Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tulsa Chicken-Fried Redneck Christmas Blizzard of 2009

Tulsa, Indian Territory, 1893.

Me mum insisted that we all fly to Tulsa and be home for Christmas—that would be great but we’ve no money this year. But my mom paid for a ticket for me as Little Egypt and Rico went by car—her not held down by employment, and Rico not yet starting University until Deux-mille-dix, hence they arrive by auto.

My Brother and all his offspring would drive as well; because work called—this left me to have to fly in and then out. My mom paid for half the ticket.

In Dallas, Texas I waited for my short 50 minute flight to Tulsa. Ice came and all the airstrips were closing except one. It took two hours of waiting—in the plane—for our turn to dee-ice. They sprayed this green slime on the wings.

This green color was the shade of mine and my fellow passengers’ faces as we endured some Dumb Okie parents trying to entertain their no-neck heathen spawn. I could tell I was near my Oklahomeland as those of the population of that Fair State, whom have DNA issues, stick out like sore-fucking –thumbs. Obese rednecks speaking hog-tied English.

At first my fellow travelers were polite—but after an hour of momma’s incessant baby blabbing with her youngins, it came down to, “Lady. Shut the fuck up!”

I landed at Tulsa International Airport, Christmas Eve, in a balls-to-the-walls raging blizzard. Little Egypt was there in a four-wheel drive jeep she borrowed from my Brother-in-law—and drove to the airport at risk of life and limb.

I told my dear wife that I was looking forward to a cold one when we arrived over the river and through the woods—but I was told that alcohol was strictly verboten this Christmas!

Say What?

Turns out that somebody—a distant relative—who would not be at the Christmas Dinner because he lives 500 miles from Tulsa, Oklahoma—has entered rehab. This was all whispery and hush-hush, and I still don’t quite get what’s going on—but when my un-knowing Brother-in-law showed up the next morning at Christmas Dinner with a case of beer, he was soon considered Brother- out-law—and the beer was not allowed inside but made to stay on the front porch in the snow.

Anyway, sneaking beer into the house was no problem. Only thing is that my Brother-in-law is a connoisseur of cheap beer. This particular swill he brought was called Pig’s Eye—and it was pretty awful.

Dinner was fun

All the family stuff was fun

We were snowed in

Going crazy

Dug out mom’s car

Marched two miles to the Mall in 14 inches of snow to go see Avatar

It was a long movie—I had to get up to go pee twice

I finally got home

God Bless Tucson, Arizona! Happy New Year!

Cheers! Bruce

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Molino Basin -- Catalina Hwy

A beautiful day to be on the bike.

I met up with fellow Randonneur Alan, and he took me on one of his favorite Tucson training routes--and it was a blast, Gentle Readers of This Blog! It was a most beautiful and sunny weekend for being outside--we saw many riders--all smiles and waves!

The East Coast was being pounded by a blizzard while we enjoyed mid-70's and sunshine. I've had my share of blizzards and snow while at university up in South Dakota, as has Alan, being a Native New Yorker--today the Bike Gods were smiling on us.

Alan leads the way up the Catalina Hwy. We'll ride to Molino Basin and then turn around. Snow is on the road and in the mountains but we won't go that far--it would be too cold.

Today we'll take it a bit easy as both of us have chores and time commitments. I was just getting over my 27 mile commute and sore legs from last week. I like the fact that we started at 8 a.m. Earlier than that means cold and more clothes to carry.

I hope my legs hold up for the climb...

Going up...

We're riding at a good pace and enjoying the sunshine--and it's warm--the sun feels good.

On the way to Molino Basin, up about six miles from the bottom at mile marker zero on the Catalina Hwy.

Alan knows how to train--and let me in on some great ideas to help me get into shape for this coming-up Brevet season. Mt. Lemmon has everything a cyclist needs to gain fitness--from time-trial rider, racer, and randonneur. That's why Lance Armstrong comes out here to ride the Catalina Hwy. We're just riding up to Molino Basin--once--Lance and local Cat 1 and 2 riders will ride up further, and to the top--twice or three times!

I can hold my own on the climbs--it may take me a little while, but I can do it!
If you like to descend, then the Catalina Hwy is for you, mes amis.

Today on the way down there were some cross-winds. I took it easy but Alan went on ahead--you can ride 45 to 50 mph on the way down. Be careful!

Riding up Craycroft for the trip home.

This ride was about 47 miles and I liked the pace we kept. On the way home we took River Rd to avoid some construction on Skyline--now that it was later in the day there would be traffic. We climbed up Craycroft which is long and straight--normally I'm flying down this road at 35 to 40 mph going into the Desert San, which is right at the bottom. I'm glad we made it out on one of the best weekends ever! Cheers! Bruce

Thursday, December 17, 2009


My neighbor has a new job that’s less than three miles from my office. So we decided that we’d try where I would bike from Dog Mtn to the Desert San, and then in the evenings I’d ride to her office and get a lift home. My neighbor has a shamelessly huge SUV that is totally bling!

Gentle Readers of This Blog—I had forgotten that this long commute route is just over 27 miles. I left Dog Mtn at 5:30 a.m. and arrived at the bike lockers at the San at 7:15 a.m. That’s almost two hours. Dang… I am out of shape, mes amis. But I am happy to report that I just found a groove and kept moving.

Temperature was 41 degrees but on parts of my route I know that might dip a few degrees. Most the trip is all climbing, so I stayed warm dragging my butt up the road. Only my toes got cold. Note to Santa—I need some toe booties. I will leave the traditional Scotch Rocks and cigarettes there for you by the chimney, Santa Old Chap!

I am also happy to report that my old friend Jack, a teacher who commutes on my route, pulled up and joined me for the long climb up Ina and Sunrise to Campbell. His school is on top of the climb. It was good to have someone to talk to as the sun slowly climbed up the Rincon Range east of Tucson. Jack said he could see my red blinky lights from way way back—and that they were almost blinding! He knew it was me. He’s fit because if he was way way back, he caught me pretty fast.

Jack showed me his new light set up too. He had two super blinky red tail lights, and one on his helmet. He also has a bright white strobe light on his handle bars like I do as well. He said he’d almost been hit by motorist by the right hook—where they pass you and turn right suddenly. You have to stop quickly to avoid hitting them as they turn. And then he said he had several motorists turn left in front of him. They could see him, but they just thought they would turn anyway.

My Layton Light with the Hub, I am happy to report, is freakin’ bright. Even Jack said he could see it and he was amazed at how bright is shown. Really Gentle Readers, if you are going to commute, you must have the brightest lights you can get, and have several. It may look even dorkier with your kit, but as Jack told me—it seemed like my bike and I were a shooting star in the bike lane.

So now I will report on riding to my neighbor's office and getting a lift.

First of all, my legs were mighty sore. Second--about 3 p.m. I was falling asleep here in the office. To stay awake, I did little things here and there to keep me moving--things like recycling all the papers I don't need, packing up all my clothes, and figuring out which ones I could pick up the next day when I drove. Finally 4:30 rolled around and was out the door and soon on the bike.

What I thought were three short miles actually turned out to be over eight. I'm not sure what I did to mess that up--but it took me 35 minutes to get to Heather's office. Now that I think about it--I had to take the long way around because I have to cross over the river and avoid some major busy streets, streets you don't want to ride on when it's getting dark. The sun is going down by 5:20 p.m. now.

When I got to Heather's office, I saw her at her office window--and none of her colleagues were around--so I threw a small rock at the widow and she immediately jumped out of her chair! That same moment she knew it was me because I'm the only one she knows that would be so immature.

What can I say? The drive home in traffic was a slog. Bumper to bumper Tucson traffic. Now I can see how I can get home by bike in almost the same amount of time; we were crawling in what seemed endless streams of human encased in steel and glass.

No mater--we had fun talking and laughing. The big SUV was warm and comfortable. I got home and still had the evening to do a lot of stuff.

I don't know--part of me enjoyed the ride, but I think I would be much happier gliding on that little ribbon of bike lane--taking my chances--than sitting, and sitting, and sitting.



Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Lance in Tucson

Mr. A Strong in the House

The new Radio Shack Team, with Lance at the helm, is in Tucson for a week of training. I think that's great, but too bad it's turned so cold here. Where the team is staying is not far from the Desert San--so if I were commuting into the office, chances of me seeing them ride past would be 1 in 100 instead of 1 in a million.

There have been pro teams and pro riders around here before--and I've seen them. I rode with some French Canadians one morning as I was heading to UofA where I worked a few years ago. It was pretty apparent they were big-league boys--and I was just a local roadie going to the daily grind. Still, they were enjoying the sunshine and the good roads and bike lanes Tucson has to offer.

This week however, is cold for Team Radio Shack. I wish them the best and I'm glad they're here. Any other time it would be great to ride up Mt. Lemmon--but today the road up is closed because of heavy snow.



Training Camp Blog by Johan Bruyneel -- I think they have video of 'em riding in Tucson

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tucson In The House

What up, G?

That’s what a woman shouted out to me as I sped past on the El Tour Route. Many spectators were waving and yelling “good luck” and “keep going.” I wore the custom Tucson jersey Stef made for us—and it got me a lot of attention as I like to think the crowds recognized me as a local boy. I hope you don’t mind I didn’t bring the camera along for shots of the race—my writing will have to suffice, and I’ll do my best to capture my take—maybe borrow some photos from Dan and Paul—cause you know the streets were such that riders had some room to roll, and on the familiar parts of my commute route, where I have to be aware of cars—motorists were not on the road—so this meant I got to fly down the street as fast as I could.

All the police seemed to have things under control this year, so I got to fly through intersections like a bullet. Car drivers also seemed content and patient. All in all I had a pretty good ride.

At the Start

Ryan and I got to the start of the Gold Finish Time at 4:30 a.m. and took our place. Within a few minutes, other riders arrived and we were packed in like sardines. It was cold, but not too cold. Ryan was able to take our coats back to the car and get back in line. Our other warm clothes we stashed in a bag and left over the fence—and by some stroke of luck, Ryan found the bag when he got in and we got all our stuff back.

I am happy to report that Bike Patrol was on hand to stop all those who felt they could cut in line and put their bikes over the gates and get in up front. If you are caught doing this, you are made to go to the back of the line behind several thousand riders. A few of these cheaters tried to confront the older woman whose job it was to enforce this rule, but they had second thoughts as Tucson Police appeared and stood behind her to show her authority could not be questioned.

The Ride Begins

I found myself riding with a strong pack of big guys. This made me feel pretty good because they were fellahs bigger than me—while not riding real real fast—we were moving along; Clydesdale Thunder comes to mind—like being a part of the engine of a huge locomotive. This lasted for about five miles until everyone had to slow up to go around a crash. I didn’t see the crash, but a couple of women were lying on the pavement and friends were helping them along. Their water bottles had come off their bikes and the liquid in the bottles splattered all over the road.

For most of the first 30 miles, I rode on and off with about five riders. Packs would come by and I’d jump on the back, and then after a few miles these packs would split. Some riders would take off while others would drop off. A pack would form up again and I’d get on board but then get dropped. Packs would form around me but I’d drop people on a few of the climbs. I recall on Freeman Rd, I shot down that road like a mad-man, and passed about 100 riders—ones that had dropped me miles ahead. It was just perplexing, Gentle Readers of This Blog. Any opportunity to ride fast with no traffic is an opportunity not to miss in my book.

For that descent, a young woman sat right on my wheel. She must have thought I was doing something right—I mean, if I saw me going down Freeman Rd like a runaway semi-truck, the last thing I’d want to do is get on the Dude’s wheel!

The Second Wash

I heard many different languages on this march through the mud and sand—Spanish, German, Arabic—and the translation was pretty much the same all around, “WTF?” But efficient Girl Scouts filled my water bottles even as I walked along—taking my empty bottles off the bike, filling them, and putting them back in with precision—cool… I also met up with my Rando Buddy, Alan. In good spirits—and calm—almost laughing, Alan and I chatted while I poured rocks and sand out my bike shoes. It just seemed that everyone there had walked through dog shit, and we were all scraping it off our shoes and bikes.

I think it’s here that I started to run into trouble, mes amis—see my nutrition, which was bars—well, it wasn’t working for me. The bars tasted terrible and they were hard to eat. So I wasn’t eating enough. One of the Golden Rules of the famous French Randonneurs is, “Eat before you are hungry.” My stomach was complaining—I was hungry and wanting food. I didn’t have any.

Commute Route

Now that I was on my commute route, I felt pretty focused. With Police at the intersections waving me through—and with hardly any car traffic—I rode very fast on Sunrise, Skyline, and Ina. Instead of being squeezed into the bike lane, which is often rough and bumpy—I had the road, and I had no fear of riding as hard and fast as I dared.


I was drinking a lot of water, Gentle Readers—and I could see that my fellow riders were too. Up in Rancho Vistoso and on Moore Rd, there were lines for water. I had none—and I didn’t want to wait. As I know this part of the course like the back of my hand, I jumped off to take a pee—and then called Little Egypt on my cell phone. I asked her to meet me right in Dog Mtn with four water bottles—with ice and a little Gatorade—and I’d pick them up. This was about 11:30 and I’d meet her at 11:45 I said. My chances of finishing under six hours this year were hanging by a thread—but I thought I’d just make if I could ride like Hell the last 30 miles or so.

Little Egypt

I rode down Moore Rd faster than I think I ever had before. About a half mile behind me was a big pack of riders so I really pushed it down the road. Right as I pulled in Dog Mtn, Little Egypt drove up with water. Anything I didn’t need I took off the bike and threw out of my pockets—leg warmers, bars, gels, my undershirt—and then I drank one bottle right then and there—stuffed one bottle in my back pocket and the other two on the frame of my Trek 2.3… I was there at the stop less than two minutes I think. I rode down Tangerine Rd to I-10 at 35 mph. All the time looking at my wrist watch and thinking about getting to the finish before 1 pm for a six hour finish—it was going to be close, Gentle Readers.

Charlie Horse

I was gaining on the large pack that had passed me when I stopped for water in Dog Mtn. At mile 90 on the frontage rd, just as I braced myself to pass over the rail-road tracks by Avra Valley Rd—I felt what I thought was a sniper bullet pierce through my arm, chest, and then thigh. It was one of those deep and painful and sudden cramps in my leg. On a scale of one to ten—it was a 12. It blind-sided me and I almost leaped out of the saddle and crashed it was so damn painful. I managed to stop on the shoulder without my hamstring tearing right off the bone. Some muscle in my chest and arm, and my right thigh were frozen yet in waves of spasm. I was paralyzed by the side of the road—and beginning to slowly slump over. I was going down and I realized I was cooked.

Another rider had turned around and rode back to ask me if I was okay. He held me steady while I slowly straightened out my leg and stand on my feet. After a few very long minutes the grip of that cramp in my chest let up enough for me to take a breath. And then the Charlie Horse began to fade—Holy Shit--that hurt like a MF!

18 Miles

The cyclist that came to my rescue took off as I assured him I’d work the cramp out and get back in the game. Finishing in under six hours was not going to happen, mes amis. I needed to calm myself, wipe the sweat off my face, and get my ass back in saddle and finish El Tour. I feared that the cramps were going to come back—and it felt like they would every few miles. I just took it easy at first, and the slowly got some speed—not fast—but I was getting there. Everyone one was passing me, and I rode as far to the right as possible so I wouldn’t be in anybody’s way.

I felt Charlie was gonna come back a few times, but he couldn’t catch me now—by mile 106 I had no more water, and mile 106 seemed like it was stuck on the bike computer for a very long time. I could hear other riders talking as they road past—local guys saying to their friends, “Those buildings are downtown—and the finish—we’re almost there…” and I looked up too, and I was getting there. My legs, and in particular my right leg, felt like it was just a wet noodle.

At the Finish -- At Last!

So my head is a bit clearer and I see that I might be able to cross the finish right at or before 2 pm for a time under seven hours. That was contingent on the legs holding up—because I really felt I had nothing left in them. Probably not the smartest thing to do, but I sprinted under the overpass on Congress, made the left turn on Church—and crossed the finish. Into the shoot with the other riders, an official said, “2 p.m. Gentlemen.” I had made it in seven hours or maybe a minute under. But at least I made it—I felt fortunate because I really messed this up I thought.

6 Hours 58 Minutes

Next year I'll do much better!

Cheers! Bruce

Friday, November 20, 2009

Go Like Greg

Two American Cycling Legends.

Last night I went to the El Tour de Tucson Dedication Dinner. I had been given the two comp tickets from the Desert San by the CEO. Before the dinner, I went and picked up all my race stuff, and then Little Egypt met me and we sat down at our guest table.

First of all, I noticed right away Jean Gorman--Jean Gorman is Brad's Mom. I had to right away pay my respects and meet her and wish her all the best, and thank her for her tireless work on behalf of all cyclists in this one-horse town. I also met Brad's Father, who was quiet and composed, and good natured. They both wished me Good Luck this Saturday as I ride the 109.

Brad Gorman was a local rider killed by an "inattentive" driver--the 17 year old uninsured driver claimed he was reaching for a CD--or whatever--and he struck Brad on the Catalina Hwy. The driver received a ticket for $66.00 in the mail for unsafe passing.

Jean Gorman stood up for all the cyclists in this city and got things changed so we could all ride safe on the streets of Tucson--and that we could ride safe up to Mt. Lemmon--on the Brad Gorman Memorial Hwy.

Towards the end of the dinner, where sponsors are thanked for their support etc etc, a special award was given out by none other than Greg LeMond himself. This was quite a surprise for me and I was beside myself. "Who's Greg LeMond?" said Little Egypt.

You know where I'm going with this right? So after the dinner and everyone's leaving--there's three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond standing there hanging out in the background sipping his beer.

Bruce: Hey Greg, I'm Bruce. Nice to meet you!
Greg: Hey Bruce. Good to meet you too--you riding on Saturday? (He saw my ride packet)
Bruce: Yes I am--
Greg: Good Luck, Man! Have a Good Ride!
Bruce: Thanks!

Whoa. Was that cool or what?

Little Egypt was dressed up and I was in my suit and tie as the dinner was VIP. I think she enjoyed wearing the fancy threads. For a long time, in photographs emailed from Afghanistan, there she'd be with that M-16 slung over her shoulder, wearing a flight helmet, and bullet-proof vest.

Cheers! Bruce

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bike Lights and Morning Plights

Let There Be Light -- Layton Light

Paul Layton made me a custom Rando-Light, which I will say is more like a laser beam. The advancement here is that these are LED lights, and not just one but four--packed into the casing of an old headlamp I found in the trash at Pima Street Bikes.

My Lumotec Light works best on the fork, for some reason, but the Layton Light works well up high like you see here. The light mounting is from Peter White Cycles, but the light and wiring are made by Paul. There's a new light that's come out that is a step above the historic E-6. I believe its something called the Super Nova--and I have seen a few in operation. They are, Gentle Readers of This Blog, State of the Art--my Layton Light is just as bright I'm happy to report.

Rabbits, rats, rattle snakes, Palo Verde Beetles, and Yak Kers (old ladies on their constitutionals blabbing about daughter-in-laws, grand kids, and loafing husbands) disintegrate instantly should they be in the beam. The role of deer-in-the-headlights is reversed should Bubba or Joe Sixpack be a-traversin' down the hwy with Mamma's bail money, and the Layton Light strike them.

Cold morning (not so cold really) but 90 degrees for the ride home! Dang!

This has been a weird week in Tucson with record 90+ during the day--sometimes a low 49 or 55 for the morning. Even though I need the Layton Light for just about 30 minutes, the light is very bright during the early sunrise--like a burning star on the road. An automobile driver cannot help but take note; a cyclist there appears to be on this route!

Flicky light on the handle bars up high so it catches the eye of drivers.

I have the Jr. Ming the Merciless -Stun Power- Layton Light on my Trek 2.3. Paul will not let me have the up-graded light--the Death Ray model--because that one is reserved for Phoenician Cyclists. Plus, I'm too moody and will use it on old ladies and rednecks without so much as a second thought. It can stop a bus apparently.

Just before 6 p.m. and the lights in the Y parking lot have switched on for the evening.

There is a lot more traffic these days, mes amis--fast and impatient. I know because when I drive my car I too get very impatient with the meek commuters that slow down the 30 and 35 mph as they approach intersections--and they have a green light. And also the dim-wits that reduce speed from 50 mph to 30 mph as they near the speed cameras. The speed limit is 45 mph, and to be lucky enough to get photographed, you have to actually be speeding--hello-- which means you have to driving 56 mph. I think if you went 45 and not 30 thru the camera zone, you'd be safe Fucktard...

Cheers! Bruce

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Brevet Lighting

Allure Libre!

Pulling out the Schmidt hub and my Lumotec head lamp can only mean one thing, Gentle Reader of This Blog. Brevet Season is just around the corner. Yippee! I've put the Lumotec head lamp above the wheel instead of the fork--just to see how it will play out.

Mainly this position was due to the fact that I couldn't fit the light on the Trek 2.3 front fork. But after fitting the head lamp there where you see it--I realized would be able to do just that--but I'll try a few rides with it over the wheel.

It really works best on the fork, like you see here.

Also, with my hub, which is older, there's drag. The newer hubs have barely any drag at all so I'm told. My hub was given to me by Gerry Goode, and he used it all the times he did PBP. Schmidt Dynamo Hub generators are very expensive. I may buy another one some day, but for now I'll make the most of this baby.

Morning rides into the office are a bit chilly, mes amis...

I might as well ride with the hub and get used to the slight drag--really in no time I won't even notice. The light is such that it is bright and very reliable--much more so than battery light. You can also ride faster at night when you can see better. For me on Brevets, its one less thing to worry about.

I believe the real cut off for cyclists and randonneurs is that Brevet riding is done with a good deal of night riding. Some cyclists just don't find night riding appealing. Believe me--it does take some getting use too. A dynamo hub can help with that matter because they allow you to be seen and allow you to see the road as well.

Cheers! Bruce

El Tour 2009

El Tour de Tucson office is near the Desert San.

I am riding El Tour de Tucson this year. What happens is that time goes by so quickly, and by the time I think about registering—the entry fee has gone up quite a bit—and it gets expensive to ride El Tour. That $125 or more it can cost can go far for tires and other stuff I need for commuting.

This year I asked people at work, those with an interest in my biking and commuting, to donate ten bucks or so to the El Tour charity so I could get a race slot. Everyone eagerly chipped-in and I raised the money to ride.

Cheers! Bruce

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Monterey to Big Sur by Bike

On Hwy 1, Big Sur.

I've spent a week in Monterey, CA on business for the Desert San. One day extra for my ride from Monterey, through Carmel, and on down to Big Sur.

Monterey Bay.

The conference I attended for work was okay--a bit boring. All I could think about was renting a bike and hitting the road. Trouble was that it got very cold and windy early in the week. Finally the winds calmed and everything looked good for my trip.

The Monterey Aquarium in what used to be the heart of Cannery Row.

I walked down into Cannery Row, Gentle Readers of This Blog, to check out the bike shop and make plans for which day to pick up a road bike. I'd also had a copy of John Steinbeck's Cannery Row, and had been reading it for a few days before my trip.

Ed Ricketts' lab and apartment on Cannery Row.

On my way down to the Aquarium, I walked right into Ed Ricketts' lab. Ed Ricketts and John Steinbeck were very close friends, and Steinbeck based his character "Doc" on Ricketts. I'm glad this old shack is still standing--there's a lot of commercial development all around the place. What used to be factories, or canneries--think of slaughter houses for fish instead of cattle--is now way over-priced hotels and cheap shit tourist crap. Anyway, from old photographs, this lab hasn't changed much in appearance.

The old purse-seine sardine boats are almost gone--here's a few under-going restoration.

The sardines were fished out by about 1946--with almost 90% of the sardines gone--the canneries shut down. Cannery Row was a slum and abandoned for 30 or 40 years.

This old boat is probably 80 years old or older.

There's a bike and walking path now all along the wharf and coast for many miles, and it goes right through Cannery Row. I'm pretty sure it was the old rail-road line. Its great to walk and bike on the path. Many of the locals commute by bike to work and home.

The boilers of the last cannery, preserved and now the heart of the Monterey Aquarium.

I had an afternoon free, so I went to the Aquarium. My Grandpa Crosslin, my mom's father, was a boiler man, so I'm always interested in the old boilers like this one. My Grandpa Crosslin ran the boilers for one of the big high schools back in Tulsa. The four large ones of the old cannery cooked sardines.

The boilers are about three stories tall and installed 100 years ago.

Past Cannery Row and heading South to Pacific Grove.

I picked up the bike from the bike shop late evening--I'd have it 24 hours--so I did a little recon before I rode back to my hotel.

On the bike and running path along Pacific Grove.

The wind had died down for my planned morning ride, mes amis, however--it was still very cold on the coast.

Bike lane and running/walking path on the shore.

The rental cost me $55.00

My room was on the 4th Floor of the old Monterey Hotel. There was no elevator, so it was quite a workout to come and go to my room, mes amis.

I brought the bike back to my hotel, but before that, I had asked Diego, the wrench at the shop to loosen up the pedals. I put on my clip pedals, and I had brought wrenches to adjust the seat post and the handle bars--so I was good to go.

Early morning on the bike path leaving Monterey and the warmth of my cozy hotel.

Gentle Readers, I will tell you that it was quite windy all week and very cold. The wind was gone, but the morning when I headed out was freezing. As the sun came up, it got a little warmer but not by much.

On 17 Mile Drive. My adventure begins.

The ocean spray felt damp and cold as I rode through the morning mist. I brought cold weather gear so I was prepared. The air was clean and fresh, mes amis--it made me feel strong and determined to ride through this cold breezy part of the morning.

I've made it--the wind has left me alone for a change--the sun is warming the morning air.

Pinos Point Lighthouse.

The lighthouse began operation February 1st, 1855. According to the information on the entry, this is the oldest working lighthouse on the West Coast.

17 Mile Drive by bike.

Still a bit cold.

Tail winds are sending me on my way.

Adam riding with me up into Carmel.

On 17 Mile Drive I met up with a local rider named Adam. He was out putting in a few training miles, and graciously lead me up into Carmel and through some of the more scenic areas. He would get me to where it would be safest to catch Hwy 1 for my trip down to Big Sur.

Carmel Beach--way beautiful.

Adam and Bill.

Adam is a young velodrome rider, moved back to Carmel, his hometown, from working and going to school for awhile in Flagstaff of all places. Out on the road, we run into another local rider and his pal, Bill. I get some good information about what lay ahead, how long it will take, where to stop (there won't be many places to stop for water--it will be remote for a long while) and I get land-marks explained so I can find my way back through Carmel if I am running late and need to make it back before dark.

If Dog Mtn had an ocean, mes amis, it would be just like Carmel.

Very good of these fellows to escort me to where it would be safe to catch Hwy 1.

Old Historic filling station on Hwy 1, about three miles outside of Carmel.

Adam cuts off to get home, and Bill and I ride up to Hwy 1. Before he heads back, Bill says to be careful because in the late afternoon traffic will get busy. He shows me where he lives in case I need to stop by on my return if I'm running late.

I take Bill's advice and make a quick stop for a snack and fill my water bottles. I won't get a chance to stop from about 25 miles. Its also a bit later than I would have liked--I had planned to leave Monterey at 6:30 a.m. but it was still very cold and the sun didn't come up until 7 o'clock. I waited for it to get a bit warmer and a bit lighter--and had a quick continental breakfast at my hotel. I stashed an apple and a few biscuits in my pockets for later.

Now I'm rolling in open country.

Hwy 1 is narrow and the shoulder is often quite small--or there's really no shoulder at all.

It has been windy early in the week so there are many downed branches in the road. I have to dodge them, as well as keep an eye out for cars speeding by.

This stretch of Hwy is Big Sur.

Very scenic and beautiful. I can't help but stop almost every mile or so--breath-taking views!

Very pretty here--worth the trip just because of this stretch of road!

You can see the Hwy hugging the coast.

There's a lot of steady climbing--cars are coming past fast and close. Again, the shoulder is quite narrow.

The road is beautiful--but not for the faint of heart. I'd say its a bit on the dangerous side.

Gust of wind can be such that I'd ride off into the sea--

These old WPA bridges built in the 1930's are pieces of art--kind of a weird feeling going over them on a bike--like you're trying to keep from disturbing a sleeping dragon. This is the Wildcat Bridge, and it certainly has its own spirit...

C'est moi

Big Sur

I stopped at the famous Bixby Bridge, built in 1933 by WPA workers. This would be my turn around point as it was getting late, and I knew I'd have a pretty strong headwind going back. Bill and Adam told me that I'd come to a lighthouse, which I was told was just around the corner--then in another 8 or so miles I'd find a restaurant. Because of the lateness of hour, and the wind, I thought I'd just take a break and get ready to head back to Monterey.

The Bixby Bridge

While relaxing, another cyclists speeds by, and then over the bridge.

Rock on!

There he goes!

Not long after, the rider is coming back, and he pulls in and we chat. Risi, from LA, says that he's got to be back himself--so we're off, Gentle Reades... I have to tell you that going back was a bit harrowing--there was little or no shoulder--and the locals were not very patient with us having to ride in the road.

There was one point were a work van come inches from running Risi down--the mirror on the van came about six inches from his head! I wonder how close the guy came to hitting me as well... Risi rode strong and fearless--having lived and biked in New York City, and LA; life and limb divided by mere inches was no big deal.

I wish I could have taken a few more pictures to send him--this was an epic ride for both of us--but we needed to get back. Despite the traffic, I would say we made pretty good time. Risi gave me some Gatorade, which hit the spot--and he was on his way back to LA and I to Carmel. Thanks Risi!

I make it back to Carmel safe and sound. I can get water at the mission.

The woman working at the admission/gift shop was from Tulsa, my hometown. She let me in for free. I thanked the Heavens for safe passage back to Carmel, and asked that I make it back to my hotel before dark--and in time for happy hour at the Pub.

The mission was warm inside--that I needed because the headwind, while not so bad, had made me cold for the ride back on Hwy 1.

The old smoke stacks of Cannery Row.

The Bay Aquarium put replicas of smoke stacks on the boilers. I had gotten into Carmel a bit late, so I sped along 17 Mile Drive to make some time.

Before I knew it, I was back on Cannery Row.

A good day in the saddle I'd say.

About 4:30 I pulled into the bike shop to let Diego know I was back. He had told me if I was running late to give him a call and he'd wait for me before closing the shop. I just needed to go back to my hotel, switch out the pedals, put on some pants and a jacket--get to the shop and then get to the English Pub for that pint during Happy Hour.

I walked back through Cannery Row to the Pub after delivering the road bike to Diego--who was glad I had a safe ride. We both agreeed that the map the shop hands out to tourists isn't that great.

I got a bit confused on the way back on Pebble Beach, and while trying to read the map, I almost hit group of deer standing indifferent in the road. He told me the locals had a safer and faster training route they take--where I rode with Adam and Bill earlier in the morning no doubt--and next time I'm in town ask about that course.

At the Pub, I sat at the bar with the local blue-collar types having their grog. The young barkeep was asked about his new road bike--it turned out that some of the guys at the bar were local cyclists--when he placed that cool pint of Guiness in front of me, I told that I'd just come back from riding Hwy 1 to Big Sur. He looked a bit surprised. "This beer should taste pretty good then," he said. "I know that a lot of people do that ride--it's pretty dangerous though--but good you made it back in one piece--Cheers!"

We chatted and later I told him it was a ride I don't think I'd ever do again--and he agreed. "Chances of getting killed are high--but the scenery! The scenery is to die for!" That is true indeed. "Have this next one on the house, Mate." and another thick, dark, cool pint appeared there on the bar.

Cheers! Bruce