Thursday, November 17, 2011

Let's play, finish the driver's sentence.....

I could never ride a bike in traffic but......

  • I could risk my life and others sending a text to my boyfriend/girlfriend about the last song I heard on the radio or how terrible all the other drivers are.
  • I could risk my life by watching an in dash dvd player,  which likely enough has a movie that involves a villain who risks or harms people's lives.
  • I could almost ram another car in my zeal of yelling at a cyclist.
  • I could risk my life and others in passing a cyclist unsafely to save 10 seconds of drive time.
  • I could spend 3 minutes of my commute following and harrassing a cyclist that otherwise would have cost me 20 seconds of lost time.
  • I could swear and throw a tantrum over having to deal with a peloton of cyclists costing me a minute or two, not thinking that if they were all in cars like I am, I would be exponentially screwed out of much more time.
  • I could risk my life and others by driving into the sun when I couldn't see, instead of stopping and cleaning my windshield (-but I couldn't see him officer!  The sun was in my eyes!    officer-Do you often drive while blind Sir/Mam?).
  • In heavy traffic I could use the bike lane to queue up behind a long line of cars for a right turn despite having just told a cyclist to stay in the bike lane.
  • I could blame a cyclist for taking up 4 feet of road space despite having made the decision to drive a vehicle bordering on the maximum legal width and fully suitable for driving my  posse to the Love Shack.

Feel free to add any of your own in the comments,  just keep in mind to keep it kid appropriate...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mt. Lemmon 200k Brevet

I did the Mt. Lemmon 200K Brevet Saturday.  It was another great ride.  I rode slow since as you know I have not had time to train this fall.  It has been a long time since I did a climb of this magnitude and I must say it has been too long.  I have grown soft but by the time I arrived at the top the old will had again manifested itself.   I did make a video of the experience which I have attached below.  I managed to beat my last time on this ride.  Of course I wasn't dealing with a bum knee and crazy headwinds all the way up the mountain this time (they were there in parts but not contunuously).

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Am I getting repititious?

So it has been awhile since I did a Brevet.  I helped with one in Sep but couldn't ride since I didn't get Friday off for a preride. The last one I did was the Route 66 300k.  Other than that I have done permanents but have not had much of an organized Brevet year.  Perhaps it was a latent grudge against not being able to do PBP once again?  I think the biggest reason was I've been trying to bike with the kids a lot more and that interferes with training.  I have hopes of doing more rides next spring.  We have been told by my Son's therapists that Mom and Dad need to put on their 'Oxygen Masks' first so to speak so I am upping my "Dad Only" rides again.  We'll see how we juggle it around the Boy's race schedule next year.  With so many Brevet's being offered I think things should work out.

This brings me around to Saturday morning.  I had the dream again.  I don't know how often this happens to you before Brevet's but after I have had a long hiatus and am looking at a ride the next week,  I have the dream.  The dream usually starts out with me getting ready for the Brevet and then I can't find something or I run out of gas and don't make it to the start line.  The other variation is that I do start but then I get lost and can't find a control or I miss it or I'm too slow, or any number of stupid things happen.  So Friday Night I had the dream.  I invited a bunch of friends on the Brevet and they made me late.  Maybe it was my brain just telling me,  "don't even think about someone else,  this ride is for you and you need the outlet".   At least it wasn't a show up to the Brevet naked dream I guess.

Saturday's Brevet is the Mt. Lemmon Brevet.  Mt. Lemmon is one of the top climbs in the country.  Since you've been following this blog you probably know my training has not been optimal.  In fact I haven't strung more than 60 miles together in over a month.   I figure I can count the Tandem as double miles.  So I am a little trepidatious.   I did manage to do over 3000 feet of climbing over 43 miles Saturday morning in Las Sendas.  Yes,  little Las Sendas.  How does one get 3000 feet of climbing in Las Sendas you may ask?  Well,  you repeat yourself a lot.  You also dig up side roads like "Range Rider" that feature slight variations but no one rides them since they don't connect to anything.  

My saving grace is I could have done much more as I felt fine so I think if I spin I should be ok.  As far as distance goes, by the time I rode with Josh and Adela in the Afternoon, and Joseph late at night,  I had over 80 miles in.  I was sleepy but the cycling muscles weren't overly exhausted so I think I should be good.  Now to figure out how to get some fenders on the bike.  There's a chance of rain.  Maybe it might even snow up on top.  If it does rain, the Coy Mistress will miss out on a climb up Lemmon while the commuter shines in it's element.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Full Circle....Again......

It's a good thing actually.  I feel like my work locations cycle.  I worked in Tempe just south of the big water bucket on the butte once upon a time,  then I moved out of tempe to a job in north Phoenix,  then by the airport,  then to just North of the big water bucket and I started bike commuting.  From their I left again and went to Chandler where I still commuted albeit a little long I continued by bicycle,  then it was up to Squaw/Piestewa peak area and commuting was noticeably harder due to the distance and eventually stopped.  The past week I moved.  The new location is just North of the big water bucket.  You may ask,  Paul, have you started bike commuting again?  I may reply,  does a fish return to water first chance it gets?

Since the last time I had to commute down the Broadway corridor a few things have changed.  There are now bike lanes down Main Street/Apache Trail which weren't there before so I don't have to go north to University and ultimately the rio salado parkway.  So though my work is farther as the crow flies,  I am able to actually have a shorter commute mileage wise since I don't have to go as far north to avoid the terrible terrible road that Broadway road is through Tempe.

I decided to resume commuting last Wednesday and was pleased to find that since last time I was a much faster rider being able to catch the holy grail of a 20mph average with rack trunk and traffic lights everywhere.  I don't know if it is safe to go much faster than that due to the number of traffic lights and the annoyances of urban riding.  Still it was a pleasant surprise.

This new route may not have beautiful scenery like Camelback mt and Squaw peak in it but it is a much more doable distance so it will happen a lot more.  My father in-law works only 5 miles away so the ride home is taken care of.  Things have worked out quite well for me.  It's good to be back until the circle decides to take up the cycle again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Isn't that a long way to go for a 45 mile ride?

Cochise County Cycling Classic

Friday was an interesting day.  Our trip started out with me remembering a few things we forgot after I got the kids in the car and while I collected them Joe got bored.  Joe's kind of like the incredible hulk in a way,  don't get him bored, you wouldn't like it when he's bored.  First starts irritation, he irritates people ceaselessly, then when people get mad at him he lashes out and gets violent.  Well,  the doctors told us the next time it happened take him to Phoenix Childrens emergency room where he would spend the week in their pediatric psychiatric unit getting his meds regulated and that is just what my wife did.  That left Josh, Adela and I to head down to Cochise County one rider shy.  I have to say,  it took a lot of stress off me having him out of the picture, not that I don't love the little guy but when his other side comes out it can be a long time before the genie goes back in the bottle so to speak.

So off we all went in the bikemobile down to Douglas.  We stopped off at Kartchner Caverns and the Bisbee mine tour on the way and the kids loved them both.  We actually managed to time things quite nicely,  we managed to slide into the Douglas Fairgrounds at 5:20 to check in and attend the bike patrol meeting at 5:30.  I chatted up Wayne Churchman who recognized me before I recognized him thanks to a new moustache, he commented Douglas was a long drive for a 45 mile ride.  I told him we were bike tourists.  Then we picked up our packets and t-shirts including Joseph's and went to listen to Sheila in the bike patrol meeting.  Sheila is an old friend that used to go to our church when she lived up in Mesa.  Enter Fuji.  Fuji is Barbara's dog and of course, all dogs love kids or is it vice versa?  So it seems they found something to entertain them while I was instructed on the finer points of bike patrol.

The kids it turned out,  had become psyched about the spaghetti dinner after all and so all thoughts of Dairy Queen were out of their minds.  Before dinner though we needed to run to Walmart since we had left Adela's backpack behind,  I mean it wasn't like there were any distraction going on when we departed huh?  So,  one pair of shoes and new outfit later, and also a brief delay waiting for the border overflow traffic to let us through (lot's of folks trying to get back to Mexico at sunset), we were off  to enjoy our spaghetti dinner.  Had a good talk with Patty and Ajai.  Ajai was doing the full enchilada,  the big early, the double stuffing,  the big ride, the reason it is the Cochise "COUNTY" Cycling Classic.  Kid's loved talking to them.  Kid's loved talking to everyone actually.  Cochise is one of those rides that is the equivalent of life in a small town.  Everyone pretty much meets everyone and much of that happens at the dinner.  They were the only kids there really.

Josh and Adela's Spaghetti dinner

Back at "Six Motel" as Adela puts it, and after a brief trip into Middle Earth the kids were asleep and it was time for me to become "Bicycle Repair man!".   Well, actually there wasn't much to repair as opposed to prepare.  I just love the skit by Monty Python, it's a good watch on youtube if you ever get the chance.  It took me about an hour to get the bottles, handlebar bag full of scooby snacks (candy), and all the race numbers pinned, twisty tied, and stuck to the various paraphenalia that would be used on the ride. 

I prodded the kids to get up around 6:15 and headed out to the front of the hotel to take pictures of the 157 and 92 mile guys as they went by.  They were ready when I got back and we packed up and headed to the start line where they made no delay in finding Fuji and Barbara.  I wandered around a bit and then we all lined up and I decided to tuck my pullover under one of the traffic cones and chance the cold morning.

Josh hurried out with the pack despite my wish to hold back but I figured he'd blow up within a mile or two anyway and then we could hold a more practicle pace.  Sure enough,  after turning off the Pan American Hwy there he was and we caught him fairly quickly.  It wasn't too long before we were taking our illustrious position of being the last riders.  Being bike patrol I felt that since I wasn't around to help anyone I would at the very least pickup all the event related garbage along the route which mostly consisted of empty gel packs.  We did find a 2004 El Tour shirt though which came in handy later on.

The Long Road back to Douglas
Being in back meant we got to have the broom wagon keep a watchful eye on us and offer us fruit and so forth.  Being so cold we really didn't need much water but ate a few bananas.  After halfway Sheila took up the broom wagon duties and watched us as we went into the flatter and faster portion of the course.  I use the word 'faster' loosely though.  9 year olds just aren't that fast I am afraid but that's ok. 

The kids had remained surprisingly upbeat until Adela had to go to the bathroom and we discovered that there were not any on the last 15 miles of the route.   We eventually were forced into a rather pastoral area by the road where relief was found as well as a good use for that t-shirt we picked up.  Just before we stopped there Josh proclaimed he "quit"  but after the break he was ready to finish after having what must have been a pep talk from Sheila. 

I am often surprised how one gets extra energy from somewhere when the last few miles of the ride starts.  Josh bolted across Douglas looking for that finish line.  We pulled in at one minute after one with a time of 5 hours and 1 minute.   Josh's bike computer showed 4 hours and 22 minutes of riding time and mine showed 4 hour and 10 minutes of riding time (we got to ride faster when we would catch up to him after picking up garbage).

Um, can't remember why she looks like she's crying,  probably something her brother did..

We hung around the finish for awhile while the kids entertained the PBAA staff.  When Dan rode in (100 mile world record holder, 10 time Cochise winner, yada yada yada) Josh was calling out to him like they were old friends which seemed to catch Dan off guard a little but after he had had a minute to recover a bit (234 miles is quite aways to go in 11 and a half hours after all) he came over and started talking to Josh about Josh starting to race next season and how he knew some of the Two Wheel Jones guys.  Dan's a class act for sure.  Cochise is one of those events where everyone gets to rub shoulders so to speak and it was very cool  it really made Josh's day.

Can't say anything of interest happened on the way home.  Had Pizza,  had ice cream,  had a long drive where Josh pulled a switcheroo on me while I was filling the tank and stole the gummy bears I had hidden away just so he wouldn't get to them.  Impulsivity disorders and medications that give you the appetite of Scooby Doo are not a good idea in my mind,  need to talk to the doctor about that come to think of it,  before he blows up like a balloon.

Yes it was a long drive for a 45 mile ride.  If you look at it from a 9 year old's perspective though, it may as well be a century.  It's also a wonderful opportunity to meet the folks behind the scenes when they don't have 9000 cyclists milling around them.  Time well spent.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day and Night and the Super Spies.

Joseph in front of the Pass elevation sign.

So it's the last Saturday before the Cochise Country Cycling Classic.  I figured we'd notch down the distance this week but still wanted to keep it a bit of a challenge for them so a Usery loop it was.  This week was not about Treasure Hunts for Captain Crank's treasure,  it wasn't about a super spy mission (see below),  It was about getting a ride in.  I offered to make it a night ride and only Josh took me up on it.

When the kids that wanted daylight finally got out the door it was almost 8 so it was going to be a warm ride.  Fortunately the Usery Pass park has a visitor center outside the gate now where one can water up,  or if you are the type of boy to down your whole water bottle of koolaid before you get through the first 5 miles,  it's also a great place to recover from the effects of such speedy intake of liquids, which also makes it a great motivator for climbing the hill quickly.

Greater love hath no man than he that descends a 4 mile long 5% grade on a tandem at 13 mph behind a nervous nine year old.  Mental note to self,  double the frequency of brake pad checks.

I have also discovered that though one may not think riding with kids at 10 -12 mph is good training,  wait until you hit a 9% grade with a seven year old on the back of the tandem that pedal's hard only when she wants to.  Good V02 max training.

It's important to be visible.
 The other Son took me up on the night ride offer.  Since the tandem was not necessary I attached the good old hub wheel and light, reflective triangles,  taillights and ankle bands and we were off.  Well,  after we fixed the flat in Walgreens parking lot,  and saw a skunk!  I didn't know they lived down here.

 As far as night rides go this one was absolutely gorgeous.  It was cloudy and we even felt a drop or two but that was it.  The temps were perfect, the traffic was light,  the lights were bright. all was silent.

"Josh!  Hold on a minute,  did you hear that?"
"What Dad?"
"I thought I heard some Coyotes!"
"Uh, Dad... can we get moving again....  like NOW"

Josh was a little freaked out now and again but I think in general he really enjoyed the ride.  Of course, when he met the Rattlesnake trying to get off the road he informed me that it was my turn to go in front.

Josh in front of the Usery Pass elevation sign.
It was a great ride and it was the fastest Josh has ever done the loop.  I think he climbs better at night because he can't see how big the hills are.

Kids on their 31 mile long Super Spy Mission.

Here is some of the video from the Saturday before last's ride.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

High Country Brevet and the Treasure of Captain Crank

Josh near Sunrise
 The High Country Brevet was held recently and I had intended to ride but unfortunately two of my co-workers beat me to the day off so I was stuck with running support on Saturday and no pre-ride.  Of course this offered the opportunity to bring the kids along.

Adela the Happy Stoker
 The kids and I are training for the 45 mile event at the Cochise County Cycling Classic in a few weeks and I thought we could mix things up a little and do a ride up in the pines while waiting for the brevet riders to get to the ski resort.  This plan worked really well as I learned they had recently paved the road all the way to Big Lake and though I am sad to see the area get more developed, as a road cyclist I am pumped.  We ended up riding to the Little Colorado river and back.

Josh climbing out of the Little Colorado
It was a bit chilly and we even got a few raindrops on us but was otherwise absolutely beautiful other than a few complaints from the kids (they were in desperate need of a nap).
Joseph crossing the prairie
All in all it was a great day and we missed the big hailstorm that hit most of the other riders.

Now, for Captain Crank!  I visited with the kids recently and the consensus was they liked doing the events but not so much the long training rides.  So,  this left me with a quandry.  How do you help the kids train for an event they want to do, but not make it feel like training?  Well,  how about a treasure hunt?  A 28 mile treasure hunt on bikes to be exact!   Every 5 or 6 miles I had a point they had to find with further instructions and candy.  It's really funny to see how a small change in an activity can make the difference.

It was warm,  it was on fairly flat in town streets, it was a boring ride but,  it was a boring ride with treasure at the end and little rewards hidden all along the way and even a playground near the turnaround (and drinking fountains fortunately enough as the ride took a lot longer than I thought it would with all the stops).  The kids are still talking about it to my wife.  This week I need to figure out how to make it work going over Usery Pass so there will be some stuff for me to look at it too.  Josh is supposed to get his team bike this week so we might be able to take advantage of some excitement there.  We shall see!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Must have fallen off.....

Something a little strange has been happening in my neighborhood this week. In the cool dawn hours when the world is silent, a lone cyclist has been seen roaming the streets, on a tandem. He rides alone on a bicycle built for two, but why? Some say he went out riding with a friend in the dead of night and when he got back, the stoker was gone. No one knows what became of the stoker. Was he brutally murdered? Did he fall off? Did he disappear conveniently? Was the oppresive captain so bent upon the road that his stoker was pushed one stroke too far? Who can tell, but the stokerless captain roams the streets with an ominous empty seat. Some say the lone captain roams the streets in search of another victim who he will pedal to their death. When queried as to the location of his stoker he jokes they must have fell off. Joke, or a joke with a hint of truth? decide!

Of course, the other logical explanation is that he's a normal roadie and his bike is in the shop so he rides what he has operational looking like a tool.....:)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Adding injury to insult

Well, first off, let me apologize for not writing in awhile.  First I didn't complete the DM3 permanent I rode with the two Mikes of Az Brevet fame because of mud and that was a downer,  second my Mom died, that also was a big downer, and third we've been dealing with the repercussions of the second.

In other news I did get out for a ride on Monday (kids got my time on Saturday,  they're training for Cochise).  I intended to go to the end of the pavement.  Yeah, intended,  yet another ride cut short but let me get to that tragic,  yet .....well ok, can't Pollyanna this thing,  tragic tragic story.

First off I didn't get off before sunrise so it was going to be warm.  Fortunately it was a little cloudy to delay things a bit.  All the way across Mesa the legs felt blown.  It might have been because I really really crunched them going up Kong with Adela on the back on Saturday,  in any case I was not in a happy place but was determined to get a bike ride in come what may.

I may not have written about this but in the last few weeks I made the discovery that SRAM offers a derailer that allows you to put a cassette with a 32t ring on it on a road compact crankset so I can spin a little better on the steeps,  also spin a little better on tired legs too, which I am sure will come in handy on the Mt Lemmon brevet in November as it came in handy Monday.

The guys at Canyon lake let me use their water spigot since the store was closed fortunately as it was getting warm.  I then kicked myself in the butt and headed out to Tortilla flat right in front of another cyclist who upon approaching asked if I was going to the brevet in Showlow on Sat.  He recognized my RUSA jersey of course.  I'm pretty sure it was Pete who I rode off and on with at the Route 66 300k last spring.  I could only mumble a reply as he passed for my shifter decided to break right then.  Yeah,  the expensive one.  This would make #2 to break on me and I didn't think it would be under warranty the original having been purchased with the bike 3 years ago.

So,  back to the Marina I turn to go lock my derailleur into a sensible gear for the way home since I was now reduced to a two speed.  As I pedalled along in a sad funk,  a wasp decided to give me a consolation kiss.  Fortunately my mouth was not open enough for him to go french on me.  He got my lower lip pretty bad and my upper lip not as much.  Yep,  when it rains it pours.

It was a ride of spinning and grinding from here on out depending if I was in the big or little ring.  Mostly spinning as I erred on the side of being nice to my knees.  At the top of the big climb I re-adjusted my derailleur to give me a nice gear for going 20-21 mph in.  The day was kind of shot after that but homemade ice cream cheered the soul at the end of the day.

Incidentally,  since the replacement shifter was installed last May (after it broke going up the last big hill on the Mines to Pines 300k)  the two year warranty applied since it resets when you get a replacement and not when the original part was purchased!  Thank you SRAM for being cool about backing up your stuff.  So,  even if I could have had the day off today,  I still could not have ridden the High Country 200k which I am running support for everyone tomorrow.  Guess I'll just enjoy the time with the kids and riders tomorrow.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Life Amid the Red Rocks

Buttes behind Red Rock State Park
Went on vacation this week with the family and of course that meant taking the Coy Mistress along for those escapades at dawn when no one is awake.  Many of the roads in the vicinity of Cornville, Az where our timeshare was are zero shoulder roads but many were rideable and quite beautiful.

Cathedral Rock near Red Rock State Park
I only really had 2 objectives to do this week and that was to ride to Sedona and also to climb Mingus Mtn. .   I ended up forgetting my helmet, gloves, and cycling cap but since I brought the family's cycling gear along I had an extra helmet I could use.  On the first day I forgot to bring water on my way out so it was pretty critical I make it to Sedona so I could buy water and calories of some sort.  The morning was beautiful and I didn't sweat too much on the way up so it worked.

Red Rocks near Red Rock State Park
Most of the Journey from Cottonwood/Cornville up to Sedona is rolling fields of green mesquite and catclaw but nearing town you enter a land of red buttes and Canyon walls.  Many come from far and wide to see the rocks or if they are particularly wealthy,  move in.  I only had one behave stereotypical at me and honk and tell me to get off the road.  I waved at him as he spead off.

Oak Creek below Red Rock State Park
I opted to ride the Red Rock Loop on the way home to see what Red Rock State Park was all about having never visited.  I had been to Red Rock Crossing a lot but never downstream to the park.  Having only about a half mile of paved roads it wasn't much for a road biker of course.  I did get about a mile of dirt in before I got to the park as the Loop is not entirely paved.  I purchased entry into the park when I got there so the Fam could come back later and see it.

Sign says it's open 24 hours!
On Thursday I had decided to climb Mingus Mt.   I was going to do it with the local group that does it on Thursdays but through emails I found out no one would likely be there so owing to insomnia and waking up full of racing thoughts and angst (hate it when that happens),  I decided the Coy Mistress and I would work all this out on a 3000' climb an hour earlier.  The Coy Mistress is a good therapist.  Earlier also meant less traffic which is good since there is no shoulder going up the narrow winding road through Jerome and up the mountain.
Curves, Mountain grades sign on the way into Jerome city limits.
I've always wanted to climb Mingus mountain since it is one of the larger climbs in the state.  Add to the fact there is an awesome city built on the steepest part of the climb and you have a fantastic ride.  I found myself climbing most of the way through Cottonwood in the hour before sunrise and occasionally would be passed by a cement truck or a work truck speeding busily on to the days work.  Temps were in the mid 70's and it was as near a perfect morning as you can get.   Working my way through the Cottonwood and Sycamore trees was beautiful but soon I was working my way up the dry climb to Jerome.

Corner just before entering Jerome proper.
Jerome is an interesting town.  It clings to the side of a steep hill.  It clings hard.  In fact,  it's so clingy that despite the mines having shutdown 60 years ago it is still there.  It prides itself as a ghost town and as a tourist destination being full of shops and boutiques, and mining Museums.  Theres a state park there too which I'd visit later with the family.

Highway leaving Jerome and climbing into the hills.
The funny thing about Jerome is you go from a nice 7% grade heading into town, to a 10% grade through town.  If you walk,  then you walk in plain site of all the people who might be out at 6:00 in the morning.  I did not have to walk.  Although if I did there was only 1 guy out sweeping or something like that.

The climb up Mingus from Jerome was a beautiful climb without too much traffic. There were spots that were 62 degrees and of course it is always nice to get up to the pine trees. I was surprised that the steepest part was actually inside of Jerome.

Every tall hill has at least one fake top that is REALLY convincing as you see it ahead for a mile or two before you hit it. Of course, the fake top is usually within a mile or two of the top, This climb was no different. Once I was finally at the top though it was nice to see the sign saying I was over 7000 feet and a nice picnic area which I would later bring the family up to for a cool lunchtime picnic.

I ended up getting back at 9 or so. Not too bad for a big climb and a ton of scenery. I can see why the local folks climb it once a week


Now, I hurried on this blog post because I need to get it posted before I get Saturday's ride done. Saturday, the two Mikes (Sturgill and Enfield) and I will be riding the Dirty Mogollon Mormon Madness 200k. Those of you who have followed my blog for awhile know that this is a special ride. This year I hope to have my helmet cam and a better still camera along. The scenery is epic, the roads are epic, the elevation is challenging, and it looks like we might have thunderstorms. It promises to be a challenging yet rewarding ride. We will see.
You can get anything you want here I understand.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Three Hill Tandemania

Who is the youngest rider in RUSA?  I'm not sure but I think Joseph is close (his brother is 2 months younger so he's at least #2).  Not having completed a 200k he is not an official Randonneur of course but as of yesterday,  he has results recorded in the annals of RUSA.

A few months back I determined that although the R12 was a bit of a stretch for this time in my busy life as a father of 4,  the P4 was absolutely doable due to the fact that many of my Saturday rides are over 62 miles.  With the advent of the shorter 100k rides and my determination to keep up the younger three children's interest in cycling, I signed Joseph and Josh up in RUSA owing to the fact only RUSA members can ride permanents or ride with someone riding a permanent.

Originally I had my doubts about being able to ride the whole way and keep over a 10 mph average with a kid on the back.  In the end,  despite complaints about sore backsides, we made it with an hour and a half to spare even with the heat rising.

5 am is pretty early for a 9 year old but Joe was eager to go.  We couldn't find his bike shorts (need to order some more before we do this again) so he wore normal shorts.  5:20 found us at the store and getting some donuts for our receipt.  The first ten miles are all uphill so you have to work a little to beat the clock but we made it with 15 minutes to spare and were on our way back down where we discovered we would have headwinds out of the south.

Heading east to the Superstitions we ran into the Two Wheel Jones group watering up.  I chatted with one of them and mentioned Joseph was going to ride for the junior team this year and he said it looks like they might have 40 kids and a real coach this year.  That's psycho.  I think a little structured training will be good for the boys.  Their average speed has been increasing lately but on some things they need a second person giving them the advice for it to sink in.

Turning south Joseph wasn't sure about things and wanted to head home but I convinced him to keep at it and this morning and even yesterday at the end he was glad he did.   I wonder sometimes how much of the headwinds he feels on the back of the tandem.  Up front they are annoying but the wind gusts don't slow you as much on a tandem due to shear weight.  He was contributing but not a whole lot at this point.  We managed to hold 15 -19 most of the way across the valley down to the San Tans.  I went ahead and turned music on on my phone for Joseph as the section down Ironwood gets a little tedious except for the motorcycle track where folks were out jumping and racing much to the delight of Joe.

Pushing back through the hills to San Tan park was difficult for Joe and his backside was really hurting but I promised a long stop since it was the last control and it would be good to stop and sip some cool water. I must say I was starting to feel it a bit in hear.  It's one thing to ride a 100k but it is an entirely different thing to ride 100k with an 81 lbs 9 year old on the back.  By the time we were heading into the final stretches of Ellsworth I was feeling it and felt like I easily had 100 miles in my legs.  I must make a note that it is possible to get satisfactory training in and spend time with the kids at this point.  Just have to be careful not to burn them out.  I think I'll wait another year before stepping them up to 200k.   We'll let them do the full Tour de Tucson first.

After finishing of course, there is nothing like a big cup of frozen custard to get the body recovering.  There are not too many times when it is safe to do the custard thing but after a ride of 5 hours or more I have no qualms and must admit it is a powerful motivator for me.  We ended up doing 112k with a moving average of 14.3 mph and over 1200 feet of climbing.  Not too shabby for a guy and a 9 year old I think.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Some things can't be shared.


Lightning striking and playing among the clouds at night for one, is something that cannot be shared.  A camera might catch a piece of it but the full experience must be witnessed to be realized to it's fullest.  So too is the first rainstorm in the desert.  The smells cannot be duplicated,  the sounds of your tire splashing the water as you ride through the gathering torrent,  the silhouettes of Saguaro's flashing in the lights of the midnight storm, none of this can ever be recreated but is a piece of a moment.

Occasionally life's wonderful moments coincide and create an evening like tonight.  After the storm had finished showing off it's big haboobs the time had come for me to set out for my evening ride (didn't get a morning one as I took the kids out for a ride with them).  I thought it might just be  bunch of dry lightening but sure enough after a bunch of crazy winds the rain started about halfway up the hill as I reached the edge of the city lights.

What a cool opportunity to be out in the first rain of the monsoon on a bike climbing Usery pass with lightning flashing all across the valley and occasionally up on the mountain.  Also cool was the descent and the rain stopping but leaving the temperature at a nice 74 degrees.  I'll take 74 over 95 any night.  I could hear the wind rustling the creosote and saguaros after I turned around and started my repeats of the backside.  Lightning would flash over four peaks and over the top of the pass and out in Fountain hills about every 10 -15 seconds.  It was truly a great night for climbing and enjoying one of the few Summer nights that was absolutely pleasant.

On my way home I would come up to the top of Las Sendas and way out over South Mountain the giant moon was setting behind a curtain of rain from a distant storm.  It was a very sublime moment and I stopped and leaned over and rested on the aero bars and just soaked it in for a few minutes.

Adela at the river.
Here are some pictures from earlier in the day when I took the kids out on a ride to the Salt river along the Bush highway.  

Boys waiting for Dad.
It was well over 100 degrees by the time we were back to the car.  Fortunately the river was cold and we had a good soak before we got back on the bikes to head back.

Is it time for ice cream now?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Two Rides, Cool and Hot

The Layton Train
So I slept in Saturday, to 6 am.  I decided since I was planning on going long on Monday I'd take the kids out  and then do a Usery loop after that.  It's amazing how more excited kids are to go riding early in the morning if they went to bed before 10 pm.  Lately I've been trying to get them to up their pace a bit by offering them a shake every time they notch the average speed up 1 mph.  Wednesday they hit the 11 mph mark and today they did 12.2.  Of course it was pretty flat but still....

Happy Stoker
So the destination was Freestone park.  For some reason the kids like the rides to the parks even if they don't have a lot of time to play.  They haven't been too hip on doing usery loops lately but then again they haven't ridden a lot lately so flat and to the park it is.

Yeah,  I eat 18 mile rides for breakfast
I had orginally thought we wouldn't be back until after 9 so when the kids got back just after 8:30 I was surprised and glad I might have a chance at doing the loop before it got too hot.  Ha.  Although there was wispy clound cover in Mesa, Usery Pass was in full sun and the temperature was a lot higher up there and on the other side.  Usually it is the opposite.  There were a few people ahead of me but it was the time of diminishing returns and most cyclists were heading in to call it a day.  Can't say I blamed them.  I was suffering a bit heading down the Bush Hwy and almost stopped at Granite Reef to get in the river to cool down.  I made it though,  but I was pushing it.

Dad pays the piper after the kids ride.  115 degrees on the bike computer.  It was probably around 105 on the backside.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shhhhhh, Don't Jinx me.

So lately Mrs. Randocommute has taken an interest in cycling.  Nothing crazy mind you, it all starts with that neighborhood ride and an easy going attitude riding with all the kids.  From there, a query is made about perhaps crashing onto the end of my Tues Thurs workout on the tandem.  Pinch me.  This morning I cut my workout to an hour,  got home,  adjusted the backseat of the tandem for my sweet Randocommutess and then we were off, and not just into the neighborhood either, She asked if we could ride up to Red Mountain Park.  This is kind of cool because when I first started riding again, and arguably my first serious roadbiking,  this was my staple ride.  It's only 8 miles but 8 miles for someone who is not a cyclist is quite a start.  I remember being quite proud of that 8 miles at the start.  Eventually that 8 turned into the 26 mile usery loop with a scorching time of 2 hours and 30 minutes,  I was very proud of that at that time.  Not too long after that I bought a road bike.  She mentioned a desire to go up Usery someday but wants to start with Las Sendas.  The funny thing was, we didn't go as slow as I thought we would when climbing up to the park.  I think something good might be happening here.  This tandem might be worth the money.  Slow and steady's the rule.....can't jinx this.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tortilla Crisp

Sunrise behind the Superstitions
 With a forecast of 110 degrees and a need to get another 100k populaire done for the month of June I was determined to get out of bed at 4 AM.   I actually made it at about 4:07 which wasn't too bad.  I didn't get to the start until 4:40 ish though.  Nice thing was,  there was not even a breath of wind out.  I was able to keep the speeds over 20 most of the way back to the Sups which is really good for me.   Seeing as it would get hot pretty quickly once the sun was up fast was good.

Either I was out really early or the guys with the speedboats were lazy but there was not much car traffic to speak of.  That would be different on the way back of course (doesn't matter as much when I'm going the other way).  I was also stunned to not see any cyclists out.  I think I was just out early.  Temps in Mesa were a toasty 80 degrees before dawn.  In Apache Jct. we would almost get down to 70 before we got to Canyon Lake.

Yours Truly
 The Marina was closed still when I got there before 7.  The guy in the watch house said I could use the water spigot fortunately.  You can't get enough water in you on days like these.  The folks at the Marina are really nice to let us get water.  Heck,  I'd even pay a couple of bucks for water if they wanted it but so far they have been really good about letting us have water.  I'll have to take D'Net on a steamboat ride there or something one of these days.

For some reason I actually felt really powerful this morning on the hills and I made good time.  I got passed by at least a dozen motorcycles climbing up to the end of the pavement.  One of them would not be going home I would later seem, which is unfortunate as most of the sport bikers gave me a friendly wave.  Not that it wouldn't be unfortunate as well if it was one of the harley/cruiser types but they weren't as friendly with the waves this morning for some reason.

Is it just me,  or is this cactus giving me the bird?
 I was very surprised to arrive at the end of the pavement without having seen anyone else out cycling this morning.   Usually I either see someone heading back the other way or someone catches up to me.  I wouldn't see anyone until I was heading down the hill and I would see some of the Two Wheel Jones riders coming up the hill.  I figured they would catch up to me on the way out but they never did.

Climbing the hill was warm, after the turn around things started to get hot.  I got pretty hot climbing out of Tortilla Flat and the sun was putting on it's chefs hat for a full day at the bakery.  Fortunately, I had that water spigot at the marina I could use.  Where there is water,  there is life.  At 7:30 in the morning it had already passed 90 degrees and was heading for 100.  So I downed all the water I could.

He went that a way!
Climbing out of Canyon Lake I had a doofus in a silver pickup run me off the road.  Thank goodness I had my mirror.  He was 1 of maybe 4 cars that would pass me on the way out.  It wasn't like I was blocking traffic.  Anyway,  some people are just stupid and there's nothing you can do.  Their stupidity 24/7 probably causes them more pain than the few moments you get to experience of them.

After dropping down to the weavers needle overlook,  I was stopped by police directing traffic around an accident scene.  One of the motorcyclists had missed a turn.  He's lucky (assuming he lived)  he didn't goof up a few turns back where the cliffs are.   Since the Ambulance didn't pass me until I was well along Brown road it took them a long time to get him loaded up.

You know,  for all the whining and complaining I hear from motorists about cyclists being dangerous on the road to canyon lake I have yet to see an accident involving cyclists (other than silly rainy day mistakes).  So far I have seen two motorcycle accidents,  and a mini-van that went over the edge on a missed turn.   I also have seen many cars lined up behind folks towing boats but hardly ever see folks lined up behind a cyclist.  Anyway, just a few thoughts.  I know I'm preaching to the choir here but thought I'd share em anyway.

A tall cup of ice water and a cherry shake were very much enjoyed at Sonic where I was joined bv a guy on an expensive time trial bike and his (I assume)  girlfriend.  She was wearing tennis shoes so I figured she was probably just getting into this biking thing,  although she might be one of the folks who refuse to go clipless and uses the toe clips.

I weighed more when I got home than when I had left so I did good on the water.  I ended up with a time of 4 hours and 30 minutes which isn't too bad for a solo effort for me.  It's not my best time,  but it isn't too far off. I'll take it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Midnight Special

Yours Truly Headin to the North end of Town
Occasionally,  the busy desert dweller finds a night ride necessary as a result of busy lives and the heat of the day.  Night rides are good for the soul.  Especially once you leave the city lights and the clock moves on and clears the roads.  It's you the moon and your headlights out in the desert with the crickets and night birds. 

The dashboard at night
 Passing the Salt River Recreation building,  the daytime anthill is quiet.  Across the street at the Sherriff's branch station all the Breathalyzers are tucked into their beds for the night.  There is not a soul on the road.  Down at the parking lot by the river all is quiet but memories of a run in with a man on the beach making threats about having a gun spook me and I am heading back up the road into the safer solitude of the anonymity of the open desert road.  I pass sillouettes of saguaros backlit by the moon which illuminates the desert.

Usery Park
Cresting the pass there is a vast array of city lights making sillouettes of the foot hills of the mountain.  Moving on, the residential areas are all dark and silent with the occasion of the occasional dog registering their opinion.  I wander through quiet back roads along the front of the goldfield mountains.  Then it is time to return.  Good night.

Sharp corner,  slow down blind dude..

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011

28 C's Kelvin

Picketpost Mountain

They say, at least in Phoenix,  if the high temp on Memorial day is going to be less than 90,  it is indeed a federal crime to not do a long ride.  Not wanting to go to Levenworth I decided I would ride to the end of the world and back, but as I thought about it some more I thought I would just go over the end of the world to the Florence Kelvin highway and ride my 28 C's Kelvin permanent.  I've always wanted to ride this but never got around to it.  Was it foolish to walk in to a 200k ride with 5300 feet of climbing with 1/3 of it on a 20 mile stretch of dirt road on a lark without training for it?  Maybe,  I have a good healthy hurt on right now,  but half of that is my ribs which are pulled or cracked or broken (gonna check in with the doc tomorrow,  it's been 4 days and they're not getting any better so it's not a pulled muscle).  The other half is a good hurt although it would likely be less so if I had re-applied sunscreen at lunch.

It would be 4:30 by the time I got my receipt at the start.  I'd put a time of 4:15 on the card so I hoped I wouldn't need those extra 15 minutes.  Turned out I was fine.  I purposely skipped putting a control in Florence to give folks that might be a bit slower time to catch up if they haven't made up the time from the slower portions on  the climbs and dirt road.  Truth be told,  I had plenty of time in Florence even.  

Even on Memorial day there wasn't a whole lot of folks out at 4:30,  of course I guess most folks sleep in on Holidays.  Not your avid cyclist in a Phoenix summer though,  we have to get out in the cooler parts of the day like all desert creatures.  I was annoyed to find part of my route was detoured due to construction but that wasn't unexpected.  What's an extra mile or two between friends huh?  

East Apache Jct brings a fun set of rollers on the way to US-60.  The Superstitions loom large and are beautiful with the Sun trying to peak out from behind them.  On US-60 the sun would come out for good as I rode on the shoulder avoiding the expansion cracks on the shoulders between cars.  Traffic was definitely picking up.  Folks were heading out of town to recreate at their locations of choice in parts east of the valley.  I bet all the folks that went up to the pines for camping were freezing their tookus's off.  I was.  It was 52 degrees,  can you believe that?   This has not been the typical May in the Sonoran Desert.  I almost wished I had brought my wind vest and knee warmers at a few spots.

I pulled into Superior sometime after seven and got my receipt at the Circle K.  I had an hour in the bank for the next section.  We had the climb up to the end of the world and then all the glorious dirty fun of the Florence Kelvin Hwy.  

It was a beautiful morning east of Superior.  The birds were chirping, traffic was light,  the temps were cool,  all was right with the world.  Of course there was that 10% grade  before the long downhill.  I confess I walked part of it.  I was determined not to blow myself up before getting to Lord Kelvin's piece of work down below with multiple 10-15% grades.

When I finally got to the bottom of the big hill (drops 2000 feet in 8 miles with several 10% sections),  It was time to take my piece of the Florence Kelvin Hwy.  The town of Kelvin was as bustling as ever, with a dog barking as the only sign of life.  Below Kelvin the Gila river was flowing pretty good.  I stopped for a picture and stared at the daunting task of the next mile which looked like a wall at the end of the bridge.  It's a nice stretch of 15% grade.  What was it with these miners/stagecoach roads and their love of steep grades?  At least the first bit was paved.  I have to feel for those poor horses of yesteryear.

Me and the Gila River at Kelvin
At the top of the hill and the end of the pavement I stopped to pull a little trick an old mystic medicine man taught me.... lower the pressure in your tires for dirt for better control.  Having 28 c tires on the Coy Mistress meant I could go down to 70 lbs without fear of pinch flats and I must admit it was a nice ride.  Nicer in fact than when I rode this stretch on my commuter bike awhile back.  The vibration absorbing technology in my carbon frame and the large tires made for an awesome combination for absorbing washboards and other dirt road fun.  The 28c's were a close fit but I had about an 1/8th of an inch clearance and knowing I had an Aluminum crown on the fork I was good.

After the first hill,  you scrub off all that elevation you climbed and go right back down to the Gila.  You don't get a chance to look at the Gila of course thanks to the Diamond Ranch and their private property but you lost all your hard earned elevation nonetheless.  Descents on dirt are slower on a road bike by nature,  at least the nature of not wanting to biff it and comb rocks out of your skin.  It's tough to make up your time on the descents.

From the Diamond Ranch there is a 5 mile climb that rises around 1400' and has multiple sections of 7-10% grades.  Being on dirt makes this a little harder even.  The country you climb through though, is beautiful and you can see mountain after mountain behind you rolling out as you get further up the grade.  The road seems to go on forever as I work my way back and forth across the road seeking out the parts with the most firm surface.  

The really beautiful part of the Florence Kelvin highway is the traffic,  or lack thereof.  I think I saw a car ever 20-30 minutes or so.  Of course this adds to a sense of the remoteness.  I was glad for the collapsible water bottle I'd filled in Superior and lugged in my giant seat bag of holding.  I was also glad for the cooler temps.  This climb would be an absolute beast in the heat and the likelyhood of running out of water before reaching Florence would be high.  Even with an extra bottle.

Stopped to take a picture on the big climb
 Of course after cresting there is a long but gradual descent into Florence.  At this point the wind decided that it was not enough to have hampered my efforts to get to Superior but would seek to frustrate me for the rest of the ride.  I think this was the cause of much of the hurt.  5300 feet of climbing plus 100 miles of headwinds.  Ugh!  Still,  the beautiful countryside made up for it.  I made really good time heading down towards Florence.  The frame and the tires were absorbing an incredible amount of shock and I was able to maintain 17-20 + mph most of the way to the pavement after stopping at the information control.

At the pavement I re-inflated my tires and headed off for the long headwindy stretch to Florence.  The first bit of pavement was almost rougher than the dirt humorously enough.  I would play tag with a large truck pulling a trailer and another pulling a tricked out Jeep.  Tthey had to stop and add some gas at one point so I passed them again.

The stretch down into Florence seems to take forever.  Especially when one is hungry and there is a burger and fries waiting somewhere down there.  I knew there was a McDonalds but if I stumbled on a Sonic perchance, I would be a happy man.  I gotta have my Cherry milkshake.

Delicious Florence

I sat down for Lunch right around noon.  There was a Sonic and I had a wonderful lunch but I should have got the single burger instead of the double.  It would haunt me down the road an hour or so.  Heading out into the farms North of Florence I got really sleepy and a little nauseous.  I overdid lunch I think and perhaps I was just a touch behind on water.  The water issue I could deal with,  the other I would have to ride out.

This section used to have a lot more farms but Anthem and the lads decided it was just the place to put a master planned community.  Of course the master's didn't plan on a housing bust.  Anthem seemed to still be in business but the lads to the North lost their shirts.  There are whole neighborhoods fenced off with streets and streetlights, parks with play equipment, but no houses.  Ghosts that stand as a reminder of the housing bust.  I could never figure how these neighborhoods so far from any jobs could ever succeed anyway with the price of gas being what it is.  If I went rural, at a minimum, I would not want a homeowners association.

It seemed to take forever to get to the Gantzel market.  When I did I was please to note I had several hours until the control closed.  The headwinds had really taken their toll on me and I admit I really wanted the ride to be over at this point.  Still,  there were only 20 pretty flat miles left so off I went into the traffic and monotony of south Ironwood road.  This course is 80% awesome.  This last part of course is the miles you need to get back to the car after experiencing the awesome and of course is the price you pay at the end of a long day.  Still,  it is not without it's scenery as you once more approach the Superstitions and tired legs turn on to Baseline road and lead you back into Mesa from whence we started so much earlier in the morning just before dawn.

I would finish 11 hours after I started.  10 hours on the bike and 5296 feet of climbing and 140 miles on the odometer.  Tough but beautiful day and another one of my unridden permanents knocked off.