Now And Then

It seems like every time I find the two hours of spare time I need to write one of these little stories, I mention how it’s been so long since the last one, how I’ll try and do better, how I blah, blah, blahhhh….

Well, the truth is, I DO have a hard time finding even an hour of spare time anymore and that IS why the blog entries are so far and few between.  It’s not a bad thing, being busy I mean.  It’s the opposite in fact.

A few months ago, we saved a one or so year old pup from the guillotine.  Just today, Ruth and I were hiking on Soda Mountain when my lovely bride begins to compare myself and Dot, the dog.  She had a few things to say, some of which I’m too embarrassed to convey in this forum, but the main point she made was that neither Dot, nor I can stay still.  We always have to be doing something.  Yeah.  I guess.  Probably.  And, to me, that isn’t a bad thing.  Unless, of course I’m supposed to put out a blog entry every so often.

Get what I’m sayin’?   Meh.  Maybe not.  But, here I am again.

I figure getting a new bike is reason enough to make some time this time.

After a few years of a love/hate relationship with my first carbon mountain bike, it finally bit the dust for good.  Believe me, I milked that thing for all it was worth, but alas, it failed in such a way it didn’t make financial sense to repair it.  NEW BIKE DAY!!!!

Enter the Orbea Alma.  Now, I don’t really know that much about the bikes I ride, I just take other people’s opinions and advice and make a decision on what to buy.  I’ve spent the last seven days riding only the Alma whenever I ride a bike.

The topic of ergonomic bicycle seats is an interesting one as there still seems to be some debate out there as to whether or not these kinds of seats actually work. I actually have some knowledge of this type of bike seat as I did plenty of research when doing my own investigations a few years ago.

Here’s what I’ve done this past week:

The maiden voyage was a lap around Applegate Lake with my long time friend and the person I credit with getting me started cycling in the first place, Rob. Having ridden with a rigid front fork for months on my old bike, the shock took a little getting used to. My wrists definitely appreciated it! The Alma handled the trail, ticks, and poison oak with style and grace.

Two days later, I found myself climbing the main trail up MOTR three different times so I could take the 3 different descents back down. The final descent was down the new trail, Freewheel. While I don’t have the skill, or courage, necessary to take that bad boy at full speed, the high banked curves were a BLAST!! Yes, that is my water bottle doubling as a mobile vase that may, or may not have earned me some brownie points at home!
After a day off for running (hey Granite Man is in 2 weeks), I took a lap around Roxy Ann. More wildflowers, yes. But, more importantly, new PR’s on a few different segments. I was starting to like this new bike thing a little more.

Alright, alright.  The Alma has proven to be a great fit for someone of my questionable ability when asked to perform on different types of trails.  But, really, how would it do when I had a long gravel ride that I knew I’d get beaten up on if I used my cx bike?

Gang!  Let’s go do the Whisky Peak Loop!

Sunday morning, I was joined by these three cool cats for an adventurous day of climbing. We were all feeling a little spunky as we left Applegate Lake and headed out along Carberry Creek.

That spunkiness pretty much disappeared as we started the 14 miles of nearly continuous climbing that would see us gain about 4000′. But, look! More pretty flowers.

Rebels. This locked gate about 3 miles from the top of our climb is new. I’m guessing it has something to do with the wild fire that ripped through much of the area we were about to head into. I dunno. What I do know is when you’ve been climbing for as long as we had, even the gravel road in direct sunlight feels like a good place for a break.

Almost 17 miles into the ride and the climbing was finally starting to pay off. We got our first long range views, including this peek at a peak. Mt. Mcloughlin is just above Dan’s left shoulder.

Did I mention the wild fire? We rode through miles alternating between wiped out forest and lush green goodness.

Like I said, one minute annihilation, the next an untouched stretch of land.

As we FINALLY neared the end of the long climb, we were treated to some pretty awesome views of the Red Buttes.

Ruth making the final switchback that put us on a one mile straight shot to the top of Whisky Peak Pass (I don’t know if it’s really called that, but we went right below Whisky Peak, so that’s my name for it.)

What a beautiful sight. The view isn’t bad either. If you look right above the seat of my bike you’ll see Applegate Lake.

I’m not the only one that takes pictures. Check out these kids.

The promised land, Whisky Peak. The road drops down the other side just at the tree line at the left side of the peak. Almost there!

Hard to see, but I had to throw in a shot of Mt. Shasta. Just to the left of the near mountain and just above the distant ridgeline.

There was something to see here at Whisky Rock (again, that’s what I call it. I mean, come on. It’s right by Whisky Peak and it’s a big rock).

And, this little bit of sadness is what they were looking at. Really though, if Daddy is remembered in this spot, I’m gonna go ahead and guess he was a pretty cool dude.

One last look at the view before heading down the nearly 20 miles of descent that awaited us. I should say mostly descent. There’s a few little rises that might have got a couple people unhappy with me after so much climbing earlier…

I felt like I had to include this shot. I don’t recall ever seeing this much pollen (or whatever it’s called) being blown around out of trees at once.  The clouds of green you see are over a mile away from where I snapped this picture.

Then it was all over. Except for that 20 miles of “mostly” downhill. I think this was my 5th time riding this loop and I have absolutely loved it every time. Easily one of my top 5 favorite rides.

The Orbea did great.  It never felt like the bike was too heavy and I certainly wasn’t complaining about the gearing with the 12 speed cassette that includes a 50 tooth gear!  To be honest, I barely used it but it was always a little slice of Heaven when I realized I had one more gear to use when climbing the steep stuff.

All in all, I think both the bike and myself are ready to tackle the Granite Man Duathlon in 2 weeks.  Of course, that’s if I survive the final race of the Oregon Triple Crown this Saturday.  117 miles worth of road racing may change my outlook on things.

Aaron Mock

Local cyclist, crazy mofo, and good-natured masochist, Aaron Mock, is a Team Cycle Analysis rider with a penchant for taking the road less traveled. Sometimes, that isn't the best choice. Follow his weekly blog series for the latest on his never-ending escapades and exploits!

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