here's a vid of the ride:

Nov 11, 2009

Apache Lake - Tonto National Forest

In observance of Veterans Day, I wanted to get out some paddling in. I also wanted a lake I hadn't been on yet, so I asked for some suggestions, and the replies were to head to Apache Lake. I was a little concerned about the drive, more specifically the road to get there. The road was pretty much a none issue, as The Apache Trail was in great condition and actually provided spectacular views. Of course I wasn't seeing much when I hit the unpaved portion of the road at 6:00 am; it was still dark out.

I got the the Apache Lake Recreation Area at about 7:00. It was kinda smokey and hazy out, word is Mt. Ord nearby is burning (hattip Maadjurguer). It was also really breezy; it was blowing a consistent 15 mph plus wind from the east. I ended up taking a gamble on heading down to the the western half of the lake. My thoughts were that I'd ride the wind down to the end of the lake (Horse Mesa Dam), while hoping the winds wouldn't increase. I had a feeling the winds that were blowing were being caused by the usual sun up winds and could die down later in the morning. And for the most part they did die down and my wager paid off, I still had to battle the winds on my return, but they had diminished a ton.

My Seaward Quest kayak is actually pretty unstable when it isn't loaded down, so in order to reduce the bobber effect, I grabbed a couple of big rocks and put them in the for and aft storage compartments for ballast. It really helped the boats stability, but I just had to be careful not punch a hole through the hull. I had done this before, but usually the water I've been paddling lately is calm enough that I don't need to.

As for the lake, I was really jazzed. I love the cavernesque sections of Canyon Lake, which Apache Lake doesn't really offer (at least on the western half), but it does have some of the similar dramatic cliffs that seem to go from the top of the sky straight into the water. What I really liked about these cliff, were the contrast of color - reds, blacks, green and normal rock color.

I resist the urge to head to any AZ lake on the weekend, because they are just to busy for my taste. Although it wasn't perfect solitude on Apache Lake, there were only a few boats out fishing. Nice, real nice.

For my route I closely stuck to the shoreline coast as I circumnavigated the lake in clockwise direction. I tucked into just about every little bay and cove. These bays also helped protect me from the wind. My trip totaled 14.6 miles and took me about 6 hours.

As for wildlife, I had my eyes peeled for some big horned sheep, but saw none. I did spot a bald eagle hanging out cliff, and I got some footage of the bird taking flight.

Here's a vid of the day:

Nov 7, 2009

Lemmon Drop - Tucson, AZ

mtbiker2u organized a ride I've been meaning to do for a very long time down in Tucson, and it is commonly known as a Lemon Drop. Basically we drove up to the 7,300 foot level on Mt. Lemon, where we found the Green Mt. Trailhead.

There were 6 of us, Evil Patrick, Evil Tracey, Turtlgerl, NoelG, mtbiker2u, and myself. We started heading down about 9:30 am, as we blasted down the trail. Mind you this is not all downhill. The 20 mile tour had some long, draining hike-a-bike sections. Although the total descent was over 7,000 feet, we actually had 2,500 feet of climbing in there. Our actual route was Green Mountain - Bugs Spring - Molino Basin - AZ Trail - La Milagrosa. We did the full meal deal, but since this trail crosses over the highway a few times, the numerous starting and stopping points allows for many options to doing some shorter rides here.

From top to bottom this trail, had some serious gnar, and steep descents. Unfortunately, my rear brake had an air bubble in it for the whole ride down. So if I wanted any rear brake at all, and I had to charge the brake up and then ride the brakes the whole way down. That pretty much sucked. And it lead me to eating it a few times at crucial times when all I was left with was a front brake.

When we got to the base of Molino, the thought had crossed our minds of skipping La Milagrosa, and taking the road back down to our cars, but we continued on. And the gnar continued on. I was surprised how fatiguing this ride was. I wasn't fully tapped or bonked, but it was what it was. And it was also a hoot.

It was about 4:30 by the time we made down to cars at the bottom of the hill.

I can't wait to get back up there again.

Here's a vid of the day:

Oct 31, 2009

Goat Camp - White Tank Mountains

Met up with some MTBR doods to day for a Halloween throw-down on Goat Camp.

It was a most excellent day, except the lower hike-a-bike was actually kinda warm. I'm in the process of kicking a cold, so my fitness really took a noes dive the past few weeks. My sniffles were mostly gone, but I was pretty much dragging butt the whole ride.

I gotta say I got chewed up and spit out on the gnar. I had one minor over-the-bars crash near the beginning of the decent, so I pretty much took it easy after that.

There was some pretty talented riders with us, and they made the trail look easy, but it aint. This is my second look at it, and I think I need another crack at it soon.

Here's a vid of the day:

Oct 12, 2009

Canyon Lake Paddle

What better way of celebrating the Columbus Day holiday, but with a little voyage. I rolled outta my driveway at 5:30 am, an hour later I was at the Acacia Picnic Site. After dinking around with my camera, I was on the water at 7:00 am.

Like anybody I else, I prefer this lake with no traffic, but unfortunately this wasn't going to happen today. Boats were already buzzing around, when I launched. Not bad for most of the day, but my return was a little choppy.

This was my second play day in row, so didn't make it to the end of the lake. I ended up turning around a little ways past Blue Tank Cove. This filming stuff takes lotsa time, so my tour ended up taking about 5 hours.

I saw a pair of eagles moments after I launched, but never saw them after that. I was kind of tripped out though, cuz I swear I saw a roadrunner flying between a small gap of rocks. I tried to film her, but I was just too slow.

Other than the activity on the lake, it was a great paddle.

Here's a vid of my paddle:

Here's a one minute Google Earth Tour of my route:

Oct 11, 2009

Black Canyon Trail - Black Canyon City, AZ

I need a longish ride, so I ended up rolling with some peeps over on MTBR on the Black Canyon Trail.

It was a perfect day to ride, as we met up on at 7:00 at the Black Canyon City Trailhead, and we were on the trail before 7:30. The temps were down right comfy, and pretty much stayed that way. The clouds shaded us when we needed it, and when they weren't there, a gentle breezed offered a helping hand

The pace was excellent, not to punishing neither to fast, nor not to much waiting. Pretty nice for the group of 10 or so riders that did the full meal deal.

Here's vid of the ride:

Sep 13, 2009

Night ride at McDowell's Pemberton 09/12/09 - McDowell Mountain Regional Park

Last night Tim, Tom and I did the final night ride of the season, out on Pemberton last night at the McDowell Mountain Regional Park. They usually host these rides about once a month, and this was the first on I participated in.

We rolled into the Trailhead Staging Area around 7:30; it had just gotten dark. The lost was about 3/4 full of eager riders. We hit the trail about 8:15 and the 15 mile loop took us about 2 hours.

My new Princeton Tec Switchback 3 headlamp worked really well. I've been using it in the morning for the rides, but this was the first group ride with it, and it was reassuring it had the stamina to keep bright for an extended period of time. It is kinda heavy, and not quite as bright as an HID, it flooded the trail with tons of light. Not bad for $182 shipped to my door (via chainlove).

I've only riden Pemberton twice, and was never really thrilled with the trail, due to the lack of fun hills and sand, but it is pretty neat trail to ride at night. The creatures were out, as I spotted four tarantulas, a little toad, and big phat diamondback rattlesnake.

Here's a thread on MTBR that talks about the ride: Last Night ride at McDowell's Pemberton 09/12/09.

Here's a couple of short vids of the creatures crawling about:

Sep 7, 2009

Ebike (electric bike)

Okay, so I imagine I will be shunned by some in the biking community for getting into my latest venture; an electric bike.

What? an electric bike? Well, I took an ordinary commuter bike, threw a big battery on the back and brushless motor hub up front. It has a solid state (electronic) controller that goes between the battery and the motor, and Cycle Analyst to meter my usage (speed, amp hours used, watts, voltage, etc).

Why in the world would I do this??? Well, I've been taking the bus into work everyday for the past three years, and I usually spend about two hours a day going back and forth. My goal was to get my on way commute on this bike down to under a half hour, and my best time yet is 27 minutes. By going back and for on this bike I just and hour of my life back everyday. Not bad. I'm a rather strong biker, but I don't have shower facilities at work and I'd rather save my legs for the trail instead of the road.

What's it like? It isn't super torqueeee, but it is pretty dang powerful. When I take off from an intersection, I usually start of pedaling (not necessary)and I blow the cars away. On flat ground I've topped out at 34 mph, and the range is around 25 miles.

I spent several weeks researching what I wanted out of a bike on, and purchased my kit from

What do I have wrapped up in this beast? I spent $450 for the bike (REI - Novara Buzz - with chromoly fork and disk brakes), $900 for the 600W BMC electric motor hub and controller w/ thumb throttle, $900 for the 48v 15 ah LiFePO4 battery, and $145 for the Cycle Analyst (stand alone). Sure I coulda got a motorcycle/scooter, but I at the traffic signals I got to the head of the class because I cruise down the bike lane.

Here's video of my project:

Aug 30, 2009

NRA Jumping: Mesa, AZ

Went up with the crew out at NRA to see how jumping is done.

My skilz are very impressive, in fact I actually ate it on my first drop. Baby steps, but everybody else were flying. Super spectacular was put on by Kenny B. and C&L.

Anycow, here's a vid of the day:

Aug 15, 2009

Chongoman's Annual Ride: Geronimo - SoMo (Phoenix, AZ)

The bikers started showing up this morning at 5:30 Chongoman's Annual ride, and what a ride it was. I think our crew totaled about 15, as we suffered up Javelina, Mormon Loop, National to ride down Geronimo.

The heat was on, and on it was, but perhaps a tad bit cooler than last year. No owies and the only mechanicals were simultaneous flats. And I was one of 'em.

Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Chongoman for hosting us.

Here's a vid of the day:

And a Hi-res Quicktime version can be found here: Chongoman's Annual Ride

Aug 11, 2009

Javelina on Desert Classic (South Mountain) - Phoenix, AZ

I ran into a couple of Javelina on my Desert Classic pedal this morning. It had been a while since I seen 'em, but I they were spotted in the usual spot. They come up from sipping water from the yards near by, and were ready to bed down for the day.

I had just rolled off the water tank, and slipped by the trees when I smelled this horrible stench. And at that moment, I knew it was a javelina. I stopped in my track and turned around, and there was a one sitting in the bushes about 15 feet away.

Here are a few clips of the porkers:

Aug 2, 2009

Sunrise Park Resort: Greer, AZ

Today, Kort and I went up to Sunrise Park Resort . We split from my house at little after 5:30 am blasted through Globe, AZ and hour and half later, and a little after 9:00 we arrived at the Sunrise’s parking lot.

We ended up jumping on at about 9:45. I don’t know what the true temperature was, but it must have been in the low 70’s and pretty stayed that was as some clouds moved in after our first run. Pretty comfy, compared to Phoenix.

What a screaming deal for only 20 bucks. This was my first time up here, so for our first run, Kort took me Fungi, to Upper Chutes and Ladders to Children’s Trail to Bonito. Which was a perfect match for my skill set and ambition. The trail flowed pretty well through the trees, and the upper portion didn’t have many drops, but the other sections had a handful. It was so nice to be rolling through trees again. We did pretty variations of this run a couple of more time before grabbing a bite to eat at the car around 12:00.
Our first run after our brake took us down Chutes and Ladders. Oh man, the drops near the top were a handful for me due to the size and not setting up for them properly. I walked down couple of of ‘em, knowing I’d hit them up later. Once we came to the first cat track crossing, we continued down Sticks, and probably about 15 feet down the trail I hit a patch of gravel that acted like ball bearings. My front wheel shifted out from under me, then it feel off a drop with such force that I catapulted me down the trail about 15 feet. It was like I hit the ejector seat button, the way it launched me. I had a hard helmet to rock collision, as I flew like Superman. That really rung my bell, and luckily I had purchased a full faced helmet the day before. The scratches showed me what a benefit the full face protection added. I had rocks burrowed under my shin and elbow guards, that left me bleeding. But probably the most painful thing was my upper left bicep/shoulder was aching. I didn’t bash anything with it, but I think I just strained it while landing.

With my head spinning and the wind knocked out of me, I took my time rolling again. My shoulder was in pain, but I continued to ride. I just took it pretty easy by riding our first run of the day over and over. Kort and I knocked out 8 or 9 runs in before knocking off at 2:45.

We hit the road a little after 3:00, but we decided to head towards Payson instead of Globe for our return route. I think this was an easier drive, because I believe there are few more miles of multi lane highway. Even with all the traffic we managed to get home at 7:00.

Here's a vid of the day:

A high res QuickTime version can be found here: Sunrise Park Resort 8/2/09

Jul 26, 2009

Black Canyon Trail - Hohokam Hilltop Fortress Ruins

Did an early pedal with Brian C., Brett, Scott and Dave today out on the Black Canyon Trail. I split from my house at about 4:40 am and met up with the single speed crazies at about 5:30 (actually I was a few minutes late), and we were on the trail at about 5:50.

It was gonna be a scorcher, hence the early start. I think we were the only people out there; pretty desolate.

From the Black Canyon City trailhead, our group of 5 nearly made to the Little Pan Loop trail junction. I've been meaning to find the Hohokam Hilltop Ruins, and so I took the opportunity to do a little solo exploring since the groups turnaround point was so close to the 1,000 year old ruins. I ventured off down the trail to road. Where the ruins are, I had been by a several times, but I was just oblivious to the ruins location. Bigrigmig, had commented on one of my earlier posts about the fortress, and there whereabouts, and armed with this knowledge I was able to locate 'em.

Anycow, here's a little video of the day:

Jul 19, 2009

National - South Mountain: Phoenix, AZ

Ran into Kelstr and Steve on the way up National this morning, so here's a little footage of our ride down:

And here's a short (time lapse) vid of haboob rolling in yesterday:

Jul 12, 2009

Geronimo - South Mountain: Phoenix, AZ

Yesterday topped out around 115 degrees, so I pretty much knew today was gonna be a repeat, hence a 5:30 am start. I met up with Kort at South Mountain's 46th Street parking lot, as the sun was just coming up. The little bit of cloud cover not only provided for a nice sunrise (sorry no pics), but also gave us a couple of hours of relief from the scorching sun.

Today, I was riding the Kona Stinky Dee-Lux, and man what a workout. Both up an down. Its heavy and doesn't pedal. I'm also learning how to take such a tank down the hill. Pretty much, I just hang on and plow through the boulders. Choosing my line down like my Cannondale Prophet is really self defeating.

Anycow, Kort and I had a blast ripping down Geronimo.

Here's vid of the ride. Not super interesting as its just helmet cam footage:

Jun 27, 2009

Capital Forest - Greenline #6: Near Olympia, WA

Today my Big Brother Stu and I took turns shuttling/riding Greenline #6 in Capital Forest just outside of Olympia, WA. We drove up C-line and then tied into C-4000, and this lead us near the towers. I did the first run down Greenline #6, and it was sweet. The 20 minute decent took me down some primo-swopey-fast-tacky single track. The trails were in excellent shape. I really dug the berms on the switchbacks. I met back up with Stu where Greenline #6 spits out onto C-Line. It was so fun I had to do it twice.

I've ridden this trail a few times long ago on a full rigid Klein Attitude, but today I was riding Stu's Kona Stinky Dee-lux. This bike doesn't pedal, but man can it go downhill good. This was most fun I've had on a bike in long time, and I had some awesome rides lately.

Here's a vid of the day:

A high res Quick-time version can be found here: Capital Forest - Greenline #6

6/26/09 Camp Muir - Mount Rainier: Washington

A visit to the northwest wouldn't be complete without a little skiing, and luckily have pair of skis here. What I was missing where poles, so I had to come up with set and I was relegated to buying some treking poles from Walmart in Yelm. Crickees they sucked, but I was able to get couple strips of duct tape from the ranger and that helped out. Since I was traveling solo today, I kept my plans pretty conservative, so I opted to follow the hoards of summit climbers up to Camp Muir (10,188 vf). Nothing technical about this hike up or ski down, just kind of a slog up.

I had gray skies for my drive from Olympia to Paradise, and the fog was really soupy in the parking lot. The parking lot at Paradise sits at about 5,400 vf, and I broke through the cloud layer around 6,500 vf. I split from the car about 8:45, and took my time getting up to Camp Muir. My walk up took 4 hours, but I swear I've done this in around 2.5 hours back in the day. There was snow right from Paradise, with only a few patches of rocks to cross over at Panorama Point and Pebble Creek.

It was a perfect day up there, sunny skies above the cloud layer, no wind, and not cold. I had my skins, but I just opted to walk up in my tennis shoes.

I pretty much skied down the Muir Snowfield the way I had come up, but when I got back to Pebble Creek, I headed towards the Paradise Glacier and strung together the strips of snow back to the parking lot.

The entrance fee into Mount Rainier National Park was $15.

Here's a vid of the day:

A high-res quicktime version can be found here: Camp Muir 6/26/09

Jun 24, 2009

Hope Island - South Puget Sound: Olympia, WA

I rented a kayak today from Boston Harbor Marina (South Puget Sound - near Olympia, WA) for little paddle around Hope Island. The $30 fee got me a Eddyline Fathom, and it was actually very, very good kayak.

I took off on my paddle at about 8:45 from Boston Harbor Marina. The skies were a little gray, but the water was calm. Due to a new moon, the tides during this week were pretty big. The expected low tide was supposed to be -4.1 feet at 1:43, and this was going to be one lowest tides of the year. With big tides come big currents, and the area I was paddling already has sections where the currents are strong.

My route was simple and took about 4 hours. I paddled from Boston Harbor around Hope Island and back.

I saw loads of bald eagles around Hope Island, so that was pretty kewl.

Here's a vid of the day:

A high res quick time version can be found here: Hope Island Paddle

Jun 19, 2009

Helipad Time Trial - South Mountain: Phoenix, AZ

The 'helipad trail' is a popular offshoot trail of Desert Classic at South Mountain, and a time trial has been set up to track how fast people are riding the last .8 of a mile section to the pad. Mike, the creator of the MTBikeAZ
set up the 'Helipad Time Trial' site.

There are some impressive times being put up. I've ridden down the Helipad prolly about 100 times, but I've pedaled up it less that dozen times. I usually go up the 'Goat Trail', because I like doing it as a loop. On 6/9/09 I road up it with Dave, Elno, and Kort and logged at time of 8:15. This is less than an impressive time, and considering how haggard I was a little slower than I know I can do. I was seriously hurting afterwords, and my lungs were bleeding for days afterwords. Of course it was about 95 degrees and really, really humid. I did it again for the video below, and logged a time of 8:20, but the surprising thing is that I dialed it back a notch, so I would have some steady footage. Heck, I didn't even break a sweat or increase my heart rate, so I know my next real attempt will be much, much better. I don't care who you are, putting out so much exertion that you get anaerobic and hitting maximum heart rate is really painful.

Anycow, here's a short vid of the Helipad Time Trial:

May 22, 2009 Time: 6:54.

Jun 6, 2009

Double Bypass (short version) McDowell Mountains - Scottsdale, AZ

I posted up a last minute Double Bypass ride over on MTBR, and a four others (dirthead, DrHog, and Mr. & Mrs. dtownmtb)decided to join in on the sufferfest. Actually it was all good. The temps were really mild, and the climbing wasn't that bad, considering this was day 7 in the saddle.

We met up at Bell and 104th parking lot at, and promptly started the ride at 6:30 am.

We road up Gateway to Windgate Pass, bombed down the eastside of Windgate to Coachwhip, then tied into Dixie Mine, climbed back up Prospector to Bell Pass, and the screamed down Bell back home.

The 13.3 mile ride took about 3 hours, and had 2,200 vf of climbing.

Other than a couple of flats we had no mechanicals, but Mrs. dtownmtb bobbled on the first climb and ended up with rather gruesome goose-egg on her shim. And Mr. dtownmtb bit it pretty good on the way down Bell. I didn't witness it, but he had a few good scraps on him.

It was just a great day on the trail, and a great group to ride with.

Here's a vid of the day:

A high-res quicktime version can be found here: Double Bypass 06/06/09

May 25, 2009

Pinal Mt - Globe, AZ: Six Shooter 5/24/09

Paul B. and I split from Tempe around 5:30, and meet up with Mr. and Mrs. Chollaball, Liteandfast, and Maadjurguer in Globe, AZ at 7:00 for a little pedal up to the top of Pinal Mt. and ride down Six Shooter.

A sign on the way into town said 65 degrees, heck yeah! So that meant as we climb the 4,000 vf up to the top, the temps would remain pretty steady even as the temps back in town went up for the day. We actually had a few light rain drops on the way up, but they soon passed.

The six of us organically split up into pairs according to pace,and we managed 17 mile pedal up in around 3 hours. We were only passed by one car on the way, which amazed me for a holiday weekend.

We split from the top of Six Shooter around 10:30, and bombed down some sweet, sweet trail. The recent rains left the trails in primo condition. And thanks to the trail maintenance to the doods on MTBR, we only had one downed tree to deal with.

We took our time heading down, as we played on sessioned on some of features this trail has to offer. No major mechanicals, other than a flat, and no major crashes, just a few minor spills.

We managed to get back to the car around 12:30, and the temps down there were beginning to get a little toasty. Not bad!

Great day on the trail.

Here are some past entries on rides in this area: Pinal Mt. - Six Shooter

Here's a vid of the day:

A high Res Quicktime Version can be found here: Pinal Mt. - Six Shooter 05/24/09

May 23, 2009

GoPro Wide Format Comparison 4:3 verses 16:9

My go to camcorder is the Canon FS100. It has worked out as an great standard definition trip documentary camera. But I just added a GoPro Wide helmet mount edition to my footage grabber options.

Again it is standard definition, but it only records in the square 4:3 aspect ratio, and I like to post in a wider 16:9 aspect ratio.

Currently, I use Adobe Premiere Elements 4 to edit my videos, and they have an option to interpret 4:3 footage into 16:9 wide. It looks like they stretch the footage a little bit, so the it kinda get some distortion.

I'm not sure which aspect ratio to go with???

Here is a quick video comparison of the two aspect ratios:

May 20, 2009

Blue Ridge Reservoir - 5/19/09

Seeking a little solitude, I did a little paddle on Blue Ridge Reservoir in the Coconino National Forest
yesterday. I wasn’t the only person on the lake, but I went a long time without seeing another soul. When it gets hot, this is kinda rare on an Arizona lake.

My trip started with me leaving my Phoenix home a little before 4:30 am, and three short hours later I was paddling on the lake. The lake was calm, and skies were overcast. It actually sprinkled a few times, before the clouds burned off around 12:00. I had to pull my sweatshirt out a couple times, but at 6,700 feet, the temperatures were far more comfy than Phoenix. For the most part, the water was like glass. The lake was super green today.

I began paddling at 7:30, and my six hour tour took me around every bend this lake has to offer. I began my first leg of the paddle, by heading east from the boat ramp. From the boat ramp to the end of the lake, I only passed 3 other boats. On my return, I saw a few more. Beyond the beauty of this lake, the highlight for me was when I came to end of the first major cove, I spotted three turkeys. The Tom, was super big. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any usable footage. The water level was still pretty high, so I was able to go deep into all three of the major coves.

On my return, I paddled right past the boat ramp, and decided to explore the portion of the lake west of the ramp. It doesn’t have the hairpin curves like the other side, but the shore is just as terrific. I’m easily amused, and can certainly appreciate a good set of boulders and cliffs. I was pretty shot, by the time I got down to this end of the lake, and my legs were tired of being cramped up, so I pretty much just turned the boat around headed back. I did a spot duck with a troop babies trailing behind. I got a little footage, but I pretty much left them alone, as they scurried across the narrow section of lake. Obviously I saw the obligatory osprey and heron.

Here’s a write up from my previous excursion to Blue Ridge Reservoir.

Here’s a vid of the Day:

A high res Quicktime version can be found here: Blue Ridge Reservoir

May 17, 2009

Old Man - South Mountain: Phoenix, AZ

My father passed away this past week, so I've pretty much been under a rock the past few days. I jumped on the opportunity to hang out with friends for a ride up a familiar trail, and then eat up some gnar on the way down. Durtgurl was also doing her shakedown ride on her new Lenz Lunchbox 29r. We met up at Durtgurl's house at 6:00 and road over to the Pima Canyon via Desert Classic to meetup at 6:30 with some more peeps.

Our plan was to ride up National, and then make a decision for a decent. I hadn't put much thought about how to get down; I just wanted to ride. Somebody mentioned 'Old Man', and it just seemed particularly fitting my current situation.

I hadn't been on 'Old Man' yet, but knew it was uber sketchy. And yes it was super technical and loose, but it was really fun. It is similar to Corona De Loma, because of the trail composition and pitch. To me, I think there are few more big drops on this trail though.

We had a nice breeze that kept us from overheating most of the day, but nearing the bottom we began to roast. Of the three flats our group had today, I was responsible for one of 'em. I had small side wall tear, that forced me to drop a tube in.

Big time fun.

Here's a vid of the day:

A high res Quicktime version can be found here: Old Man - South Mountain

May 3, 2009

Abineau Canyon - Crossfire Chutes - Flagstaff, AZ

When I left Phoenix at 4:30 am, it was 77 degrees, when I came back it was 95, and yes I did ski. The snow pack on the north facing slopes in Flag are in great shape.

The FS Road (418) just opened up for the season, so I thought I get some turns in. The parking lot is at about 8,500 vf. Actually there was a big tree that recently feel across the road about 100 yards before the parking lot - no biggy.

At 8:00 I started the hike up. The approach is about 3.5 miles to the base of the chutes, and consistent snow started at about 9,000 vf. Nobody was available to join me, but just as I was pulling into the parking are, I ran into a Flagstaff local who had the same plan in mind. I chatted with him up until we came to the avi debris from 2005(9,500 foot level). He was skinning up and I was boot-packing, but I started punching through here, so I had to put my skis on here. He continued on at a blistering pace, so I wasn't able to catch up.

He actually made it to the top of the ridge (about 12,000 vf). He boot-packed up the last 1,000 feet, but once I got to his steps the snow was to soft to follow. I ended up skinning up the face, and I hung to the skiers right of the chute, in the trees. The snow here was in better condition, and the pitch was a little more tame. As with most hills in the San Francisco peaks, the pitch gets stepper as you near the top, and by 11:30 I made it to the 11,500 foot level. I wasn't making much headway, so I ripped off my skins and skied the nice heavenly corn down.

The Flag local did a much better job on route finding through the avi debris, as I struggled to picking my way there all the down trees. I think the next time I will aim for a much higher line to avoid this section.

I was happy to be able to string together the strips of snow for, so I could ski most of the way out.

Here's a vid of the day:

A high res Quicktime version can be found here: Abineau Canyon - Crossfire Chutes

Apr 21, 2009

Goat Camp XC 04/19/09 - White Tank Mountain Reg Park : Phoenix, AZ

I road the gnar on Goat Camp a few weeks ago, and the whole ride up I was drooling all over the nice new sections of trail I hadn't been on yet. So I jumped on the first opportunity to do just the 'out-n-back' on it. This was prolly the last opportunity for me to hit this until next fall, cuz the AZ heat is now here.

Tim S. and I drove out there together, and met up with a huge group of riding buddies (like Mr. @ Mrs. Chollaball) at the Black Canyon Rd parking area, just inside the park at 7:30. It was already kinda warm, but luckily we had a breeze that kept us from overheating.

From there we pedaled the road, White Tanks Mountain Rd. to the Mesquite Canyon Trailhead.

Our group was made up of half downhillers and half out-n-back cross country riders, and we all just went at our own pace getting up there. Other than the 1/4 mile hike-a-bike at the beginning of Mesquite Canyon, the climb up is pretty easy. Except that every bend in the trail you come around, you see a whole new hill that you gotta climb. That kinda gets a little demoralizing. I believe the total elevation gain was something like 2,700 VF.

The return down was as dreaming as I thought it was gonna be. Really fast, buff trail, but you do need to check your speed, cuz the loose ground up granite/cinder inhibits stopping. Our mileage was about 17 and the total trip was a little over 4 hours of easy pedaling.

Tim S has a post of some the metrics and video here.

And here is a vid of the day (w. Google Earth Tour):

A Quicktime High Res version can be found here: Goat Camp XC 041909 w/ Google Earth Tour

Apr 8, 2009

Coyotes on Desert Classic - South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

During the middle of the week, I typically ride early in the morning, but I did a dusk ride tonight. And I was treated to a choir of coyotes on Desert Classic. The sun had just tucked behind the hill, and the howlin started to crank up. The pack consisted of at least a half dozen pooches.

Here's short vid of the coyotes:

Mar 30, 2009

Mountain Bike Film Festival in Marin Video Submission

Mountain bike superstar and advocate, Michael Yares, was looking for some short videos of some of the trails here in Arizona for the Mountain Bike Film Festival in Marin. So I thought I'd gather a few of my favorites.

I humbly admit, I know next to nothing about video compilation stuff, but I can certainly see my progression since last year.

I embeded the Quicktime High Res and will take a couple of minutes to play - links to these vids in quick playing flash format are below.

Here are my top 5 :

Goat Camp - White Tank Mountains - Phoenix, AZ:

Fat Man's Pass - South Mountain Park - Phoenix, AZ:

Double Bypass - McDowell Mountain Preserve - Scottsdale/Fountain Hills, AZ

Black Canyon Trail - Black Canyon City, AZ

Geronimo - South Mountain Park - Phoenix, AZ

For Quick Playing Flash Format:
Goat Camp

Fat Man's Pass

Double Bypass

Black Canyon Trail

Geronimo - South Mountain

Mar 29, 2009

Goat Camp (White Tanks Park) - Phoenix, AZ

Whelpers, I had done the out and back cross country ride on Goat Camp, but today was the first time riding the gnar on the downhill. This trail is no joke.

We (Carmen, Lynette, Scott N., Elissa N., Brett N., Scott A., DurtGurl, Chongoman, Aaron, Jen, Dale, and myself) met up at the bottom up the trailhead at 9:00, and youd couldn't have ordered a more perfect day. We pedaled the road up to Mesquite Canyon trail and took that trail up. I was pretty familiar with this portion of the trail, but I was blown away by the new stuff on the upper portion of Mesquite. It was buff single track that crept its way throw some really neato boulder fields. I'm not sure how what the mileage of this approach was, but I imagine it was something like 8 miles. And it took us about 2.5 hours before we reached the top.

Now I've been hearing horror stories of the downhill section for a few years, now and my game plan was to play it cautions. About a hundred yards from the top, I encountered some serious gnar, and it had me questioning what I had gotten myself into. Big drops, tight turns, and loose rocks had me a little on edge. Chongoman made it look easy, and Scotty A. was road it aggressively, but ended up with frustrating combination of dab and other-the-handle-bar experience. This is when I understood that caution in this section is to be taken seriously.

After a quick stop to repair a flat on Dale's bike, we caught up to everybody doing some sessioning on the 'spiral staircase'. I did catch Brett and DurtGurls triumphs on the vid. And I made a blind attempt on it, and cleaned it until the last nasty step at the botton.

Oddly enough we saw a blacktail rattler at the 'Rattlesnake' rock garden. Some excellent riding was thrown down here, as Chongoman, Carmen, Lynette, Scotty A., and Brett made it look easy.

Then it was onto the 'Jackhammer'. I chose life on this one, and walked this nastiness. Once again some impressive riding was displayed.

I gotta say I actually hopped off my bike in quite a few section, but I can soundly say that this trail is hard, but doable.

Here's a vid of the day:

Mar 21, 2009

Arizona Spring Fling - Sedona, AZ

This morning, Chongoman and I hit the road at 6:30 for Sedona for a MTBR Spring Fling ride. Bob lead Wendy, Jim, Dan, Rick, Greg and I on nifty loop around the Sedona hot spots.

Our general route was Baldwin, Templeton, H.T. Trail, Mystic, Broken Arrow, and LLama. It was an awesome day on the trail as temperatures were mild, and the sun was out.

I had a couple of small mishaps that kinda disrupted my flow. 1) I dropped my camera, and a thick coating of dust clogged up the lens cover. 2)I had nifty over-the-handlebar fall, actually it was more of a bale. 3) My buckle on my shoe lost a crucial bolt, but I found it so all is good.

I took the free riding pretty easy, but Chongoman and Dan really stepped it up.

A high-res Quicktime Version can be found here: AZSF Sedona 3/21/09

Mar 15, 2009

Bulldog Canyon - Mesa, AZ

Today was the shakedown ride for Chollaball's new bike, the Kona Hei Hei 29r. We all (Chollaball, Chongoman, NoelG, Juan, Durtgurl, and Gary from Ohio) met up at the Bulldog Canyon trailhead off of Bush Highway about 9:00. Before we hit the trail we had a few little glitches to deal, like a missing front wheel, broken spoke, and I broke my temporary crown when I was chewing on a old Cliff Block. Other than a flat five minutes into the ride, there were no other mechanicals.

The trail is actually a jeep road that makes up part of the Great Western Trail, and it goes south from the Salt River off of the Bush Highway to a radio tower overlooking Apache Junction. Although it wasn't single track, it was way fun and way challenging. It has a little of everything, challenging climbs, sections with high speed descents, rocky sections, all surrounded by beautiful views. I gotta say the climbs were a challenge, because while putting a strong focus on the rocks immediately in front of my tire I was left with little time to glance up trail. When I did look up, I was treated with another hundred yards of rock garden to pick my way through; leaving me in the straits of anaerobic breathing. The descents were similar, except the trail came at me really fast, and I had better pick the right line down the rock garden. While rolling down the baby heads and volley ball sized rocks, turning is not allowed. I don't make the rules here, its just a limitation of the bike. The pollen in the air didn't help my contacts either, as I struggled to blink at the only the most opportune time.

I had my eyes peeled for a gila monster, but we saw none. I did catch a rattlesnake slinking towards me during a vid shot.

Thanks Chollaball, for the tour of Bulldog Canyon.

Here's a vid of the day:

A high res Quicktime version can be found here: Bulldog Canyon

Mar 8, 2009

Skiing Lockett Meadow - Flagstaff, AZ

My buddy, Jrock, came down from the bay area for some backcountry skiing in Lockett Meadow - Inner Basin. We met up in Flagstaff, and drove up the Forest Service road to gate about 3 miles short of Lockett Meadow campground. We split from the car at about 9:00 and walked up the road, and I was happy to see a consistent strip of snow on the road for the last mile on the approach to Lockett Meadow. From here, Jrock put his skins on his splitboard and I continued up in my shoes to the Inner Basin trailhead. Around 9,500 vf, I started punching through the snow as it began to thaw, so I strapped my skis on and kicked up the path. This is a really long approach, and usually isn't recommended by the locals, but it was way easier than I thought it was gonna be. It was a pretty gentle climb up with really no steeps to ascend. We pretty much took our time and at around 2:30 we topped out at about 11,000' vf just below the Headwall of Agassiz. We bagged no peaks or ridges today, and the skiing wasn't super duper treacherous, but it was actually pretty fun stuff. Our decent started with 500 vf dropped down a luge type gully with super fun swoopy curves. We cruised through the pines at mach speeds, and back to the snow covered prairie the we came up. We then blasted threw the aspen and before we knew it, we were back to Lockett Meadow. I continued with my skis on down the road until the snow ran out. Then I was left with two mile walk back down the road back to the car. Jrock and I finished this little trip at about 4:30 very satisfied, but I couldn't wait to take my boots off.

BTW, my boots, skis and skins are weighing at 22-23 lbs total. Dry!

Here's a vid of the day:

And here's a Google Earth Tour of Lockett Meadow:

A high res Quicktime version can be found here: Lockett Meadow

Feb 16, 2009

Canyon Lake: Kayaking

When I get a chance, I'll try to add some more narrative to this post. Perhaps not. anycow, I had my second play day in a row, and went up to Canyon Lake for some paddling.

Nice day, and caught a couple glimpses of a bald eagle.

Here's a vid of the day:

A high res Quicktime version can be found here: Canyon Lake Kayaking

Here are some past blog entries on Canyon Lake.

Feb 15, 2009

Rogers Canyon

I don’t get out and hike much, prolly because I don’t find it all that entertaining. But I’ve come across a few people who’ve mentioned their trip to the Salado Indian Cliff Dwellings in the Superstition Mountains. I knew this would be good time of the year to hit up the trail, and I gotta say it was an exceptional day. Lotsa water was flowing down the creek, and even some patches of snow.

The first thing I heard about this trail is the challenge the drive up is. The 15 or so miles of unpaved FS road almost requires a high clearance 4X4, but I managed in my Honda Element. Stream crossing after stream crossing I learned that I certainly wouldn’t go anywhere near this trail if I knew there were recent big rains, or if was forecasted to rain. It is that serious. I could certainly see being stranded out there if a gully washer came thru. I was so concerned about the road, I actually brought my mountain bike along just incase my car wasn’t up to the final approach to the parking lot. So let’s see her, I split from house in Ahwatukee at 5:30 and three hours later I finally made to the trail head. It wasn’t a pile of miles, just really, really slow miles.

How to get there:

From Phoenix - Heading East on U.S. 60 take a left on Queen Valley Road (About 2.5 miles past Florence Junction). Turn left and drive another two miles to Hewitt Station Road (Forest Road 357). Turn right and follow FR 357 3.5 miles to FR 172. Turn left on FR 172 and go about 15 miles to FR 172A. Follow this route another three miles to Rogers Trough trailhead.
Here’s a google map link: Rogers Trough

The Trail Route:
This trail actually started off at the high point at around 4,300 vf and followed the creek down about 1,000 feet to Rogers Canyon, where the cliff dwelling are located. I suppose a loop could be composed, but I just wanted to do the down and back. The route I did was down Reavis trail, and then about mile and half down, intersected with Rogers Canyon Trail. The trail is pretty intuitive, as it follows the creek down. In fact it has numerous creek crossings, and like I mentioned it was flowing, and as I got lower the tributaries started adding up. Rock cairns mark the crossings, but you still haveta keep your eyes peeled for the route. As for the dwelling, I kept looking for them, and eventually I noticed them while filming a shot of a waterfall. I wasn’t convinced these were the main dwellings, because I didn’t see the official sign when I went by, so I continued on. I actually went way past them. I ended going past the Frog Tank Trail junction about a half mile down and continued on the Rogers Canyon Trail for about another mile. I finally caught up to with some overnight hikers, and they filled me in that what I was looking at earlier were in fact the dwellings. I doubled back, and finally saw the FS site sign, way up on the hill; on the east side of the creek.

Speaking of the other side of creek, I musta crossed the it what seemed like two dozen times. And on my way out, on one of the last crossings, I actually step on a rock and it shifted on me, and I ended up rolling my ankle. No big injury, just kinda smarted.

What a beautiful set of hills and canyons.

Here's a vid of the day:

A high res Quicktime version can be found here: Rogers Canyon / Cliff Dwellings

Feb 7, 2009

Dessert Classic: South Mountain - Phoenix, AZ

Met up with some other MTBR doods, at 7:30 for a little spin on Desert Classic. For this time of year, group rides don't usually start this early, but I actually don't mind it; crowds are low, and I can get on with my day. I'm always amazed that I can start a 7:30 am ride in shorts and t-shirt in the middle of winter.

Anycow, our plan was to ride to the end of Desert Classic and hit a few options along the way. Our first option was to take the short cut to the water tank, and from there we took sidewinder (secret trail), before tying back into Desert Classic. From there, we rode out to the west end of the trail. On the way back we rode up Goat Trail to the helipad. We came down the helipad trail, and then made our way back to Pima Canyon.

Our little tour took about 3 hours, and it was pretty fun just doing the Cross Country thing. Good times.

Here's a vid and few pics:

High Res Quicktime Version can be found here: Desert Classic 02/07/09

Here's a Google Earth Tour of the Route:

Feb 1, 2009

Inner Basin - Kachina Peaks: Flagstaff, AZ

I did the other Super Bowl today; skiing the Inner Basin in the Kachina Peaks. My neck was all outa whack last weekend, so I couldn't get any playtime in. So that now that I was feeling all good again, I decided to find some snow. I hadn't been on my skis all season, and thought I better take this opportunity get some. I also wanted a good fitness day, so I decided to hike out of the Snowbowl Resort up to the top of the ridge, and ski off the back side into the Inner Basin.

I walked up the groomers and continued up the drainage above Snowbowls 'Log Jam' run. My legs weren't all that fresh, as I had been mountain biking the past three days, but the climb up was a lot less painful than I thought it was gonna be. I split from the parking lot at 8:15, and was on top of the ridge by 11:15. Of course, I only went to the lowest part of the ridge, but I also took my time while putting some video shots together.

I set up a few staged vanity video shots of me climbing up in a tribute to Survivorman's, Les Stroud. No actual skiing int the vid, cuz that would be just too difficult.

It was a bluebird day, with only a little wind. I spent the whole day in tights, and left my ski pants and big gloves in my pack.

Since I was solo and these were my first turns of the year, I didn't want to get too ambitious and get too high up on the ridge. I'm really glad I choose the easiest and shortest line on the whole basin, because my turns were terrible. I had some really bad form going on. Not falls, but just really sloppy. The snow was packed powder with a little crust, which definitely added to the challenge. I was going to continue on down into the glades, but my triceps were kinda cramping, so I decided to head out.

I noticed a skin track heading back up to the ridge, so I put stuck my skins on and tied into it. I shoulda just boot packed it out, cuz the last little 100 feet of elevation was white knuckle terror. It looked like the people before me had some struggles getting out, and now the conditions for me where even worse. I actually lost my traction and backslid down the hill a few feet, luckily there were a couple of trees I could hang onto, on this very, very steep slope, while I pulled off my skis and boot packed up this slope. Being very nervous at this point, I couldn't get off this slope fast enough. I actually scrambled up and over a higher point than I wanted, because traversing over to the lower point was not an option. Phew, I made it.

Now it was time to ski the as always sketchy, icy, thin, and nasty snow back into the resort. The challenge is double, because the lack of oxygen, really gets me into anaerobic mode super fast, so cranking turns is really hard. This is what I hate about this route. Getting back to the groomers felt really good, except I was pretty exhausted. The first day back always hurts, but I survived.

Here's a vid of day with numerous vanity shots of myself:

Here's Google Earth Tour of the Route: