Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September, Have You a Sister? Why Yes-- Here She is-- October

6 a.m. at the YMCA Parking lot.

I've always had a thing for Septembery stuff--but September in Tucson--at least the last few days--deadly hot, mes amis. I realized that I rode all through Summer in record-breaking 100 degree + heat. Things are changing and the air is sweet instead of dry and hot.

Heading East on Ina Rd., as the Sun is rising up over the Rincon Mountains.

The Sun is blinding and I want to make some distance down the road before everyone is out and on their way to work. This early there's not too much traffic.

The Author Riding His Bike.

I have to have a cap on with the visor pulled down so I can at least see the bike lane. At a certain point I'm okay and heavy traffic is behind me--I'm up higher on the Ridge.

The Big After-Work Climb.

By the end of the week as I'm collecting my thoughts to write about things, I can tell that I need a rest day. After the first three days, and 90 miles commuting, I start to feel tired. I welcome the thought of sleeping in and taking the car--at least in the morning when traffic is lite.

But this afternoon, mes amis, there was a forceful steady breeze bearing down on me. The Monsoons are supposed to be over for the season--but wait a sec? Here comes some rain!

Ireland or Italy?

I should take more pictures of saguaro for you, Gentle Reader of This Blog.

The Tohono O'odam say that the saguaro are their ancient ancestors living on, enjoying the sunshine, and hopefully giving me encouragement as I climb up the road on this gusty afternoon.

About 6 p.m. and back at the YMCA parking lot.

September was good to me, but now I'm ready for October. If September was the Blonde Girl, then October is the Brunette--a bit unpredictable, often moody--but good to cyclists.

Allure Libre! Cheers! Bruce

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hot and Windy September Ride

Top of the morning climb on Sunrise Drive--the Sun has gradually changed its position--the Earth is tilting so that Fall begins in the Desert.

Cool this morning, and hard to see because for the first three or four miles, the Sun is right in my line of site--and probably all the automobile commuters eyes as well. I need to start wearing my cycle cap to keep the glare down so I can see up the road for things in the bike lane. It is very bright, mes amis!

This is Craycroft and newly re-paved I might add. Fast as Hell going down into the office. Not much traffic in the mornings.

Trek 2.3 set up for the commuting. This will be my brevet out-fit as well.

The ride home was hot! Gentle Readers of This Blog, the temp was almost 102--and it was windy as I climbed up into the foothills of the ridge. I was cooked well done by the time I got home. Man, it was just so hot--I am looking forward to some cooler late afternoons.

As it cools down in October, this hot windy climb every evening will be a bit easier.

Cheers! Bruce

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bike Porn

1977 Raleigh Super Grand Prix

My father helped me buy this bike when I was still in high school, at Vendables Bike Shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Old Raleigh has been my sturdy commuter bike for many years here in Tucson. Its still the most comfortable bike I've every ridden, and it has held up to the rigors of every-day riding, brevets, and fast rides with the lads in Saguaro Nat'l Park.

2002 LeMond Buenos Aires

My first road bike--again a great steel bike--and with many up-grades over the years. This was my brevet bike--and I put 30,000 miles on it randonneuring, commuting, and enjoying the beauty of the desert. My last 300 KM brevet, within the last few miles to the finish, the bike slid out from under me on the slick hwy right after a rain storm. Even though there was a little superficial damage in the crash, I think that's when I may have cracked the frame at the bottom bracket. All the components are on the Trek 2.3 fame.

1984 Raleigh Marathon

Nick-named "Big Sexy" this bike is even too large for me. The frame is 27 inches or 69 cm. Its like riding on the back of a huge horse. I bought this bike for $50 from the Glenn Ave Junk Man. It had not been ridden much, and when restored, was like a new bike. The shifters on the top tube are not that great and need constant adjustment--but this steel giant is light and smooth to ride. I took it out on a few century rides--this bike needs more attention and some up-grades. I've put my fenders on it, just to get the fenders out of the way in the garage--and I must say this detail made the bike quite the Old Gentleman.

2009 Trek 2.3

Very fast! This bike is pretty much the LeMond components put on the Trek frame. The guys at Trek were really good to me, and some of them even raced the old LeMond steel frames back in the day. They were happy to get me a replacement frame that would be just as good or better than the LeMond. The LeMond was steel and the Trek is a composite of carbon and aluminum--I have to say that this has been a winning combination. So far so good on the commutes. We will see how the frame holds up on brevets.

Allure Libre!


Friday, September 25, 2009

How Many Lives I Got? Or WTF?

Here I go!


On my commute home the other night, I counted five close calls—that is, five near misses with motorists almost taking me out. The first, Gentle Readers of This Blog, occurred not while on the bike, but while walking to the parking garage where my bike locker resides. A nurse came speeding from the roof of the parking garage, the second floor, and almost ran over me in the crosswalk. I kid you not when I tell you she was texting on her blackberry. She did not have her hands on the wheel of her car, and she was completely focused on the device she had in her grasp. She only glanced up to place one hand on the wheel and then turn onto the street. She ran the stop sign going out of the parking garage, and then the next stop sign on the way to the entrance/exit of the San. She did not even slow for a moment.

Early morning, heading down from Pusch Ridge to glide into the Desert San, and the office.

This is the second time I’ve almost been hit at the parking garage. The drivers, both times, where nurses working here at the hospital. Both times, they came speeding out of no-where at the crosswalks—WTF is it with these people?

I’ll cut to the chase and not waste your time, mes amis, cause I’m rantin’… Only a mile from my final destination, I must make a right turn at the stop light (notice I said stop light) at Ina and Shannon—the convergence of two busy streets. While coming down Ina in the bike lane, and signaling with my left arm in the classic right turn signal, a fucktard—looking me straight in the fucking eye, suddenly pulled from the entrance of the gas station/convenience store at the corner, right in front of me—and then hesitated and stopped in the wide bike lane. All traffic was stopped—another driver had given him some space to pull into when the light would change to green—but fucktard waited until I was almost ready to ride by him to pull out to try and squeeze into that space. WTF? I had to slam on my brakes almost toppling over the hood of his car. I screamed, “WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT, DUDE?” He just gave me a dirty fucktard scowl.

Cruising on down the road, I’m thinking what is up with everyone? I mean, its one thing to kind of stop and roll through a stop sign or pull out into traffic—cautiously—but to not look or pay any attention, with complete disregard and oblivion—that is dangerous for everybody.

When I hear some idiot complain that bike riders never stop at signs and break all the traffic rules—I am going to tell them to their chubbly lil faces to go FUCKTHEMSEVLES.

Anyway, I noticed that my average speed for the 16 miles home was 18 mph. That is pretty God Damn fast, My Bitches.


Long Live the Brotherhood!

Cheers! Bruce

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Crew Chief for The Cochise County Cycling Classic

The 252 mile race of the Cochise County Cycling Classic requires a support vehicle. As Randonneurs, we've ridden these kinds of distances unsupported--but the rule for the 252 is a support vehicle. Paul will ride the course and I will drive the support, or SAG car. So we're out here to do a dress rehearsal if you will, of what the conditions of the race will be like on that day.

The 252 start time is 2 a.m. so we have started about that time this morning. Our plan is to ride parts of the Arizona Brevet courses we know so well, and ride down to Sasabe, Arizona--right down to the border with Mexico--and then return.

We'll check out lights and make sure we have back-ups. I want to make sure I get the mix of nutrition and liquids for Paul the way he wants them. We've also brought spare wheels--if we have a flat, you change out the wheel and the rider keeps going--only losing a few minutes--instead of trying to fix the flat and put it back on. The crew will fix the flat later as they're in motion, and it then will be the back-up.

One year I crewed for Dave Glasgow, and another team's rider had a puncture. We were at a check point. The three man crew, none of whom where cyclists, and none of whom had ever ridden Cochise, were in a fix. An old guy came over and handed me the rider's wheel--more like shoved it in my face--and was waiting for me to do something. He went back to sit in his truck or something while the rest of the other rider's crew stood around. I think I leaned the wheel against the truck and we took off.

I will be leap-frogging Paul as he rides, and the hope is that if he does have a problem, I'll drive up behind him and we'll take care of it. Should I be in front of him, he will have to be prepared to fix the flat on his own, or put air in his tire to hold until he can get to me. I have to be sure not to drive too far ahead.

It takes a bit of practice--and experience helps--to get this right. On parts of the 252 mile course, I will not be able to turn around and go back. Cell phone service will be limited or none.

Baboquivari Peak, sacred to the Tohono O'odham.

Paul has trained well--and smart--for Cochise, mes amis...

We are close the Sasabe; half the town is in Arizona and the other half in Old Mexico.

Because we know Border Patrol will be speeding up and down the Hwy, I put on the sign you see in the photo. I made these signs a few years ago when I was on Gerry Goode's crew for the Furnace Creek 508 in Death Valley, California.

I was happy to be Crew Chief for Paul--but actually I'm the only crew and that will work. Two people would be okay--just got to make sure you don't have too many people. If you like Electronica and they like Country--well, some body will be ready to puke.

All of Brevet riders know this sign well. Its about half way on the 400 km--for several years it has been a tough one, mainly weather related--but you're on your way home. You must first ride 45 mile through remote Buenos Aires Nat'l Wildlife Refuge. It is beautiful, Gentler Readers of This Blog, but dangerous. Many border crossers, having eluded Border Patrol, perish out here sad to say. I brought extra water in case we meet them. We will share what we have.

About 12 miles to Sasabe and our rest stop. Paul is riding strong and feels good.

Sasabe Store, about a mile from the US - Mexico Border.

I'll ride with Paul for awhile so we can talk about things so far.

The Sasabe store is a very friendly place and the owners are cheerful and helpful, no matter what nationality you are.

There is a bunk house that hunters can rent that is next door.

My Trek 2.3

Paul putting on sunscreen.

Who ya gonna call?

We have a tailwind, mes amis!

I'll ride aways with Paul and then turn around back to my car.

This is heading North back to Tucson, through Buenos Aires Nat'l Wildlife Refuge.

Paul is in good shape, and I feel very confident I will be able to provide the support he needs. At the Arivaca Junction, Paul rides up to the Arivaca Store, and head back to my car.

Mexico is just over the hill on my way back--the tailwind to Arivaca was great--but now I have to work to make it to Sasabe.

Border Patrol guys are, for the most part, a good bunch. They are polite and decent fellows--their job is really more like search and rescue and not so much law enforcement. These guys were stopping in to get coffee--its still pretty early in the morning.

Sasabe isn't your typical One-Horse Town--its actually a Two-Horse Town. I talked with this young woman for a few minutes, and then her friend that had gone to the store to get their coffee. They were ranch-hands on the big spread a few miles from town.

As you get to close to the border, at least on the US side, rules start to apply to everything it seems. A few years ago when I was here, I rode right into Mexico. There were no barricades or fences--like suddenly there I was. The Mexican Border Guards were all smiles and they waved. I stopped in, we all shook hands, and they welcomed me to Mexico. I had never been in Mexico before.

I turned around and rode right back into the US--friendly US Customs Officers waved and said hello. One of the guys told me a bit of history about the historic little house, which was standard US Border House-style based on an old lighthouse. They were very proud of that place.

Just in case you're wondering where you are...

US Customs Officers said no pictures--only the US side. I said, "Are you kidding me?" No they were not kidding they said. With all their expensive equipment and gear, they didn't even notice I rode up to the station and right past them. The were pricks. Quite heavily armed pricks I might add.

Things have really changed here and this little remote crossing does not seem like a friendly place anymore.

I was messen with Photoshop, Gentle Readers... It really says, "Eat Me, Mother F..." ha ha ha, just playing!

I really pissed off the US Customs Officers by taking this picture of the border fence.

Better call in reinforcements, fellas...

America the Beautiful, Baby! I'm pretty lucky I think. This is tough place to live--not much money or way to earn a living. There's good people on both sides--and I'm sure there are the bad ones trying to get in with drugs and smuggling people--so many people crossing in--they can't catch everyone. Many die out here trying to reach Tucson and Phoenix.

Rain comes in to cool Paul off a bit on his ride back--but there's a stiff headwind for him.

While I work on filling water bottles, and check out Paul's bike, he applies sunscreen.

I'm glad my little car will work out--we can carry all our gear plus my bike. I don't think we'll carry a back-up bike for the 252 as we probably won't need it. Water, food, tools, spare wheels, and changes of dry clothes and back-up lights will all fit.

The ancient people that lived out here, and their descendants, The Tohono O'odham, still revere their God who lives in the mountain. We have been respectful, and thankful for good weather and safe conditions.

I'itoi, watches over his people from this place.

He will often come down, and take the form of a coyote. He can take the form of deer, a hawk--a man or a woman. He can become a rain cloud to cool you off with a gentle shower. He can become a tree by the side of the road and give you shade while you rest awhile.

For me, out here--I realized a vast and powerful silence. That Silence is the Power of Life on Earth--the feeling you are part of every living thing--large and small. That is a very sacred thing, Gentle Readers of This Blog.

Cheers! Bruce