Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Widows Remorse

Out in the desert in the cool of the morning, the sun shines,

yet she is in darkness.

She is howling at the merciless sun of the burning desert,

for the gentle orb of the night cannot hear.

She mourns the loss of her mate for life,

gone in a moment.

For he is on the road, lifeless and still,

and the vultures peck and gather.

On she wails mournfully in the cool morning,

the dogs mock her song.

and to the perpetrator, tis but a passing thought.

I think it is wildlife week in Arizona. I read a day or two ago about Bruce rescuing a rabbit on the side of the road and then today I have an interesting experience on my way out to Tortilla Flat.

Just past the Canyon Lake marina, around the first corner I saw coyote who had just been struck by one of the cars that must have passed me earlier. This wouldn't be so uncommon but it's mate was in the bushes on an outcropping by the road howling mournfully into the morning activities and all the dogs in the campground below the road on the left were barking back. A turkey vulture had just discovered the carcass and flew away as I passed but resumed it's activity immediately. When I would come back through here there was at least 20 or 30 vultures swarming in here, it was really something to see. I almost hit one as it tried to hold on until the last second when I was about to pass and it flew off right in front of me.

The main goal of the day though was to do some major climbing since the Mt. Lemmon ride is coming up in 6 weeks or so. There is around 6-7000 feet of climbing on that ride in around 126 miles. Today I would do almost 5000 feet in 70 miles so that is not to bad training in my book. Most of the grades are similar to Mt. Lemmon which has an average grade of 5%. A few spots notched over 7% but for the most part the trip back to the end of the pavement is very similar albeit split up into several hills as opposed to one 20 mile slog.

Today as I was not riding with anyone I determined I would ride just a touch slower to save some energy for a repeat on the last hill after Tortilla flat that I call El Diablo. It is over 1000' high in just under 4 miles of riding. A spunky hill to say the least. I was the first person up it but I got passed by a couple of guys wearing ironman gear just before the top but I didn't mind as the hill I was climbing was bigger since I would turn around and climb it again seeing them cruise by on their way home while I was making a good start on my second round of climbing. In the shadowy crannies on clifs of the hill purple and yellow wild flowers were growing in defiance of the desert sun it was kind of cool to see them. I kept thinking of that coyote on my second attempt. I never knew Coyotes hung around with mates. I always thought they either went it alone or hung out in packs but apparently most mate for life and are often seen travelling together. Kind of crazy what hurrying to save a few minutes can result in. Not that the people who did it likely gave it a second thought but still.

I was amazed I had plenty of energy arriving at the top the second time and rode back to the end of pavement sign just to make the turn around official even though the top is actually a mile before getting to the end of the pavement. I had energy for a third repeat but I am glad I didn't take it. After stopping for a refill at canyon lake marina and climbing out in the rising heat I didn't have a whole lot of energy left cruising across Apache Jct in the headwind. At one of the lights I thought I saw ZZtop but it was just a couple of old desert dudes. I thought I saw them again at another light, same story. I think ZZTop should play Apache Junction some day but they might get lost if they did. They really have that AJ look down.

Anyway, back at the house I had averaged almost 14 mph over 5 hours, 79 miles, and just under 5000 feet climbed. Not bad for a mornings work.

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