Monday, June 30, 2008

June by Bike

June has seen me putting in some base miles and experimenting with routes.

I don't want to bore you with yet more images of me riding my bike. (But here's a few)

Ready to roll out of the garage in the morning--all packed the night before so I can sleep a bit more.

The monsoon rains are coming, and I do want to take pictures of that for you--because there's beauty and inspiration when the rain is in the air--and I either just make it to the car, or I get a good soaking.

The Raleigh Super Grand Prix has the fenders still on--and said bike has seen rain a time or two. Fenders on a bike when raining cats and dogs is the way to go--you would be amazed at how dry you stay in the saddle. All the fiddling with and adjustments and frustrations when the fenders don't cooperate--are made up for when riding and enjoying rain.

Driving to work--

Everybody's on a cell--driving as if intoxicated--or texting. This week, after work whilst driving from the Y to chez moi-- some young girl drove two feet behind me (right on my bumper) the whole time having a very animated (happy teenager) conversation. I could not get around slower cars up ahead (people also on cell phones) and was blocked by some very old lady driving a 2008 Mustang GT (which I think means all the bells and whistles) to my right--talking on her cell phone. When her attention span lapsed and I saw a chance to break for it, the old bag sped up to prevent my maneuver ( me actually driving the speed limit) then she fuckin glared at me and was going to make sure I wasn't gonna get around.

This is pretty much driving in Tucson, mes amis. About everyone is on a cell or sending a text message.

So if I so much as run a stop sign on my bike, I'm a menace to Society?

Bike on board at my parking spot, and ready to drive home.

July I will make different for you, O! Gentler Reader of This Blog--there will be more about the beauty of riding--about discovering new things--and more interesting photos!

There may be a few rants--buy hey, it's my blog and I'll rant if I want to!

Allure Libre!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Solstice Ride, Saguaro National Park

5 a.m. Sunrise over the Catalina Mts. I had to get up at 4 a.m. Sunday morning...

John and Cathy on the tandem, on our way to ride up Gates Pass, and into Saguaro Nat'l Park.

Yours and John, top of Gates Pass. The valley is flooded with sunlight!

A big group of cyclists arrvies just after we reach the top.

Riding down Gates Pass Rd, on our way to McCain Loop. This morning I ran over a rattlesnake crossing the road. John and Cathy were behind me and I told them head's up! But they didn't see him--he must have crossed back into the desert.

Ride in Peace -- Again, Gentle Readers, the mysterious Wolf appears--from thin air--only to quickly vanish. Is he a man? Or spirit? I believe him from the Spirit World.

Riding in Saguaro National Park.

It has been so dry and hot--we need the monsoons to start up, Gentler Readers.

The Sonoran Desert, Saguaro Nat'l Park. Behind us about 60 miles, Old Mexico.

We're on McCain Loop, and will ride around this mtn range out of the park.

Saguaro Nat'l Park gives way to farm land.

We ride out a bit futher to put in 10 more miles on the flats. Out here is old Marana with the cotton fields and cattle and horse ranches. Developement hasn't invaded out here yet. Hope it dosen't--its the open road, mes amis.

Thanks to Cathy for taking a pretty good shot of me riding. I'm feeling strong but even the heat starts to wear the most hardy Arizona cyclist down. As we head back into town, there's a headwind, and now at about 9 a.m. the temps are reaching 95 to 100 degrees. No matter, it was a great day and we're happy about the Summer Solstice.

Tailwinds and Safe Riding to you!

Cheers! Bruce

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Let Them Eat Cake"

I may be just a dumb Okie but often I can be seen reading the Wall Street Journal in our institutional cafeteria. Most of it goes way beyond my comprehension—but now and then there is something that reaches even me. Anyway, the writing is so good that when an article hits home, it really hits home.

Last month I read an interview with the CEO of Exxon. What I got from the questions so rightly asked by the journalist and from the CEO’s frank answers was sobering.

“So what about the public, the average American and the car he drives? You can’t help but hear the complaints and the grumblings about the price of gas?” His response, “Fuck ‘em. If they want to drive their cars, they’ll have to pay. I could give a shit how much the average American has gotta pay at the pump.”

What do we do now?

The answer—drive less. And don’t waste gas on trips you don’t need. I’m not saying ride a bike more, or buy an itty-bitty automobile—although it wouldn’t hurt. Just be more efficient so when you do have to pay high prices for fuel (and it looks like we all will from now on) it won’t be so devastating finically. We waste a lot of gas, the same we waste a lot of food and most of our other resources. We are wasteful. It’s because we are rich and spoiled. I dare say we’re not very intelligent either. We are used to having everything our way, which is the cheap easy fast way.

Those days have passed.

I don’t commute on my bike to save gas; I commute on my bike because I love riding a bike. Paying high prices for fuel less often is the result of that pleasurable experience commuting. And when I do drive, I make the most of the time having to drive. If I have to drive to the office, I bring clothes, food, shoes, and what ever else I need to make it possible to bike to work. I try to get things done while I have the car.

Certainly if more people felt safer on the streets riding their bikes, they would commute to work and take care of business that only required a short trip. Maybe that day will come soon. People are not going to give up on their automobiles—even I know that—and a lot of people will have little or no choice but to drive cars.

People with disposable income will be able to drive the big cars and that’s okay with me—but I will fight them if they think they will have any special privileges in terms of the road. Oil companies are not about to offer any help to you or me. So its time to demand utility and efficiency—waste is no longer acceptable. If you want to have a big car and drive around, you will have to simply pay the price.

Most urgently, we cannot be fooled by those oil company CEO’s or our elected officials when they say we must tap into oil reserves in our Nat’l Parks and Preserves, etc. "So we can lower our dependence of forgien oil." Bloody Hell but they've beat that to death haven't they? It’s just not worth it, mes amis. They will destroy what's left of our environment and happily profit from its demise.

This is what we do—

Be efficient.
Don’t waste.
Be smart.

Just keepin' it Fresh


Sunday, June 15, 2008

"A" Mountain -- Tucson Icon

Today we do the short climb up "A" Mountain.

Actually, just getting to the base of the mountain is quite a climb. The high today is forecast for 107 degrees. We started at 6 a.m. Maybe we should have started at 5 a.m.

No cars for the morning. This keeps the riff-raff out.

City of Tucson.

John and I climbing--almost there!

Camera man.

Shot of the climb we've been making thus far.

The city and the valley come into view. For several thousand years, and to the Spanish Settlers in the 1600's, where we're at was known as "Sentinel Peak" The Indians who lived near by called the area the place where the people live at the base of the Black Mountain. The Spanish adapted the native word, which sounded something like "Tucson"

By 1915, Sentinel Peak was known as "A" Mountain. This is the result of youth and alcohol no doubt. Thanks to the University of Arizona student body, probably after, or even during a drunken orgy and pep rally--made this huge "A" and then painted it white.

Every year, ASU students from Tempe would come down to Tucson when the football teams played, and they would, as a prank, paint the "A" yellow and red. UofA students were supposed to prevent this, but were too drunk and passed out to catch the culprits.

A few years ago, some proud Americans painted the white "A" red, white, and blue--to show their support for the War in Iraq. This didn't sit well with a lot of people here in Tucson who were against the war--so another group of proud Americans went and painted it white again.

Then on St. Patrick's Day some proud intoxicated Americans went and painted the white "A" green. You can still see some of the green paint on the rock there. Being a bit drunk, they didn't stay in the lines very well--shame on them!

Now get this: some self-righteous, god fearin', Tucson business man dug deep in his wallet, and paid some Mexicans to re-paint the "A" red white and blue once more--blue, white, red--white blue, red--whatever. Maybe something got lost in the translation?

Kind of a cool view of the city from up here, ne' est ce pas?

Old post card image.

John and I are about to go back down. You can see the parking lot for a trail head here in the right hand corner.

View of the Northwest side where we rode from this morning.

A last look at Down Town Tucson before we head for breakfast.

This is what you see on the last few miles of El Tour de Tucson--heading into the heart of down town to the finish line.

We are early and we'll beat the sunday crowd.

Patti and Robert recognize me as we're leaving IHOP and they're coming in for breakfast. Patti has toured Spain, France, Italy, and Hungary by bicycle!

On the way back home, we take a detour to see these fellows fly these cool planes.

Umm... John says he knows a short cut--our 'lil adventure deserves a post unto itself, Gentle Reader of This Blog.

This sign is posted where no one will ever see it--or ride their bike--except us on John's cyclo-cross short cut.

Where are we, John?

I'm taking care of my friend's dogs this weekend. After the ride, I check in on them, and we chill.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Summer in Tucson

Pushing 100 degrees here in Tucson in the afternoon. This means only one thing: Beautiful mornings for riding!

Gentle Readers, while other white men are waking up, scratching their nut sacks, and wondering if they have chump-change for gas—you and I are out these clear mornings breezing through roads with gusto.

One effect the headwinds of March, and yes the cruel month of April... and May...  have had on me is the fact that their power has in fact been embedded into my body. The last few days with no headwinds have seen me streaming down the commute route in record times, now shaving up to 10 minutes off the times in and home.

New handle bar tape--makes me go faster because I look marvelous!

A degree of fitness has stepped-up a notch or two and it feels great. My leg muscles are bulging, my waist is slimmer, and my lungs feel bigger. Now when a motorist makes that right turn in front of me—you know how they cut you off— I’ll just huff and puff and blow them out of my way.

Now comes the months of training at 101 to 104 degrees. This will be the new challenge, Gentler Readers of This Blog. Best to leave at Dawn’s Early Light, and ride a longer course for the commute into the office—then get home as fast as possible using the shortest route through the heat. I’ve explored and expanded my route in to include more climbing. I also need to build confidence on the fast descents for Cochise. Blinding going 50 mph down hill after Mule Pass—the first time, was insane. I don’t know if I can set myself up for that again, but I will have to, mes amis…

This is from back in 2005 after the Cochise Classic--252 miles of wind, rain, and lightning...

Like it or not, I will have to ride the 50 mile round trip commute as much as possible. These will be base miles—and then continue to go to the YMCA and do all that other stuff—while trying to eat less/smarter.

And loving every minute of it!
Cheers! Bruce

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Bruce Commutes on a Bike

Early morning at the bike locker. I've ridden the Big Raleigh into the office a few times.

This is the top of my climb. This is Craycroft and Skyline/Sunrise. I've added this extra mile to my commute--which means one more pretty tough climb. It has helped get me in a bit better shape I think. The road is all brand new and I must tell you that I can sail down at 40 mph, right into my office. There's much less traffic here than on Swan Ave, thus I feel safer going fast.

Behind me is the top of the morning climb, about where that house is on the left.

Skyline/Sunrise with that added extra mile to climb now. I've just gone throught the light and stopped to turn around to take this photograph for you.

Just to get you a better shot, the old water tower built in 1924 is right where my office is on the campus of the Desert San. I think its about three or four miles from the top of where I am.

As its so windy for my ride home, I wait to do the last big climb up to Dog Mtn until the end of my commute. 12 miles of headwind, and then the last march up-hill, and one dangerous left turn for the parking spot.

Yesterday it was windy and gusty, Gentle Readers--but last minute, the wind shifted and I had a tail wind scooting me up the moutain! It was sweet! Sweet! But--I started cramping up as I neared the last intersection for the dangerous left. I didn't have the snap in my legs to get me over three lanes into the turn lane. I eneded up limping through the light, and then waited and went with the light going West. The wind claimed the day afterall.

With tough winds all week, I got up this morning--and everything hurt. Rest day was needed. Hope you liked the photos!


Race Day Baby

My friend Stef is a chick magnet—among other things. We had lunch and he rode his fixie to meet me. He loves it—Stef and Bike are One. I have not seen the light, but may convert the Raleigh Marathon Bike into a fixed-wheel. Then I could be more Stef—

A Boy and His Bike

See, I want to be like Stef, Gentle Readers of This Blog—wait. I want to be Stef (sans his kids, which are cute and fun—but probably too much work for Yours. Every time I go over to his place for a visit and I end up playing with the kids, I get exhausted!)

Fixed Wheel Nonconformist

I’m not sure why—well, I know why—(genetically gifted) but every time we hang out, attractive women, not just pretty girls, but actual good looking women, flock to our location. Those kind of woman that you see the scrawny stage winner standing at the podium with—you know, they guy gets the flowers and the trophy, and there’s these two beautiful women there to kiss him.

Ce c'est bonne!

I call them Race Day Babies. But really, since they’re no doubt Fran├žaise, they’re attractive, sophisticated, well educated, and have lots of poise and class. They just seem to be there when Stef shows up—like at our lunch stop.

Riding a bike in this town like I do and like Stef does—being in the seam of what binds society—makes us Mavericks in a way. It feels like some people hate you for that; so when for example you make a small infringement on the rules of the road, car drivers go ballistic. If you so much as dare to be outside of that little strip of bike lane, you must die—if a drunk driver runs you down, and you were without a helmet—you deserve to be slain. I say kiss my fat but rather muscular nonconformist ass…

Magnet Des Femmes, et le noncomforist maverick, mes amis!

When Stef and I get together, fun ensues, and I think that’s what draws people in—Stef’s confidence and hint of raunchy humor. A lunch counter suddenly becomes our theatre.

The young girl at the counter is taking our order—The sandwich place is packed.

Yours: We’re together…


Stef: This is our first date.

The your girl at the counter gives us a look, like she’s wondering if she heard us right: Too much information—what did he just say—are these men gay—they don’t look gay—are they kidding—should I laugh—I want to laugh—oh I get it!

Everyone in the place has paused to sort these thoughts out as well—when they see we’re playing, everyone takes a sigh of relief and goes on eating and visiting or what ever they were doing. Yeah it was fun. I miss working at UofA sometimes… Mainly the eye candy.