Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Saguaro National Park by Bike

Sunday, I rode from Dog Mtn to John's house for the start of the ride--almost 15 miles--and it was early, Gentle Readers. Bev needed the car for shopping she said--but I knew by the time I got back from the road that she'd be either just be getting out of bed, or just about to leave for the store. (It was just getting into the shower when I called from the cafe a la finis)

It's a beautiful morning and we're heading up Gates Pass and into Saguaro Nat'l Park.

Larry and John say that Bev's probably waiting for the pool boy.
Hey wait a minute? We ain't got a swimming pool! Damn that pool boy!

The views make you forget about the climb.

I'm feeling quite spry this morning. Its the last day of the Tour de France, so I'm wearing my yellow jersey to commemorate the occasion. My old Da and I watched the TDF back when he was dying of brain cancer in 2001. He bought me this yellow jersey as a gift one afternoon--back in Tulsa where I was born--where he was born, raised, and died. Da, you left us much to young...

Gates Pass and near the top of what the local boyz call the Backside of Gates Pass.

I have to say that it is a challenge and here's our rest stop.

John calls Cathy.

We decide to go a different route to put in some more miles today. Rain was forecast for the entire weekend but the storms didn't make it out our way--we had clear skies, but it was very humid.

The monsoons have brought the desert to life! It is beautiful out here!

There's some fast rollers in the Park!

We're almost to the most Southern boundary of Saguaro Nat'l Park in this photo. I must tell you that there was almost no traffic--you could hear thousands of bird songs in the hot muggy air this morning.

We make a quick stop for water and an Egg McSomething, at Kinny Rd and Ajo Way.

I think this is Mission Rd--we are deep in South Tucson and now heading towards downtown. You can see that clouds have parked themselves up on Mt. Lemmon in the background.

Because of construction and archeology sites, we have to go around the base for a bit of a detour for a few miles.

On our way up A Mountain.

Downtown Tucson for your viewing pleasure.

Yours on A Mountain, feeling strong!

We discuss our route back. I believe we decide the fast way because now its getting hot--close to 100 degrees at around 10 a.m.

During our spin back home, Larry pulled off to his house, and John and I continued on to the cafe up in Dog Mtn. It just so happened that Gerry Goode, our Dear Friend, and Famous American Randonneur (I'm not kidding) arrives at same cafe.

Gerry is strong as ever, always funny, and of course--has a few great stories about this last year's Paris-Brest-Paris.

Thanks for coming along, mes amis! Cheers! Bruce

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tucson Monsoon

5 a.m. alarm goes off and still it’s dark. I stumble into the bathroom, peer through the blind that faces East and Mt. Lemmon, and behold—where is Mt. Lemmon? Big bad-ass clouds groping around—and a few flashes of that Monsoon lightning. That’s where the party is still going on. Then it will descend on the desert, and on a little rat like me, pedaling like a hamster—tail between my legs.

She needs the car. I said I’d ride the 25 miles to the office. She’ll pick me up at the YMCA in the evening. But dang those clouds—rain will to start at any moment. Do I wake her up? Gentlemen, must I continue this exercise in prose to only remind you of the Wrath you know too well? I didn’t think so

The Raleigh, fitted with fenders for just this occasion, is in need of a repair—so the LeMond has been fitted for the commute. I said I would walk-the-walk—and now Callie is up and wanting me to throw the ball in the front yard. Time to roll.

Steve and I rode/sweated to the top of South Mtn this last weekend, through humidity thicker than the pot of home-made chicken noodle soup Kim made for us post Mtn Ride. It is the very same condition this morning in Tucson, Gentle Reader.

I rode the 25 miles without incident, but my legs were not at %100. I could see the rain on the way—no big deal—just that when it rains here in Tucson, something happens to the average car driver; head goes a bit further up the poop shoot. I am wary of only that. As a Randonneur of some experience, I can withstand the harshest conditions but anything other than blaring sunshine makes Tucson drivers punch-drunk.

Within a few miles of the office, only sprinkles. Once the bike is stowed in the locker, and I’m in the building, the deluge begins.

That’s the Monsoons for you!

In the morning, the river was full as the rain in the mountains made its way down into the Tucson Valley. At this time in the late afternoon, now the river is just muddy bottoms.

On the bike path--a short bridge goes over a wash.

The storms are coming up from the Gulf of Mexico in a type of rythmic cycle called the Monsoons. The forcast for this year's Monsoon season is that it will be unusually wet.

Once again, I just miss the rains coming and going. But's its okay if I get rained on while on the bike. The air, the sky, the sun, and everything else is made more beautiful.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

South Mtn Park, Phoenix, Arizona, or, No Sweat!

Saturday night rain made Sunday morning humid.

We're just riding into Tempe on Mill Ave.

Dang it's hot and muggy! We're dripping and soaked with sweat.

This woman was walking four German Shepards.

This does not escape Neighborhood Cat on Neighborhood Watch.

Baseline Rd is not the best place to get a flat.

South Mtn Park and our planned destination--The TV Towers.

Steve and I had a great breakfast of protein pancakes, eggs and sausages at our favorite breakfast place, US Egg.

Ranger Station.

We've brought an extra bottle to carry for the ascent up to the TV Towers.

We'll have eight miles of good climbing to reach the summit.

I'm feeling pretty strong. At times a cool breeze rolls down the road. It's humid, hot, and we're dripping with sweat.

Downtown Phoenix, Arizona, looking North, from about half-way up. Its still pretty early on Sunday morning. We've seen a few motorcycles and one or two cars. Steve and I are the only cyclists thus far.

Climbing Summit Rd.

We've done all the Vistas before. This morning I just want to do the TV Towers and get back so I can drive home to Tucson and still have some late afternoon to do stuff.

There's about a mile and a half to two miles to go--this is the tough part, Gentle Reader.

We're at the top. There's a small parking lot up here--it can also be used as a heliport. This is looking West onto the Gilla Indian Reservation.

Yours with TV Towers in the background, on the top of South Mtn.

Riding back--Downtown Phoenix.

We ride through Tempe and Arizona State University.

Steve, Star of the Blog--riding strong!

Leaving Tempe and ASU Campus, getting ready for the fast rollers in Papago Park up ahead.

Thanks for coming along!

Friday, July 18, 2008

President Bush on My Commute Route

Howdy Y'all!

Yeah, so I'm slogging up Ina (my climb) when I behold at the intersection of Ina and Oracle Rd, a mob of "protesters" with signs berating President Bush. But the signs were all tasteful, and the crowd was mostly enjoying themselves (a Starbucks is there at that corner) and they waved at me and said hello and good morning. As I was there at the light and had to stop--I must admit to rubber-necking as some of the protesters were quite attractive young women in shorts and tank tops--kind of like girls you see holding up car wash signs--but these were women not girls. How could you not smile and wave back?

I had heard the President would be in Tucson, but I didn't realize he was staying in the foothills in a place right on my morning commute route. As I began to climb a bit more I suddenly began to feel the presence of law enforcement. Motorcycle cops whizzing past in top-notch spit and polished uniforms. They looked quite impressive, and they began to criss-cross Ina and the side streets. As I approached Westward Look, which is a resort, and there's other places up there in the foothills of note, I was coming to a wall of black SUVs and types of motorcycles. And then what appeared to be storm troopers--boots, helmets, etc.

The officers were professional and quite polite. Again, I was impressed with their poise and confidence. I, on the other hand, chose to wear my most outrageous bright Mapei shorts, and Beck's "Where It's At" was blaring in the head phones of my IPod.

"On the way to work?"

Me, "Yes Officer."

A puddle of sweat was forming under my bike. Its a hot muggy morning and I've been climbing steadily for six miles. I was sure they were going to have me turn around and go back. All traffic was being averted. The streets suddenly appeared to be empty.

"You may proceed, Sir. Please do not stop."

I knew what he meant. As I continued, more police and men and Black SUVs. Motorcycle cops passing didn't give me a second look. When I reached the next barricade of motorcycles a few more miles up, I waved at the officers as I passed through and received an acknowledging nod.

There were more motorcycle police gliding about, even as I got to the High School at about Swan and Sunrise. Underneath the shade of the HS's welcome sign, two police-type crotch-rockets motorcycles were waiting. In all, I believe I saw about 100 police-type motorcycles.

After Swan and Sunrise, one last motorcycle zoomed past and pulled into the Circle K store across the street. I made my last and toughest climb to Sunrise and Craycroft, and soon I was sailing down Craycroft to the Desert San and into the Heart of Tucson.

Cheers! Bruce

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Homeward Bound

Lunch was packed in this handle bar bag. Clothes for the office rolled and packed in the Carradice bag. On the way home, which was hot and windy, the handle bar bag still smelled of pastrami I had for lunch.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Start of This Week's Ride

Monday morning's commute was a bit of a break from the climbing, Gentle Reader. I took River Rd and when taking that route, I hop onto the Rillito River Bike Path and head East for a few miles before I arrive at Swan--Swan is a busy and fast road and suddenly you're flying and the rush is on through the traffic. For the moment, I'm enjoying the river and the sunrise.

This is John's Carradice bag that he's borrowed to me. Eventually I think I'll try panniers and try to shake off the backpack. Without the backpack it's much cooler--and less weight on the shoulders.

I'm trying to roll/fold clothes--I'll let you know how that goes. Just trying to pack less stuff. I leave shoes and things like that at the office. I have a few sets of work attire stashed and hanging in the office. But what if I must pack clothes for the day? And a lunch? Again, I'll need to master that task. Any tips will be appreciated.

Unfortunately I can't wear work clothes on my commute. Tucson is just too hot and my commute is mostly climbing. Even on cold days, climbing the hills breaks a sweat pretty fast-- bike clothes are the best.

I must tell you that for the first time I can ever remember, my bike clothes didn't dry out during the day as the humidity was so high.