Monthly Archives: April 2010

Doug Boccuzzi’s Moab Trip

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In February, around my 40th birthday, my old college roommate, Nick, emailed me and asked if I would go away with him for his upcoming 40th birthday, on a mid-life crisis trip of sorts.  Nick is an Assistant Principal at a local school, and he’s got a sister in Santa Fe, NM, so he thought it would be good to take his spring vacation somewhere in the southwest and visit her.  He’s not a huge cycling enthusiast, but I asked if we could spend some time in Moab, and he was game.  Nick had been to that area with his wife some 15 years earlier, and had fond memories of the region.

I’d never been to Moab but I knew whom to ask for advice:  Jill and John.  They seemed more excited than me at the prospect of this trip, and they provided me with oodles of helpful advice, all of which turned out to be absolutely spot-on.

Horsing around in Durango

We flew out of Bradley on Friday morning, April 16.  We booked the trip through Albuquerque so it would be easier for Nick’s return from his sister’s place, and after arriving early afternoon, we started driving our rental car northward.  We spent Friday night in Durango CO, a quaint little cowboy railroad town with a cool village vibe and good restaurants and shops.  We stumbled into a show by one of my favorite bands, the veteran jump-blues/swing masters Rick Estrin and the Nightcats (formerly Little Charlie and the Nightcats), who just happened to be playing at a local theatre.  Serendipity was already on our side.  It turns out Durango was also hosting its annual bluegrass festival that weekend, so musicians were everywhere and the whole place was hopping.  We didn’t sleep much on Friday night, and I would have liked to stay longer, but Moab was beckoning, and we drove onward Saturday morning.

The scenery became more and more breathtaking and awe-inspiring as we drove on.  Arriving in Moab, the town was much as I expected.  Nestled in a desert paradise, it was a busy bohemian utopia even in this early off-season.  Every car that wasn’t laden with a rack of road and/or mountain bicycles, had a trailer filled with ATV’s and dirt bikes.  The weather was perfect–sunny and about 78 degrees.

Nick and I were ravenous so we stopped at Hogi Yogi’s and ordered the pulled turkey sandwich, as Jill had recommended.  Wow.  Perfectly cooked tender white meat, blue cheese dressing, fresh lettuce and tomato on crispy yet soft foccacia bread.  If you really want to treat yourself, add avocado to the party.  Hogi Yogi’s ice cream and smoothies didn’t suck either.

Top of Klondike Bluffs

In order to burn off those calories, we showed up at Chile Pepper bike shop, where Jill and John had steered me, to pick up the rental bikes I’d reserved.  Very cool place, and extremely helpful staff, both with the bikes and with suggesting riding areas and trails for us to explore.  We loaded up our Giant Trance X2’s and headed off to check out the Klondike Bluffs trail, about 20 minutes away.  This was a good introduction to the somewhat foreign world of slickrock.  The trail wasn’t too challenging for Newbie Nick or out-of-shape Doug, in terms of climbing or technicality, which was good since we didn’t start out until about 3 pm.  The end of the trail provided access to a short hike at the boundary of Arches National Park, with great views of the park and the LaSal Mountains looming in the distance.

The entire landscape of the area is difficult to process:  there are dramatic, sweeping mesas, majestic buttes with craggy cliffs, layers of painted sandy/soily colors and textures representing different historical eras, impossibly complex and delicate stone structures sculpted and scalloped through the ravages of the elements, literally over millions of years.  The backdrop of the larger peaks in the distance was still blanketed in snow.  It was like simultaneously touring a gigantic studio of nature’s art gallery, and receiving a crash course in visual geological history.

After our ride we checked into the Gonzo Inn, a really funky and comfortable hotel (another Jill and John winning recommendation).  It had a very quirky hip/industrial vibe to it and included breakfast, as well as an outdoor pool and hot tub.  Although bicycles were not allowed in guest rooms, it was clearly bike-friendly, with a dedicated, secured bike storage area, and even a community space to wash and service one’s ride (including a bike stand).  When we’d cleaned up, we walked down Main Street to Moab Brewery for dinner.  We enjoyed the fresh local swill (I liked the Scorpion Pale Ale and Derailleur Ale), but neither of us was impressed with our BBQ combo dinners.  We were shooting for quantity over quality when we ordered, and that’s just what we got.  A nearby table ordered the hummus plate appetizer which looked and smelled fantastic when it rolled by us.  We vowed to return and try that dish sometime.

On Sunday morning we headed out early to explore Dead Horse Point State Park, about 45 minutes drive away.  The access road to the park itself is a beautiful ride, with sweeping views and cattle roaming the surrounding fields and even the road itself.  We parked at the visitor center, which was all but deserted at that hour, paid our fee, and unloaded the bikes.  We biked the relatively new Intrepid trail, about 10 miles total.  The trail snakes along the plateau with various viewpoints offering incredible vistas.

Sittin on Dead Horse Point

The terrain was a fairly easy mix of slickrock and single track dirt/sand, with relatively gentle slopes.  When we finished the loop, we hiked about a mile from the visitor center to the Dead Horse Point lookout (also accessible by car via the main road), where, at an elevation of approximately 6000 ft, we were treated to panoramic views of the Colorado River snaking through the canyon some 2000 ft directly below us.

We hiked back to our car and drove the return route to Moab, for lunch at the Slickrock Café.  I enjoyed my chicken wrap but the service was slow, and the clock was ticking on our bike rentals.

After lunch we drove over to the true Mecca—the infamous Slickrock trail, just a few miles from town.  Our bikes had to be back at Chile Peppers by 5 pm, and it was already about 2 pm.  Due to the late hour and the fact that we’d already biked and hiked all morning, we resigned ourselves to the limitations of the shorter “practice loop”.  It was definitely enough.  A big lunch (the fries were poor judgment) and the hot sun conspired to make the slickrock a real challenge.  I’m not sure how anyone could ride that trail in the full heat of the desert summer.  The climbs and descents are daunting and unforgiving, although the traction on the bare sandstone is remarkable.

SuperGrover vs SlickRock

It is truly a unique bicycling experience.  We finished unscathed and in time to return our bikes to Chile Peppers with some additional wear, several layers of dust, and 3 flat tires.

On Sunday evening we ate at Pasta Jay’s on Main Street in Moab, which had a nice patio dining area, substantial and flavorful entrees, and very good service.  We ended the night with a soothing dip in the Gonzo Inn hot tub, and a game of setback with coffee by the pool.

On Monday morning we checked out of the hotel and departed fairly early to Arches National Park, the entrance to which is only about 5 miles from Moab.  The park fee was waived for the week, and the access road is an exhilarating climb through scenic switchbacks, making me wish I was pedaling on a road bicycle rather than sitting in a rental car.  We drove the entire main park thoroughfare, with several side-trips and hikes to various arches and stone formations of interest.  There are literally thousands of amazing structures to gawk at.  We parked and hiked up to the famous and infinitely photogenic Delicate Arch, which included a nice climb up a slickrock face that led to an up-close encounter with this remarkable formation.

Nick and Doug Dwarfed by Delicate Arch

In the interest of time, we made our last stop at Devils Garden, where we hiked to some additional arches.

We returned to town for another lunch at Hogi Yogi’s (pulled turkey sandwich was a winner again) and then headed back towards Albuquerque, so I could make my flight home the following day.  After sharing the 7 hour drive, we arrived about 8:30 pm, and checked into our hotel, Casa de Suenos, in the Old Town section of Albuquerque.  We got settled and enjoyed a late dinner at a cozy local restaurant called High Noon, where we treated ourselves to a couple of great steaks, and some untold number of excellent margaritas.

The next morning we were greeted by the sights, sounds, and scents of the Casa de Suenos courtyard, which seemed more like a B&B than an actual hotel.  With hidden flowering gardens, patios, and a made-to-order breakfast, it was a nice place to recharge for a while.  We wandered around the shops and cafés of Old Town before heading off to the airport.  I boarded my flight and Nick continued on to visit with his sister in Santa Fe.  As the plane took off, I found myself dozing, dreaming of gorgeous vistas and endless slickrock.

Massasoit Lung Opener MTB Race

Race Results

Watch the Slideshow

Pictures from Garth

Nick’s New Ride

Nick with his sweet new ride from Tolland Bicycle at Nerac!

Nick and his brandy new Pinarello FP2!

Water Bottles Coming Soon

The club water bottle design by Lisa Burns has been completed and submitted to Specialized for proofing.  The water bottles will be the 24 oz Specialized Big Mouth clear bottle with a translucent green cap with soft poppet.   The order should arrive in early May.  All current members that have paid 2010 dues will receive a free water bottle.  Additional bottles can be purchased for $5.00

Specifications from the Specialized Water Bottle Page:

24 oz. Big Mouth Bottle:

Our most popular bottle. Absolutely won’t leak. Massive mouth for filling with ice cubes and easy cleaning. Secure textured grip.

  • Wide mouth screw top is big enough for ice cubes, seals tight.
  • Large, soft poppet (valve) is easy on your teeth, delivers excellent flow and seals tight.
  • Easy-to-handle, non-slip shape.
  • Food grade plastic won’t soak up flavors or odors.
  • Dishwasher safe on top rack only.
  • BPA-free plastic—made of 100% FDA food-grade material and printed with non-solvent base (UV cured) CPSC-approved ink

Mockup of the club water bottle:

— John

AMC Ride in S. Windsor

Riders:  Ed, Dave F., Brian H., Phil, Agatha

35.66 miles, 18.61 avg, 1:55:00

Pre-ride elixir:  1 slice of frozen Big Y pizza, handful of cheese nips, 1 caramel pecan chocolate bear paw from LL Bean, half a bottle of mocha Starbucks frappacino, 1 blueberry pomegranate Gu Roctane

Result:  So much fun that I may not be able to sleep tonight!

Ok, I’m trying to write and watch Glee at the same time, the special Madonna episode is captivating!  Ok the ride!  Ed started a ride early again at 5:30 so Brian, Dave, Agatha, Phil, Mike and about a dozen other riders started with him.  Ed is one of my favorite ride leaders so I’m glad we got there early so we could ride out with him.  The ride was almost a carbon copy of the ride from 2 weeks ago, a lot of the same characters.  The big group rode together for the first 15 or 20 miles then Wayne took a group that wanted to ride a little longer at a faster pace.  That left 6 of us with Ed and we had a fantastic stretch of riding.  Phil was testing a carbon Giant from Tolland Bike and I think it might be a keeper, what a good looking bike!  As always the after ride chatter is almost as fun as the ride itself, it was great catching up with everyone after the ride and comparing mileage and averages.  I highly recommend this ride, there is a ride going out for all levels so come out and try it!  – Jill

Winding Trails Root 66 Race Series MTB Race

Race Results

Pictures from Garth

Pictures from Randell

Jill’s TT haiku

John, Dave, Sue and Jill

Pain, suffering, so much fun


Case Mountain

Riders:  Mary, Randell, Steve, Josh, Jill

Ok, I have not been writing much lately but not because there isn’t a ton of riding going on to write about.  It seems like every ride lately has been phenomenal, both road and mountain.  I think it has something to do with the 29er…

Anyway we started at 5pm so we didn’t have to bring lights and I decided to bring the crew “backwards” which to me means starting across from Gay City and heading down slickrock for a change.  This is a very technical beginning and I think it’s been at least a couple of years since I had ridden that trail.  It was beat down a bit but still very similar to what I remember.  I had a moment of terror on the first fast decent when I heard my front tire bouncing around and saw the quick release was flopping around and waving at me.  I’m so lucky that the whole wheel didn’t bounce away!  Randell had just replaced his chain that broke last weekend and it wasn’t cooperating with the rear cassette so he tweaked it a little and just kind of accepted its shortcomings and hoped it would work itself out.  We all cruised down slickrock smoothly and let Josh fly up the blue trail first while we all tried to catch him.  I have never seen anyone with such explosive power combined with speed on the climbs, it was impressive and motivating.  We ran into a “big bike” crew at the bottom of blue and chatted with them for a minute then Mary led the climb up and over to the carriage road.  We banged a right then a left to climb the pink trail and stopped at the intersection to decide if we wanted to take the climb straight up or the meandering climb.  Well Josh charged up the steep side so that made our decision much easier!  Steve was next and Mary, Randell and I followed.  At the lookout we headed back into the woods and toward the reservoir.  I waited a moment at the reservoir to make sure Mary and Randell went the right way and when I turned back Steve and Josh were gone.  I rode as fast as I could and never even saw them, they were absolutely flying.  When I finally caught up to them Josh was dusting himself off.  It must have been quite a crash, he said his bike landed in the woods nowhere near him.  His camelbak was torn up and his red blinky light inside his pack had turned on during the impact.  He had a few good contusions on one arm and a leg, the leg looked kind of painful but he shook it off and just got on his bike and rode.  We put our heads down and started the climb back out of case, by the reservoir, over the off camber bridge, up the tinti trail and finally to the powerlines.  We were lucky to get out on such a nice night, no humidity, cool but not cold, beautiful sunset, and no bugs.  Great ride, I feel lucky to have such a great crew to challenge me. –Jill

Hop Brook Dam Root 66 Race Series #1

Race Results

Season opener dawned clear and cold.  Friday’s rain was a concern but heck I’d already registered so was headed down to Middlebury no matter what.  2pm race start always has the potential for some other distraction to occur and disrupt the day.  But after getting a little lost we found the start and it looked like a nice, big race, temps warming up nicely, YEA.  Except for one thing.  No shoes. No shoes!? Panic ensues.  Do I run to the local bike shop and buy some?  Can I find someone who will lend? Do I just suck it up and ride in sneakers?  Do I bail and go home.  Feeling sick to my stomach (not good with pre-race jitters anyway) I enlist the help of Rachel and Marilyn who rally for me,  have the race organizers make an announcement, and then ride through the parking lots asking everyone.  15 min to go and we find someone who’s girlfriend isn’t riding, they are too big and we need to switch pedals with no pedal wrench omg can I just throw up and go home now??? But we finally find a pedal wrench and make the switch and I’m on the line.

Start Line

From there it’s a blur, I went out hard, maybe too hard, and took the lead for the first lap and a half.  The pace took its toll on me on the 2nd lap backside climb and I was passed, crashed hard in one of the mud holes, and then was passed again right at the end.  I should have fought harder for 2nd but then again, I should have remembered my shoes and I should warmed up better and I should have had something to eat ….but shoulda woulda coulda’s simply don’t count in racing.  It would have been a very different race for me had I raced in sneakers on my spd clips….so I was VERY GRATEFUL to have found those shoes and not ruin my sneakers in the mud.  It was so great to have Nerac teammates out there and great to see so many!!  THANK YOU Rachel, Marilyn, Andy, John for saving my day and helping me find those shoes and switch out the pedals at the absolute last minute….Thanks to the Beans and my Annalee for being the most enthusiastic cheering section out there.  Congrats to everyone who raced – See you all next weekend!  – Sue