Friday, May 29, 2009

One Brave Son of a Bitch

Yet another flat, this time on the way to work.

I hauled-ass down the road to catch up to a hottie on a tri bike, when--Dang! Another flat. Trouble was no spare tube. I figured I'd get one at the bike shop at lunch. Luckily, another roadie stopped and asked if I needed help, like just two minutes after I pulled over. He let me pay him for a tube--I was sure glad he stopped. I used my last dollar bill to boot the tire, as I discovered a gash in the sidewall. This makes two flats in a row and these tires are brand-new, mes amis.

Cooper's Hawks on the old Water Tower on the campus of the Desert Sanatorium.

There was a lot more traffic as it was about 20 minutes later than normal for me. The small window I ride through seems amazing--the number of cars of the road jumps considerably. Almost to work, I had a lady pull out in front of me--another motorists left space for her to leave a business and get into the lane. She pulled out without looking. She saw me and stopped suddenly and I just missed hitting the front of her car. I waved to let her know I was okay and no hard feelings. She was okay with that and we went on our way with out a care.

Rain clouds and wind for the ride home.

Going home, I hooked up with a couple of roadies for a balls-out run West down Ina. I should have been a bit careful because my tire could have blown out or gone flat again without warning. Some clouds came in and the head wind got stronger.

One Brave Son of a Bitch.

I came to stop in the bike lane at the very busy intersection of Oracle and Ina. A guy waiting in at the light in his truck struck up a conversation. "Dude, you are one brave son of bitch." He said he used to ride a motorcycle--but got hit by a distracted soccer mom a few years back. Now he can't get up enough nerve to ride anymore--just too dangerous. He wished me well and we were on our separate ways.

Thinking about it, I believe I've become a sort of adrenaline junkie.

Cheers! Bruce

Monday, May 25, 2009

50 Mile Ride

Mt. Lemmon at sunrise.

Memorial Day and I'm off to the Desert San for my 50 mile round-trip commute to work. I want to save up my PTO as I don't get paid holidays working at this joint. This morning, everyone is in bed except for a few roadies.

No traffic what so ever. I think I counted more live bunnies darting about in the road then ones run over. That rhythm of cars streaming dully through everywhere is absent; the morning air is sweet and cool.

Pusch Ridge up ahead. I'm going East on Calle Concordia--part of the Mt. Lemmon 200 Km Brevet Course.

I made good time pushing up Ina and then Sunrise. On the latter road, I pulled up to another roadie, a big tall fellow like myself. I said good morning, but he perked-up and started to turn it up a few notches. Like I've posted before, some Tucson roadies are not very friendly--in fact so damn smug sometimes its pathetic. Not that we have to be friends all of the sudden, but a friendly "Good Morning, " would have been okay. So I sat on his wheel for the fast rollers on Sunrise until he got tired. I dropped him on the last quick descent and then up the hill to the top of my climb.

When I get passed by the young bloods--I mean the really good riders--they usually acknowledge me with a wave and a hello, because maybe they can see that I'm riding pretty strong for a Clydesdale. I'm obviously commuting to the office and not out training for a time trial.

On the way home!

Right out the door in the afternoon I can feel a steady headwind blowing. They say the Monsoon rains will come early this year. I can already sense these changes, Gentle Reader--the smell of the air, a hint of something in the wind, and the position of the Sun in the sky.

Monsoon clouds over Mt. Lemmon.

Making my climb up Swan, the wind bears down. Clouds are on Mt. Lemmon, and clouds begin to pop up over the sky like pop-corn popping. It is the power and the mystery of the desert mes amis!

New speed cameras on Swan Ave.

Heading up Swan Ave. to the base of Pusch Ridge.

In the mornings, I'm on the other side of the ridge and pretty much have to ride around it, and then up the base to the top of Swan and Sunrise. On the way in to the office, I ride one more mile East to Craycroft--for one more climb along the ridge, and then make my descent to the Desert San.

Flat on Sunrise.

Riding fast on Sunrise, I must have hit something as I heard a ping-clink, then my back tire went flat. I feared I'd slashed my tire yet again--but the tire on inspection was good. It was a pinch-flat. Just that the puncture resistant tube costs about $8.00--they're expensive, mes amis.

Pusch Ridge in the afternoon. This is Calle Concordia again, this time shown in the afternoon sun.

Looking North on La Canada from Calle Concordia.

The above image is The Oro Valley, in the lovely City of Oro Valley, Arizona. I think this is about the half-way point in my 26 mile ride back to Dog Mtn. I must also tell you Gentle Reader of This Blog, that it was getting hot and it was a bit muggy. I'd lost some time changing out the flat and wanted to keep my momentum now that I was back on these fast Northwest roads. Scouting out the 200 Km Brevet for Susan, I found this water spot at Oro Valley City Hall.

In the city hall complex, which is right at the top of that big climb you saw up there, there's this drinking fountain. I don't know but the men's room was probably locked... Anyway, the water is nice and cold--and its free.

I got to this water stop just in time.

I'm heading West on Moore Rd, and maybe five or so miles from home. For my commutes into the office, I ride on the other side and up and in the foothills of the ridge.

Mt. Lemmon behind me as I coast down Moore Rd.

Good roads and almost no traffic today, Memorial Day 2009.

Home is just a few miles now. This sweet fragrant rain cloud shaded me from the last hot rays of the setting Arizona Sun.

Cheers! Bruce

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tucson Rain Days

The Madame on the Ridge.

Normally I would be a few miles up on my regular commute route, in those clouds, but the last few mornings I've stayed on the River Bike Path. Not that the riding in the rain bothers me, but riding through misty clouds, buckets of rain, and sleepy motorists makes me take the low-road.

The Consummate Bike Commuter.

The last two weeks commuting were tough for May--during Bike to Work Week, I believe Wednesday it was a record 102 degrees. And now, three days of Monsoon-type showers. It is the real Monsoon? I'm not thinking it is--but oh how sweet She is, mes amis! The air is rich with the fragrance of flowers and trees and earthiness, now that the rain has arrived to lovingly sooth us all from the heat.

This is just a fling with that hot chick you lock eyes with in the hallway, or in the cafeteria when you're sitting across from her on your lunch hour. The real Tempest arrives in July full force. So what's with this early rain? I don't know and I don't care, Gentle Readers of This Blog--I just needed the rain and the cool fresh air to glide through--biking home is like a dream when its like this...

Heading West on the Bike route and home.

I will tell you that the headwinds were not taunting me this week, and I flew home quickly and effortlessly. This week has been a nice change from the hot, fast traffic, intense dash on the more dangerous route (Ina and Sunrise). Funny how this all happened because I took the fenders off the bike--my bad.

Have a good Weekend!

Cheers! Bruce

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bike to Work Day

My Raleigh Super Grand Prix fitted for bike commuting.

This last Friday was Bike to Work Day in Tucson. It was a long week for me and I am happy to report that I logged in 120 miles for four out of the five days. Two of the days temps were in the 100's with Thursday 96 and Friday about 98. But those highs are just in the afternoons. The mornings are beautiful and cool. Perfect riding weather.

I live 25 miles from the office. Each day if I were to drive the car, its 50 miles round-trip, or 250 miles a week.

What works best for me now is to drive 9 miles to the YMCA, and then ride in the 16 miles. In the mornings I add an extra mile climb--going home I cut out that mile to save time. It all evens out to a 30 mile round trip commute by bike instead of a 50 mile round trip by car.

Still, 120 miles this week wasn't bad--I drove 130 miles in a week instead of 250. To me that's pretty good.

I tried wearing street clothes this week instead of bike clothes. But the street clothes in this hot dry climate were just soaked with sweat in no time. Lycra works much better because you stay cool and dry. When I wore the cotton short over an old pair of bike shorts, the cotton shorts were wet and it looked like I had wet my pants.

Friday I was running late getting out of the office, but ran into some roadies I've got with before and they like to go fast. I got in the peleton and everyone took turns pulling (there was a strong headwind Friday afternoon) but I started to get tired after about three miles of ridding 22 mph. I just couldn't keep up--especially with the girl that kind of sets the fast pace. The guys told me she was a white-liner; and just to let her take off. Anyway, just riding with them put me right on schedule with my time to the YMCA. They pulled off and I made my climb up to the busy and dangerous intersection of Ina and La Cholla.

Traffic for the moment was light and there was a green arrow going left. I sprinted through the intersection the lone cyclist with all those cars grinding at the bit to be home after a long week.

The weekend I slept late--O! the joy, mes amis. Saturday night I went to Wing's Graduation Party--somebody (Eric's brother Brent) kept pouring me Mai Tai after Mai Tai--and I got rather out of sorts. Luckily I sobered up and was able to elude evacuation via Little Egypt.

Cheers! Bruce

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bike to Work Week, Wednesday and Thursday

Wednesday morning I'm taking River Rd, and then catching the Bike Path the last few miles. This part of the bike path is a bit more remote and not used much by runners and walkers. I keep seeing young Red Tailed Hawks in this stretch--and there are hundreds of song birds singing and carrying on about their business.

Probably the last cool morning for the rides into the office. The arm warmers make good insulation to wrap up an extra bottle in the saddle bag for the warm ride home.

This part of the River Path is lush with about every native tree; and then the hybrids and such--but I enjoy the Cottonwood trees the best. They have personality as the seasons change, and they seem to talk and whisper: Cottonwoods are pragmatic trees!

Going home Wednesday afternoon it was windy and hot starting out.

The arid and hot wind comes out of the West, and the first several miles on the Bike Path heading home means a relentless headwind, Gentle Readers of This Blog. It will be a few miles until I get into the trees and shade, and out of the wind for the rest of the ride on the path.

My alternative is riding along the base of the ridge that you see up there. Traffic is fast, and the pavement burns from the Tucson sun--but it is fast on the bike. I've learned that I need to take it easy on the rides home otherwise I won't be able to ride the next day--I arrive home too exhausted to anything but shower and fall asleep on the couch.

Thursday morning was quite hot. I got off to a late start and hammered down River Rd, and then jumped on the Bike Path again. There was supposedly a bike commuter stop put on by the city with coffee and bagels and such, on River and Campbell--that would be great because I missed breakfast and a stop like that would get me into work.

Alas, I arrived at River and Campbell on the North end of the bike path--and there was no such stop. Where had it gone? I keep going and then realized that the stop may have been on the South side of Campbell--there's a bridge that separates these two corners--and I was a bit disappointed. I mean, the other corner is where no one commutes; the ride on the side I'm on. Anyway, I was running on fumes, and it was how it feels wherein you're on a brevet and you need to get to that controle and get one of Susan's wraps! Mes amis, I was starving!

I glide past many stables on the bike path, which are the remains of old ranches from the early Tucson days. These people are enjoying a cool morning ride. I think the Paint recognizes me--I've often see him in his stall watching me on my home.

Pulling off Craycroft and the back way into the Desert San, an impatient physician raced around me, just missing running me over, and then suddenly found himself head-on with another car. That driver was a bit surprised--and then Dr. Speedy swerved his Lexus out of harms way and into the parking garage--where he had to suddenly stop for nurses in the crosswalk, and other Desert San employees getting off their shifts.

An older, robust Hispanic woman gave him a good scolding, reminding him to be careful as she walked stiffly past. Other employees walked deliberately in the crosswalk to bring the Senora's point home. The entrance to the physicians' parking area is a bit tricky to get to now that there's construction--so recklessly speeding through the back way of the campus seems to be in order. Only that there's pedestrians and cyclists coming and going.

Status, wealth, and prime parking does not give anyone the right to run down people.

Okay, rant over... I hope the doc made it to his butt job--hey that's the life of a rectal surgeon. Shit happens!

Thursday's evening commute home was only 96 degrees, and the wind had died down as well.

Cheers! Bruce

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bike to Work Week, Day 2

Bike to Work Week Day 1 was a bit taxing on the way home. Not sure but Monday night when I got back everything was hurting. 101 degrees and headwind for the last few miles maybe got the best of me. Little Egypt had made some dinner and it was timed for right when I dragged my self into the house.

I was made to eat outside on the patio because Little Egypt told me I was too dirty, sweaty, and stinky. I was so hungry that I didn’t let Callie out with me to beg and get table scraps—all this food was mine!

After eating, I took a shower, changed into shots and a t-shirt, and then woke up later on the big rug Little Egypt brought back from Afghanistan—in Callie’s spot because the rug is soft and cool.

The site of me lying on the floor, fast asleep with the dog, is too much for Little Egypt to bear I think. Callie’s life seems to be going to the park, eating and sleeping. Mine at the moment seems to be riding my bike, eating, and sleeping.

I skipped Day 2 because I could not get myself going to pack the bike for the next day.
The day off was good and I felt better for taking a break.
Cheers! Bruce

Monday, May 11, 2009

Day One -- Week By Bike

Another shot of me on Big Sexy this past Sunday.

I bought a new set of tires for the commute bike this weekend. Day one was okay as the tires are nice--a bit faster than the beat-to-hell set that wore out.

Temp will be 100 or over 100.

I took the fenders off the bike. Not that they're heavy or anything, just that I think I'm going make my Big Sexy Bike into the work-horse commuter for rain days--no rain is forecast for several months...

The boss is out of town for two weeks so I'm holding down the fort. She lets me put my bike in her office which is cool. It saves me about 8 minutes in the morning. I just ride into the office instead of the bike locker, where I have to un-pack everything and then walk a few blocks to our place.

Riding home after work, it was 101 degrees--I decided to take the bike path home to stay out of the traffic. The River Path has it's own challenges, Gentle Readers of This Blog--the wind roars through from the West like a Lion. The head wind was fierce, and with the heat made it even more so!

I spoke to the fellow in the river bed. I asked him if he had just jumped out of a plane! He said that this was not a parachute but a wing. Once he got up, he had an engine strapped to his back and he could take off. He was taking advantage of the strong wind to make some adjustment to the wing. If you look close (by clicking and opening up the photo) you can see he's got a cast on his leg--he said that has to heal up a bit before he flies again. I wished him good luck and went on my way.

The nice thing about the bike path is that for most of the route, you ride through a tube of trees. It is much needed shade and a shield from the hot gusting wind. This is more sane than the tube of metal and glass, and speeding cars I zip through should I take to the traffic.

I am feeling strong, but the wind and heat make me tire out quickly. My hope is to ride everyday for Bike to Work Week--but when I get home, often I am so tired I just want to have dinner and go to bed.

Best to ease into the 100 degree days.


Hey Big Sexy!

Hey, Big Sexy!

I have taken Big Sexy off the consignment list at Pima Street Bikes, here in Tucson--and decided I wanted to keep the bike after all. I had some inquiries to buy it, but interested parties wanted me to give it away, and pay shipping, etc, etc. So rather than let this bike sit in the bike shop for sale, I decided to put Big Sexy back on the road!

John and Kathy on the tandem. The fields and ranches of Marana and Avra Valley in the background.

We met up at John's house for a 5:30 a.m. start to this Sunday Morning Ride! Eric wants to ride and start early. We want to beat the 100 degree weather forecast for Tucson, and Eric wants to take it easy as he's not ridden much the last few weeks.

We stop at the Marana Municipal Airport for a quick breakfast.

Eric leads the way on this 40 mile flat course out to the One Lane Bridge in Avra Valley

Avra Valley is not much of a town. It's pretty remote. There were some other little towns out here but most of the populations died out in the 1918 Flu Epidemic. We'll let those people rest in peace and just go out to the Bridge and then turn around.

Home Sweet Home, mes amis...

Where will the road lead us to this fine morning?

Ranch lands and rugged hills.

One Lane Bridge.

We find a shady spot to take a rest for a few minutes before we head back.

I'm riding Big Sexy, which is a 1984 Raleigh Marathon. The steel frame size is 27 inches, or 69 cm--the biggest frame size Raleigh made, according to Phil at the bike shop. We've been taking it easy for the trip out, and Big Sexy is holding up well. What can I say? This bike is huge and I feel like I'm sitting up on a horse.

Eric and John. We're taking a small rest before the sprint up Twin Peaks Road.

Kathy and Yours.

The sun's coming out and there's a bit of a headwind--a hint of green in the fields.

Big Sexy Sprint to the top of the Twin Peaks Road!

We made it--the one and only climb. And just in time--it's getting pretty hot and the morning is at full speed.

Cheers! Bruce