Monday, March 28, 2011

McDowell Mountain Park

Sunday we drove up to Fountain Hills to see Roger and Peggy. They were down from Salt Lake City to enjoy some decent weather and mountain biking. This is what we saw on the way in on the Bee Line Highway. See all the yellow? Blooming stuff! Pollen! Ack! Click on the photo to see it in all of its allergenic glory.

Roger and Peggy have a new motor home. Ayyyyye she's a biggun. It's a really nice RV.

The camp site with all of the bicycles.

Yesterday afternoon we sat on a picnic table to take pictures with the new camera. I used the telephoto with a tripod. A lot of them came out fuzzy, gonna have to work on that.

Isn't it lovely?

We rode yesterday and today. McDowell has many long persistent grades. I was a tired unit after a couple of them.

It was a very fun two days. Tomorrow we're sleeping in. Yay!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Planes, Cactus and Jim Crashes

These are Warthogs landing at Tucson International Airport. They usually go into Davis Monthan. Lately there have been more than usual going in to the Tucson airport. They are noisy!

This is the first blooming cactus we've seen this year. There was no rain last December, so we're not going to have much of a cactus bloom this spring. The rotten yellow bushes, and the trees, however, are a different matter. They're blooming just fine.

I continue to suffer the agonies of the damned with the sore throat and coughing brought about by pollen. Although when I read the list of symptoms on the Zyrtec package, I note that I don't have sneezing or a runny nose. One wonders if it really is allergies, but one does not know where to go for a solid diagnosis.

Today we went out to Fantasy Island. We were talking to a guy out there who just bought a full suspension 29er. He loves his new bike. So we watched him go down the Shaft. He kept his speed up when he hit the left turn and went high into it. Jim was able to make the left today. I rode down the Shaft but I was so surprised to be at the bottom of it, I didn't make the left. I stopped at the tailgate.

After the Shaft we rode down the trail full of rocks to Bo's Loop. Jim was ahead of me, and got a little too far left. He hit a rock the size of my head with his left pedal and unearthed it from the side of the trail. His bike just stopped, and Jim went down like a giant tree into the trail side rocks. Fortunately, Jim was fully armored on his knees and elbows. Judging by the scrapes on the elbow pads, that would have hurt. I'm not sure we'll be posting pictures of his butt, but look at the pedal! The spike on the far right is mushed down to the level of the pedal, the one to the left of it is bent over. That was pretty good pedal strike on the rock.

So, today was better riding than last time. I think the Zyrtec is better than the Claritin in terms of not making me feel like I am half dead. Plus I slept all night last night, so that was helpful.

If you're still here April 17, there will be a criterium in downtown Tucson. Come out, enjoy the race.

Can you believe the UofA Cats beat Duke? I am stunned.

Monday, March 21, 2011

17th Street Market and Rain!

Today was a really icky weather day. Howling winds, gusting to 50. This is the downside to living in an RV. When the weather is terrible, there is nothing to do. So we went down to the 17th Street Market. It's one of our favorite places in Tucson.
Ok - any thoughts on what's in these cans? I thought they were black eyed peas from the picture, but they're fava beans.

C&H in a different language.

I like the way these look against the black shelf.

Who knew? Dehydrated shrimp from Africa.

A box of oatmeal. I love the picture on the front.

I love these cats, they're waving.

Eventually the clouds moved in.

Along with a partial rainbow.

It's raining now. We're happy about this, it'll settle the dust. It has just been awful lately from all of the wind.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tucson Bicycle Classic

This weekend was the Tucson Bicycle Classic race. It's a 3 day race with a time trial, a road race and a Chris Carmichael circuit race. The circuit is a 5.6 mile loop. Unfortunately, there's no criterium.
The time trial was Friday, and I'm pleased to announce that our riding buddy Pat Bunch won his age group. Way to go Pat.
Today was the circuit race. We rode out to watch it at various points along the course. We saw the Cat 1, 2 and 3 riders. This is just after a start, I can't remember in which category these guys were riding.

Coming through the feed zone.

Another lap through the feed zone, the guy in the green/black shorts was just hauling through here. He's chasing the elbow you see in the right side of the frame.

Big group going through what will be the finish area.

I think this is the winner of the Cat 2 group. It was hard to tell who was who because the categories intermingled and no one could hear the announcer. Towards the end it got hot, the wind came up and they had a terrible head wind to the finish.

There is an organization in Tucson called El Grupo. They do community outreach to get kids on bikes. They provide bicycle education, organize multi-day bike rides, and have a racing team coached by Ignacio Rivera de Rosales. They are just a superb organization. They were out this weekend for the races. Check out their Facebook page here. It makes my heart happy to see kids on bikes.

Don and Jamie have returned from the ends of the earth. They report that the trip was spectacular and they're glad they went to Antarctica. The ranks continue to thin out at RCW. Just when a person's eye gets used to seeing RVs everywhere, they up and leave and we're left with wide open spaces again. This afternoon is quite windy, I'd say it's gusting to 30. It's hazy with the dust hanging in the air.
So that is all from Tucson.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Saguaro East by Car

Wednesday afternoon Jim had oral surgery to remove a fibroma from the inside of his lip. Two sutures were placed to close the incision, and they promptly fell out. Not being veterans of oral surgery we didn't know if this was a bad thing or not. So off to the surgeon's office we went yesterday morning.
On the way out we saw this at the intersection of Ajo and Mission. It was never clear to us why the law enforcement vehicles were stopped here.

I think the Border Patrol guy (green uniform) is asking the police officer if he thinks they have snarled traffic sufficiently.

After seeing the oral surgeon for 30 seconds, who said it was ok that the sutures were gone, we drove out to Saguaro East. We've never driven through there in a car before, we've always been on bikes. And it was good that we were in a car because it was NINETY degrees. Here is an excellent specimen of a saguaro cactus. Note the symmetry of the arms.

Look dead center in the photo, there is a round tailed ground squirrel there. They are like rabbits, they freeze and believe that if they don't move the predators can't see them. We got pretty close to him before he went into his burrow.

My cough continues unabated at night. I was up at 2 am drinking cough syrup out of the bottle so I wouldn't disturb Jim by turning on the light so I could use a spoon. Advair is doing nothing to stop the cough. One of its side effects is heart arrhythmia, which I had 2 out of the 3 days I used it. Given the lack of cough control and the fact that I don't need another arrhythmia, I think Advair is off the table. Jim is now experiencing a runny nose and sneezing, this may be a super pollen year for Arizona.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

End of Season Happy Hour & Allison Suffers Allergies

It's the Ides of March. Can you believe that the month is half over? The ranks are getting thin at Rincon West. Dave and Marilyn hosted the end of cycling season happy hour at their park model. It was very pleasant. This is Marilyn. Click on her picture and look at the middle three beads on the necklace. Those are glass beads made by one of the women in the park. They are really pretty.

This is Jim and Dave (Marilyn's spousal unit). I took this last year.

More of the group. We were sitting in Marilyn and Dave's carport.

Driving back to the RV. I had to leave early because talking makes me cough and my throat hurts.

I mentioned a week or so ago that I'm coughing again. After suffering and whinging about it for a week and a half I went to an urgent care on Sunday morning. It's not an illness this time, it's allergies. The sore throat and coughing are due to nasal drainage irritating the living snot out of the back of my throat. I can not believe how bad I feel. I feel like I should apologize to everyone I know with allergies because I was not sympathetic to their plight. I can only say, I didn't know! So I'm now full of antihistamines and Advair. None of these compounds are helping my bicycling one little bit. We rode Fantasy Island today, and it was HOT and I was totally pathetic. We're going to get up earlier tomorrow. A fellow sufferer advises that I should take the Claritin at night and that it'll take 10 to 14 days to get used to the Advair. So we shall see.

Still looking for the perfect shoe and foot bed combination for walking in Germany, still haven't found it yet. My New Balance shoes are going back, they're making hot spots on the tops of my feet. Jim has not one, but TWO perfect pairs of shoes. He has better foot karma.

We have nothing else to report from here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another Day in Paradise

We're having a run of excellent, although toasty, weather. Today we had a visitor from New York City. We took him on a ride up Gates Pass, it was a great day to ride.

This is our friend Greg De Respino. We first met him in 2002 when we did the Steve Bauer Tour de France bike tour. We saw him again in 2003 at the TdF. Those were trips of a lifetime. We rode in the Alps and the Pyrenees and ended up in Paris. If you can ever observe a TdF in person, you should do so. Greg works in NY city, he recently completed working the PeeWee Herman show on Broadway. He has a very interesting job. Much more so than project management.

So, where do we take an out of town guest for lunch - to the hot dog stand in south Tucson, of course.

They have great chips, and a great condiments bar. The salsa is very good. I could eat it with a spoon.

Man bites dog.

This is a torta, it's a Mexican sandwich. The Pepsi is from Mexico and is made with cane sugar and not high fructose corn syrup. It's better with sugar.

We had a delightful day with Greg and look forward to seeing him again.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Shaft and Burro Pit Loop

Greetings gentle readers. I promise that soon I will post about something other than mountain biking, but this blog serves as a journal of our experiences here, and today is worth recording. Jim rode most of the Shaft. I chickened out, spent too much time looking at it.

Here he is leaving the bottom. Will he make the steep (!) sharp left turn ahead?

No, he puts a foot down. Maybe next time. Making that corner will require speed and finesse. It's a steep pitch up, and very banked. Sliding off the trail is not out of the question.

I took the Shaft ByPass to the start of Bo's and Burro Pit. We did Burro Pit for the first time today. It has a fair amount of steep up and rocks. There is one section that looks like a ditch full of round rocks.
Here we are at the Over Under, aka Duck or Die. The brownish square in the middle of the photo is a metal grate that is the Over. It's not a bad ride.

This is the Under. I think I don't like the entrance in to it. There's about an 18 inch drop, and it's narrow. Add the psychological pressure of a concrete funnel, and there could be head trauma.

I told Jim I could be a fully self actualized person without riding this. There is a well defined bypass, so I don't think I'm alone in my opinion.

After Burro Pit there was Bo's and then Lone Cactus. We took the power line trail back to the truck. It's only 18 miles, but I am seriously tired.

Yesterday and today we saw this guy climbing out of DM. It's a bird, it's a plane, no it's .............

SUPER GUPPY! We think that's what it is. It's hard to tell at that distance, but the profile looks to be right.

So that was today's ride. Jim is now trying on the fleet of shoes we ordered up from Zappos. His old faithfuls have turned on him, mashing a toenail in the process. This won't do for walking around in Germany. I am still in foot limbo, my foot bed and shoe choices are not finalized. Bad feet are the gift that keeps on giving.

Hope you are all well and seeing the first signs of spring in your neck of the woods.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Howling Winds

Last night the talking weather-heads were predicting brutal winds gusting to 50 mph starting around noon. So, we got up early (for us) and were on the bikes at 10:00, planning on a two hour ride. This is the Shaft. We went and looked at it and it doesn't look all that bad. Staying to the right is definitely the good line through the rocks. We decided to stay in the south end of the park so we'd be closer to the truck, so we did not ride this today. Once you start this trail, you're committed to doing a fairly longish ride, since all trails are one way.

Here is Jim, leaning on a post. Is he not looking like the quintessential mountain biker?

The wind was a little early, going back to the truck, we had very frisky little cross wind. This is an area of blowing dust on the way home. Up near Casa Grande they get big dust storms, have 50 car pile ups, and all of that.

I don't think we got the predicted 50 mph gusts, and that's a good thing.

Whoo-hoo! UPS just got here with the Zappos order for Jim and me. Free shipping, free returns!