Countdown to summer heat


Normal Saturday. I woke up wanting to mountain bike one last time before the heat sets in permanently. I chose McDowell Mtn. Park again, mainly because I have been really enjoying the trails there, and I am burned out on my usual network of trails, at least for the moment.

It didn’t start out great. When I got my mountain bike out to load onto the car, I found the front tire flat. It only takes a few minutes for me to change it, but it was the thought of one more thing to do before I left. I was already running behind. But I changed it quickly, and loaded up the car.

Getting there was even more of an ordeal than usual. There is this impediment called the town of Fountain Hills that is in the way. It’s normally a big pain in the butt because the speed limit is 35 mph all the way through. It doesn’t matter that I am the only one who ever adheres to it; I’d probably be the only one who got busted, too, if I dared to drive faster. Today they had some “event” going on near the fountain, which made it a cluster f*ck. Which it usually is anyway, but today it was beyond tolerable.

When I finally got to the park, one of the things I saw was a huge truck parked by the entrance with about 10-12 mountain bikes on it. I thought it was probably waiting for some big group to show up to ride. Oh, great, I thought. More people to clog up the trails. When I got to the trailhead, it was crowded as well. I took the bike down from the roof rack, and then got the wheel out of the back. Guess what? It was flat again. I looked at it for a minute, then my mechanical intuition kicked in and I thought it would be fine for the ride if I just pumped it up, so I did.

I took Pemberton main today, and started the climb. After all the frustrations of the morning, I thought, I’m done. It’s time to find something else fun to do on Saturdays for a while. Next Saturday I already have an epic dirt bike (motorbike) ride planned. I get tired of doing the same things over and over, but sometimes I get into a pattern that’s hard to break.

I felt super-tired today, and I was afraid my lap time on the loop would reflect that. I knew I went through some sections today that I was a lot faster on last week. Oh, well. It was a crappy week at work (again); no wonder I am tired. I was so darn glad to be outside riding my mountain bike, it didn’t really matter after a while.

I met too many people out there on the trails, mostly going the other way. I think the other way (clockwise) is harder, but since I’ve ridden it that way for almost 15 years, I thought I deserve to ride this way for a while. Plus, during the 12-hour race that is going to be on Pemberton trail next December we are riding it counter (anti-) clockwise, so now’s the time to start planning for that. I really want to do it this year.

When some of the riders passed, I saw a couple of young girls out there with spaghetti-strap tops, and no protective gear. I guess they never heard of skin cancer. And, once they go down hard, they won’t dress like that again. I’ve had my share of “mishaps,” so I know better than to dress like that, fashionable though it may be.

When I got to the top, even though I was slow on the climb, I was ahead of schedule, judging by my watch, so then I really kicked it. My front tire was holding fine, but I let a little air out of it so I wouldn’t get the crap beaten out of me on the rocky sections coming up. I dropped into the big chainring, and it was pure flying all the way down.

I did allow myself two opportunities to get some photos. I passed a cactus with the beautiful yellow flowers on it, and I said if I saw another, I would stop and get a photo. It was prickly pear cacti, and they seem to bloom a little later than the rest of the plants.

Prickly pear, yellow flowers:

Already the wildflowers are almost done, and many of them are drying up. I stopped and got another shot of this hedgehog cactus, just because I like them. I got a few photos of the ones out on the network of trails that I normally ride, but I wanted one more before the desert dries up.

Hedgehog:

In the middle of the fast descent, I stopped for a shot of this  fallen saguaro:

These tall stately cacti weigh hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds, and you don’t want to be under it when it falls over. People are killed if they are in the path of these plants when they topple. This one was a big one, as you can see. It was also very old. The arms don’t start to develop until they are several years old. I am not sure what causes them to fall over. Maybe it had a weak spot and the wind pushed it over. Maybe it just fell over on its own. It’s kind of sad, I think. They are beautiful in their own unique way. These big cacti grow only in a couple of places in the world, and one of them happens to be here in the Sonoran desert. It is an iconic cactus, symbolizing Arizona.

Soon, I was back at the car, my riding day was done. I made it down to beat my lap time from last week, and my average speed was 10.7, .6 more than last week. I wasn’t surprised. I glanced down a couple of times while I was bombing down the rocky descent and saw 16 mph each time. That made up for the slowness early in the ride.

So, the tire held, I did an okay job even though I was tired, and I was finished before it got too hot. All in all, a good day. Next Saturday, an epic dirt bike ride. I hope. We’ll be heading out of town now on the weekends to get away from the heat. Right now there still is a hint of coolness in the air, but that will soon be gone.

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2 thoughts on “Countdown to summer heat

  1. Does that mean no more bicycling until post-summer? Aren’t there different muscles that you work when you do that? Then again, I do not blame you in the least for leaving the Valley during the next few months. My Dad and I are rapidly trying to finish a project in the garage before it gets too unbearable in there.

    • I will probably ride on the canals just to keep in reasonable shape. And I do go out in summer. I just can’t go too far, and if I dare to sleep in, I can’t go. Unless you are done by 9 a.m., forget it, even though I have pushed that envelope many times. It’s probably not that good to be halfway dying from heat exhaustion.

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