Monday, August 31, 2009

Jimena and Her Friends

Lovely morning to commute by bike in Tucson.

There's nothing better than to roll down the road with light traffic, in 75 to 80 degree sweet morning desert air, mes amis. There's Hurricane Jimena off the coast of Baja, Mexico, and this has got the Tucson Monsoon engine building up once again.

Last day of August--the best morning ever!

When I'm on the road in the morning I tend to forget that the afternoon will be with heat, heavy car traffic, and stiff headwinds. Ah but I don't care--just enjoy the hour of peace and sun and sky--everything else, my troubles, can melt away.

Her she comes!

All during the day I was checking outside--it had reached 105 and it was very humid! But then, Gentle Readers of This Blog, wind and clouds appeared and by the time I was getting ready to saddle-up--the temp had dropped almost 20 degrees!

With no headwind out of the Northwest, I fly up the road!

Outside, that tailwind you dream about is flowing full steam. Jimena, I think I love you, Baby! The moment I clip in and start up the street--whoosh! I am cruising along fast. The clouds are dark and swirl and wave like the beautiful Mexican woman I see here at the San most days--it will pour any second now I'm sure.

Being carried by the winds of Jimena.

The clouds are moving fast to the Northwest and I'm riding the wind. It soon becomes clear that I'm riding up to the storm. I just need to take it easy and let Jimena's breeze carry me along--I can see the sheets of rain pouring down only blocks ahead of me--I'm moving at the same speed as the storm. Everything is soaked and not one drop touches me. I got lucky this time, mes amis. Jimena will be here and it will be raining most of the week. I don't know how many days I'll get to ride.

Cheers! Bruce

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Best Days to Ride

August has been hot but September is on the way!

Just the best these mornings on the commute. I feel good and the weather is excellent--you couldn't ask for better riding here in Tucson.

There are a lot of lads and lasses out on bikes. Everyone is thinking about El Tour in November--as they should.

Too many times I've seen the dead and dying at about half-way through the 109 mile course. They were more than often young guys who had not trained, and thought they'd go out and rip up the road.

There's just this look in their eyes, "WTF am I doing out here?" They're miserable and in pain. I'm not saying I'm out there breaking any records, mes amis, its just that most people around here don't really train for over 100 miles, and its usually double what they ride on the weekends when they're out speeding around with their mates.

No matter how fit you are, you must train for 100 miles--or else you will be sorry. No expensive carbon road bike, or the latest most expensive saddle Tour de France riders used, etc etc etc, will make any difference if you have not spent the time on your bike.

Also, people that don't train, I've noticed, go balls-out the first 30 miles--then they get exhausted. 70 miles of pain is not fun, and the last 30 miles of El Tour on Silverbell just really suck--bad roads (getting a bit better) and its up-hill with a headwind.

Still, at the end of the day, Man it's so much fun! I've met and talked with people on the ride from all over the country--some trained in-doors for months so they could be ready. They're just happy to be in Tucson for the weekend instead of Boston or Detroit, or some other place where its gotten to cold to do any long rides because of snow and rain.

Let the fast guys go--what I like about El Tour is that eventually someone you know rides up, or you ride up to them, and you get to talk and catch up on things, and make plans to meet at the pub later!

Cheers! Bruce

Monday, August 24, 2009

Biking Saguaro National Park, East

Ryan on the Scenic Road, with the Rincon Mtns in the background.

Its been a few years since I've been out to Saguaro Nat'l Park on the East side of Tucson, mes amis--and this was a rare weekend op for Ryan to ride with me. I suggested we ride from his house about 10 miles, out to the Park, do a few laps on the Scenic 8 mile loop, and figure out what to do from there. Rain was forecast for about 11:00 am so we figured we'd see how it went and try to get home before the Monsoon storm.

Charles--as a younger man, was a NYC bike messenger--now getting his PhD at University of Arizona.

As Ryan and I were making our way through the deserted streets of Tucson early that morning, and as we neared the Park entrance--I spied Charles up ahead making his way to the Park's Ramada. He joined us for the first lap on the Scenic Drive. The Ramada is right inside the Park, and there's cold water and the visitor's center has restrooms. All the locals meet here to get water and take a break before they head up to Colossal Cave or Pistol Hill or ride in the Park. The Ramada is not on the Scenic Road, so you can use it without having to pay the $5.00 to bike into the park--that $5.00 is well worth it, Gentle Reader. Most locals have a seasonal pass.

The Rincon Mtns. The Eight Mile Scenic Road is just a small part of the entire Park.

Inside the Park, you are overwhelmed with the serenity of the desert--everything slips away and you are gliding into a dream. This is a special place--ancient and mystical, with a timeless sense of beauty.

The road is one-way and just recently re-paved. My photos don't do justice to the colors and the sweet desert air and the sunshine.

This is the closest thing to Bike Heaven that I can imagine.

Charles and I start the Mile Climb which is about the half way point on the Scenic Road.

Charles is a power-house--quick and fast, and he handles a bike like a pro. But like me, the hills are a challenge. Big guys don't climb fast, as you probably know, so we ease into a groove and enjoy the beauty of the Park. Working on a PhD is a lot of work so Charles has not ridden as much as he used to he says.

The Scenic Road in Saguaro National Park, East. There were no cars on the road for our first loop.

Ryan is in his element--he's fast on the rollers and can climb well.

We have to be a bit careful because there is a speed limit in the Park--the Rangers are tolerant, but you don't want to get a fine on Federal Land or in a National Park--very expensive so I hear.

This in on the second time we went around I believe--that is Mt. Lemmon in the background with Monsoon clouds starting to blow in from the Gulf of Mexico.

My friend Ryan--mountain biker now becoming an excellent roadie as well.

With my friend Charles just at the base of the Rincons--the City of Tuscon is off in the distance behind us.

We say good bye to Charles who is off to ride home--Ryan and I ride out of the Park and out to the Farmers' Market on Old Spanish Trail. There's a friendly local store and gas station there, and its a good stop to get a snack or cold water. The locals will go on out to Colossal Cave, which is quite a challenging long and gradual climb. The best part is the way back because its a fast and furious seven miles home with an awesome tailwind. We decide we'll do that next time when its not so hot--plus there's a lot of wind coming our way with the Monsoon beginning to move over the Rincons. We decide we'll do another loop in the Park and probably beat the rain storm.

See you on the Road, mes amis!

After the Park, we have to contend with the stirring Tucson Sunday Morning traffic on busy Broadway Ave. The bike lane is also the bus lane, so its wide and we can ride side-by-side. Still, the traffic is fast, and there's a lot of businesses that motorists are pulling in and out of--and most of the time they're not paying too much attention. You have to be on your toes and stay alert. As its a slight descent, the 10 miles back to Ryan's house is fast.

Cheers, Bruce

Friday, August 21, 2009

Home Life of the Randonneur


Tired of waiting...


Randonneurs need to train. This means long distance and time in the saddle. Little Egypt photographed Callie waiting for me to get home from one of my rides. I want to let you know, Gentler Readers of This Blog, that I have made it a point to spend more time doing what Callie loves--going to the park and playing ball--and er, uh, um, being around to help Little Egypt out around the house. But soon they got to understand that in order for me to survive on the bike and be a randonneur--I must ride!

Have a Good Weekend! Allure Libre!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Straight Shot

North on Swan Ave. to Sunrise Dr. for that lovely after work climb with the jolly 'ol headwind.

The morning ride into the office was Heaven, Gentle Readers. The last few days the Monsoons have brought with it a slight hint of Fall. It is hard to believe that September is right around the corner--a gentle fragrance on the wind let's you know.

Out of the office chair and onto the bike for an awesome ride home!

The Monsoons, with rain and wind, are coming back through for another visit, mes amis. Out the door of the office and the air is thick and hot; temperature is 105 degrees. Employees of the San shuffle like zombies to their automobiles, but Bruce's Blood has switched mixture; thinned and full of oxygen--I'm taking deep breathes to let that furnace-like air heat up my lungs.

This is kind of like easing into that cool river or the swimming hole--it takes a moment for your body to adjust. Its just the opposite here in Tucson. You've been in the office with your arse in a chair--now you're walking from 77 degrees (or colder) into 105.

Next I glide through about a mile of heavy rush hour congestion on Swan Ave right by the San. It starts to thin out as I start my big climb up to the base of the ridge, into the foothills where all the rich people got their pink faux-adobes.

Looking back down into the city.

I've turned around to get a shot of the Monsoon storm that's headed our way. I don't know why there's a headwind pounding me. You'd think there would be a tailwind--must be the ridge and how the wind courses through the topography.

Bike Lane and its all mine, Bitches!

My big climb out of the way first thing, now I'm headed West and its a straight shot home on Sunrise/Ina Rd. Actually there's a few rollers on Sunrise that are challenging--and the bike lane narrows, and commuters are speeding within inches of me it seems. Then I finally reach the top just past Campbell Ave, where Sunrise changes to Ina--and the bike lane is wide, smooth, and I can ride very very fast.

There's a speed photo camera about half-way down, and there's always one fucktard abruptly slowing to 30 MPH or less--Geez so damn stupid and dangerous! Anyway, as everyone is suddenly having to put on their brakes, I'm passing 'em on the bike.

For the rest of the ride home there's heavy traffic. I wouldn't call it rush hour because for the most part I'm riding faster or just as fast as the cars. With a slight descent all the way for miles, and a smooth wide bike lane, I've really gained speed and its fun to hammer home.

Well, there you have it, Gentler Readers of This Blog. I live to ride and blog yet another day.

Cheers! Bruce

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dust Off

No way, mes amis!

I was not feeling well this weekend with a stomach problem, Gentle Reader. Thought I was doing okay and rode in Monday morning, but by the afternoon I was not well. Little Egypt was not available to evacuate me from the San, but my neighbor and good friend Brucie Bruce (two Bruces on the block) was running errands nearby, and he came and fetched me after work with his truck.

It was 104 outside in the afternoon, and quite humid. Had I tried to ride home in the condition I was in, I would have become dehydrated quickly—then I would be in trouble for sure.

This happened to me on a 600 Km brevet once and it was not fun. Sometimes, the ailment will “run its course” as they say, but in my case, I deteriorated rapidly about two-thirds into the brevet and almost passed out. Fortunately, Steve Star of the Blog was with me and after a pleading call on the cell, and lots of negotiating—his wife Kim drove down and plucked us off the course just in time.

I was on a Permanent a few years ago with Paul Layton, Steve, and RBA Susan Plonsky—and the same thing got to me. However this time there was no choice but to ride it out. We were in the middle of no-where in the desert and everyone had to ride on to make the time cut off before the sun set. If I was still on the course they’d come and get me they said. I just crawled in, Gentle Readers of This Blog, in a stupor and with about two or three minutes to spare.

Much better now--back on the road.

Cheers! Bruce

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Rain in Spain

Brisk morning ride on the bike path.

I took the short commute on the bike path--just 10 miles--because rain was on the way for early afternoon. That means that as I walk out the door after work, I seem to surprise the rain clouds like some big sleeping cat. After I clip in and then spin down the road a mile or so, the rain pounces on me. Just in case, I want to be on the bike path because riding in rush hour traffic here in Tucson in one thing, but in the pouring rain is even more dangerous.

Parking lot as I'm hopping in the saddle for the morning commute.

Riding underneath the Alvernon Bridge I believe, heading East on the bike route.

I can ride the bike path for about 10 miles of my 16 mile commute. No lights to stop at and no other obstacles usually--so it can be fast. One needs to just slow down and be considerate of walkers and joggers.

Normally I don't use the IPod on the bike, but with no car traffic I think I'm okay.

The Desert Sanatorium about three miles out. My office sits right underneath the old water tower which dates from the 1920's.

I noticed the San's old water tower, built during the TB Sanitarium days, from the morning Sun hitting it just so--I had to zoom to get this for you, mes amis. The bike path used to be horseback riding trails used by guests of the Dude Ranches, and by cowboys back then.

Monsoon rain clouds are coming in fast. Here's the water tower how I see it walking to the office from the bike lockers.

I think I called this one right today. I'll probably just make it to the car then it will pour down--or I will be about five minutes from the car and suddenly I'll get drenched.

Here's the rain coming up behind me from the Southeast, out of Old Mexico and the Gulf.

The rain coat is packed on board just in case, but it looks like I made it and stayed dry.

My ride home wasn't an easy one, Gentle Readers of This Blog--I had a strong headwind that made me have to push it to average my usual 15 MPH on the bike path. The IPod is of not much use because the wind roars like a lion as you slip through its steady energy.

Just in time, then the lovely cool down-pour!

Cheers! Bruce

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sonora Implants

Fake saguaro cactus on Craycroft Rd.

I know there are a couple of faux saguaro on my commute route. They’re cell phone towers—I spotted the one, but apparently I ride right past the other big fake one and I don’t even realize it standing there by the road.

In the bike lane on the way to work.

Top of Sunrise Dr. and my climb--through this light and a right just aways up the road--and I'm on the way down into the Heart of The City of Tucson, Arizona. Yippee!

Don't stare--keep reading my lovely prose!

Which brings to mind the boob job I saw on a women this morning. I stopped on the road to check something on the front tire as it was jiggling. On this part of the commute route, mes amis, the shacks cost a few cool million bucks and folks is rich. Anyway this handsome woman in designer athletic apparel was walking past when I looked up and saw her. “Fake” was the first thing that came to my mind, not that I care—just the way she was dressed and everything, it was kind of like, “Look at my great set of boobs, bitches! You too, guy on a bike…”

This is a children's book written by a plasitc surgeon that explains boob jobs, nose jobs, and tummy tucks.

Allure Libre! Bruce

Friday, August 07, 2009

You Are Not the First -- You Will Not Be the Last

We went out on the Frontage Rd—heading up to Picacho Peak for an out-n-back. spin. The Frontage Rd is also called the Casa Grande Hyw. We know it was the old Army Supply and Patrol Trail and then it became the old stage coach line.

Heading South you get a pretty nice tailwind—and you must enjoy it while you can because on the return it will be an in-yer-face headwind.

There’s a DQ there by the Peak and we’ll turn around and come back. I have been told that the stage coach stop was nearby. I’m not sure exactly where but we are on the same route they would have taken.

Rest in Peace—if that’s possible. The roar of I-10 traffic is often deafening, mes amis.

We got to about Red Rock and decided we would turn around. The wind was really picking up—also, Wing needed to get back by 9:30 to have time for an appointment.

This huge wall was built to block out noise from the freeway to the school. The Great Wall of Marana, I suppose you could call it. It’s butt ugly. I wonder how much it cost to build?

We tour the Great Wall.

Give me Saguaro Nat’l Park any day!

Cheers! Bruce