Monday, June 29, 2009

Pursuit of Happiness

Mt. Lemmon and Moore Rd, heading East into the hot muggy morning air.

Saturday morning, Little Egypt and I were leaving on a quick errand by car, when at the light at Dog Mtn and Tangerine, a very svelte woman cyclist stopped and turned around to head back up the road. I didn't say anything or stare or do anything stupid like spin my head around--but I knew that Little Egypt was thinking to herself that I'd rather be out riding with Ms. Super Tight Lycra than going to Macy's to return an over-priced handbag.

Many many cyclists out on the road, so Sunday I was up early, the Raleigh stripped of all the saddle bags--a Cliff Bar in my pocket and money for the cafe--and I was off.

Off into the Furnace, mes amis--what is this? It is 6:30 a.m. and its 90 degrees! It is so humid that I'm sweating a river!

On Moore road, I see a cyclist up ahead of me, so I begin the pursuit to catch them. The air is like pudding but I figure the chap up ahead is suffering the same as me. It's only a matter of minutes before I catch him, I think to myself. Instinctively, I look over my shoulder, and yes Gentle Readers of This Blog, there's a pack of riders in pursuit of me!

I do catch up to the rider, a girl but she turns off, I start to follow, but I see the group of three riders that have been coming behind me, so I circle back to see if I can catch on to their group--they turn to follow me--and pull around and jump in. Friendly greetings are exchanged and I am welcomed aboard.

After a moment-- "Rob?" I say. "Bruce?" It is in fact Dr. A, from the Desert San. I see Dr. A all the time around the San--I recognized his voice but not the man as we're both out of our respected professional uniforms. But its not Dr. A its always Rob--Dr. A when residents are around but that's okay.

These boys ride fast, and soon we're in a tight paceline taking turns pulling through scenic Rancho Vistoso. We take routes I've not been on before as they start to make their way back home. This was a fun change for me. And I was actually able to keep up on the Super Grand Prix with the docs' riding their super expensive Italian carbon rides.

Monsoon Sun--and the rain clouds pay Mt. Lemmon a toll of sweet morning rain drops as they pass over the desert.

They were on their way back to town and I split off back for Dog Mtn. I popped right onto La Canada in the heart of Oro Valley, and had to climb out and then to Moore Rd. It was a short ride but very fast--but now it seemed going back by myself, it was hotter and I was out of water. Only 8:30 in the morning and already the heat and humidity make is seem like the afternoon.

Pulling into the cafe, I was caked with sweat and salt--and I needed coffee to boot!

Cheers! Bruce

Saturday, June 27, 2009

2002 LeMond Buenos Aires

Pima Street Bikes, Tucson, Arizona.

I handed over the LeMond to Phil and Judy this past Friday at lunch time. This week they’ll transfer all the components to the Trek 2.3 replacement frame. Phil’s is the only shop I trust with such a job—I know he’ll do it right. There’s probably a few other shops that would do a good job, but Phil is the Master. Phil and Judy don’t need to sell bikes as they make enough just repairing to keep things going. Like a medical practice, I have to fit this matter into their schedule—they are always in demand. It’s usually Judy that has to shoo me out so she can get to work.

I became quite attached to this bike. My father was in the process of dying of cancer in 2001, and I had been shuffling back and forth from Tucson to Oklahoma quite a bit that year.

We watched many stages of the Tour de France that July—and Tulsa in July is a tough month, mes amis, because it’s so hot and humid. Best to just sit in the AC, watch TV and relax, sip a beer and take in the French Country side. As always, I had to get back to work and Tucson, and he died just before the last few stages.

Later, when all the money shook out from insurance and whatever, and my brother and sister got a bit of cash—there appeared to be an extra $2000 policy on me that the old man had set up way back. My mom sent it to me and said it was not to be used for a washer and dryer, or refrigerator—we had just bought a new house and mine got used for that—no it was for the road bike.

The LeMond was steel and now the Trek will be a composite of aluminum and carbon fiber. It seems appropriate that the new bike arrives at the start of the TDF—and I will be putting the “Le Trek” through the rigors of commuting, Gates Pass, Saguaro Nat’l Park, and brevets.

Da—Rest In Peace

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Swiss Steel

Ryan meets me at the bike lockers.

My old university chum Ryan, now independently wealthy, self-employed, and collector of the rare and obscure European road bike--joins me for the commute home on the bike path.

Packed and ready to roll out.

I must tell you Gentler Readers of This Blog, that its probably about 102 or 103 degrees this late afternoon. This is probably one of the hottest days so far in June--but we need this heat to generate the Monsoon Season here in the Sonoran Desert.

The night before as I packed up the bike, I could feel the steady stream of air moving up from the Gulf of Mexico--and that sweet scent of rain was on board too. Well, it was not quite here yet but the wind was! The clouds are just to the the East of Tucson and on the way.

Braving the busy Tucson streets.

I asked Ryan if he would ride with me on the bike path until it ends for me at River Rd and La Cholla. He'll turn around and head back into Tucson, and I will ride the remaining five or so miles to the YMCA and my car.

Heading West on the River Bike Path.

Very very hot today, well over 100 degrees.

I was hoping for the wind to let up, but for some reason, the headwind out of the West was stronger than usual. Ryan is fit and having no trouble slicing through the wind with his very sweet bike--made in Sweden or Switzerland I believe he said. Also mechanically inclined, Ryan is able to restore and fix most things. A steel-lugged frame made from Swiss Steel, the bike is light quick and probably of better quality than those slutty looking carbon monstrosities you see these days.

Sweet Steel.

I see a lot of guys riding some expensive bikes--you know the ones--they sit in the garage most of the year until a few weeks before El Tour. Those kinds of bikes can't take the punishment of everyday commuting and the even more brutal brevets. Nor could their ass after riding 30 or 40 miles.

We've reached pretty much the end of the River Bike Path. From the Desert San to here has been about 11 miles. Ryan will turn around and head back home as he lives near the San, and I will do the last climb of the day and then I'm at the car for a short drive home.

Cheers! Bruce

Monday, June 22, 2009

Parade Rest

The Quartermaster's Call. The Sun comes up on the Quartermaster as he looks out over the old parade grounds.

I'm back from vacation and biking into the office is business as usual. But I wanted to share with you part of my commute. The Desert San is only about a half mile from the Old Territorial Out Post of Ft. Lowell. I ride past the Fort almost every day. Craycroft, the last busy street I'm on, I have discovered, cuts right through the original Parade Grounds of the Fort.

Part of the original fort dating around the 1870's.

The Historic Fort has been restored on the East side of Craycroft and rests in Ft. Lowell Park. The West side of the street is the rest of the historic site and seems to be an archeology site.

I ride right through what was once the old Parade Grounds.

Adobe brick buildings eventually melt back into the desert.

I've not ever paid too much attention to the rest of the old fort right on the West side of the street. I'm too busy looking out for speeders--there's a road that merges onto Craycroft that motorists take. Normally a motorcycle cop waits there to give out tickets. Today traffic was light so I stopped by the site to snap a few quick photos.

This was a post store from the maps I looked at across from the other side.

Cloud cover shades me from the glaring sun for the ride home.

Heading West into the rain clouds passing through Tucson.

It poured rain all day but then passed by the afternoon for my ride. Seems when the rains come, the pattern calls for showers in the late morning and stopping by the afternoon. It was cool and the usual headwind from the west was no where around.

Dinner for coyotes, mes amis...

Mt. Lemmon catches a few rays.

About six more miles until I reach the YMCA. Here I'm back into traffic and I'll start my climb up busy La Cholla.

Cheers! Bruce

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

99, 100, 101

Cool down from the heat and headwind.

The Forces of Mother Nature are gradually working to the Monsoon time of year. What happens in the Pacific Ocean off the Coast of Baja, and then the stirrings in the Gulf of Mexico makes for streams of wind out of the West. For now just super dry and super hot air flowing over the Desert in Tucson.

A mere bike commuter, his heart working hard to pump blood in his legs—so he can push forward against that headwind—well, it seems futile does it not, Gentle Reader?

Why not go with the flow? Why fight so hard against so much power? That being said, why risk life and limb in heavy car traffic in temperatures well over 100 degrees?

I wish I knew, mes amis—I wish I knew.

Not sure why this section was watering but I enjoyed it along with all the birds, lizards, rabbits, and ground squirles.

As you can see, there were sprinklers going off and watering the trees on the bike path. I’ve never seen this before—this is a remote part of the bike path and where one would ride fast as there are no runners or walkers.

I could feel that cool mist as I approached—and I stood there and took in all the moisture and smell or the trees and the sweet desert flowers. Every living thing did the same, as there were rabbits, lizards, birds, and ground squirrels converging on this section for water. I was tempted to let myself get soaked; the water would evaporate soon enough. But I kept going because said creatures were wary of me.

Soon I'm at the YMCA and my car. What’s sad about the YMCA is that most people that go only live a few blocks or miles away—and they drive. It’s a traffic jam when I arrive. Everyone is trying to get as close to front door as they can—there are rarely any spots, but members try to get one. There’s plenty of parking down the hill, only about 50 yards away—but there is a set of steps one would have to take up to the entrance. So its like these people are going to the gym for a workout yet they’re too lazy to walk across the parking lot.


Monday, June 01, 2009

June Has Arrived

June means beautiful cool mornings--Deadly hot afternoons.

Allure Libre!




Eric leads us to Sabino Canyon, actually on my regular commute route, and then we’ll come back via River Rd. All in all it will be a 40 mile round-trip social ride.

It was pretty much the gang for our Sunday morning ride. My God, but can you imagine yourself getting up at 5 a.m. to get ready to roll out for a bike ride, Gentle Reader of This Blog?

East on Ina--the road turns into Sunrise here at Campbell Ave.

In the Desert, you must rise at this hour or suffer the consequences. That is why every detail is pre-arranged and packed and in place such that all one has to do is get out of bed, put on bike clothes, and go out the door. Every minute of sleep in squeezed out before the alarm clock wakes you up.

Joan and Cathy at Sabino Canyon.

We planned to ride to the top of Sabino Canyon, one of the most beautiful spots in Tucson. But when we arrived, it was like Grand Central Station—all the runners and walkers and tourists were there and it’s just too hard to ride through the throngs of people. So we just chilled out in the shade of the Ramada at the Visitors Center.

Larry and Joan are preparing for a six-week trek along the C and O Canal. Larry can easily carry up to 60 lbs. when fully loaded—Joan probably as much.

Waiting for our friends to catch up—we’re a few miles out of Sabino Canyon and on our way to River Rd.

Joan had a few minor problems leaving Sabino Canyon, and then a flat tire that was not easy to fix right away. We re-grouped several times but it was getting late—and the sun was starting to beat down.

Instead of stopping for breakfast, I decided that I’d keep going and get back home. I promised Little Egypt I’d be back before 10 a.m. and it was already close to that time and I had about 10 miles to ride.

Cooper's Hawk.

Just as I was through the intersection at River and Stone, there was a bonk on my helmet. I thought for a moment a passing motorist has throw something at me. But it was a hawk, and it was coming back for another pass—I ducked and it just missed—as it turned I recognized it as a Cooper’s hawk. I don’t know where the nest was but I wasn’t going to stick around; something scary about being chased off by a hawk.

I’m outta here!

Cheers! Bruce