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.