The Mother Nature Challenge Ride

Well, dear reader, at its heart it was to be a simple ride for pizza (not just any pizza, the best pizza in the state, pizza!).  First an overnight at our new favorite Friday night stopover at the Riverwalk Inn in Fort Atkinson.  They like bikes so, course they’re OK by me — and Fort Atkinson has the Bent Kettle tap room that the humans seem to like.  But for me, the ride from home to Fort is just a really nice, low traffic stroll.  Perfect for a Friday night, get out of town stopover.

The plan was that on Saturday, the human and I would get up early, do our pre-dawn toodle, stop for breakfast and then together with Edwin and his human head up to Sauk City for pizza.  Simple, eh?  Two long centuries for me and the human; a 70 and an 80 for Edwin and his.  Perfect…right in line with training.  Except we forgot about Mother Nature…and one should never, ever slight Mother Nature.

But, we checked the weather….all good.  Mid 60’s.  Cold overnight, but we expect our pre-dawn rides to be cold and slow.  Predicted winds were “nagging”-strength as Lon would say, head and slight tail on the way out to Sauk City; cross and slight tail back.  Or so NOAA said; Mother Nature had another plan.

Heading back into town from our Saturday pre-dawn ride, the winds were already picking up.  Probably around 10-12 out of the NW.  And, our direction for the day,  you ask?  NW.  And if the winds at 6:30AM were 10-12…a small dread was building…or, was that just dread we felt or was that the laughing and taunting of Mother Nature?!?!??! Hmmm?!?!?!?

Wasn’t a good feeling, that was sure.  So, we stopped for breakfast and then headed out.  By half way we were riding in our granny gear full-time, even downhill.  The wind was strong.  Mississippi strong.  Needless to say, the human accused me of being “fat” whenever we headed up hill.  Uh, excuse me?  I don’t think so.  *I* didn’t put a rack on my tail and *I* don’t require a change of clothes and a warm fleece at night and *I* don’t need a generator hub to see in the dark…oh wait, I do like the generator hub even though it makes me a little slower.   Suffice it to say, it was a very tough day.

But, the pizza, as always, at Windmill was awesome (although my human embarrassed us by eating enough pizza for 2 large factory workers…sigh…and the human called *me* fat…but human’s need fuel and we burned a lot that day).

The next day we needed to ride back into town.  Due east and the winds were supposed to be NW.  No worries, right?  Uh…no.  The winds stayed due north with a slight east, but compared to the previous day not too bad.  So, was Mother Nature maybe going to be nice to us for the second day?  Nope…turns out the first day’s challenge was headwinds; the second day’s challenge was river crossings.

Apparently, it wouldn’t be sufficient to only have a strong crosswind on our 80 miles into Oconomowoc so Mother Nature flooded some rivers and encouraged some road construction for a total of 3 detours.  Three — in one case our detour had a detour.  Worst part, each one had us heading south for a few miles just so we could fight the strong north wind to get back on route.  Arggghhh….

But, it is all training.  And the training is moving forward.  We road for 9 hours on Saturday and got in a 10 hour ride on Sunday.  While we want to be doing 10 and 12 hour rides on the weekend, it is not yet Memorial Day.  And for that weekend, the human is promising me 3 days of riding.  Woohoo!

Hi Ho Hi Ho…Its off to work I go

Yeppers….today I went to work and got to hang out with the commuter bikes.  Of course, the human shackled me to the rack and I had to explain to the beat up bikes that *I* didn’t think I was more special than them, but it was the *human’s* fault.  What can I say?  We’re in the basement and all the humans that come by seem very nice….still…I am a very pretty bike.

But, why did I get to go to work?  Weekends!  The human is in training for another southern crossing (woohoo!  4 weeks of riding!) and that means we get to take weekend rides.  Not as in “we ride on the weekend”, but as in “leave the house on Friday night, ride all weekend to places unknown and ride back just in time to get to work on Monday morning.”  300 miles of riding!  Yay!  But….

Does the human realize that we will be crossing the desert in September?  Does the human not remember the 120 degree temperature reading on the van in El Centro?  I am beginning to wonder.  You see….it is April and just because NOAA says it will get to 60 degrees does *not* mean that it is 60 degrees at 5AM when we head out for our pre-breakfast ride!  I want you to know, dear reader, that it is (explicative) cold yet.

Oh, sure, Clyde says those temperatures are balmy, but *I* don’t commute.  Edwin and his human sleep in and join us for breakfast so they didn’t understand my complaints.  Oh, but *this* morning they did.  Oh yeah…this morning even they had to get up early and ride.  Ha!  See if they can move any faster when it is 35 degrees out!  Ha!

But, I’m a happy camper…despite the cold, I’m basking in a glow of a long weekend and, maybe even looking forward to the next.

 

Where I Become Army

..real army…US Army.  Ok, not quite, but the human and I have a magic pass so we get to ride through Fort Huachuca and it says US Army…so that makes us army, right?  While the west side of the fort is pretty, just outside the west gate?  Awesome.  Rolling hills (some pretty steep) and gorgeous views.  If you don’t have a pass to get through the fort, all those gorgeous rolling hills you enjoyed getting to the back gate, become a 15 mile obstacle to get you back to the main highway where you face another 20 miles to get back to Sierra Vista.  Finishing through the fort is much, much nicer.

While we rode through the fort with passes we got last week, the rest of the troops got into Sierra Vista via Tombstone, a 100 mile ride with a stiff headwind at the end for them.  For us, it was still a 70 mile ride and we traded the direct winds for indirect winds and hills for our challenging ride.  Not quite as tough as yesterday, but tough enough.

Bicycles and Fort Huachuca have a long history.  For many years Fort Huachuca was the home of the Buffalo Soldiers, all African-American troops back in the era when troops were segregated.  One of the training trips of the Buffalo Soldiers in the late 1800s was to test out the use of bicycle for transportation.  Buffalo Soldiers rode from Missoula to Missouri to prove the worthiness of the bicycle.  Successful as the experiment was, the army never adopted it.  Sigh…nothing more sturdy and efficient than a human on two wheels…you’d think the army would figure that out….sigh….

But, best part of today?  Tomorrow we get to do it again.  More rolling hills on quiet back roads.  Wheeee….whump……wheee…..whump….

Payback….

….is a bitch.  Mother Nature decided to make sure we understood what those awesome tailwinds could also mean.  Egads, I’m pooped.

Today we road from Tucson to Nogales…essentially, the distance we road the first 2 days of last week.  This is a different week.  Last week was a lovely tour through the historic towns, with pleasant distances; this week the goal is a century every day.  Now, the human and I won’t be aiming for every day, but we will be getting in at least 70 per day.

But, today’s ride was due south with a little westerly push at the end.  And the winds?  From the south, becoming more westerly.  Yes, indeed, today was payback time.  Winds were sustained in the high 20’s with gusts reaching 40.  Woohoo!  Not.  Climbing Mt. Lemmon yesterday was easier than heading south.  Heck, we rode the granny gear most of the way.

Blah….tired does not describe my wheels.  But while I got my chain cleaned and my tires washed, the human sipped down juice that Edwin’s human bought.  We are truly pampered.  We worked for it, but we are spoiled.

If it is Saturday…

…it must be Mount Lemmon?!?!?!?

In the winter, back in the cold, frozen north where pretty bikes like me must hibernate until Spring, the humans often do “bicycle shaped exercise” by riding indoors.  They put some training video on one computer, and a foreign movie on another and ride.  They don’t go anywhere, but they pedal and pedal and pedal.

My fellow bike George….oh, wait, let me quick introduce George.  George never gets out.  Ever.  George only lives in the basement, on the trainer.  George is an original Georgena Terry bike that the human bought directly from Georgena when the warehouse was shutting down (geek points…talking to and buying directly from *the* goddess of bicycle design!!)  George doesn’t quite fit the human, but it is close enough to use on the trainer.

So, anyway, my fellow bike George likes to gloat that the human rides hard when they put in the Mt Lemmon virtual reality disk.  George claims that the video is really pretty.  Did I mention that George gloats every winter?  Well, let me tell you…when I get back I’m going to tell George that the video does not do the ride justice.  It is absolutely gorgeous.

The human and I rode solo as the 3 Amigos (Edwin, Moots, and myself — see how happy we look coming up Mule Pass?!!?) have split for the season (we’ll get back together in July when Moots and her human visit us…woohoo!).  For the next week we ride by ourselves.  33108290701_26ee9f0a97_o

But, we headed up the mountain. Took a while to get to the start of the climb, but once we started climbing…oh, the views, the views.  Absolutely gorgeous.  And, a really nice shoulder on the highway.  We rode about 12 miles up the mountain….until we had to turn around to meet Edwin’s human for lunch.  Oh, what fun!

But, tomorrow starts the new week.  Oooo…the riders look strong.  We’ll be shot off the back in no time….but we won’t let that stop us.  We’ll keep riding and riding…and maybe, just maybe we’ll find someone to ride with.  If not, they human says we have some good books lined up to listen to.  Today we learned about the tea trade routes….who knows what we might learn?

Just a Nice week of Riding

Well, dear reader, that darn human has silenced me.  First, the human hogged the PC to do work.  Work!  Hello, human?!?!?!  This is a vacation!!!  I don’t care aboutn logistics for our southern crossing in fall….that is *months* away.  I care about now!  And I have a need to express my inner thoughts, to explore my artistic side, do I not?

But, then…to add insult to injury, just when I thought I’d get to post again, the human goes and loses the power cord.  Left it in Tombstone.  Tombstone of all places.  The city that prides itself on maintaining its 1850’s look and feel, complete with dirt streets and re-enactors in costume.  What need would they of a power cord?  Jeez….until we go it back (thanks, Doug!) the human wouldn’t let me post.  Again…that stupid work.  I have *got* to put a stop to that.

But, here I am, posting away….where are we?  Benson.  Not the most exciting of towns, but a nice jumping off point for today’s ride back to Tucson.  Since last we talked, we’ve spent a night in Patagonia (very cool, laid back vibe, and the humans say that the pizza at Velvet Elvis was awesome).

Then a night in Tombstone.  Kitchy Tombstone.  But, this year there was a brewery and we went…twice.  Yes, I got to go to the brewery.  Due to some amazing tailwinds we got to town really early, so the humans went and had a beer, sat around to make sure they were good to go, went back to the hotel, only to be told, “Nope.  Come back in an hour.”  So, back we went with another crew.  Needless to say, the Tombstone Brewery is really good.

After Tombstone, it was Bisbee.  Despite the fact that I get locked up in a shed all night, I still like Bisbee.  Don’t know why.  Perhaps it is the clash between the old copper mine and the artists; perhaps it is the good food options; perhaps it is the fact that every street says, “Come explore” with the steep grades, tiny (or not) old houses, and steps that seem to go on forever.

And, then, it was to Benson.  Not my favorite city on this route, but always a fun day of riding with a long lunch at Kartchner Caverns.  This year, we took a different route, passing by the fort to get the human a pass.  Next week we want to ride through the fort starting Monday and you can only get a pass on one side of the fort so we stopped by on our way to Benson.  Fort Huachuca is amazing for riding.  Big rolling hills with fast downhills followed by steep up hills and gorgeous scenery.  Wheee……whump.. ..wheee.. ..whump.

The weather this week was great.  The first day had those stiff headwinds, but since then, favorable winds and sometimes massive tailwinds.  Heehee…one ride we averaged almost 24 mph over a 15 mile stretch.   Oh, to be that fast always.

And, best of all, Edwin has kept the air intake system on his human working well so we’ve had Edwin and his human for company the whole trip.  And for most of it, Moots and its human have joined us…..the southern trio reunion…..oh, what fun we’ve been having….

The Wind Abates for No One

Strong rider.  Weak rider.  Fast rider. Slow rider.  None are immune to the punishment of the wind.  And, today, we took a pounding from the wind.  Sixty miles of which more than 50 were into the wind — a nice strong wind with gusts approaching 30 miles/hour.  Oh, and did I mention, it was all up hill?  Yeah….that, too.  Well, except for one gorgeous 5 mile downhill stretch where we coasted at a pleasant 25 mph.

I’m tired.  What?  Yes, the human may be the engine, but I also had to listen to that wind and I also had to work to keep the bike upright when the human started to flag.  But, you know, it was a really pretty ride.  Mission Road is simply gorgeous.  But, right now, I could use a little pampering and a good nights rest.

Tomorrow, we have a “marshmallow” ride.  Heehee…that’s what my buddy Moots calls it…a marshmallow ride — .  A teensy 30 mile ride.  Given that it is uphill and the winds will still be in our faces, methinks Moots might me a little less sarcastic tomorrow night. We’ll see.