Sunday, October 28, 2007

South Mountain Park, Pheonix

Friday night, Susan, RBA of Arizona Brevet and Randonnee, readies for her training ride up to Mt. Lemmon. Susan will complete scouting the 200Km ride coming up in November. Callie, my dog, hopes she'll take a moment to throw the tennis ball out front in the street. I'll head up to Scottsdale for my ride with Steve.

We need to rise early to ride across town to the base of South Mtn. The sun comes up just as we're arriving in Tempe, AZ near the campus of ASU.

Across the bridge into Downtown Tempe and Mill Ave.

Still a bit chilly--just need arm warmers.

The Old Mill--on Mill Ave.

Riding through sleepy Mill Ave.

The happenin' scene must have already happened, mes amis!

Somebody needs coffee!

We are parked outside of US Egg, our favorite breakfast stop.

A lovely morning in the US of Egg.

Steve, Star of the Blog--ready for some climbing!

We are in the Park and one of the "Vistas" that Steve says we'll do today is the top of South Mtn at the TV Towers. There will be three vistas and the TV Towers are the last and most difficult.

We'll get water here at the old Ranger Station.

You can ride very fast, Gentle Readers--faster than cars. And the Rangers will fine you and you are therefore warned. Of course, that won't be me today--at least on the way up!

Riding out on to San Juan Vista in South Mtn Park.

South Mtn with the TV Towers--about 8 or 9 miles East of this photo. As you drive North to Phx from Tucson, South Mtn is visable from pretty far away. When we do our Marana-Scottsdale-Marana Ride (130 miles one-way) we can see South Mtn as we leave Sacaton.

The mountain range in the background is on the Gilla Bend Indian Reservation--this is looking West from the Park. Steve and I have often ridden on the hwy that runs East and West along the base of the range.

This part of the park has no motor traffic, so its great for roadies and mtn bikes. The road goes out about seven miles from the old Ranger Station, with fast rollers and awesome scenery.

From this vista, you can see Downtown Pheonix--and the Diamondback's stadium there on the right.

Turning around from the shot of Phx, here's the road we came up. There'll be some climbing to get back but this road has been a blast. October morning is cool, but it seems to be getting warm as the sun's coming out.

Grandpa and Mr. Mono. Steve is now a Grandfather. For the first time I feel like I have my lungs and legs. We're riding strong and solid--now the ride begins!

South Mtn from the NW side.

Mountains all around--here come the Randonneurs to give them the answer!

Fee fie foe fum--

Look toward the bottom in center, just to the right of the saguaro--Steve the Star of the Blog coming up the mountain. We are headed to Dobbins Lookout for the first of the three vistas up here on the top of South Mtn.

Dobbins Lookout--I belive at 2300 feet elevation. That's Camel Back where all the wealthy Scottsdale people live. Papago Park is to the right and center of the photo. We've left for our ride at 5 a.m. North on the other side of Camel Back. Steve says we're at about 48 miles from his house in Scottsdale.

The TV Towers are behind us. We have one more vista to visit--just a quick short climb called Buena Vista--I'm didn't snap a photo and not sure why--but the real reason we're here it to make the last tough climb to the TV Towers.

On Top, and I have to say I felt pretty good because there are two very steep and gut-wrenching climbs before you reach the top. It takes a minute to get your breath back.

Steve is right behind me.

Here's the road we came up to reach the TV Towers, looking West from the top. It's a blast going down, mes amis!

Take a minute to discuss if we want to stop for lunch in town, or keep going back to Scottsdale.

We ride down, get to the Circle K to eat a cliff bar, drink some chocholate milk, and fill the bottles with ice and water. Now we have about 30 miles or more to ride back through the heart of Pheonix, Tempe, and Scottsdale.

As we rode through Tempe, it looked like a triathlon was setting up. Streets were getting blocked off, so we got on the bike course and just acted like we owned the place--police and officials waved us along, then we cut out and made to Papago Park.

About four miles from Steve's fancy digs in swank Scottsdale, Arizona--Steve, the Star of the Blog gets a flat. Bummer, cause we are moving pretty fast. Actually, we start to hit every light which start to show up at every half-mile interval. Pretty frustrating when you just want the ride to be over. Then a flat to top it off.

There is only one tree with some shade and I say we go for it to fix the flat. The Phx sun is already starting to blaze... As we get under the tree, a huge Rottwieler in the backyard sees the top of my head from over the fence. She, as I find out later from her friendly owner, runs to the fence and then jumps up to the height of my head to bark at us and see what we're doing. Gentle Reader of This Blog, I can feel the cement block fence strain from the weight of "Puppy" as she pushes off to jump. My first thought was that the wall was going fall, and then trap Steve and Yours--and Puppy would tear at our limbs and we struggle to free ourselves from the rubble of the block wall.

Friendly owner called to said puppy, and she happily went to owner's feet and plopped down like a good dog. Friendly ower asked if we needed anything--as he had a cold beer in his hand--I thought for a moment about that request--but Steve is ready to roll.

It was an awesome ride, and nice to be out of Tucson for a time.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Week by Bike

Now that it's getting dark by 5:50 pm, driving a ways to park and then ride is much safer.

The winds that blew in San Diego blew down here in Tucson as well. My commutes were dusty and windy, mes amis.

Oh yeah--here's something. I had been putting the bike rack on my car, because when I have the fenders on my old Raleigh, I would bump them getting them in and out of the trunk. This would put them all out of balance and the tire would rub on the fender. It was a disaster and frustrated me to no end, and then I'd start slamming and cramming the bike, without any luck--into the trunk.

I figured out how to put the bike in the car without screwing things up! I need to use my head and be more thoughtful.

See one thing I detest are loud people--people who slam things shut, or toss things down with a ker blam. Since Bev has been in Afghanistan, I've been doing grocery shopping--and one thing I've noticed about some people (usually women) is that they pick out their box or bag of whatever and wack it down in their shopping cart--kind of like how they might slap their snot-nosed un-ruly offspring. Same when in the checkout line; slam-- slam--slam. I see this as being base and blue collar. A gentleman with some education and manners, like myself, uses grace and poise at every step--to set myself apart from those types. So, why then am I struggling and getting my ass kicked by a bicycle, trying to force it in the trunk of my car? I did the same thing with my Campus Bike trying to cram it into my bike locker, swearing and shoving and cursing. I suppose that I'm really no better than anyone else out there in the world--oh well. But I do try to step back and think about things...

Anyway, I noticed that if there's one thing people driving in this one-horse town hate more than a bike in the road, its a a bike on the rack on the trunk of a car. People will go out of thier way not to be behind you. Kind of like when you're driving to work, and you see a snow bird talking on a cell phone while driving a Buick--time to get around that old slow-driving fool!

So with the bike neatly tucked into the car, and with the ability to remove and re-insert after the commute is done--well, I suppose I feel a sense of accomplishment.

I took the car into the dealership for an oil change one day this week. I took it first thing. There was a line of about four cars behind me. These poor souls would have to deal with the courtesy van to get a ride to work. Imagine being stuffed into a van with a bunch of people and their all talking on their cell phones... Instead of being respectful and polite to one another. I popped the bike out of the trunk and rode on my way. A few people waiting looked at me and thought that I had a pretty good idea with that.

The guys that work at the dealership don't quite know what to think--the owner of the dealership is a guy named Jim Click, and appearently he's into cycling in a big way here in Tucson. So my feeling is they don't dare mess with another bike rider or he would have their head.

What else? On the bike path going home, people are running, walking their dogs, and generally looking happy. Smiles and friendly waves all around.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Picture Rocks Ride or Here Come the Bike Snobs

McCain Loop, Saguaro Nat'l Park

Sunday morning was again beautiful in sunny Tucson. John, Kathy, Larry and Yours headed out for an early morning spin—Gates Pass, McCain Loop, and Saguaro Nat’l Park. It was a bit chilly so we dressed accordingly. I had arm warmers and figured that would be enough for the ride.
We start at 7 a.m. instead of 6 a.m. Gentler Reader of This Blog. The good thing is that Yours gets to sleep a bit later—the bad news is that more Retards in said area will be—and were—stirring on Redneck Road (Sandario Road).

What can I tell you? We were just talking and catching up as we rode on Silverbell on our way to Gates Pass. The sun was warming us and we saw many other cyclists out enjoying the sunshine as well. As we started up Gates Pass, a quick stop was made to peel off warmers and jackets for the climb.

I kind of wish I would have left my arm warmers on, for as we started the tough part, a cold headwind bore down on us—this was a different wind as it was coming in from the Northwest. So as you ride, your backside is warmed by the sun, but your front is a bit cold.

At the top, which really winded me because of the wind, we decide we’ll ride Picture Rocks Rd—this way we can meet Eric at a café near his house.

In beautiful Saguaro Nat'l Park, McCain Loop.

Just as we’re turning onto McCain Loop, I’m getting my camera ready as I know the Wolf is about. But no sooner had I reached back for the camera, he appeared and flew past—I had missed him! Larry said he’d show up again as we made our own loop.

The Wolf on McCain Loop--for Eternity--
Ride in Peace--

He appeared again and I shot three times, because mes amis, he is only visible for an instant—only the first shot caught this glimpse of him. He passed with a warm greeting. I looked at the images to see I had missed all three times—later I saw him just in the corner of the first shot after I enlarged it a good deal.
About the Wolf--word is that the Wolf is a phantom spirit and he rides forever in Saguaro Nat'l Park. I have seen him, as did my friend Paul Layton, in other parts of Saguaro while we were riding the 300 km brevet the last few years. However, he always seems to appear on McCain Loop--at least, that's where we always see him.
Okay… Picture Rocks. Picture Rocks is probably the most beautiful road in Tucson as it goes through breath-taking vistas of Saguaro Nat’l Park. The thing is is that the pavement is shit, and the road narrow. Worst is that it’s the main artery for every god damn 1st cousin loving redneck that rents a double wide in the area. The car traffic is fast and the drivers mean and either hung-over or stoned. On Sundy morning, they're either going to, or leaving Church... Or on the way to visit momma in jail.
We'll be going down fast so we want to be sure and all make the turn off Picture Rocks to Cortaro Farms Rd. I think that's where we're gonna turn--

The first part is a climb—then a very fast down hill with sharp curves and pot holes. Damn, but what a cool fast spin through the pit bull’s teeth!

Pusch Ridge and Mt Lemmon in the background, from the top of Picture Rock. The wind has picked up making the morning hazy.

Instead of breakfast, we head to this place called the Daily Grind. Eric meets us there and we sit and relax. Kathy buys me a scone to go with my Americano, and I listen as John, Kathy, and Larry answer Eric’s questions about Cochise.

Our friend Eric--busy with a math degree and teaching degree.

The thing about the café is that it was packed with young affluent-looking 20 and 30 somethings, all typing furiously away on laptops. Oh, and there’s eye candy everywhere—even Larry couldn’t help but notice a time or two. It was the place to see and be seen—and get online. For a moment I thought we seemed a little out of place but no one seemed to really care.
"Hello, Darling!"

Kathy is a Princess on and off the bike, Gentle Reader of This Blog!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bikes that Work

Bruce's Big New Bike

A few months ago, I was at Pima Street Bikes, and quickly bought one of the consignments Phil and Judy have in their little shop. The bike was so large I could barely throw a leg over. It was the same story again according to Phil; a bike was bought, used once or twice—then left in the garage to gather dust.

The bike would be perfect as my Campus Bike.

I took my Raleigh Mtn bike down to the shop shortly after to recoup my purchase if possible, and it was quickly bought by one of Phil’s other customers. It was almost an even trade. What I paid for my new Campus Bike, I got back with the sale of the Raleigh Mtn bike.

The Campus Bike is so large that it won’t fit in my bike locker here at the hospital. I have to take off the front wheel and then gently squeeze it into the locker. I got it in the locker before, but the other day when I got back from an errand I could not get it back in. I wrestled with the bike until I finally figured out if I popped off the wheel, it would fit.

Yesterday I ran two errands with the Campus Bike. I was able to get in for a hair cut at Noon—incredibly lucky because the chap who cuts my hair, Bryan, is the busiest stylist in Tucson it seems. And he cuts the hair of the Pretty People, mes amis! Models that are svelte and vivacious—and high-maintenance by the looks of ‘em. I got in as one of his clients because my neighbor and him are good friends, otherwise I couldn’t afford the cost—and I’m not that great looking.

I ride the mile and a half to the salon as its right down the street from my office.
The bike is huge of course, and parking there right in the front of the shop’s trendy window, I get a few odd looks. There’s also a café next to the salon… Everyone is outside being beautiful (I guess they don’t need to have jobs) and the weather here in Tucson is fantastic now by the way…

Bryan wants to cut my hair in such a way as make me look Italian—to go with the bike theme he says.

My next stop is the Arizona School of Acupuncture—for a trip to Acu-land. On the way, a large Cooper s hawk was perched on a wall, and I could see his piercing orange eyes looking me over. Then he flew off and up over my head and seemed to float above me. So many things we don’t see and smell and experience speeding by in our cars…
While in Acu-land, I thought about flying like he did—over the desert and away, with power and lightness…

Cars are nice, but a bike can often take you so much further.

Ride Long and Hard, Mes Amis

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cochise Classic 2007

At the finish of the Cochise County Cycling Classic, Douglas, Arizona.
Joan, Kathy, John, Larry, and Yours.

The race starts at 2 a.m. Saturday morning, mes amis. We've driven down from Tucson, set up our stuff, and then gone to the YMCA to pick up our ride packets. At the pre-ride dinner, we see old friends, and eat a big spagetti dinner while Richard and Andy of PBAA go over a few details of the race. Waiting in line for dinner, I see and say hello to Mike Enfield--Mike, a strong brevet rider, is riding the 157 mile event.

We all get to bed by 8 p.m. and rendezvous at 1:20 a.m. to head to the startline in downtown Douglas. Needless to say, I was nervous and didn't sleep too well--

The start is always exciting, as there are about 20 riders instead of 8,000 for El Tour de Tucson.

Everyone is in good spirits, and the Star Spangled Banner is played live by a real bugler. That was cool. Richard DeBerdanias has a few words about living in a free country and how we can do ride like this, as soldiers--like my wife Bev deployed in Afghanistan--protect that freedom.
If she knew I was down in Douglas, however, I'm sure she'd be kind of pissed off--why wasn't I painting the kitchen or doing yardwork this weekend?

What happens at Cochise, stays in Cochise--that's what I say!

Allure Libre!

Cochise starts at 2 a.m. Saturday morning, so there's a good deal of riding in the dark. Kathy and John are about 15 - 20 miles into the ride, outside of Douglas, on the way to Bisbee.

The first check-point is in Benson, Arizona. John and Kathy have arrived at 7 a.m. and have a quick bite to eat. They are soon on thier way, and I'm happy to say that the stop was only eight minutes!

You still have to be very careful while on this ride. Kathy didn't look when she bolted out to make the turn to I-10, and a semi was coming down the street. Luckily he saw her and got out of the way.

Dave Glasgow was struck by a taxi back in August, and is making a strong recovery. He's been asked to be the 252 mile race marshall. John and Kathy are numbers 31 and 32 respectively.

On the way to I-10... This part of the course is the most dangerous. What's been made more difficult is that we've been told that we cannot, under any circumstances, as support vehicles, stop on I-10--or the Cochise Classic will be cancelled--indefinitly.

And I will tell you now that the Sherriff's Dept did shadow the entire course, and each rider and crew the whole time we were riding.

We've had a tail wind all day. Here we are at the Texas Canyon rest stop. John and Kathy are in much better shape than I was at this point. Again, Larry and I do our job as crew members and the riders are on their way.

This is the rest stop right before crossing over into New Mexico.

A girl I met at the rest stop! Hey, like those boots, Baybee!

Ride so far has been good. Kathy reported that a semi hauling a wide load--a house--passed very close, and just over her head.

But we know the ride will start when we cross over the New Mexico State Line and turn South back to Douglas. The tailwinds that have made the ride good so far, will now be headwinds--headwinds of 35 to 40 mph, Gentle Readers of This Blog.

Larry and I continue on to the Check Point in Road Forks.

Kathy rides in and reports that John has had a flat tire. I stay with Kathy while Larry drives up to meet John, who as been able to get down to the exit ramp. Larry switches out wheels, and soon John is coming down the road to meet us at the Check-Point. We lost very little time at this un-planned stop. You will notice that we put Dave Glasgow's speakers on the top of the truck, and we've got them hooked up to John's CD Player. At this point we can follow behind the riders--Beck, ABBA, Hank Williams Jr. and many more tunes keep the mood funky!
New Mexico, on Hwy 80--the true test of the riders begins.

80 miles to the finish, mes amis. Headwinds here are as stated before, 35 mph.
We will ride through Apache lands--where Cochise and Geronimo held out against the U.S. Army. Its remote out here, and beautful. Sadly, the Apache are no more--they are on a reservation far removed from this area.
John riding against the headwind, heading South to Douglas and the finish.
Senic Hwy 80.

Still riding strong!

Douglas is on the other side of the range, then Mexico.

John rode Cochise last year. This year he is 20 pounds lighter and much stronger. He's trained all year, and we've trained all summer together as well. He has been a good friend, and an inspiration! Go John!
Headwinds are slowing all the riders down. Everyone is tired but pushes on.

When I rode in 2005, this is where the rain and hail thrashed me! I was almost struck by lightening several times. There were a few close calls for other riders behind me--too close, and a few dropped out so as not to risk getting killed. I was lucky I didn't buy the farm out here on this road, mes amis.

Kathy and John are okay--its tough out there for sure, but they are riding strong!
Kathy's first time to ride Cochise. She is very strong and has trained relentlessly for this day.

John riding strong and staying in high spirits even against the headwind.

Even though they are exhausted, there's 30 miles to go--still with steep climbs and fast downhills in total darkness. Larry and I follow in the SAG vehicle. I keep the tunes up-beat and rolling out.

We finish.

Our mentor, Dave Glasgow--who we know will ride once more.