Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gimme That Bagel

I thought Callie was going to fight me for the bagel I made this morning. Geez! For the day when I do the long ride into the Desert Sanatorium, me needs to be out the door by 5:30 a.m. I really need that time frame just in case there’s wind, or I have a flat—or really I can’t get myself up and going—which happens quite often.

I woke up 15 minutes before the alarm, and I felt rested—so I got up and got going. Pretty much I can be out the door in a matter of minutes. My goodness but 15 extra minutes! Callie usually stays in bed, but she sensed I was up to something and just would not leave me alone unless she got part of the bagel I just toasted. Okay I gave her a little, but she wanted more—and I was tripping over her as she tried to squeeze out the door into the garage. If she got out, she’d do a neighborhood patrol and I’d have to chase her back home—and I’d be late getting started—as always.

Well, I did the throw a piece of bagel down the hall trick—and I quick jumped on the bike. Then I realized I’d left my back-pack in the kitchen when I was trying to fight her off with the bagel thing—so I had to charge back into the house to fetch it. Sorry Callie, but no more bagel… I ate it—git outta the way, Dog!

As the garage door slips down behind me, I pause, and notice the sweet cool smell of the desert. O! so beautiful and suddenly fragrant, mes amis—the kind of sweet bliss that comes right before ahh—right before—let me see, oh yeah, that comes right before—RAIN. Yes it has begun to rain, Gentle Readers of This Blog.

I roll—I can handle this. I ride past Maj. Edquid’s house. He’s got some early appointment in Phoenix I suppose. He gives me a hardy salute—he’s a helicopter pilot and was deployed in Afghanistan with the same Battalion as Little Egypt… So as I make my way, the rain becomes harder—and it’s a crosswind. There seems to be no traffic at all, and everything is wet and glassy. The lights of Tucson, 25 miles away, are reflecting up above on the rain clouds, making them glow blue-green.

You’ve no doubt been in a Spring rain shower, there’s a bit more bark than bite. The wind was picking up as well as the rain, but now as I turned East on River Rd, I got the full-force of the wind, such that it was one of those tailwinds we all dream about—so I was zipping down the road very very fast. I decided to stay on River Rd and not cut onto the Bike Path so I could stay with this awesome tailwind as long as possible. The rain was now just a sprinkle, traffic was light, and that blazing morning Sun that blinds everyone on their morning commute, was behind the low clouds.

When I did turn onto the Bike Path for a short two miles before I cut down to the main artery which would take me to the San, I realized that the Raleigh and I were covered with a thin layer of grey grime. Now I was starting to feel wet and also a bit cold.

At the bike locker, I saw that it was only 7 o’clock. Riding with the wind, I had taken 30 minutes off what is usually almost a two-hour commute…

Ride Home

More rain in the afternoon, right when I leave to ride home.

The rain stopped when I got to work, and the clouds went away—and the day was clear, sunny, and beautiful. Later in the afternoon as I packed up, I took a quick look outside—whoa but it was now grey and dark. Rain began to pour at the Desert San, Gentler Readers of This Blog. I quick did a text to Heather (you remember her, mes amis?) to see if I could possibly ride to her office, about eight miles away, for a lift. She responded with, “Dork—last time—I mean it”

On the bike path, out of the traffic for the trip in the rain storm.

So I made my way to Heather’s work. Most of the ride back in the land yacht was uneventful—just tail-gating, speeding, and her swearing obscenities at others stuck in the muck of the drive home—such that I was grateful for the transport.

At the turn-off to go up to Heather's office.

At home I took the garden hose, and sprayed off all the sand and dirt from the Raleigh. I also blasted off my bike shoes as they were filthy and cover with dirt as well.

Covered with sand and dirt from the Bike Path.

Just as we're a mile from home, the rain is over.

Cheers! Bruce

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Ride in Saguaro National Park West

What can I say? Spring would not be complete without a sighting of the Spirit Rider, The Wolf!

Rest assure, Gentle Readers of This Blog, the World is as it Should Be, because The Wolf, an ancient guardian spirit, rides Saguaro Nat'l Park for Eternity--Ride in Peace, My Brother!

Couple of White Boys down in South Tucson...

Alan and I meet up for a very fast-paced ride on the Tour of the Tucson Mountains course. Alan wants to put in at least a metric century today. It has started out a bit cool, but we quickly warm up. The weather in Tucson is fantastic this morning, mes amis!

We're just South of Downtown Tucson and A Mountain.

I have learned a lot about training from Alan--as a scientist--he's able to put things into language and concepts I can understand. One thing I'm finally doing right, is drinking enough liquids and getting the calories I need to push at the pace Alan is riding. But as he told me, the pace for him is a bit slower--he's used to riding much faster. With our jobs and families and all that, I think we're doing pretty well today. Also, mes amis, Tucson has had a very wet and colder winter than normal. Its been a bit difficult for cyclists to ride--so when its warm, everyone is on the bike!

Entering McCain Loop, Saguaro Nat'l Park.

There has been a bit more traffic this morning than what we're used to out here in the Tucson Mtns, and Saguaro. We jump onto McCain Loop for a breather--and then I realize that the Wolf is on the road

I get my camera ready as Alan enjoys the fast rollers.

The Wolf will suddenly appear...

McCain Loop is quite scenic, and very fast and fun to ride on.

The Wolf appears as we come up over the hill--I actually snapped two photos of him--usually I just get the one.

What can I tell you about the Wolf, mes amis? This man has been out here for years--and I heard that for some reason, he must ride forever in Saguaro Nat'l Park. But others, some Tohono O' Odam people, have told me he is a type Guardian Spirit--they will not tell me what it is he watches over, but it is somewhere in the park.

The Wolf can be in the Seen, and the Un-Seen, when ever he wants. He can go in and out of those two worlds; we can only be in our reality and our time because we are mere humans. Maybe because we are cyclists, he appears as a cyclist--mostly.

On the home stretch, passing through the old ranch lands of Marana, northwest of Tucson.

The weather was just great--not too cool and not too hot. A few miles out from where I parked my car this morning, I saw the Wing, one of my old riding chums, on his way home from a morning ride as well. He's a math and physics teacher at the high school--very busy these days! But it was good to see him. I drove down to Ina and Thornydale, as in the early afternoon, getting back to my place is pretty difficult with the traffic. Alan gets in his metric century, and I give him a lift home. He's back at his place just before Noon--perfect!

Time to rest for a few hours before we start our routine for the week over again.

Cheers! Bruce

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Paddy’s Revenge

Slept late so drove to the River Park for a very quick 10 mile commute to the office—but it was still a bit windy. No matter what gear or how fast I tried to pedal—it was slow. I was slow.

My change of clothes packed in for the week had no green item—no green socks, no green shirt.

So at this time I will relate my St. Patrick’s Day story.

Back in Oklahoma, I grew up with my Grandmother on my mom’s side—Grandma Crosslin, always forbidding us kids to eat Fish on Friday. I, for forever, did not understand this rule—because, Gentle Readers of This Blog, Fish was always served on Fridays—even at my elementary school—Always! Friday night Fish Fry at the local rest-runts—yee haw! Confused, I never asked—and I never ate the fish—I just tried to eat my peanut butter and jelly, or baloney sandwich, and blend into the wood work.

Then there was something I read or heard about the Pope—back in like “Mid-Evil Times” making some kind of decree for the citizens to eat Fish on Friday to boost the local economy—of like Italy or something? (If anybody knows, please send me an email)

Since good Protestants don’t take orders from the Pope—only the President of the United States of America—Fish will not be eaten on Friday!

Grandma Crosslin always wore Orange (I kid ye not) on St. Patrick’s Day. My younger brother was also named William, for William of Orange (so I heard) and oh yeah, his middle name is Robert (for Robert E. Lee) But really I have recently discovered, and this comes from my Uncle, Robert Lee Crosslin (I’m not kidding) that back in Shawnee, Oklahoma—in the 1920’s—there was a clan of Crosslins—Irish bootleggers, that besides selling white lightning, were a rowdy bunch of Hell Raisers. My Grandmother’s boyfriend (soon to be my Grandpa) was a minor league baseball player from Tennessee, named Vernon Crosslin—no relation to the Shawnee Crosslins. Grandma's maiden name was Hunsicker.

Uncle Robert told me she made it a point to always let people know that she was in no way related to the Outlaw Crosslin Clan of Irish Bootleggers—and she may have kept a beef with Irishmen, and anything associated with them. I also know that my Great Grandfather Hunsicker was a Klansman there in Shawnee. When shit hit the fan back in those days, they had to blame somebody for the ills of the economy and the markets, and for the droughts, and the Influenza Epidemics.

The Irish were convenient and so they were at fault. Because they ate Fish on Friday?

Cheers! Bruce

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Windy Tucson Commute

East on the River Bike Path, and hey there's like water and junk!

This morning I took my old U of A commute route which is from the Arthur Pack Golf Course on Thornydale down River Rd to the River Bike Path. But as I now work at the Desert Sanitarium, there’s a few more miles to add. Now that River Rd heading East has been re-paved and improved, it offers a very fast rolling commute.

One part of the road which has been improved is the stretch down busy Thornydale to where the morning fucktards battle to get to the freeway. As I now have to drive this stretch when I do drive the car—well, as Will Shakespeare would day, “It sucketh.” More people, more cars—every idiot on a cell. Can’t that shit wait until you’re at the office?

So even though it’s improved, that doesn’t make driving any better. On the bike through this section, it’s a slight descent, so I breeze past—but I have to be very wary of the people trying to make that last dash to cut into the lane to make the freeway entrance.

There was a brutal headwind--but it was not as cold as its been the last few months--last minute I left my jacket in the car--a sign of Spring!

My regular commute will not work as a section of Ina Rd and La Canada is down to one narrow dirt lane either direction. So instead of the 15 mile commute from the YMCA, I’ll do the 18 mile commute from the Golf Course.

Okay so there was like a 20 mph headwind all the way into the San, Gentle Readers of This Blog—and I could only ride 13 mph tops. It was very slow-going. But I was not late to work.
To stay out of morning rush-hour traffic on River Rd, and to try to get out of the wind, I traveled the bike path all the way to work—but it was still a great effort on my part to get up to 13 mph…

About five miles from work at this point on the Bike Path. Its still pretty windy and I'm just gonna make it into the office, get showered and changed before 8 a.m.

A few times during the day, I checked outside to see the wind direction. Almost always--like 99% of the time, I have a pretty good headwind going home. You can really feel it on the bike path in the afternoon, so that's why I take the fast descent from the foothills on Skyline and Ina Rds. But I have to say that the wind was blowing steadily out of the Southeast--this would mean that rare tailwind for the ride home, mes amis!

O! Let me tell you of the tailwind, Gentler Readers of This Blog! Bliss! O! Sweet Bliss! Riding the same speed as the wind--an eerie silence--and riding what appeared to be the same pace as the flowing river. I rode the 18 miles back to my car parked at the golf course in 50 minutes. Dang, but that was pretty gosh dern fast! Why this wind was this way, I do not know--rain was not forecast, no storms up from Old Mexico that I heard of--just a sweet Spring Wind.

O! The Tailwind bringing Spring to the Desert has made my heart light!
(Which made me forget about getting my arse kicked that morning O! Damn you Headwind!)

Allure Libre!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saguaro National Park West and Colossal Cave

We ride up to Colossal Cave via Old Spanish Trail and Pistol Hill.

My old school chum, Ryan "Le Tigre" and I do a ride out to Colossal Cave--he suggested a place called Marsh Station--but we did Old Spanish Trail after making a stop at the Ramada in Saguaro Nat'l Park.

Plan B...

Le Tigre suggests we drive about five miles or so and park the car, as to avoid the afternoon traffic we would encounter on the way home. I recall how busy Broadway and other roads leading to and from and out around Saguaro Nat'l Park get--so I agree to plan B.

Tail wind to Rincon Market.

After a quick stop at Saguaro, we head out to Colossal Cave, which is a good place to turn around, and we find we've got a strong tailwind pushing us up the road.

Riding my 1977 Raleigh Super Grand Prix road bike today.

The sun is out, and the temps are great! The wind was not supposed to pick up until the afternoon, but it was quite breezy and still a little cold. We saw a lot of riders out and everyone had arm and leg warmers on like us.

Rincon Market is a good stop and bike friendly. Also a good place to observe local white-trash rednecks buying cigarettes and beer.

Le Tigre and I were good to go, Gentle Readers of This Blog, and we flew past the Rincon Market on the tailwind.

Rincon Peak with snow. I don't think I've ever seen snow up on the summit of Rincon Peak.

Tucson has received a lot of rain this year, and snow has been in the Catalina, Rincon, and Santa Rita mountain ranges for months. I have hiked up to the top of Rincon Peak twice. Its a pretty moderate hike, mes amis. One year I did it in one day--which almost killed me--the other time we hiked to Happy Valley Saddle and stayed at the campground, and the hiked up the next morning. Doing the hike in one day is not recommended. I was like crawling back on my hands and knees to the truck--ran out of water and it was pretty much a mistake on my part as I was not fit enough.

Pistol Hill.

Le Tigre was informed by a Park Ranger that bikes can take the back road into Colossal Cave and not have to pay the entry fee. The tailwind had made the ride pretty fast, and helped on the climbs. I have to say it took a few miles when we started up to Saguaro Nat'l Park for my lungs to kick-in, but I was rolling along nicely.

Still on Pistol Hill with snow on the Santa Ritas in the background.

Almost no traffic today!

"Le Tigre"

The back way.

So we do the back door road to the cave, which is pretty beat up but has fast rollers. Lots of saguaro and Ryan says he's seen deer and other wildlife. This area is remote and would not be fun when its cold--and would be very difficult when its hot--just the way the desert is out here.

There's some climbing, but we are out of the winds which are blocked by the mountain. We're on the other side of Pistol Hill.

Ryan says that some wealthy eccentric has built a castle up here. Yeah it looks kinda of weird--like some kind of Dr. Evil Hideout or something.

Really rugged out here but scenic...

More of Colossal Cave Mountain Park, mes amis!

The exit, and as you can see, we will have a fun and furious and speedy descent!


Best part is the trip back to Rincon Market--way fast!


Ryan "Le Tigre" pulled us almost all the way back to Rincon Market--we were riding very fast! There was a bit of a headwind, but I didn't seem to mind as I had the Tiger-by-the-Tail so to speak. At one point we reached the top speed of 41 mph on one steep grade, but the headwind picked up and we rode mostly 25 to 28 mph.

On Old Spanish Trail, heading back to Saguaro--Mt. Lemmon in the background.

As we make a big turn through the wash and head North on Old Spanish Trail, the climbing starts--and afternoon traffic has picked up. I'm getting some leg cramps--got to get that under control, mes amis--and I have to let Ryan go, as he's feeling strong today. We're only a few miles from the Ramada in Saguaro, so I'll be there with him shortly.

My Raleigh--although I use it mainly for commuting to work--its still an excellent road bike for a quick 40 mile ride like today.

The Ramada at the Park Headquarters is a great place to stop for a break and get water and use the restroom up at the Visitor's Center.

I took this from the Ramada--Mt Lemmon with all that snow! Cool...

Our ride back was only about five or six miles to the car. Ryan was right to drive the car and park because, mes amis, traffic was furious and people are hustling to get beer and cigarettes--or whatever! Five quick miles instead of 10 or 12 back to his place through a pretty dangerous part of Old Tucson. Thanks for stopping by the Blog!

Cheers! Bruce

Friday, March 05, 2010

The River

10 watt commuter light, and Lumotec with the Schmidt hub.

My 27 mile commute into the office begins with a fast one mile down hill, and then I've got a section of climbing on busy Tangerine Rd, and then on Moore Rd more climbing. Moore road is rural and there's no traffic at dawn--just rabbits, coyotes, deer, and an occasional owl peering down from a tall saguaro or a telephone pole. The town of Oro Valley comes next--the pavement is new and smooth--just got to watch out for motorists pulling in and out of shops. Then more climbing until I reach about mile 22 or 23, and at last a fast descent into the office. This takes me almost 2 hours. I'm having to go this way because of major road construction on my usual route to work. I have to have myself in bed by 9:30 p.m. the night before so I can get up and get on the move--or else I'm falling asleep by late afternoon.

There is the fast way, but it is dangerous. This morning I just felt like taking it--what the heck.

Thornydale road dives South for three miles. Instead of the steady climb on Moore Rd, I'm riding 25 to 27 mph down on a narrow beat-to-hell road full of pot holes--there's no shoulder--and most of the edge of the pavement is crumbling gravel. You must ride in the lane and cars and trucks just have to go around you because you can't get over. At 5:45 to 6:00 a.m. this stretch of road is mostly deserted if I'm lucky.

The last few years have seen more traffic, and not just the working guys, who for the most part have no problem with a cyclist and safely pass, but more the in a hurry git outta my way types. It is not a road for the faint of heart, Gentle Readers of This Blog. What I do is ride balls-to-the wall and just get it over with.

The pavement is shit--rough and cracked and broken. Bone shaking is what it is, mes amis. In order to tame this stretch--I've attached my 10 watt battery powered commuter light. That with the Schmidt hub and going 25 mph, there's enough light to see what's up ahead--and allow the extra split second to miss that crack or pot hole. I have no illusions about these three miles. If I hit something wrong, I'll wipe out--so far I've been lucky; I've just blown tires after slamming over a crag or crack. Car drivers speed down this stretch too, and they are not friendly and they let me know. I would rather they rant and yell at me than pass me fast and as close as they can on purpose. After these three miles, I am flowing on sweet smooth pavement and everything seems fine.

No other pictures for you, mes amis, because I was deep in thought riding on the River Bike Path after leaving River Rd--the river is a river and has been a river for days and days. We've had so much rain, and there's still so much snow in the mountains, that water is flowing with gusto and purpose--it is beautiful and serene--and a shadow of fragile fresh green life appears everywhere as I ride on into the rising Sun.

I can take the Rive Bike Path for 12 miles. While it is not fast, there are no traffic lights or stops, and this morning no runners or walkers--only me.

I am happy to report that my bones did not hurt, and the legs felt good--yes I felt good.

Cheers! Bruce

What Would Jesus Drive?


This fucktard couldn't find a parking spot close enough to leave this behemoth, so he parked in the always vacant Desert San clergy spot. Father Bill rides one of those Segways, and Amy (I don't know what faith she represents) drives a Prius. She parks at the Hospice.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

My Bike, My Life

Trek replaced my cracked steel LeMond frame—and all the parts were swapped out and put on the Trek 2.3 frame. That 2002 Buenos Aries had about 30,000 miles on it – and I loved that bike. Shortly after riding the new transformed “Mighty Trek” as my friend Paul would coin the bike, I noticed the cranks wobbling. Phil at Pima Street Bikes replaced the bottom bracket and so I was back on the road.

Some of the Lads I ride with kept telling me they heard a squeak I as pedaled on our jaunts—first Ryan, and then Alan. I must be getting hard of hearing because I could not hear these things—until a few days ago on the commute.

It only took Phil two minutes to diagnose the condition—chain ring worn down, chain shot, and cassette worn out.

Worn out
Worn down

Is that me? Is that my life as it stands? I mean I got to hustle and get out the door for the morning commute—and it’s dark. I’m going all out to get home before the sun sets. Then in the evening I’m packing and getting things ready all over again—often if feels like I have just enough time to air up the tires and lube the chain so I can drag myself to bed—so I can get on the road at 5:30 a.m.

After hearing the diagnosis from Phil, and feeling bummed with it all—I looked closely at my bike: what a fine machine it is—built for speed, mostly modified and up-graded over the years with parts to suit a randonneur’s game.

But in the parking lot of the shop, standing in the beautiful bright Tucson afternoon sun, I see my bike is covered with dust and grime from the streets. Dried streams of white salt from sweat run down the frame. The faint smell of exhaust reminds me of the I-10 Frontage Rd from last week—and then I notice my tires— both front and back are about shot. There’s that word again.The chain, the gears, the tires—everything looking worn, worn out…

Two years of Little Egypt’s unemployment meant just getting by—just getting by on one income. Buying the tires that were a bit less expensive—wearing two pair of shorts, the one to cover up the hole in the other pair (made for a bit more cushion on me arse however) using Gatorade instead of Heed or Sustained Energy—I guess you get the idea.

Last week the elbow ripped out of one my favorite work shirts. I need new shoes, I need new shirts, pants, etc, etc, etc. Suddenly I’ve realized I need new glasses; new frames and new prescription. It’s dawned on me that I haven’t bought anything new or replaced anything I own in over two years. Maybe its been three years?

The wear shows on my bike –and then the wear shows in my clothes for work. I wonder—what about my bones? What about my heart? My lungs and my blood? My sight? My hearing? What about my mind?

Have I kept up with the trends in my profession? Have I read up? Do I want to do this job forever working with these twits?

Have I been a good friend? Husband? Father? Have I taken care of the important stuff?
Maybe writing this will help me put all this together?

I will say that Little Egypt’s getting a job has helped, really helped—but like the years in Afghanistan, now it seems she lives a world away; I know she is very homesick for her ancestral mountains and sky.

There is some relief with her income, but we now we have two households to keep. Rent in Lawrence KS is not cheap, mes amis, and it is bitterly cold there as I write this and you read. But, as she would say, it is where the job is, and that appointment is slowly helping us crawl out of debt.

Until I have the money to get the Trek fixed up and good to go, I’ll ride my Raleigh Super Grand Prix. I’ll go over every detail to make sure I’m not making something minor worse for wear.

Often I am introduced as the bike rider—not just a bike rider, but one that does those insanely long rides to the ends of the earth. We all know that to some, 100 miles on a bike is something humans are not equipped to do—and I am not in the same league as those great randonneurs or ultra riders—but yeah, I can ride…

So why? Why ride, they say?

Maybe our days in the saddle are numbered…
Let’s both hope that time will be a long way away…

May you wear out many rings, tires, and chains, Gentle Reader of This Blog—Allure Libre!

Cheers! Bruce