There are quite a few cars out at 4:15 in the morning. On any given Saturday the streets would be deserted but not on Friday. There are numerous poor souls whose employment shakes them out of bed in the predawn hours. In fact, I buy some batteries from one of them at a 24 hour walgreens as my light has gotten a little dim as of late and I don't want to descend with a weak light. I had originally intended to do Mesa, Florence, Coolidge, Chandler but yesterday afternoon they informed me I had a phone interview today at 2 so I figured I would work at home today to have a better environment for interviewing. That being said they just rescheduled again!
Heading out of Apache Junction the traffic has stopped, there is but a lake and an old stagecoach stop turned tourist trap call Tortilla Flat out here. The desert is enshrouded in darkness serenaded by the hum of a million crickets. Orion is spread out in the sky above and the big dipper is at an extreme angle. A headwind turns into a mild tailwind/crosswind as the climbing starts in earnest. Since I couldn't go long today, I chose to go high. I need all the climbing I can get into my legs before Mt. Lemmon next month. 5000 feet this morning should do the trick I think.
On up into the darkness I look back on the city lights far off on the horizon as I crest the top and head down the other side of the pass down into the canyon. Temperatures are perfect this morning. Descents aren't too chilly, climbs aren't too hot. The temperature is just above 70 degrees. Soon I am at Canyon Lake and the light on the horizon is noticeably brighter. As I pass the lake I deem I can see good enough and shut down my light. There is no traffic out here and it is not that important to have a "be seen" light.
As dawn starts fighting the darkness in earnest I pass by Tortilla flat, hoping to be up the hill before the sun is. In the end we tied. Wanting the whole enchilada I descend and start up again. There are a few motorcycles out now that the sun is up. This is a real popular road with them as it is very curvy. On one day I saw a rider scrape his knee on the pavement at around 40-50 mph he rounded the corner so fast. He had knee pads on though, all told it impressed me he had enough grip on this road to pull it off. Personally, with a cliff under every outside curve, I would not like to gamble on slipping. I worry a bit just descending on my bicycle on some of those corners, you just kind of stare out into space as you whip around the corner and are heading back into the next nook in the hill.
All too soon I am back to the end of the pavement. The hill seems to be taking me around 40 minutes a go these days. With the sun striving to escape the horizon I am off to home to login before 9:30 so I can at least claim I was logged in. There is not a lot for me to do at work these days with my last day next week. I have mixed feelings. I cleared out my cube yesterday and I was amazed how much history you collect after 10 years at a place. I actually had a few scraps of paper from the very beginning amusingly enough. It is also a bit nerve wracking knowing the people you have interviewed with are discussing your fate in their boardrooms, web conferencing with other staff across the country, putting a value on you which they will use to determine if you are good enough for them, or useless dross to be cast aside without a second thought. I can't really blame them as that is what my company did in essence.
There is a smaller company expressing interest in me and I am thinking I may go with them if they will have me. I think in a small business loyalty is more valued. Loyalty seems to be dead in the corporate world these days. Companies demand loyalty of their employess but are only loyal to their stockholders in return, nevermind that some of them have held stocks far shorter than some have been employed. It is difficult to not get bitter. Still, a large corporation by definition, is an organization established for the very purpose of making sure no one has liability, or responsibility in the end. So , it is a souless entity, run by faceless graduates from heartless business schools across the country. Commiting no crime, but protecting the interest of the Stock Holders.
But I digress, where was I? Ah, a headwind. I have a headwind descending into Apache Junction. The silver lining is it is downhill. The one cyclist I saw passes me in here yet I am still 40 minutes ahead of him. He did not do a repeat on the big hill in the back. Turning I increase my speed noticeably as I catch the wind at an angle coming from the back now. I speed across Apache Junction. I don't know if I am faster today than last Saturday but I sure feel stronger. I wind through the streets familiar near my home and then I am in the driveway and I have indeed beaten my best time for a solo with a repeat. I have climbed 5000 feet, ridden 71 miles and returned in 5 hours and 2 minutes, a similar time to last time but I added an extra mile on so indeed I am faster this week. What will the day, or the coming week bring? Who knows, but I at least accomplished something this morning. I just wish I could challenge some of those executives out there to a little hill climb contest. :)