Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ropa Sucia Groupo

My improvised rain coat. I think I got a few chuckles from staff driving home--obviously I work at the Desert San--quite possibly in the laundry department?

It rained cats and dogs as I was leaving, but the bike path was dry.

Rain coat gets too hot, so I stow it just in case I need it once more.

Wow--everything is like green and junk.

So I was to get a lift home from Bev--but last minute she says she can't fetch me. Why not, she says, I meet her at a place to eat called Sweet Tomatoes. It's near the bike route home and I can be there by 5:30. I ask Bev to bring me some shorts and a tee-shirt, and I've already got sandals in the car--okay, it's a date.

Bev bought me some really dorky looking shorts and tee-shirts awhile back (on sale--I never wear them) and of course she brought those along. I stripped down to the bib shorts and converted to idiot-looking man in these ridiculous looking Arnold Palmer lizard-gizzard yellow golf shorts, and some kind of pea-green shirt.

The shorts were too big so I had to hold them up with one hand, while carrying my tray of food with the other. The place was kind of buffet style and all-you-can-eat. I went back for seconds and while waiting my turn for a dinner roll, the shorts fell down to my ankles. I quick pulled them back up. It appeared nobody noticed. I walked back to our table--clear across the place, a spot so I could see my bike out the window. I pretended that nothing had happened--that my shorts hadn't fallen down--again, no one gave me a second look.

No one said to themselves, "Hey, I know that cat--he rides for Ropa Sucia!"

Cheers! Bruce

Ride the Bike Ride the Bike Ride the Bike

I dreamed Beautiful Beijing girls cheered me on as I braved yet another week of bike commuting.

Monday Morning—as I was getting over the rough and broken pavement of the Dragon’s back (that would be Cortaro Rd/Magee) a roadie blasted past me at the crest of the hill—much to the displeasure of motorists because it seems he was chasing me down and using the lane to get some speed and avoid all the pot holes, making the drivers wait just that extra three seconds… Whatever—he didn’t want to stop and say hello but just brushed past me. He had all kinds of tattoos on his arms and legs—so he was a young dude out to beat the old man. I don’t mind, it’s just that the road we were on was not the best, and drivers not always awake.

At the bottom of this hill where we met momentarily at the top, is my right turn on Shannon which takes me to Ina where I made a left turn. Sweet Shannon—new road and smooth with curves… Tattoo kept going up Magee, which I do think is impressive because it is a tough climb, and there is no shoulder, the pavement is crap, and as you probably guessed, cars proclaim the road as their own.

I guessed right because as I made my way up Ina, Tattoo was climbing about half mile in front of me. I had to wait for a left turn at a light—Tattoo probably saved several minutes by making the tough climb and didn’t have to stop and got to Ina up ahead of me.

I slowly gained on him as a light rain fell. But I could see that he was going to make the lights and I’d have to wait—which is what happened twice. So catching up to Tattoo will not happen this day.

Still, maybe I should try the route he took and see what befalls me. Traffic is light on this road in the morning, but picks up the way he went.

Rain was spotty but ready to let loose. Bike was stowed in the locker and as I walked across the parking lot it began to pour. I was soaked, Gentle Readers of This Blog.

Going Home—again rain, but mostly mud on the bike path. The fenders on the Raleigh have earned their keep as my tires gobbled up that pudding-like muck from the river bank.

Because of the rain and it being a Monsoon Rain, I had a tail wind and not that brutal head wind that I’m used to for the ride home everyday. Mes amis, I flew down the road with ease, and cut off 10 minutes—I was at the river path and La Cholla at 5:35—way early. At the YMCA I waited for Bev 15 minutes and just chilled out—and dried out. It’s been a bit muggy with the rains still hanging on.

Tuesday Morning—taking hold of the Raleigh, I discovered the back tire was pancake flat. Phil at Pima Street Bikes has sold me on the heavy-duty puncture resistant tubes. To have a flat with these installed means there’s a serious problem. So I quick as I could put the bags and gear on the LeMond and I was off—about 15 minutes later than normal—so I rode hard to make up time.

One thing right away I can tell is weight. The LeMond is much lighter—but I felt funny. Gearing is different on a road bike set up for racing as opposed to my touring bike. I believe I should take the advise of Dave Glasgow and ride the LeMond—as that will be the bike I will ride in the 252 Cochise Classic.

But the commuter bike has fenders and is rock solid sturdy. The racing bike is sleek and with no fenders; bike and rider will be covered in mud and grime. This has been the wettest Monsoon for many years. I imagine Cochise will be the same as 2005 with rain, hail, and relentless wind.

Monday, August 18, 2008

High Country 200 Km Brevet

Thunder, lightning, wind, rain, hail, and climbing to 9,100 feet--welcome you to the 10 Year Anniversary of Randonneurs USA.

This 200 Km Brevet was to commemorate RUSA's 10th Anniversary, and was coined the High Country Brevet of 200 Km, by Paul Layton, Randonneur of Note.

The words "high country" and "Paul Layton" should make you a bit nervous because as of late, Mr. Layton's idea of a brevet begins with hills for breakfast--a short break--and then a few mountains for lunch. He'll grab a monsoon storm lightning bolt to use as a toothpick to remove any chunks of asphalt still remaining in his teeth.

I did this brevet thanks to Arizona RBA Susan Plonsky hooking me up with Gerry Goode. A bit of history, Gentle Reader of This Blog: Gerry Goode was there when RUSA was born in Massachusetts--and he got to pick any RUSA number he wanted. He chose 60--that's how old he was back in 1998. Everybody wants to ride like Gerry Goode. In fact, I want to be Papa Bear when I grow up--minus that peanut-butter thick Boston accent of course!

This is Salt River Canyon. Gerry and I drove through Globe, Arizona on Hwy 77 on our way to Show Low. Believe it or not, there's some crazy road that runs through this canyon--and you can ride your bike up and down it--like Gerry. The man amazes me. Of course now I have to take a stab at it since Papa Bear has given me the in's and out's of the ride.

Okay--so we're about to Show Low, the town where the Brevet will start tomorrow. It's raining cats and dogs. This certainly makes me think about plan B and what I'll have to carry to 9,100 ft tomorrow. Oh, and Paul Layton--he should be about to pull into Show Low right about now. Paul has ridden Friday so he can be at the controles tomorrow.

It was 102 degrees when we drove through Mammoth, Arizona a few hours ago.

This is one time I was happy to over-packed. I brought all my rain gear and warmers. I'll probably need them.

Hail Yes!

It hailed like a mo fo in show low--here's what's left. Locals at the hotel told us there was three inches of hail on the ground at one point during the storm.

Gerry and I checked-in to our hotel and unloaded the bikes. Gerry has ridden these roads with friends and by himself many times, so he knows the best places to eat. We simply walk over the the Mexican place--and its packed on Friday night--and while we wait for our table, I call Susan to see where she's at and how Paul's ride went. Susan calls right back, will join us in a few minutes for dinner. We've just missed Paul as he's getting things ready for us for tomorrow.

I'm glad Susan was there, because mes amis, you know Gerry Goode will waste no time showing this bad boy brevet who's the boss. Susan and I make our plans to ride together. Riding with Susan, like riding with Steve Star of the Blog, means that no matter what--we'll finish the ride--plus Susan has blazed this course a few times and knows what's around each bend. So when she says just one more hill, just one more hill--chances are there's just one more hill to climb before the descent.

Gerry Good and Tom Baker--check the cue sheet and the outfit one last time.

Okay--Gerry picks the hotel that has the Continental Breakfast. It opened at 6 a.m. which was the start of the brevet, but I sneaked in an open back door that the cook left open--I stuffed my face with scrambled eggs and sausage--packed bananas and bagels into my RUSA Jersey--ran into Bigger Than Life Tom Baker, Hero of Paris Brest Paris--among other Heroes of PBP I know and admire...

Paul Layton, Gentle Readers--looks remarkably 100% after riding through fire and ice yesterday. He will be at the controles, and on the course should we need anything.

Mick McCombs and I rode together a few years ago on another 200 Km brevet back in Casa Grande.

Gerry, and Kris Kaufman, who will ride along with Tom and Mick.

Susan and I grab a quick cup of coffee at the start--and we're on our way.

I've been commuting to the office for base miles, and training with John, Kathy, Larry, and Eric all summer. This ride I'll test my fitness level; where I'm at in terms of riding Cochise in October--and where I'll need to fill in any gaps in my training. I feel strong and confident today. I've lost 12 pound as well, so let's see if all the hard work has paid off.

Susan and I are on Hwy 60, heading East to the first controle. We have a slight tailwind and a brilliant sunrise. Everything is green and fresh.

Susan has been riding with pals in Camp Verde, AZ, Colorado, and Utah. She's become a cross between antelope and mtn goat.

Paul greets us at the 1st controle, Vernon, Arizona. Thanks Paul!

This is what it's all about--the freedom you feel when you ride in open country.

A ride like this washes away the routine of where you live and work, and puts you back into blue skies, fresh air, and living things besides yourself.

But it takes effort--and often, you must face storms and climb mountains to do it. Susan and I take a break just outside of Springerville, at a rest stop.

Springerville, Arizona.

On the way back, we'll make a left to take Hwy 260. Just marking the McDonalds as a mental landmark--so I don't miss the turn on the way back from the New Mexico State Line.

US Post Office, Springerville, Arizona, Main Street, USA.

Roughly 12 miles to the New Mexico Border.

Paul rides to greet us about six or seven miles out from the controle.

Dude, slow down so I can get a picture of you!

Land of Enchantment! And the turn-around. Now the ride begins...

On Hwy 260 to Show Low.

On the ride back, we had some steady climbing. Climbing to 9,100 feet--as the climb got harder, the altitude and the thin air began to slowly strangle me. I couldn't breathe and the blue sky and green pastures began to seem a hue of black and white. The tall black pines were like jaws of some monster about to swallow me whole. It was very tough going for me. I had to stop, it seemed, every mile, to catch my breath and rest. My chest heaved and my heart pounded hard--92 miles into this brevet and I was taking everything the mountain could give me.

Just have to get over the next hill, and the next hill--the promise of the descent is just around the corner. For ten miles I had to force myself to stay on the bike and crawl my way to the top of 9,000 feet. I have to say my limits were tested--my body was begging to stop but in my mind knew there was but one choice--keep pedaling!

Susan stayed with me, encouraging me along--had she not been there to keep me on track to get up that mountain, I would have surely given in to the situation.

I must tell you, the top was reached--and we began to descend.

Slowly at first--oxygen flooded my lungs and then made it to the legs. Oxygen enriched blood suddenly bulging into your every being--then your heart free from the incline of a gut wrenching mountain climb--the instant turbo-charge to your muscles is incredibly surreal.

We rode 35-40 mph on the curvy switch-backs. Miles were flung into the pines, which on recovering from the lack of oxygen, became deep dark green again against a vivid blue sky. My soaking wet sweat drench jersey cooled and dried in a matter of minutes.

It just seems that when all seems to fail and you must quit, you reach the top and sail down--your body recovering and your mind allowing itself to take a quick rest from its struggle with heart, lungs, and blood.

92 miles at 9,100 feet quickly become 102 miles, which quickly becomes 116 miles and the controle. The controle is just in time because body and mind--and your ass--need a break, and a few minutes off the bike is welcomed.

The last controle here at the Casino. Apache can be heard spoken by the patrons of the store where we buy water and we eat a few carbs--just enough to get us to Show Low, 20 miles ahead to the finish.

Susan and I have been riding at a very fast pace--25 to 30 miles an hour. As we blaze down the road, we encounter a bit of traffic--and now a few stop lights. It's also getting harder to keep that fast pace we've had for almost 30 miles. Now all we have to do is make one last left turn, which arrives suddenly--and then look for the hotel where we started this morning.


Paul and Gerry--ready to have dinner! I'm ready too...

I'm happy I did this ride--it was just what I needed to continue my momentum as Summer seems to be burning off quickly. September is right around the corner, and then October and the Cochise Classic. The success I enjoyed must be attributed to Paul--having him at controles was a real morale boost. The snacks were just enough, and I could fill my water bottles and not have to carry a camelbak. Paul also sacrificed himself to the Gods of Rain--which means they were satisfied making him suffer and therefore ignored said Randonneurs and Randoneuse this day.

Susan and I rode well together and her pace and drive are what gave me confidence. Riding with someone much more experienced than yourself takes that edge off the ride. You're not so worried about missing that important turn, or when times get really difficult, reaching for that bit of will you know you don't have--but she does, and its enough for you both!

I will give myself some credit for what went right--and what I did wrong. This summer I got off my ass and did the commute. Forcing myself to live car-free was challenging; its work. Taking the tough route to the office by adding an extra mile climb made a difference--and riding 25 miles in each morning (15 easier mile home) toughened me up.

A few weeks ago I broke my seat post clamp, and Phil at Pima Street Bikes got me a new one. I may have set my saddle to high--like by about 3 millimeters--which caused me to have to hold my head at a slightly different angle. I ended up with a very sore neck and unable turn my head to the left without a great deal of pain. I know I have a bit of arthritis in my neck and shoulder, so I'll have to figure out where my saddle height needs to be finally adjusted. Gerry Goode has suggested a spacer on my headset that would put me in a slightly straighter position. He feels I'm in too much of a racing position and bent over too far. He thinks I should be more upright. What ever it was, that small difference in saddle height made a big difference in my neck. During the ride I was unable to turn my head and look over my left shoulder without tons of stabbing pain. That could be dangerous, and now I feel I really do need to get a mirror to wear on my glasses to be able to see behind me.

Thanks for reading about my 200, the 10th Anniversay Randonneurs USA event.

Allure Libre!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

King Libido Ranch Rant

"I need a big truck to carry around my small penis"

A rest day and a drive day... This means a chance to sleep in, make a breakfast—and sit down to savor it at the table. Callie and I play throw the ball while I put a few changes of clothes in the car to leave at the office.

At the cafĂ© where I drop by for an Americano, this guy pulls up in the above pictured monstrosity, a Ford 350 King Ranch. It was even more sooped-up with huge off road tires—so it looked like Mega Tron or something like that, right out a Hollywood fantasy.

This truck was immaculate—showroom condition and appearance. The huge off-road tires showed no wear. This isn’t a working man’s truck—this is a Libido Truck.

Yeah, you see women driving the Suburbans and the other SUVs, with a cell phone stuck to their jowl and God knows what else up their ass—this fellow’s truck was excessive pure and simple. You would think that someone who has an expensive truck like this has money to throw away; my feeling is that this guy can’t really afford it.

Big trucks like this where I was from back in Oklahoma and South Dakota where for work. Hard work—they carried heavy tools and equipment. Most often they were covered in mud and dirt, and beat to hell because of the nature of the work and where the work was done. Farmers and ranchers and people who lived in rural areas had trucks of this size, but they always had a town car. They would never drive these big trucks around in town to pick up cigarettes, milk, bread and beer—it would be wasteful.

Yuppies do the same type of thing—buying four-wheel-drive jeeps equipped with AC, leather seats, and stereo systems worth more than my modest automobile. To really use said Jeep as an off-road vehicle would mean dirt, dings, and dents. You couldn’t take a hose and rinse the mud out of the floor boards like I could do when I owned pick-up trucks.

I see Mexican men driving around the city in big trucks, but they are work trucks and you can tell. The work is hard and trucks carry the tools and gear. Guys that drive a King Ranch probably do very little work.

The reality and fantasy of this country makes me want to puke at times.

"Get to work, Mexican Labor Force! The American Consumer Demands It!"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

40 Miles on the Bike

Mt. Lemmon in the background as I'm heading East on Tangerine Rd at 5:45 a.m.

I've been riding 25 miles into the office in the morning, and then I get a lift home after 15 miles from the office back to the YMCA.

I rode Monday, Tuesday, and today Wednesday--120 miles.

Gentle Readers of This Blog, I must tell you that it's a chore to pack and get ready, but recently made easier as the wife has been folding my clothes for me in the evenings. She perfected this skill, I think, preparing for Afghanistan--and Smack Down with Taliban Forces!

Or the fact that Friday last week I drove in, but forgot to bring my week's worth of office attire...

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

My 9 miles to the YMCA by bike is for the most part, suicide. At one point I have to get over about a mile of narrow crumbling asphalt on Magee Rd. I call it the Dragon's Back--fortunately in the morning there's light traffic--the Dragon sleeps as I glide over his back unnoticed.

This is Campbell and Sunrise, or Skyline--I can't be sure how the name changes going East. It ends the first part of my major morning climb. Thru that light and its fast down hill rollers for a few miles. Not much traffic here just before 7 a.m. But if you're driving on this road about half hour later, the story is different; bumper to bumper with either old farts overly cautious, soccer moms and nurses on cell phones, or the super speeders.

Which means when they all converge to this intersection, the cyclists are going faster than the cars.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Tucson Monsoon Storm

My Raleigh Super Grand Prix has become quite the work-horse commuter bike. The handle bar bag carries my lunch, the Carridice Bag carries home office clothes from the work day.

A pouring Monsoon rain fell at the office. Just as it let up and I saw my chance to race to the bike path before another down-pour. The fenders kept me dry, Gentle Readers! There were lots of puddles to ride through!

On the way to the bike route, an idiot driver talking on his cell pulled out in front of me. How he missed not seeing me, with my glowing jersey, and my white strobe light, is beyond me. I applied the brakes to keep from hitting him broadside--as it was wet-- I had no brakes! I missed clipping his rear bumper by a few inches! It was quite a close call.

On the bike path... The storm seems headed to Dog Mtn.

A strong tailwind happens along, and I take hold--riding like a missile down the deserted bike path! Almost always I have that relentless headwind all the way home. Nice to have a break today.

I meet two other riders out for a spin. They're coverd in mud and oil from the road. I'm dry and clean from the fenders on the Raleigh. Salutaions exchanged and I give them a few directions they ask about--I'm off.

It got quite dark but the clouds didn't let loose as I pulled up to the YMCA and my car.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

On the Road to Enlightenment

My climb up Ina Rd this morning beheld an incredible sight. I don’t know what kind of insects they were, or why they swarm in the manner I witnessed; swarming columns of a type of fly—they were columns I would say 20 feet high and five feet in diameter.

As the sun rose and the rays spilled over Mt. Lemmon, suddenly I could see these columns of flies glowing yellow, orange, and red—the columns waved softly like transparent flags, made up of tens of thousands of said tiny flies.

I shall describe Ina Rd for you—it is four lanes, and there is a median between West bound and East bound. Desert plants thrive and bloom on this long strip. As I’ve made my way up this my commute route, I’ve come across the largest rattlesnake I’ve ever seen in my life, making his own way on the median—cars passing us both at 50 MPH.

As I looked East and up Ina Rd – I must tell you that I saw at least 100 of these swarming columns of light and insects for those few moments when the sunlight hit just so—and then around the next bend and down the road—even more! Each column almost 20 to 30 feet apart, to where I’m sure a certain type of flower or bush has been planted.

Now the Sun is coming up in a different position in the sky. I can tell this because I arrive at certain places on my route at about the same time every morning. Gradually over time I notice the changes.

I just like to think that this event with the insects (which I am sure is of a sexual/reproductive nature) happens only with this supple change in the sunrise, air temperature, and amount rainfall.

Of course we're all aware of Summer Winter Spring and Fall—but what about everything in between?

The changes a ray of sun light can have on a Summer’s Morning…
It transcends pavement, steel, and Man.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Sunday Spin

My neighbor Doug, from Vermont, came with me on a short training ride. I set up one of my bikes so he could ride with me. He had a blast! Check out that helmet--I'm going to ask him to give to me--it's a museum artifact!

Relax and enjoy the ride, Bruce...

Doug and I are heading West on Moore Rd, back home from having a coffee and danish at Doug's favorite cafe up in Rancho Vistoso.

Monsoon clouds park themselves atop Mt. Lemmon.

A quick side trip through the "Environmentally Friendly" tunnel the unscrupulous developers blasted outta the mountains. You have to be very very wealthy to own a shack in Saguaro Ranch--lots start at 3.5 million dollars.

This is just a lucky shot I somehow got of Doug in the tunnel.

This was a fun 30 mile ride, and I believe Doug wants to do more cycling. He's been a runner for years, but is having a knee problem as of late. The bike ride really was good for his morale he said.