August 25, 2011

Escape to Alcatraz

I think an August weekend getaway to the Bay area should be done every year.  It helps remind me that summer will eventually come to and end and cooler temps will prevail.  This year we set our sights on the San Francisco Street Food Fest thanks to my friend, Chuck, for the fantastic idea.

We arrived Friday evening and were whisked away by my Nephew and his wife to Piedmont, just outside of Oakland, for a terrific Italian meal at Lo Coco's Ristorante.  It was the perfect way to start the weekend.

The Street Food Fest started out strong only 20 minutes old

I was going to be a little adventurous, but not for larvae soft tacos!

This was my favorite of the day

Good Falafel here

By 1:30 things were really hopping

That sausage better be good, it was over an HOUR wait!!

Love the style of SF

Reminded me of my neighbors house

Mormon Temple of Oakland, they're everywhere!!

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The Oakland Bay Bridge is not long for this world, a new replacement is almost ready

Greek Orthodox church in copper

Cool chopper artwork

They'll tag anything in Oakland!

This was my favorite of the garden, a mini giant

Is that Freedom Rock? Well, turn it up!!
It was such a nice weekend in the Bay area, mid 60's to mid 70's outside a far cry from the 110+ we've had lately here in the desert.  This may very well be the start of an annual August migration.

August 13, 2011

Tom's Thumb

I kept seeing really cool pictures from the top of Tom's Thumb trail in the McDowell Mtns.  I asked Phil if he wanted 'in' and he was down for an early morning departure to experience some more new-to-him trails.  I had been on most of the route with the exception being the route up to Tom's Thumb.  We met up at the Lost Dog Wash TH and were pedaling by 5:40am.  The idea was to get a good warmup in before climbing up the bottom of Windgate Pass and on to Tom's Thumb Trail.  Our route consisted of: Lost Dog - > Quartz -> Paradise -> Gateway -> Desert Park -> Windgate -> Tom's Thumb. The return route would be the same minus Desert Park.

Riding around Desert Park, Tom's Thumb comes into view

Phil diggin' in

A very small break in the uphill climb

Are we there yet?

Got switchbacks?
Phil and I followed Tom's Thumb Trail up the canyon until it veers sharply to the right and kicks up steeply. He decided it was a good turnaround point for the day. I chose to push on to the summit not fully aware of the brutality of the climb to the top.  For me it was over an hour to go a little over a mile and about 90% HAB, but I had to see the top!
Even a picture shows the steepness of the grade.

Tom's Thumb (about 80 feet tall)

View from the top towards Scottsdale

Cool boulderfields at the summit

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On my way down I decided to count the switchbacks, I knew there were many but had no idea there were 28 in all.  Only took about 10 minutes to get back to the base of the steepness.  I was on a bit of a time crunch and it had taken me 4 hours to get from our start up to the summit. I had to get moving.  On my final descent down Gateway I heard something SNAP on the front of my bike. Oh no. My front wheel started making a loud repeated metal on metal sound. I stopped & walked around a bit looking for parts, it was that loud.  Finding nothing I kept moving.  I needed to stop by the Gateway TH to top off on water, since it was nearing 100ยบ just after 11am, and I'd give the bike a more thorough scan.

At the TH I flipped the bike upside down and began investigating. Aha! Blown spring on the disc brakes was causing one of the brake pads to rub against the rotor.  Aside from the noise, everything was functional so off I went to knock out the last 5 miles.  I finally strolled back to the Lost Dog TH around 12:30p to find Phil had only been there about 15 minutes!  He made a wrong turn and took the pavement route back adding some bonus mileage.  It will be a fun ride to do again after it cools down, more exploring to do at the top.  I know Phil will want to get to the summit next time for sure.