Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Two Bikes in the Desert

Pardon the long delay between posts; it’s a busy time. With travel to Arizona and the annual Men's and Women's Walk to Emmaus retreats, who has time to write?
I would like to relate my experiences with two cyclists I encountered during my last trip to Tucson. We had gone to Tucson to visit Kathy’s dad and to help out with the cancer issues that Kathy’s dad is working through. Sunday evening, we ended up at the Northwest Hospital emergency room as Vic had been running a high fever for two days. While we were waiting at the ER, another gentleman arrived for care. He was wearing bike shorts, jersey, cycling shoes. He was scraped up, had torn clothing, and it was obvious that he had crashed. When I asked him what had happened he simply replied: “I fell” Well, I gathered that! I told him that I too was a cyclist and understood what he was going through. Then the doors opened. He related to me that he had crashed his mountain bike a mere 100 yards from his car. He had lost concentration briefly, and that was all it took, over the handlebars he went. As he waited, he began to shiver and it was apparent that he was in a lot of pain. As the ER was understaffed, and didn’t have time to get the man a blanket, we went to our car and got him one of ours. Later in the evening, I met him as he rested comfortably in the ER bed. The report was a broken clavicle, and two or three broken ribs. A nice fella, a complete stranger that I had the honor of meeting.
The second cyclist had come into the ER to work. I helped him with the door as he horsed his touring bike down the hall. A large “cross” bike, built for the long haul with fenders and panniers on the front. As the evening passed, we figured out that the cyclist at the door was our ER nurse. 61 years young, he has become 99 percent car free. He rides his bike everywhere, work, errands, long tours; everywhere. On long tours he hauls a trailer, which balances the load of the panniers on the front. By the way, he named his bike: Lucille. She is bright yellow, with chrome fenders. A fine looking machine, well maintained as it his main mode of transportation.
I don’t have pictures from this evening at the ER. I usually leave my camera at home on these fun adventures. Instead, please enjoy a few pictures from Saguaro West National Park. I went sunset picture hunting the night before.
Two cyclists unexpectedly came into my life, briefly giving me a small piece of their world, and I am better for having met them.
By the way, Vic is better. The IV antibiotics did the trick.
Happy riding/skiing. The big snows are finally here!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

New Beginnings

Starting a new adventure is always an interesting prospect. Whether it’s a house remodel, a new garage door opener, or in this case, the challenges of a 125-186 mile bike ride, it’s always a new adventure! One makes plans, sets goals, scribbles dates on the calendar; schedules vacation time off from work, then looks ahead at the challenge before them. I tend to look at the new riding season in just that way, a new adventure. I have found rides that interest me, set mileage goals, worked hard in the winter at the gym; maintained last season’s riding weight through the winter.
But then, there’s that first step. At some point, one has to put one’s mind to it, get on the bike, head out the door and start on the way towards that 125 miler. The first step for me seems to sometimes be a difficult one. Recently, I read an interesting blog on the subject of endurance riding, and making a conscious decision to ride or run great distances. The author writes that endurance events can be thought of as an intellectual challenge as well as a physical one. Her approach was that she enjoyed the challenge of endurance cycling, purely because she could make that decision herself, independent of anyone else. An interesting point to be sure; and since I am expanding my horizons to ride significantly more than 100 miles in one day, I believe I can relate to the comments of endurance cycling being an intellectual process. I will let that thought percolate some, and perhaps revisit it as I head on down the road.
Speaking of heading down the road, this past Saturday all the planets aligned and the pieces fell into place. Good weather, good roads, good bike, and time to ride.

And for the inaugural long ride, where do you think I went? Antelope Island of course! Well, at least out onto the causeway. 32 miles and two hours later, I was infused with that warm happy tired feeling one gets after a good ride. It felt great to enjoy the feel of actual road under the tires, the wind in my face, and not riding in the family room hooked to a fluid trainer; And most importantly, the great sense of accomplishment, having started the year off with such a fine ride. All the work in the gym, along with riding the fluid trainer has paid off. I am in near mid-season form right out the gate.

I am on my way. One good solid ride motivated me for the next one. It’s almost addictive, the great feeling of a good workout, or a nice long ride. It is already easier to think about: where to ride, how far, and what goals do I have for the next one. Just that one step out the door kick-started the cycling year. So, I guess there is some validity to the idea of distance cycling being an intellectual challenge. The body can be willing, but if the mind isn’t on the same road, nothing will get the legs moving.
Speaking of the intellectual challenge of endurance cycling, be sure to check out the fine blog that started this piece: A fine page, filled with good writing, lovely photography, and adventures of winter endurance mountain bike riding in Juneau Alaska. While you’re there, take note of the mileage being ridden every month, and the weather for those rides. Riding in conditions like that is something I have never considered! Made me feel quite lazy, actually. I happened upon this blog while reading “The Lazy Randonneur” blog listed on the tabs on the right of this page. You will find that I have added some new tabs to my page; Yellowstone Randonneurs, and Southern Utah Brevet’s . They list a couple of very tempting rides out of Driggs, ID, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks. Also, you will note the tab for the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association. Check out these new tabs, as there is a lot of good information on all of them.
Where to ride next?