Last Minute Training

17 08 2014

Our Natchez Trace tour is looming in front of us, and I’ve been busy wandering around Alaska and Canada and Europe eating decadent foods. Time to jerk into training mode.

We got home from London last Friday night. On impulse, I woke up Sunday morning and jumped on the Surly for a crank up Bush Highway and out by Saguaro Lake. It’s 31 miles and 2000 feet of ascent, all before breakfast, where I met Jesse at Phil’s Filling Station. Here in Arizona in August, it is the monsoon season. Morning temps hit the usual 95F but the humidity is significantly high, around 30 or 40% RH. By the time I arrived, my legs were mush and the whole body completely overheated.

Phil’s serves an excellent American breakfast, sort of a 50′s diner place. Service was good too. Of course, it’s always a pleasure to meet with Jesse and discuss world politics and medicine and technology and where ever else the conversation goes.

This horse sculpture in just off Saguaro Boulevard in Fountain Hills. You can see the town's famous fountain in action behind it.

Unfortunately, I then had to ride another 20 miles home, with temps soaring. This was the very hottest ride I’ve ever experienced. About 105F, high humidity, and no breezes except for self-created ones. I rode in “heatstroke protection” mode the whole way home, going easy and stopping often to down water.

On McDowell road, while I sat with a water bottle, a lone cyclist emerged from the other direction. As he passed, he called out, “Hey old school! Nice steel frame!” which really made me grin.

So, while sort of a hair-brained plan to go so far in such heat, I’m happy I did it anyway. My conclusion is that I just might be able to dive headlong into this tour without much training, even if it hurts.

Once again, as a reminder, I have turned off the comments to this blog.  You can thank the spammers.



Tour Plan: Deep South and Tennessee Valley

15 07 2014

It looked like there would be no tour for 2014, but in the end, almost predictably, lunacy has prevailed.

Jack and I plan to explore the Deep South and Tennessee Valley this fall, following a combination of Adventure Cycling’s Great Rivers South route and their Underground Railroad route.   I think we’re going to call it our Natchez Trace tour, but it could also be called the Bible Belt Tour.  The plan, rough as it is at the moment, looks something like this:


Aside from touring the historic deep south, we hope to enjoy riding along the Natchez Trace.  It appears there are lots of camping options, including some “bicycle-only” campgrounds.  From some of the crazyguy accounts, it sounds like we can expect beauty, humid heat, friendly people, and mosquitoes.  I’m not sure if we’ll get any fall leaf colors.

From there we’ll do some up-and-down hill climbing through Tennessee, then work our way up through the Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky.  Our planned finish just south of Evansville Indiana will take us to my dear in-laws home.

What should be especially interesting is my thorough lack of bike fitness at the moment, having only ridden a few hundred miles this year.  I took the unloaded Surly out for a spin – more like a grind – around Usery Mountain this morning.  Now hurting, I can’t even imagine loading that thing up.

Nevertheless, I’m excited to have this tour on the horizon.

By the way, I’ve now prohibited the posting of comments to this blog. It is a sad way of surrendering to the spammers, but the strongest barricade I can think of.



Galaxy Restored

22 02 2014

This is a followup to our Florida Coast tour from last September.  This story took almost 4 months to unfold.

When I got back home in October, I remembered the banged up cell phone I’d picked up on that rainy day riding on US1 from Florida City to Key Largo.  [Recap: The phone had been soaking wet with its back cover off and battery missing, and I had found the battery 100 yards further down the road.]

The phone was a Samsung Galaxy Duos model.  Nice size screen and apparently in good condition.  No screen cracks or scratches and only one small ding on a corner of the frame.   My son and I tried the battery, and then tried a mini-USB charger, but couldn’t wake it up.  The phone got placed on a shelf and forgotten.

For some reason in December, I decided to give it another try.  Lo and behold – it booted up fine!  Maybe it just had to fully dry out.  The screen looked great, and I spent some time examining the contents, trying to identify the owner.  It was actually lucky that there was no access security on the Android operating system, otherwise I may have decided to wipe out the OS and start fresh.

A little digging led me to the name and email address of a woman.  Googling her, I learned that she lives in Dehli India.  Shipping would cost maybe $150, so I decided to send her an email to ask what she wanted to do.

A very nice email came back.  The lady was delighted at the idea of retrieving her phone, especially since it had all her vacation photos from the US.  She could hardly believe that it had been found.  She explained that she’d been snapping photos of the Everglades from a moving car, and the phone had slipped out of her hands.   Since that road is a limited access divided highway, I can easily see how there was no way to turn around to retrieve it.

Instead of sending the phone all the way to India, we agreed that I’d send it to a friend of hers in Virginia, one who was soon to visit India and would bring it.   I sent it off the next day.  The postage was less than $20.  I decided that was too low for us to bother with, so I included a note to that effect with the shipment.

A few days later I received warm thank you notes from Virginia and India in my email.  A few weeks later, sometime in mid-January 2014, I received a package in the mail containing a pair of lovely pewter candlestick holders, again with thanks from both the owner and her friend in Virginia.  A note even invited me to come visit India and stay at their place in the Himalayas.

Making such a connection, via my bicycle, halfway around the world, feels pretty amazing.  Hmmm…I wonder if they do any cycling in the Himalayas?

Candlestick holders on my dining room table

 



January 2014 Riding

19 01 2014

Haven’t done much riding so far this year.  Jesse and I are meeting regularly for breakfast on Sundays.  Lately it’s been cold enough in the morning, maybe high 40s, that I’ve even driven the first 10 miles, then parked and bicycled the last 12 or so to breakfast.  Yeah, I know, that must crack up you Canadians.

Got stuck this morning riding west into Tempe.  I came across an hourlong river of runners heading north on Hayden Road and finally figured out it was the P. F. Chang Marathon.  I asked an organizer where I should cross the flow and he told me I couldn’t, and then suggested the freeway AZ202 (quite illegal on a bike).  I finally rode parallel away from any “officials” and then nudged in through the runners, carefully cutting diagonally across them.

On the way back, I spied these two signs, no doubt erected by some enterprising teaparty enthusiast.  The signs cracked me up.  I’ve since learned that the word “bankster” is a blend of “banker” and “gangster,” which made me laugh again.