Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bus With My Name On It...

The status of my regular commute route is such that I made it through the road construction at the intersection of Ina and La Canada--that's a major intersection up where I live, and sure saves me some time. Except for right at the inter-sec, the road is re-paved and pretty nice. It appears that the bike lane is about a foot wider.

At 6:30 a.m. there's not a lot of traffic, so tonight we'll see how I do, and if people let up on the gas to give me a few seconds to get through, I'll be okay.

I have enjoyed the alternative ride on River Ave, but what that road lacks in climbing, Ina--which changes names to Sunrise, and then Skyline--makes up for it with miles of hills--felt like I was out of shape slogging up the road, Gentle Readers of this Blog.

I took Monday off and drove into the San--I just needed that few extra hours of sleep in the morning, and an evening where I wasn't packing up stuff for the morning ride come first light.

It will be a hot ride home but hey I'll be fine!

Now I'm happy to report that the ride home was good. It was 105, so I didn't waste any time getting out of the San and the city so I could start the climb up in the foothills.

The only thing that happened to me was that a city bus drove right on the white line of the bike lane while I was heading West on Ina--and I don't know why Tucson Sun-Tran Drivers do it, but the guy got as close to me as possible--there was like two feet or less between me and the side of the bus.

The bus rolled to a stop, and I came down the bike lane to the red light as well. I put out my hand to touch and gently glide my fingers on it's body; I was surprised how close the guy had actually passed me.

Even the big heavy trash trucks and cement trucks rolling up Ina in the mornings always give me some extra room. I don't know why the bus drivers won't. The other thing is that you can hear the big semi trucks coming as they strain and groan up the road, so you can get over to the far right in the bike lane. You can't hear the San Tran bus--at all.

But hey, I made it back to moi voiture. That's what counts, right?

Cheers! Bruce

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Ride in the Nat'l Park

This morning we ride in Saguaro National Park, East.

I meet Dave Glasgow at his place, over by the UofA, and then we drive on over to the Nat'l Park. I meet him at his house as if I drive the whole way out the to park, it's like almost a 100 mile trip for me. By riding with Dave, we save on the entrance fee.

Friendly Park Ranger at the entrance--Welcome Cyclists!

Le Tigre lives about 10 miles or so from the Park, and he joins us for a few laps as well.

It's been a while since I've been out here in the Park--the pavement improvements have just been finished, and special attention was payed to have a good surface for bikes. I'm glad that the Park Service had finally gotten some much needed stimulus money to pay for the Saguaro Nat'l Park's roads and exhibits, mes amis.

One of Dave's many friends, Mike is on the road with us as well. The 9 mile loop in the Park is challenging and all riders, what ever fitness level, will enjoy the beauty. Best to start out early because it's starting to get hot.
Le Tigre will do a few loops with us and then he'll head back home.

Dave is recovering well from a separated shoulder from a spill on the bike several months ago. His tire blew out and he crashed here in the Park.

The Rincon Mtn Range is the back-drop for the ride this morning.

We ride two loops on the 9 mile course, and stop in the Park's Ramada to get some water. Ryan will need to ride back to his house before the Sunday morning traffic picks up here in Tucson.

The Ramada has shade, cool water, and a place to rest. It's just outside the Park, so there's no entrance fee. Many riders meet here for a quick water re-fill, a chance to use the restroom, etc before either heading home, or riding further up Old Spanish Trail to Colossal Cave and Pistol Hill.

Ryan and Dave at the Ramada, Saguaro National Park East.

Dave and I ride two more laps in the Park.

Dave, like Alan, knows how the heart-rate monitor works for training, and Dave sets a pace for me and coaches me on ways to improve my riding and workouts--and I am working quite hard. Dave and Le Tigre are light and fast, and I'm a Clydesdale--there are some challenging climbs in Saguaro Nat'l Park, Gentle Readers of This Blog, and I'm always pushing myself to the limit.

There are also some fun rollers and fast descents. Today we didn't see Rangers with speed radar, so we were riding a bit faster than normal. The new pavement is oh so smooth as well! Just some of the best riding I'm done all summer!

The 9 mile scenic drive is only a small part of the larger Park, which is vast and incredibly breath-taking. I truly love it out here, Gentle Reader.

Dave Glasgow is one of the legendary Ultra Riders in the United States--Super Randonneur, Ultra Cyclist of the Year, Furnace Creek 508, Fireweed 400, are just a few of the ultra rides Dave has under his belt--and he's a great friend!

I'm climbing the hard part of the course, at about he half-way point, mes amis--but I took a quick photo for you because, although the climb is challenging and it's very hot, you seem to get encouragement from the stately saguaro, which stand silently in the summer sun.

Dave met some friends and does another lap, but I sit this one out at the Ramada. I'm tired, I've ridden hard, and it was a long week. It was also that time of day when everyone was headed for home, and no traffic was in the park. I enjoyed the solitude and the stillness of the desert. As I sat quietly, all the birds and lizards came back by the Ramada to get a drink, and cool off in the shade.

I took this pictures of the saguaro that are near the Visitors Center for you.

The flowers have wilted and now the fruit begins to ripen. The Indians still use long poles to knock the fruit off to make jams and other foods.

A close up of saguaro cactus for you. Click on the image to see why you don't want to get too close to these gentle giants. The spines are very sharp!

Mt Lemmon will be nice and cool at the top--it's about 100 degrees now in the late morning.

Time to head for home, and rest during the heat of the day.

Cheers! Bruce

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ride Home 107 Degrees

Mt. Lemmon as the Sun is coming up just after 5:30 a.m.

A 54 mile round-trip bike commute is not really that impressive, Gentle Readers of This Blog. I mean, all of us can ride 27 miles, right? Just that here in Tucson, at 5:30 a.m., it is so gosh darn beautiful outside—perfect temperature—pastoral sunrise—open desert—no traffic, I mean it makes me feel great to be alive!

One less car this morning...

Going home—it can be a living Hell. I’m sure you’ve had your share of those rides, eh? Lots of heavy traffic—over 100 degrees (107 for my ride home) and for me, about four major long climbs to get back.

I enjoy the cool morning air as I start my ride...

I guess my point is that both rides are short—the going home part, if it’s the long commute, is just under two hours. If I’m riding to the YMCA, the time I’m in the heat is just under an hour. This week I rode 140 miles commuting.

Heading East on quiet Moore Rd, as the clouds start to roll off Mt. Lemmon.

Several dozen pairs of woodpeckers and wrens live in just this one saguaro--there's quite a commotion as I ride by, on my way down to Oro Valley.

Now heading South down La Canada, the heart of Oro Valley.

At the top of the hill, I'll make a left on Calle Concordia. Maybe by the end of the Summer, the construction that's just past here will be complete, and I can take the road here all the way to Ina. That will make my commute faster and shorter, mes amis.

East on Calle Concordia with Pusch Ridge up ahead.

All the fast early miles in the beginning of my ride are behind me--now for the next half of the commute, I'll be climbing in the Catalina Foothills for about eight miles.

Probably just getting into the Desert San this morning, I ran over a big industrial staple—those big ones that are used to hammer 2x4’s together, and as I rolled the Grand Prix out of the bike locker after work to head home, my back tire was flat and I discovered the staple.

I was struggling with my repairs mostly because I was dripping with sweat and everything was slipping out of my hands—it was 107 degrees. My frozen water bottles to get me home were quickly melting, and I was over-heating quickly.

I lucked out because Bob, a friend from the San, saw me, and threw my bike in the back of his truck. Thank God for that! We drove to Pima Street Bikes so I could have Phil or Judy quickly fix me up—but the shop was closed—a note was on the door but I didn’t read it—they’re probably on vacation. So good-natured Bob drove me up to the top of Swan and Sunrise to the new Oro Valley Bike Shop. The guys there lent me a floor pump and let me fix things up inside where I would have some AC—that was very cool of them to do that—thanks guys!

To make a long story short—I rode home arriving at my door at 7:30 p.m. I was very tired, mes amis. I have to tell you that maybe it helped a little that I was on the road an hour later, as maybe there was a bit less traffic, and maybe it had cooled down to 103 or 104—but I had to climb down and then up and out of Oro Valley on La Canada.

Calle Concordia in the evening as I'm going home.

In the morning I’m fresh and riding fast, and I zip through Oro feeling like a pro—Tonight, it was so hard, and so long, and so steep, and so hot—that I wanted to stop and just walk up the hill. (Big Clyde do you have a truck, mon ami?) I made it, but one more long climb still on La Canada to Moore Rd before I could really say this ride is about over.

On Moore Rd as the sun is setting.

If I can just make it to Moore Rd, then I can descend down the last six miles down Tangerine and into the Sunset—which is what I did, Gentle Readers.

About five more miles, mes amis.

A hazy Mt. Lemmon in the back ground--the temp is near 103 right now!

Just enough water this time.

That was one of the more tough rides because it was so hot...

Cheers! Bruce

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Motion to Dismiss

For many years the park in Dog Mtn has been full of kids and dogs playing, and everyone got along well—there were never any problems. I met a lot of great people and when we needed to be out of town, for instance, neighbors would take care of Callie, and we do the same for our friends.

Several months ago, some people moved into the neighborhood with a dislike for our dogs—one of those people moved in across the street from the park. What they have done is call the police every time they’ve seen dogs in the park off-leash—like Callie and I playing ball for example. This was like every morning as they would drive to work—they’d call the police. When they were coming home from work, or when ever—they would call the police when they saw dogs in the park.

From what we can tell, these few people never come to the park. They just know that there’s a leash law and when they see one off-leash, they’re on the phone to the police. I’ve been the only one at the park, me and Callie, and suddenly a patrol car would cruise by. With Callie on the leash, the patrol car would just speed off. Had she been off the leash, you can bet that the cop would come down to talk to me.

You would think that the police have better things to do—and they do—but they got so many calls that their solution was to start threatening us—in a very unprofessional manner—with arrest. This got them lectures by some of the retired people of Dog Mtn. Imagine having some old lady getting in your face for you harassing her about her little poodle playing fetch with the grandkids at the park. So you’re a cop and you threaten grandma with arrest—you’re an asshole.

So yeah the cops harassed and threatened us—they would park their patrol cars at the park—and we’d wait them out—and they’d leave in frustration. And all the time, the lady across the street was calling them to get the dogs out of the park.

The next tactic was a big animal control vehicle with an animal control officer going down to the park and waiting for us to show up. The whole thing was about intimidation—which really backfired because every dog owner—from retired Marine Corps Cornels, to little old ladies gave the poor sod a piece of their mind.

For Callie and I one evening, the animal control officer came out from behind some bushes, and asked me to produce a dog license. Callie was on the leash by the way… and since I could not, he wrote me a citation. My court date was set for June 23, 2010 at 9 o’clock in the morning.

Okay I didn’t give the guy any lip or anything and he eventually let the enforcer fa├žade down a little. He said they had to answer all the calls about the dogs off-leash in the park. Too many calls were coming in—from one person I said—and he kind of nodded his head in frustration. In a way I think he felt a bit embarrassed for given me the citation, but it was clear that the law enforcement strategy was to intimidate and hassle all the dog owners –to the point where no one would come to the park anymore—which is the case now, Gentle Reader of This Blog—the park is empty.

So I show up to court—with Callie’s dog license, and of course the citation is dismissed immediately. But I had to wait around for the hearing, and with all the other citizens that had shuffled into the courtroom. Mostly young Anglo and Mexican cowboys who must have partied a little too hard, got DUIs, got caught driving with suspended licenses, and I think a few for under-age drinking. They were all good natured, fit and tan, and smelled of cigarettes, dust, and horses. Although Marana, the town I live in (suburb of Tucson) has grown to include malls, shops, and golf courses, etc—it still remains for now, a farming and ranching community. The cowboys looked a bit out of place in the town’s new pristine and modern civic complex—but the judge seemed just as good natured and did take time to make sure they knew what the process was and what they needed to do to get clear of these matters.

I’ve ridden out by the ranches where these cowboys work and they’ve always been friendly and always will share the road with cyclists. That’s the Cowboy Way.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice 2010

101 degrees for the commute home on the Summer Solstice--yeah it was hot...

I had a strong headwind coming from the Northwest, mes amis...

Something is up! says Callie.

So the ride at 101 was okay, except there was a headwind that made me really work--and I drank almost all my water. I had frozen both water bottles and that helped, Gentle Readers, it helped a lot--but I was still a little toasted.

But I did notice bunches of birds swooping and singing, and bunnies hopping --I know this sounds silly--but for Joy--or something! There must be something so obvious that over time, we that live at this time as humans have forgotten.

Why do we know it's the Summer Solstice? The TV tells us I guess--but you know--if you are in the right place at the right time--you feel it--I know this to be true. Those people that came before felt it--maybe I did--but every other living thing seemed to know. Maybe because I ride so much year-round (the same routes mostly) I catch the little changes in the light, the wind, the temp, the smell--so when the Solstice is happening maybe I sense a part of it--I would like to think I do.

At certain times during the year, I ride with the Sun--I wake up with the Sun (4:30 a.m. these days) and the Sun dictates when I will clip in and roll, and when I need to be home before dark.

Solstice, O Happy Solstice! Cheers! Bruce

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Heart Sunday Morning Rides!

Boss on Rancho Vistoso.

We went out for an early morning ride, and I'd forgotten how hot it gets in Tucson at daylight. The Sun comes up and gets to work right away, Gentle Reader of This Blog!

The Boss is a strong climber, and if I'm going to keep up, I have to work.

This morning we were working with my new heart-rate monitor along with my new bike computer, which has cadence. We've figured out my Maximum Heart Rate, which I believe on Big Fire Road, was 183--you can take the formula of MHR= 220 - 48 (my age) and my Max should be around 172--but Alan says that's probably off, and that 183 is about right. Alan worked out some heart rate zones for me, and from what we're doing, I believe that up around 183 was probably pretty close.

With our long gradual climbs this morning, we were riding at a faster pace/cadence, and not going up into my max zone. Alan wanted me to try and keep my HR below 160. It's taking me a little getting use to--because I must confess to you, Gentle Reader, that I'm a Masher--a big guy riding in the big ring all the time--such that Alan commented one time that I ride like I'm on a fixie. So I'm trying to actually use my gears, ride at higher RPMs, and not mash in that big ring all day.

The Cadence and the heart rate monitor are starting to make sense to me--in a way its like a tachometer the way I see it--the trick will be to ride at the high cadence in upper heart rate zones, for the duration of El Tour for example. That's going to have to be at least 6 hours. That's what the goal here is--finishing El Tour in under 6 hours for a Gold Finish time.

Calle Concordia--Pusch Ridge and then the Catalina Mtns.

Masher no more!

You can see the heart rate monitor on the handlebars... One thing about my heart rate monitor is that it went kind of wacky when under some power lines in Oro Valley, and a few times when we passed intersections.

The Boss.

Intersection of Oracle and Ina, heading East.

There's still construction on my commute route, which is just behind us--but as soon as that's over, I'll be back on Ina and enjoying the smooth new pavement. This part of the road up to this light from where I parked at the YMCA, was very rough, mes amis. Also, automobile drivers are making a right turn and usually going pretty fast. With the modest incline, its tough to go much faster--I've had a few close calls with people speeding and not paying attention. There's no bike lane going East either, right up at the intersection. So, I take the lane and the drivers just have to wait.

Corner of Ina and Oracle.

Every day of the week, there's always group that pulls into this cafe at the corner. We would stop, but we still have to ride home. These guys must be done and live close. If you stop, eat, have coffee--before you know it, its closing in on 100 degrees. Anyway, the place is too busy for my taste, and sitting outside would suck because there's just the drone of the busy traffic.

East on Ina Rd and into the Catalina Foothills.

I think in maybe a month, the road construction will be done and I'll be back on my regular commute route that you see up there. The bike lane is wide and there are few lights to slow you down, and not too many businesses where people are pulling in and out of traffic.

Cheers! Bruce