Monday, September 24, 2007

Scouting the 200KM Brevet

Susan, RBA of Arizona Brevet and Randonnee

Distance: 74 miles
September Total: 192

Okay, mes amis--time to think about the 2008 Brevet Series. Susan is already making plans for some challenging rides for the Randonneurs that come to the desert to test their mettle. Mt. Lemmon is a favorite destination for locals, and even some tourists come out to see if they have what it takes. Normal people would drive up to the base, off load their bikes, and then make the journey.

But not the Randonneur. The Randonneur must have time controles and distance. Local cats will ride up and down--making it 40 plus miles, and go home.

Susan, Larry, and Yours--heck, we rode 40 miles to the base from chez moi. 40 miles then the climb! How's that for mettle? Actually, we were really wanting to scout out the course--I wanted to show Susan what I thought would be the quickest route to the Catalina Hwy--so riders could get there straight-away and have more time to climb. I also had thoughts about which way to get everyone back as fast as possible. Larry came with and I'm glad he did because he seems to know every road in this city, and the milage.

Mt. Lemmon is about 30 miles due East of my place. This morning a lazy grey cloud hung on top. Because we may need some more milage--at least 125 miles to equal 200K, I suggest we add the Rancho Vistoso loop; its scenic, and we'll take Moore Rd as it has no traffic and is a straight shot to Rancho Vistoso. After part of the loop, we will take Oracle Rd South.

We are on our way. Susan says that Tucson is bike heaven. There are scores of cyclists out today--maybe part of GABA El Tour training rides.

This is Pusch Ridge. We're headed South on Rancho Vistoso Blvd.

We will ride down to Oracle and Rancho Vistoso Blvd where we'll stop at the Conoco for food, ice, water, and restrooms if needed. Then South to Oracle, and then a left onto Ina.

East on Ina, which will turn into Sunrise (this is my commute route Gentle Readers) and past Swan--all the way to Sabino Canyon Rd.

Visitor's Center at Sabino Canyon. There are restrooms and water here.

Susan and Larry at Sabino Canyon Rd and Synder Rd. Susan is recording the milage and checking her GPS.

Susan makes some calculations for the que sheet. 39 miles to the intersection of Tanke Verde and Catialina Hwy. We've stopped for a quick lunch, and I have to fix a flat on my front tire.

After a substancial climb up Oracle, Susan and I are pictured here at Oracle and Tangerine. We'll be heading West on Tangerine all the way back to the Bashas at Tangerine and Dove Mtn Blvd. That will be the fastest route back. It seems, from Larry's calculations, that taking the Rancho Vistoso Loop will actually add too many miles to the 200 km Brevet distance. We will ride Tangerine back, going due West, for about 8 miles. Tangerine is now about 70% bike lane. Since we'll be in a group, riding the rollers where there's not a bike lane should be pretty safe.

We're out of water so we make a quick stop at the Safeway on Tangerine. A kid had a this bike that he was pretty gangsta proud of--which looked like it was accessorized from his Grandma's old brass bed or something.

This is the light at Tangerine and Dove Mtn Blvd--where the "high end" Bashas is located. The Bashas over-charges all the old farts that live futher up in the more affluent gated communites. I never shop here. Its a total rip-off. I think the old farts know that too--the huge parking lot, which must be at least 10 acers--is pretty much empty all the time.

There's a Starbucks, and that's the real draw. The few times I've gone there for a coffee, most of the Bashas staff seem like they have nothing to do; they look awfully bored.

So we got this huge moster mega store which is really just a place to get a cup of coffee.

Throw another Pigmy Owl on the grill for me while you're at it, Mista Basha!

Rant is over! Cheers!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cycling in Tucson, Arizona

This pretty much sums things up for me.
Dan Trued made the comment that since all the Freeway construction on Interstate 10, there's much more traffic on the streets of Tucson, and I agree with him.

The other day, I was at a stop sign, and this cyclist was going to work. He had his road bike and all his gear so he could go fast--but he also had a backpack with all his office clothes and probably a lunch--stuff like that. He was riding by and scanning everything at this busy intersection. I gave him a hardy "thumbs up" and he perked up and waved with a big smile. He knew exactly that I was a cyclist too.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mt. Lemmon Attempt

Distance: 20 miles
September Total: 118
It has been a long time since I haven’t felt exhausted on a Friday afternoon. Saturday is usually my sleep-in day—but a call from John encouraging me to climb Mt. Lemmon was something I couldn’t pass up! I accepted the challenge whole-heartedly.

Later, the logistics started to make me a bit nervous. I would have to get up at 4 a.m. Saturday morning to catch a ride from John’s house at 5 a.m. Whew! So I got home and started packing my gear—very carefully—as my dog Callie was expecting her full weekend at the park (she is demanding at times but the best dog I could ever wish for) so I talked to her and let her know I’d be back and everything would be okay. But really Gentle Reader, a trip up to Mt Lemon is an all-day affair. I didn’t really think about that—so an early start is best.

I made it to John’s place at 5 a.m., then we had an hour drive to meet Larry at the base of Mt. Lemon. Oh yeah, I slept most of the way to the rendezvous point where we would start at 6 a.m.
This would be the first time for John and Kathy to ride up to Ski Valley, where we would have lunch. Larry said he would buy so cool… Since there is only one stop to get water, after 19 long miles, we had to carry a bit of water with us.

I see a lot of riders just ride up to certain points then turn around. I’m realizing they do this because they don’t want to carry the extra weight, and they probably want to get up and back down before all the traffic starts to pick up. Really, after you get about half-way up, the climbing isn’t so bad—so I figure the other riders do the tough parts and scoot back down.

On the way up my one of my old supervisors from my AHSL days saw me and stopped to say hello. Dave Piper, with his dog, was on his way up to hike and enjoy the cool temps on Mt Lemmon. Dave is held in high regard at AHSL. Among other librarians in the profession he is known as “Jedi Master Dave.”

Jedi Dave on Catalina Hwy

This ride might have been a little too much too soon for Yours—about halfway up I started to feel not so good. I thought best to call it a day and head back down. I was going to get John’s truck and drive back to my car. Larry would drive everyone else home later in his truck.

I had to borrow John's extra helmet--I forgot mine on the kitchen table...

After I got going, I spied Stef and Jeff of Team MooneyTriathlon fame. Stef and Jeff had started their ascent at 5 a.m.—in the dark! They rode to the 19 mile marker and back down. We were going to meet and have a cup of coffee and chat, but the place was too croweded--But it was good to see them. Just then I got a call from the gang--Larry was having some problems so I drove back up to pick him up, and it was decided that we'd all have lunch together afterall up in Ski Valley.

Kathy is riding strong and here she is just reaching the top of Mt. Lemmon.

The ski lift is right across from where we'll have lunch, mes amis!

The Iron Door restuarant is right here.

John and Kathy's first ride up to the top--Success!

I never thougth of this but many people, like Kathy, do not like going down. When I picked up Larry with the truck, we met a few other riders who enjoy the climb--but think the downhill dangerous. I think its because of the traffic--there can be some unfriendly motorists on the Catalina Hwy, Gentle Readers, and I think that's when many riders do the tough part to the halfway mark, and ride down.

Larry enjoys the fast descents--he'll go without us!

It was a beautiful day on Mt. Lemmon!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Blog Upgrade

In the new blog you can see some of the intriguing individuals I ride with on the fancy photo montage up there. They are left to right, Kathy, Dave, John, Wing, Larry--Steve, the Star of the Blog, my dog Callie, Yours, and Stef.

Stef should be noted because he was there when Triple B Ranch which was meant to stand for "Bruce's Bike Blog" was born. He also suggested the dubious "Flogncocknballz" handle for my nom de guerr. It used to be there and I messed that up a while back. Thanks mush also again go to Stef as he is a master of Photoshop and taught me quite a bit. Mostly I whined and bugged him until he finally showed me what I needed.

If you want your photo removed--too bad! If you want me to add it--do something like make me crash and get road-rash, as did the Wing--or buy me breakfast... Also, if your photo is not here and it should be--its because I don't have a good picture of your face--probably just a bunch of pictures of your ass.


Bruce is Back

Distance: 40 miles
September Total: 98 miles

McCain Loop in Saguaro National Park

This last Sunday morning John, Larry, and Yours did our Gates Pass Ride. We travel from John’s house which is just off Silverbell, and head South to Sweetwater. Sweetwater is a nice quiet road and winds its way to Gates Pass Rd. This is where the ride really begins, O! Gentle Readers of This Blog. What can I say? I felt fantastic. The climb up the front side of Gates pass was good for all three of us—I was feeling strong and pulled out ahead and stayed in my middle gear for a healthy good long time and I was happy. This summer, I would be already in my Granny Gear sweating and huffin—but this morning I felt euphoric!

However, Gates Pass presents a challenge to Clydesdale-sized Oklahoma Boys like me--and soon Larry and John passed me the last few hundred yards to the top. I was also passed by a motley crew of teen-agers out with what looked like their coach. Coach and the kids were all smiles and said hello, and flew by, up and over the last hill—then down the chasm of the back side of Gates Pass. At the top, we took a rest—but not for long as the sun seemed to heat us to Medium Rare. So down we went.

On McCain Loop, I got that feeling The Wolf would show up and I should have my camera prepared. And as soon as that thought entered my mind, there he was—what makes me certain that he is a phantom—whose destiny is riding these roads for eternity—is the fact that we saw him yet again on said loop. That was indeed a rare event. Even John commented that we had two sightings. Go in Peace, My Brother I said as I looked over my shoulder and watched him disappear into the saguaros…

"Go in Peace, My Brother." The Wolf glides through McCain Loop...

I won’t bore you with the details of the rest of the ride—just that we turned up the cadence and tore down Sandario Rd to the our water stop at the Chevron. As we pulled in, John said, “It looks like Bruce is back!”

Allure Libre!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Bonne Courage!

John and Cathy will do a 200 mile training ride for the Cochise Classic via the John Farr Double Century Course. Eric and I will be in one support vehicle and Joan and Larry in the other. Its kind of a training situation for the crew too. Joan and Eric, and Kathy at the start from John's house.

Larry and John. 6 a.m. start!

I haven't ridden in about six weeks, so I'm a little nervous. The mono left me weak for a long time--but I feel good and everyone's encouraging me to ride. John and Kathy start out fast--here just entering SaguaroNat'l Park West, I get dropped.

Even though they drop me, I'm keeping my speed at 15 mph or above, which is pretty good. We're riding North on Sandario Road. It's slightly up-hill and there's a bit of a head wind. At times my legs feel a bit weak still.

As I near Ajo Hwy, for our planned stop--about 25 to 30 miles into the ride, the road gets muddy and a bit wet. So much for 15 mph. But it's a beautiful morning for a ride in the desert!

Mud! Cool!

At Sandario Rd and Ajo Hwy.

Making sure they go the right way...

The next stop will be Sells, Arizona.

Kathy riding strong...

John on his way West to Sells.

The crew staying on top of things.

I'm taking a rest and will ride in Eric's jeep.

A shrine out in the middle of nowhere on the Rez.

This rather large spider was "hangin' out" as in mid-air. He dropped by to see what I was doing, and maybe have me for breakfast. Hey. Wait a second?

Mud on my ride...

I would never ride this road by myself out on the Rez. In a group, I would, and on a Sunday on a three day weekend. Otherwise, its just too dangerous in my view--beer bottles and empty booze bottles litter the side of the road if you get my drift.

Kitt Peak on a sunny Sunday morning!

I've seen mustangs out on the Rez before, but usually they're high-tailing it outta site. They don't like to be seen and bolt--because they don't see or hear bikes and then suddenly you surprise them! I was pretty surprised myself to see this guy. His two mares and a young colt I just caught a glimps of as they ran off. I believe he was a mustang as I couldn't see any brand on him. Most horses you see out here have a large brand to identify them from afar--to keep others from stealing them outright. I felt pretty lucky to be this close and get a photo.

Sacred peak--this is a mysterious and sacred land and many spirits reside in the area. You must be alert and stay focused. Often a dream-like state can begin to overcome you. Again--you must stay focused and be mindful. Not too scary really, just keep going.

Speaking of Horse Power! The Wing enjoying some down-hill and the tailwind.

Kathy sets the pace...

Larry keeps up all the way into Sells, Arizona.

Sells--we stop for lunch.

At the lunch stop, Gentle Reader, I got back on the bike and road with Kathy, John, and Larry to Quiatowa, at which point we we would head out on Indian 15, the Hwy that would take us toward Casa Grande and Eloy.

I rode with Larry the 20 miles into Quiatowa, and we rode very fast and put some distance between Kathy and John. At one point we rode at 26 mph for what seemed five or six miles. The heat was affecting Kathy and she was having to stop and try to cool down. By about 11 a.m. the temps were reaching well over 100 degrees.

Out on Indian 15, after a short stop for water, I was with Kathy and John. Larry was getting over-heated and wanted to rest. I tried to keep up with K and J but the heat started to wear me down as well. Eric stopped me and asked if I was doing okay. K and J dropped me--I really wanted to try and make it Eloy--but I was cooking; It was like the sun was burning a hole through my shoulders and into my lungs. "Dude, its like 106--" said Eric. Yeah--it was time to git in the truck as they say.

At 106 your body starts to shut down and you can't keep cool. After about 10 more miles, we all decided we'd had enough today.

The John Farr course is 200 miles and J and K rode 125 miles. I rode a respectable 58--and I was pretty happy with that--for not having ridden in over a month.


John suggested we all go to this really good restaurant he knows. That cheered us all up! John also said he'd pick up the tab! Let's go!

My car was so hot you couldn't even touch it without getting burned! Who knows how hot it got inside--had to let it cool down before I could even load my gear.

Roma Caffe--just in time for an early dinner! We shared a bottle of wine and the conversation was not about bikes or our day on the course--just about stuff in general--there were funny stories and jokes, good food and wine.

I was happy, really happy mes amis! It had been a long summer to get through with the mononucleosis kicking my ass.

Glad it is behind me! Bonne Courage! Allure Libre!