Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 My Blog Year in Pictures

January--Little Egypt comes home after two years deployed in the Army Nat'l Guard. 15 months she spent on a FOB on the Afghan-Pakistan border, or what I liked to say was the "Fun Part" of Afghanistan. Her location was classified, but I had an idea where the FOB was located. It was not fun and I was glad she was on her way--two years is a long time. What's worse than being shot at by the Taliban? Training during the Summer at Fort Hood, Texas.

Our 2008 New Year's Day Ride was a blast! A bit windy and cold, but fun none the less.

Guest of Honor, Dave Glasgow, seen here with Susan Plonsky, RBA of Arizona Randonneurs. Dave was hit by a taxi cab while out riding. Dave endured many surgeries and months of rehabilitation. I am happy to report he is riding strong once more!

February--As I waited for Little Egypt's arrival that day in early February (weather delayed her return to Tucson by almost a month) I photographed these work bikes used by the helicopter maintenance crews. All I can say, Gentle Readers of This Blog is, "Bikes Not Bombs."

March--we are back riding, usually doing a century every weekend. John and Kathy are super-fast on the tandem!

April--I got a lot of shit for this April Fool's post back in 2005. Every April Fool's I re-post the saga where my crew chief, and Norwegian Exchange Student Girlfriend and I, struggle to finish a tough brevet.

She is roasted alive in a fiery crash (not really cause it's all made up April Fools)

May--Steve Star of the Blog and I do some epic rides up in Phoenix and Scottsdale. We'd ride down to our favorite breakfast place, load up on carbs, flirt with the gorgeous waitresses, and then hammer up to the TV Towers in South Mtn Park!

June--Riding in Saguaro Nat'l Park on Sunday mornings--Bike Heaven!

July--"Suffer Fest" can you say 102 degrees at 9 a.m. in the morning? Phoenix, you could say, can be Bike Hell. We would have to be in the saddle by 4 a.m. to make it to South Mtn and back around to Scottsdale before the temps just got too much. Are we riding 120 miles or is that the temperature?

August--Here I am on the High Country Brevet, in the White Mountains of Arizona. I will say that I was very fit, having been commuting to work just about every day for months. It was a good thing too because the altitude almost did me in, climbing over 9,000 ft. The descents were very fast--on one stretch of road, I topped out at 51 MPH.

September--This is on one of our Marana-Scottsdale-Marana rides. Nothing like Paris-Brest-Pairs of course, but with wind and temps over 100 degrees, this ride is challenging. Think of it as more like Tucson to Phoenix and back to Tucson. We ride 116 miles up to Scottsdale, a burb of Phoenix, spend the night, and then return the next day to my place in Marana. Part of the ride, and were Steve is pictured above, is the old Stage Coach Line to Picacho Peak. We ride on the Frontage Rd next to Interstate 10. The Army patroled for Apaches in this area as well. This is tough, hot, and windy open desert--September is the hottest month in Tucson and Phoenix.

October--That's Mt. Lemmon in the background, and we're on our way home from a day riding in Tucson. Mornings start cool, we arrive at breakfast, then enjoy the warm breezes and sunshine for the trip back home.

November--I bough very little gas when it was high. What a rip-off! Everybody was crying about the price, etc, etc. It is possible to do many things without having to use a car--like commute to work for a start. It takes some work and you have to be committed and motivated--and in Tucson, it still seems a bit dangerous to the novice just getting out there. But we really have to change the way we live in this country; the days of wasting our resources, fucking up our environment, and consuming consuming consuming--must slow way down!

All I can say to the Haters out there is this: Because I am able to take the alternative--like ride my bike--all I ask is to show some respect and let me ride in safety and in peace.

You don't own the road, nor do I. And stop going ballistic if I cross out of the bike lane or don't come to a complete fucking stop at a stop sign. "All them bicycles break the laws and never stop and stop signs 'n stuff..." In this one-horse town, car drivers run stop signs and think nothing of it--they just got that diabetic foot to the floor, and that cell phone glued to the jowl.

I climbed Mt. Lemmon, my old nemesis, and made easy work of it. Here's John and Dave and we're on our way up to Summerhaven.

December--Yet another bike to add to the collection!

Happy New Year!
Thanks for visiting my blog!
If in Tucson, let me know--come ride with us!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Little Soldier

Look what Santa brought!

Christmas Vacation began when Little Egypt informed me that I was flying home to Tulsa to see my family for the Holidays. “I am?” says me. “Suck it up!” says she.

Little Egypt had driven the car up into those cold lands a few weeks before. I will meet her in Tulsa, and we will drive back cross country.

We bought tickets for Hawaii late summer—but the airline sadly went out of business. As Hawaiians are warm, friendly, and smart people—they somehow got us vouchers for Southwest Airlines. So—we have vouchers galore; I’m packing the only warm clothes I own into luggage. Another Christmas of stuffing my face with good food/bad for you food, mes amis!

Back in sunny Tucson, just for kicks, I looked on Craigslist/Tulsa/Bikes—and behold, I discovered this tandem! It will be mine! Oh yes—it will be! A couple of cell phone calls later and plans got made to view the bike.

I figured since Tulsa is not the best place to ride all the time, some bloke would be un-loading some sweet bike for a song. And since Little Egypt only buys things on sale—by the grace of god she agreed to take a look—the price being offered was certainly to the tune of a very good deal.

I had explained to Charlie, the owner, that if the bike didn’t fit in the car it would be a deal-breaker. Little Egypt would not let me take it if the frame wouldn’t allow the car’s trunk to shut.

Charlie practically gave the bike to me. We took off the wheels, the handle bars, pedals, etc—and the bike just fit in the car. Yes!

These are the Craig's List images the previous owner made.

This is a Schwinn Twin Deluxe, five speed. I sold Little Egypt to the idea because one, the price was right, two—this is not a high-end tandem for the road; we wouldn’t be out racing the wind in our spandex-clad bike clothes, and three—this would be our cafĂ© bike; on weekends we would ride together down for coffee, just a mile! Maybe I would put baskets on it and we could grocery shop as well.

This bike is a tank. I would say it weighs 70 to 80 pounds. The nick-name “Little Soldier” soon became attached—going back to the days when Little Egypt rode helicopters over the Afghan-Pakistan border.

More photos and stories when the bike is back from Pima Street Bikes!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cafe By Bike

It was only 31 degrees this morning, and we had all planned to ride at 8 a.m. It was only 35 degrees by then, so we decided we would cancel the day's spin. Callie and I went down the to park late morning--it was still quite cold.

Callie has breakfast and starts her late morning nap. I'll head down to the cafe via my old Raleigh Marathon.

The cafe is only a mile away so why drive the car when it only takes less than two minutes to pedal down there? Still a bit cold so I need gloves and a pull-over sweater. I just put a bunch of lose change in the old blue jeans and I'm off.

A saguaro stretched out and sunning himself in the morning crisp air of the desert.

Espresso Drini is the local cafe. Its become a stopping place for many of the local riders. I'll stop in on the weekends before I head out for a spin--or if I get back before closing time, I'll take a quick break before riding home. If there's other riders about, I might hook up and ride out with them.

Not uncommon to see bikes parked around the place, and hear the clip-clack of cyclists trying to gingerly walk about.

The Wildcats win in Las Vegas. This is good news indeed!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rough and Ready

Rain or shine, gonna ride today.

Another perplexing evening weather forecast on the TV.

So in the morning, Little Egypt gave me a lift to the YMCA; this was a compromise because she said not to ride.  I was getting restless and needed to loosen up the legs.

Morning TV was on and the temperature was reported to be 52 degrees--that's 10 degrees warmer than all week! Dropped off at the YMCA it almost felt warm. As I made my way into the mountains, sweat dripped from my head. It had been a week since commuting. The o' lungs did protest--but soon fell into line with legs, bike, saddle, and what ever else it takes to drag my heavy build up the road.

The top of my climb at a few minutes past 7 a.m. This is Sunrise and Craycroft Rds, and I'm looking South down Craycroft. My office is about 4 miles away--and it will be fast because of the descent all the way into the campus of the Desert San.

The Raleigh Super Grand Prix--my work horse commuter bike all packed with the junk I need to make it through the day--with room to spare to haul it all back. When I drive to work, I bring in two or three changes of clothes. I carry the days clothes back in the evening.

When I'm not riding or over the weekend, I keep my Campus Bike in the locker for safe keeping.  Its locked in the covered bike rack the rest of the time.   

This is on the way home and I'm on the bike path. The last few years, there has been major earth-moving to accommodate architectual fantasies of some very wealthy individuals. Most of the money was spent just to bring in tons of earth and rock so these houses could be built on the river breaks. Whatever...

Part of the bike path on the North side is un-paved but okay with my road bike.

The ride home on the river path is not glamorous. It can be barren and cold, but everyone seems friendly--and somehow in a reflective mood.  There's short-cuts for roadies, a way to travel to work for those who can't afford cars to take them there, and the hand full of the commuter types like me.  There are wide-open long stretches of rive bank where you could find privacy, quiet, and peace of mind.

December days are short.   When the sun goes down things get cold quickly.

Must I  hurry?  Work is done and the day's stress quickly falls away.   Find a groove, then pedal--and enjoy the sun setting in front of me.

Sunsets can be quite breathtaking--a photo in my blog cannot show that, Gentle Reader. I feel lucky that I'm able to live and ride in Tucson. I hope you are able to ride this winter as well...


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tucson Rain

I’m off the bike. I have no excuse. The weather says rain rain and more rain, but it is not raining. We have well respected weather forecasters—the one I watch mostly is kind of attractive… But you know, with all the fancy computer generated graphics and computer models—they, as in all of them on the local channels, have been wrong 100%. I could have ridden everyday but I let them sway me.

I have noticed the weather humans on the television that the men stand in the screen and appear from the waist up. My weather woman has a rather svelte figure—she is shown from above the knees. She’s nice to look at—but I’m realizing that her forecast is simply a dog-and-pony show to keep my attention until an ad for GM employee pricing violates my retinas.

There is this one woman TV journalist that’s drop-dead gorgeous—pretty and blonde—and nice to look at. They plastered her face on everything from benches at bus stops, to the gloss and toss magazines put out by realtors—you know the type, “Tucson Chic Lifestyles” or some shit like that.

I kept seeing this beautiful woman’s face everywhere. Whilst scratchin’ my nut sack one morning before heading to the office, behold! There she was on one of the local ante meridiem news shows: mes amis, her voice was as shrill as a 13 year old with braces, asthma, and a head-cold to boot. Probably why she was only on in the mornings, eh?


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sunday Ride, Tucson, Arizona

Cold rain clouds roll into Tucson as I roll out for a ride.

No one is out this chilly sunless morning, sep me with me IPod blaring the Clash into my thick skull...

This is a century plant (Agave americana) , the largest I've ever seen--even with the top four feet broken off, it's about 20 feet tall!

Saguaro and agave plant.

Huge cholla cactus.

Mountain agave.

The large regal saguaro cactus you see are often 80 to 120 years old. This one is probably two years old, and being protected by creosote bush.

Very typical seeing saguaro in a nursery. There are three growing under this Palo Verde tree. Eventually the Palo Verde will die (after 25 or 30 years) and the saguaro will remain.

On the way home I hook up with this group of cyclists, and ride with them for about 10 miles. One of the riders I discovered was Dr. W-- a leading physician here at he Desert San, an avid cyclist, and great guy. All these fellows are local doctors and surgeons that get together and ride when they can.

I'm on my way home before the rain starts.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Give That Poor Cyclists Something to Eat!

Newspaper will block out the chill.

I have been placing newspaper in my jacket to cut out the cold as I descend down from the mountains. Climbing is okay, but often riding the rollers on my commute route I pass through cold spots--and they can seem 10 degrees colder! So as you've climbed and worked up a sweat under your layers--suddenly you're flying through a block of frigid air--and that can be a cold shock to your body, mes amis.

Many randonneurs know this trick, but I first heard about it from an old gentleman who rode motorcycles back in the 1950's. The best thing is that as you keep riding during the day, say on a brevet, you just toss the newspaper in the trash. It saves having to wear, and then carry heavier clothing. And if you ever find yourself without the proper gear or the weather changes on you--you can always find some kind of paper around to insulate your upper torso.

Like a few weeks ago, up on Mt. Lemmon, I was able to find some newspaper in the trash cans up at Palisades. I came down from Summerhaven and was freezing. Some tourists saw me digging in the trash--who knows what they thought I was doing--"Honey, give that poor bicyclist something to eat--he must be starving!" But I explained to them I was using the newspaper to block out the cold. Their faces lit up as soon as they got it, "Oh yeah! Of course!"

The mountains to the West of Tucson, as I ride home.


Ode to Maynard Dixon

Landscapes that I know
And you Know

(before digital millennium copyright)

Ridges and Mountains
That you saw the sun Blaze

(before sub-divisions)

A canvas of Transcendence
At a time when Saguaros
Raised their arms to the Day

(before snowbirds
obese children

You saved their spirits for all Time
One morning, painting a Portrait
Camped in the bed of the River

(before we killed the river)

Someday I hope to see you there, Maynard
On the banks of the Rillito
Cigarette hanging from your Mouth

(no one seeks out a ghost)

I will not interrupt, Old Man
Your old body still holding a Brush
Me and my pony have to be Home.

(who is here in the rain but us?)

Gentler Readers of This Blog: I went to the Tucson Museum of Art with great anticipation to see the collected works of Maynard Dixon. He spent his later years in Tucson, and many of his landscapes I recognized immediately as they are from perspectives exactly where I commute to and from the office from home. A good deal of his work is owned by one collector here in Tucson. Dixon's Tucson landscapes of the Catalina Mountains and Pucsh Ridge, Picacho Peak, etc, were painted in the early and mid 1940's--before land speculators (Realtors) developers, and golf course designer/builders arrived--corporations with the sole purpose to generate profit for shareholders--which in my opinion, have desecrated this area.