Time to move on


I’ve spent a whole week in the Rincon Valley. I’ve ridden the AZT along there many times. I’m becoming familiar with the amenities in the area (post office, library, Safeway, etc). Too familiar--it is time to shove off and see another place. Why the hell do you bother to live in a cramped little trailer if you’re just going to stay in one place?

I’m off to the Pima Valley-Catalina-Oracle area. Gonna probably go set up at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo venue for a while. Get a first taste of the race course, check the scenery there, maybe spent a little more time on lonely desert country roads.

Definitely time to step up the training a bit. I’ve pretty much been trying to do long-ish rides, but with no intensity. Just getting used to riding a bike again. I’d say that’s done. I’ve now got less than 5 weeks to race day. Time to go to bed tired for a while.
 
Guest Worker Program - Arizona Trail new construction!
I ran into a local luminary when I was out riding on the fabulous bit of Arizona Trail near the La Posta Quemada Ranch in Colossal Cave Mountain Park the other day. He was Mark Flint, the designer of the trail sections I’ve been so impressed with, and the leader of the crews that were building trail there. He informed me that a workday was scheduled for Saturday, the 13th. It was a Pima Trails Association project. I told him I’d be pleased to join them.

It was very impressive workday. Even though it was quite cold by Tucson standards, in the upper 30s when we started, there were at least 45-50 workers there. We were doing new bench-cut trail construction. It was a very impressive effort.



I met quite a few people who are going to be at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, and just lots of cool people in general. I got a tip that there are some cool people staying out at the Old Pueblo race venue, and I can hang out with them if I head out there to stay and ride for a while.

I also got a t-shirt, a nalgene bottle, a great lunch, and an extra lunch to go! I ate the 2nd lunch for dinner. My back is tired, and I have that satisfied virtuous volunteer feeling. Hey, that was my MLK Day effort! I’m going to be show up at the next work day, which is January 28 at the same place.
 
Trayler Livvin
After years of ridiculing overweight, lazy, gas-guzzling, RV-ing Americans, here I am hauling around a 21-foot travel trailer and sleeping in it every night. I guess becoming a hypocrite is part of getting older. It’s kind of funny--ten years ago I would have been unable to do something so contradictory to my long-held bias. But now, it doesn’t even phase me. Go figger. Some things get easier with age. Maybe if I became a parent, I could lose even the awareness that I’m a hypocrite.



Living in a trailer is quite a learning experience. Space is LIMITED. Some of the little conveniences that come with living in a house are available, but they take focus, attention, and hands-on problem-solving. Running water: “how much is left in the tank? Is the pump on?” Heat: “do I have plenty of propane? How’s the battery level?” Hot water: all of those questions, plus “has the wind blown out the pilot light?” I need to go potty “oh my, is my poop tank getting too full? Will I have enough water to flush the poo?”

Living in one of these things, especially away from 110 hookups, changes your perspective.
There’s a funny joke about boats: What are the two happiest days in a man’s life? The day he buys his boat and the day he sells it. It’s sort of a truism. I’m thinking there are some things that become universally true of RV owners:

1. The guy who sold you your trailer is a fucking idiot. Most of the stuff he told you about it has turned out to be oversimplified or just plain wrong, and the stuff that was broken that he lived with for years turned out to be trivially easy to fix. Maybe you are the idiot for buying anything from a guy with a haircut like that. (If you bought your trailer new, it’s quite likely that you are the idiot. You spent more than you can afford. If you can afford what they charge for new trailers, you should be staying in hotels anyway.)

2. The guy that wired your trailer was drunk, or on crack, or both. When something isn’t working, and you go to investigate the cause, you find that there are wire junctions that were sloppily joined with electricians tape, barely twisted together, often hanging down under the undercarriage where anything you drive over on the road could pull them apart. Your trailer’s assembler was probably a toothless elementary school dropout wearing a stained t-shirt advertising NASCAR or Canadian Lord Calvert.

3. You never really noticed before, but now you know your vehicle is terribly underpowered. It’s shameful, really. And it really could use a larger fuel tank. Those noisy, smelly diesel pickup trucks you see everywhere now seem remarkably sophisticated.

For the last week, I’ve been a whirlwind Mister Fixit. For people who know me, this is really pretty funny. I’m the kind of guy who drives nails with a crescent wrench. But lately here I’ve been diving right in and figuring out how to fix the stuff on this trailer that is broke.
By the way, the world of RV livin’ is a world where you become embarrassed if your grammar is perfect. Yer not some smarty pants, yer not a vegetarian, yer hetero-goldam-sexual, and you Love America. Folks you meet in this world take these things for granted. They tend to be friendly, they’ll happily lend you a pair of pliers or sewage drain hose, and lots of them like to talk. But it probably isn’t wise to start bitching about Iraq or talking about the wisdom of Howard Dean with the guy you just met at the dump station.

As I spend time living in this thing, slowly resolving issues and figuring out how to run stuff, I’ve become quite attached to it. Kind of like the way you value your bike more after resolving a bottom bracket squeak or chain suck problem. Living like this makes you really get into touch with the magic that is civilized American infrastructure. Utterly reliable hot and cold running water, flush toilets, refrigerators and microwaves, always-on internet access… we don’t even notice these things anymore.

Luxury.
 
Arizona Trail - Rincon Valley
What a treat to find such a great chuck of desert singletrack as a setting for the first destination in my quest for warmth and mountain-biking!

az trail

On January 6 I rolled into southeast Arizona after fighting my way out of snowy Colorado and across icy New Mexico. I was tired of driving and sleep-deprived. A tip from my friend Jake that there was a nice park on the east side of Tucson called Colossal Cave Mountain Park led me in through Vail, AZ off I-10. I pulled the Pod into the park, found a spot for her and started unraveling the mess of my things. As I staggered around looking for things and scratching my head, I saw mountain bikers riding a section of trail a few hundred feet from the trailer.

camp from trail

My camp from the trail

az trail

Sunday morning after it was over 50° F I put on some lycra, swung a leg over the Fisher and headed out to see what they were riding. Lo and behold! Newly minted singletrack! I rolled on fun, twisty singletrack that still has McCloud marks from the builders. Clearly built based on IMBA trail design standards, it was fun, challenging, and beautiful.

az trail

I rolled north, first climbing through tight turns and over rocky obstacles. After a mile or so I reached a ridge top and the trail began to flow softly downhill, full of sweeping turns between a huge variety of cactus and thorny shrubs. I giggled, I whooped, I carved turns and slowly increased my speed and nerve. It had been a few months since I last rode a mountain bike on actual singletrack. I became reacquainted with my bike (my darling).

az trail

Shortly I reached a road and trailhead. I crossed the road and went through a gate, following the carsonite AZT signs. Now the trail became a bit less trimmed. Still flowing smoothly between the flora, but now with less extra room for error. Classic skinner box singletrack. Do everything right and you get that tasty food pellet, the pleasure of a perfectly carved turn, the sweet feeling of knobby tires tracking through dirt and gravel. Make a mistake and you get an electric shock, a scratch from the thorny plant life or the gift that keeps on giving, a cactus thorn or 12 stuck in you. At one point my shoe bumped one of those paddle-looking cacti and I had to stop 10 minutes later to find the thorns that were stuck in it, scratching my foot. Eventually it becomes clear that slowing down is a pretty good idea. Note to self: get tweezers next time I am in town.

scars
I call this Arizona Leprosy

az trail

az trail

az trail
The AZ Trail pretty much peters out right at this wash, which is Rincon Creek

I will be doing trail work with the creators and maintainers of this section on Saturday, January 13!
 
Bugging out
I really love Colorado. Almost all of it, really. With the exception of Sprawlurbia parts of the front range, like Douglas and El Paso Counties and parts of Weld and Larimer, I like it all. The prairies, the deserts, the mountains...

But the cold--I'm starting to hate the cold. Perhaps it's age, perhaps it's my cycling addiction, perhaps it's that my knees don't like to ski any more. Something about the dark, cold season has become harder and harder to tolerate. Snow and wind and cold depresses me, and it sends me out in the dark to hit frozen chunks of ponderosa pine with a splitting maul. Often.

I'm entered in the 2007 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo as a solo. That happens February 17. Sitting close to the wood stove bitching about the weather is probably not the ideal training strategy, but that's been about the closest I've gotten to training since Colorado's weekly blizzards started some time around Halloween.

Today the storm roared in, and I loaded up the truck and moved to beverlee (er, Tucson). This is what it looked like as I slipped and slid through town getting to the highway:

more damned snow

"I's had alls I can takes, an I can't takes no more!" quoth Popeye the Sailer. Pointing her south.