Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lovely Tucson Commute

Morning Sun. I make it to the bike lockers just as the blaze of the Sun comes over over the Rincon Mountains, East of Tucson. I have parked at the YMCA this cold morning, and ridden 15 miles to work.

The birds and bees have been busy, as the Sun is making the days warm again!
Other birds sqawk out warnings--there are many nests here right by the bike lockers under the parking garage.

I ride my Campus Bike down to a lunch place. The afternoon is about 76 degrees!

I'm riding home on the River Bike Path. One thing about late February and most of March, is the Sun's postition in the afternoon--it is brilliantly blinding! As I ride home West from work, I can hardly see. I know car drivers can't see either so that's why I've got the new day-glow jersey.

Ranch land on the Rillialto River has given way to development. That's the North side of the rive bank we see up there. Instead of cattle, jackrabbits and coyotes, there's yuppies jogging--or walking their little yippie dogs. Little yippie dogs are actually quite delicious, so say the coyotes!

Bike path homeward.

Rock Star Bike Shorts...

I drain what's left of the battery life from the morning commute as I unpack my things from the car and the YMCA.

Callie is helping out of course!


Monday, February 18, 2008

White Tiger

Something about this weekend’s ride that will not go away is the image of the mountains covered with snow—and three Randonneurs climbing to above the snowline of the Sonoran Desert.

A damp storm came and stalled-out on the 300 Km Brevet Course this past Saturday.

As Paul, Steve, and Yours rode on, and the Catalina Mountains and snow-covered Mt. Lemmon loomed before us—I was over-taken by the blinding “whiteness” of everything. The sky was white, the mountains white—my exhaling breath white and being whisked away by the headwind. My eyes opened or closed I saw white.

Wet and cold—my strength was draining from me—and the harder I pedaled, the more I faded. Everything became white in my field of vision. I found it all I could do to focus on Paul’s wheel. Paul Layton—if not for him starting late on the ride, I would have been in even more dire circumstances. He drafted as I tried to hang on to my wits. Steve followed me to reassure me and keep my spirits up.

I was in the situation where I could not keep going yet I could not stop.

Paul and Steve rode back to fetch me at one point—it seems I was under the impression that I had a flat tire. I think it was my body telling me I had to stop—but we kept going and I hung on Steve’s wheel to get me to the crest of that patch of lonely desolate road, and then the descent.

When a predator hunts, it picks out the easy prey—a sick or injured individual. That would have been me. The cold and wind, along with the climb was the perfect place for ambush.

I felt the tiger on me with the cold like claws cutting into my lungs. My strength fading and all the tiger had to do was hold on to me and wear me down.

With everything I could muster, I made it to the top. Paul noted that we were at the snowline, and glancing up, we could see the cold white and grey mountains before us.

This sight was beautiful to behold—but I had paid a heavy price to be there. Even as we sailed down the road, and the weight of the cold and thin air gave way, I knew I was lucky to still be in the saddle, mes amis.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tucson's Most Scenic Most Dangerous Road

20 MPH--Yeah right!

Picture Rocks Road is somewhere on the edge of Saguaro Nat'l Park. The Park is beautiful of course, but around the perimeter lives vile trailer trash--I kid you not. I've posted about going down this road, and the Red Necks that make beer and cigarette runs. Sunday the day after my Birthday--for some reason--we rode up Picture Rocks. I must now say that this is the most dangerous road in this one-horse town I've ever been on.

John Danger and Kathy the Fearless. Photo is at the top of the most dangerous and scenic roads in Tucson, Arizona.

When Red Necks speed up and down this stretch of track faster than NASCAR drivers with performance-inhancing drugs racing thru their veins--the only thing that keeps them from reaching for their guns to shoot at us, is the fact they must keep both hands on the steering wheel of their jalopies so they don't crash n' burn. "Dang! I fergot to re-load mah gun! Got to stop drinkin' so much on the Lord's Day!"

We stop for a break and to re-group after riding through Hell. Some redneck gal pulls up in her piece of shit jeep--with a puppy! That pit bull probably belongs to her common-law re-tard husband.

Let's go have breakfast at the airpark! What say you? Oh yes! Let's go! Jolly good, I say!

Eric cannot believe we would ride up Picture Rocks. He met us at the airport where they have a pretty good rest runt--or rest rent. Depends on which side of the tracks you live on.

Another beautiful sunny day in Tucson, Arizona.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bruce's Birthday Ride

My Birthday was this past weekend, Saturday February 9th. Beautiful weather so of course everything is about doing a bike ride.
My 2002 LeMond Buenos Aries fitted out for desert cyclo-tourism.

Downtown Tucson is about 25 miles South--its still a crisp cool morning.

Mt Lemmon has snow.

I'm riding a few of my favorite back roads this morning.

Up into Rancho Vistoso, and a better look at Pusch Ridge, and the view of the snow.

Mt. Lemmon behind me as I head back to Dog Mtn.

This is the entrance to Sagauro Ranch--a very exclusive area for the ultra rich. Lots for homes start at 4 million bucks. Tiger Woods owns several homes up in here now. Oh, and this tunnel--the developers said that it would actually preserve the environment and fragile eco-system of the desert--as would the golf courses they want to put in. It's sad because this area is so beautiful and now it is only for the enjoyment of the very wealthy. Being a local boy, I know where the secret back-door is to this place. I'll show you someday, Gentle Reader of This Blog.

Bev calls the cell and wants me to meet her at the cafe on my way home. They surprise me with a large cinnamon roll that they saved--and Sabria, the cafe owner, has my Americano ready and waiting.

A new bike for my Birthday! Yeah Baby! Actually, it's the neighbor kid's new ride...

I get a free shot of tequila for my Birthday at our neighborhood Mexican place.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Bikes that Work

Running errands on the Campus Bike, Gentle Readers of This Blog. The hospital campus is about the size of the back 40--and mostly its for automobile parking. Plenty of bike parking as you can see!

Off to the bike shop. The sun is coming out and Tucson is getting warm! The sky is blue! The cold days are ending. I can't help but get outside. Since I'll be using the Campus Bike more and more, I better take it down to Phil and Judy. I need air and maybe a minor adjustment.

The bike checks out.

Now for my short-cut through the neightborhood back to Campus.

Who is this guy? The house and the Bomb Shelter look kind of the same. Wonder if this old retired guy got this instead of the gold watch? Maybe he and the Missus pull it behind their old jalopy? Maybe they're not the RV driving silver foxes-type that frequent Tucson?

Still, in a pinch, if the Taliban attack, or North Korea wants to slap a hair-lip on us--this might be the place!

The hospital were my office is located was once a TB sanatorium back in the 1920's. Some of the old adobe buildings still remain, and still hold offices too. Many are on the Register of Historic Places.

A horseshoe and I speculate the other cut-out is a stirrup. This was a private hospital for wealthy Easterners to convalesce.

I have seen the ghost of the "Cowboy" in the halls of the hospital. He was wearing Dude clothes like Tom Mix would wear in those films. He wasn't a working cowboy--his duds were too nice. He was probably a guest and my hope is he did get out to horseback ride during his days here. I'm sure I ride the same trails but they are bike routes now.

Happy Trails, y'all!

Bikes at War

On the airbase last week, I looked for that spot that would capture the spirit of the returning dough boys. I found the War Bikes.

Do bikes dream? Did they go to Afghanistan with the Battalion? They are work bikes here—some are very old and have been maintained and kept going by the mechanics no doubt. Some are newer and have the mtn bike look. There seemed to be several fleets of these bikes that carry tools for work on the Apache Gunships. The hangers that hold these helicopters are huge and some of the largest buildings I have ever seen. When the Apaches went to Afghanistan the War Bikes surely went as well.

Do these bikes ever dream of the open road and the mountains and the saguaro? Do they envy the Gunships for their stealth and beauty—and power? Or are they are simply things that work and have their place in the industry that we use to make our war on the world?

My bike, at times, when the sun is just right, and the sky that certain blue—transcends the steel it is made from and we merge into energy and flight. It is those moments that I feel really alive.

As my bike waits in the garage, and I pass it to jump in the car for work--it vibrates with the energy of those moments.

Friday, February 01, 2008

From Russia with Love

I took yesterday off—the 285th would be arriving in Tucson after a 22 month deployment. Wednesday after work, I sat at a traffic light (in my car) waiting for green—but before that happened, Bumphf! I was rear-ended, mes amis!

I pulled over as did the car that hit me. An older woman jumped out and I asked her if she was okay—and she was relived that I was polite, not angry and concerned more about her welfare over my car, etc.

My car as well as her car had no damage. She was from out of town, and the car was a rental—with quite a large engine and very powerful she said. Her foot slipped off the brake and the car, even in idle mode, lunged forward.

My neck is a bit sore—as it snapped from the impact. Should I have insisted on getting her “information” Nah. I’ll be okay. But my neck and shoulders do hurt a little.

Bev arrived safe and sound Thursday. There was not much fan-fare. The commanding General, realizing everyone had waited long enough for this day, cut the formalities short. They had been delayed a month returning home. Think of it like waiting for a flight at your local airport; the flight is delayed a few hours—Yeah, you bitch.

Imagine waiting for a month—in a tent—in a country having one the coldest winters on record. I can’t even pronounce Kyrgyzstan. This was the place where Bev’s month-long winter holiday ensued.

So Bev somehow was able to hide a bottle of Russian Vodka in her carry-on—bought last minute before leaving Kyr”plop”zsatn. She thought the bottle was ornate and kind of interesting.

And, Gentle Readers of this Blog—finally at home—Bev announced we would drink shots of this Vodka to mark the occasion of her return.

I suggested she go first—as far as I was concerned, this was probably a knock-off Kyrgyzstan rot-gut, made in a bathtub a few mud-huts down the dirt road.

O! How mistaken I was, Gentle Readers.

Let’s drink to our War’s end.
Drink yet again—to our fellow soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And for a third time—to Russia! For this is the best Vodka I have ever known!