Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ride Home Last Night

This is about mile 9 into my 15 mile commute home. A bit remote out here so I don't see many runners or other cyclists. Busy River Rd would be several hundred yards to the right of the photo I snapped. I took River Rd in this morning and it was pretty fast and traffic was light.
This is the route home that you see because its just safer with less traffic. Riding River Rd in the afternoon is quite congested, and I've done it many times--too many cars turning right into shops and businesses, and with the sun in their eyes they can't see a cyclist too well--thus the scenic bike lanes of the park.

I'm also heading due West, and the afternoon head wind is always there to blast me. By the time I turn and head North for my climb home, I'm pretty tired, as I was yesterday afternoon. Best to pace myself for the climb.

I enjoy the sky, mountains and sunshine. Birds and lizards dart about, and I saw several baby bunny rabbits. They are cute, and so think the owls, hawks, and coyotes. I'll be seeing them occasionally as well.

I'm riding home tonight the same way as usual. I will try to get some good photos but mostly the sun is blazing so, and well--I just want to get home.

Cheers! Bruce

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Morning Ride to Save the Planet Earth!

Last night I watched the program Frontline on PBS—so it looks like cars since the 1970’s actually got heavier and less fuel-efficient. And, in the last 10 years more fuel has been used than any other time since the automobile was on the roads. Yeah—looks like things are going the hell pretty fast. We can’t really blame anyone but ourselves. We want the government to take care of everything—which they won’t because they’re only interested in getting re-elected and keeping shareholders happy. And—we won’t change how we live. We want everything cheap and easy—we’re complacent (lazy)

Every clueless pundit / idiot in the media—print, TV, web, and blogs tells us, among other things, to drive less and ride a bike. Are you fucking kidding me? Have they ever tried to go out and ride a bike on the streets of the good ol’ USA? It’s fuckin’ dangerous, Home Fry! Everything is made for cars and not for people—and now even that infrastructure has become strained.

The streets are crowed and horsepower is excessive—and people are really agitated because it just plain sucks to drive around here (Tucson) So don’t tell the people of Tucson to go ride a bike—until you try and ride one yourself, Fool.

It just happens that for me, all the conditions are about right to make riding a bike for commuting to the office a reality. And it does take a bit of effort on my part which can be a pain in the ass, but for the most part because I can ride the bike in I do.

First off—I have about 80% of my bike route to the office via the River Park. I would say that makes the trip fairly safe. 90% of the route has bike lanes on the street, but for some people, and I don’t blame them—they would not even dare ride in the bike lanes. It would be suicide in their view (This is in bike friendly Tucson.)

Second—I have a locker room to shower and change. If I didn’t, it would be more complicated to commute into the office but I’d still try.

Third—I have a level of fitness and confidence sharing the roads with cars. Some people I know train for races at the gym but won’t train on the road. For example I have a friend and she’ll train on the roads but that’s only because we’re in a group of riders and she feels safer. All her other base training (90%) is at the gym.

I would not even dare to venture down the road one mile on my bike to the supermarket in Dog Mtn because chances of getting hit are high. There is a narrow bike lane, but no safe way to turn left into the supermarket and other shops. People drive fast and the road is getting busier all the time. And in the supermarket parking lot, you have to be careful that somebody doesn’t run you over while you’re walking to the entrance. Drivers are on the cell or text-messaging.

The day never came when we could actually drive our cars into the grocery store and down the isles and have the illiterate service humans hand us our pop tarts and special k.

I don’t have an answer to global warming—I mean, my mom is 65 and she has to drive to the grocery store which is about two miles away. She would ride a bike if she absolutely had to or face starvation—but she is physically unable to do it, as are many others. She has no alternative.

Because I have the means to take the alternative, I try to do it. I know a lot of people can’t, so pretty much I’ve gotten over it. I used to think that those who live less than three miles from the office here, they drive in—like my boss—don’t have an excuse. Still, she tells me she would do it but the way people drive—even on the back streets of her neighborhood—she is afraid of getting run over/killed.

So to end this rant, if anyone is even reading, for those of us that can and do make the effort to use an alternative—I say to those who do drive, give us cyclists some respect, and some support. I have both our interests in mind.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Aqua Vita de Tucson

Friday last my school chum Ryan showed up and we had bike trip to a local lunch stop. With life going full speed and me trying to hang on, it’s good to relax and hang out on a Friday afternoon with a good friend. Ryan lives in the area so it’s just a few minutes form his place to my office via velo—and he’s promised to show me some backstreets to Panda Express, our lunch stop.

From the Desert Sanitarium, we make our way down the sidewalks next to Grant Road.

A very busy road, Grant Road; always congested and under construction. Locals drive fast, and snowbirds going to doctor’s appointments drive just a bit faster than grass growing—so you can imagine the traffic headache.

We’ll beat the lunch crowd to Panda, but we have to watch out for drivers coming in and out of shops on Grant. Got to be careful around the restaurants as the lunch crowd tends to drive fast to make up for lost time in traffic.

I see they’ve changed the “Panda Beef” to “Beijing Beef” because as I wrote in another post, it kind of gave the impression you were ordering panda meat as an entrĂ©e. Ew…

Ryan from school days at university. It’s a lovely afternoon and we’re lunching outside. We can take our time because the office is just a few minutes away by bike.

The old water tower circa 1924 can be seen as we take the back way.

Ryan on the bike.

On my commute home, I pass stables that are the remnants of cattle ranches that bordered the Desert San back in 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s. Besides the hospital campus, medical offices abound, even back here.

I’ll stow my campus bike away for the weekend in my bike locker. I remove the front wheel and then turn the handlebars sideways so to fit the bike inside. Ryan’s photo with my camera illustrates this maneuver, Gentle Reader.

I say so long to my mate Ryan—and will take him up on his offer to ride again.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Moon of the Popping Trees

I was down in Sierra Vista, Bisbee, and Douglas, Arizona--not far from the border of Old Mexico--on business. I found myself on the Cochise Classic 252 course. The course I did in 2005, and John and Cathy did last October.

The 252 mile race starts at 2 a.m. Saturday morning in Douglas, Arizona, Gentle Readers, and about the time the sun comes up--say about 65 miles later, you find yourself in Benson, Arizona. From there you will ride East to Road Forks, New Mexico along the shoulder of Interstate 10, then ride south on Hwy 80 back down to Douglas.

Starting at 2 a.m. in the morning, and it being pitch-black, you don't see how difficult the climb is to here. This is the famous Mule Pass Tunnel. You have left Douglas and climbed for 13 miles to this point through Bisbee. This is the hardest and first leg of the trip. For me, that morning, I was sweating and making my way up to this tunnel. Sweat was pouring out of me and I was cramping and struggling. I'm driving the car and taking some shots while driving... Anyway, mes amis, it was one of the most difficult climbs I've ever done. Seeing it during the day, the climb seems to be impossible to attempt on a bike. Had I gone out and driven the course in daylight, I would have never have done the 252--it is insanity!

Out of the tunnel and down this road (Hwy 80) for an eight to twelve mile descent. And I do mean descent--I reached top speed of 55 mph. Yes it is true. Mentor and Coach David Glasgow told me to be prepared for this part of the course. I had every light I could carry with me and had them all on to light the road. I was able to read my computer--55 mph--in total darkness. Had I done this during the day, I believe I would have been too scared and slowed myself way down. But Dave told me to hang on and sit tight and I would be okay--I was, but I held on the handle bars of my bike so tight for the 12 miles at 45 to 55 mph that my arms actually locked up and cramped up. And I couldn't even let go until daylight. The pain of gripping and not letting go of the handlebars was beyond my writing ability. This is certainly the razor's edge, and I can say with humility that I have known that thin line on the 252. Pure fear and adrenilne, mes amis...

Today I'm driving the car--AC, some of my favorite CD's playing. Reflecting on my naiveity and mind-set at that time in 2005. I was probably the most fit I've ever been in my life that October. I'd done a brevet series and trained all summer just for this one stretch of road in Cochise County.

On the way to Tombstone, Arizona.

A ranch on the way to Tombstone. I did not see this open country as it was still dark. Had some miles to go until Benson and sunrise.

Spinning like a missle, down the backroads, in darkness--slowly recovering from the cold morning air--talking to myself and trying to let go of my handlebars. I was afraid if I did let go to shift my hands and arms, I would crash.

A bit more climing for a few miles--I have to remind myself while driving that I did these climbs and stretches of road in the dark. It was a moonless and starless night, mes amis.

80 - 82 All my Randonneurs pals know this story. This is where, right out of Tombstone on the 600 KM, that I missed the turn to go West on 82, and instead went straight on 80, which is the Cochise Classic course. Here are the signs, but the left turn is about 100 yards after the signs and not easy to see--even during the day. That night on the 600, I was exhausted, and it was freezing cold. Even with all my lights, I didn't even see the sign.

Realizing I was in trouble that night, as it was so bitter cold and I was out of water and food. I had to find the monastery to take shelter. I was way beyond rescue from RBA or Steve or anyone. The monastery would be my only hope to keep from freezing to death in the open desert and mountains

I knew from the Cochise 252 that when I saw the Dream of the Rood, I'd be in St. David and not far from the Benson Official Time Station for Cochise--so I least I wasn't lost. On this night of the 600, at 2 a.m. I looked in vain for the cross--I must have ridden past it in my weakened state. Luckily, I did find a store open, and was rescued by the clerk working there and her husband. Half frozen and exhaused, they drove me to Benson and got me the last hotel room in Cochise County.

Driving down through St. David, I looked for the landmark--and drove past. I thought it best to turn around, and this time actually set foot at the monastery. I'm not Catholic--or religious or much of a church-going fellow. But, hey you need all the help you can get, right?

It was evening and things were shut down. The whole place was rustic. My car, and my tie and Italian sunglasses seemed about out of place. I went through the doors there, and all the monks I found reading, praying, and reflecting. They didn't seem concerned about me being there--in fact I don't think they even noticed I'd come in.

My only real thought to ponder in such a holy place was, "God, I hope my cell phone dosen't ring..." And low and behold it wasn't even in my pocket. I left it in the car. Okay--I could relax.

I pondered a few things in my life, and really, if God does have a plan for me, then I hope I can live up to his expectations. I asked that he look in on us once in a whlie, and keep us safe while we're out there on brevets, commuting, or just out for a ride.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Have a Story to Tell

This is a picture from this last weekend on my ride. I'm up in Dog Mtn, and Downtown Tucson can be seen in the middle of the photo. To the right is "A" Mountain. To the left aways is where I work. I'm about 30 miles out and looking South.

Bike and stuff packed the night before in my car. It was a bit cold so ran back in and got the jacket. Got an Americano from Espresso Drini, the cafe I frequent in Dog Mtn. I'm kinda not awake at the moment, but I'm at the YMCA--about 8 miles from chez moi.

Rode up Ina, to Sunrise, to Skyline. The road changes names I believe in that order. I climb East along the base of the foothills of Pusch Ridge. Here, I've stopped to photograph, for your enjoyment, Gentle Reader, about the intersection of Swan (looking South here) and Skyline.

Turning around, you can see the intersection just up there in the left-hand corner. I'm looking North up Swan. These are the Catalina Foothills. The climbing is done for the morning, and I will ride down and get some speed, 30 to 35 mph should the traffic be clear.

How do you all like my new presciption sun glasses? All these years and I never had a pair. They are pretty nice, and you know, this is the first time to wear them on the bike. They are Italian by design--probably the only thing Italian on my bike other than the bike cap me mum brought back from Milan...

The steel bike.

Riding home after a day at the office, dreaming all day I could be outside and riding the bike in the open desert. Actually, mes amis, it was a windy one in the afternoon. The headwind was brutal. As I rode up LaCholla on my last stretch back into the mountains of Dog Mtn, my calves started cramping up. I didn't eat my power bar for the ride home because I couldn't find it in my backpack. I was bonking, and still had about three miles of climbing to go.

I ride and park here. This would be a road I could take to Dog Mtn but as you can see, lot of people moving in and its bumper to bumper.

The last part I'll drive home. Too dangerous even for me to try and get home this route.

At the moment, I am unable to ride all the way in as the roads are shit. Roads are beat to hell, and there's a lot more people moving in and its crowded. Some type of construction and development going on, which is probably the reason for the water seeping into the road. I think they're building the new homes in the wash and they've tried to re-route the wash's path. Wash may not be cooperating at the moment. So we get this mess. The way turds drive out here, with total disregard for their fellow humans, I would surely meet my end.

People seem to drive like gas will never reach $5.00 a gallon. They probably don't have much choice and must drive. My daily commute distance round-trip is just under 50 miles. Today I rode my bike 30 and drove about 20. At least that's something.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Ridin' Rollin'

Dave Glasgow trains for Furnance Creek back in the day...

Just trying to balance life and riding. Big plans for a big ride--but every-so-often mortals must sleep in and stay home.

So I went out on the road--got hungry, and had breakfast at the cafe. Just an out and back. I don't even have picture to show you, Gentle Reader. But I found a few from an old disc I had laying around the office.

Dave on Indian 15

Dave Glasgow training for the Furnace Creek 508 is what was on here. I was going to crew that ultra race but for some reason I wasn't along. But we did go out on the John Farr Double course and I was sag support. If I remember right, Dave rode non-stop for 24 hours and I believe he rode about 340 miles, or almost the 200 course twice.

Sag car.

John rode part of the course with Dave, to help pass the time for almost 400 miles.

Often, the road can be long. It's good to have friends along.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Ode to Kari--My Crew Chief--My Angel, adieu... (sigh)

My Crew Chief, the late great Kari. Many of you know the story. Only now can I write and tell the tale... When I needed SAG on my randonnees, I would often call Kari. Kari--an exchange student from Amsterdam--crew chief, mechanic, navigator, friend, and incredible Randonneuse.

Bicycles are ingrained in the culture of the Nertherlands, and the people there, like Kari, take cycling very seriously. These people care: They recycle, they walk, they take the bus. They do not waste or destroy. The planet is very important to them--and the bicycle is worshiped and revered. In fact, quite a few Randonneurs are national heroes in Kari's country.

This blog entry documents the last time we were together. And the last time she was my crew chief. Saddly, the support vehicle exploded--Kari's ashes were spread on the road--on the wind--and into the blue sky.

Maybe she would have wanted it that way. I must stop. I cannot write anymore. Peace...

I didn't know what had happened until after the ride...

She gave her life so that I might ride again...

I'm mending now--see you all later--
Oh, and I'm looking for a new Crew Chief, Ladies!!!