Friday, January 30, 2009

Raleigh Marathon Bike for Sale

I’ve decided to sell the Raleigh Marathon, circa 1984—too many bikes are packed in the garage at home. I don’t have the time, the money—or the heart, to make this big old bike into a single speed. After Phil over-hauled everything, it was like a brand new ride.


I’ve only used it for rides down to the cafĂ© on the weekend—and to go to church on Sunday (just playing!) I’ve taken it on the road for a couple 80 and 90 mile rides and its been sweet.

Phil,owner of Pima Street Bicycle will let me keep it at the shop for a few months until a buyer arrives. The thing about this bike is that it’s a 69 cm frame. It is Enormous, huge, gigantic—even a bit too big for me to ride. My hope is that some one out there will find this bike and it will be the steel machine they’ve been dreaming of.

I recently paid a small fortune to have that Schwinn Twin I brought back from Tulsa made ready to ride. That old tandem takes up a lot of room in the garage, Gentle Reader, I must say!

Finally, I’ve no emotional attachment to this bike. It’s a good bike and if it was all I had, then I’d be happy—but my hope is that the right man or woman will find this old Raleigh and put in the miles it was made for.

Cheers! Bruce

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tucson at 30 MPH

I’ve been driving this week as Tucson has had unseasonably cold weather.  Frigid cold in the morning, beautiful afternoon warmth, then colder again as the sun goes down.  Driving the car in I can tell—The Snowbirds have arrived.  

I’ll be frank—the speed on the main route to work is 45 mph.  This means that, we, the people on our way to the office—drive 50 to 55.  That is a given.  If you’re driving 65 or 70 then that’s a bit much.  But really there’s a consensus among us all to keep things moving. That speed is usually 55 mph.   

Snow Birds refuse to drive any faster than the speed limit; many drive tops 33 mph.   They reduce traffic in this town to a crawl.  Add cell phone users to the equation—Welcome to Tucson at 30 miles per hour.   

I kid you not when I say to you, Gentle Reader of This Blog, that I ride faster than traffic much of my route to and from work.

I’m not here to blame old people.   My gripe is with Snow Birds.  What I’ve come to realize is that as a society—we have failed our elderly population, yeah and the Snow Birds too.  They drive as there’s no alternative.  We’ve buses here but where people live and where they need to go is where the bus lines don’t run. 

In reality, Snow Birds could give a rat’s ass—about the speed limit, the environment, the economy, you or me, or the future—they smirk and shake their heads because we voted for that black guy.   They reside in the affluent gated communities.  There are no bus routes to them—but like I said, they could care less.

When I’m older, unable to afford or unable to drive a car—will there be a transportation system for me?  You see the old farts here that make life miserable for us now—they have wealth.  They come here to a second retirement home from the cold upper mid-west. Days are leisurely spent golfing.

That dream for working Americans is gone now—the Snow Birds’ yearly migration is fading toward extinction—soon they’ll be gone, never to return.  I’ll have to keep working—retirement will be only for a wealthy few.

I hope that when I’m 70 or 80 that I can get on a bus or street car and get to where I need to go—probably my part-time job.  I wonder if most elderly retired people in Tucson can do that now.   I hope that there might be a bike lane so I can pedal along to that job, or to the store—to the park or seaside.  I hope it will be safe.     

What will really be sad, while I’m riding along as an old man, will be to see men and women (the age that I am now) riding beside me—because they can’t afford any other means to get to their jobs.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bruce's Blocked Bike Blog

A few days before Barack Obama was to take office, the institution where I work--The Desert San (not it's real handle, but a nick-name from 1924 when it was a TB sanitarium) blocked most of the Internet.  They figured that we'd all be watching Obama on our computers instead of doing our jobs.  

Pretty much I used my lunch hour to up-load my photos and write a few things for you Gentle Reader.  Now my website is blocked, and all the websites and blogs of my pals seem to be blocked as well.    This is campus wide censorship--but they own everything and in all fairness they must protect the privacy of patients, etc. etc, records, and data.  Friends I have in the Systems Dept tell me they thwart hackers on a daily bases.  

Much of the information I get about the world--papers, blogs, and stuff like that--I can't read until I get back to Dog Mtn.  

It just means that the little window of time I had to write about life on my bike has to be moved to the evening.  That's okay.  More adventure is on the way!   So please stay tuned!  

Oh yeah--I've dropped my camera a few too many times while out riding.  One more slip and I think Lil Trusty will be kaput.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Morning Commute by Bike

The top of my climb, early in the morning just after 7 o' clock.

Over the Holiday, and as we’ve had a cold and wet start to January—I’ve been off the bike for the commutes into the office. It’s been okay sleeping until 6 or 6:30 in the morning, but if I’m on the bike, I’m well into my commute to work by that time in the morning. I can certainly tell, as you can too, Gentler Reader of This Blog, that 10 pounds has quickly attached itself to me mid-section!

Darkness, and cold have played a part. I have say that as I get close to where my car is parked in the evenings—just when its busy and most dangerous—its suddenly quite dark. That transition leaves people a big groggy or something; there were several near-misses where a motorist just flew past me, still talking on their cell phone, completely oblivious to almost running me down.

Commuter bike, 1977 Raleigh Super Grand Prix, all set up with dynamo light and saddle bags. I'm here at the bike lockers just about 20 minutes after 7 a.m.

The temp was 43 degrees this morning. I called a colleague up in South Dakota last week and it was 20 below. Time was when I lived up there, and it was over 40 degrees, I’d be in shorts and sandals. I recall still finding snow drifts riding horseback—in April. So now that it’s not so cold in the morning and I’ve a bit more light in evening, I have no excuse but to get back in the saddle. Temps for the ride home should be close to 80—that’s almost 100 degrees difference from my friends living up in Vermillion, SD, to be exact.

Legs were sluggish at first, and my lungs were not wanting to get loosened up. I coughed and wheezed for part of my climb up the ridge. A headwind came in and that made me have to work that much harder. But I’m happy to report that I just took it slow and steady—back in September and October, I was flying up this road. Now I’m just plugging along. My hope is that I’ll get fit quickly the more I ride.

I drive about 9 miles, then ride 15 miles to the office. The bike goes on the bike rack and then I'm off for home.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Schwinn Twinn Super Delux

Little Egypt and I on our Schwinn Twinn 5 Speed Super Delux, which we've nick-named Little Soldier.

John helps me bring home the newly restored bike with his truck. I feel like a kid with a new bike!

I have never ridden a tandem before! After a few seconds, it's so cool!

I've never ridden on the back of a tandem either--wow, that took about five seconds to get the feel for it, then it was a blast!

Okay, after a few times round the block, I feel confident that I'm ready to take Little Egypt for a spin. The bike is way too small for me, but fits her just fine. She's never been on a tandem either...

Fun fun fun!

Kathy is the Pro!

Let's go to the cafe!

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Ride in the Country

A cold breeze but very sunny skies.

Susan comes to town to do one last ride before she takes off back to Nevada. We leave Dog Mtn and I suggest we ride out to, and up "A" Mountain. Susan's never done that ride so we're off--off through the cotton fields of North West Tucson, skirting the edge of Saguaro Nat'l Park, and through a very old Spanish section of Downtown.

Just after entering the park near the base of "A" Mountain, downtown comes into view.

The top of the moutnain over Susan's left shoulder. This road is the ancient path of native americans that used this as a look-out post. Then it was a observation post for the Spanish Army, the American Army, and the road has changed from foot path, to mule train road, to scenic drive.

Last time I did this climb, it was 102 degrees in the summer. Today the wind is quite cold.

Left side of photo is Rincon Peak, part of Saguaro Nat'l Park East. Right is looking toward Mexico.

Ancient valley, Spanish Settlement, now Tucson, Arizona.

Rincon Peak way back there. Susan and I have ridden 30 miles out from my place in Dog Mtn. We rode pretty fast but now the wind is picking up, its a bit cold, and we'll have the six-mile climb at the end back up to Dog Mtn.

We've taken Silverbell to downtown Tucson, which was pretty much the El Tour de Tucson route. Slowly Silverbell is becoming re-paved which is nice--we rode thru the boonies right into the center of downtown Tucson, 30 miles, in about and hour and half. Here we are at the end of Silverbell and heading back into rugged Twin Peaks Rd area.

It's me. I'm riding pretty strong and keeping up with Susan at least. I wore my thin winter layer, so I have to say that I was cold most of the ride.

We have ridden 60 fast miles. Now we have to do the climb back up to my house. This six-mile climb used to be a slog, but its becoming easier. The road is much better for one thing. It was pretty beat up until it was re-paved, and I always got a flat somewhere along the way. We make quick work of this section as Mt. Lemmon snow reflects the early afternoon sun.

This has been a recovery ride for Susan. She's spent a few weeks in Tucson and Casa Grande riding with friends and training for the 300 KM Brevet.

Cheers! Thanks for riding along!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Olympians, Texans, and Leprechauns—A Brevet of 200 KM

Margaret leads the paceline, followed by Jim--both from the Great State of Texas.

I was fortunate to ride with two strong Texans from El Paso, Jan from Tucson, Dave Glasgow, also from Tucson, and legendary Olympian, Mike Allen of Wilcox, Arizona.

The goal of this brevet was to finish strong, make sure my bike was set for the longer brevets—and then just relax and enjoy the ride. I also hoped that I would find people to ride with. Steve Star of the Blog was not riding this one with me. I mostly relied on his randonneuring skills to get us through the tough brevets—and there were many, Gentle Readers.

The best thing I did was re-format the cue sheet with print large enough that I could actually read while riding. This helped in a fast group of cyclists. In the past, there was always Steve to keep an eye on the cue sheet. When there’s a rider doing that, everyone else can relax. This time I found myself with the cue sheet and everyone relying on me to keep us on course.

The first loop goes out to the Nat’l Monument. By the time I reached that first control, I was riding solid with Jan from Tucson, Jim and Margaret from Texas, and Mike Allen. At the Ruins, we picked up Dave Glasgow—not hard to miss in his Furnace Creek 508 attire.

Yours and Jan, out on Indian 15--a scenic hwy on the reservation.

Glasgow and Mike Allen really picked up the pace and soon we found ourselves back in Casa Grande, and ready to head out to the reservation. On this particular brevet, there’s always a strong headwind going out—brutal in some years—and then at the lonely controle at mile 88, riders turn around and get an incredible tail wind for the trip home. I promised my new pals we’d easily head back at 22—24 mph.

I could not sustain the speed Glasgow and Mike Allen were cutting into the wind heading out to the reservation to that controle—so with a bit of persuasion, I convinced the others in my group to let them go and we’d stay together and take turns pulling through the headwind. And it was agreed, and soon the Olympian and Leprechaun pulled away.

The headwind comes from the Southwest today...

You can almost guarantee that you will reach the controle running on fumes. There will be 30 miles of constant headwind to drain all your energy. If not for Jan, Margaret, and Jim, I would have not made this brevet--I was already tired and just fighting off leg cramps. Only Susan's wraps saved me from DNF!

The fast people were coming back all smiles, and we wished them well. My hope is that they saved a few wraps for me! Actually not just a few, but several.

We made it. I felt lucky to be at the RBA's truck--I got a scolding for sitting on the RBA's cooler filled with the iced-down coke--no time to sit! Eat and get going, she says! Of course she's right. I stuff wraps, trail mix, and chips into my back pockets and we all jump in the saddle and take off to finish.

Back in 2004, when we did this 200 for the first time, the mileage worked out to where Susan pulled in to set up the controle next to a large cow carcass. It most likely got hit by a car. A pack of reservation dogs were aggressively munching away as we pulled up, kind of like those wildlife shows you see on TV where the lions or the hyenas are ripping apart a kill.

It seems we will just get home and beat the rain!

We took turns pulling and yes I do believe at some point on the way back we reached 23 and 24 mph with the tailwind helping us along. But as I warned, near the end in the late afternoon, the wind shifted and the tailwind disappeared. Eventually it was hard to keep that fast spin. Clouds came across the desert with a faint hint of rain. We would have 15 miles of tough going to get off the rez and back to the bike shop.

Back into town, we checked the que sheet one last time, and eased our way the last few miles to the finish.

For me, I'm just glad I finished. I'm not the fastest rider and headwinds tire me out quickly. Riding with stronger people like Jim and Margaret made me push hard. They were good sports when I asked that we slow down the pace so I could rest and not get dropped.

Allure Libre!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Starting Down the Road -- 2009

We're on the way to the mountain town of Oracle, Arizona. For the last eight years John has held this ride on New Year's Day. I believe this is the fifth or six time I've ridden. Mt. Lemmon is in the background and I'm sure it's packed with skiers today.

We pull into the gas station to regroup and get water.

The day starts a bit cool in the morning, but the wind is not with us today.

Somebody needs to buy some new tires! Dave has the first flat of 2009. We're heading North up Oracle Rd in this photo. You can see Pusch Ridge in the background and if you follow my blog, you know that my commute route in on the other side of the ridge, up Ina and Skyline Rds.

We can feel it getting colder as we start to climb the last stretch up to Oracle.

Gerry and I talk about what we want for lunch! I'm getting very hungry!

John and Cathy on the tandem. We pull into the entrance of Biosphere 2 so we can regroup and give Eric, Larry and Joan a quick call. They are just a few miles ahead of us. We all left from different points this morning to converge at Noon in Oracle.

At 49 miles into the ride, we arrive at Lunch. Mt. Lemmon looms far in the distance.

This place is North on Hwy 77 (Oracle Rd) and then just after mile-post 100. Turn Right on Rockliff Rd and you're there!

Wing riding strong...

Gerry and Susan. Susan did a ride down by Mexico the other day. This is rest day for her, so she met up with us for lunch.

Wing and eldest daughter.

Larry, Joan, Wing's two other daughters.

Cathy and John.

Dave Peashock and Gerry Goode. Peashock will ride with me on the 200 Km this coming up weekend.

Cathy, John, and Dave Glasgow

Larry and Joan have come up on their tandem as well.

John and Cathy get ready to roll as Susan says farewell. Lunch was satisfying and everyone is ready to get back home. Susan will be running the 200 km brevet in Casa Grande this weekend.

I feel like I'm riding strong after a few weeks off for Christmas and traveling back home. Good food my weakness, Gentle Reader! I put on a few pounds, but since I've got back on the bike, that extra weight is slowly falling away.

Larry and Joan are riding strong on their tandem, and this is their neighbor, Dave--we fly back to Tucson about 25 MPH for about 12 miles! It was fast. They keep going down Oracle Rd for a route back to where they live--I pull out and wait to regroup with everyone else that got dropped!

2009 will be tough. I need to find a new job and get going into this profession. There's a lot of old school types in the way--and I don't want to be one of them. The new school types are savvy and learn fast. I don't want to get left behind. Looks like those jobs are not in Arizona, mes amis--and not in Tucson, that's for sure.

There will be hurdles. But you can do it! Back in November, I climbed Mt. Lemmon and I felt strong and confident--as I climbed higher, my confident in myself grew and fear and self-doubt were left behind.

What seems impossible is possible. Like everything, the journey will be steep. You will pass other cyclists as you climb. Stronger cyclists will pass you. Sometimes you will drop your friends--you may find yourself having to abandon yourself, and turn and head back down. You will have another chance, I can assure you!

I made it the first time, but my friends, who were much stronger, dropped me within the first few miles and I was quite discouraged because the mountain was so overwhelming--but I did make it to the top and I did finish.

Keep going. Help others and be positive. Accept that you will need help--accept that you may have to try again. Keep trying.

Best for 2009.