Sunday, January 31, 2010
It's the wolf moon, or at least the day after. It's the brightest moon of the year this year. I have had a time of getting the Coy Mistress out of the garage and down the street. I am out of new tubes and have several issues with the tires. It's been a bad week, a busy day, and I'm way strung out. We finally get operational though. The city lights are behind and I stop to switch off my light. Yes, turn it off. The moon is bright and I spend the next 2 hours riding in the moonlight with just my taillights to light up the back.
My goal is to get right up against the Superstition mountains and work the neighborhood roads across the front of it. The closer I get to the mountains the more the giant cliffs loom above me in the moonlight. Suddenly the road I am on turns and around the corner it is dirt. As I stop to turn around I am surrounded by the sounds of Coyotes howling at the moon all the way along the front of the mountains.
Meandering through the neighborhoods silent and stealthy without my light on I feel like a bandit or some sort of night apparition roaming the neighborhood. Maybe I should stop and terrorize some chickens or something like that. Nah, I think folks up in these here parts probably have some buckshot for any sort o Werecyclists roaming under the full moon.
On the way home I run into something stranger than a cyclist out around midnight.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
So....I got my fork fixed with 1 of the last 4 cartridges for my fork in existence according to the manufacturer. Unfortunately the first bike shop I went to to get the shock pumped up at didn't have the adapter for an older fork like mine. So I spent over an hour cursing as I tore the garage apart trying to find the one the guy I bought the fork from sent me. In desperation I called the good guys over at A1 bike shop in a last ditch effort. True to form, they had the part. Never underestimate the guys down at A1.
So, I finally got to the trailhead at 3:30. My 4 hour ride had become a sub 3 hour ride. Scenery wise it was tops though. Due to the rains the trails were a little more difficult than normal. There were ruts where there hadn't been formerly and all the washes were sandy. After a few days to dry out everything will be back to normal again.
Heading up to the NRA pit there were a few guys on downhill bikes climbing up the hillside for a last run or two for the day. The sun was getting further down and it was time for me to head back.
After getting off the Wild Horse trail and up twisted sister I started to run out of time. The sun was setting and I had to get back to the car before dark fell. At one point I heard a clear 'ping' and noticed my lockout knob on my fork had come off. I must not have tightened it enough. I could either sit and look for it in the shadows and perhaps get stuck out here, or I could just realize I'd have to buy another one and get back to the car before darkness. I made it before things got really dark but it was hard to see the last bit.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Aarrr, says ye knows adventure says ye, arrr. Wet behind the ears ye be says I. How can ya know this hear thing called adventure when yer ship be naked as a summers day and not a fender in sight. Aye lad, ya aint lived til yer brought to a standstill in a 60mph gust. Ya aint felt rain until it stings and feels like horizontal hail bite'n yer cheeks and yer feet be dippin ankle deep on each pedal stroke. Ya aint ridden in traffic til yuv been shoved to the opposite sides of the lane by gusts blown between buildings. Ya aint lived til y've firmly held yer life in yer hands lad.
Arr, this evenin been one o them dark and stormy evenins. The wind was howling like a banshee out of the south crying death in the wind. She was blowin over 30 and gustin upper 50's if she was blowing at all. The rain was shootin across the road. It was the kind of night folks look at ya and say "wow". Not a soul about cept thems that be locked away in stinking cages o glass and steel. Aint no place for a fair weather racer boy lad. These be conditions to try the soul and mind o man. A man aint race'n another on a night like this boy. There aint no one else about. A man yells and mocks the fates on a night such as this.
Aye, ye be discoverin yerself on a night like this lad. Be glad it be just 18 miles. Time was years ago I road 245 miles like this. I remember it lad. I remember it well. Blowed full off the road I was. Sent off from Arivaca to brave the winds and rain alone I was. All the others behind me jumped ship when they had the chance. Men ahead o me came within a hairs breadth of stepping too far son. Steppin too far be the end of ya lad. Comin close though will teach ya things boy. Teach ya bout yerself.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Held up at work and a moment too late I have missed the last express bus. I'm a refugee relying on the light rail to move me over to Mesa. It drops me onto Main street. Nearby is an old shell of a building that used to be a Walmart. You know it's bad when Walmarts start going under. Moving down another mile I am approaching downtown. Downtown Mesa is an area they have tried to keep the 1950's mainstreet type atmosphere going. I am pleased to note that though the atmosphere is supposed to be quaint they are not above including a bike lane.
I pass a paper boy and look to see what he is so excited about. The cynical side of me says that back in the day this poor boy was probably expected to go collect the money for the newspaper putting him in danger as he knocked on the doors of the various strangers of society. If he didn't keep up with the daily changes to his route he likely lost his shirt. Lets just say I know whereof I speak and the image of the paperboy holds painful memories.
Moving on down mainstreet we are into the late 50's early 60's. Before us60 was the Superstition Freeway it was the southern sibling of route 66 and was Mesa's Main Street. Once upon a time Mesa Arizona was probably pretty exotic sounding to some folks from back east and they would stop and stay in any one of the hotels along mainstreet with large neon signs towering over the burning desert asphalt beckoning the travelers to come on in and rest the them tired dogs for a piece.
Many of the buildings are nearly identical to the hotels that line route 66 in Flagstaff. At least the ones that haven't been ripped down and built into new hotels. In the 80's the 50's to 60's era route 66 hotels were out of style and many were torn down or abandoned. You can still find them in Flagstaff though as you can here in Mesa. Some have been made into economy studio apartments, some are still motels albeit run down.
The king of this ilk in Mesa is the Starlight Motel with it's eternally diving woman, ever jumping off the sign into the refreshing pool.
Alongside the old motor lodges are the rv parks. Once upon a time an RV was THE way to see the country. Chain up the old trailer to one of them old cars that were as big as whales that were still made out of steel and could tow more than many trucks can today and head out into the wild country.
Motel westernaire. I'm getting to the further east end of main street now. There are not too many old neon signs past Power road.
At nearly all of these motels there are maybe 2 or 3 vehicles in the parking lot. How these people stay in business is a mystery. Perhaps they own their properties and this is what they pictured retirement being like in their old age?
Further east the signs get a little more rundown. Back in the day these signs held off the darkness of the wilderness and desert to the east. Now it's just a continuous city all the way out to the Superstitions.
The circle rb guest lodge motel is the last one of the neons left on my commute tonight. It's light still flashes in warm friendly color to passing travellers. Next door is a hotel that is not so lucky.
At Power and Main Street I mark the end of this evenings diversion and turn for home. The rains will start soon and a cyclist should get inside or else prepare for a long cold night.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
In a place like downtown Phoenix anything can happen. This morning was one of my more interesting commutes so I thought I would blog it.
Of course it's Friday and since last Friday I overdid it I opted to ride the express bus both ways and cut the actual biking distance down to a nice 9 miles each way. Of course, this means riding the bus which this morning had two people I know get on. Neither one recognized me. To be fair we are just members of the same church but different units in the area and only see each other periodically, also I had my cycling glasses on and my super spiffy helmet with all the writing still on it from Cochise which I need to black out. Cool to know I'm not the only one doing the public transportation thing though.
So, I am sure you are thinking to yourself that that can't be what made my commute interesting right now and you would be right. After I got off the bus just north of Downtown I was making my lazy, non-intensive, supposed to be a rest day way up 3rd street and had just passed palm way when there was a huge bang and looking back two cars had nailed each other head on, hard.
I doubled back to see what I could do. I recently had a cpr course with some first aid so I thought I might be able to help. One guy was on his cell phone in his car as I pulled up and the other was getting out of his car with a rag on his head. He told me he was bleeding pretty good. At this point I wished I'd had a sterile gauze pad or something I could give him but I didn't. He was doing pretty much the best thing he could do and I watched him for signs of shock or erratic behavior. Head injuries are nothing to be trifled with. Within probably 90 seconds a fire truck came around the corner with sirens blaring. I was pretty amazed they responded so quickly. I figured they had the equipment and know how and I wasn't really needed after all and I headed off.
I think in the future I might put some rubber gloves and some gauze in the seatbag. Maybe a disposable cpr mask too. You never know. If the fire engine hadn't been so close and the guy had hit his head a little harder it could have gotten ugly fast.
Now, I know your thinking that you don't see an accident happen in your rearview mirror everyday so that might make a commute interesting, well, these things come in two's sometimes. I was mulling over the experience as I headed up the road when a raving derelict lady starts yelling garbled words at me or the sky or whatever as she walked down the sidewalk. The first thing I thought about was the cat lady from the simpsons. This lady did not have any cats though.
Raving derelicts always present a bit of an interesting situation. I never know quite what to do so I kind of ride on by. I figured as long as they are not walking around down a busy street or posing a danger to anyone, there's not a whole lot, little no psychiatry degree holding me, can do.
It's also funny, that moment from when you think someone is yelling at you and you are wondering what you did to merit such an attack, to your realization that this is a person who is like that car down on palm lane with the horn stuck on from having crashed into another car.
I'd say she'd get the help she needs eventually but the mentally ill are often pushed to the back of the political agendas of both parties with the democrats at least saying they might try. I will try not too get too political here because both sides are at fault but when I researched which candidates seemed to actually care in the last election Hillary was the only one who bothered to fill out the questionaire distributed to the candidates by the national alliance on mental illness. Obama responded next best with a list of support he's given in the past. McCain said he didn't respond to surveys and mentioned some support in the past and the other GOP candidates ignored it. I realize the election is all in the past, but hopefully the lady's chances for help aren't.
Sorry to get political, this subject just strikes a little close to home for me. When I lost my job I couldn't afford medicine or cobra and I was in too high a tax bracket for medicare (high tax bracket yes, money in pocket? no). We managed but if I hadn't gotten a job when I did it would have been ugly. None of the private insurance companies would take me on so I was pretty much hosed. They would insure my family but not me. Whichever party you belong to, support a solution to healthcare and not some tough sounding and witty sound bite. There's a real problem out there if you don't have a job and have a mental illness. I realize a public option doesn't sound good to some. Unfortunately there's people out there that have expensive medicine that make them non-profitable in an insurance company's eyes. If there's a way to get private companies to profitably insure these people, great. I'm just not seeing it at this point. I don't think public insurance is the answer for everyone, but there are a select few for whom I don't think you can get a company to cover and stay profitable without having the deductibles go through the roof. There, I said my piece. We will now return to the regularly scheduled and fully bicycle related blog.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
There are times when one day seems the same as the next. That there is never any hope of anything else and that no amount of effort will yield anything worthwhile. Life becomes pointless and desire for anything is gone. The grey city breathes heavily and a million people move about in unchanging paths like hopeless unfeeling automatons. Life is a burdon and a weight hangs heavy on my soul.
Then like an aspirin a good bicycle ride starts to pump color back into life and resurrect a positive perspective. If I can just get up enough umph to get the bike out things will be alright. It might not last, it probably won't, but for the moment, all is right. Hanging over the handlebars as the legs churn the pedals and propel me down the street or through a desert landscape, it doesn't matter. My bike and I leave this sad rain grey world for a short period of time and things are OK for awhile. I am free to ride wherever or however I want. Up hills, down hills, around cacti, in the mountains, down screaming descents or up steep desert canyons. There is no one there to criticize, my mind is employed in positive endeavors and the demons of self degradation are drowned out by the wind in my ears and the joy of motion. There is no second guessing, there is only motion, wind, sun, air, and life in it's purest form. Allure Libre.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
View of Canyon Lake from near the first bridge.
Another shot of Canyon Lake
Just me and my shadow right after getting dropped.