Thursday, October 27, 2005

Coyotes on the Trail

By now I believe the coyotes that live in golf course have become used to me coming and going. These cold dark mornings there are no golfers--just me. Now the coyotes are around and they just act indifferent. One looked at me last night when I got home and he just yawned, but he had a twinkle in his eye instead of that look of suspicsion. The bunnies used to have that concerned look when I'd show up with the car in the morning--and when I'd be biking back to the car on my way home. Now they look to see who it is, and when the see its me they relax.

This week I have tried to get out of the office asap but its difficult. I end up riding in the dark most of the way and in traffic, and I'm not sure how drivers feel about me sqeezing through where there's no sholder and they have to move over for me. The last 3 miles of my ride home I'm pretty much riding faster than, or at the same speed as the cars. My hope is that motorist will get used to seeing the big guy making his way up-hill on the bike and share the road.

Allure Libre

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Kitt Peak Photos

Here's a few more photos from our Kitt Peak ride, complements of El Carbon! Click on them to get a bigger view.

Me, Stef, Aaron, Anthony, El Carbon! aka Jerry

Kitt Peak is in the very far right corner, about 12 miles away and almost 6,000 ft

The telescope on top.

Kitt Peak in the left corner of the photo

Team Mooney--"Every Man for Himself" I get dropped in a few miles by the way...

The last thing the bugs see before they smack into your teeth

Not far to go--check out the view, Baby!

On the top, mes amis. "Bow before Me, the Great White God of the Mountain and count your blessings. Be Gratful I don't flick your asses off my realm right now!"

We are back at the cars--its still early. Time to go home and sleep the rest of the day! Hooray!

Love and Kisses--Allure Libre!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Kitt Peak with Team Mooney

At the very last second, mes amis, I am able to ride with infamous Team Mooney. The Moonies are a bunch of local lads--many ex-rugby players, lawyers in love, med students, and good natured hooligans--like me. One of the most colorful members is club president, and my cohort at the office--Stef. Like the rest of these heroes, Stef is able to stay pretty fit and competitive while juggling work and family--plus all these guys are a riot! Its always a fun time.

Kitt Peak--a celebration of sorts for the Team. It was about two years ago everyone went to ride Kitt Peak, and the conditions that day were miserable--so I hear. It was so windy, cold, and just plain horrible, that after I heard all the stories, I even doubted I could make it up the Peak!

Since these fellows ride hard, I didn't stop to take photos while riding, so photos before and after will have to suffice--maybe a few pics from El Carbon! I'll borrow to add to the blog.

Pre-Kitt Peak--Stef makes waffels for the kids.

Waiting for Aarron to ride by, and we'll pick him up. Since this ride will be fairly short and not an all-day affair, the lure of the Peak is mezmorising. Stef is unaware of the no-parking sign...

But he really doesn't care about that--or much else!

El Carbon! and I have been friends for quite some time, but this is actually the first time we've ridden together. El Carbon! aka Jerry Poplin, got his road bike stolen when he loaned it to friends, and their house got robbed. The insurance company paid-out big time, and Jerry got one of the sweetest bikes in town; all carbon fiber and bling-bling--we were all jealous! Hence his famous handle El Carbon!

On the drive out to Kitt Peak, there's quite a few Snow Birds out for Sunday drives. So we're going along, and get stuck behind an old Geezer tootaling along with his head up his ass. I'm driving and Aaron and Anthony are riding along in 22X, and as I pull around to pass, some asshole in the on-coming traffic lane decides I have insulted his manhood--and he floors it and comes straight at us head-on. Of course I get around the old Geezer and get back in my lane--but the guy almost hit us head on. We were kind of wondering what the fuck was up with this guy? Stef and El Carbon! call Aaron on the cell to ask if we've wet our pants!

Anthony sans Mooney show-time jersey.

Stef and Aaron have a few laughs before we saddle up...

Aaron and El Carbon! at the base of Kitt Peak Road.

I have to say I had a pretty good ride up the Peak. This would be my second attempt, so I was able to relax and take in the cool mountain air. As I climbed it got cold but that made parts of the climbing where the sun shown on the road even better. The Sun felt good rather than cooking you as it normaly does--and like Stef and I were talking about later at his place, I was able to find the parts of the ride where I could push, and then recover.

As far as how much time it took compared to the first time--maybe I was a little faster. The first time I did the ride, it was about or just at 2 hours. This time it was a little less that two hours. The guys were good sports because I was the last one to the top and everyone waited for me.

I'll be able to get some more picks taken by El Carbon! and will insert later--so keep checking on the blog

Thursday, October 20, 2005

By The Dawn's Early Light

Cold but not as cold as it will be. It helps to turn up the heat in the car and warm the ol' gams--then jump n the saddle and spin.

Iron Horse sans fenders--

I meant to leave earlier but it got light, but the Sun didn't quite get over the Mtns until 7 am--then WHAM--El Sol and I got warm pretty fast. I couldn't see anything on River Rd because of the glare. Just hoped that this day would not be may last and I'd get run over by a truck! But hey, the sun coming up over the Mtns is awesome, mes amis--this morning was less traffic and I could hear the birds busting out. So it was just 50 degrees? Does that phase Le Randonneur? Non! Jamais, non!

Lights for the morning commute...

Well, it felt good to be back on the bike after a week off for rest. Legs felt good but the lungs were still not ready so it seemed--but at the half-way mark I was rolling my usual strong steady pace.

Yours at bike parking. Photo courtesy of Joan.

Allure Libre--

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Let the Miles Come to Meet You

Somehow I have been transformed as of late. The 252 miles of mountain, desert, rain, hail, and lightening--plus physical and mental effort I did not know I had until I pushed myself to limit--has had its effect.

I am not the man I used to be.

So many things could have gone wrong--a few did, but so many things went so beautifully right, my Dear Gentle Reader--practially flawless--I've realized that really, there is nothing to fear. Nothing to hold you back. You cannot ever escape what will lay before you because it is coming--how you deal with it will be your own. But many of you already know this.

I trained as much as a man could train with the resources on hand. The job, the home, the responsibilities, the money. Much of my training was in tempatures well over 100 degrees, and in traffic unfriendly and dangerous. There were times where my path crossed with some really mean people--but as you know, they were so damn fat, that they had to take the frieght elevator to get their cars and offices! There were others--but now they don't matter and never will.

The weeks before the race, I noticed my waist an inch smaller--my belt now all the way to the 5th hole instead of the 2nd and 3rd where it used to be. I'm 10 pounds lighter. My legs are all lean muscle--but my back is still out! That old injury from horseback riding...

The hardest thing about this ride were the battles with Bev--convincing her that the time away on the bike would be the only way for me to do this ride--because it is a very difficult hell-of-a-ride and not for the meek. But I won these battles and prevailed! It is really her fear that on day I will not return from a ride that makes her try to keep me home.

The things that went wrong:
  • Lack of sleep a few nights before--Callie the dog was sick and keep me awake having to take her outside
  • Hammer Gel, Perpetum, and Hammer Heed--giving me a sick stomache
  • Eating pizza hut the night before the race--hurt my guts on the climb
  • Confusion at Wilcox time controle--I was in trouble with no food or water-- on the most dangerous part of the course on I-10
The things that went right:
  • Light from Steve--without it, I could not have ridden 50MPH downhill
  • Cold weather gear--Sue Payne gave me her husband's bike jacket
  • Training rides--Steve and I did Marana-Scottsdale-Marana; 263 miles--Scottsdale to Prescott-that was one tough ride, and part of the RAAM course. Paul Layton's 200 K; I felt so unbelievably un-stoppable that day, only to have the worst case of the runs in my life!
  • Support-encouragement-advice from Steve Jewel, Dave Glasgow, Stef Walz, Jerry Goode, John Heller, Eric Ewing, Russ Goodwin, Susan Plonsky, Bob, Jian, Joan, Bruce, Heather, Amanda, Adrian, El Carbon!, Dave H, Dave P, Phil and Judy, Frank, friends at work, med student friends, nursing student friends, my Mum, Sis, Brother Bill... My brevets last year with Steve, Mike, Rich, Paul and Mike Allen
  • Linda, my Crew Chief
  • I used "Emergen C" 1000 cc of Vitamin C and just about as much Potassium
  • Salt tablets
  • Endurolites--3 every hour
  • Pepsi
  • Coka Cola
  • Coffee with cream--six sugars, Baby!
  • Positive Attitude
  • Xiao's good luck charm
There's more in here somewhere but now I'm tired. I get tired just thinking about the ride.
Today my back hurt just a little, but my strenght is coming back. My mind is still resting too.

Tomorrow I commute into the office. Now that October has arrived, I need the cold weather gear and lights--Allure Libre, Mes Amis!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Sporting Life

Very early this Saturday morning, I got up at 4:30 a.m. to drive up to Casa Grande to meet Steve. He had borrowed me his lights, and I wanted to return them. We decided to have a quick breakfast at I-Hop before the morning 200 K brevet--which by the way, Gentle Reader, I was in no condition to ride after last weekend's Cochise Classic. My back is still mending--but enjoy these photos of the start, as I said hello to friends.

Steve at the start of the 200, ready to burn off the pancakes we've just eaten at I-Hop...

Susan, our beloved RBA, and the famous Sandiway Fong--pre-ride check-in at the bike shop in Casa Grande.

Randoneurs prepare for the brevet.

The Lads ready for the ride.

At the start--five minutes to roll.

Allure libre, mes amis! Bon journey!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Post Cochise Pictures

That night after the race, there was a big loud party on the Hotel's plaza--until about 4 a.m. So I got no sleep at all, mes amis. At sun-up I took the camera and went out to take some photos. It was 6 a.m. and Downtown Douglas was pretty quiet.

All just a dream?

The lobby of the Hotel set up for the awards breakfast.

The Hotel's bar. There had been a Douglas High School Reunion Saturday night after the race. After the bar closed at 2 a.m. the party spilled over to the outside Hotel plaza--until 4 a.m.

The Team from Dallas, Texas.

22X in the parking lot of Hotel Gadsen.

Wind and rain are evident on our race number.

Gadsen Hotel was built in 1907.

As I rode into Douglas that evening, I could see the neon "Hotel Douglas" on top of the building.

Linda, my Crew Chief for Cochise. She gets up and goes for a run.

The course painted on the wall of this old building, across the street from the Hotel.

Douglas was a friendly town.

I'm not so sure about Tombstone. I took this on the drive back to Tucson. The night of the race I had to ride thru downtown Tombstone--almost crashed--some ruts or something in the road...

Oh yeah, the shoot out at the OK Corral--can't miss that!

Cheers, mes amis!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Cochise -- Been There, Done That

I picked Linda up at her new house, we threw her bags in the car, and set off for Douglas at 5:30 Friday evening. Over the last few days, I'd packed the car and gotten everything ready, so we were off...

Mandatory 252 Meeting

We got there late and the meeting was almost over--oh well. We were starved so we ate pizza--mistake number one--I ate like 22 pieces. Hey! That's my race number!
Dave Glasgow, John Heller, Eric Ewing, and Russ Goodwin are there and we all say hello. So Glasgow has three crew--we were hoping one would come over and help us. Ended up we were fine.

Gadsen Hotel

A Grand Old Historic cheap hotel. But we hit the sack, after setting the alarm for 1:15 a.m.--can you believe that? Riding 75 miles throught the mountains in the dark? As you can see below, people line-up to do it...

At the start of the Cochise Classic. 27 riders in all. I was dressed with my warm gear, which was a good thing because although the start in town was okay, after a few miles it was cold--The support crews could not follow for 30 minutes after the start. A lot of the guys froze the first 1o or so miles, and had to stop to get warm.

And we're off

So, like, it's dark and stuff--even with with Steve's hub I borrowed and my commuter lights, all I can see is the white line of the shoulder. The climbing begins and everyone starts to stretch out. Climbing is what I'm doing--climbing climbing climbing. Crews are coming by to drop off warm clothes to other riders. The fast riders are already in Bisbee, and I'm somewhere between them and the others.

It is a long loney climb and I'm nearing Mule Head Tunnel. I know that after the Tunnel I'll have a 7 to 12 mile ride down--oh yeah, its cold alright, but I am sweating like a dog.

When I get out of the Tunnel, its pitch black--and so starts the down hill... A coyote runs in front of me, surprised by the lights. As I'm gaining speed, the hub light gets brighter, and brighter--man, the hub light is getting pretty darn bright. I'm going about 45 mph down this road--an offical in a truck passes me, and he drives about a 1/4 mile in front of me with his lights flashing. This helped me to kind of feel safer going down hill at night at those speeds. I may have gotten up to 50 mph but I didn't want to look, mes amis, fearing any mistake would be death. I must tell you that the pavement of the hwy was pristine--and smooth--and as I've said, I was freakin' flying down the road!

I'm just at the edge of St. David, after flying down the Hwy 80 at 45+ MPH in total butt ugly runny-nose cold darkness. Its finally daylight and I've ridden about 70 miles. I'll change out the hub for my regular wheel, and get rid of anything I don't need to carry, mainly all my lights.

This is more like it--pulling into the Benson time station. I take a minute to eat half of a subway sandwhich. The gels and goo are not working for me. Coca Cola, Cold Cut Combos, and Caffine are my weapons of choice.

Hwy to Hell

Before I-10 was I-10, it was old Hwy 666. So you pretty much know it SUCKED the whole fucking time I was ridin that bitch! This part of the course sucked soooo much. I actually rode pretty fast--and started gaining on Rider 6. The shoulder was horrible, being littered with chunks of truck tire rubber, beer bottles, wire, bolts, shoes, gloves, bras, and just the wierdest shit.

Linda and I hung in there--her support was perfect. She told me I was gaining on Rider 6--that it looked like he was having problems. See I thought I was in last place and this would be my chance to not have that distinction. But I didn't want to try and race this guy. When I'd stop for a few minutes to get fresh water bottles, Linda would say, "He's 7 minutes ahead of you." Next stop, "He's two minutes ahead of you!"

Finally, right before Wilcox, on I-10, I passed Rider 6. He was not happy, and I did not want to stick around and share his misery--he was in trouble--and he didn't want to be last. So I thought it best to put as much distance between us as possible.

Perpetual Wilcox

Linda drove to the Wilcox time station to check us in. Here we got separated and almost had our first real disaster. Linda got stuck in the time station, then got stuck in a supermarket trying to buy me some ice and orange juice. I rode a good hour without any support and I was out of water, very tired, and getting hammered by a headwind. And Linda was not sure if I had gone ahead, or made my way to the time station and taken the alternate route, which riders could take if they wanted. And, Wilcox seemed to go on forever. "Wilcox next 3 exits." The sign would say, and then another sign would say something like, "Wilcox 6 miles." I had no idea where I really was and because I was so tired, I started thinking I fucked up somewhere and made a wrong turn--or Linda was involved in a firey collision with a tractor-trailer rig, probably carring thousands of gallons of high explosive aviation fuel.

22X, our sag vehicle...
But just as Wilcox faded, there was Linda with OJ, coffee, food! I just made it. And glad to get back on my feet because the worst part was yet to come!

Bowie to San Simon to Road Forks, NM

The sholder was graded for 13 miles, and every 20 feet a diagonal groove was cut into the shoulder. 13 miles of bump-bump--bump-bump--bump-bump... That was a nightmare! But I just had to accept it and keep going... Oh it was pure Hell...

One of our many Mantras plastered on 22X, courtesy of Susan Plonsky, our beloved RBA...
The only relief was that Linda told me I had passed the half-way mark.

After the shoulder became smooth again, I had a tough climb up to San Simon into New Mexico. But I knew I would be getting off I-10. Praise the Lord. If I had made it this far, I knew I would finish. Little did I know what was in store for me--on Hwy 80!!! God, the Calamity of the next 80 miles...

Road Forks Time Station

At the check in, I made my first real strategic coup. I did what I call the Russ Goodwin Manoeuver: I layed down on my old army pad and slept for about 15 minutes while Linda got my gear ready. I was already 20 minutes ahead of Rider 6 and when he and his crew rolled in, they though I was dead.

Allure Libre dans 22X
So instead of stopping and re-fueling/resting from a brutal ride on I-10, Rider 6 decides he must quickly rush off to get ahead of me. "Don't you want some water? Don't you want to rest? Don't you want something to eat?" The crew were saying. "No, No, I'm fine, I want to get going!" This was a fatal mistake. I rolled out a few minutes later. I knew I would eventually catch him again--but Gentle Reader, within a short few minutes, there they were by the side of the road having major problems. I don't think they even saw me go past them. Pretty obvious Rider 6 was finished...

Rain Wind Hail Lighting

As I cruised down Hwy 80, getting the job done and heading for Douglas, dark rain clouds loomed. Thinking that I might get rain afterall, the wind came. It was a headwind and then the road turned into climbing--9 mph was my top speed. I figured that at this rate I'd get to Douglas by 1 a.m. It was demoralizing. All you can do is keep going what seemed inch by inch. Linda pulled up with some hot coffee--that made me feel better. I think I road 9 mph for 10 long miles.

Rain came as I made it to the end of the climb. The headwind and climb lasted for about 25 miles. My top speed was only about 12 or 13 mph.

But I as I began to descend and gain speed, rain began to fall--the faster I road, the harder the rain seemed to come down...

Somewhere on Hwy 80.

The rain turned into hail and the wind blew like crazy! Actually the wind became a tailwind pushing me down the road--I think I road 23 to 25 mph through pouring rain and hail--I was not about to get off the bike, get in the car, and wait out the storm!

Lightening (ZAP!)

Linda told me she thought I was going to be hit by lightening. There were four really close ones that I saw dance across the road back and forth in front of me. Scary as Hell, but kind of cool. And the thunder was ear-spliting!

Later the other riders who dropped said the lightening was just too much and they feared for their lives! I don't blame them. It was insane--but oh so beautiful!

Here I am on the New Mexico/Arizona State Line, at a Border Patrol checkpoint. The rain has stopped and the sun is making its way down. The air is warm, fresh and clean. Rattlesnakes are on the road sunning themselves.

A few miles East of this monument, Geronimo and Gerneral George Crook negotiated a tready between the Apaches and US Army.

The rain has stopped and its clearing, plus I'll have about an hour more light. I'm feeling strong, and now it dawns on me that I might be able to finish with a good time if I push forward.

Douglas in view! O! The joy!

The last 20 miles until the escort vehicle takes me to finish were tough. I had one more long climb up into the mountains--which seemed endless... Linda asured me that I'd have downhill all the way in the last 8 miles or so. Halfway thru the climb, a strong headwind came up--so all I could do is stay low in the aero bars and dig in. I can't tell you how it felt when as I reached the top the climb, the lights of Douglas glowed about 4 or 5 miles in the distance! I was going to make it!

18 hours and 34 minutes 51 seconds.

C'est bon journey, mes amis!