Sunday, May 29, 2005

Kitt Peak Ride or "Manhood Tested"

When the Youngbloods boast about their climbing abilities, and Kitt Peak is mentioned, I listen and wonder if I have the lungs and the mettle. They say "Wind, rain, cold, grind, sweat, blood, tears, blah blah blah blah!" (There is some truth to this by the way.)

It would be my 1st time to do this famous ride that everyone talks about. Many people visit Tucson just to take a crack at the Peak. If you all reading this know me, I'm a big guy--and big guys are not known for their climbing ability. It's work.

The start--6 a.m. 12 miles to the top!

I can see Kitt Peak Observatory from my kitchen. Now when I look out there--white telescopes gleaming--I can feel okay about it. One day if distant future relations are visiting, they may recall stories that Great Uncle Bruce used to ride his bike up to the top of this Peak. My hope is that they would see and meet other cyclists doing the same, and strike up conversation. Maybe they'll picture the old man as once the fit and strong cyclist. Lean and tall, tan legs from Tucson Sun.

Of our group of friends that rode up, I certainly was not the first or fastest to the top, nor was I the slowest, struggling to finally reach the finish. Its not about that; who's first or last. It helps to be fit, of course, or it could be quite unpleasant--its saying to yourself, "Allez!"

Feel the wind and the sun. Smell the ground and the fresh rain. Hear the songs of the birds as they announce their claims to the treetops.
Look beyond--and the Greatness is revealed.
You are not the first, and you are not alone--others have been coming this way for a thousand years before you.
Behold your place in the Greatness.

I've got the bikes on Bev's new car. Scratch the car and I'm dead!

On the way up. I started to really sweat the first couple of miles, but then relaxed and enjoyed the views, and stopped just for a moment for the photo. Baboquivari Peak is in the distance.

Getting close! Over half the way. Brrrr! I brought arm warmers and glad I did!

Getting there.

One more mile!

Made it up. Took me a little less than 2 hours.

C'est moi.

I'm faster. No, I'M faster. No, I'm faster. NO. I'M faster...

Message from scientists. Gift shop opens at 10 a.m.

Message from the Gods?

Overall, the ride wasn't as tough as I thought. It got pretty cold when I arrived up there. But then the sun came out for a few minutes, and it got warm and sunny.

To my surprise, Gerry Goode called expecting to leave me a voice mail on my cell phone. "Where are you?" "Up on Kitt Peak, just getting ready for the ride down." "Who's with you up there?" "Dave, Jim, Bob, and Raymond..."

Got cold again, so we headed out. Going down was very fast. I took it easy because I got a good jolt from a rock in the road. I didn't see it and clipped it hard. Boy--almost sent me off the road into the trees. The rain the night before washed marble-sized chunks of rocks and bits onto the pavement.

I gained confidence on this outting because Steve and I will climb on the 600 K, June 25th, in Boulder, Colo. This Kitt Peak ride was only 12 miles. Colorado will have longer climbs, but we'll gain our time back on the way down.

Oh yeah--slept on the floor for 2 hours after I got home--too tired to go take a shower and hit the sack.

A biento!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Cyclist VS. Dog in the road

So I had to drive into the office today. First, of all, a Tucson police cruiser was on I-10, and the SOB was only driving 55 in the 65 MPH zone (where everyone drives 75-85) so nobody would dare pass the cruiser and get going. Traffic was backed up for miles until the cop eventually turned off. Finally the sheep in the left lane moved over and let the Greyhounds have the field. I don't drive fast and I don't drive slow--but I dont' mess around--I get there.

U C when I commute in on the bike, the road is open. I get a pace going, a momentum, and I don't have to wait on people--watch out for them, yes--but I don't get packed in with the Snow Birds and the Jalopies, and the Suits n Suties (women in lil man suits) yappin on the cell. I spin, Baby! I'm rolling, ma Chere!

We must sometimes drive to do what we have to do. With this in mind, for those that have to drive, I ride on streets that give us both room to get there. People in their cars don't have to slow down and wait behind me--and that makes up both happy. What's that thing they say? Oh yeah, "Share the Road."

What I did see driving in was a cyclist fending off a mean dog with his bike. The dog was in the middle of the road and the cyclist was off his bike and holding it between himself and the dog. That dog was not going to let this guy pass. Now where I saw this was on Speedway Blvd and I-10. To get on the side streets out of the traffic, there's this funky side ramp exit. I never take it and brave the 200 yards of death. This guy might have had a short-cut up there, but next time I bet he just braves the traffic. Dogs always back down--in most cases. If you turn and try to run away the dog will go after you. The flow of traffic kept me from seeing the outcome of this drama.

When you come off the freeway, and turn onto Speedway Blvd, the sun is right in your eyes and you're blinded. Many motorists hit the gas here and barrel-ass through the overpass even though they can't really see. They just know where to aim because, like me, they've taken this exit almost every day to get to work.

Allure Libre, Mes Amis

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Ride report

I got lucky last night on the ride home. The wind blew strong and kept the heat from lounging on the pavement--so it was cooler--and hey, only 100! But the wind was a head wind all the way home and robbed me of my legs by the end of the evening.

The camelback worked perfectly. I loaded it with ice and cold water from the library's water cooler. My water bottles are warm after a few minutes. When I got home, I must say I was still able to walk and did not crumple on the drive way as in days of yore. Plus, the year of an epic Randonneuring season training for Brevets has had the effect of mental and physical toughness.

But after a shower, a bite to eat, a few rounds of catch with the dog, a comfortable chair--Gentle Reader--I am spent. I start to get in a funk and I'm worthless. Bev slaps me around so as to keep me from just lying on the cool kitchen tile floor and falling asleep.

The weekend will be cool, and Steve and I are planning a training ride possibly in Phoenix up to Round Mountain.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Rolling into work

I'm happy to report that my commute in was fast this morning. Another cyclist out training caught up with me on River and Thornydale, and we took turns drafting down River Ave. There's usually a headwind so it was cool to go a little faster then normal. At La Cholla, we passed another guy, and he jumped on. Got some speed going and I pulled out on 1st Ave and headed south to hop onto the bike trail, and on into the office. Thanks, Fellow Velonauts, who ever you were...

The ride home will be the adventure. Yesterday, Gentle Reader, I rode in on the morning commute, as usual, but in the afternoon, I got a ride home with Bev. 105 degrees was averted. Not so today--I will go for it. Will I be man enough? I don't think that's what its about, really. Am I dumb enough to ride home 21 miles in 105 degrees? YES I AM, BABY--BRING IT ON.

I also want to mention that since I got in early to the library, I had time at the Wellness Ctr (the gym at UMC) to lift some weights. Yesterday, I paid my membership dues and I was given a discount for commuting to work by bike. Some kind of new incentive started by UMC. So instead of $18 a month, my dues are $12 a month.

Oh yeah, there were some young women working out next to me. They could lift more weight than I could--but I was not demoralized, Gentle Reader.

I remembered the motto of the Randonneur: "Allure Libre"

My take on it from the French means, "Ride your Ride" Just do what you gotta do to get what you gotta get done--Hommie G


Sunday, May 22, 2005

Viva Mexico!

Dave Glasgow, my Mentor and coach, put together a 50 mile ride this Saturday, that took me down to the Mexican border. Another friend Robert joined us and we rode from Arivaca to Sasabe. We would be riding down to the Sasabe Store, 25 miles from the Gadsen Coffee House in Arivaca. Dave knows the owner of the Sasabe Store, a very charming and friendly woman, and she went out of her way to make us feel welcome. I can't recall her name right now, but she spoke very eloquent Spanish, and her English was just as commanding and clear.

Sasabe Store

Baboquivari, Sacred Peak of the Tohono O'odham

During the ride, I was feeling strong and they guys didn't mind if I rode ahead. So I tucked into the bars and hammered down for the 12 miles to Sasabe. A tail wind helped too. It was perfect--no traffic--smooth rollers--good pavement.

Faster Pussy Cat, Faster! Kill Kill!*

*(Do not attempt. Complete idiot. Closed course.)

South to Mexico

I got into Sasabe, went past the store, and took a quick left--and before I knew it I rode threw the open gates and across the border into Mexico. I rode up to what looked like the guard house, and out came a few of the border guys. They said hello and were very friendly. I told them I'd never been to Mexico and just wanted to say I'd been there, and take a few pictures. No problem. They said that this side is Sasabe, Sonora, and the US side is Sasabe, Arizona.

Did I just ride into Old Mexico?

Sasabe, Sonora Border Check

You are now leaving Mexico. Have a nice day!

So I rode back to the US side and a very friendly border guard said hello and I showed him my driver's license. Then the Mexican border guys came over, and we all talked about the weather, my bike ride, etc. right there on the US-Mexico border. The US and Mexican guys were on a first name basis, and I could tell these guys were friends.

US Mexico Border

The US border guard let me inside the border house, where I met a couple of other very laid back and friendly border guards too. They told me that the border house was on the Nat'l Register of Historic Places, and that it was built in 1932. The US government had a "cookie cutter" house they build for border houses that were exactly like lighthouses--same floor plan and everything. They seemed very proud of the place and were happy to show it to me.

Old US Border House

After waving farewell, I rode back to the Sasabe Store to find Dave and Robert relaxing under a large shaded porch across the street. We filled our water bottles, ate a snack, and headed back to Arivaca.

Dave and Bob, Baboquivari Peak in the background

Dave and Yours

The last 10 miles heading back, we could feel the heat rising. We finished by Noon, and I'd say it was almost 100 degrees by then. I saw on the news at 5 that it was 108 degrees. Awesome.

Love to you all, Friends!

Friday, May 20, 2005

104 for breakfast

So I took a short spin--I felt pretty good. What was real obvious was the lack of that coolness in the mornings. Its gone from cool, with leg warmers and arm warms for the commute in, to pretty damn hot. The only thing about this morning, although early, is that all the work trucks and such are on the road.

I also do a monthly ride up to the very end of Dove Mountain Blvd. Well I haven't ridden to the end of the road, and to the top of the mountain is about three months. Usually when I ride the three extra miles to the end of the road, on a very newly paved and never traveled road, I might add--something magical happens, Gentle Reader... I've seen deer, coyotes, gila monsters--and thousands of birds singing and darting among the massive saguaro. The road really goes through a wild and pristine wilderness. Alas, this time all I could hear was the rumble of a backhoe not far away. The million dollars homes with their faux adobe are on the way. And that's just the home. The piece of land probably costs the buyer a few million at least. But its just sad that they got to plow down everything so someone can wake up in the morning, scratch their nut sack, sip their glass of Ensure, and see the mountains from their climatized over-sized, huge expensive piece of crap house.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Ride of Silence

Last night, I met up with about 30 to 40 other cyclist for the Nat'l Ride of Silence. One rides to honor those who have been killed or injured by motorists. The guy who organized this ride was himself almost killed by an inattentive driver hurrying to work one morning.

The ride started in the southeast parking lot of Foothills Mall, and did like a big oval--over roads I would normally never ride on because they're kind of busy and not friendly. We only rode about 10-12 miles and hour--and no one spoke--all rode in silence. I must say the effect caught the attention of motorists, as many looked on baffled at the speed and somber tone. As a pack of riders with lights (in was late evening) traveled on, I felt pretty secure. Riding slow gave me a chance to think about whom I was riding in memory of.

Megan was killed by a drunk driver. The woman driver had a prison record for drugs and DWIs, and her license was also revoked at the time. She just missed Dave, who was riding with Megan, and hit and killed Megan instantly. The case against the drunk driver was thrown out, and she paid no fine and served no jail time. The Marana Police Dept. lost the DWI or breath test evidence, so they say, and the case could not continue.

Everyone, including myself, was completely shocked--and Dave endured a good deal of the blame from Megan's friends for her tragic death. I remember at Megan's funeral the hateful glares he got, and the remarks, "There's the guy that got her into biking..." and "Why didn't the bike guy get killed and not Megan..." But Dave stood his ground and took all their best shots. In the end, of course, no one blamed him--how could they? He knew that he himself could have been killed as the drunk driver just missed him. He suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome for many months. Time has passed, and those days have faded. Thinking about them now I recall the courage Dave Glasgow mustered to press on and still remain one of the top ultra cyclist in the county. Has he ever spoken ill of the woman that killed Megan? No.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

100 degrees

My training rides start this weekend. And my commutes home will be tough as well.

Last summer I was able to ride in about 100 degree heat, but a few days it was 102. I could not drink enough and cool my core at 102. This summer I will use my camelback and load it up with ice--and keep my water bottles wrapped up in my backpack and clothes from work to keep them cold. Drinking warm Gatorade sucks--but you have to drink it or you’re dead. Of course I can stop and get ice and cold stuff, but I don’t want to stop.

After a few weeks, your body adapts--You have to pay attention because your mind will tell you everything is okay while your body shuts down.

There is something quite sublime riding in 102 degree heat, if I may say so. I'm sure I'll be able to tell you more about it, Gentle Reader, as I hit the road--and burn. Mainly, its the air--its hot—like breathing fire. And, as long as you keep moving, sweat just kind of goes along for the ride. When you stop at a light, or what ever, sweat starts to pour out of you.

Does that stop the Randonneur? Non, mes amis! Ils allons!

Au revoir!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A bike racer I know

This morning, Katherine Burleson, one the doctors I know, showed me her silver medal she won in Phoenix over the weekend in the Arizona State Championship Time Trails. Pretty cool. Katherine is the one who showed me some articles about Paleolithic diets and nutrition--part of her research--after we talked about re-awakeneing chromosomes we still had left over from evolution. I met her awhile back when she was in the library to get info on some software. She saw our bikes in mine and Stef's office--so she's been telling me about her racing exploits over the last few months. Racing is pretty new to her, and she's gotten good. I have another friend Linda who's a runner, and for their age group--50 and over--the competition is fierce.

I believe these chromosomes that we have, once awakened, start to fire up other systems--physical and emotional--and the body starts to get charged up and everybody is addicted--the party is on, Baby!

The only other time I can recall this sort of funky feeling is when I started doing yoga. So I suppose there's the balance, and the beauty in it all. The more refined chromosomes are saying, "Okay fellas, take it easy--remember... Breathe..."


Monday, May 16, 2005


I read this National Geographic story a few days ago. This scientist attempted a trek in that he would walk over an ancient range, which still remains somewhat like it did in the Paleolithic Era in terms of floral and fauna. He quickly discovered, probably like Paleo people knew, that much of the stuff he carried with him at first, was useless. It came down to all he needed was a pair of shorts and some flimsy sandals. The shorts would have been gone too, but Nat'l Geographic is a "family show" so they remained on (at least for the photographs). The man lived off the land, walked maybe 20 to 30 miles a day, and as he got fit, lost the Neolithic Beer Gut. Of course this was in the jungle and in the mountains. Maybe he'll try other treks where he will have to figure out what kind of stuff he will need, and if he can make it out what's available. It might be nice to have some other volunteers with him. Hunting Elk with a sharp stick by yourself would be pretty tough.

Sasabe Store Posted by Hello

My hope is that the sleeping DNA inside me will wake up, flex, and help me through the 600 K Brevet that I've planned to do in Colorado in June. Many of you know that I was really wanting to do the whole Randonnee Series--be one of the first to finish Arizona's first ever Brevet Series, and earn the distinction of "Super Randonneur" but instead I earned the dreaded DNF (did not finish). I might have made a few tactical errors but probably what happened is that I got dehydrated--because I got the runs. Not good on a bike ride. So I ended up riding 240 miles of the 380 mile ride.

My whole philosophy here is that I am in fact genetically disposed, as we all are, to endure 380 miles of none-stop bike riding. Those chromosomes are there and I can feel them getting edgy and restless. Now I've got to do the rest--get on the bike and ride.


Friday, May 13, 2005

Picture of the Bike

This is my 2002 Lemond Buenos Aires.
Image courtesy of Greg Lemond's site.
This machine rocks.

I've ridden the Hell outta her--everything's good but I need to replace the wheels. I had to borrow a back wheel from my friend Gerry Goode, of Randonneuring fame, to get me through the 600 K Brevet back in April.

After the 400 K Brevet in March, I noticed that the rim of my back wheel was cracking at all the spoke/nipple points. I noticed this out on a training ride. Had I been on the 600, I am sure the wheel would have failed.

Depending on how fast I was going, I probably would have crashed, gotten hurt, and if I was riding with Steve, Rich, or Mike in a paceline--might have caused a mishap for us all.

Below is my bike parked in the office. Note the shorts hanging out to dry on the aero bars. The Aero bars are again courtesy of Gerry Goode. And Hey, I've learned to put pictures in this flog...

Oh yeah, on my ride in yesterday, I noticed my front wheel was wobbly--at the hub--which means the set of wheels is shot. I thought about driving the car. Nah! Rode the Lemond in anyway, and I didn't even think about it. Of course, the wheel could have failed and my neck could be broken. I'll take it to the bike shop and have Phil check it out this weekend.

Allure Libre

Why I commute

Tucson is beautiful. The weather is awesome. I got one of my worst sunburns ever a few years ago in February, riding at Saguaro National Park. I thought, Hey, February--I don't need sunscreen. Ooh, I was wrong.

I have commuted for almost three years now. Not every day, and not 21 miles each way at first, but now the 21 mile commute seems routine. It has never ever really been so cold that I couldn't ride. The toughest part is riding in the hot weather. Last summer I rode home in 101 and 103 degree temps. Maybe I was just stupid. I was able to do it but just barely. The ride home is up hill towards the last seven miles or so--and that's when I started to get cramps. When I get cramps I'm basically done, spent, and over. And drag myself home--and I'm just worthless because I get home, shower, and stay in a funk until the next morning.

Last year about this time I got pneumonia--when the doctor looked at the x-ray of my chest, she told me I was poster boy for pneumnia. She also noted the extensive skeletal damage to my shoulder, collar bone, and ribs. Those were from a 1995 horsebacking riding accident, which is another story in itself. On some of the long brevets I've done this year, where I've pushed myself to the limit physically, those old injuries reappear and nag me. Motrin shakes it.

I commute for the following reasons:

Its fun.
Keeps me fit.
My part to help save the Planet.
I feel great all day at the office.
I feel camaraderie with other cyclists/commuters.
Positive energy that keeps mind and body running insync. (I guess?)
No stress in traffic like when you drive.
The road is open--that is so sweet!
Evolution, Baby--we live in the Neolithic Era but our bodies are still Paleolithic. This means we are designed to walk, run, forage, gather, hunt, etc. We got to move or we'll just get sick and fat.
Because I am able to move because I'm not somewhere that's cold, well--I move. I am lucky really lucky to be able to do it.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Did I mention I commute?

My commute--or shall I say ride--yes, I like ride much better. The ride is 21 miles one-way. 42 miles round trip. I'm not bragging or anything, most guys ride at least this far or maybe just under 20 miles, but 80 per cent of my ride is on some pretty good roads so I feel lucky.

I do the ride in about 1 hour and 15 minutes on average. Both ways.

My ride has been faster actually because sunrise is at 5:30 am. I can see where the Hell I'm going! And that means I can ride faster. I believe its safer for me too. People can see me. I still have my lights on and blinking--so there will be no excuse for anybody that runs over me saying some shit like, "I didn't see him." Or that lie, "He were warhing dark clothing, Yer Honor."

But you know, I think all the early folks are used to seeing me on the road now, and the working people don't ever hassle me. The people that get upset are usually on their cell and running late, happen to be behind a vehicle that is being courteous, careful, and slowing down to pass me at a safe speed and distance.

The Key to my survival is that I take a route that is, as much as possible, friendly to drivers. We both have plenty of room and they don't have to slow or wait. I don't deliberitly try to piss people off or make drivers nervous. Since I often drive the same route I bike, I can see where I might need to be extra careful because drivers just can't see a bike approaching.

Still, I don't take any shit from anybody. And let's face it. I can kick your ass. Leave me alone. Share the Road. I'm on my way to work, Fool--

A flogging blog is born, Baby!

Greetings fellow Cyclists and bike commuters

"Did you start your blog yet?"
Stef was asking me. And I have, thanks to his help--this will be cool. Who is Stef? And how did he convince me to choose the name "flogincaulkenballz" for my posting name? Read the Man's Flog.

Triple B Ranch -- that is for Bruce's Bike Blog -- people will say, "Did you read that Cat's blog? Bruce's Bike Blog?" And maybe they will.

This blog, or as Stef likes to say, flog (f---ing blog) will be about my bike commutes to work.
I live in Marana, Arizona, in a place called Dove Mountain. My spread is humble, but there's some really rich SOB's that live out there and they flaunt it with huge SUV's and Hummers and have little regard or respect for the desert, runners, other drivers, and cyclists.

But I guess if I had lots of money--maybe I'd sell out and buy a bunch of crap as well? Nah!

Live and let live--and share the road, muthafuckur!!!

My commute from Marana to the Arizona Health Sciences Library is 21 miles.
It is awsome and I feel great and want to write about the hidden beauty and suprises that make it and my life less boring and routine.