Forecasting for the Midwest must be very challenging for the meteorologists and today was typical. At 7:30am, forecast was cloudy for the morning with partly cloudy skies for later. Jumped into my car and immediately noticed it was raining lightly, all the way to New Albany. Wondered how many cyclists would come but surprised by the time I arrived there were already a few and then they kept coming and coming and coming. The group was enhanced by Jon Morgan suggesting to his normal Saturday gang that they jump in with us and there was another group that heard about the ride and they came and so, well over 40 cyclists at the start. And also, befitting their modus operandi, "The Others" (see "The Characters" on right margin for explanation) were there but leaving at 9:30 and going elsewhere so they were not added to the total.
Amanda Orr, aka "Corvair" (because she is as reliable as one) was one of the last to arrive and we patiently waited and then, rolled out of the parking lot at 9:20am into a chilly mist. While doing so, passed Dave Chesrown disembarking from his car, too late to hop in but later caught us, demonstrating what riding 9500 miles this year does for one's cycling fitness. I led the group out with Rich Lewis and soon after turning on to 161, Billy Campbell pulled alongside and the 3 of us rode rather briskly out to Kitzmiller where I thought, "What the heck am I doing up here with these two?" and rotated to the back of a group of 17+/- who had already separated from the rest of the group. With us were Billy and Rich, Steve O, Doug Maconaha, Mark C, Flyin Tuna, Mike of Westerville, Jon M, Dave C eventually, John S, Jeff S and others. We eventually got on to Cable, a road that is in dire need of repaving, and upon reaching the last stop sign, I dropped back to be a good host and see if everyone knew where they were going. Eventually, I formed up with a group of 8-9 people and finally cruised in to the River Road Coffee House with a 19.1 average. Infuriately, Recumbent Dude, threw up once or twice and looked very green around the gills so hope he recovers.
Steve O camped out at a table in the back and soon I joined him with Jeff, Dustin, Nathan, Mark C, John S with others close by. I noticed Dustin stood the entire time and was consumed by an avalanche of nervous tics and twitches. I thought it odd watching Dustin battle abrupt twitches of the nose, ear, shoulder, etc...but it began to make sense when suddenly, he said he was going to head out with Jon Morgan and a couple of his gang. I leaped at this opening and said, "Oh, so you're going to abandon your usual clique to ride with the big boys!" He seemed uncomfortable with this and so he hemmed and hawed around and then.... too late, Jon and a couple others were gone. Seems that Dustin has big goals for 2012 and riding with the Milwaukee Brewer riffraff is not helpful to his cause. Actually, I know well his goals but am sworn to secrecy. Above, Dustin on the left, Nate on the right.
Our bikes wait for us, dirty, wet but rarin to go when we finally emerge from the warmth of the Coffee House.
Then there was a debate about whether to take the short or long route and for once, I elected to go with the long route folks and rolled out with Steve O, Dustin, Jeff S, Flyin Tuna, Mark C, Mike from Westerville, Brent, Mitch and a few others. Our group broke up during the climbs on Stone Quarry and the group was down to 5-6 when Dustin set a remorseless pace, well remorseless for me but not for him, into Johnstown, down Caswell, out Green Chapel, south on Clover Valley, west on Jug, and thankfully and finally, onto old 161 and back in to the parking lot.....whew! Finished with 52 miles, 1650' of climbing and 18mph average. I was beat but I managed to open the bottle of Champagne and soon began pouring it into cups before giving up the bottle to someone who upended half the bottle into their cup....greedy bastard!!!! Now what??? Well, jump into the heated car and get the heck out of New Albany.
Well, that was fun despite fairly constant drizzle/mist/rain and this closes another year of fun with odd-ball people like...well....I am determined to turn over a new leaf and not call out all the oddballs....until the start of the new year, January 1, 2012 when I will return to my usual self! Well, it is time to take a step back, reconnoiter the situation and admit, gosh, I enjoy cycling with you all. Is it as much fun as when I was a mediocre golfer of the Zanesville golfing scene back in the 80's and 90's? No. Is it as much fun as I had playing in the dirt pile behind my house with Tonka trucks and earth movers when I was a kid? No. Is it as much fun as my back packing adventures through the Grand Canyon? No again but it is better then a sharp stick in the eye and I look forward to more of the same in 2012! Happy New Year everybody.
This is the post ride scene as my lone bottle of very inexpensive Champagne was consumed, rapidly. My mistake was permitting the short cutters to have a drink as they clearly had not earned it. Not surprisingly, they drank more than their share too! As part of my move toward civility, I will not mention any names.....however......an image should do nicely (see below).
No surprise that the clouds and maybe some rain will linger in the area but so far, by 9:00am, things still look ridable. Among the confirms are Mike Rea & Amy, Kenda Janet & some other Kendaites, Steve Oxley, Mark C, John S, Engineer Mitch, Amanda, Flyin Tuna, Jon Morgan and some of his gang, Jeff S & more. Be there or be, well you know.
OK, the ride starts at 9:00am when it is forecast to be 37 so plenty warm enough. Maps will be available at the start. See below for start location details. Come on out even if you are fat, out of shape and lazy (I'll refrain from posting some of the obvious names as I am trying to be more civil). Probably break up into a couple of groups if some want to hammer but most of us will likely ride at an off-season pace. We'll stop at the River Road Coffee House in Granville but if you want to keep going then no worries.
Well, Craig Butler, aka, "Da Boss" and "Buffalo Bill Butler", competed in the Bobcat Trail Running Marathon in October, running around Burr Oak lake. Craig ran a time of 4:19:38, finishing 9th. Mitch told me of an incident that cut into Craig's time but I forget what it was, something about a javelina attack, falling in a mud puddle or something like that. Anyway, that is a heck of a time for trail running. Craig also competed in a 50 mile run recently but have no other details. Maybe Mitch can comment?
Hey, the forecast is still holding for a decent weather day on Saturday so the 2nd Annual New Year's Eve ride is on, with distances of 54 and 42 miles. Last year, 19 cyclists came out for the ride to Granville and the optional stop at River Road Coffee House. Meet at New Albany Elementary School located at 97 N High St (Rt 605 just North of the Rt 62 intersection (normal Thursday evening COP start place during the season). Start time yet to be determined but either 9 or 10am. There will be an optional post-ride New Year's Eve toast. I've been sitting on a very cheap bottle of Champagne that I'd love to get rid of and how better then to give 3/4 to Flyin T with the rest shared by everyone else!
Oh yeah, the end of the year awards are coming for best dressed male and female, most improved cyclist, MVP, Cy Young award, worst dressed female, he who does the most with the least & lots more. If you have any nominations or ideas for award winners, send them along.
A bright, crisp, sunny but yeah, a little cold at 34 degrees for our Christmas Eve ride. There at the start were Ginger B, Steve O, Kayla Starr, Jeff S, Jeremy, Mitch the Engineer, Flyin Tuna and me. Conspicuous by her absence was Amanda O, who is working hard at the title of "she who wants to ride the most but shows up the least". Someone said she is as reliable as a 1971 Corvair. Give her a break, the forecast was a start temp of 35 so since it was only 34, the cold deterred her. Here, Steve O shows off his new personalized license plates. OK, it was really Kayla Starr's plates.
Steve O was the nominal ride leader since he made the mistake of proposing the route and after some deliberation, we decided to head to Tarlton. We shoved out of the Lockville Park onto Pickerington and stayed straight to tackle the hills, then worked our way to Rockmill but somewhere in there, Ginger, recovering from a 3 week sinus infection, promotion at work, excessive work hours, bailed on us but hope to see her at this Saturday's New Year's Eve ride (more on that later).
We rolled into the village of Amanda with Kayla taking the uncontested sign sprint, rolled on through on maybe Gerhart? (long, debilitating uphill) to Sixteenth and there, we began checking our watches and discovered we may not have time to make it to T-ton and decided instead to go to Stoutsville. Our ride toward that town was highlighted by a near death experience with a red truck that sought to see how close it could come to hitting us without actually hitting us...ass! Our blood was boiling and some of us hoped we'd find this guy at the Stoutsville gas station but I urged calm, seeing as it was Christmas Eve.
After a stop filling up our tank, we headed north on Fosnaugh School road where Mitch told us he had been in touch with Buffalo Bill Butler and passed along he had impressive finishes at a 50 mile trail run in PA and another good finish at a trail run around Burr Oak. Hopefully he gives up the silly trail running marathons and returns to cycling to kick our butts this spring. Otherwise, it was an unremarkable return to Lockville where we finished with 41 miles and 2200' of climbing. I had gotten ahead of the group on the run-in to the parking lot so I could throw my bike into the trunk and escape with the bottle of wine, given to me by Tuna, for having let her use my FedEx account to ship her bike earlier this year. The wine, a varietal called "cheapbutgoodwhiteforbums" looked appealing when desperate so naturally, I did not want to share. I gunned the car engine, backed out and with burning tires, headed for the exit. Dang it, Steve O intervened and I brought the car to a stop.
Sheepishly, I re-emerged from the car and it just so happened I had a corkscrew and wine glass (something I always carry since you never know when you'll need them) and proceeded to open the bottle. Here, Flyin, who insists she always drink from a clean cup, holds an ample supply and we fill her cup first, then second and third before the rest of us get a chance at the wine, which was not bad if you like bad wines. I toasted everyone with, "I've had a lot of fun with you guys and had a lot of fun making fun of you guys!" For once, no truer words have I ever spoke. It's been another entertaining year and if I am stuck in Ohio for another year, which I am, well, gulp, it could be worse then hanging around with these knuckleheads. If Saturday turns out ok, we'll have the annual New Albany to Granville New Year;s Eve ride with a stop at the River Road Coffee House. More to come later.
With yesterday's silliness behind us, let's move on to more important things. Yep, today is the shortest day of sunlight, followed by a couple of days of no light gain but then.....yes....the daylight begins lengthening while the looooong nights of darkness begin to shorten. This is not the end, it is not the beginning of the end but it is the end of the beginning of cold, cloudy Ohio winter. Next significant weather day is January 28th when the average day time high begins increasing. Until then, well, I'll muddle through as best I can with rides when able, trail running, hiking and if I must, cross country skiing. Now, Saturday's forecast looks good with a Friday overnight low of 30 and a Saturday high of 42 with sun. Steve Oxley, proposes we ride out of Lockville at 10:00am on Saturday. Lockville is a couple of miles southeast of Canal Winchester. We go through it all the time and has the water mill with a parking lot where we will meet. Probably won't have maps but some of us will hang back and keep folks together.
UPDATE2: Steve O has provided good directions on how to get to the park in Lockville and has said the route will be 35-50 miles. Note John Marten has proposed a ride out of Granville at the River Road Coffee House on......River Road but waiting on additional details.
Yes, that is correct. The Steve Oxley, well known super cyclist, leader of the Milwaukee Brewers (Canal Winchester Tuesday cyclists) and who can hang with the Yankess (New Albany Thursday cyclists) sometimes, philanthropist, care giver, wearer of tennis shoes and rider of cross bike with filed down knobby tires when not riding a normal road bike, bearer of immense back pain that pops up prior to century rides for which he has trained all season, recipient of stomach virus that kept him out of Mountain Mama, host of the annual Cyclist Christmas Party, yes, a man among boys, sent me this text message this morning and I quote, " Hey, tried to vote last night and again this morning but it won't accept my vote. I thought my subscription was paid???"
That is the official 15th vote so the blog will trudge on for another year! How bout that?
Now, you may wonder, what can I expect for next year? Well, not much more then what you have seen in the past and maybe not that good. It all depends upon what you do and say that I can exploit on these pages. I will give it my best shot and the big news is I may have a new digital camera to bring with me to capture the silly facial expressions of my favorite cycling friends.The final visitor count from yesterday was 577 with 460 one timers.
Bad news for some of you...well. a few of you...well only 14 of you. I counted and received only 14 votes. I think some of you thought the threshold had been reached based on my earlier comments but no kidding, taking out my 1 yes vote, it's only 14. Is this really the desired outcome after 556 visitors, 439 of you one-time visitors? I can't believe it but I have to stick with the rules. However, because my previous reports led some to believe the total had been reached when it had not, if by the time I log in tomorrow morning, one, only one person votes to continue, then I will continue. One other thing. I enjoyed today's entertainment and I bet some of you got a chuckle or two out of the comments, my posts or the images. That's what this is all about but for heaven's sake, if I can't get 15 of you to prompt me to continue then it probably really is time to call it qu
The votes are being counted, carefully. May have to throw one out since I cast it when I became a little nervous around noon. This may keep me at 14. Ha! Don't no one cast a vote and spoil my vacation from blogging about you all.
I really didn't think we would get 15 so the realization that I may have to keep the blog going for another year is horrifying. Stop right this instant at 14! Kenda Janet said she had two votes for she and Paul but that only counts as one. If she said she was voting for her, Paul and their vicious dog would I count that as 3? No. So, we are at 14 with 514 visitors, 398 unique visitors at 9:30pm.
8:00pm, 20 hours down, only 4 hours to go. I'm at peace now, reconciled that the cyling blog can not get even 15 votes to go forward, stuck at 12 for quite awhile now. That we did not hit 15 in the first few hours was a slap in the face but after 20 hours????? Oh well, time to look for a new job. 481 visitors, 368 of which are unique and a miserable 12 "go forward" posts or 3.2%!!! All the hardware and software required to keep this thing going will be up for sale on the blog beginning tomorrow, if not for 3 measly positive votes...
The end could be near. 12 positives but the momentum and steam are evaporating. 6:20pm, 458 visitors, 346 uniques visitors, a 3% approval rating...that's lower than used car salesmen.
Well, well, well. There has been a surge of support with some brave people posting as themselves, like my good friend Dave C. 5:39pm, 433 visitors, 339 unique ones showing more class then the morning crowd. Who knows, may get to that 15 positive comment afterall, with 4.5 hours to go....
3:40pm. 388 visitors, 289 unique visitors and only 7 votes to continue. Are you kiddin me? This is a pathetic public humiliation.....7 out of 289 want the cycling blog to continue. What if I promise to change the style and compliment everyone regardless of the truth? Tuna, that extra weight looks great on you, Dennis, pink does not make you look gay, Oxley, you are just as strong as the New Albaniestas, everyone should model themselves after the Kendaites, Steve Hewit makes super clear map copies, Ryan R did not push his bike on Mountains of Misery but was just taking extended breaks, Mark C's comb over is not a comb over, all the woman of the Thursday New Albany ride are worthy of an image and I will put them all on the blog next year, I will never include Recumbent Dude as part of the "Women of the New Albany Ride", I won't refer to ringers as ringers....see, is that better?
2:30pm, another attack from Flyin Tuna in comment section and 333 visitors with 239 unique. 6 positive comments so a rate of 2.5% positive. Note how Cindy is the center of a crowd above marveling at her eating technique. Similar to a Black Bear coming out of winter hibernation to discover a dead salmon sitting in front of its den.
13.5 hours down and 6.5 to go and still only 6 freakin positive comments. I'm counting on the Young Phenom and Younger Phenom to chime in when they get out of school since were it not for the blog they would be completely annonymous. Maybe some after work people will log in later too but I think most of the working class already have checked in during work. As of 1:30pm, 289 visitors but 198 uniques and 6 yes votes, 3% of the total of uniques. Sad, sad and the blog is feeling unappreciated.
12:45pm--The lunch time crowd has kicked in and visits over 200 now with 189 unique visitors but still only a depressing 6 yes votes. Ambiguous messages like, "Sounds like he wants to keep going" can not fairly be counted as a positive and Cindy's throwaway line about if there are any valid comments is insulting, nothing unusual there! Be back soon with maybe more encouraging news for the fans of the cycling blog.
Well, 12:00 o'clock and 139 visits but only 118 unique visitors and only 6 positive comments. That is a sad comment, 5% of visitors posted a positive comment which means 95% did not. I'm not desparate since I would welcome the free time and not feel obligated to extoll the successes of everyone but me. Maybe I could use the free time to finally rid my yard of moles....
For the complete story, see a couple of reports below. For the short story, it's the annual "Should the Blog Continue" vote. If you want the silly blog to go on for another year, type in your comment, annonymously or otherwise, today, December 20, Tuesday, 2011. I need 15 of you to say "yay" or similar positive comment or else the blog goes dark forever. Vote early but not often. One vote per person.
UPDATE: Not good that's for sure. 9:00am and slow day with only 35 visitors and no one bothered to leave a comment. Well, I'll check back in an hour or two but it is beginning to look like I need to make plans on how to use the new found free time with the demise of the cycling blog. Come on......all I need is 15 comments that say, essentially, "keep the stupid blog going". Go to the comments section and get r dun.
Throughout central Ohio I have a network of spies who each day send me information, news and images. The latest comes from someone visiting Cyclist Connection and spotted this new Felt bike with Spinergy wheels, being built by Ric Noland. Note this image was taken without Ric's permission, strictly an undercover affair. OK, tomorrow (Tuesday) is the day to vote for the future of the blog. See below for more information. Don't make me sweat this out until late in the day, get in early and vote, but only once.
December 20, Tuesday, is THE day. Yes, it's that time of the year again when I take a step back, wonder why I devote massive time and energy to creating silly, pointless, stupid, sometimes funny blog posts that have managed to largely alienate me from the cycling community. I am a pariah, a pilgrim wandering in a strange land of annoyed cyclists, one against the wind..... Well, actually I do this because it is my way of documenting my cycling experiences that I can read some day and prove to my eventual grand kids I was a fairly average endurance athlete. However, I think there have been enough posts to establish that fact so from this point forward, if I continue the blog it will be solely because I do it for you.
You, the cubicle dwellers, the people with way too much time on their hands, the vain who like to see themselves or their name in print, the gloryhounds who like to see me describe how strong they are or, just ordinary people who like to read what happens when they aren't at a particular ride. That now would be the main reason for continuing the blog even though I also do get a kick of poking fun and watching the backlash. I think I am something of a caldron stirrer and the body of evidence is too large to deny it. Anyway, here's the deal, if 15 of you post (doesn't matter if anonymously or not) that you want me to continue this dumb blog, then I will. You can take whatever shots you want while endorsing the idea of blog continuation, the net result must obviously be a vote for the blog. You have until midnight of the 20th to vote and the vote must be cast that day, tomorrow and if I fail to get the meager 15 yeahs, then the blog goes dark FOREVER!
Here is what you got out of this year's posts...well not much but there was the Yankees vs Toledo Mudhen vs Milwaukee Brewer issue that was kind of funny, there was the Women of the Thursday Ride feature, there was the Mark C comb-over comparison, there were the trip reports to California, Florida, Arizona, multiple ride or hike notices, an image of a pink Barbie on Dennis' pink bike, a golf report but at it's core, the blog highlighted dozens of ride reports that mostly brought great shame on me and my lack of fitness and mental toughness.
So, starting tomorrow, vote, annoymously or not, for the blog.
So, arrived at La Buzz, a popular cyclists meeting point at 8:00am on Thursday morning but no one showed. Probably 37 degrees and heavy fog deterred them. Now what to do....drive to Kitt Peak, about 65 miles but I enjoy the drive around the region, mountain views, can't get enough of it. From a distance, I can see, barely, the Kitt Peak National Observatory.
Upon reaching the intersection off #86 that leads to Kitt Peak, I take another image that gives a little clearer image of the observatory. Very cool and only 12.5 miles from this spot. I drive the car all the way to the top, awesome. The final mile had lots of sand on the road and it was steep enough I wondered what I would do if the car started sliding backwards. Got out, looked around, walked into the visitor's center and asked what the current temp was...28 degrees. Drive back down debating what I should do and about a mile from the bottom, wave down a police cruiser and ask if it is ok to park my car at a pull out off #86 and he says, "Sure, don't sweat it."
My original plan is to just burn some calories and ride to the 1st or 2nd pull-out but upon arriving there, keep going and upon reaching mile marker 4, think, well may as well go to mile #5 but that sign is missing and soon I arrive at #6. About here, I get this view of the peak. So far, the road started off at 2-3%, goes to 5-8% and stays there for mile after mile. The road continues to work around the mountain and so far I have had amazing views to the north and west. My legs feel great and upon reaching mile #7 I suddenly think, "Heck, maybe I can make it to the top?" To be frank, I have been very disappointed circumstances have prevented riding all the way up Mount Lemmon and don't want another failure on my record. I am re-energized but then the grade steepens and stays at 7-10% for mile after mile until reaching the grounds of the observatory, where it slackens a bit before ramping up to 9-10% and a head wind hits.
Around mile #8, snow begins appearing along the road, spotty at first then more consistent, then deepening, deeper, ice on the trees and brush and the road continues to go around the mountain and I get great views of the south and then the north. I've gone 360 around the mountain and it's cold but having the full force of the sun moderates the chill somewhat. Here, the Catalina Mountains can be seen in the distance.
What a great climb. Not as long as the Lemmon climb but much steeper and not one foot is down hill or flat. All uphill, every single mile. After reaching each turn, I hope the top is in view but it keeps going up and then up and then come around an area in shade with lots of black ice and yahooooooo!!!!! There is the parking lot and I give a quick pump of the fist to celebrate. 12 miles, 3600' of climbing, 1:36 climbing time from route #86.
At the top is an impressive array of telescopes and support buildings. I hear the sunsets are spectacular from here with night time tours of the facilities included. Although cold at the top, the bright sun made it seem much warmer and I coasted down. At ground level, it was sunny and mid to upper 50's but I was cold and had the car heater going full blast for many miles before the numbness left my fingers. This is a classic climb that I hope to do again and the collection of views is definitely top 3 from everything I have seen.
Boy, have I got something for you tomorrow, but first, my hike of Wednesday. Monday and Tuesday, the area received 1.5 inches of rain, more then is normally received for the entire month and appropriate since I was out here. I checked out the local news web site and over 25 roads were closed because of high water. It rained, stormed, was cloudy but then on Wednesday, it mostly cleared. The evening before, I went to a local restaurant to order take out and while waiting, chatted with a guy who had also ordered carry out. He was an Apache helicopter pilot who trains members of the Singaporean air force and had a very interesting conversation about "things". Later he told me I ought to check out Wassan peak, a hike out of the Saguaro West National Park. And so, I headed out for that hike on Wednesday. Note the snow on the peaks on my drive toward the park.
Arrived at the trail head of the King Canyon Trail, which then hits the Hugh Norris trail before turning onto the Wassan Peak trail. A local told me if I maintained a good pace I'd reach the peak in 2 hours, so I shoved off on a very rocky, gravelly trail. Still looking for a trail that is conducive for trail running as so far they are either too steep or too rocky on which to run. After 1900' of climbing on a 3.39 mile trail, I reached the top in 1:05. I'm beginning to think that while I mostly suck at cycling, I'm a pretty good hiker. Note the trail zig sagging below the peak. Ran into a guy at the summit who told me about a couple of other area trails. Out in these remote trails, you run into lots of outstanding individuals who share similar passions for hiking, back packing and cycling.
Back in the early 1900's a copper mining company thought this area would produce vast quantities of copper and were so confident of the outcome gave names to the mines like, "King Copper Mine" but alas, the last copper was pulled out in 1943 and the area only produced 1500 tons of copper, well below the expectation. Still existing are numerous mines that have been barred and encircled in fence. Finished with just under 7 miles for the hike and planned to jump in with the 8:00am ride out of "La Buzz", a popular coffee shop at the foot of Mount Lemmon the following day, Thursday.
Head back up Mount Lemmon, the 26 mile climb via Catalina Highway. In October I made it to mile 18 at the San Pedro overlook but had run out of fluids and had to turn around. Then in November, made it to the Palisades at mile 20 but it was too late in the day to go farther and had become very cold. Coasting back down I had trouble controlling the bike as it was shaking from my shivering. Poor clothing choice that day.
So, headed back up and curious to see how the rest of the route developed above the Palisades. I won't go back over the details of the climb as it has been described previously but there were some big differences. First, early in the climb an SUV approached and it had a rather large snowman on the hood with branches for arms. Would have loved to gotten a pic of that and don't know how it had managed to stay perched on the hood because it was real snow and would have been real heat coming from the hood. Don't see that every day but then other cars and trucks came down with piles of snow wherever they could put it. Up around 7000' and above it had snowed a lot a few days early and lots of people came up to enjoy.
Here, a scene I saw repeated many times, dude shoveling snow into the back of his truck to take back down to the valley and make a snowman for the front yard.
Lots and lots of people drive up for a picnic in the snow! They pull out little grills and cook food, while huddling against the cold, which wasn't really cold, probably in the low 50's but you know, it's a matter of relevancy. I stopped to talk to this guy and asked about this activity as from Ohio, the last thing we think to do is take a picnic when it snows. Told me his wife is from MN and she was sitting in the truck, thinking the same as me.
Argh, after the Palisades (small gift shop there that is rarely open), the road climbs for about another 1/4 mile and then a 1+ mile descent, then small climb, descent and bingo, at the town of Summerhaven at the top of Mount Lemmon at grueling mile 26 but actually, not quite at the top because a turn just before entering the town takes you up a steep climb to the ski lodge and this cool restaurant, the Iron Door. Ted M had alerted me to this place but I did not stop to eat, instead getting back in the car to drive back down.....you didn't think I'd ride up with snow around did you....
......actually, probably 5-6 cyclists did make it to the top this day.
Headed over to the Sabino Canyo recreation area and hiked up to Beckett's Ridge. Distance from the parking lot is only 3 miles but once it starts climbing, it is the real deal with over 2000' in 1.7 miles and spectacular scenery. Lots of great trails in this area which is the main recipient of all the rain that falls up on Mount Lemmon. At the top is a good view of "Needle Point".
There is a paved road that a shuttle takes several times each day and then maybe you can make out the "Telegraph Trail" to the right, which roughly parallels the paved road, zig zagging above and then I am way above it on the ridge.
So, made it to the ridge in exactly 1 hour from the parking lot and there, some guy was talking to someone about all the times he has hiked Mt. Ranier, Everest, (yes that mountain), Kilimanjero (spl), etc... The person with whom he was talking has hiked the 13 highest peaks worldwide...cool. Anyway, the guy told me it took him exactly one hour to get to the ridge from the parking lot and I blurted out, it had taken me exactly that long too. He said, "You must be in great shape" Dude I thought, I am a very average endurance athlete from Ohio!
Coming later, the successful climb up Mount Lemmon and SNOW!
So, have heard about this special group ride out of Tucson called, "The Shootout" and been wanting to check it out. To save yourself some time, I'll give you the short version first and then the long version. The short version is it's identical to our Thursday New Albany rides just lots and lots more "A" riders and the distance is longer.
Now the long version. Read that the ride started at the corner of University and 6th at 7:30am. I left our place at 6:00am to allow for my usual wandering endlessly driving mistakes. First thing I noticed was the lunar eclipse underway over a cloudless sky, very cool. After a half hour of driving I arrived in downtown Tucson but there was no large parking lot where I assumed the ride would start. Spotted a policeman exiting a doughnut shop and asked, "Where does the large bike ride start?" He had no idea what I was talking about, which is odd since there had been an issue between this ride and the police a couple of years ago. Something about the large gang of cyclists riding through down town causing havoc. I continued to do loops around the area looking for clues and came across "Fairwheel Bikes", a bike shop which I think started the ride a long time ago. I parked in the lot and walked to the front of the shop, note it was still kind of dark at this hour, hoping to see something in the shop window but nothing. Walked back to the parking lot and just then a guy pulled in with a Michigan license plate. Great, I have no friggin idea where the ride starts and the first person I see is a scUMmer. Anyhow, I approached him and asked about the ride and was in luck. He was here for it too, loaned me an allen wrench to tighten my seat and turned out to be a very nice guy who had a home on a cliff over looking the Pacific in Hawaii and a home here in Tucson. Has to be the most successful person out of the state up north because not many of those people can even read!
Actually, my Michigan buddy was here for what they call the "Senior Start", an alternative for those who want to avoid the "A" ride and start 20 minutes early. I thought, gee, maybe that would be a good alternative since I don't know this area and likely getting dropped by the "A" group would put me in oblivion. Pulled in to the start area just as they were rolling out, maybe 30 of them. We rode through the down town at a modest pace and frequently passed 1 or 1-2 cyclists who were waiting for the "A" group to come by or who would join our group. At one point, a batch of 6-8 young phenoms swung around a corner and joined in too so by the time we exited Tucson, our number was up to 40ish. This is down a little because this December has been the coldest on record so far and at the start, the temp was around 40. I had read that the ride starts modestly until they hit Vistualla Road, which I had no idea where that was but nervously read each road sign as we approached them. After maybe 8 miles, (my Garmin was in my back pocket so I could not keep track of accurate mileage), I saw the sign for Vistulla and the speed began building as we climbed out of the valley. The grade is modest going south and at first, everyone hung together but soon, some guys began sliding back but the gaps were covered and we were still a large body, then after a couple of miles a guy in front of me pulled out, I covered, then another pulled and ahead more dropped and the group shattered. I passed the Michigan dude, thank goodness, and was just a couple of pedal strokes behind the main body.
Unfortunately, I ain't in midseason form and so, latched on to the wheel of some kid who had an adult coach alongside screaming, "They regroup at the bridge, keep digging, you can do it Mckenzie (yeah, a 15 year-old girl), hang in there, keep digging, dig deeper", etc.... I wanted to slap this guy. I finally got around them and eventually, came to the bridge, roughly a 12 mile climb but the road kept going up, and up, not at all steep but still, up. We had climbed 2000+" and, after riding around a large mesa, had reached the top. I waited at the top and here came 8 people that included the Michigan Man. Turns out he had ridden the Tour de Tucson, trained for it and had a time around 5:30. We rode the ups and downs of a ridge line close to Green Valley, south of Tucson before finally going on a 7 mile steep down hill that was a lot of fun. We were finally overtaken by a group of 15-20 "A" cyclists and I hung in there for 3-4 miles before fatigue caused me to drop out, soon another group of 10 steamed by but I had no energy to jump in, then another group and again, no chance of hanging on....what's this? The Michigan Man hung back to nurse me into and through down town Tucson and finished with 60 miles. This ride is the real deal. They ride the same route each Saturday, just a modest pace to the outskirts, then hammering out of the valley to the bridge, regroup a little, then bomb the down hill and then the flat stretch into Tucson. Really enjoyed it.
So, while it was mid-60's here in Oro Valley on Saturday, a few miles up it was an entirely different world with some wild scenes, about which I will report soon.
Welllllll, quite a fun time at the annual Steve Oxley Financial Services Cycling Christmas Party. Wish I had been there but preparing for my trip to Arizona caused me to miss.
I feel bad for posting this but maybe it wwill help Flyin Tuna to bring her condition to the open. Having knocked over the Christmas Tree trying to get a better gift, having had way too much to drink, this is where she ended up. Very sad.
So, Flyin Tuna owed me a favor after I let her use a Fed Ex account # of mine that saved her hundreds when she shipped her bike out to California early this year. Finally, having given up that some kind of reciprical gesture would ever take place, Cindy told me she was going to buy me a bottle of wine. I recevied it, surprised, but then, turning it over saw the sad reality of the true value of the "gift". Wow, thanks Tuna. You are very generous.
I want you all to know, despite the fact I will awaken early Friday morning and trudge off to Arizona, today I did attempt to organize something to post for you all. Typically, on a morning coming off an overnight low of 26 and a high of 32 (the forecast for Saturday), we would try to organize something for the weekend. However, Mark Clingan, the leader of the off trail hiking expeditions, has a wedding to attend on Saturday so the most he can muster is trail running at 9:00am from Clear Creek Metro Park. Doubt too many of you would be up for that but if interested, contact Mark for confirmation. Otherwise, trust me, as I ride in the brilliant sunshine of southern AZ I will be thinking of you all...well most of you......maybe some of you......OK, probably none of you but try to have fun despite me being out of town. I'll be back next weekend unless the Ohio forecast stays crummy and my wife tells me she likes life without me and suggests I stay in AZ!
A little brisk for a 9:00am start but with the sun in full force, things seemed a little warmer then what the thermometer suggested. At the start was Jeff S, Kenda Janet & Paul, Flyin Tuna, Dustin, Dave R and a few of the regulars for the COP start from Cyclist Connection. Now, for most of us, overeating causes a swelling of the tummy but for Jeff, it apparently all goes to those enormous calves, that are now splitting his tights.
Bob Allen came up with a route of 50 miles that included an optional loop that added 4-5 more miles. I wasn't listening much to the preride dissertation so missed what was included in the extra loop and then shoved off with everyone else. During the ride out of Canal, I stood up to stretch my legs while going up a small hill and this caused Janet to say, "Kind of eager beaverishly this morning aren't we?" Funny.
In time we headed across 33, getting onto Pleasantville Road, then right on Havensport and left on Carroll Eastern. Our group had shrunk down to Dustin, Jeff, Cindy, Kenda Janet, Dave and Brent when the route went right again on Havensport but Dave and Brent stayed straight. I asked how much distance this loop would add and Jeff mentioned not much but included Rainbow. Upon hearing that alarming news, I said, "Screw that" and turned around with Janet and we got back on Carroll Eastern, catching Kenda Dave, then Brent and Dave and at mile 26, arrived in Millersport.
We stopped at a greasy spoon where our orders were taken and Janet, as is the norm, produced a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, mushed from being confined in her jersey during the ride. Didn't look very appetizing and, like many of you have wondered too, thought what a skin flint cheapskate one must be to carry a PB & J from home rather than order off the menu. Well, I stand corrected, While Janet may be a skin flint money grubber, although I have not seen any evidence of it other then the sandwich habit, in fact, she eats the PB & J because in the past, restaurant produced food has caused her stomach discomfort on the return ride. So there! Now, also as a first, just as we were preparing to leave, Paul ordered a cheese burger to go. Dude rode back while munching on the burger, a feat that makes TDF cyclists stuffing newspaper into the jersey or donning a jacket, while maintaining balance, look simple. We finished with 50 miles, 54 for those that did the extra loop. Good time as is the norm.
Oh, Steve O surpassed the 8000 mile mark on Sunday and Tuna needs around 45 miles to exceed 5000 miles, for the year. Hope the weather warms for the weekend so you all can get out to ride but I plan to experience the famous "Shootout" ride on Saturday morning from, you guessed it, Arizona. Hear a huge crowd of weekend warriors with a healthy mix of pros and semi-pros come out for this ride so I'll report what I can see, way off the back. Also, I sent an email to the organizers of Florida's Hilly 100 and they do not post results so not way of knowing where all our locals finished. I have heard some people did not fully understand Marty Sedluk's finish. His 2nd place finish was 2nd overall, not just 2nd behind the cyclist he described in his report.
The "Where Should We Ride This Saturday Committee" is in consultation and will have something for me to post, later today. On the offing is a Newark ride to Frazeysburg put on by Flyin T, ride out of Lockville put on by Steve O or the Canal ride out of Cyclist Connection. The Cyclist C ride, if the 9:00am temp meets that groups minimum, seems like the logical choice but if too cold, we'll have something at 10:00am. The committee is monitoring weather forecasts which, over the last couple of days has ranged from an overnight Friday low of 23 to 31. UPDATE: Looks like Saturday at 9:00am the temp will be 34 so let's start with the Cyclist Connection ride out of Canal Winchester. OK?
Previously, I typed a report on the Bisbee Bicycle Brothel, a very neat bike shop in Arizona. Here, an AZ-based show produced a feature on the shop that includes a good look at Ken's inventory of old bikes and memorbilia. Watch it here:
Florida Horrible 100--Results have not yet been posted that I can find but am looking. In addition to Marty, Dave and Billy, John and Kim Sada also rode so will be good to see everyone's times.