Saturday, July 21, 2007

Metal Cowboy

It gets decided we'll ride to the Marana Stockyards where there's a cafe. The guys have never told me about this place and I'm like, where?

Farmland West of Interstate 10, Marana, Arizona. If you read this blog enough you will recognize Picacho Peak--about 20 miles Northwest.

Chance of rain this morning? Best thing so far is that its been a cool morning.

I'm not one to mix with Rednecks, but Larry assures me that these folks will be Ranchers. After all, says Larry--We're Metal Cowboys...

The road Larry takes us on in one I'm not familiar with. Eric says it won't go through, and we'll be lost... Mes amis! Just get me there, I'm hungry!

Parsons Ranch... Larry knows about the ranching family out here. They're big time rodeo people too. Farming, ranching, etc, and there's horses everywhere. Some are for work and others look like pets and show horses...

The Parsons Family owns the stockyards. The cafe is inside, I recon...

Dismount, fellas. We can park our bikes inside. Hey, I think I'm gonna like it here!

Had we ridden our horses, we can tie them up in the lobby--so they told me--but there's none this morning.

Possibly we can play donkey basket ball after chowin' down...

The arena.

Coming out for a sale would be fun to watch. This is big money, by the way, Gentle Reader, and serious business!

Steers and queers--which one are you, Boy?!

Our table in the cafe.

Chicken fried steak for me--and I am happy to report that is was just as good if not better than the Hungry Fox!


The Wing, Bruce, Larry

Saddle up, move 'em out! We're on the road once more.

Eric and John

We are heading due East. You can see the Tortolita Mountains in the fore ground, and Mt. Lemon in the background.

This sign is the Marana exit off Interstate 10. If you look to the lower right corner of the green sign, you can see where I live, Gentle Readers of This Blog. Its called Dove Mountain and all my friends like to call it Dog Mtn, or Dog Patch. My place is modest but there are lots of rich old bastards that live up there. Its pretty alright, but how many golf course do we need in Dog Patch?

Who cares? (they don't) Just throw another Pigmy Owl on the barbeque for me, Pardner!

We're on the Frontage Rd headed South. The Monsoons have made every thing green. That's Panther Peak back there I believe. John lives near there, where we started from this morning.

Ranch and Farm give way to Industry and Interstate--on to the Suburbs! Yee Haw!

Week By Bike

Mornings are beautiful when I set out on the road...

Last week I commuted by bike three days: Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. I would have rode in Wednsday except I was asked to go up to Phx for a meeting... One of the lads called and wanted to go to Frog and Firkin, so I though I'd do that--which means its a drive day. Well, last minute in the afternoon, he couldn't make it. Just as well--I brought my stuff for the Y to meet John. When I got home, and took care of a few things; feeding the dog, starting some laundry, etc--I stretched out on the couch to relax--just for about 10 minutes. Two hours later I woke up with Callie, my dog nudging me with her tennis ball. So we went to the park and it was fun.

Doing the commute from the Y to the office is right at 15 miles, and then the same home. Instead of driving about 24 miles to the office, or let's just say driving 50 miles a day--I drive 20 and ride 30. That saves some gas don't you think?

After work I get ready to roll. Monsoon season in Tucson now--will it rain? One never knows, but it would nice--I believe it will be 102 degrees for the ride home, mes amis!

It always seems I make it to the car then the down pour begins. I didn't get a break all week as it just seemed to start raining as I began to drive home. I love these rides home even though it is over 100--you can smell the rain and feel the wind--a few days this week the wind really made me suffer as it was so strong! But I feel stronger and charge ahead. Never disrespect the wind, Gentle Readers of This Blog--you will pay! After riding for an hour with temps at 102 and 103 in a 20 mph head wind, you may find yourself sitting in front of the tv staring at a blank screen--druel running down your chin... Not that that's happend to me personally...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sunday's Urban Hill Climb

Kathy and John with the tandum, Sabino Canyon...

Last Sunday it was my turn to make up a route for the gang, so here's what we did. We left from the YMCA, and took my commute route up Ina (and I do mean up)which turns into Sunrise--at some point--I can't remember, and then we keep going all the way to Sabino Canyon. The plan is to climb all the way to Stop 9. Then we should have a nice descent to Broadway and Swan, where we will have breakfast at The Hungry Fox. My fellow cyclists have never been there--so it should be fun.

Well, John and Cathy ride John's tandum. I have seen it in his garage, but I don't think I've ever seen him ride it. Kathy and John on a tandum, and then climbing all this way will be challenging. I'm happy to report that they rode strong. Kathy had never been in Sabino Canyon and I know she really enjoyed its beauty.

Yours on the other hand--well it was pretty humid and I sweated like a dog--I don't know why I had no energy at the start? But when we got to the top of Swan and Sunrise, which is the intersection I then go south on down to my office--we had ridden 10 miles. Now we are going to keep going on Sunrise until we reach the entrance of Sabino Canyon.

On Sunrise, we will climb another 1000 feet to the entrance, and at this point there's many cyclist converging on this road. Its new and all paved with nice shoulders--but one has to keep climbing. I'm passing people and people are passing me, but everyone is content and cordgial. It has been many years since I've been out here and memories of when I live out here begin to come back. Mostly its the overwhelming beauty of the mountains--and since the Monsoons have arrived--there's the dampness in the air. Oh and its humid and I'm sweating a river.

Just when it seems it will get even more difficult--well there you have it--the hard part is over, and wasn't so bad--and here we are at Sabino Canyon!

Now the climb to Stop 9, which is I'd say about 3 more miles with the last mile a very steep ascent. I just take it easy and find a nice pace and start up. I actually wonder if I can really do it--it has been several years. But not to worry, I am fit and the climb is easy. I just have to watch out for the walkers and runners.

I do notice that the whole place looks beat to Hell. When I first moved to Tucson, I lived just a few miles away, and I rode up to Stop 9 before work at UofA. Everything had been repaved and rebuilt, as in 1999 rain and a huge flood destroyed everything--well, mes amis, this event repeated itself and much of the re-paved roads and areas were again destroyed. If not destroyed, they are crumbling.

I did reach the top of Stop 9 gradually. I passed all the canyon ranch people, and the runners and joggers, and on a strech to the top I was by myself. The only sounds were of my own heavy breathing going up. There was debris on the road and cracks and holes to be avoided--then I found myself at Stop 9. I was taken aback by the huge boulders that pretty much slid off the canyon walls and crushed everything--that would have been the new rest area up at Stop 9. Years ago it was beautiful and new and you could get a drink and take a pee. You can sit on a bench and take a minute to rest--all that and the new pavement they had put in was wiped away.

In no time we were at the Hungry Fox on Swan and Broadway because its just a nice fast steady down-hill coast. But we pushed ourselves and arrived at Hungry Fox at 9am--and there was no wait. I always tell everyone about how great the food is there--the food is fantastic and its like grandma's home cookin back on the farm--but you look around at the regulars and you see obese folks with canes and walkers, and they're dragging oxygen tanks with them. It comes from eating this kind of food--mainly fat and lard all their lives. And with no exercise, too much smoking and drinking--well, the regulars, which is about 95 % of the people in the place--its like we're in a fuckin nursing home dinning hall... Our food showed up about 10 minutes after we sat down. The Sunday brunch crowd was still in church so service was fast.

I put my chicken fried steak, biscuts and gravey,hash browns the size of a dinner plate--and my four eggs over-medium away in about six minutes. Four eggs you say, Gentle Reader of This Blog? The Hungry Fox has a motto: "Its no joke. We double our yokes."

Mes amis, I burned that breakfast off in no time. We rolled out and found ourselves in a steady headwind. We had to climb back up Swan to River Rd (you may recall I speed down this road for four miles on the way to the office) and then as we headed West on River Rd there was an even stronger head-wind. River is all repaved and smooth, and John had not been on this part of River as it has been under construction for years. Now that it is finished, you can quickly get across town by bike--but there is a constant gust of strong wind to make you work. So Larry, the tandum, and Yours grouped up and gained some speed and soon we were at River and La Cholla, getting ready to make the last long climb back to the YMCA where we began.

With only about two miles to go, I suggested we stop at a Circle K. I was almost out of water and what I had left was hot. I'm glad we stopped because I needed to rest. It was now almost 11 o'clock--and topping out at 102 degrees! We got water, ice in the water bottles and knocked off the last part of the climb to the top of Ina and La Cholla. Then we coasted for a mile to the YMCA and there we were at the cars. Whew! Time to go back home and sleep the rest of the day!

The ride was 48 miles, about 2/3's steady climbing. Fun...

Dance like Gwyneth Paltrow is watching...and she wants to bang you

100 degrees seems just fine for me--with the Monsoon Rains making their way into Sonora, the air is clean and my lungs feel like they're getting a break. The super hot dry air makes you tired quickly and you can't really keep cool--but last night I rode home and all was pretty well.

However, someone in a passing car threw a frozen water bottle at me on River Rd as I neared La Canada. They missed, but what struck me was how vigorously the bottle was thrown--a great effort to really try and clobber me! Had it struck me, I am certain it would have knocked me down.

The light turned red, and I knew I had the culprit within range--but a city bus passed me, and then pulled over to stop--I couldn't get around the bus with all the traffic speeding by--so I had to wait. By then the light was green and whom ever threw the bottle was long gone. Oh well...

The good news is that I checked my computer before I left work, and yesterday morning I made it into the office in 59 minutes. Back at the YMCA, my time back was also 59 minutes.

As I've put in some miles and just got it in gear and mashed--I've noticed that the deep lines in my forehead, from stress, have faded. Gosh, I look happy when I looked into the mirror. I hope I can keep up the biking and lose a few more pounds. The thing about riding in this hot weather is that at home, I fade quickly and it takes a lot of effort to make dinner, do dishes, do laundry, etc etc...

As for the illiterate that threw the bottle--there's a special place in Hell for you, you piece of horse shit.



Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ride Report

Rode home last night and road in again this morning. Last night I took River Rd. from Swan all the way to La Cholla. It was only 100 degrees and the wind had let up so I rode quite fast. I clocked in at 1 hour and 2 minutes. My ride in yesterday morning was 1 hour and 3 minutes. John Heller phoned me as I was at a stop light so I picked up--he was on his way to the Y. In fact I called him to say I need to run home and take car of a few things--and then he pulled right up beside me. So we had a laugh.

The ride back was good, but I just decided to skip the Y and make myself a nice dinner--and try to relax. And I did just that.

This morning I left again from the Y, but the different thing about this morning's commute is that I didn't carry the backpack. All my stuff I left at work, like clothes and shoes, belt, change of under-roos... I went through the backpack and thought, "Do I really need all this?" I didn't. Since it was Ground Rounds today and they serve a free lunch (to get staff to show up) I didn't have to carry the lunch bucket.

What I'm getting at is that it was just me and the bike, a couple of waterbottles, and wallet keys, ID badge tucked in the jersey. So I look like one of those guys who must be independently wealthy and all I gotta do for my days is ride my bike. Normally I see cyclists like me, carrying stuff to work...

Tomorrow is a drive day, so I'll leave everything here and just pack it all home tomorrow. Its tempting to bring all my stuff home--but why bother? Anyway, I had to wash the backpack in the washing machine and its drying in the bathroom. It was caked with sweat--and my Gentle Ready of This Blog--it was starting to stink.

What does this evening's ride hold? Big Monsoon clouds are looming and it could rain cats and dogs. River Rd is smooth and fast, but would be dangerous in a rain storm. If I feel rain on the way, I'll take the bike path. I would be safer and just as wet.

Its just so tough to get out and do this long commute. Draining is the word--but it will be the only way to lose the extra few pounds I've put on. Even though I'm tired as hell--Dang but I feel that old feeling of a race horse in the starting gate.
Cycling can really get your blood flowing--and at times I get the uphoric sensation of flying; going very fast on a smooth road effortlessly. Fit or fat I must face the fact that I'm not a young dude, skinny and lanky and able to glide past. No matter what my fellow humans think about how I look, at least I'm doing something to try and better my health.

Eventually, I'll start to feel better and have more energy. And when I do get to sleep in, which is rare--I'll enjoy that even more.

Well--here's to a good strong ride home tonight!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My Morning Commute

My morning commute was tough, Gentle Reader of This Blog. I have made the commitment to step up and put in some miles--and of course I am made to pay for getting gear stowed the night before, going to bed early, and jumping out of bed to get on with it.

Strong head-winds clobbered me for the first 10 miles of climbing I have to do to reach Swan and Sunrise. At this intersection, I turn out of the wind and make a four and a half mile descent to my office.

But the wind was unusually strong this morning and the harder I pushed myself up that hill, the weaker my legs felt--and I'm sure the temps were pushing 90. Those four miles to the office I just coasted in, and let the speed of 30 mph dry the sweat that had poured out of my body. When I reached the top of Swan, and paused for a moment to take a drink, I was soaking wet--and I could taste that layer of grime on my lips. With that wind is the hint of rain. I'm hoping for a nice ride home, and don't mind if I get rained on. That's a good feeling for those of us who live in the desert.

Oh yeah, Dr. W beat me to the locker room so I had to wait my turn for the one little shower we have. He tried his best to hurry but I just chilled out and relaxed.



Thursday, July 05, 2007

Strawberry Fields Forever

God intervenes, and leads us to a good resturant.

Steve and I had a ride that went bust, Gentle Readers of This Blog. Plan was to ride from Pine, Arizona to Mormon Lake, and then back. Things didn’t go as planned. We did a fantastically difficult and dangerous climb to the mountain town of Strawberry—then on the way to Clints Well there were just too many close-calls, whereas if run off the road, Yours would find himself falling to an un-timely death into the rocky canyons below.

I’d had enough—and convinced Steve, the Star of This Blog, we should turn our asses around and get off this road before we were killed. So we turned around and got back to the Mystery Van, in what seemed a matter of seconds—we careened down the mountain to Pine at 35/40 mph. I didn’t want to try to go any faster, mes amis!
An early morning drive to Pine, Arizona...

At the Mystery Van, I talked to the Preacher’s Wife, Barbara. We had met her when we asked if we could off-load in the church parking lot earlier that morning. I told her it was just too dangerous for our blood. She gave us a map which she said was a very old Forest Service map, but we’d be able to use it to see what was in store for us. It was good for recon, and that’s about it.

At Clints Well, which is just a restaurant, we could see where local riders had parked their cars. As we drove up the road to Mormon Lake the road had a nice shoulder to ride on, and soon we saw two cyclists headed to the Lake.
Steve, The Star of This Blog, pilots the Mystery Van on yet another adventure...

Since it was lunch time, we decided to have a bite at the Mormon Lake Lodge—and just gather intelligence. For example, we found out that all the local riders meet and park their cars just after cattle guard, several miles Northwest of Upper Lake Mary. We drove about 9 or 10 miles from there (where there’s a little store to stop and get water) into Flagstaff, and it seemed that there would be about five miles of road with no shoulder to navigate on the bike should we want to ride on into Flag.

We figured if we do a ride up in this area, we can leave from Clints Well and do a ride around Mormon Lake and up to St. Mary’s Lake—and back. Possibly we could ride down from Flag, ride around the lake and then back. Either way, it requires some driving and we’re wondering if its worth such a trip.

90 degrees in Flagstaff when we left via I-17 then as the elevation dropped, the temperature rose to 111 degrees just outside of Black Canyon—a difference of 21 degrees!


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Sunday Ride in Paradise

Will I ever get to sleep in on a Sunday morning?
John and Larry at the start of our ride at 6am.

My mom mailed me a new bike cap she bought me in Milan--she's been on holiday in Italy--spending up my inheritance.

Old one lane bridge on Eric's GABA route. We're way West of Dog Mtn, Gentle Readers of This Blog. If the lads drop me, I'd be lost out here... But it is quite pleasant--not quite 90 degrees yet--at like 7:30 am on a Sunday morning...

Dave Glasgow invited us to go climb Kitt Peak with him this morning. We can see Kitt Peak clearly in the distance, and we are certain he's at the top right about now. I can just barely keep up with John and Larry--and this is supposed to be a recovery ride for me. No climbing and flat--but there's a head wind and most of the 53 miles we ride, the pavement is rough--sigh!

The desert has it's own harsh yet gentle beauty, mes amis, and on these rural less-traveled roads, one can grasp the frailty of life--birds, rodents, lizards, and insects abound--and by bike there's a chance to glimps that world.

Holy shit! Hey? Where did the desert go?! Gentle Readers--there used to be a ranch here, and some farms--they were run down and looked like crap, but still--Where's the trashy trailer park with the pit bulls that used to chase us? Where will the Rednecks live now? Cock-suckers--They can't afford the ticky-tacky that's gonna be slapped up here at this locality.

I kid you not, this whole area has been freakin' bulldozed. We are headed East on Twin Peaks Rd (part of the El Tour de Tucson route) you go up over a hill, and then you're on Silverbell. This is kind of the dividing line between where the white trash lives and the suburbs begin.

All the new development is to the right of this picture. Larry and John and Yours are about to climb that hill I spoke of which curves up to the right, and then turns into Silverbell. Local riders and El Tour veterans will recognize this road. Just on the other side is I-10.

Sadly, at the top of this road, if you look around, you will see Pichaco Peak 25 miles to the Northwest. I have to tell you that all you can see is bladed landscape for developement--it used to be just farmland. Now all is completely gone.

Desert--sniff and tears
Rednecks-- karma pay-back you's sonsabitches