Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ride Report

Rainy ride home in the late afternoon this week.

Days in Tucson have been muggy, Gentle Readers. Monday I drove in with all my clothes for the rest of the week. That always saves so much time on the commutes--all I have to do is get out of bed, feed Callie (throw the ball for her a time or two) and get going. I've been parking at the YMCA and riding 16 miles into the Desert San.

Tuesday just as I was leaving the bike locker, it rained pretty steady at the San. I decided to fore go riding up Swan Ave in the rain, and the fast traffic-laden route home--because people in Tucson get all weird when it rains--so I took the River Bike Path.

Cool rain for the ride home tonight.

On second thought, I wish I would have taken Skyline/Ina, mes amis.

On the bike path where its muddy and sandy--but out of the traffic.

Since I was pretty well soaked within the first few miles of my ride, when the rain stopped, and I rode on to River and La Cholla--I got covered in a gritty film of sand and dirt. Everything stuck to me and my bike. Getting to the YMCA was okay and pretty safe--just right when I got to my car however--it started to rain buckets. Ah, the Monsoon!

First things first--I had to take the hose and spray the Super Grand Prix down to get all the sand and dirt off the drive-train. I also had to clean out my bike shoes as they were full of sand--then dry everything off the best I could. Later I went back out in the garage after I cleaned myself up, and re-cleaned and re-lubed the chain. All this took quite a bit of extra time--as well as a lengthy telephone call from Little Egypt needing to talk to me, made for a late evening.

But I got everything done, cleaned-up and things ready and packed back up for my Wednesday morning ride.

Pack and un-pack for the ride into the office.

Just as I started up the last climb on Sunrise, on the way to Craycroft, Colby pulled up beside me and we had a nice chat. Colby bought his Trek 2.3 the same time I got mine (My Trek 2.3 was a replacement frame for my LeMond frame that cracked) and we agreed that they were good bikes.

We met several times when we were both riding to work via River Rd. and later I'd see him on the bike path as our paths crossed here and there. He asked why I wasn't riding my 2.3--well, mes amis--I have to admit; I don't want to get it dirty. Really not a very good excuse, as the Trek is fast and such a sweet ride. But after getting home the other night covered in sand and dirt--the Raleigh will do.

Colby and I climb up Skyline to Craycroft Wednesday morning.

So we shot down Craycroft and Colby headed back home and me to the San. Colby was riding strong and I drafted off his wheel heading down the hill. When I got to the bike locker a bit later, I saw that my average speed for the commute in was 16 mph--a bit faster than my usual time--plus, before I met up with Colby, it seemed I was having to stop at every light. That usually slows things way down. But no worries because it was a beautiful morning and I was not running late--which is the case most morning.

We're about to descend Craycroft from the Catalina Foothills down into the Old Pueblo.

During the day I checked in on the dark clouds brewing over Mt. Lemmon, and I was certain there would be a repeat of Tuesday's ride--wind, rain, mud, dirt, and traffic. But when it was time to go, I felt a tail wind in my favor--so I decided I'd move out and take a chance on my fast route home and try to beat the rain.

Making sure that motorists see me, I've got my disco Mapei shorts on, and my bright yellow jersey. If its going to rain cats and dogs, I want to be seen on the road.

The tail wind didn't last long, mes amis, so there I was making the long climb up Swan to Sunrise. And while making the climb in the cool air, I spied a scattered line of cyclist making there way up Swan as well. A few riders--women--where riding commuter bikes, with racks and panniers and everything. That's a good sign because the more bike commuter on the road, the more visibility and acceptance from car drivers. I rode up and said hello--my old steel Super Grand Prix is not quite a tank, but I kept moving. Then I was upon two other riders, a young man and woman, struggling up the hard part of Swan. We chatted for a few minutes and they were asking me if they were over the hard part of the climb yet. Unfortunately no--still a mile to go. They had parked at the San, and were a doing a loop up Swan and then down Craycroft. I did not think to tell them that the mile climb up Sunrise to Craycroft would be just as difficult, mes amis. Feeling strong, I pushed on ahead--because once I get my carcass up to the top of this climb, I can do speed interval work all the way back to the YMCA.

From here, all the climbing is done, and I have a very fast ride back to the YMCA. This is about a mile past Ina and Campbell--maybe just past Orange Grove--looking West on Ina.

With a little bit of tail wind, and a gap in the rush hour traffic, it seemed eerily still, cool, and silent. I blasted down Ina, heading West, at 35 mph--which is pretty fast for a big Clydesdale like me. I'm always worried that someone is going to turn in front of me, as has happened to motorcycle riders and cyclist many times here, especially around Westword Look. There's a blind spot for drivers I believe.

Anyhow, I got to the YMCA, and got the Raleigh packed into the car--rain waited just for me I think, as when I turned the key to start the car engine--that sweet Monsoon Rain tapped the roof.

Cheers! Bruce

Friday, July 23, 2010

Big Fry Day Ride

East on Tangerine Rd, and almost to the intersection of Tangerine and Thornydale. Mt. Lemmon in the back ground with clouds--5:30 a.m.

Tucson has had a few days of cooler temps during the day--only in the 90's, mes amis. Nights are cooler too--which means the sunrise is the best! I had to take off Thursday and drive in... I was hurting and exhausted from Wednesday and needed a night to hit the sack early. That means I'm not scrambling to pack and clean up everything the night before the ride.

Making the morning climb, first thing up Tangerine!

Driving Thursday means I get home early and I can cook, feed Callie, make and pack a lunch, and then Callie and I get a walk in at the park to play ball--all this before 7 p.m. Going to bed by 9 o'clock after a cool shower and a chilled glass of milk is the best--but a rare occurrence for the Randonneur.

On the bike path, with Sabino Canyon's Thimble Peak in the background--a Tucson landmark, mes amis.

This Friday I did take the wee bit shorter and fast route down Thornydale, instead of the longer way on Moore and then through Oro Valley. As I got up to the intersection and light, I had a change of heart and mind--and so shot down those 2 miles of pot holes, cracks, and cranky old-farts driving Buick's. In no time I was cruising in the bike lane and making some good speed on River Rd.

Clouds began to dissolve on the ridge, but a blue mist seemed to still sleep on top of Mt. Lemmon. I quick jumped on the bike path for a few miles to Craycroft, then it seemed in no time I was gliding into the home stretch and on campus of the San.

Arrival at my bike locker, 7:10 a.m.

I want to tell you that this Friday morning ride into the office was one of the best. Perfect weather, light traffic, and green lights all the way--Too bad the ride home was so miserable, Gentle Readers of This Blog...

After work looking back to the East--here come the Monsoon clouds.

First of all, it was very hot in the afternoon--and there was this weird wind that was hot and dry. Before I even got clipped into my pedals, I was really sweating.

Carradice Pendal bike bag on the Raleigh Super Grand Prix.

The wind punished me like I was in a mosh pit of something. I'm a big guy, so I was surprised how strong the gusts were. I had to work hard--very hard to get up Swan Ave. Even though the clouds were coming in and it was cooler, the pavement had been baking all day, so the heat was radiating off the pavement. With the wind blowing that hot air around and over the road, it was like I was riding against a giant hair dryer--going up-hill!

Taken from Oro Valley City Hall, where I have an emergency water stop if I need it--today I had to stop mes amis...

Well, the ride home was uneventful until I started to make the climb up and through Oro Valley on La Canada. I began to get a deep and sharp leg cramp in my right thigh. I was barely making any speed up the road--it was getting hard to pedal. I just decided I had to make it to OV City Hall, where I discovered a few years ago an outside drinking fountain. The water is ice-cold. I just made it to the parking lot and had to rest. I took the photo above for you, Gentle Reader. Then limped over to the drinking fountain to fill my bottles.

Under the Oro Valley City Hall Ramada.

I'm not sure why, but I had real need to rest and try to cool down. I lay on a bench under the Ramada for about 10 minutes just to think about what the hell was wrong with me. I had such a great and strong and fast ride into the San--now I was suffering for the ride home.

I ate an orange and power bar--very slowly I started to feel like I could get moving--and it was slow, very slow going until Moore Rd.

Pucsh Ridge.

In the picture above, my office would be on the other side of the ridge. I've ridden up from the valley, and then along the ridge and past the edge, which would be on the right--and then though Oro Valley now on Moore Rd at the base of the Tortolitas (Dog Mtn) I have about six miles or seven miles to ride West until I reach home.

C'est Moi.

I took the fast way into to the office, and now the long way back to Dog Mtn and my place. This has turned out to be a long tough Friday ride, mes amis.

The beauty and solitude of Moore Rd, heading West in the open desert.

The time is almost 7 p.m. and I left the office just before 5 o'clock--so it has taken me two hours to get back tonight!

Just over 50 miles in the saddle today alone--really not that many miles... The were just tough tonight.

Mt. Lemmon behind me...

There are 125 miles to ride from my house, to the top of Mt. Lemmon, and then back home. I'll be doing that ride here in a few weeks, mes amis--stay tuned.

Cheers! Bruce

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Disco Velo

My new Carradice Pendle saddle bag, from Nelson, England.

My new Carradice bag arrived and so I tried it out this morning. Le Tigre, my old college chum, joined me near the start of my break-of-day commute to the San. I ordered on of those bag supports that supposed to attach to rails of the Brookes--but it wouldn't fit. Actually it wouldn't fit any of my saddles. So I've got this expensive piece of gear I don't quite know what to do with. But I decided to buy my Carradice bag from the UK rather than the cheap knock-off Chinese made saddle bag.

Le Tigre!

One thing about riding with younger guys is you quickly realize they are younger guys--and you (as in Yours, Gentle Reader of This Blog) are and older guy. I don't think I'm quite an Old Man yet--but when young lads--and lasses fly pass me on the road--I say, "Go Baby!"

So Le Tigre and I rode at a good pace, and that's what I always need to break up the routine. At a few points in the commute, I rode on Ryan's wheel and that draft really made a difference on the fast rollers, mes amis.

For what its worth, Le Tigre says he feels a bit "un-nerved" on my commute route. In the mornings, while there's not a lot of traffic, car drivers are bookin' and I suppose I've become accustom to automobiles flying by me in the narrow bike lane on parts of Skyline and Sunrise Rds. Yeah, there are the ass-wipes that buzz really really close--but again, I'm used to it. Le Tigre and I, as always, had a few laughs and a good ride, and in no time we're at the bike lockers. I say farewell and he heads back to his home not far away, and I to the locker room.

I have a bright red strobe light on the back of my helmet, and then the bright red strobe on the frame. You can see me up ahead for almost a mile or more. Plus, I have a very bright white strobe what flashes, attached to my handle bars--this is for the driver not paying attention and making a left turn. My hope is that the flasher lets them know a bike is there in the bike lane. These may seem dorky to some, but as much as I ride, I want to lower the chances of getting hit. If I am hit, there's no way someone can say, "I didn't see him..." when the jersey is bright white or yellow, and the flashing lights on board are like a Disco.

Campus 0f the Desert Sanitarium, Tucson, Arizona.

While I worked in the office, the thorn that had embedded in my front tire let out all the air so that after work when I got out to the bike lockers, the tire was flat.

Fixing a flat tire in 104 degrees.

I made quick work of the flat--Phil and Judy at Pima Street bikes are on vacation so I just had to change the tube, and get going.

It was hot, and there was a head wind that was even tossing me around. When I finally got to the top of Sunrise and a bit past Campbell Ave, where the street turns back into Ina Rd., mostly I have a fast descent to the YMCA. I just have to be vigilant as people are on their cell phones or texting. A few days ago I stopped at a light by Westward Look, the resort where the big El Tour accident occurred, and a young man texting drove right through the red light with out even looking up--luckily none of the other cars had started pulling out as the light changed.

The start of the fast descent, heading West on Ina Rd.

As long as I keep moving, the 104 temps are okay. The real danger is enjoying the fast 30 mph downhill too much--you have to keep an eye out for careless car drivers making left turns in front of you. Most people are not watching for a bike jetting down the road in the bike lane.

Ride safe!

There are always many more polite and attentive drivers and I am thankful for that--Tucson is a great place to ride! All my stress and cares fall away quickly as I become one with the Road, the Wind, and the Heat...

Allure Libre! Bruce

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Just Riding Today

It is humid this morning... Arrrgh!

We're on the Catalina Hwy heading to the base of Mt. Lemmon

We agreed at the same time, the Boss and me, that we'd skip going up much further than just riding to the base of Mt. Lemmon--it is too muggy.

We turned around at Mile Post Zero, as were many other riders out this morning. It was still early but almost 90 degrees with the worst humidity since I can remember!

Here's Alan on River Rd, and the rollers are fast, so we make good time back to the start of our ride. Traffic is light this morning--during the work week, River Rd here where we are is insane--tons of traffic and mostly narrow bike lane.

"Its those annoying bikers..." That was the look we got from the staff of Walgreens when we shuffled in to buy some cold bottled water. The young check-out girl had a nose piercing, an eyebrow piercing--some diamond stud embedded in her check--and she thought we looked like freaks!

For our 36 miles we averaged almost 16 mph. My heart rate average was only 130 for the ride. It was nice to relax a bit out on the road. The problem had been that I busted ass getting all my chores and cleaning done Saturday so I could ride Sunday, but I almost couldn't get out of bed Sunday morning at 5 a.m. and get myself going. I almost fell back to sleep if not for my dog Callie getting me up again because she wanted her breakfast.
Cheers! Bruce

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wish You Were Here

Late in the work week, climbing up Swan to Sunrise, 106 degrees--How Sweet It Is...

The temperature at 4:30 p.m. for the ride home was 106 degrees—and wasn’t so bad. Yeah, it was pretty hot but what made it more challenging was the humidity.

Had a good strong headwind to boot. But I made it—it took me a few minutes extra—like five—to get to the car which was parked at the YMCA.

The Monsoons are almost, almost, almost here in Tucson...

As I made the climb up Swan to Sunrise there were a few lightening strikes up on the ridge. Still no rain yet! We really need the rain, Gentle Reader.

If you come visit, it will rain. That’s what happens when we get tourists from out of town! Heck, I’ll buy you’s a beer, mon ami…

Cheers! Bruce

The Lung

Young Wes, Stef's nephew, Stef and Foxx back there on the tandem. They all rode to meet me at El Charro, Downtown Tucson.

After work last night, met Stef and his clan for a few margaritas downtown. Callie was waiting for me when I got home, and as it was still early, we went to the park and she played catch and caught up with the neighborhood pack that was there as well.

Foxx with the Schwinn Twinn I brought back from Tulsa two years ago. I loved this bike, "Little Soldier" but it was just too small for a big guy like me. For Downtowners like Stef, Angela, and the kids, Little Soldier is perfect! Biking is great to get around the city on a cool Summer Evening.

I started packing up the bike for the ride in, and before I knew it, I woke up in bed about 11:30—I must have fallen asleep about quarter ‘til 9. I believe I made another attempt to pack up the bike but this next time I work up at 4 a.m.

So with Callie watching and waiting, I made my lunch, filled the water bottles, loaded on the saddle bags, lights, and aired up the tires—then packed the Grand Prix in the car. Callie finished a quick neighborhood patrol, and then we both went back to bed.

Gentler Readers of This Blog, 5:30 a.m. came quickly—my hour of sleep interrupted by the alarm clock. I thought about calling in sick. Then I thought I’d just call in to say I was running late. My legs still hurt from Sunday’s Owl Head Ranch Ride. But I had to Cowboy through and get going—soon I was pedaling up Ina Rd.

I was not getting very far, mes amis. It felt like I pulling a MacGregor 26. I looked down and saw that my back wheel was not on straight, and the left side was rubbing on the frame. Last weekend I put new tires on the Raleigh Super Grand Prix. I quick jumped off and fixed that up. At 6:15 a.m. in Tucson, Gentle Readers, the temperature was almost 90—and the humidity was just as high. Beads of sweat rolled down my face and arms—back on the bike and rolling along, much better I might add—the sweat evaporated quickly.

On up the road, another rider spied me, waved, and then soon he was coming up beside me. It was Brent “The Lung” Barber, one of the talented local Tucson riders of note. “Hey I know that jersey!” he said. The Lung—built like a young Andy Schleck—riding effortlessly and with power! He was just out for a quick spin, you know, a few mountains before breakfast… He bid me farewell and off he went. I continued my climb, started to feel my old self, and then picked up the pace for a pretty quick ride into the office; just what I needed.

Barrio Bike Boyz, Tucson, Arizona

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Open Desert -- Owl Head Ranch Ride

The Great Owl.

I felt the need for a long ride, a ride in the open desert--a ride where its just me riding with the wind and gliding with the wind. If you can quiet your mind and leave everything behind--which is possible because suddenly there are only saguaro, the monsoon skies, and hazy mountains--your eyes open to this place. The moment is fleeting sometimes, and hard to tell you about--but a moment is enough. You realize that somehow you are everything--and nothing. This mysterious feeling is exhilarating. A type of meditation--difficult to get there, and takes practice.

On my way, Gentle Readers of This Blog...

I don't take a 70 mile ride through a very remote stretch of desert lightly. Its July and very hot. I've spent a few days thinking what I will need, when to leave--but really, just mentally preparing. There's no stops for water, and no cell phone service. There might be a few cowboys drive past if I were lucky.

Secret Air Base--oops, did I say that?

I roll out at 6:30 a.m. and start thinking I should have left at 5:30--already its hot and very humid. There's a very fast 6 mile descent from Dog Mtn heading West to freeway. When I get to Interstate 10 and turn on the Frontage Rd to head North, I take hold of a strong tailwind that sends me sailing at 22 mph with hardly any effort at all.

Picacho Peak.

As Picacho Peak quickly appears, I'm almost to Park Link Rd. Be careful because you can ride right past it if you're sailing along on the tailwind. Its hard to believe I'd ridden 22 miles so quickly mes amis!

Picacho Pass.

The Frontage Rd, or basically the road that runs along the Interstate, is the old stage coach line going back to the 1850s. It goes through the pass and then heads due west to San Diego and on to San Francisco. At Park Link, I turn and head due East. As you can see in the photo I snapped above, the roar of the hwy quickly fades, and now I'm heading into the Desert. The next 18 miles are the point of no return. I press on, Gentle Reader.

Just a brief glimps of the Owl's ears up ahead!

Hot and dry, silent and supple--and the heat...

It is not even 8 o'clock in the morning, and so very hot. I stay a bit cool just by moving through the air--still the Sun is beginning to blaze right into me.

Miles of open desert all around me.

The air is thick and muggy. I have just a slight tailwind pushing me along at a comfortable pace. I'm thinking about my lunch stop at the half-way point at Cattle Tank. Suddenly there seems to be broken bits and chunks of glass, like hundreds of diamonds on the black road. And I see what looks like a piece of black twisted metal--but then the stench jabs me in the face. Its a dead cow hit by a car. It makes me gag--I mean its like 90 degrees and humid and the thing is rotting right there. That rancid smell tags along with me on the tail wind for about half mile until it finally fades away. Holy Cow! That was pretty awful, mes amis!

Cattle Tank. Time for a quick rest and a bite to eat.

I carried two frozen water bottles in the Carradice Bag, Gentler Readers of This Blog.

Cattle Tank is the half way point in this loop. I ate an apple, a cliff bar, and finished off the remains of my first two water bottles. I was only stopped for about five minutes as stopping meant rivers of sweat pouring off me. Best to keep moving...

The frozen water bottles I packed slowly melted, and that ice cold liquid tasted like Heaven.

Man, it is HOT out here! Keep moving...

The watchful giant gaze of the Great Owl.

Picacho Peak is at a distance behind me, with millions of cars streaming past non-stop on Interstate 10--while I am the only person for miles and miles--the only one!

This is from the road, without a zoom--the Owl Head Ranch is about 8 miles South of where I am here on Park Link. Millions of saguaro blanket the foreground in all directions, but the biggest ones seem to be on the South side of the road towards the Owl's ears.

Hwy 79 at last.

Before I knew it, I was at Park Link and Hwy 79. This is not an easy road to ride on. The shoulder is narrow, traffic is heavy and people drive fast--and worst of all, there is a very tough climb that about breaks you down. I have 9 miles to ride before I reach the junction of Hwy 79 and Hwy 77, or Oracle Rd. Once I reach the junction, I have a fairly easy 25 mile ride home back to Dog Mtn.

Almost half way on this 9 mile section, there's a sudden and much need descent for almost 4 miles. Thank God! I have to report that for once, I made the summit with both lungs still intact. I credit this to my training with Boss Man and him getting me to train with a heart-rate monitor--and stop mashing in the big gears--and ride at a higher cadence. What I've done, I think, is trained my heart muscle and gotten it stronger, instead of all the reliance on the brute power of my legs. Still, Gentle Reader of This Blog, I am very tired. I have no water left. I need to get to the McD's in Catalina as soon as possible. I will tell you that I was being plagued by hot foot at this point in the ride--that is painful. I need to get some water, and get off the bike for a short rest.

Pusch Ridge, the mountains of my morning commute. I am happy to see you guys!

Up there is just a few miles outside of Catalina, Arizona. Past those yellow signs is the town, and the McD's where I can get an ice-cold coke, and fill up my water bottles, and take a short break.

See that pick-up truck out there in the parking lot?

"I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee, USA
A place where even jerks can have a ball..."

This guy was talking on his cell phone to the person in the truck and they were arguing about what somebody wanted--nuggets or something stupid like that. Being from Oklahoma myself, I could hear the way he was talking with that Okie accent. I didn't feel any sense of tribal or regional affiliation with this big tub of goo--I had to listen, as did everyone else in this dinning establishment, to him flap his jowls with the person back in the truck. I was thinking, "What's wrong with yer legs such that ye caint come into the place and order fer yer ownself?"

Monsoon time in Tucson--here comes the rain up and over Mt. Lemmon...

Callie takes a break from Guard Duty now that I'm back safe and sound!

I had a good ride, mes amis--a quick shower, more than a couple of cold glasses of water, and I have the early afternoon to sleep and rest a few hours! Thanks for reading and visiting my blog! Cheers! Bruce