Thursday, July 09, 2015

Eagle Wing Rides Again

Eagle Wing and John
I made a trip down to Tucson - had work and things to do and really just wanted to escape the Rez for awhile and see friends.

Now it's a 9 and half hour drive, and I got to tell you - it's a long long day driving.  But I got some comp-time, mainly from a few weekends of working with a consultant for The College, so I ended up with four full days in Dog Mtn.  

About now you'd also be seeing photos of Le Tigre - my fast friend, and quintessential Tucson Cyclist - but Your's forgot to bring his helmet and his shoes - so that shut down any kind of ride with him.  Always a good sport, Le T rode up to Dog Mtn to say hi; I was doing yard work and he rode all the way up from downtown.  Anyway, the day we did plan on riding, it became breezy and dusty - so it would have been a slog, and I was making some head-way on my yard work at the Dog Mtn House.

Wing is back in the saddle I'm happy to report, Gentle Readers of This Blog!  And, as always, he tends to inspire us to get off our butts and do something.  So Wing has a Men's Group he's started up, and a bike ride was planned.  John loaned me a helmet and brought over some pedals allowing me to ride along with the boys.

The ride was planned around one bloke who wanted to make the ride at 2 o'clock in the afternoon - seems a bit late for me and for John (for Wing too - we're morning people) and of course, last minute that guy didn't show up - but we rode anyway.  

John, Wing, a very cool friend of Wing's named David, I were all on the bikes and heading down Tucson's now completed "Loop."  You can ride all around the city by bike - no traffic, no worries, and friendly people like yourself just out enjoying the sunshine.

What I didn't know is that Wing had recently had Gastric Bypass Surgery.  His stomach is about the size of a golf ball.  I would say, from my old medical library days, that this is major surgery - one week after Wing does 10 miles on the bike.  Two weeks after, 20 miles.  Now week three, what the hell let's do 40 miles Fellahs!  

I was like, "Wing, do you think that's a good idea?"  John is a DVM - but if anything happened to Wing, John could only crop his ears and stick a thermometer up Eagle Wing's butt.  Still, I felt that 40 miles might be pushing it.

Okay, to make a long story short, we were all riding along, chatting and having a great time - catching up and talking about revising our plans to ride some brevets, or even do the Triple Crown - something that Eagle Wing has really wanted to do.  After all, Wing did ride from Tucson to Iowa, and then ride RAGBRI - Dang!  But as we sped along, it suddenly became apparent that Wing was no longer with us - we had dropped him!

So we slow down and stop and wait for Wing to be there - but - mes amis, Wing was not to be seen.  We waited and then waited some more.  Wing, our friend and inspiration had disappeared.  John was trying to call him, David and I headed back, and I think we rode what seemed an eternity-several miles, on this stretch of Bike Path, there was nothing but desert on one side, and the Gentle Santa Cruz River.  Reeds and tall grass swayed in the afternoon heat.  Did Eric slip into the river? (to vomit or something?) I was getting worried.  Wing rides and takes on life with gusto!  But having the runs in the heat of the day in Tucson, Gentle Readers of This Blog, is a recipe for disaster.

Not sure but finally, finally after about four miles of riding up and down the path, Eagle Wing is spotted coming out of a porta john by a ball field.  How John and David spied him I will never know but slowly Wing pulled up and reported that he was "better" and we rode on.  Actually we were taking it easy when Wing just shot up and go way ahead of us.

Surprised, the three of us caught up and we were all riding in a group, all talking and laughing - and suddenly - where is Eric?  We dropped him again.  So this time we rode back, got Wing, and headed back the parking lot where we started.  Oh yeah, by this time we had a tailwind so that helped us out.

I have to say that I've not been writing on the blog for a few months - work has piled up on me, and in Colorado it either was raining or snowing up on my new routes.

I am happy to report that Eric has lost 100 pounds - that is awesome!  This I got from John.  We plan to get a ride together soon!

Thanks for reading the Blog!  Cheers!  Bruce


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Navajo Ambush! or Riding the Cortez, Delores, Mancos Loop

On Colorado Hwy 185 from Delores on my way to Mancos

Whoa - I live just an hour drive from Bike Heaven, Gentle Readers of This Blog.  Okay, Shiprock, New Mexico - well, not a great place to live.  I miss my clean mountain air back in Arizona at The College in Tsaile - but not but a short drive over into Colorado - and I am back up in the mountains, and have many riding options!  Thanks to the folks at the Local Bike Shop, I got some routes and tips on where to ride and where to eat, etc. etc.


I drove from Shiprock up to Cortez and left the car at the gas station right on Hwy 145 and Main Street Cortez (Hwy 160)  The temps here have been just about 60 degrees.  My Made in France Rando Vest was just enough to keep out the bit of breeze I had here and there.


From Cortez, I rode about 10 miles up to Delores - it was quite a climb!  I have not ridden really since before Thanksgiving 2014 - Geez!  Really needed to wake up my lungs and heart - and the air was fresh, and I could just feel the stress of things fall to the side of the road and dissolve away.


Man, I am doing some climbing!  Here I'm going to start heading east to Mancos.  Durango, Colorado is about 40 to 50 miles to the east at the base of those mountain.


About half way on this leg, I'll climb to 7600 feet.


That is Sleeping Ute Mountain, looking a bit south and west,  Further back those mtns are in New Mexico and where I live in Shiprock.  Between me on Hwy 185 and Ute Mtn is Cortez, Colorado.


I know I had done some serious climbing, like back in Tsaile when I would return from riding down to the Park HQ at Canyon de Chelly.  I passed a few signs for Summit Lake, and the pine trees and snow are a good indication too.

I saw six dead dear on the sides of the road, so maybe not a good place to drive at night!  Also would not want to hit a cow or a horse, like out on the Rez.  I must tell you mes amis that from here on out, I sailed down what seemed endless, newly paved highway!  Mostly for about five or six miles I was at 25 to 30 MPH


I dropped down fast, and suddenly I was riding into Mancos.  People I hear pronounce it "Man Cuz" but 7000 feet is right at where The College is in elevation at Tsaile.  Again, I know I was pretty high up at Summit Lake - which was frozen over when I rode past...


Right here is a liquor store with this mural - I believe there's an annual cattle drive through Main Street - probably to remember the old days when it happened every summer.


Okay, now I will make an unceremonious turn right and head West - about 18 miles back to Cortez.


The trading post is closed for the Winter, but hey it was a fun picture - a tourist ambush I'd say!


There is one last big climb right up at the entrance to Mesa Verde.  For me after that it was all downhill back to Cortez.  But the head wind was beating me up!  I pulled off here at a rest stop to take a break out of the wind, take a leak, and fill up my water bottles - I was out.


I'm not sure that this is, but being right next to or near the entrance of a National Park, and one like Mesa Verde, can make a big statement.


Yikes!


I did not ride these 43 miles that fast - average speed was only like 13.4 MPH - but this was a great ride and will certainly get me fit!  


It was my 53rd Birthday.  A local Colorado IPA was in order.  Last year I got food poisoning from a restaurant in Chinle, AZ - my boss and I celebrating dinner - and the next day my Birthday spent at the IHS Clinic hooked up to an IV.

But I lived to ride another day, and what a day it was!  Cheers! and thanks for reading the blog!

Bruce

Friday, January 30, 2015

New New Mexican


Around November, 2014, almost a year to the day of my arrival at The College in Tsaile, Arizona, I was promoted and asked to move to the New Mexico Campus of The College - so I've just basically moved over the mountain to the NM side from the AZ side.  

I flew to Kansas for Thanksgiving and to attend my niece's wedding in Tulsa, Ok.  So after, I started packing up my Tsaile place, and then the next few weeks moved it to my new place in Shiprock.  After getting moved, I left from NM around 12 December 2014, and so being finished there, drove cross-county back to Kansas for almost three weeks of paid leave.

On my return to report to work in early January 2015 - I simply arrived back in NM.  I did this because I wanted to relax and have a good holiday, and not have to move during the heavy snow. I am glad I did thing because on my drive back in early January, there was a big snow storm through NM and West Texas. I stopped in Tucumcari, NM for the night, and the next morning, me and all the other folks that stayed at the motel had to all help each other dig out of the parking lot the next morning - about 8 inches of snow!


The good news is that Mesa Verde Nat'l Park is in my backyard.  Cortez, Colorado is about an hour north of Shiprock, and then Mesa Verde about 10 miles east.  I went out exploring, bought an annual MV pass, and scoped out where I could be riding.  I will be able to ride from my new place in Shiprock, NM to Cortez, Colorado - pretty safely North on Hwy 491 (old Hwy 666) and so from here to there will be about 40 to 45 miles one-way.  At about mile 20 there's a Ute Tribal Casino - a place to stop for water and what I might need. Then on to Cortez which is a funky little mountain town.  Great bike shop there, and some of the guys there let me in on where to ride.

So Colorado looks like it will be the safe bet for riding.  Shiprock is a busy Rez town and I will really have to be careful.  Durango, Colo is another hour off - but now the men and women there have switched to skis and road bikes later I'm sure.


No tourists yet!  They will arrive in April - so I'll have a bit of time to try and ride from the Park entrance up to where the Cliff Dwellings are - a very scenic 20 mile ride - but will be too busy come the peak season.  If you have done this ride, or ridden up in this area - let me know some good routes!


I am the Branch Librarian at the Senator John Pinto Library - opened in November of 2011.  Brand new place and really the Crown Jewel of The College, and of Shiprock.


I have a nice office - but rarely am I in there!  Oh yeah, I live very close and ride my bike to work - it only takes about four minutes.  Good thing is - Farmington and Cortez are much closer - no more driving two hour to go get two or three weeks of groceries!  Also, not as high in elevation, at least not Shiprock and Farmington - so no snow and cold like up in Tsaile.


If you are ever this way, please stop by and say hello!

Cheers!  Bruce

Post Card from Tucson 2015

After some time off the bike, back in the saddle!
Happy New Year!  The blog has been inactive for a bit - this part due to my move to New Mexico.  Over MLK Holiday, I was able to make a quick trip down to Tucson, enjoy the sunshine and the saguaro, and catch up with my Old School Chum, Le Tigre!  

Really have missed the bike, and missed the blog - so much happening!  


A trip down to Tucson would not be complete without a ride!  Le Tigre is still the fastest cat I know - so he's a good sport and does not drop me!  We do a great ride on what LT tells me is the newly complete bike loop around the City of Tucson!  So we'll go on some very new and fresh parts of the bike path to check it out.


I want to let you know that I have been so busy with work - and now Tucson is a 9 hour drive from Shiprock where I have taken hold as of January 2015.  I am still working for The College, but they have promoted and moved me to New Mexico!

Although sunny and warm, I am feeling run-down and actually have a bit of a fever.  Well, not the start of 2015 I wanted, so we decide to cut our ride short because, Gentle Readers of This Blog, I'll have a 9 hour drive back and I can't do it if I'm in bed and out of commission.  Still, it was great getting caught up with my buddy here!


Yeah because I'm feeling a bit sick and flu catching hold, we take a short cut to get back to our starting point at River Ave and Campbell Ave...  not my neck of the woods, but Le Tigre knows the way.  


You know I've been riding at 7200 feet, on a Rez Road with almost no traffic - so here I am right at home in fast Tucson traffic - with that little bit of black (bike lane) to zip down through the city.  


I used to work around this old Historic Part of Ft. Lowell - near the Desert San - and this part of Tucson, like Tsaile and Canyon de Chelly, have their Western Military past.  


Hanging in there!  


So, we are back at our start - and the sun is warm and feels good.  We decide to stop, have a coffee, and chat about things before I need to take off back for Dog Mtn.


Le Tigre clipped a Palo Verde tree - and the have very sharp spines or thorns - and it gashed his finger open.  There was a young guy riding kind of reckless and was not watching where he was going (no big deal really) but Le Tigre swerved to keep from running into him and clipped the tree - ouch!


I hope you keep reading my blog - was a long stretch where I was traveling, and then the Holidays.  After the ride I went back home and slept from like 3 pm to 9 pm, only to be woken by Little Egypt!  Good thing because I had to pack and be ready to roll for that long drive back up to the Navajo Nation.

Cheers!  Bruce 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall Colors of Canyon de Chelly


The morning started out pretty cold up in the Chuska Mountains, Gentle Reader of This Blog.  I waited a bit for things to warm up, but as I started down the mountain, a pretty fierce headwind kicked up - Winter is on the way!

Arrrg!
The headwind was brutal - don't I look like I'm having fun?  Trying to take a selfie and almost getting blown off the road...  I would rather ride in the cold mountain air of the Reservation, or the furnace-like heat of a September in Tucson, than fight a headwind, mes amis!

Getting set for the fast down-hill into Chinle
I've been off the bike for a few weeks - due to rain up here and cold.  There may not be too many warm days left.  The sun also goes down pretty fast so I am not quite able to ride to the firs pull-out and back by dark.

A new Friend
I pulled into the Visitor Center at the Monument - this fellow gave me a tired but friendly sigh.

At least I'll have a tailwind, right?
I have to say that I thought about going down to the Thunderbird for a piece of pie and maybe a cup of coffee.  But now the afternoon was a bit warmer.  Since there was no one around save my new pal waiting patiently in the car, I thought I'd look around a bit.  Usually I'm here just to fill water bottles, eat my cliff bar, and roll on.  Today I wanted to take in the change of the season - which I am happy to report was bold!


The Hogan on display - actually a nice place!


I would be okay living here!  Room for all my bikes too!


Hmm, not sure about the skylight...


Mostly Hogans are used for ceremonies - old timers still around may or may not live in the ones I see, but friends have them to use for camps when they round up herds in the mountains.


A nice replica of the way times used to be for many people in Dine Dikeyah - Navajo Lands.


I was surprised to see this guy again!  Every time I show up to get water, and eat my cliff bar on the benches by the HQ, he comes out to look me over.  Today he let me get a bit closer and I photographed him for you.  It might be a bit late to have a "name the lizard contest" but I was happy to think he remembers me.  He may have been thinking to himself, "Might be Buffalo Belly's last ride for awhile, with Winter on the way..."


If you visit the Canyon, you could have a nice campsite.  These young Cottonwoods will give you shade in the Summer, and protect you from the crisp Winter Wind now passing through.


These old-time Cottonwoods have thrived here on the way to the old trading post!


Beautiful colors and the bitter-sweet smell of the changes soon to arrive.


The families that have horse and jeep tours live here.  I've not done one yet - my Navajo friends say we can just saddle up a horse and go on our own.  But my friends are always so busy!  After work and on the weekends they have to attend to sheep, cows, horses, and their fields.  Late Summer and Fall means fixing things, cutting wood for cold times ahead.


I just rode up a bit on the South Rim, it was so windy that I thought I would just enjoy the tailwind back up to The College.


Chinle is a few miles past the Monument HQ, and as you can see, I'm in the open and the wind is very strong right now!


I'm heading back with a sweet tailwind, Gentle Reader.  It's nice to have a bit more silence rather than the loud wind-tunnel effect coming down the 2000 feet or so in a roaring headwind.  Really can often leave my ears ringing when I get home from the ride.


This hill is right at the first pull-out - Mummy Cave and Massacre Cave.  It means that all the hard climbing back up to The College is behind me, and I can get some speed going back with the tailwind now helping me along.


This is the Defiance Plateau, and many Navajo live, like these folks do, in their house on the Rim - they have Hogans and fields that they farm, and have farmed for generations in Canyon de Chelly below.


This has been a long hard ride today - not much further, mes amis!


If I look to the West, that's Round Rock.  I could ride down to Chinle, turn and ride North, up there to Round Rock, and then head East back to Tsaile.  It would be about an 80 mile ride round-trip - but with the wind today - no way!


I have lived in Dine Bikeyah for almost a year - this country had endeared itself to me and I feel One with every breath I take - which are deep because I am climbing!


The say, "What we do to the Mountain, we do to ourselves."  Which means to say, this is sacred land and I must tell you, Gentle Readers of This Blog, this is a very special place and the Navajo are very lucky to know it - and share with me too.


Okay goats and sheep!  Out of the road!  I'm coming through!


Two pieces of pony, and bits of plastic are all that remain of this wild one.


Here at Benally Hill I say farewell to the tailwind I've had coming home.  I didn't have a real fast ride today - and it was cold as the afternoon started showing up - but I feel my lungs are cleared and I've sleep well tonight for sure!


Here is the trailer park where I live.  The main campus is just a mile down this road, and to the library and my office.  That's Tsaile Peak about seven miles East of The College.


Black Pinnacle is about four miles away on Hwy 12.  I have to tell you a few times when I've come home in the evenings, and when it's dark, some ponies are sometimes on the edge of the road.  Even with my bright commuter lights, you just don't see them until you're right there on them!  So I am very careful!  Often the cows will just stand in the entrance of the trailer park's drive.  That I don't expect! 

I'm working hard and putting in a lot of hours - the days are shorter and cooler now.  It's good to ride - thanks for coming by the blog!

Cheers!  Bruce