Tuesday, November 21, 2006

El Tour

I went down the corner of Tangerine and Dog Patch, and was just going to see a few riders pass by. There was a big crowd and I got into the excitement--was there for two hours cheering on riders until I was hoarse and sunburned.

It was fun to cheer and many of the riders looked pretty tired. They were about 70 miles into the ride. Riders really perked up and smiled when people cheered them--that was the best part.

When the police did have to stop traffic, I had a chance to chat with the riders. I helped one fellow change a flat on his rear tire. I pretty much held the bike for him and he said that that was the quickest tire change he'd ever had, and thanked me for lending a hand.

I was out there at the intersection from just before Noon to about 2 o'clock. Stef and some of the other lads I knew were riding El Tour probably passed before I got out there to spectate--but I did see an old friend Warwick. He was riding with his wife, Pam. Her first time, and they were doing the 68 mile course. Warwick usually finishes in under six hours, so he was just kicking back and enjoying the ride.

There were many un-sportsmanlike automobile drivers--all looking pretty sour they had to stop and wait or slow down. It was shamefull gentle readers! Most were or retirement age, had expensive cars, and lived in the very affluent part of Dog Mtn called Heritage Highlands. I noted that they were very pushy when it came to other motorists--motorists that had slowed down and were letting cyclists go on ahead, or were watching and actually obeying the police officers directing traffic.

I saw the two traffic cops give two tickets. One to an old fart who decided he had waited long enough and drove thru the intersection. He got pulled over right away and was given a ticket. Next some asshole in a corvette started to get impatient and began revving his engine while stopped in the intersection. He was wanting to make a left turn up Dog Mtn Blvd. As I said, he started revving his engine and the cop made him pull over and wrote him a ticket. The asshole argued with the cop, and then as the corvette driver left with his ticket, the crowd applauded the police officer and booed the corvette. The asshole in the corvette turned up the street and gave the crowd the finger as he burned rubber up the street.

Pretty shameful. I have never in my life seen so many grey-haired worthless Dog Patch Fucks in my life. I think they should have all been pulled over to the side of the road and shot insurgent style. Holy shit, but Gentle Readers, what is wrong with this country?

But I love you all, mes amis and Gentle Readers--

My rant is over!

Allure Libre!!!

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Great Owl

It has been difficult to drag myself out of the sack, get on the bike, and ride in these cold mornings—but I have done it. By Friday I am pretty tired putting in just over 120 miles for the three days I rode into the office. Sometimes it feels like a blur, these days on the bike. The sun is so intense and low in the sky—I can’t see very well, and now I only start to feel safe as the sun slips behind the mountains in the evening on the ride home. With all my flicky-lights and reflective tape on my bike I know that when automobile lights hit my ride, I light up like a Christmas tree…

I wish I would have had my camera this morning, because as I neared the library’s entrance, I spied on top of the old water tower, built in 1924, an incredibly large Great Horned Owl—warming himself in the morning sunshine. He was magnificent and regal, and the sun made him glow with a kind of golden halo. What struck me was how big and bad-ass he really appeared.

They say that dragons are a mixture of everything that used to hunt early humans—talking about memory that comes from evolution that’s in our DNA—when the things that used to prey on us were snakes, large cats, and birds of prey.

A dragon is the combination of all three of those creatures; the fangs and eyes of a cat, the wings and the talons of an owl, or a hawk, and the body of a serpent. Evolution favored those early humans and animals that could recognize those dangers and thus flee.

My thoughts are that my bike riding has made my super-aware of things around me—sound and movement. Riding on some of the more dangerous roads, a rider has to stay pretty focused—at least I do—always watching for something lurching out, or some car suddenly cutting me off.

So naturally when I’m off the bike and walking to the office, my senses are still turned up super high. Catching an owl turning his head slightly to get a look at me gets my attention—for a moment my ancient DNA / Pleistecene Man toggle switches fire.

We are all of us basically still Pleistecene people, yet we live in an Industrial Age.

I know this because the owl told me this morning.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Le Randonneur

Here's a photo of the bike with all the lights on board. The hub works well, but on certain roads on my commute, I like to use both the hub and the 5 watt light. This set up works well in the mornings when I'm going down Thorneydale from Tangerine Rd. This is downhill, and runs about 3.5 miles. I can ride at 22 mph--but it is about 6 a.m. and dark. The road is narrow and the pavement rough. Sand and gravel on either side--you would not want to run off the road going 20 or 22 mph. The front wheel with sink into the sand and you would fly over the handlebars. I should know--this happened to me once out with John Heller and Dave Glasgow. I though I was having a flat tire and would pull over to investigate. My front wheel quicky sank into the sand--it looked like hard-packed dirt--and I was flung to the ground and on my back.

In the desert, I'll use the 10 watt and the 5 watt together--because its so dark and I'm a chicken. The pavement runs out and then its a dirt road. I can ride a little faster because I can see the road, with the rocks and sand pockets, rattle snakes, mountain lions, bigfoot, Taliban, North Korean Comandoes, etc... The battery power drains quickly, so I try to use as little as possible in the mornings to save power for the evenings...

With all the miles I put in with the Brevet, and then riding in almost everyday this last week--I had to catch up on laundry. Finally the weekend and a chance to slieep late.

Allure Libre!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Let There Be Light

After a few days to recover from riding 190 miles--300 kilometers--it was back to the commute. Remarkably, I rode into the office Wednesday, Thursday, and into the office this morning. Pretty much I've thrown clothes into my backpack, and rolled out into the cold desert morning air. The moon has been bright and with the hub, I feel I can see. My night vision is horrible, so it was cool to see moonlight on the mountains.

Yesterday morning, a thick piece of wire puntured my rear tire--and I flatted in the busiest most dangerous section of my commute. The bike lane ends and everyone is bullying for a right turn onto the freeway. I have to jockey for a position and ride in the middle lane. Most drivers realize I'm not getting on the freeway, and realize that I'm going pretty fast, so why bother trying to beat me to the red light. Often, some guy in a big redneck truck will lay on his horn for me to get out of the way, only to realize the light is red and there we are waiting at the light. I always give the asshole the "oh come on" look. They usually ignore me because they know they're idiots for being so impatient. But enough about those losers...

Because of the flat, I decided it would be safer to go the river bike path and quaint Glenn Ave, where the speed limit is only 30 mph--but there's a stop sign or stop light every few blocks; it takes forever it seems to get anywhere.

That's why this morning, I decided to ride on Ina--even though it is due East right into the morning sun. A lot of people not working today so traffic a bit lighter. But I had a steady climb for many miles up Ina until it turns into Skyline--but once I got up to about Campbell, I rode like a bat otta hell all the way to Swan. This section of road is about 10 miles of bumper to bumper haul-ass traffic. There's a bike lane--just enough to fool yourself--and you're going like 20 to 25 mph, and cars are just inches from you. It's quite an odd feeling to know that if one of the drivers hit me and knocked me off my bike, I'd probably be run over twenty or thirty times before anybody stopped.

So--coming home--yeah... Its Friday and has been a long week--and I still have to drag myself home on the bike. The last seven miles are through, but not for long, open desert on an old jeep road. It is dark Gentle Reader. And I am nervous and sometimes scared. I've seen big rattlesnakes, Owls, coyotes,and javalia. One night a horse was standing in the middle of the road--just out there in the desert--and he was just looking at me with this kind of surprised look on his face.

In the dark, witn not much light, you can imagine what a horse's figure can look like--a monster is what!!! So tonight I have the hub, and the commute lights with 5 watt and a 10 watt lamps. That should do the trick, mes amis!


Monday, November 06, 2006

Brevet of 300 Kilometers

Steve and I press onward to Picacho Peak.

The infamous Picacho Peak Dairy Queen lies ahead. Mike Alexa has ridden on ahead--he must have at least three chilli cheese dogs in order to complete any brevet he rides in Arizona!

Mike and Steve rode brevets together in Indiana for 15 years, and Mike has two or three PBP rides under his belt, as does Steve.

We had to face the evening headwinds, and as you may know, Gentle Reader, that can make for lots of work--headwinds can be demoralizing. A headwind can break your spirit, and for a few days more make your body ache from all the energy needed to finish. Steve and and I took turns drafting each other--until that wore us out--but as we neared the DQ, the winds let up.

While Steve met Mike and John, a strong rider from Pheonix who rode with us, at DQ, I went to the store next door to get a Irish Cream coffee out of one of those automatic machines. They're great and I love them--and I need the caffine to keep me going. When I pulled in, I found a gallon jug of water on one of the trash bins. It was still ice cold and hardly used. I bet that the three other riders on the course, about 45 minutes ahead of us, left it for any randonneur that happened by--that would be me, and I filled my water bottles and camel-back. This saved me some valuable minutes and got me back with the other riders in no time.

Everyone felt re-freshed, strong, and ready to get this brevet done after chilli cheese dogs, hamburgers, Dilly Bars, and coffee.

All the difficult hours with gusty winds were forgotten, as we sped to the final controle, and back to Casa Grande for the finish. I was pleased with my time and with the ride in general... 300 Killometers is 190 miles--that is quite an accomplishment. I need a day to sleep and recover.

Allure Libre

Friday, November 03, 2006

Morning Ride Report

I left my house at 6 a.m. The tempature was 54 degrees. That's not too cold but it was a bit chilly, and it was pleasant to ride with a striking sunrise over the mountains. On the river path, and looking down into the river (which is dry) I saw a pack of coyotes very calmly and contently walking about. They seemed happy. I know that seems strange, but it was though they had not a care in the world. There were big males, and the moms because there were frisky pups tagging along.

My ride was 23.8 miles and took right at 1 hr and 30 minutes. I could ride faster on Ina, but the sun coming up in the morning is blinding and people drive too fast--I even drive too fast on Ina when I drive to work. But I love Ina going East becasue everybody hauls-ass and gets where they're going.

Oh yeah, last night I went to pick up the car. I saw cyclists on the path--people were friendly and everyone looks fit for El Tour.

I took some pictures and not many turned out that great. One did and I blasted it using Photoshop for ya.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ride Reports

I rode home a few nights ago, and it was the first time in quite sometime that it was getting dark. I have a Schmidt Dynamo Hub and I believe it works quite nice. I wanted to make note that at Orange Grove and Thornydale Rds, traffic was at a stand-still. I traveled at least four miles North through all the major intersections, to almost the Safeway Store at Linda Vista and Thornydale—and still traffic had barely moved. For my Gentle Readers that don’t know what streets I’m talking about—just imagine seeing for many miles ahead of you, the red tail-lights of commuters waiting to get home. A lone cyclist gliding past. Wow, that is bad traffic and I’ve noticed how much worse it has become. Sad really, but I don’t feel any safer because cars aren’t speeding past. It just feels eerie.

I had to ride in again this morning and take my car back to the shop—yet another problem. But other people waiting in line for their appointments saw me take the bike out of the trunk of the car and put on the front wheel. People thought that was really cool and wanted to know all about my commute—how far I went, how long it took, etc. One woman told me that she volunteers at a water station her company sponsors at El Tour de Tucson. She asked me if I was riding… Hmmm? I told her it would cost me $95.00 and she was shocked. “That much?!” But one of the doctors here at the hospital put it into perspective, cause we were talking about it--he said the money goes to pay all the police to stop traffic for us—and of course there’s the good cause the money goes to—as in—people that are too sick or physically challenged to ride a bike. So I should pony up the money, send in the check—and be thankful I can enjoy the ride with my friends.

Allure Libre!

Helmet Hair

Dropped off the car at the dealership for a repair. So I would ride into the office from there—and pick up the machine after work. As I unloaded the bike from the trunk—it dawned on me. My helmet… on the kitchen table.

It was weird not having the helmet. Not having a helmet equals death (in my mind) if I should hug terra firma. Gentle Reader, as you know, I traded in the horses for bikes, and I have the faded plastic surgery scars to remind me what happens you find yourself flying off the back of a horse and landing on your head. I broke my cheekbone, and some other bones with names I can’t pronounce broken up around my temple and eyebrow—oh, let’s change the subject shall we?

Riding without my helmet I was fearful of all that mess.

Good news; I had another helmet here at the office, the one I use with the campus bike. So I had a helmet for the ride back to pick up the car.