Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Rain Ride Report

I dropped off the car at the dealership, and rode in ten miles to the office. I really wanted to put this off, but since the 300 is coming up—well, it needed to be done. But it rained on me into work. It rained again on the way home. Better now than the 300.

What was different about this ride is that the night before, I couldn’t sleep—and I was so tired… At 8:30 in the evening I must have just laid down for a second to get off my feel, when suddenly I awoke at midnight. I was pretty depressed about that because I wanted to go back to sleep and stay in bed and just drive into work—but I really knew I had to get this car thing done. Cars suck.

I packed my clothes in my backpack and went back to bed. Woke up at 5 a.m. and packed the bike in the car. I made it to the dealership before they opened, and had to wait about 10 minutes. As I signed off on the car and took off on the bike, two things: It began to rain, and secondly, the saddle was really hurting my crotch. My Brooks saddle seems hard as steel and only starts to loosen up after about 10 miles.

Going home, the rain started again—a bit harder now. I began to get that layer of grime and sand on me. I rode with a guy named Ed, another bike commuter. We talked for a few miles. He finally got rid of his car—lives nearby and works nearby. He sold it to buy his house and then discovered things worked out without another car. Wish I could do that.

Nearing the dealership, the rain let up and I snapped a few shots.

Its been a long day. I'm cold and I need a shave.

Later at home, in the driveway, I hosed down the bike to get all the sand and dirt off.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Training Ride of One Block and 130 Miles

I arrive up in Scottsdale Friday night.

Saturday morning, we leave at 5 a.m. and go one block. "Crack. Bang!" Steve runs over something--broken beer bottle we think--and the rear tire is slashed down to the rim. We walked back to the house and Steve put on another tire. You would not want this to happen out on the road because it would certainly be a "show stopper." I might consider taking an extra tire with me on the brevets because there's a good deal of night riding and you can't always see things in the road. So we roll out at 5:30 a.m. It will make for a bit of a longer day that's all... I could have crawled back into that bed and Kim had put flannel sheets on the bed in my guest room--yeah... That would have been alright with me...

But I am looking forward to breakfast at our new favorite place--U.S. Egg. The food is excellent and the waitresses are all 'lil hotties. We had the same waitress as last time. She remembered us as the bike guys and flashed her Baby Blue eyes! Cool. If only I had time to stay longer and visit with her--like find out her name! But the food arrives fast! I am starved. Eat Bruce!

How can the all-female jaw droppin' gourgeous babes at our revered breakfast place forget the visage of the Randonneur avec cool bike and flight jacket? They cannot, mes amis!

You might notice how grey the sky is behind Steve, Star of this Blog. It started out okay in the morning but as soon as we were rolling out of Tempe, rain began sprinkle on us. It wasn't so bad.

As you might expect, we had a headwind going out Riggs Road to the Maricopa Hwy. Our plan was to ride to the town of Maricopa, a way to Casa Grande we don't usually go, and then ride SouthEast to Casa Grande on a 20 mile stretch of road Steve A told Steve, Star of This Blog, about. It was not a great ride down to Maricopa, Gentle Readers. In fact it sucked--mainly because of all the traffic, the cold, the wind, and the surroundings were kind of ugly. This is truly out in the middle of freakin' no where.

Arriving in Maricopa, we were amazed at the thousands of new homes built up everywhere--butt-cheek to butt-cheek--which means they are built right on top of each other. Wow, and a busy place! We got directions from a local at the Circle K to turn left at the NAPA Parts store. I rode right past it of course. I thought I'd see a sign for the Hwy at least! Nope, just the NAPA store. Steve caught me and said, "Turn around, Dude! You missed it!"

The 20 miles to Casa Grande on this road from Maricopa sucked big time--and I never want to ride on it again. The road was shit. Tons of traffic. Miles of stockyards so every breath you took you got a lung full of shit. Oh, and the head wind was kicking our asses. As we neared the end of the 20 miles of "Atkins' Speedway" there loomed up a huge Fritos Factory. I was struck at how clean and beautiful the campus of this place. The road was suddenly pristine--something to ponder I suppose--then Pinal Hwy and Casa Grande.

On to Sacaton!

Ira Hayes was from Sacaton. We stop at a memorial to him and take a rest. He was one of the Marines that raised the flag at Iwo Jima.

My bike set up for the brevets.

Clouds and wind--the air is crisp and clean. But headwinds will be with us the way home. Storms are on the way!

We ride North and we were really hoping to get a much needed tail wind. Not sure the name of this road to Chandler, but its pretty desolet reservation. Suddenly there's this pink house and you're on the Hunt Hwy. The dirt and trash and burnt landscape right at the Hunt Hwy turns into Suburbia--big houses, green lawns, and mini-malls.

Our ride was going to be 150 miles, and was to prepare us for the 300 km brevet coming up February 3rd. That's about 190 miles. I believe we road pretty strong and put in a respectble 130 miles--we made the 1-800-call-kim decsion and Kim showed up in the Mystery Van to fetch us.

A fine gourmet dinner was waiting back up in Scottsdale so it was time to get off the bikes and eat. When we got home and walked in the house, the pork roast Kim had made seemed suspended in mid-air--seemed to hover there on by the stove. It was cooling and looked golden brown! After being on Atkins' Speedway and riding in a headwind laced with the stentch of 100 stockyards (not kidding!) the aroma of the golden roast was such that I wanted to kneel and pray. But you're not supposed to bow down to false idols and stuff, right? That movie that Charleston Heston played Moses--the Hewbrews did that and God got really pissed off...

We sat down to eat. Roast as stated above... Brussel sprouts... Carrots... things are starting to blur--oh, and some very good red wine. Kim said she'd read where you need protein after a ride like that, and boy did we ever put away the protein. We ate everything.

I slept for about an hour and half to recover for my drive back to Tucson. I had a very large piece of peach pie with vanillia ice cream, and a large cup of coffee to go, to keep me awake.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Brevet of 200 km, Casa Grande

To begin with, I am quite proud of the fact I prepared Thursday night for Saturday’s 200 kilometer brevet. I always end up doing the details until 11:30 p.m. on Friday night—which makes me pretty groggy at the start Saturday morning. Thursday I was packed and ready. Gentle Readers, this is quite remarkable.

I turned down offers for beer at the Frog and Firkin, or Gentle Ben’s, or some other watering hole with the lads. The brevet season has begun! So, as incredible as it may seem, I went to bed at 9:30 Friday night. Oh yeah, it had been a long week, so like, yeah 9:30 I can’t believe this!

I felt I should shave Saturday morning—for the Randonneur that is not quite as fast as the Mikes, the Gerrys, and the Daves—looking good is important.

While shaving, the can of shave cream fell off the little shelf-thing and thumped one of my toes. It hurt, Gentle Reader, and to my surprise, it began to hurt quite a bit more, and then to my surprise again, I saw blood was spurting out.

So I will ride the 200 with 9.5 toes. No problem. I just need to use some kind of mental power to make the toe shut the hell up and stop complaining! I wrapped it with tissue, got dressed, threw a few things in the car, got my cup of coffee in the go-mug—and was out the door.

Not much of a drive. I had to stop at IHOP to go to the bathroom. IHOP is right out there off the highway—very little wind. This is a good sign! Because I knew there would be about 60 riders at the Round Trip Bike Shop in Casa Grande, it was the best tactical move I could have made. There’s a bathroom at Round Trip but it’s about as tight in there as an Italian cycling shoe.

Wow, like there’s all the Randonneurs—cool bikes, svelte Randonneuse, and many an ancien I’m sure. And of course, a welcome site—Steve with my brevet card and cue sheet. That saves me a few minutes and gives me time to do a check of my gear. A quick hello to RBA to let her know I’m here (they always wonder if I’m really gonna show) and I’m ready to roll. Lots of people I don’t know—and happy to see lots I do. I’m looking for Paul Layton because I promised I’d try to take a few photos of him on the recumbent. With only a few minutes to start, the camera malfunctions—not sure why—and no time figure it out because the group is rolling--its 7:30 a.m.
Steve is up talking with Steve Atkins. I’m talking with John Heller, and Cathy—I’m hearing familiar voices… Gerry and Dave—and looking for Shock and looking for John K, and Mick and others I know I saw on the list of riders. And before you know it, we’re really moving—I take a look to see where Steve is, and then the light is yellow and we say we’ll go thru it—but a rider suddenly stopped and I had to swerve and make a quick turn to keep from crashing into them. No big deal—its just a red light. And I’m with friends. But the group is flying and Steve’s in the group quickly disappearing down the road. I tried for a few miles to catch up but thought better of it. My hope would be that the pack I was in would eventually catch up and in the long run, we were only a few minutes behind.

I was amazed to see how strong John Heller and Cathy Rice were riding. Cathy in particular has been doing spin classes and she can move! John of course likes to ride in his groove and it’s a good pace as well. I chatted with a few very pleasant fellows, one from Seattle I believe, the other from Colorado, and a chap from San Diego riding a Rivendale Romulus—or what I’ve always thought to be a dream bike. “They don’t tell you how much they weigh…” And here it struck me that a lot of these guys from California, Colorado, Washington, and other such localities, are riding some pretty amazing bikes.

On the way to Coolidge, you can see the Casa Grande Ruins from a few miles out. Father Kino visited the ruins in November of 1694, making a note on his brevet card how funky and old it was. It was a ruin even back then. What’s kind of poignant is all these years later is Wal Mart across the street—it’s kind of like today’s version of what the Indians were doing over at the ruins. Before they were ruins. Go figure.

Every Christmas, pranksters decorate Father Kino's horse, Electrolyte...

I saw Steve heading out to the controle, and he said he’d meet me at the car. This was good because it took some of the pressure off to try and catch up, plus, the group I was riding with was doing me just fine. John Kolacz was at the controle and I was glad to see him—he got with our group and he and Cathy, and John Heller and me rode pretty strong back to Round Trip Bike Shop. Cathy was always up front leading the group—I have got to go to spin class, mes amis!

At the controle, I got the camelback our of the car but decided to keep my warm gear on because it just didn’t seem like it was warming up that much. And besides, I felt comfortable and could stow it in my handlebar bag if I needed to. Steve waited for me, thank goodness, and going out to Indian 15 we had Steve, John K, John H, Cathy, and myself. This would be a good thing because there’s always a headwind. This day, there was a tailwind!

What can I say about this 39-mile fast ride out to the controle? My head was clear for a change, instead of keeping it tucked down to fight the wind—I looked for the mustangs I’d seen before, and I looked out at the mountains. It was a beautiful day—and a pace line keep things going. However, I wasn’t without problems. I had to stop to take a leak and I think I remember we all kind of split up. I just remember John K and John H and Cathy going faster and faster, while I had to slow down and try to recover from legs cramps starting to creep up. Steve pulled me along and we gained some momentum…

We soon passed John and Cathy, who had stopped to take a rest and do a repair. John K had ridden up ahead, and then we figure we’d all meet up at the controle. Other riders were on their way back. I can’t say I recognized all of them, but we did see Paul and we commented on how fast he must be going. We began to see other riders, and there was the telling sign of a headwind. You could just see it in the faces of the riders and their position on the bike. But the controle was sooner that we expected—by about 7 miles. This way too good to be true! And I was actually feeing good now. Usually after riding 40 miles into a headwind, out of food and water, the controle seems 100 miles away.

I threw a few wraps in my pockets to eat on the way, filled the water bottles, and we got ready to roll. John and Cathy were having a mechanical problem with Cathy’s bike—a derailleur I think—and before he rolled out, Bryan Gibbons did a repair (which in the end saved them and they finished just a few minutes after us) so, as hard as it was to do, John K, Steve and I took off without them into the head wind.

Riding into the headwind, the three of us kept a tight pace line. A few times I tired and thought Steve and John were going to drop me. John rode very steady and we all took turns in the front. Two in pace line is okay, three is very good—soon we were gaining on another rider. We picked up Sal. He was very happy to see us and now we had four in our pace line. Gentle Reader, you don’t know how happy we were to have the pace line we did. We tamed the headwind that afternoon! A few times, each of us felt like we were going to get dropped. You would go off the front to rest in the back, and the wind would push you back so that you would have to struggle for a few minutes to catch up—that’s how much effort we were putting into our return to the finish. I found myself struggling and then the pace line would slow just enough for me get back in line.

About three miles from the finish, John had a flat. A cut on the tire so that would mean a bit more of a fix. I could see Steve and Sal wanted to keep going. In a way I did too. But Sal jumped off his bike and he and John went to work fixing the flat and booting the torn tire. It took some time, but we were rolling into town and in good spirits—just taking our time, everyone happy they’d finished.

Steve had to take off back to Scottsdale, but the rest of us had dinner at Cracker Barrel, which I have called until now, “Crap in Barrel” because you go in there and everybody eating there looks obese and sick, the food sucked. But this time the food was actually pretty good. Dave Glasgow had joined us and he believes my cramps are because I’m not putting in enough calories to sustain my efforts to push a big 6 foot 2 carcass down the road. Note to self: order some Hammer Gel.

At home, I still had the legs and energy to un-pack the car and put everything away and start laundry. It was 9:30 in the evening and I was soon in bed, falling asleep, and thinking about what I have to do the get ready for the 300K.

Allure Libre!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Resolution Ride 2007

From left to right: Larry and Joan on the tandum. Jack, Dave, Kathy, and John.

Jack--Its been awhile since I've seen him. His company he started keeps him busy. He's riding his custom commuter bike, loaded with all kinds of cool stuff. Jack's into the the "Downtown" bike scene. Commuters and fixed gear and single speed cats rippin' the old bog, what?

Dave Glasgow... Haven't ridden with him in about a year. Larry and Joan on the tandum.

Cathy from Phoenix. She did her first El Tour as her first century ride, and still has the race numbers on her helmet. Spin classes have made her strong she says.

Gerry Goode met up with us and here he is leading the way to Oracle, where there's a good place to eat at this Italian resturant. Oh yeah, its pretty cold today, and not getting any warmer--and we still have to climb 2500 feet to Oracle.

The thing about this ride is that Yours under-dressed and I was quite uncomfortable the whole day. Plus I was groggy because of the holidays and eating too much and sleeping in. Tucson has been kind of cold this year--I'm out of shape Gentle Reader... And I have a 200 kilometer brevet this coming up Saturday January 6th.

I know I'll finish but the forcast is much like the same with the ride today. It will be cold and this time I will have the right gear. Just hope the wind doesn't hand me my ass like it did last time.

Happy New Year, mes amis!

Allure Libre!