Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Life as an RV'er

Full-time RV-ing runs in our family. It is an alternate lifestyle, not better or worse, just different. Todd and I had the normal lifestyle where I worked at Motorola every day, we had a nice house and rode when we could. With the recent economy we may have been a little nuts to quit two great jobs, but selling our house in 2006 was perfect! I love traveling and living on the road, but sometimes the easy money and good benefits while sitting at a desk sound pretty good. Todd loves building his own company even though it is much more stressful than working for a steady paycheck.  

My grandparents were full-timers for 9 years in an Avion trailer (looks like an Airstream) then settled in Durango, CO and my Aunt and Uncle are full-timing right now, in fact we stay in some of the same areas. If you are considering a RV or becoming a full-timer buy used and get a Good Sam Extended Warranty plan. And yes, they give (20 year) mortgages on RVs (a depreciating asset), the trick is to buy something well below blue book so when you sell it in a couple years you'll break even minus "rent" (interest payments and RV space rental rates). We were planning to sell in 2008 and this plan was brilliant...

I am asked daily "where are you from?" I have many answers. If someone is just being polite I say New Mexico, unless I am in New Mexico. If I think someone may actually want to chat I say "I live on the road".  Most people think oh, how fun.  It is fun and different.  I don't spend much time in campgrounds (too expensive), but rent full-hookup RV spaces people have built on property they own. This usually works out well, occasionally people underestimate the size of our motorhome. I have learned to ask the right questions, to a non-RV'er I'll ask "Can you park a semi there?". For the last month I have been living at a RV Repair center getting a huge list of repairs taken care of. Todd has been traveling for work.


Repairs so far:
Body work (insurance)
New Tires ($!)
Fridge - new cooling unit (extended warranty)
Slide-out - repairing the damage done by another repair facility (La Mesa) and the original problem. The original issue is covered under extended warranty but I am still trying to get reimbursed from La Mesa.
Interior woodwork
Radio - replacement (extended warranty)
Engine cover - reattached (extended warranty)
Water pump - (extended warranty)
Towed Vehicle (Truck) - Welded tow mount to frame, no more tightening loose bolts!

In process:
Slide out - Interior threshold and hydraulic system fluid levels topped off
Windshield - Replacement (insurance)
Winegard satellite dish - Replacement (extended warranty)
New slideout topper - Install
Awning - Adjustment

To be dealt with later:
Intermittent dash gauges
intermittent windshield wipers

Removing slideout rams to repair LaMesa's damage

In addition to driving our house around and having things come loose or fail we run into all kinds of issues, like staying in one state past 30 days. States usually require you to have local registration after 30 days, but it is illegal for us to try and obtain residency in most states unless it is our legal domicile (own or rent a home or apartment, have bills to that address, etc.).  South Dakota is the best legal domicile for us since they are RV friendly and you do not have to reside there for it to be your legal domicile. SD has no state income taxes or vehicle emissions requirements (no traveling back to SD with all vehicles once a year). Texas, Alaska, and Montana are a few others that would work, but have different rules.

Another RV'er issue is Dish Network, they will not ship a DVR to us, they have to bring it to our house (South Dakota mail service address). Every time I need a new DVR I spend 2 hours on the phone with Dish. Also our spot beam (local channels) is directed to South Dakota so we never get the local channels over satellite. Health insurance is fun, we have to go with the most expensive option since we are always out-of-(South Dakota) network. I wish there was an option to be a National resident instead of a state resident. Voting is another one, since South Dakota has a huge number of RV residents who never live in SD there is an un-written rule that we (out-of-state RV'ers) do not vote in their local elections.

Our mail service is awesome they do our vehicle registration, send us a daily email letting us know what mail we received that day and send our mail wherever we are.
But the best part is riding all over the place, making friends and never getting bored of the same old route. I am headed out for a road ride in Fountain Hills, AZ.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Staying in Phoenix while getting RV repairs done.

Roof repair.  A piece of wood flew off a semi a while back and caused the roof seam to blow apart.

The fridge blew it's cooling unit so now it is a storage space for water bottles and hydration bladders. Driving your house around is hard on it.

It is the ON season for cyclists in AZ, plenty for me to do here:

Today an awesome 100miler in Tucson, Dirty Bunny

Long story short it was cut to 76.5 miles then we got to drink our entry fee.

Yesterday I signed up for a road century, but there was no official start and no group to ride with so I detoured at 30 miles and wandered around Scottsdale for another 15mi to get back to the start/finish. Found the Starbucks though!
Last week was an Arizona Endurance Series 42 mile ride. 

AES DCT, a little route finding required.

Ive been doing a little road riding exploring.

A little running. South Mountain.

Found an awesome fitness center.

Durango was amazing, but we had to move on when there was a little dusting of snow on the picnic table:

Kitty curled up on the heater vent and not very happy about it.

Bye Durango, I see snow!
Quick stop in Santa Fe, NM on the way to AZ: 
SS Cochiti ride with Tim and friends.

where I picked up all kinds of goodies including my new bike stand:
Best stand ever! Pro-Elite by Feedback Sports

AES Kentucky Camp then TN to visit family and finally Tucson (as soon as we have a working fridge, slide-out, radio, satellite and water pump).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Magura STORM SL rotors, CR333, Zuni 50, Mountain Bike Skills Clinics & Group Rides

It is almost time to head south, yesterday the weather started getting cold in Durango, CO. This last week was amazing, fall colors, brilliant sun, riding in shorts and short sleeves every day. I took full advantage and ended the week with the Saturday Zuni 50 in Gallup, NM and a Sunday MTB skills clinic in Durango.

 Zuni 50

Saturday I woke up at 4am for the four hour drive to Gallup, NM. Three folks did the Zuni 100 (the Zuni 50, then they go back out again in the opposite direction) and ~65 of us did the Zuni 50.  It was all singletrack and so much fun! (the 50 mile course was really ~46miles).

After the race everyone wanted to check out my bike. I think my custom Cannondale Flash has been picked up/ridden by more people than any other bike ever. I got comments like "Well no wonder you were fast" and "Wow, that's cheating!".  I have to say it was fun to walk around chatting to everyone and showing off my 17.75lb bike! 

The course was amazing, it was very well organized, the people were really cool and I was trying out new products during the ride. Late Friday night I put on the new Magura 140/160 rotors (click on STORM SL Rotors) and decided to try a new drink I had just received in the mail, Carbo Rocket's CR333

 Thursday's Post Office score

The STORM SL rotors were the ones off the Interbike showroom floor! They performed just as well as the original SL 160s and had none of the flexy issues that light aluminum rotors have. I tried the light route, I am all about getting my MTBs as light as possible, but I couldn't deal with the lack of performance (both loss of power and rubbing issues due to the aluminum flexing while trying to align the brakes). The STORM rotors weighed 76g (140) and 96.39g (160) and worked perfectly. Because the Flash is designed for a rear 140 direct mount to the frame, I also lost the weight of 2 bolts and the 160 adapter.

I took full strength CR333 (333 calories in 24 oz bottles). I knew that would be too strong for me at race pace, but I was not going race pace and it worked perfectly. No gels, no water, nothing but CR333. My "50-mile" time was 4:13 and my legs felt good the entire time. For racing I would do ~280 calories in a 24oz. bottle and less if it were really hot (if I was going through more than a bottle an hour).

They had a full-on party all afternoon and evening. Write up and pictures at Mountain Flyer.


Pulling the pig out of the ground

Live music



I stayed till dark (when everyone was really getting started, I left before the homebrew competition) and headed back to Durango.  It was a full day and worth the drive!

Sunday I did a MTB Skills clinic for 12 people (showing off their 2oz Stan's Solution bottles)

 Clinic goodies. Packing up for the next one in Cortez, CO.

Earlier in the week I got in on different group rides (and usually went for beers after)
Wed I did noon cross practice with ~30-40 folks at the college (Fort Lewis), a 30 minute trail jog, a 2.5 hr MTB ride on all new (to me) trails with Julie (pictured), then Boot Camp at Core Value Fitness.
Thursday night Girl's Ride at the Test Tracks.

Co-ed Friday morning ride from Sale Barn. 
Funny who you meet in this town, the guy on the left is Jimmy Deaton. I tried to stick to his wheel on all the descents.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Win a Cannondale cross frame & fork, Durango Cross, Phil's World, Aluminum Bolts, Ride the Divide, Osprey Packs

Enter HERE for a chance to win a custom painted Cannondale Caad 9 Cyclocross Frame and Fork! In support of Utah Cyclocross Racing.

Write a 300 to 350-word story about your all-time best mountain bike experience for a chance to win a Cannondale Jekyll, a five day, four night trip to Punta San Carlos, Baja, Mexico (you can bring a friend), the chance to ride with Chris Van Dine and a byline in Bike magazine as guest test editor. Enter HERE.

September and October in Durango, Co have been different versions of off-season "do what you want". September ended up being: get caught up on all things life, tally up everything that is in need of repair on the motorhome and figure out how to get it fixed, find new health insurance, a dentist, go to Interbike, etc. Basically do everything except get on the bike (for the most part). I got back from Interbike and our last remaining, 14 year old, dog Jake got sick and spent three days at the Durango vet. Luckily he is fine now.

 Jake right before I took him in, not feeling very well...

October, aside from having our $3800 refrigerator fail, has been more relaxed. The fridge is covered under a service plan, but I am without a fridge for 4+ weeks.

I started to ride again, "just for fun". To keep things interesting I decided every ride had to have a new or different quality to it, I think I mixed it up pretty well and the only thing missing was a good DH shuttle ride or Super-D.

Oct 2nd: Group Road Ride on new (to me) roads. From no riding to a 32-mile road ride is something, my legs felt it.
Oct 3rd: Wells Brothers Cross Race at Durango Mountain Resort (Purgatory), awesome venue.

(photo by Sven Brunso/Durango Mountain Resort)

Guess I do get enough air, it's cool to actually see what I am doing. Photos are from the Durango Herald Newspaper coverage (!) of the race. It was cool to see Nina Baum and Shannon Gibson there after having raced the Road Apple MTB race the day before.

(photo by Sven Brunso/Durango Mountain Resort) 
1st Lap: Chasing Nina with Shannon two spots behind me.

Ned Overend is hiding in this picture of the venue. He didn't race, but it was cool that he came out to support.

 Candy, beer and flowers; and all in pink for Get Out!

My cross bike!

 with new red Al bolts from CadenceWORKS!

 The Mens' A winners Todd Wells (drinking his winnings) 
and my new DZR Urban bike shoes that I bought at Interbike, I love these shoes.

The leaves are changing so I probably won't stay here too much longer. But there is so much to do.

Oct 4th: Another fitness class at Core Value Fitness, "Burn and Firm". All I know is I could not walk for two days after this class. I dug out my Singlespeed (last ride was SSUSA in February) for an evening ride at Hermosa Creek.

I ride WTB saddles (Silverados on most my bikes), and have a box full of demos for anyone who wants to try them out. Just for kicks I am trying out the Koobi PRS Alpha "suspension" saddle (sorry, none of these to share). So far my thoughts are that it is comfortable and you do not notice the suspension until you hit a rock just right. When you would expect that super sharp jolt up your spine it just isn't there, this saddle makes a stiff HT feel more like the Flash and that is a good thing! I am not sure it flexed at all when putting out high power while seated. It comes with multiple elastomers so you can fine tune the "suspension": extra soft (white), soft (yellow), medium (red), and firm (blue) offering up to 4/10 inch of travel.  I have the white and it feels stiff enough for me. Todd is using the red elastomer.

Oct 5th: I raced the Durango Wheel Club (DWC) MTB TT at Horse Gulch trails (super fun). Being all racy-like I removed my Big Air and tools for the race. Big mistake, I had not tightened my valve core tight enough and lost all the air in my rear tire over the first few minutes.  Luckily I ran into someone (Ben?) riding the trails who offered the use of his pump. I am extremely thankful but I do not have the upper body fitness for pumping up an entire tire quickly with a little hand pump, I will remain a fan of the Big Air! Since I was racing roadies I still won the women's race. They all kicked my butt the rest of the week.

Later that night I finally got to see Ride the Divide on the big screen. 

It is really worth watching, it'll make you laugh and cry. Click Here for the schedule of showings.

Oct 6th: Cross practice at Fort Lewis College at noon then a drive to Cortez, I almost turned around. Glad I didn't, the riding was perfect. 

Phil's World. A great trail system in Cortez, CO that I heard about through the folks at Osprey Packs. These are the trails of 12 hours of Mesa Verde, fast and fun, smooth and roller coaster like.  

Oct 7th: DWC Road TT (ouch, must have forgotten that I am only riding for fun right now, what was I thinking?). The on-line results list the weather conditions exactly: Epic, Cloudy, Clear, Rain, Hail, Thunder, Lightning, Rainbows, Variable Wind (and a smoldering lightning strike about 800 feet from the finish line)

Oct 8th: Visited Trimble Hot Springs for the first time.

Oct 9th: DWC Road Race. It was mellow and fun, the majority of the group including all the women were together at the base of the final ~1mile climb. I had no legs on the last bit, I really tried, but just didn't have it. In true Durango fashion I rode to and from the road race and got in ~ 70miles total. Then attended my first ever yoga class at Yoga Durango but I drove to the Yoga class. So much for being a true Durangoan.

Oct 10th: DWC Road Crit. Today I kept it fun and did not suffer like you should. Way to go Dana Shinn for winning the Championship! And thanks to all the guys who let us ride with them.

Oh, beer, I forgot to mention that I sampled local beer all week (and ate an entire package of Peanut Butter Malted Milk Balls Saturday night). Fun stuff this "Off Season".