Addicted to Bike


It’s memories like this (Grand Mesa, 2005) that keep me riding.

I thought after two bad injuries the last few years that maybe my cycling days were over. Oh, sure, I planned on riding every now and then, mostly as a “ceremonial rider,” but not at the frequency I used to (as in 4-5 days a week.) After starting prematurely to ride last fall (where I determined it was too scary and painful), I basically kept off the bike until February of this year.

Then I did a ride on a nice Saturday, another ride the following Saturday, and then another a week after that. The weather on these weekends was absolutely fabulous. How could I not ride?

“Okay,” I thought to myself at the time. “I think riding one day a week is good. It allows me to experience the joys of cycling without exposing myself to too much risk. I sure don’t want to fall again.”

That philosophy worked for a while. But by April, the weather was getting even better. So I snuck in a weekday ride, testing the waters by joining the Tri Scottsdale group ride on a Tuesday morning. Felt so good that I went back a week later. And then the next. By mid-May I was back to four days a week — something I had told others I was trying hard not to do. “I don’t want to get into that trap,” I had said to them.

When the summer heat slammed down, I thought I’d lay low for a while, my new philosophy being, “I won’t ride unless the conditions are ideal. Why expose myself to all the risk when it’s crappy out, such as being really hot, or humid, or raining.”


What I fool I be. Did I really think that kind of philosophy would hold up even during the hot summer months?

By the end of July, after riding the most miles per month since crashing a year and a half ago, it was clear that:

I might as well admit it, I’m Addicted to Bike.

(Yes, queue the “Addicted to Love” music right here.)

I don’t ride quite as regularly as I used to, though I often do at least 3 days a week. The difference now is that cycling is down in my list of priorities. Most anything else will pre-empt it.

Update: I wrote this post a few months ago, back when it was still warm in the early mornings. I never got around to publishing this commentary. Now that it is getting dark and cold on the early mornings, I find my motivation for wanting to ride has gone down right along with those temperatures. Guess my “addiction” has its limits. It’s not as strong as my body wanting to go into hibernation for the winter, apparently. :)


Ride the Rockies 2005


Yes, the title says 2005, not 2015. Was just thinking the other day it’s been ten years since I did the Ride the Rockies tour. It was my first major cycling event. I just discovered yesterday that the 2015 version of the Ride the Rockies follows many of the same roads we did in 2005, including starting from Grand Junction.

Here’s a recap of that time, which now seems so long ago.

Day 0: June 18, 2005. Grand Junction, CO.

My friend Marc and I rolled into Grand Junction the day before the tour. We had driven to Breckenridge (the last stop on the tour) from Denver, and parked his truck so we would have a way to return back to Grand Junction and pick up my Jeep at the end of the week.

Herein lies the only thing wrong with the Ride the Rockies Tour: having to arrange for transportation at both ends of the week. The main competitor to this tour, the Bicycle Tour of Colorado, starts and ends at the same city, which makes things a lot more convenient for everybody.

I’ve never done the Bicycle Tour of Colorado. I know plenty of people that have. It’s a lot harder tour, covering on average more miles and more climbing per day, but I think of the Ride the Rockies as being more family friendly, and a gentler introduction to touring mountains on a bike. If only it weren’t for the inconvenience of starting and ending in different cities.

We chose to use the “indoor camping” option on this tour — staying mostly at schools along the way, sleeping in gymnasiums. That meant not having to hassle with tents and what not, or paying high prices at motels. But the gymnasiums were often hot and noisy which led to many sleepless nights. And the gymnasium in Grand Junction was no exception. It was a very warm and they had large, noisy fans running most the night. At one point, I got up and moved my sleeping bag outdoors on the school house lawn where it was much cooler and quieter — until I felt rain drops, that is.

Day 1: June 19, 2005. Colorado National Monument, 45 miles.

Here I am with my riding companions for the week, I’m on the left, Dean from Montana in the center, and Marc from Colorado on the right. We’re at the entrance to the Colorado National Monument — a great place to ride a bike.

The morning was cool — just perfect for cycling. We were all excited to begin this journey. I had just purchased a road bike a month before, and it was 16 pounds lighter than my old mountain bike. I was a lot lighter back in those days as well. As a result, I zoomed along the route this day, feeling strong. I had plenty of time to stop and take pictures before the others caught up.

Scene looking east back towards Grand Junction

The views were stunning all through the park. Truly a great way to start a week long tour.

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Day 2: June 20, 2005. Grand Junction to Delta, “Grand Mesa Day”

The second day was the most grueling of the tour. It was 91 miles long, and 20 of those miles were up the relentless climb to the top of Grand Mesa, just east of the Grand Junction area. After this momentous day, we pretended every morning when we woke up that the radio was playing Sonny & Cher’s “I’ve Got You Babe” and the radio announcers would say:

“Rise and shine campers … It’s Groundhog Grand Mesa Day!”

Yes, we had fears we’d get stuck in a “Grand Mesa Day” time loop. It was that memorable — and not one we wanted to repeat anytime soon. Still, one of my most cherished memories, though at the time I wouldn’t have thought that would be the case. I think this was the toughest climb I’ve ever done, even to this day. A lot of that was due to the heat. It reached 106 degrees.

The route headed east out of Grand Junction to the town of Palisades, before dumping us onto Interstate 70 for a few miles. Except for seeing glimpses of the mighty Colorado river,  I don’t think anybody enjoyed riding I-70, but there was no other way to get us to where we were going — up Highway 65 to head south towards Grand Mesa, some 11,000 feet in elevation.

Here, we’ve just left Interstate 70 and are heading east and then south towards Grand Mesa. At this point in the day I was feeling good, legs strong.

A shot of Plateau Creek that we followed for part of the way

After following a winding river, the road eventually turned south and straight, and we began a gradual uphill. Looming ahead was the snow-capped plateau called Grand Mesa, one of the largest and highest mesas anywhere in the world.

We have our target in sight, the giant plateau of Grand Mesa. I took this shot right after getting a flat. And for some reason, having that flat took the wind out of me. I was feeling good beforehand, but after getting back on my bike, I just couldn’t muster the energy to catch the group just ahead. I would continue to struggle all the way up the climb.

Though feeling a little winded — and a little saddle sore, come to think of it — I was looking forward to the challenge of climbing Grand Mesa. The scenery wasn’t bad either.

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By halfway up the climb, it was clear that climbing Grand Mesa was not going to be an easy feat. It was getting hot, and the road upward was relentless, with hardly any hint of downhill to relieve legs that were now getting fairly taxed. I had to stop several times to recuperate.

The rest stop at the mid-way point was a welcome sight.

Looking back down the road. We’ve come a long way.

Yours truly about 2/3rds the way up. The route we just came up is way, way down below. Though smiling here, I was actually feeling hot, tired, and sunburned. I had to get off and walk my bike for a while up a 10% grade — something I never had to do before.

The heat and the climbing were getting intense. I would find out later than out of 2,500 or so riders, 500 sagged this day. Somewhere along here, a truck passed by with a bumper sticker that read:

“Yes, it’s my truck. And no, I won’t give you a ride to the top.”


It wasn’t more than a few miles before the conditions changed considerably. We saw our first snow! And the heat wasn’t near as intense — though the burning sun still was. We were getting up there in altitude — reaching 10,000 feet by this point.

Now, this is more like it! The temps were much cooler here, and the scenery grand. Unfortunately, I stepped in some bubble gum or something, and it clogged the cleats of my left shoe, making it difficult to click in. I mostly used my right leg to climb for a while, before finding a convenient place stop and dig out whatever was in my shoe.

At this altitude, Grand Mesa takes on a quite different look and feel, compared to the high deserts of Grand Junction to the west.

Lakes at the top of Grand Mesa, near 10,800 feet in elevation. I reached the real top — just a mile or so from this point, by 2:20 pm, having started around 6 am in the morning.

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On the descent from Grand Mesa. I played the Good Samaritan twice along here. First, a damsel in distress had her chain caught rather tightly around her bike frame and inner chain ring, and it took me ten minutes or so to work it loose. Then, later, I gave another rider one of my spare tubes, hoping I wouldn’t need it the rest of the day.

Descending Grand Mesa was my first real taste of high speed downhill cycling — at least on a road bike. I hadn’t ever experienced the “wobbles” before  — the scary resonance that can sometimes build up in a bike’s frame, making you think you are going to lose control and crash. These wobbles sometimes occur at speeds over 30 mph, depending on weight, the wind, the phase of the moon (just kidding). I didn’t know it at the time, but it helps to relax your hands and not hold the handlebars so tightly. Holding a tight grip just aggravates the problem. The other remedy is to pull your knees in to hug the top tube of your bike frame. It’s quite effective.

After reaching the bottom, the next 20 miles or so featured a fast, flat ride to the destination for the day — Delta, CO. I had lost my riding companions somewhere on the climbs of Grand Mesa, so I was riding solo. It was hot on the flats  — as in 106 degrees hot. Now, being from Phoenix, that should not be any big deal. But back in Phoenix, we don’t have long, 20 mile climbs at high altitude to tax our bodies before slamming us with heat.

I put my hands in the drops and hammered along, sometimes doing 26 mph or more, even though by all rights, my legs should have been dead tired. Well, that would come later. Also, what would come later was that I was getting quite saddle sore, which definitely was a harbinger of things to come.

Hard to believe this is from the same day as the last few pictures, but here’s Grand Mesa, as viewed from the south, on the way to the town of Delta. Edit: I now realize this was taken the next day, as we left Delta for Montrose.

I reached Delta in the late afternoon, hot and tired. I retrieved my sleeping bag and gear and looked for a place to lay down for the night — except the main sleeping areas were already full — a lot of people had sagged this day, and they apparently got here way before me. I spent a frustrating 30 minutes or more looking for any little spot in the hallways for my sleeping bag. I was thirsty, hot, sore, hungry, and getting grumpier by the minute. I couldn’t believe the organizers didn’t have the foresight to make sure there were plenty of accommodations for indoor camping. I was ready to quit this tour, so frustrated I was. But, I eventually did find a place, albeit in a building that was seemingly out in the hinterlands. Only saving grace was there was also room for my two friends, who came in some time after me.

An eventual nice shower and a later hot meal boosted my spirits considerably, and any nonsense of “quitting” quickly subsided. I did notice, though, that it was hard to sit down. I wondered how getting back on the bike the next morning was going to feel …

Day 3: June 21, 2005. Delta to Montrose, 34 miles

This was a sort of rest day, where the riding was easy and the miles short. We took the back roads off the main highway, and were even treated to a rare sight — well, rare for cycling anyway, the birth of a new foal:

Yep, got there just after this little guy was born.

The wee one’s first stand on all fours.

Though my legs were tired from the day before, they felt strong enough. I felt so good towards the end that I rocked the last few miles. My journal entries from the day read:

“Saddle sore, right side. Rode hard at the very end — dumb idea!”

By 2005, cell phones were achieving total wide-spread popularity. Tables like this were a common scene throughout the trip.

Many people opted for tent camping on the football / soccer fields.

Day 4: June 22, 2005. Montrose to Gunnison, 65 miles.

One of my favorite days of the route, though I can’t  pinpoint as to exactly why. Just a combination of things, I guess. We were well into the routine of early morning rising, and cycling a good part of the day. Ordinary life seemed far away.

Things I remember the most:

  • Them telling us to start early because it often got very head-windy on Cimarron Pass (the main pass of the day.
  • Not being able to sit in the saddle due to soreness. I rode standing up for the first 5-10 miles.
  • Feeling good, though, on the climb up the first pass.
  • Being robbed of any fast downhill on the other side, due to construction that left the road in a state of oily, tarry, gravely sub-surface. Very dicey descent. Still have tar on the underside of my bike from that day.
  • Many cyclists having flats due to the road construction. I helped not one, but two damsels in distress with flat tires, and got not even so much as a thank you.
  • Climbing the second pass of the day with confidence and strong legs. I was really enjoying this whole mountain-climbing gambit.
  • Having a crazy truck driver threaten cyclists and having the state patrol called to track him down.
  • Zooming along Blue Mesa Lake, hands in the drops, hammering hard in a pace-line all the way to Gunnison.
  • Revisiting these roads a year later with my wife, going the other direction, and being amazed at just how much downhill there seemed to be going from Gunnison to Montrose. It didn’t seem possible to do it on a bike going the other way. Yet I did it.

Cyclists relax after a harrowing descent down Cimarron Pass due to nasty road construction.

Many people had trouble with flats after the dicey descent.

Scenic Blue Mesa Lake.

Here’s a scene from Gunnison that evening. We had good riding weather the whole trip. Any storms came late in the day, after we had all finished riding.

The campers may have gotten rained on, I don’t know.

Day 5: June 23, 2005, Gunnison to Salida, 66 miles.

This was the second toughest day of the tour, as we did the major climb of Monarch Pass. I was even more saddle sore than the day before, but that didn’t stop me from riding a brisk pace for the first 33 miles, including a lot of pace-line riding. My legs were feeling awesome.

And then the climb to Monarch pass started. Legs, not so awesome:

At the bottom of the Monarch Pass climb. It was cool and a bit rainy earlier, and I still had my jacket on at this point, as some here did as well. But that was quickly dispatched not far around the corner from where this shot was taken. The temps — and the grades — were heating up.

Halfway up the climb, I have a “Kodak moment.” My legs were definitely feeling the effects of riding too hard earlier in the day. Still, I felt proud I was holding my own up the pass.

No mountain is going to conquer me! I’m at the top, at 11,300 feet.

My fastest (and scariest) descent ever

Cyclists zooming down Monarch Pass at 50 mph plus. I stopped for a breather, and to let any panic reside from having semi’s pass so close by a few times. It was very windy.

The descent down Monarch Pass was something else. There were heavy crosswinds, and lots of semi’s passing by. I reached 55 miles per hour, something I don’t plan on ever doing again. I know lots of cyclists who brag about going 60 miles per hour or more on their bikes, but seriously, it’s just not a good idea. There are too many things that can go wrong — and it only has to be a simple thing: a bump in the road, a gust of wind, a rabbit, a crazy other cyclist passing too close, and you’re toast.

That being said, this was an exhilarating descent. By the time I reached the “flats” (it’s actually downhill all the way to Salida), I was having the time of my life, and averaged, yes averaged, 29.5 miles per hour from the top of Monarch to the streets of Salida, some 22 miles away.

Camping accomodations in Salida.

We had good time while in Salida. The town sits along the Arkansas river, and makes a pleasant place to visit.

A kayaker hones his skill on the Arkansas River.

The local “art.”

More local “art.”

We even had our own, er, banshee(?) show up.

Though the town was pleasant to visit, I can’t say the same for sleeping that night. For some reason, they left the lights on in the gymnasium all through the night. Even though I had eyeshades, they brought little relief. They were hot to wear, and didn’t block all of the light. So I got little sleep.

Still, when morning came I was somehow raring to go. It looked like a beautiful day was in store.


In case you were wondering where all the bikes go, at each stop they have a guarded, fenced in area to leave your bikes. And yes, they could easily get rained on (and did.)

Day 6: June 24, 2005, Salida to Leadville, 60 miles

Though I don’t remember it this way, my journal entry for the journey from Salida to Leadville reads as follows:

“Very saddle sore, but able to ride in the drops to help alleviate it. Rode in the drops most of the way. Something clicked after the 1st hill, and I then had my best day of the ride — able to power up the hills with an efficient backstroke.”

The scenery along this route is quite spectacular, as we passed by numerous 14’ers. The only thing marring the way was having to ride through ten miles of fresh chip-seal somewhere north of Buena Vista (aptly named). Yes, the chip seal sucked.

Views on the road just north of Salida. A near full moon hangs above Mt Shavano and Tabeguache Peak, both 14’ers.

Not sure, but I believe this is Mt Antero, another 14’er.

The Arkansas River, near Buena Vista. Looks a lot different here than it does in Kansas, if I might say so.

One of the “Collegiate Peaks”. Mt. Princeton perhaps? Whatever the case, it’s another 14’er.

Near the Twin Lakes area. Chip seal’s ahead, just a mile or two up the road.

Don’t know why we all stopped here. A coed nature break? Or perhaps just the fabulous scenery. I believe this may be the backside of Mt Elbert in the background, the highest peak in the Rockies at 14,440 feet. Or maybe it’s Mt. Massive. I don’t know.

Storm clouds threatened, but we’d be fine during the ride.

The bike “dumping ground” in Leadville.

It would storm later in the evening, so I’m sure the campers had a good time. I’m sure our bikes got wet too, though I don’t remember cleaning them off.



Day 7: June 24, 2005. Leadville to Breckenridge, 42 miles. The last day

Leadville sits at 10,000 feet. And even though we had been climbed to that altitude several times during the trip, we hadn’t slept at that altitude (most of the way we slept at say, 6,000 feet, maybe 9,000 feet (?) in Gunnison). So I woke up at 3 am with a splitting headache and nausea. Felt terrible the rest of the night and into the morning. But being the photographer I am, I got up as early as possible to catch the sunrise.

It was a glorious morning too, as storm clouds from the night before still lingered in the area.

A beautiful sunrise sets the scene for the last day of the tour.

Splitting headache or no, we headed out for the last serious climb of the week, up Fremont Pass, on the way to the famous ski resorts of Copper Mountain and Breckenridge. I felt like crap up the pass, and was very sore in the saddle. Still, I was sad that this would be the last day in the mountains. I wasn’t ready for it to be over. If I could spend the rest of my days just riding around in the mountains, that would be fine by me. My heart and soul belong here.

Dean tops Fremont Pass.

And here comes Marc.

And here is Moi. I wonder, and you probably do too, who is the camera man? The same people that somehow manage to film the ascents on Mt Everest, of course! Actually, we staged these last moments. By this time, we had climbed 26,400 feet during the course of the week.

A lake on the way down Fremont Pass. By now, we had gotten the whole descent gambit down pat. I zoomed along quite easily while snapping this photo. (Just kidding. I stopped first.)

On the trip down the famed Ten Mile Canyon, between Copper Mountain and Frisco, I was not having the best of times. Sure it was downhill and the scenery glorious, but I was suffering in the saddle. I was glad when Breckenridge came into view — and then sad that it did! For it meant the end of the trip.

Marc hauls his gear back to the truck, where we would then have to drive all the way back to Grand Junction. At least it was a straight shot up I-70.

My journal entry for the last day reads:

“Looking back, I rode hard every day except Day 3. Legs never failed and never got cramps either. I was well-conditioned for the trip. But didn’t feel fulfilled at the end, just saddle sore and tired.”

That feeling of lack of fulfillment wouldn’t last of course.

It dawned on me that this long post is kinda like the proverbial “Slide show of uncle’s trip to Europe.” Boring for everybody except those involved. But I’m sure those of you that have participated in events like this will concur, these adventures are some of the best of your life.

Sitting here, I’m wondering why I never went back to do tours like the Ride the Rockies. Sure, I’ve gone to Colorado and ridden the one-day Triple Bypass ride multiple times, and have gone to other more challenging feats such as completing numerous double centuries in California. But somehow, the memories of those events didn’t leave as much of an impression on me. They didn’t reach as far into my soul. It could be that by having less of challenge each day, but more days of it, left more time for the memories to form.

Maybe it’s time to switch gears and enjoy the fewer-miles-per-day events like the Ride the Rockies again.


Is this the fabled connection to Fountain Hills?


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Whole lot of road construction going on at the end of Eagle Ridge in Fountain Hills

A few years ago cyclists lost access to the Hidden Hills area, (to the west and down from Eagle Ridge in the picture here) even though the street through the area, 145th Way, has a public easement. We were told at the time that the restriction was “temporary” until a fabled connection to Fountain Hills from Hidden Hills was constructed. That connection was supposedly between Hidden Hills (Scottsdale) and Eagle Ridge (Fountain Hills) though that has always seemed vague to me.

Well, today I happened be out on my bike climbing Eagle Ridge, and was shocked to find bulldozers out, busily grading a path for a new road. Turns out that the Adero Canyon development just broke ground here a few weeks ago. It’s been in the planning works for more than 15 years.

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Here’s the northwest portion of that development as seen from the top of Eagle Ridge. The Hidden Hills area is just to the left of the picture, and you can see a small paved street that led to trails into the area. I believe this is where the connection to Fountain Hills would start, if there ever is a connection. But the details are vague about this.

A quick visit to Mr. Google and Mr. Bing brought up several articles from the Fountain Hills Times about this development. Here’s a link to one of them. Looks like there’s going to be a mix of single family homes, townhomes, and condos.

Of interest to us road cyclists is whether this means there will be public access to this area, and more importantly, a paved connection between Hidden Hills and Fountain Hills. The article states that in the master plan is public access to hiking trails in the area — access that has been unavailable from Fountain Hills for a long time. Is this access going to be from Eagle Ridge, as shown in the first picture? Will this be a public street? Will it be paved? It would seem so. And will there be a connection to the Hidden Hills area? Will cyclists be allowed? The article doesn’t say definitively, but does talk about the public trails being both “hiking” and “biking” trails.

I did find this briefing from the Scottsdale Transportation Commission from October, 2012 that talks about the plans in this area concerning bikeways and access. More importantly, it came after the easement on 145th Way (aka Hidden Hills) was “temporarily closed” to cyclists, (which happened in February, 2012). So there is some hope.

Why does this matter to us cyclists? Well, currently, there is only one way to get out to Fountain Hills, and that involves riding on Shea Boulevard for a mile or two. Not the safest route in the world (though it’s okay in the early morning on the weekend.) A connection from the Hidden Hills area would be most welcome, as it would mean not having to ride on Shea.

The Scottsdale briefing does mention the extension of a bike path along Shea. That bike path already exists, starting from 132nd St (or 136th St, depending on how you wish to look at it), but it unfortunately ends a half a mile or so up the road, and then you are dumped back onto Shea. The bike path extension would continue the path a ways further, almost to the top of the climb.

This alternative would be most welcome as well, though the Hidden Hills connection would still be preferred by most. No one wants to ride on Shea if there are alternatives.

Questions remain: Is this connection really going to happen through Hidden Hills? (It seems like it.) Will the closing of the “public easement” in Hidden Hills be lifted? (Let’s hope so.) Will the connection to Fountain Hills be to Eagle Ridge, or somewhere further to northeast (like Sun Ridge perhaps)? It doesn’t matter, as long as the access exists.

So, let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Via Linda Circuit

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A portion of my route for Saturday, out to the Hills of Via Linda.

With spring weather at its finest, it was a no-brainer to go out on Saturday. And continuing with my hill climbing theme, I upped the ante and zoomed (well, crawled) up six hills in the Via Linda area, (Desert Cove, Hidden Hills, Scottsdale Mtn to gates, 132nd St, 128th St and 124th St), with a few friends along for company. Thanks Deb, Chris, Joe, and Mike. You guys sure were troopers, doing any hill I might suggest, and then patiently waiting for me at the top of each climb!

These climbs are ones I used to do every Thursday morning with (or should I say … er … somewhere behind) the Gainey Village / Tri-Scottsdale group. Now none of these hills amount to much, neither being long or steep, but my legs were burning by the time I got home.


After waiting for me for hours (okay, a minute or two) at the top of Desert Cove, my companions are well-rested and ready to go.

A few pics of Paradise Valley under full April color:

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Wild goose chase

Thompson Peak Out and Back

Most of the route for today: An out and back along Thompson Peak Parkway.

Went for a fun ride on Saturday. Here’s a slightly edited version of the email I sent to my riding companions:

To Sally, Chris, Bill, Debby, Josephine, Stephanie, the other Bryan, et al:

 Sorry about the mix up this morning!

When I was saying, “Hey, let’s just ride up Thompson Peak and then west to Scottsdale Rd and then turn around for an out and back,” I really had Pima Road in mind, not Scottsdale Road. I realized this one block after we left the light at McDowell Ranch Rd, and thinking I had just sent y’all on a wild goose chase looking for the elusive Scottsdale Road, I yelled to get your attention, but by that time y’all were already far enough ahead that no one heard. So I guess the goose doing the chasing was me.

In particular, Sally and Chris were well up the road within minutes, the cycling animals they be. And since I’m Mr. Weak and Slow at the moment, I could not catch up. My legs were … er … goosed, though I tried mightily for the next five miles or so, and almost did succeed a few times as y’all were stopped at lights, but still, no one heard my yells, and no one turned around to see me frantically waving.

What? Did this goose slip into some kind of astral dimension, unseen, unheard?

I stayed in this invisible and silent twilight zone all the way past Pima, where I thought surely you guys would have realized my mistake and waited; then to Hayden Rd where I had the same thoughts again, but no one in sight. I really had no idea if Thompson Peak went all the way to Scottsdale Rd (Update: It does. You learn something new ev’ra day) and figured y’all wouldn’t even try to go that far. But since I didn’t know for sure what you were up to, and thought maybe y’all turned south down Hayden to do a loop, I just turned around and headed back the way I came, east / south on Thompson Peak to the pre-planned stop at AJ’s at Thompson Peak / Frank Lloyd Wright.

I figured maybe you guys would catch me somewhere along the way, but no dice, though Stephanie, Josephine, and Debbie did roll into AJ’s about ten minutes after me.

So now you’ve learned the lesson for today: Scottsdale Road is really Pima Road. Got that? Okay, then!

Seriously, I had a great time being out and about with everybody. Finished my first quarter-double (50 miles, ha!) in  over a year, and wasn’t all that tired, so I guess that counts for something.


P.S. #1: Today marks the “twelfth-full-moon-aversary” of The Crash. Back then, it was on the lunar eclipse. Only fitting today’s ride was too. And just to twerk those lunar eclipse gods, I defiantly rode right past The Site on the way home.

P.S #2: The patio at the AJ’s on Thompson Peak and Frank Lloyd Wright has lots of room, and even though south facing, has plenty of shade. Problem was the service was very slow as they were super busy. It seems to be a popular spot.

Spring Cycling fever

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Spring color in the McDowells

Cool spring breezes ruffle through my jersey as I spin down the street and turn east into a beautiful Tuesday morning sunrise, wheels rolling, freewheel cogs whirring. My legs have good sensations, feeling strong, while I pedal in full, consistent circles. And miracle of miracles, no aches or pains present themselves, not even as I embrace the small climb known as Mohave.

An intense vinyasa class the night before has something to do with this. So does having ridden a few days before, out to the Hills of Via Linda, where the climbing almost felt like it used to, back in the day, back before The Crash.

On that earlier weekend ride, I had chanced across cycling acquaintances from the Bullshifter / Moon Valley ranks, people I hadn’t seen in a while. I got to ride a mile or two with them, which caused all sorts of memories and sensations to come rushing back: Long days in the saddle with like-minded cycling fanatics, cool morning breezes morphing into warm, sunny afternoons, the days turning magical as the sun sets, legs still spinning, chattering freewheels still churning.

And a certain fever — a fever that leaves you wanting more after you reach home, no matter how many miles you just completed, making yourself ask, “So, when can I ride again?”

The past year, I hadn’t dared entertain such feelings, to dream such thoughts. Whenever cyclists came zooming by on my morning walks with the pupster, I tried to stay indifferent. To be wistful was the road to madness, I reasoned. I had even convinced myself that, no, I just wasn’t that into cycling anymore.

Ha! To think I could fool myself like that!

Zooming back to the present, it doesn’t help that on this particular morning, the weather is as perfect as it can be, and I encounter the Tri Scottsdale “A” group as they fly down the road on their usual circuit. Memories of training ride after training ride with this group washes over me, making the fever return.

I want to follow the pack, but cannot. There’s no way I can match their speed, and that’s probably best anyway, quite frankly. Riding is not without its risks, especially for me, a point re-emphasized when I realize how unsafe the pack seems when they come flying by, and later when I encounter unexpected road construction going through the golf course in Paradise Valley. I come to an abrupt halt just inches away from a section of road that had been ground down in preparation for paving.

Now, that seems familiar. Too familiar. And though technically a person could negotiate such a surface on a road bike, there was no way in hell I was going to. No sirree, you won’t see me making that mistake again! After unsuccessfully backtracking to find another way through the neighborhood, I eventually return to the road construction and walk my bike the quarter mile to the next rideable street, no matter how wimpy that may have looked to the few riders that came rattling by.

Tomorrow is when the next of the series of lunar eclipses occurs, and it will be exactly twelve full moons (and three lunar eclipses) since I took a serious tumble. Will I risk riding?

Most likely, for I’ve got the fever!

Spring pigeons

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Image illustrating pigeon prep, adapted from here.

A few weeks ago I reached a milestone in yoga class: I was finally able to settle into the pigeon prep pose on my right side, (shown above), something that a few months ago was unthinkable.

This pose is a preparation for more advanced forms, all with “pigeon” in their title. (Hey, google it!) Pigeon prep is a valid pose in its own right. It’s a great hip opener, and is regarded as one of the best poses a cyclist can do. It seems to counteract tightness in the hips that comes from miles and miles of cycling. For me, that tightness mostly involves the muscles in the general area of the piriformis muscle (see this site). After having suffered a hip injury last year, that’s now more true than ever. If I don’t stretch the hip muscles on my right side daily, they tighten up like a wet drum. Pigeon prep is the perfect counter for this, though I often don’t think that when I’m in the pose — it’s a burner for sure!

An alternative form of pigeon prep is to lie on your back, and starting with both knees bent and feet on the floor, cross one ankle over the knee of other leg, bending the first leg into a “figure-4” like pattern. (The link mentioned in the last paragraph shows variations of this.) That’s the alternative I had to use for months and months, and even that often caused more burn than I wanted. I would limp out of class with very sore hip muscles (which usually felt better by the next morning.)

The day in class when I finally managed to fully settle into pigeon prep with my right leg forward and crossed over, as in the figure above, I was so proud of myself! — only to have the instructor move the class into more advanced forms of pigeon. Thanks a lot Jen!

1-2-3 Hills

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My co-conspirators of Los Freeloaders fame from last weekend, who witnessed my amazing strength and prowess on the climbs. I would’ve included a selfie here, but I couldn’t find the “tummy tuck” tool in Photoshop. Hee hee.

I’m slowly (and cautiously) returning to cycling, having ridden five Saturdays in a row, under glorious spring weather.

My first two rides were flat as a pancake, no hills at all. I rode with a few friends from the Los Freeloaders, and on the second ride it was all I could do to reach home some 36 miles later.

The next weekend, I did my first hill (Hidden Hills) since last spring. Woo hoo! 36 miles! Completely wiped out the rest of the day! Woo … hew.

The next Saturday after that, I did two hills in a row! (Hidden Hills, 128th St). Woo hoo! 42 miles! Completely wiped out the rest of the day! Woo … hew.

Then last Saturday, I did three hills in a row! (Desert Cove, Hidden Hills, 128th St). Woo hoo! 46 miles! Not completely wiped out the rest of the day!

And so it goes, this humble journey back into the world of cycling. I still don’t know if I should be doing this, and it’s weird riding the old haunts — the old roads, the neighborhoods, the hills I’ve ridden so many times in the past. It’s like those times were yesterday, though yesteryear is more accurate. On the climbs, I’m a mere former of my shadow self. But still in those legs is the ability to keep going. Something those legs haven’t forgotten, apparently.

Why, it’s almost like learning to ride a bike. Once you learn, you never … oh wait!

Flowing yoga, melting concrete

Yup, that just about sums up the past few months. Trying to attend yoga class a bit more regularly — taking a vinyasa (flow yoga) class twice a week, trying to melt those various muscles and sinews which currently feel like concrete.

Progress is slow, but it is real. The warm, 85 degree temps during flow class do help loosen up things. The classes are challenging. I can only muster half the poses, if that. But who’s counting? I just do what I can.

On the cycling front, I’ve been out riding three Saturdays in a row. The weather has been too nice not to! A 36-miler last Saturday was about 12 miles too many, though. I was completely wiped out by the time I got home. Felt like I used to after, say, 120 miles. Oh well.

While on these rides, every now and then a whiff of warm breeze has come drifting by, reminding me of all the many hours once spent on the bike in days gone past — reminding me that I once enjoyed this sport immensely. Will that feeling return?

We’ll just have to wait and see.

One thing that’s apparent, yoga and cycling do go hand in hand, and both are making a noticeable difference on my healing process, even if it is slow.

Now, to just stay away from piles of gravel and construction zones …