Monday, March 26, 2007

Time For Spring, I Say

I arrive in Scottsdale--to the sound of the Mule braying his eerie call to the gods--of Scottsdale. May they grant us good riding conditions... But it rains most of the night, and Steve wakes up and decides to let me snore another hour back in the guest room that's on the other side of the eastate were Steve and Kim live.

So we leave at 6 am to clear weather instead of 5 am in the rain. Good because we don't have to carry rain gear. And the extra hour of sleep was just what I needed. It had been a long week, mes amis...

We're on the Rez, and the clouds are rolling along. You know, this is the first time it hasn't been hell on wheels--you know, head wind, freezing cold--better yet--104 degrees. It is just perfect for riding.

Well, the first flat. Let's see, I hope I got a spare tube in this bag back here. Randonneurs must carry a bit more than the weekend rider. We've only planned to ride 100 miles. 100 miles--is that all? And you guys call yourselves Randonneurs?

Remote desert on the Gila Bend Indian Reservation.

Nice place for a flat. I guess we've all been there, n'est ce pas?

Hey there's some farmland out here. The rain has made everything quite green, and its still a bit cool. Warmers are needed late morning.

Farms along the road.

Friday, March 16, 2007

River Rd Ride Report

River Rd is my new commute home. I ride up Swan to the light and stop and cross at the crosswalk. Its too dangerous to try and make a left, and its up hill and not much room for about 100 yards. I wait at the light, catch my breath, then go west at the green light. So far, car drives let me squeeze in--then, and this has been the case now the few times I've ridden home--all the cars have passed, and there's no cars behind me--I have about a half mile of a very fast descent which let's me fly over the rollers to the next light. The pavement is new and smooth like a 19 year old UofA Coed's mid-drift, Baby! With no cars behind me, I can ride in the middle of the road and not have to have just that thin strip of bike lane...

Nearing River and Campbell, the road is slow going for cars, but I'm rolling fast past them. I wonder what they're thinking when they see me charging by, if they even see me at all? Big bike, ass, long hairy legs crankin like a bat outta Hell--

As I approach Oracle Rd, which is the last really congested area for car drivers, there's just that thin ribbon of bike lane and I must set up to squeeze in between cars on the right, going to turn right and head north on Oracle--cars going straight on River, and everybody else waiting to turn left. Cars all packed in, and up ahead just the space that seems only wide enough to fit cyclist's shoulders. And what a rush to blast down that ribbon while the cars must sit and wait and wait and wait. I'm riding about 19 to 22 mph--probably not a good idea, but its such a rush! Of course if anybody tried to turn out or thought they'd be cute and open their door, with my weight and speed, I would tear the door off and I would be killed instantly. But, I suspect the drivers are sitting there motionless and in a stupor anyway. I know--I've been there. Sitting in traffic saying to myself, "Where the fuck did all these old people come from?" If I was an old guy, should I live so long, I don't think I'd be worried about going 1 or 2 mph over the speed limit and getting busted by the cops. But I wouldn't be driving too fast and furious either because that's not cool. I just wish these elder citizens would not drive in the left passing lane slow as shit that's all.
On the bike, I don't have to deal with either one--Gramps or Sir Speedy. Bliss Baby, just bliss riding home on the bike.

This last week of riding has been good. If I drive everyday to and fro, I put in about 250 miles a week. By riding in three days a week this time, I knocked 80 miles off that, and still arrive home about the same time as driving the car.

This morning I drove East on River Rd, and must report that the bike lane is not ready east of Campbell. Too bad.

Allure Libre!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Burning Off Breakfast

Yesterday on the ride home, I decided to see if I could ride all the way from TMC back to my car parked 10 miles away. I’m happy to report that I was able to do this, and that 90 per cent of the route is paved with new smooth blacktop. That’s everything east of Campbell on the river path. But it’s a boring ride—why should I complain? There are horse stables and parks, which means on a windy day, like yesterday, Yours gets a lung full of manure. Pick your poison they say… So I was able to ride from the river park entrance at Swan all the way to Campbell, on new pavement. At one point, and I’m not sure where exactly, I had to ride on the south side of the riverbank to Campbell. Here I rode north on Campbell over the bridge and right into a high-end shopping-type mall. There’s a place there called Arizona Cyclists, and the guys told me that I could ride on the dirt path and then ride pavement under Campbell—which I did. Soon I was on the old familiar river bike path I know. So if on a day when I don’t want to ride in traffic, I can take this route.

One matter about the bike route—it’s slow. It took me an hour last night. This morning I rode from the YMCA/Pima Community College parking lot, up Ina/Sunrise and burned off breakfast--it took me 56 minutes to ride the 15 miles. Its fast and there’s lots of traffic and it’s a bit more intense and I dig the rush. I only waited at one stoplight… On Glenn Ave I must stop at a 4-way stop or light every mile, it seems, and dang it takes forever.

I believe I will try and ride back on newly paved River Ave tonight. There will be one dangerous left turn at Swan and River. The pavement is new and I should be able to get some speed going. Traffic is light and there are speed zones signs and large fines for speeding. Everyone is taking it easy. On the south side of River Rd, if I was to ride east, well it looks like there’s still some work to be done and the bike lane is under construction

Construction has begun on Sunrise and going home that way (west) is just dangerous because of Ina and Oracle crossroads—people are in a hurry so best not to ride there yet. River Rd looks like a good choice.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Press On Regardless, or Brevet of 400 km

Steve on Mission Road.

I’ve given up trying to fight the wind and just accepted the fact it will always be there to trash me. This brevet, the wind was just unnaturally brutal to all of us—all the riders—fastest, fast, and then Yours the Writer of This Blog. And it was cold... You would think that with the sun rise it would start to get warm. This is not always the case between say, Eloy, Picacho Peak DQ and the Marana Circle K.

Steve and I have had success with hand and toe warmers Steve’s bought from REI. With temps in the 50’s in the parking lot at the start—in Casa Grande—Steve left the warmers in his drop bag just in case we needed them in the evening. Wish we would have had them going out… It was frigid cold and I was okay for the most part, but Steve used my extra arm warmers to wrap around his hands—this was around Red Rock I think—I’m sure we pulled in for a cup of coffee before the trek up Sandario.

John Heller lent me his Carridice Bag (made in Nelson England) and that has to be the high point of my 400. It was just right to carry everything I thought I would need—as we were nervous we wouldn’t see Susan at the controles later. We know we’d make the times, but Susan might have to be other places. Just in case I peeled off some warm clothing, I thought I should have backup in case my drop bag was not at the Arivaca controle when I arrived.

Dave Peashock aka Shock! saved our skins on the I-19 Frontage Road between Green Valley and Amado Jct. We were able to fill our water bottles and camelbaks—which would save us time; we wouldn’t have to stop and buy/get water at Amado Jct. Plus we got recon about the Arivaca Controle—that Susan might be leaving—all the reason to get moving and get to the controle.

The 22 mile leg of this brevet is one of my favorite roads. Dave Glasgow and Gerry Goode took me out there and we’d always stop at the Gadsden Coffee House for a sandwich or pastry—and then fly back to Green Valley for lunch. Later Dave and I would ride down to the Sasabe Store right on the border. Anyway, I wanted to get to the controle and get my gear—so I pushed as hard as I could those 22 miles, taking advantage of the fact their was no headwind—finally.

Yours on Mission Road. The winds have been brutal all day.

Susan was just about to pull out of the controle. I was so happy to see her, and felt good about riding the strongest I had all day. Mission Road and Helmet Peak Road had taken their toll on us.

Got a boost from a quick stop in McD’s for a hamburger and fries about lunchtime. Shock! as mentioned before, helped our morale when he gave us some water right there before the 22 miles to Arivaca—

But at the Arivaca Controle I started to fade, Gentle Reader. I had spent all I had. I was feeling sick—I didn’t want to eat. I noticed that I hadn’t made many stops to pee—I was in trouble. I had to force wraps in my mouth, and decided to take some for the road. All I need is the tail wind, the Buenos Aires on the 45 mile stretch to Three Points and I’d be alright.

Now we had John Moeny with us from New Mexico. I was glad to have him because he pulled for us and we hung on his wheel and I struggled to regain my head and stomach. Baboquivari was a blur as the sun went down. This stretch of road is cut through an ancient Holy Place that the Indians revere—I’ve heard stories—and many a poor soul has expired trying to reach a better life across the border in these parts—so its best to keep focused and keep moving. Border Patrol play cat and mouse with drugs smugglers and Coyotes out on this road. They actually stopped us and wanted us to get off the road because some vehicles (meaning drug runners) would be coming past at high speeds. I’m not quite sure they came through—but this might have been because I was in a dream-state/survival mode.

John kept me coherent with conversation. I was coming back but slowly. Steve’s E-6 cast that reassuring glow of light on us as we glided on toward Three Points. Finally I mentioned the little string of lights to the West would be Ajo Way—and the red tower lights were Three Points—with rest, food, much needed water, and coffee—still had about 8 to 10 miles to go to get there.

Made it and had about 20 minutes before the store closed. I got stuff I needed and wanted to find a place to rest. Bad cramps made me find the rest room in the back of the store. A bout of the runs followed—which is okay because I thought I’d been done with the hours of nausea since Arivaca.

I had to lay down on the cement in the entrance of the store. I had almost blacked-out. Everything was spinning and I just didn’t want to get up. I was completely drained of any energy—I was empty. I was spent. It was over. Got to call Susan.

Thinking about it now—I could hear the concern in Susan’s voice. I could barely whisper in my cell. It was reassuring to know that she was going to call Shock! who would be at the Marana Circle K. He would come get me and I’d be fine. DNF, who the Hell cares? Better riders than me had to abandon this day. She called back and said that Shock! was just about to be on his way—he needed to go to bed. It had been a long day. I was starting to come around and my head was clearing. I couldn’t do that to Dave—ask him to come out and fetch us.

We decided that we would keep going. That’s Steve and I. I had no doubt that John would keep going as he was riding well and feeling good. Plus the last thing you want to do to your mates is abandon them on a ride—or get abandoned and have to go it alone. Just had to make it to the Marana controle.

We did that by stopping and resting—even if it was for 5 minutes—to eat a little something, to stretch—and for me, lay down on my back and calm myself and breathe. I lay down in a ditch in some thick dead weeds. They were soft and I was out of the crosswind. Steve kept telling me to get up and get moving. We all needed some coffee to keep us awake.

We made it to the Marana Controle at 1:30 a.m. Got coffee and a hot dog, and decided I wanted to lay down one more time for a few minutes. I went to the side of the Circle K and lay down by the side door. As expected, one the employees banged open the door and threw a bunch of trash out into the open desert. The bloke didn’t see me—had he, I bet he would have freaked out. It was time to go anyway.

Steve and I have trained for our brevets and ridden the last leg of this course so many times, the last 45 miles just seems like short run in the park. Slowly we made our way back, then the pace picked up. One high point of the ride was when we were going over the over pass on SR 87. We watched a train come full speed, and then roar past and underneath us. That was pretty awesome—kind of like front row seats with surround sound.

Eloy we stopped for coffee and a little food. I could not believe how tired I was. We had pushed ourselves, and continued to push ourselves until we were right there at Susan’s truck—just under 26 hours later. Susan was quite pleased with us. I remember her motto she once firmly put on me, “Press on regardless.”

Bryan Gibbon was sleeping in my car. I had left him my extra key in my drop bag. This really helped me out because he’d drive us back to Tucson while I slept. That meant I could get home faster, shower, and sleep. He also helped me pack my bike into the car, and packed our gear and his bike, while I changed into some clean clothes. I’ve injured my back trying to get the bike in and out of the trunk—and injured myself trying to change out of the bike clothes into some clean clothes—mainly in some small bathroom where its easy to pull a muscle or get a sudden cramp.

Gibb was a good sport driving me back as I probably mumbled incoherently. We had made the 400, and we had made it back to Tucson. And I wasn’t in too bad of shape.

Now its time to think about the things I did right—the mistakes I made—most likely nutrition/not getting enough calories, and recover and get ready for the Brevet of 600 km.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bruce Feels the Heat

The 400 km looms for this Sunday. I’ve been commuting in this week and feel that my bike, with the up-grades, will serve me well.

I did drive in today (rest day) and was pulled over by a Sheriff’s Deputy. There were two bimbos talking on their cell phones and traffic was backing up behind them, as there was a bimbo in each lane. You may recall, Gentle Readers, that Ina Rd, which turns into Sunrise, and then into Skyline, is a road where people haul-ass to get to work. Sunday Drivers, Old Timers with no particular place to go, other than for a tee-time or to stock up on Depends—are not welcome.

Nor is it good manners, in my humble opinion, to yak on yer fuckin cell phone and drive 15 mph slower than the speed limit. Myself, and many others stuck behind you, are trying to get to work.

Anyway, I saw a chance and sped up and got around these idiots and went on my way. No long after, said Deputy pulled me over. He said, “I clocked you on my radar going 56mph. Just slow it down…”
So no ticket this time—probably because he knew I was getting around the yakkers—which I soon passed, even after being stopped by the Heat. And yes they were still blabbing on their cells.