Tag Archives: biking

Better Trails Coverage – Now with VIDEO

I am happy to announce that I received a helmet mountable video camera for Christmas from my parents. This means that you can expect to see high definition videos like these instead of lame cell phone pictures only when I actually remember to take them. A huge improvement.

Sharon’s riding has progressed a lot. In this clip she rides confidently down a rubble strewn hill.

This one shows how Lost Arrow Trail rides now. After all the recent rain it now rides much better. As you can see it’s very fast flowing.

Both of these were shot with my new Go Pro HD Hero2 camera. It’s currently mounted to my helmet with the vented helmet mount which uses straps. I may yet figure out how to mount the more solid curved surface stick-on mount to my helmet for even less vibration. I am very impressed with how easy this thing is to use right out of the box, but I still have a lot to learn about this new camera, video technique and especially editing.

Have a Safe and Fulfilling Labor Day!

Hope you are enjoying this Labor Day holiday weekend as much as we are.  We have the pleasure of spending it with my long time friend, Rachel and her family.  Here’s a cute picture of Rachel and Luke’s daughter Monica that I took this morning on our bike ride at Lake Mead.  Monica was giving Rachel’s helmet a try during our break.  Looks good on her, but she’s going to have to stick to the one that fits.  She gets that fun loving spirit from her mom, pictured below, who has kept me laughing all weekend long.

Hope you are having a wonderful time on this last weekend of the summer!

Monica trying on helmet

Rachel biking at Lake Mead

Photo Review: Christina Lake, British Columbia

We are a bit out of order here… when Jay was riding the Seven Summits Trail in Rossland, I went to see Christina Lake, just west of Rossland.  The lake’s claim to fame is that it is the warmest lake in Canada.  I really wanted to go swimming in a lake, but it seemed like I might be begging for hypothermia since it wasn’t a particularly warm day and when I dropped Jay off 45 minutes away there were patches of snow on the ground.  Amazingly, the lake was warm enough to swim in (by Sharon standards).  In fact, it felt warmer than the first swim of the season in Phoenix when I jumped in the Holt’s pool at 69 degrees.  After swimming for awhile, I headed up the hill and rode the Kettle Valley rail trail to check out the Cascade Gorge.  Here are some photos from the afternoon.

Christina Lake

Christina Lake

view from bridge on Kettle Valley Rail Trail

trestle bridge on Kettle Valley Rail Trail

cascade gorge, christina lake

Cascade Gorge, British Columbia

bike on Kettle Valley Rail Trail

Man Zou : An adventure film reviewed

While attending the Overland Expo in Amado, Sharon and I had the pleasure of seeing Man Zou as part of an adventure film festival. The film is a documentary following the adventure of four Americans and their Chinese guide as they cycle from Beijing to Shanghai. The film is independently produced and the entire trip was unsupported. The whole operation is literally contained in a few Ortlieb panniers. Many adventure films of this ilk suffer from a narrow focus on the travels of the adventure. This film is not like that, its far more about the changing nature of the Chinese landscape and the Chinese people with just a little bit actually about cycling. By forgoing support vehicles permits, planning and even a bit of sense it resulted in a deeply immersed and close up look at the country.

The title of the film translates loosely to “walk slowly”. It is an appropriate title as a major portion of the film considers how life in China is changing with some living the fastest, most modern lives imaginable, while others have simpler slower paced country life. This film gives a good look at what life in modern China is really like. There are also interviews of many scholars and experts which further improve the film. This is a five star feature not to be missed.

Reminder: Vote for us in the Travel for Good contest at: http://www.volunteerjournals.com/volunteer-travel-grants/entries/send-sharon-and-jay-full-time-volunteers-alaska

 

More mountain biking

Some of you probably want to know where has Jay been riding lately. There have been a few rides well worth mentioning. First up is the Black Canyon Trail or BCT. The BCT starts in New River, Arizona and when finished will end in Prescott, Arizona. I rode the little pan loop section with my dad and my brother. The trail here is very fast and fun with seemingly endless curves and switch backs. It traverses the canyon several times and offered up thousands of feet of elevation throughout the 18 or so miles we covered. There are a few challenging parts but mostly it is well groomed single track. The trail here flows very well.  It’s an instant favorite. The BCT folks are really producing some high quality trail and getting it done fast. Certainly a success story here.

Next up a Wednesday night ride in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Reoccurring night rides with groups of friends that end at bar/restaurants are always a good thing.  Many avid mountain bikers are familiar with this concept.

Finally the most recent ride, The Dells in Prescott. While in Prescott visiting my grandmother I called up my long time friend and current Prescott resident Rick Brazil to arrange for some riding. Its always good to tap into local knowledge. The area Rick led me to is home to a variety of granite slick rock that simply must be experienced. More than half of the ride time out here is on solid rock. The local trail group, Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance, is doing good things out here.

Shout Out to my Bad Assets Teammates from the 24 Hours at Old Pueblo

Over the weekend the 24 hours of Old Pueblo mountain bike race kicked off at noon on February 19. The event is promoted by Todd Saddow so it helped to collect canned food as well as money for the Arizona Cancer Center. I had not planned on riding this event but had  always wanted to. So when I got a call asking if I would like to be a last minute substitute on the Bad Assets team with Kevin, Mary, Tom and my new friend Dan I could not turn it down. I figured it would be a fun opportunity not to be missed.

Click here to see some awesome pictures from the race

Boy was I right.  My team even chipped in and covered my entry fee. The food and beer was all set when I came on board.  In fact Tom prepared what proved to be the bacon highlight of the trip so far.  This took the form of a breakfast burrito featuring a fresh tortilla. The bacon was of course good but what made it special was the whole package.  Of course food cooked on a camp stove always tastes better.

CLICK HERE to read more about the race.

Example of a Cholla cactus

The racing action was fun since the course was well laid out and offered up some fun challenges. A flat straight course is a curse on a 24 hour event since it gets boring. This course was exciting and fun to ride even in the cold. The  Cholla cactus thickets required constant concentration in the wind and claimed one unknown rider early on. I sure hope they are alright and wish them a speedy recovery! The weather was truly awful with high winds, rain, fog and drizzle. This only cut into the number of laps  we did but not the fun.

Thanks again to the Team for a fun filled weekend!

Scenes from Winter Camping

Jay and I enjoy camping.  It’s a good thing, because in order to be on the road for a year, we need to spend most nights either camping or staying with friends and family.  So far of 10 nights on the road, we spent 2 camping, 7 with friends and 1 night in a free hotel thanks to my mom’s rewards points.

Congaree National Park, near Columbia, South Carolina

Tent at Congaree National ParkThe first night we camped in Congaree National Park, near Columbia South Carolina.  My cousin Peter gave us a National Park Pass for Christmas, so we were eager to use it and check out a National Park that we had never heard of.  Turns out that it is free to enter and free to camp at Congaree so you don’t need a pass, but at least we got to get our first “passport stamp” for the book that my mom got for us.

We got to the park close to dusk and had just enough time to set up the tent and hurry back to the board walk trail that runs for two miles through an old growth floodplain forest.  It was eerie to walk along a wooden pathway, suspended above the muck as the light was disappearing.  My eyes were straining to tell the difference between tree roots and snakes.  At one point we did see an animal close to the trail, moving gingerly through the flooded forest.  We couldn’t tell what it was, but Jay guessed that it was probably a possum based on size and gait.

boardwalk in Congaree National Park

Boardwalk trail in Congaree National Park

I tried to keep my cool and appreciate the beauty and stillness that the forest offered at night.  But I mostly kept my eyes peeled to the boardwalk and focused on not losing my balance.  Jay stopped me to point out that the moon was reflected in the waters of the swamp (see picture below).  This was truly a unique place and the boardwalk gave us an opportunity to explore a habitat we never could have observed without it.

Moon reflected in the swamp at Congaree National Park

Moon reflected in the flooded forest at Congaree National Park

Oak Mountain State Park, Birmingham, Alabama

After a night inside in Atlanta Georgia thanks to my high school friend Brett Goodwin (thanks Brett!), we headed back to our tent, this time at a nice campground in Oak Mountain State Park on the edge of Birmingham.  We had only intended to spend the day at the park.  It offers several miles of single track for mountain biking, and Jay needs to ride every few days or he starts to twitch.  Once we got to the park, the late hour and attractive campsite lured us in.  Unfortunately, camping in state parks can get expensive – this one cost us $16 (in addition to $4 to enter the park).

tent site in Oak Mountain State Park

Tent site at Oak Mountain State Park

With an overnight low of 28 degrees, the downside of winter camping is obvious.  The upsides though are surprisingly plentiful: no crowds, easy pick of the best tent site, no bugs, and easier wildlife viewing without leaves on the trees.  This campground had the added benefit of heated bathrooms with a hot shower!

yoga mat at Oak Mountain State Park

My site for yoga in the morning

In the mornings, to wake up and work out the kinks from sleeping on a mat all night, I like to do some light yoga.  It was somewhat difficult what with the 3 layers of clothing I was wearing to combat the 30 degree temperatures, but you couldn’t beat the view.

Deer at Oak Mountain State Park

Young Buck at Oak Mountain State Park

I had just barely started my Sun Salutation, when I heard leaves shuffling on the hillside to my left.  At first I assumed it was another camper, off for an early hike.  It took me a second to realize it was far more likely to be an animal.  I got my camera ready and soon spotted this buck making his way down the hill.  He didn’t notice me until after I had snapped a few pictures.  He scurried up the hill and I went back to finish my routine.  In a few minutes, the smell of bacon lured me back to the campsite.

bacon and reflected trees

Our morning bacon

The inside of our rain fly, covered in frost

After a great breakfast of oatmeal, bacon, and freshly brewed coffee, we broke down the tent, shaking the frost off of the INSIDE of the rain fly!  We are glad to be headed towards the desert and southern California where we may see some less frosty nights.

Overall our two nights under the stars were fantastic.  We look forward to spending many more nights sleeping out throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Lake at Oak Mountain State Park

Lake near our campsite