Archive for the 'Mountain Bike' Category


Hoping to Speak at Ignite Phoenix #11

Sep 19, 2011 by Steve Belt in Mountain Bike

I did it.† For real this time.† I submitted to be a speaker for the next Ignite Phoenix.

I submitted once before, but the name of the topic was rather lame: “Thank You”, and to be honest, I’m glad I wasn’t selected for it.† That topic wasn’t actually a true, deep-seeded passion of mine.† Instead, intermixed with 5 minutes of various ways, why’s, and how’s we should all be looking to say thank you in our every day lives, I was planning to sneak in the biggest, loudest, most sincere Thank You to the Ignite Phoenix crew for exposing me to my newest passion (fyi…it might be coffee related).† A passion†that has literally changed the way I live.† Hallmark would have loved it.† But I don’t work for Hallmark, and to call the topic of saying “thank you” a passion would be stretch.

This time, however, I submitted to talk about what anyone that knows me even a little bit will likely understand and agree is indeed a true passion:† mountain bike riding.† Sure, I road ride as well, but†it’s the mountain bike I can’t imagine living without.

The submission deadline for sharing your passion at Ignite Phoenix #11 is just a few days away.† If you’ve ever had the notion to submit and thus share, now’s the time to do it.† Hopefully, I get selected.† I wish I could say I have a leg up on the competition to speak, but the judges that†now pick speakers are past speakers themselves, not the organizing crew, so there’s no gaurantee.† I do know they’ve had cycling related speakers before, so there’s a chance the topic may appear to be “old, tired, spents, etc.”.† I hope not.† But if I’m not picked, I’m not picked.† But I’d like to be.

Thinking on two wheels

Aug 03, 2009 by Steve Belt in Cycling, Mountain Bike

Iím currently planning my cycling events for the year and working to get back into better riding shape, now that the worst of the heat of the summer is starting to inch behind me.† Iím already registered for The Tour of the White Mountains (TOWM) and El Tour de Tucson (ETT).† TOWM is October 3, so just 2 short months away.† Iím signed up for the 65 mile course along with Chris Z.† Robert and Chris M are supposed to sign up any day now.† This is the distance we attempted and failed miserably at last year, having finished only ~45 miles of the course, before being forced to DNF by race organizers as the rain/lightning was about to pound us into submission.† Honestly, I was toast anyway, so the rain didnít actually stop me.

Finishing the 65 miles will be challenging.† Itís a challenging course, and even without the challenge, just riding 65 miles on a mountain bike is a long ride on dirt.† Currently, my strength is well off what I need, while my endurance is only off by a bunch.† Stated differently: I could ride 65 easy miles without much worry, but TOWM doesnít offer 65 easy milesÖthey are tough, high altitude miles.† That means more hill climbing work in the McDowells over the next two months to build my strength up.† Sunday, I had visions of a Sunrise climb, but failed 1/3 the way up, as I was simply feeling ďcookedĒ, from the early morning heat at only 7:30am.† Due to misplaced sunglasses, I left my house at 6:30am, which was 30 minutes later than intended, and under the direct sun, just couldnít motivate myself to push through both the heat and the pain of the climb.† I still rode for 90 minutes, but it wasnít pretty, and demonstrated to me, just how far out of mountain biking shape I really am right now.

For ETT, my goal isnít to just finish.† Iíve finished the 109 mile event the last 2 years in a row.† Two years ago it was in 6 hrs 23 min, and last year in 6 hrs 1 min.† Both results were Silver medal finishes.† Gold medal finishers are under 6 hours.

Naturally, this year, Iíve got my sights set on Gold.† And I donít want to just make Gold, I want to cruise comfortably into a Gold finish.† That means 5 hrs and no more than 45 mins.† 5 hrs 30 mins would be better.† Iím currently riding the 45 mile Cave Creek loop in under 3 hours, including the necessary stop at Cave Creek Coffee Company.† Thatís a good start, but I need to lop off a good 30 minutes from that ride/route.† I love the route for itís relative lack of traffic, and similarity to ETTís course conditions, so itís tough to want to mess with a good thing, but I found a way to add 9 miles, including another 3 mile climb, without adding any traffic, so from now on, my Cave Creek ride will be 54 miles.

The other big ride I have yet to do this season is the Rio Verde around the mountain ride.† Thatís roughly 50 miles, but it includes either going up 9 mile hill (up Dynamite Road from Rio Verde) or the 10% grades that are in Fountain Hills, depending on which direction is ridden.† Either way, itís no picnic, with terrain significantly harder that ETT, and thus why itís a good training ride.

But the ride I really want to complete during preparations this season, and if I can Iíll know 6 hours is well within my grasp, is the Bartlett Lake Dam ride.† From my house itís nearly a 75 mile ride.† And itís either up or downÖthereís almost nothing flat about the ride.† I tried it last year, and failed to get to Bartlett Lake, riding only 50 miles, instead of the 75.† It was brutally windy that day,† but I know itís a ride I need to conquer if I really think a Gold finish is within my grasp this year.

FYI, the Bartlett Lake ride is one that Lance Armstrong was known to ride back in his US Postal days when he stopped in Scottsdale after visiting Tucson to ride Mount Lemmon.† I suppose thatís the allure for me as well.† If itís good enough for Lance, itís certainly good enough for me.

Iím also 100% committed to riding the 24 hrs in the Old Pueblo again.† Team Are We Dead Yet? will hopefully continue to build on itís experience and strengths and find a way to complete 14 laps this year.† If we can stop sleeping together as a team, I think we can do it.

Iím also probably going to ride Tour de Phoenix (April 2010?), as Chris Z said he really enjoyed the ride last year.† Itís 75 miles, and seems poorly named as the ride never once pedals over any portion of Phoenix soil, but the ride should be fun, and a great way to maintain my fitness/focus after the 24 hr race, which annually seems to be a problem for me.

Chicken Point Sedona: where the cool kids wish they were

Jul 15, 2009 by Steve Belt in iPhone photo, Mountain Bike

Another crappy view. Chicken Point is off the Broken Arrow Trail. I was pretty much toast by the time I got here. Being off the mountain bike since February wasn’t a good idea, but with the 65 mile Tour of White Mountains on October 3 more saddle time is in order.

For those curious, it was only 102 at 3:30p when I started and just 95 when I finished at 6pm. Even though the clouds were threatening, there wasn’t any rain.

The double-bypass

Dec 22, 2008 by Steve Belt in iPhone photo, Mountain Bike

We did the double-bypass on Sunday. The route starts by climbing up Windgate Pass from the Scottsdale side.† At the top is this view, which is looking to the east.† Unfortunately my saddle is blocking the view of 4 Peaks:

After this climb, you head down the back side, then loop around and climb up to the even higher Bell Pass. It’s a tough climb the whole way, with copious amounts of walking for me, but a great view from the top of each pass.† This is the top of Bell Pass, looking Southwest toward Camelback and Squaw Peak.† We started down there, where it looks kinda flat.

The hitching post

Dec 14, 2008 by Steve Belt in iPhone photo, Mountain Bike

This is near the top of Sunrise Trail on the McDowells.

One of many crappy views along Trail 100

Dec 13, 2008 by Steve Belt in iPhone photo, Mountain Bike

Heading to Ride the Tour of the White Mountains

Oct 03, 2008 by Steve Belt in Cycling, Mountain Bike

I’m just about to leave the office, pack up and head to our house in Pinetop for the weekend.† This weekend, Epic Rides is having their annual Tour of the White Mountains.† I rode the event last year, and am doing so again this year.† Last year I pushed through 52 miles, and this year I’ve gone insane, and signed up for the 67 mile distance.

Riding with me will be the usual cast of characters: Robert, Chris Z, and Chris M.† Chris M has never ridden in an organized bike race/ride before, so that alone will be interesting.† I’m hoping he can at least complete 30 miles.† Personally, I’m not in great shape, so this is going to be a personal struggle.

My riding plan is to start slow and finish slow, with slower parts in the middle.† We’ll see how well I’m able to stick to the plan.† Regardless, the weather looks to be fabulous this year (which is a welcome surprise), and the volunteers at the event are A-1 top notch.

Riding Photos from Six Shooter Canyon

Aug 02, 2008 by Steve Belt in Mountain Bike

Today we rode the Six Shooter Canyon trail from the top of Pinal Peak outside of Globe Arizona. The road from the bottom to the top is 14 miles long, so we shuttled the bikes to the top, to make the descent more enjoyable.

Globe is at an elevation of 4500 feet, and is about 75 miles from Phoenix. The top of Pinal was 7500 feet, so it’s a 3000 foot descent. The trail is a bit technical, but not crazy technical, and most of the toughest spots are only a short distance, which can easily walked. Being the photographer, I’m only in the group photo, but you’ll have to trust me that I was indeed there.

There weather was absolutely perfect. Temp at the top was right around 70 degrees, and at the bottom it was around 85. Just a beautiful day to ride one of Arizona’s sky islands. Enjoy the photos as much as we enjoyed the ride.

24 hrs in the Old Pueblo is a Go!

Dec 21, 2007 by Steve Belt in Mountain Bike

We’ve rounded up some lights for Robert, Chris thinks he’s got a bead on some, mine are working as well as ever, and today we found our 4th rider.† So we’re all set.† Final obstacle is a team name.† Not that that’s much of an obstacle.† Whew!

I’m pretty excited.† Robert’s been night riding with me Thursday nights, plus riding a fair amount each day.† Chris is just a natural animal, and I’m about as fast as I’ve ever been.† It’ll be cool to integrate Steve C. (our 4th) into the team.† We’ll be looking to do a practice ride in early January, since Chris and Robert haven’t ridden it before.

24hrs in the Old Pueblo is in jeopardy

Nov 29, 2007 by Steve Belt in Mountain Bike

After going over the race with Robert, and to some extent Chris, we’ve found a stumbling block:† lights.† The type of light needed to compete in a 24 hr event has some fairly specific requirements.† First, it needs to burn for 3 hrs on a charge.† If it doesn’t burn for 3 hrs (say, only 2 hrs), there’s a good chance you’ll be finishing a lap in the dark.† Even if you can pull off 90 minute laps in the dark (which I should†be able to do), you’re still risking riding without light if you have†a mechanical during the lap.

The next thing to overcome is recharging the light battery.† If you can’t recharge your battery before your next lap, then that too is a problem.†

For 24 hr racing, I have 2 lights.† A bar light and a helmet light.† The bar light that I have is from Light & Motion.† The current cost for one is $450.† Run time is 3.5 hrs, and the battery will recharge the battery in 2 hrs.† It’s a really good light, and even on the fastest section I don’t ride faster than the throw of the light.† The helmet light I have was about half that cost, barely burns for 2 hrs, and the beam is short enough that on fast sections I outrun the light.† Having both is truly a luxury, as each light is good at lighting up different things.† All of my batteries are now 4 or 5 years old, and I need to see if they still perform like they did when new.† I could be needing some $200 batteries to use what I have now.

My L&M light works out perfectly for someone on a 4 person team in a 24 hr race.† You’d only need 1 battery and L&M has a recharge station at the venue, so you don’t even need to have a generator to recharge your lights.

For $125 you can get a light that burns for 2 hrs, but needs 14 hrs to recharge the battery.† That’s brutal.† It’s also risky if you have a mechanical, or if you are needing close to 2 hrs to spin a lap in the dark (which wouldn’t surprise me, given he limited night riding experience on the team).

Basically, the snag is the cost of these lights, given that Chris and Robert don’t see themselves using them other than this one race.† We aren’t registered for the event, but if we don’t figure out a more cost effective solution, it looks like we may not be registering…