Sunday, March 8, 2009

Evening Commute, Extended Mix

It is Friday night and I have decided that since I will be watching the kids all day Saturday (with a short excursion to Casa Grande to help at the first control on the 400k brevet) that I should do my long ride tonight. I must stop at Performance bike to get some shoes and a seatpost on my way home. I had originally planned a 54 mile trip home but adding my stop off I end up at a nice metric century (62 miles). So, although I would not be doing 400k, I would at least get 100k in. I also would get several hours of blissful night riding in.

I have not ridden in Scottsdale a whole lot so most of today's trip was new territory for me. I went through the Phoenix mountain park and was blown east by a hefty tailwind along Thunderbird road to the bike shop. A quick stop at the bike shop loaded me up with around 35 lbs on the seat rack which I think was pushing the weight limit but it held.

I rode down Cactus to Frank Loyd right and enjoyed my trip of Via Linda as the sunset towards the horizon. As I climbed Shea I could see the rose and amber hues of the sunset start up behind me and the evening descend in front of me.

I should have probably stopped to put my lights and reflective gear on but I figured I was close to the top of the hill and I could put it on when I got to where I was going to eat dinner over by the beeline highway. I almost pulled a muscle in my shoulder as I leaned down to turn on my hub light but I got it on. I descended at close to the speed the cars were going, I just wish I would have put my taillight on but I was to the Arbys before it got dangerous.

After a drink, and an Arbys sandwich I was full so feeling a little like Napolean Dynamite I shoved the carton of Curly fries into my Jersey pocket, leaned back and loosened the old Sam Brown Belt and got on my bike to head off into the night. From here I had 7-8 miles of uphill to the Saguaro Lake turnoff.

It was a beautiful night and my headlight was bright and the moon was near full. I had a strong tailwind and all was good with the world. Cycling along in the stillness of the night can be quite therapeutic. It is just you and your thoughts out there. Well, actually you, your thoughts, and a box of curly fries but it is all good. I snacked periodically through this section.

Occasionally I would see the lights of a house off in the darkness and was surprised as I never noticed anything out there during the day. This was a much different ride at night. Periodically semi's would pass me and I was pleased to note my headlight would light up the backs of them for up to a quarter mile and above. I can honestly say my headlight gives me all the light I need. I found myself comfortably descending at 35 mph with it.

The best part about my light is it runs on curly fries, and the tank was full. Turning off of the Beeline I stop for a minute to put on my jacket and turn my flashing helmet light on again. The bush highway is quiet. Occasionally a car goes by. I am amused by the cars approaching me who slow down trying to figure out what I am. This is good. For one my light is bright enough that they turn their brights off when approaching me. Second, they try to figure out what I am which means they see me. Being seen is good at night on a narrow road.

Moving down the road I pass the lights of the Saguaro lake marina and then I am into the darkness again. It is a beautiful night in the desert. The night birds are chirping, and the moon is shining brightly. If I didn't need to be seen I could probably turn my headlight off and still follow the road. Soon I am at the turn to go over Usery pass. It is a long slog up usery pass and I am grateful for my granny gear as I lug all this extra weight up the hill. I think back to when I weighed more and likely had about the same amount of fat as I had on my rack out back. This hill was a lot harder then. Soon I will be home and can shed this weight in a few seconds whereas a few years ago I would have been stuck with it.
Topping the pass I look across the million lights of the valley spread out in front of me with dark outlines of hills in front of them. It is a beautiful descent back down into civilisation. I have been heading home from work for over 4 hours now and my legs are starting to get tired (I have been working on my pedal stroke and have been using some new muscles). I am mentally aware of myself. I breathe in the night and the sight of the city far below me. All is well. Sometimes it pays to take the long way home.
Some clown I ran into at the 400k start line while buying batteries.

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