Sunday, March 14, 2010

Season Finale

Been tough week. My company announced another round of payroll trimming. My immediate group should stay very busy through the summer, so I'm not too concerned yet. Other segments in the RF design business are picking up though. Should I ever find myself on the wrong side of a corporate "right sizing," it would provide an opportunity to consider a move. Right now, I think the only state I would consider moving to would be Colorado. There are jobs in my line of work along the front range (Boulder/Denver/Colorado Springs), but not in the more interesting places like Durango or Gunnison.

The good thing that happened this week is my son Aaron graduated from Naval basic training in Chicago on Friday. Aaron will spend the next several months in school in Pensacola, FL. As far as bases go, it sounds like a pretty nice place to spend some time. I have not mountain biked in Florida yet, one of six states I still need to hit. I now have a good excuse to head down that way with Cathy, hit Louisiana and Mississippi too.

Travelling to Chicago and back was a disaster. Never again will I fly Delta. First our connection out of Detroit was delayed. Then when we finally boarded the plane, the pilots weren't ready. We pushed back only to sit another better part of an hour. About an hour into a 39 minute hop to Chicago, we knew something wasn't right. Circling over lake Michigan. Then we land. The deal was, nobody on the plane knew where we landed. It was not O'Hare, and nobody told us we ran out of fuel and had to stop in Milwauke to buy gas until after we stopped. Now it was getting friggin late and I was getting pretty ornery. The flight crew could not tell us when or if we were continuing to Chicago. They said O'Hare was closed, which I later learned was not true.  They told us if we de-boarded, we might be left behind if the plane got clearance to leave.  I had to leave for my son's graduation at 6:30am, so I started thinking maybe I should de-board, rent a car, drive to Chicago, and forgo what little sleep I might have gotten anyway. We did get fuel and eventually clearance to take off again. But some belligerent passengers would not sit down, thinking waiting in line for the bathroom was more important. Don't know why. We were only on that friggin plane for several hours with the fasten seat belt light on the whole time. So the pilot starts screaming to "sit down now or you will be removed from the aircraft!" Yeah, a pleasant flight. The trouble didn't stop when we got on the ground. We waited forever for the Dollar car rental shuttle bus to pick us up. We saw all the other outfits go by on at least three rounds. I did not have their number. Another passenger was waiting for Dollar too. So we ask an Avis driver if Dollar was running or not, and the roll of his eyes said it all. He said get on, I'm not supposed to do it but I'll take you there. Nice guy, got a tip from me. I guess you get  what you pay for. Hertz, which I use for business travel, was about 3x more expensive. The other guy waiting for Dollar started talking about his Delta experiences lately. He came in late from Memphis. He said five trips in a row now have been disasters, and never again. I would think three bad experiences would be more than enough.
Rain started moving into southern New England early on Saturday. After sleeping in to recover from sleep deprivation, I had to make a choice between heading north to ride on roads or heading north to ski. DaveP was still interested in skiing, so we decided to risk Waterville. It was very warm, with temp around 40. There was zero snow on the ground driving up Rt 49 to the ski area. Even around the village, conditions looked pretty abysmal. But the north end had good cover. The wind storm from a couple weeks ago did a lot of damage though. It hasn't snow appreciably since then, so the trails were littered with tree debris. Some areas were nearly black with pine needles and bark, other areas covered in chain saw dust. The snow was typical Weston slurpee snow, totally saturated. The cheap fluoro I put on did little to achieve glide, and the dirty snow immediately killed what little glide was there. Oh well, this was going to be our last chance to ski this season, so might as well make the best of it. We went right for Cascade, an 800ft climb. I drilled the last half of it, deeply anaerobic. Felt good. Dave was never more than a few seconds behind me. We bombed down Lower Snows, hoping to climb Swazeytown/Beanbender, but WV did not clear the trees out of it. We had to turn around.

Heading back up Lower Snows, we encountered a man in the woods, on the ground, clipped into his classic rental skis. He was hurt and couldn't reach to release his skis. Terrific. None of us had a cell phone. English was not his primary language. He went off the trail into a tree. I think he tried to catch the tree and possibly dislocated his shoulder. He was writhing in pain, but was able to stand up and walk some. He was going to attempt to walk back down if we carried his skis, and we would call the Nordic Center at the bottom so they could meet him with the snowmobile. I don't think the guy understood where his car was parked, or at least failed to properly communicate it, as it was not at the Livermore Rd trail head. So that killed a half hour in the middle of what started out as a solid workout. You can never really get going again after something like that. This tough week just wouldn't end. Next we crossed over, hit Tripoli, Osceola and Moose Run before finishing. Tripoli was in pretty nice shape, but slow. Dave drilled that 800ft climb, leaving me to struggle alone as he pulled away. We caught up with Steve who was out on patrol just as we were finishing. Long story short, Steve picked up the injued guy, he went to the hospital, and his wife would get him from there. Steve has seen a number of dislocated shoulders, and this guy had all the classic symptoms. He said the folks at the Nordic Center were just discussing that morning how they made it an entire season without an injury. It was a great workout with lots of intensity. Good King of Burlingame TT training. We skied 32km, 2610ft, in 2.2hrs. It turned my legs into jelly.

Final ski of the season

I really wanted to get a five hour ride in this weekend, but five hours in 35F rain going sideways is not much fun, and I had too many other things to do. When you can't get the volume, you must go for the intensity. Sunday I went out from my house on road bike and hit nothing but the short, steep hills that I live in. I got in numerous 1-2 minute deeply anaerobic efforts. That turns your legs into jelly after a while too. In 90 minutes, I never got cold, and my feet even stayed dry despite pouring rain and deep water flowing across many roads. The combo of Market Basket baggies inside of Performance neoprene booties works awesome.

Dave and I head to Tucson for four full days of trail riding this week. Have three of the days mapped out, leaving one day to plan on the fly. The rides range from 50 to 62 miles with 5000 to 10,000+ feet of climbing. There's a chance we could do a dirt hundred miler one of the days, a back side over-the-Lemmon route on fire roads. Depends if enough of the snow melts up top. Current forecast is showing 0% chance of rain Thur-Sun and temps hovering around 80F. Tucson has had one of the wettest winters in recent history, so the desert should be very alive.  I've been to Tucson many times now, lost track how many. Tucson has a vibrant mountain biking community with huge tracts of federal and state land. Many trail systems have been built in the last five years. Most of what we plan to ride will be new to us. We're bringing dualies, looking forward to hitting some of the more technical terrain there. Here's a synopsis of what is planned so far.

Tucson Mountain Park (TMP), Brown Mountain, Sweetwater
and Robles just to name a few trails/systems in this 50
mile route. TMP was the first place I rode in Tucson over
10 years ago.

Many trails represented here, including AZT, Milagrosa, Milino and
more. The loop in the foreground was essentially the SSUSA course.
This 62 mile ride finishes with a 5000ft singletrack plummet back to
the B&B we'll be staying at. Plenty of brutal terrain in this ride.

Out on roads, back on AZT (Arizona Trail). Starts in lower right,
climbs 2000ft mostly on paved roads to AZT in upper left, then
35 miles of mostly buff singletrack back to car with gentle downhill
bias. Also about 62 miles.


solobreak said...

Don't get me started on Dollar. Never again.

Hill Junkie said...

The sucky thing is, I'm stuck with Dollar for my Tucson trip. At least we have direct flight from Manchester to Phoenix on Southwest. I've had good luck with Southwest over the years.

Luke S said...

I'll be heading to the SW next week as well, Utah in my case, for some backpacking through Arches and Canyonlands.

I've come to terms with the fact that I've most likely had my last day on nordic skis for the year, and will have to make do with some spring turns on the tele boards.