Sunday, July 31, 2005

Mammoth Ride

I called on my friend and fellow Randonneur, Gerry Goode, to get some details about this ride. I calculate that it will be 100 miles from my house to Mammoth and back. This should be about right as my house to Saddlebrooke (Gerry's house) is 50 miles.

3 a.m. Steve leaves Scottsdale for the drive to my house.

4:30 a.m. - 4:45 a.m. Callie and I play fetch at the park.

"You will not ride your bike. You will play fetch with me at the park all day. Look into my mystic hypnotic eyes--and obey!"

Okay, one more time, then stop buggin' us!

The best part of our ultra training is stopping for breakfast! At about 20 miles we're in Catalina and at the famous Claires's Cafe, a hub for cyclists.

We'll need fuel for the climb up Oracle Road (Hwy 77) to the town of Oracle, Arizona. I've only ridden up to Biosphere 2. Oracle will be another 6 miles.

I recommend the Turkey, Swiss, Bacon, and Avacodo omelet--C'est bon!

Steve in training...

Mount Lemmon lies majestically to the East as we ride up Oracle Road. Its humid this morning, but a nice cool rain makes the trip comfortable.

Just as Gerry said, we would climb to Oracle and then begin the ride down to Mammoth. Gerry said to be careful of sudden gusts and crosswinds. Stef had told me to watch for traffic as people will be heading on up to Globe, and the White Mountains. He was right because many people were pulling large RVs and boats.

Just past Oracle, this sign greets us--let's go, Dude! And I should mention that about here the shoulder narrows to no shoulder--so we got to share the road with the cars and trucks! Allez! Allez, mon vieux! Want to mention here that at this point many riders turn around for the fast ride back downhill.

The ride down is fast--and scenic--just the way I like it. Traffic is okay, and for much of the way there's passing lanes for the Simi trucks--plus you can see/be seen pretty far ahead so there's time for cars and trucks to pass.

12 miles to the Junction where you can go to San Manuel. 5 more miles to Mammoth and the Circle K. We only saw a few riders coming back up to Oracle--and they looked like they were suffering!

Almost there! The power and phone lines give you an idea of the grade of the road. My top speed going down was 38 mph. I took it easy because the pavement was a still a little wet from the rain.

Steve and I didn't waste any time at the Circle K, and Mammoth looked like an okay little town, but we still had to climb back out. We filled up with water, ice, and Gatorade--ate a few snacks, and hit the road for the return. My computer put the distance to the Circle K at 45 miles--with the rain starting up again, we thought we'd just turn around and not keep going down to the river to make it 50--next time, Gentle Reader...

The rain kept us cool, but it was extremely humid. On the ride back up to Oracle, sweat was dripping off me like crazy, and my clothes were soaked. I could taste the salt on my lips as the rain washed the sweat from my head. But I have to say, Steve and I both felt strong and we climbed back up in no time. The climb was kind of nice because it went in four stages. After a hard climb, the road leveled out and you got a rest and your legs back, before you started again. I took the opportunity to use the IPod for this climb, and enjoyed listening to Gorillaz's Demon Days--my favorite tunes for this summer!

Salt pills are working for us and I always carry a few. Oh yeah, in this photograph you'll notice Steve without his Camel Bak--he left it at a little market where we stopped at the top in Oracle. Bummer--but he wanted to buy a new one anyway...

We're almost back to my place, and we take Moore Rd to avoid construction on Tangerine Rd. Mount Lemmon is in the background and you'll be able to see behind me the last stretch of Moore Rd as a dirt road. For a few years now I've ridden this stretch of road up to Rancho Vistoso, and for many miles it was unpaved and pretty much cow pasture--but still beautiful open desert. Now the up-scale developers have moved in and the 3 acre lots start at $500,000!

We had a good ride, and we got home before the afternoon started getting hot. Thanks to Steve for driving down and doing this ride. It turned out to be challenging, fun, and we both felt strong.


Friday, July 29, 2005

I Run Over a Skateboarder on My Bike

Yeah, so I'm riding home and jammin with Gorillaz onboard the IPod. Nice tail wind and the bike path is clear/wide open... I see three teenagers on skateboards and they're not really paying attention. I called out to them, "Watch out! Look out! Get out of the way!" Not in a mean way, but just letting them know I was coming. The first two guys move okay, no problem, but the third kid lost him balance and fell off his deck right in front of me. Holy shit-- "Whump--Thump"

Kid's gonna be hurt bad. I'm going down. Who's gonna be hurt the worst? Him or me?

Well--and I mean--W e l l with a big sigh--


"Yikes! Kid? Are you okay?"

"Yeah--I'm okay?"

He waves, and keeps skating down the bike path with his homies like nothing happened.

I'm still on my bike. I didn't crash. My wheel's not wrecked.

IPod earphones go back in--and I'm spinning with the music and crusing. I have a tail wind on River, and I must mention that its only 100 degrees instead of the usual 106, 109. Nice... And when I finally arrive at the golf course to moi voiture I am tired.

Go home. Have a beer. Call Gerry Goode for info a on good place to have lunch for my Saturday ride with Le Steve. We're starting at my house and riding to Mammoth--and back. 100 miles.

Demain, mes amis!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

"Your Beat is Nice"

"Hell yes--"

I had the I-Pod mini on board for the commute this morning... A W E S O M E. Beck's new CD GUERO was blasting in my ears and I kept pace with the funk. I found a good gear to be in and boy did I spin down the road. I put the headphones inside my jersey and the wire was long enough to be out the back and fit in the back pocket. That way I may not get busted by the police cause they can't see it. I put my mini inside a little plastic baggie to keep it dry.

So is it safe? "Hell yes--"


Monday, July 25, 2005

Dog Town

This weekend I went to see the movie The Island. There was a scene when the clones escaped from their clone farm, and ran out into the desert. The desert mountains looked strangly familar--as did the highway. They filmed this sequence out East of Florence and Coolidge. I know the highway and the mountains from the Brevets last year. And it gets better. The clones end up at an old motel and trailer park where there's a bar. This shit hole they discover in the movie is actually the town of Picacho, Arizona. Luckily you drive by it on I-10--but if you're on the Frontage Road on a bike, you would recognize the other side--the side you don't see from the Freeway. That's what's in the movie.

All the Randonneurs know this place because it's where a pack of dogs lurk and attack you on your bike. I've been chased by these dogs on a few occasions, and it is gut wretching! Susan Plonsky, our RBA, changed the Brevet course to go around them because once they went after her and that was enough!

To save a few minutes on the Brevets, we debate going through Picacho and not taking the detour. That's the chance you take. You keep your eyes peeled and stay alert because the dogs wait in ambush--the place is scary and I get an uneasy feeling even just thinking it.

Watch out for those dogs, Boys!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

In a Funk

In a funk and hoping to get it together and back on chez velo. Blown tires, soreness in the hammies, and an assortment of other issues and incidents have put me down--but not out, Baby!

This morning Callie, my dog, got me up at 4:30 a.m. not to go "outside" but to play fetch at the Park. What is with her anyway? Maybe I wake her up with my restlessness and she figures she'll get me up and adam. It's making for some very long days at the office.

And, getting up at 4 a.m. on the weekends to go out biking the last few months--quite possibly I've set my internal clock to that of the Randonneur. Go and go and go and go and don't stop spinning--ride through the night like some sorta stoic phantom/shadow. Holy shit but is there anything else so awesome than riding 20 hours straight throught the night, rain, wind, grit, and lightening? Non, mes amis, ce n'est la pas! No there is not, my friends!

I need a vacation...

Yersterday, Jennifer, our intern, related how she was almost run over on her bike by a SUV. The SUV ran the stop sign, and clearly saw her but decided to keep going anyway. The driver had to slam on his brakes to avoid running her down. She had to stop quickly herself. She said the guy gave her the finger and sped off. Jennifer said by the looks of the fellow and his SUV, he was probably a high-paid medical professional--I won't say Doctor, because I know a few doctors that are cyclists and pretty decent men and women. Like Stef said, with all the construction around UMC and AHSC, the regular routes these pinheads travel are blocked off--so they are rippin thru the back neighborhoods.

Stef put it this way: If you were walking to the cafe and someone walked in front of you, wouldn't you stop and let them pass? Say, "Oh, excuse me." and keep going on your way and not think twice? Or would you shove the person out of your way, and say, "Hey, Fuckyou!"

What is it about the machines that makes us behave this way? Je ne s'ai pas, mes chers!

Oh yeah, Bev told me that they're selling Ford Excursions for $27,000--and I said, "Is that new?" and she said yes and with all the "you pay what we pay" employee discount hype, that's like half off. So they're givin em away? Maybe we should melt them all down and build a spaceship--go to another planet and Fuck it Up.

All Aboard!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Blow out No. 2

Ride in brutal. Head wind from the South East, which is unusual in the mornings--its the Monsoon coming in from Mexico. I can live with that, except for it was almost 90 degrees and 40 percent humidity. I'm not complaining. That's what is to be expected commuting on the bike. Some days I feel like I'm flying and some days I feel that all the elements are against me. But there is hidden beauty in the heat and fire that is hard to explain.

On the River Bike Route, the little ground squirrls are rowdy, playful and fat. It must mean the weather will change. There is a slight smell of rain in the air.

Ride home good and I' moving along. At Ina and Thornydale, just through the light I began my climb up the hill, and then the few more miles to the car. WHAM! My front tire freakin' explodes! Holy shit but it was loud! Quick check of the tire--no holes. Time to quickly get into the shade and change the tube. Crap! My hand-pump is busted somehow. So I use my CO 2. But the tire doesn't set right on the wheel after I air up the new tube--there's a problem. With only one CO 2 cartrige, there's no way to try and re-set the tire and find out my mistake.

R and R bike shope is a few blocks behind me--not a place I like to stop because the service sucks--I walk over. The Wrench takes off the tire and discovers a bad tube. The replacement works and I pay for the tube and one extra. I'm off.

As I get within a few miles of the golf course where I'm parked, gentle rain plops around me, and then on me. It feels like cool spears or air shooting to the ground. I can feel that hot lazy air on the road and as I'm going through it. When the wind blows it away its cool because you can feel it roll and get pushed over.

Why are my tubes exploding? Stef says that the heat of the pavement is rising the pressure in the tubes and causing them to expand. I was skeptical at first but now I believe he's on to something. Maybe the tire on the Lemond had a weak spot and that's why the tube blew a hole in the tire. On the Raleigh, the tires held but the tube burst anyway. Maybe I'll need to run the air pressure a little lower on the ride home. Lucky for me I wasn't going 20 or 22 mph on River Road when the tires blew. With the wind, traffic, and speed--I could have had a bad day.

But I live to flog and ride yet another day, mes amis!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

5 Laps in Saguaro Nat'l Park

Another glorious morning in the Nat'l Park. This time we were there early enough to see all the runners gather for their ritual 8 mile run around the loop. The men and women there looked like the elite distance runners of Tucson. I believe the runners appreciated our positve encouragement and respectful consideration while we passed on our bikes. Sometimes I've seen cyclists speed by runners and people walking their dogs, taking photographs, etc, and for me its bad manners on the cyclist's part--hey what's the rush anyway? Save 20 seconds from point A to point B?

Anyway, there was this one runner in particular and he stood out from the rest. He was probably a professional top runner--you could just tell. I watched him run up a hill with power and grace--a hill that's not even easy to ride a bike up, no less. I told him he made that hill look easy. He beamed with confidence and graditute. "How many laps today?" I asked, "Five? Six?" He laughed at that one. We chatted and he told me a spot to watch for deer because they were almost alway there watching him run--probably with the same awe as I was.

So lap one was just a warm up and I enjoyed the sun coming over the Rincons.

I might also mention Phil at Pima bikes sold me an excellent set of Continental tires called Gator skins. They cost almost $90 but and Bev kind of got upset when she realized how much I spent. I told her, as a joke, that they were the kind Lance used--she was not amused. "If Lance wore ladies underware would you wear that too?" "Yes. Yes I would." was my reply. "But they were out of stock--and my order was on it's way direct from Paris."

Dave put me through some interval drills the next two laps, then we were joined by Jan. Dave ran her through some intervals and I have to say, they road fast--I was trying to keep up but needed to recover from my own intervals the lap before. On the down hill second part of the 9 mile loop, I got in the bars and caught up with them at the Ranger Gate.

We did lap 5 pretty tight together until the downhill (after the 1/2 mile climb) Jan and I road together and Dave took off to flex his legs for the last lap.

At the Ramada, we met a young woman from Chicago. She was doing a three week class for some special training at UofA. She had bought an old three-speed girls bike, and road it up to the Park. She had done a lap on that bike too! That would be like wearing high-heels to the beach--all us cyclists in our spandex with our spiffy bikes were pretty impressed.

I'd like to mention that I also saw my friend Warwick--he was by with his wife and I think Sister-in-Law. Warwick was looking strong as ever. He road El Tour in just under 6 hours last year as he had trained very hard to reach that goal.

John Heller, Warwick, and Dave Glasgow on the John Farr course last year.

Allure Libre, mes amis!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Wind and Fire

Yesterday I rode in on the monsoon bike as my back tire on the LeMond blew out. I had a fast ride--I packed clothes but didn't have to pack food as I saved my lunch from the other day. I can certainly feel that extra weight going back and forth. When I'm going home I'm tired, I have to climb all the way back, got all my stuff in the backpack--and there's a killer head wind.

Speaking of head wind--on the way home, the headwind was really really tough on River Road. The heat (106 at 5 p.m.) seemed to suck the air out of my lungs. The iced-down Camel Bak is the only way I've found to keep cool--but it adds weight.

There was the slight scent of rain in the air. Something that maybe the commuters in their SUVs and Pick 'em up Trucks would not be unaware of... This same wind was causing the fires in the Santa Rita Mountains to double in size. I could taste that burning smell in my nose and mouth.

I was able to get to the pool and swim laps for 20 minutes. Going to the pool after riding in temps over 100 degrees (for over a month now) has made a big difference in my over-all health I think. The pool just cools me down and relaxes my bones. Feels good--and I'm "Country Clean."


Monday, July 11, 2005

Blow out

Going home tonight my rear tire blew out--with a ear piercing WHAM! As I slowed down I started to lose my balance--but didn't fall on the freakin' road--how embarrasing to almost wipe out.

On Mountain Ave going home, you can go pretty fast, and I was just through the light at Grant Ave. I saw the hole in the tire after I stopped and threw in the towel. Bev is on her way to get me as I compose the prose, Gentle Reader.

But I did try a trick I heard about and it seemed to work. You take a dollar bill and wrap it around the tube where the hole in the tire is. That way the tube dosen't push out thru the rip in the tire. I tried this and everything held, and I was able to ride back to the office. If I had to, I could ride back home--but it would be by sheer luck I'd make it.

Bev just rang, so I'm on the way to the entrance to meet her and get a lift!

Keep reading, mes amis!

Ride Report

I had to pack in clothes this morning. Last night I ironed and folded and got things together. As I was heading down the road I realized that I'd left my water bottles in the icebox--so I turned around home to fetch them. I'm happy to report that the wind was with me and I quickly made up for lost time. By taking River Road all the way to Via Entrada (about where the Mountain Bridge connects the River Bike Route to Mountain Ave) I saved 1/2 a mile's distance, and average speed was 17.8 mph. The new shorter stem that replaced the insanly long one, worked well, and my position on the bike was much improved and comfortable.

I can't believe I've been torturing myself all this time. It had to do with the new Brooks I think. When I set up the saddle, something was off--lucky for me Phil at Pima Bikes fixed it with first and simplist solution.

Allure Libre!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Saguaro National Park

Dave Glasgow and I did an early morning ride in the Nat'l Park Saturday. We arrived at 5:30 a.m. and crawled through the entrance with the runners and other early morning cyclists. The first lap I felt a slight chill--as soon as the sun came up over the Rincons however, it got hot. It was the magic hour and the Park was incredibly beautiful--but my camera battery was dead, Gentle Reader, so no images--sorry.

At lap 2 we were joined by Jan and Bill. Bill rode a Mt. bike and Jan was riding a new "Seven" road bike she just bought at Sabino Cycles. It was fun to all ride together and get to know them. Dave has designed some training for Jan and she was there to put in the miles. We did four laps with the last two pretty fast. On the forth lap Dave and I dropped Jan and Bill--Dave needed to be back early so he cranked it up and I was on his heels. My bottle of Gatorade was still chilled in the car, and it was only 9:30 in the morning!

After we got back to Dave's place near UofA, I went over to have Phil and Judy check out my bike and adjust my wheels. Phil also put a shorter headset on my LeMond, to help me sit up just a bit straighter, and Judy re-wrapped my handle bars.

It was a good day to be outside, on the bike, and alive!

Of course, after Bev and I had dinner at a new place by our house, we got home and I passed out. I didn't even get under the covers, I was so tired--just slept on top of the sheets. Sometimes I don't even get that far and sleep on floor, wake up at 3 a.m. and then drag myself into bed.


Friday, July 08, 2005

"You go out cycling with the lads, then you come home with a sore ass?"

The Brooks B-17 came UPS from Peter White Cycles. My first impression of this saddle is that it could be used for driving nails, scraping barnacles off the hull of a ship, or impromptu body armor for a HUM-V. The thing felt hard as a rock.

On the commute this morning, I took a deep breath--I would be hurting for sure. Le Steve told me the only way to break in a Brooks is to go out and ride.

I am happy to report that the saddle fit well and felt okay. The only hitch is that I must not have tightened things down because as I neared the University, the saddle suddenly shifted and I thought it was going to come off. My bad.

Thanks to Steve for loaning me his Proofride--that helps soften the saddle and break it in faster. Thanks to Dave Peashock for the 411 on the Brooks he's owned. My previous Italian-made saddles were good, but after all the Brevet miles, they wore out.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Mt. Lemmon Ride

It seemed like a lot of the cyclists stayed home Saturday morning as there were very few out and about--but Steve and I braved the heat and made our way up Cat Highway to the Great Mt. Lemmon Pie in the Sky!

Steve poised for adventure!

I must say that it was hotter than usual. Here I am at Windy Point--the headwind was like a blast furnace!

Steve was showing me the "big dent" in his bike frame. One the first Brevet I rode with him and Mike Alexa, Mike told me that a few months before, Steve got hit by a truck. Steve didn't notice the dent for quite some time... "Dang. Could of got me a new frame!"

We are on the top--time to stop and eat, Baby!

Two more miles--which turned out to be two very difficult and steep miles--maybe we should have gone into Summerhaven instead?

The Ski Lodge--and the ski lifts. People were kind of surprised to see us. "Did you guys ride up here on your bikes? You're kidding?" Everyone asked about the Tour de France and Lance, and if he would win--it was cool that everyone we met were so friendly and interested in our ride.

I took this shot going down--going down is fast and furious. Our trip down the wind was gusting rather dangerously, I felt--and it was hot as hell. Thimble Peak in this photo is a major Tucson landmark, so seeing it from this angle is pretty cool.

The Mystery Van loaded. I get out my junk--Steve has to drive back to Scottsdale.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Planned Mt. Lemmon Ride

Steve and I (that's him on the right*) will trek up to Mt. Lemmon this weekend. It will be my second time to take a crack at the Mountain and Steve's first attempt. I have promised Steve that a good breakfast awaits us up at the ski lodge! I'll take the camera and get some good shots for you, Gentle Reader.

Allez, mon vieux! Allez! Allez!
*not really Steve