The blog has moved to ... Many google searches point here so I am leaving it operational, but there will be no new posts.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Mountain Biking in Prescott, AZ

I have not ridden a bike in a loooong time, went on 3 mountain bike rides with Claire while we were in AZ; all were pretty fun.

Williamson Valley
I found some rides on before we left on our trip, we kinda roughly followed this route, but luckily ran into some other riders who hooked us up with some directions which turned into a very fun ride without too much climbing (I used to love to climb).

Later, we picked up a great free map from IronClad Bicycles that shows these trails, I recommend getting one before going out (none were available at the trail head). The city puts this map out, unfortunately I could not find a digital copy online, it is called the "Bicycling Opportunities Map"

Start this ride at the Williamson Valley trail head; 10 miles out of town on Williamson Valley Road. About 2 to 3 hour ride (took us about 2 1/2 at a relatively easy pace) don't forget Prescott is at about 5500 ft elevation.

the way we went: hang to the left at the trail sign paralleling the road for awhile (1 mile?)
  • trail starts to climb some and comes to a fork;
  • go left and then through the gate;
  • go left once on the other side of the gate (trail 347)
  • from here on out it is pretty much take a right if you come to an intersection; we ran into an issue at one point where we missed a turn and were on a 'fire road' very loose dirt/sand; the rights should be trail 348, trail 352, and then trail 345
  • eventually you will come back to the intersection with the gate
  • go back through the gate and hang left (trail 345?)
  • we took this and then eventually hit a right hand turn which took us back to the parking lot

Trail is mostly single track, hard pack and/or loose sand, some roots and baby head boulders here and there, some fun fast downhill sections; I would call this trail 'rolling' as no climb is very long or very steep; fun stuff...

Thumb Butte
We were recommended to ride this area by the guys at IronClad Bicycles, this was a cool ride, wish I had brought a camera along.

Start this ride at Thumb Butte Park Recreation Area; take West Gurley Ave out of town, it sort of becomes Thumb Butte Road.

the way we went: up the road for a mile then right onto trail 332;
  • climb for a little bit
  • right onto trail 318; this was fun
  • I think we went left on some trail not on the map and eventually ended up at some summer camp; we worked our way back to 'Fireplace Spring' and climbed up trail 332 back to the intersection with 318;
  • down 332 back to the road, crossed the road and got on another trail, 329 if I can remember, also not on the map and looked to be some what recently built
  • took this for awhile, some steep climbing and then eventually connected to trail 326;
  • this puts you very close to the top of the butte; I think you can hike to the top from here?
  • we pretty much descended 326 right back to the parking lot
Fire road, double track and single track; terrain is different from Williamson Valley stuff, more pine trees etc... From looking at the map you could do some fat loops connecting Williamson Valley to Granite Basin to the Thumb Butte area - I need to get in better shape before attempting that.

BLM land (Little Thumb Butte)
We drove to the Granite Basin trail head to do a short ride, but Claire forgot to bring her Helmet and riding cloths, I was tired anyhow so we drove back home, then decided to check out the BLM land out behind the house where her family have been doing some horseback riding. We got up to the base of Little Thumb Butte (nice views, once again wish I had brought the camera) before getting a flat and we were running low on light so we back tracked the way we had come, we were pretty sure we could do a big loop from there but did not want to get stuck out there after dark - freezing to death or being eaten by mountain lions just didn't sound like much fun. This was some rough back country 'fire roads' and 'double track', lots of boulders and steep stuff, pretty sure this land is all leased for Cattle grazing, could be really nice area to ride if someone was able to cut some single track trails, not likely though.

After driving home through Sedona and Flagstaff, definitely want to try some MTB rides in those areas. Sedona is spectacular and Flagstaff looks to have a lot of trails.

Road Riding around Prescott, AZ

I don't actually do any road riding these days (or riding of any kind really), but here is a loop that Claire went on, it was recommended to her by the kind people at IronClad Bicycles

Start at Safeway parking lot in Prescott (the one on White Spar Road), it is around a 50 mile ride with a very gradual but long climb out of Skull Valley back into town; something like 2000 ft over almost 20 miles.

Here are some rough directions from Google Maps

Arizona Christmas

Day 1 - the drive down, part I

down Hwy 5 and over to Hwy 58 to Barstow where we stayed the night. On the way we saw lots of Red Tails and Kestrels; stopped by the Kern National Wildlife Refuge, been wanting to check it out for sometime. On the way in to the refuge on Corcoran Road we had a great Golden Eagle sighting, perched on the power pole right by the side of the road. Then we hit the auto tour route where we saw numerous red tails, some kestrels, about 1/2 a dozen coopers hawks (some were very close sightings), a White-tailed Kite, some coots and other water fowl (I expected to see alot more, but they are probably all up at sac?), then the best sighting of day was a Short-eared Owl, it came in behind the car, around the back of a tree, then worked it's way up to a water wheel, perched up for about a minute and then came directly back towards the car giving us great looks, lightning was great and everything, I probably would have tried to get some pics but my camera was giving me some 'Err 99' issue when taking pictures at 400mm (frustrating to say the least). On the way out Garces Hwy going towards Bakersfield we saw another Golden Eagle on a power pole right by the road (possible that it was the same bird as before? but did not look like it).

Day 2 - the drive down, part II

Barstow to Paulden with a side trip to the Grand Canyon. Saw some small herds of Prong Horn along the side of the highway 40 as well as 2 separate pairs of Golden Eagles on some large power poles, but the good raptor sightings were on the way to the Grand Canyon on Hwy 64 - a juvenile Ferruginous Hawk on a power pole just past the gas station and then a Merlin sitting on a snag about a mile past the entrance to the park.

The Grand Canyon is quite spectacular, surprising that I had never actually seen it in person before? One of these days I would like to do some hiking there, but definitely not in the winter. Beware - it cost $25.00 to get into the park!!! kinda steep if you ask me...

Day 3

Claire went out on a road ride, I went hiking around in the 'back yard', came across an huge canyon that was pretty cool, I think it is the headwaters of the Verde River, not sure? birds of note; road runner and 3 rock wrens

Day 4

Went MTB riding from the Williams Valley trailhead, fun stuff; see other post for more info. On the way saw a Merlin, Ferug and a sweet dark morph Ferug (got the pic of him on Christmas day). Chino Valley is the spot for Ferug in winter - for sure!

Day 5

It snowed this morning, about an inch I guess; Went to Prescott on the way there was a Prairie Falcon on a power pole at the corner of Hwy 89 and Old Hwy 89, this was the only one I saw on the trip.

Day 6

MTB ride in Thumb Butte area; see other post;
Excellent Cooper's Hawk sighting on the ride.

Day 7

Claire went out on a big road ride, can't remember what I did ?

Day 8, Christmas day

Took Katie and Pat out birding around Chino Valley; what can I say Ferruginous Hawks really like this area in the winter; we saw at least a 1/2 dozen in less then an hour. The highlight being this dark morph bird. I actually went back a few hours later that day to take some pictures, this bird was very cooperative and let me get really close to the power pole he was perched on before taking off. Got a few other shots of light morphs as well but nothing too spectacular.

Day 9

went on a MTB ride on the BLM land behind the Rim Rock area - up to Little Thumb Butte

Day 10

Claire went out on a long horse ride, I just sat around, drank beer and played cards.

Day 11 - the drive home part I

So we decided we had better check out Sedona and Flagstaff before we went home; when we woke up there was at least an inch of snow on the ground so our planned MTB ride in Sedona was quickly shot down.

We basically just spend the day driving and checking out the beautiful scenery around Sedona before going on a short birding excursion around Upper Mary, Lower Mary and Mormon Lakes.

Visibility was not good at all due to falling snow and road conditions were not so good either, we were able to get a great sighting of a juvenile Bald Eagle, he flew parallel and level to the car and then directly above for quite some time. Other then that just saw some Red Tails. Flagstaff has a pretty cool down town area, its kinda sad the hills around there have been logged so extensively.

Day 12 - the drive home part II

13 hours from Flagstaff to home, pretty uneventful, saw two Ferruginous Hawks between Kingman and Needles and lots of desert...

It's been a long time since I have taken this many days off work, I highly recommend it!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

2006 Cyclo-cross World Cup

I sure do like watching cyclo-cross, how come we can't get this kind of coverage in the US?

"Cyclo-Cross World Cup #8 - Milan, Italy, December 8, 2006"

I guess the internet is good for something after all?
more at

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Thee Black Roses

My brothers latest band
'Thee Black Roses'

they have some free songs to download which sound pretty good to me, but I've probably got a bais

check it out at

Monday, December 4, 2006

Nhibernate, NUnit and Test driven development

Recently I have been making a move towards TDD (Test driven development) leveraging NHibernate and NUnit to aid in the transition; seems to be working good so far, can't say I am 100% sold yet, but I may be on my way - will post later if/when it occurs

some good reading

Domain-Driven Design: Tackling Complexity in the Heart of Software

Applying Domain-Driven Design and Patterns: With Examples in C# and .NET

some useful links
will post more later...

Tour of California back for 2007!

Good news! the Amgen Tour of California is back for 2007!

The route looks very similar to last year but now we get a stage finish and a stage start in Santa Rosa

not only Trinity Mtn Road on Stage 2, but we get Coleman Valley Road on Stage 1!

Here is the only good photo I captured from last year