The last two weeks I have been taking care of my wife as she has been in bed most of them. The last few days she has been able to get up and move around in the wheel chair. Anyway, this has not been the most conducive to riding. Last Saturday they said they wanted me to take a long ride but it just didn't happen. So this week my wife says I should get one in. Well, my wife being done with her surgery, it was time to do a little surgery on my fair lady, my steel mistress, my roadbike. I had two mysterious popping noises come out of the drivetrain on the last brevet, and I had been getting some smaller tick noises now and again too. It was time to check the drive train. First discovery was that one of my pedal's bearings was no longer tight and it was time for new pedals (they had already been rebuilt once). Fortunately Performance had eggbeaters on closeout for $40. I'll take a $99 set of pedals for $40 any day. So I commuted a few days on them and they felt nice but the ticking hadn't gone away (yes, I was able to start commuting again this week not to mention working). So, next thing was the bottom bracket. Last night I hung my bike up in the garage and went to work. After work I had picked up a new bottom bracket from Landis Cyclery (last BB was a nashbar cheapie so I figured it was very likely on it's last legs). Sure enough, after pulling the cranks off there was way too much spin on the bottom bracket meaning that those sealed bearings had no grease left in them and were starting to loosen up. It was at this point that I realized I had lost my BB removal tool. I turned the garage upside down but no BB tool. So, that meant buying a new tool in the morning and no early morning ride. To make matters worse a scout troop called me up wanting me to teach them some Compass skills in the morning too (I did get a hotdog out of the deal). So, by noon and after visiting 3 bike shops I had a new BB tool in my hot little hand and my beloved bike was back together again. Alas, it was off to the zoo as D'Net needed to get some sunshine having been cooped up in either the house or the hospital for 2 weeks. So we wheeled out the wheelchair and went off. Long story short, it's 9 PM and I need a ride.
9 PM I am sitting on the driveway and switching on the lights. Soon I am off through the neighborhood cutting through the busy night of Mesa Arizona. I slowly climb towards usery pass as I need some good climbing. Slowly and surely, I pass the gas station and memorial where Balbeer Singh Sodi was murdered by a misguided paranoid man the day after 9/11. Up the street I pass Red Mountain park and then the street lights stop for a bit. I cross what will be the last segment of the Red Mountain Freeway to be completed. On and upward I continue as the sections with streetlights grow fewer and even the yuppies can't build there as I am approaching national forest and they are powerless to put up their obnoxious yet supposedly landscape friendly houses to obstruct the view of the city and the mountain. Then suddenly I am free. Darkness surrounds me and the traffic dies down to an occasional car splitting the night for a few seconds. Silence envelopes me and I gaze at the mountains sillouetted against the sky. Usery Mountain on the right and Phoenix mountain on the left. I am climbing without dropping into my small ring tonight. I must have gained some climbing power hitting El Diablo and doing my threshold workouts on Wednesdays. The Stars are out brightly shining. Ahead is the big dipper as I proceed nearly due North. To my left is the pleides also known as the Subaru corporate logo. Just South of them is Orion, forever drawing his arrow yet never releasing. Below him I am releasing. All the anxiety of the hospital and the worry over surgery is flowing into the pavement now. I push on. Soon work stress starts to unload. I am to the pass and gazing down the otherside into darkness. I plunge into it. Descending through the night the hill seems endless. I am going 30 miles an hour and yet it seems slower. The hill keeps coming and yet it seems like I am reliving the same section of the hill over and over. The sky is tinted pink from the lights of the city. Before me is the lights of Falcon Hill far accross the valley. Soon I am at the bottom and ready to turn around and climb the hill. I determine that I will not drop out of the middle gear again on this hill. It is a long hard slog to the top. I forge on through the night, absorbing the moment and the balmy night air. The black saguaros of the night are like people reaching for the stars and yet never catching them, like Orion constantly aiming and never shooting. On into the night, I catch a desert scent and am transported into my teenage years when my Dad and I would backpack the Grand Canyon. I am at Phantom Ranch campground smelling the desert of the Grand Canyon on a cool March evening. After cresting I descend back towards the city, The lights of the valley look like a vast ocean of christmas lights lapping at the black beach which is the bottom of the hill. Not ready to let go of this moment I turn onto brown road and ride out to the Superstitions. Soon it is approaching 11 pm and I must return to my former life, exiting the night and my thoughts turning to the matters of the morrow.
On another note, for your viewing pleasure. Here are the pictures of my wifes ankle after surgery. You will see 12 screws, a plate, and a whole bunch of staples to hold the skin together.