Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Abduction and Redemption

Tilda joined my stable in October, 2009. She was just the Tikit, a Bike Friday Tikit,  She went with me to Hawaii, Aruba, Costa Rica. She carried me over the McKenzie Pass in Oregon, and was looking forward to going to Viet Nam with me in January, 2014.

She was thrilled to have had an extensive make-over this past Spring that would expand her gearing and make hill and mountain climbing less of an ordeal.

And then the unthinkable happened. She was abducted from my garage the middle of August. I assume culpability for not having padlocked her to an im-movable object in the garage. And, quite probably our garage door was left opened too long that day in August. 

Oh, I did all the right things: notifying the insurance company, filing a police report with the TPD, filing a stolen bike on Tucson Velo, filing her loss on Stolen Bikes, and Craig's List. For days after she left I would go to the garage and expect to see her orangeness. When I would open the garage I would expect to see her sitting on the berm next to the morning newspaper having come home from her night time wanderings with the coyotes. Neither ever happened.

Three weeks later I received an email through Craig's List from a guy who said he thought he might have my bike. I asked him to send me a pix, and Voila: 
Tilda, violated
It was unmistakably Tilda: her new Schwalbe Kojack tires, the Dual Drive hub, the Candy Crank pedals, the Trigger shifters; the safety light, the tilt of the handlebars...

There were several emails with the Craig's List guy and even more convo's with various ranking officers of the TPD. The Craig's List guy agreed to meet me in a shopping center parking lot with the bike. He wanted $300 more than my $200 reward offer. The detective had agreed to be "my husband" and meet the Craig's List guy with me in the parking lot. And, upon the detective's advice, there would be no exchange of money. 

The appointed hour came and went, no Craig's List guy, no Tilda. 

The detective subsequently went to the Craig's List guy's house and was surprised to find the house staked out with U.S. Marshalls. Apparently Tilda's abductor was also suspected of harboring fugitives. The detective returned a week later to find the house abandoned. 

What I made up in my mind was that Tilda had been abducted to Mexico. No evidence to support my suspicion, but....

Tilda was declared a closed case and a lost-for-good bike; USAA was glad to write us a reimbursement check.

October 2nd Kirk and I drove to Tempe, AZ to PortaPedal Bike, a wonderful shop that deals exclusively in folding and commuting bikes. It was at PortaPedal that Tilda had had her make-over just 4 months before her abduction.

NWT'n (pronounced Newton) would be my new ride. He is a Bike Friday New World Tourist, hence the NWT part of his name.


I wanted to ride him home from Picacho Peak, but the I-10 frontage road, my route, was under construction. So, Kirk dropped me off in Marana and I rode him home the last 26 miles.

Two days later I packed him in his Samsonite-airline compatible suitcase and he went to Chicago with me for miles along the Lake Front Path, the new Kinzie Greenway, and the hills of Barrington.

Ready for TSA


Lake Front Path

It seems a travesty to say, but it's true: NWT'n is way more fun to ride than Tilda; he's more eager to fit in his suitcase without a hassle than Tilda; and we're a better fit. 

Riding him is such a pleasure I took him on a flat century ride to Eloy last week. Other than plugging his tread with freshly laid tar, he was a charmer. As for me, well, I did ok given that I have recumbent legs, not upright legs, and I was less than a week away from having ridden the Cochise 165, so tired were my legs, very tired. 

But, my Eloy Century was such a success I'm seriously thinking about taking him to Alaska in July 2013 to ride a 200k brevet. Packing NWT'n can be done in 30 minutes blindfolded. Packing TiBee, my Ti Aero, in a snowboard box after having stripped off all her components is a project of countless hours, if it all goes well.

The learnings of this whole experience for me are:
  • U-bolt my bikes in the garage
  • Re-double our conscientiousness in closing the garage door
  • Trust the process--I have only good words and gratitude for the TPD (I owe them a letter of thanks and appreciation)
  • Register all your bikes with your local police department
  • Know the serial number of all your bikes
  • Don't attempt a Sting operation without the support and guidance of your local police department
  • Your replacement bike just may be even a better fit than your lost one

Monday, October 29, 2012

Unfinished Business Finished

Finish Line At Cochise Classic 165 Miles

Barbara Franklin, Perimeter Bicycling Finish Line Director

Kirk crewed for me and now helps to hold my trophies

(I love this rendition of our National Anthem sung by the Knudson Bros. and played at the beginning of the Cochise)

Dex Tooke returned to Race Across America (RAAM) in 2011 to finish the business which he began in 2010, the year he DNF'd for failing to meet the time cut-offs. In his book, Unfinished Business, he captures the raw feelings of awe, gratitude, fear, pain, and punishing fatigue--his own and that of his crew, in his epic odyssey of Racing Across America solo in under 13 days at age 60.

Dex is one of my heros.

Like Dex, I had some unfinished business at the Cochise Classic in Douglas, AZ. 

I don't know how I first learned about about the Cochise County Cycling Classic some 8-10 years ago when I still lived in Chicago. Probably because Perimeter Bicycling hosts both El Tour de Tucson as well as the Cochise Classic. I think everyone who rides a bike has heard of El Tour, just like everyone who runs has heard of the Boston Marathon. 

After "coming back" in 2001 and being able to ride a recumbent after 11 years of disabling back surgeries and complicated recoveries, I thought I was ready to ride the mid-October, 157 mile Cochise Classic in Douglas, AZ just 3 blocks from the Mexican border in South East Arizona. 

So much I didn't know about ultradistance riding back then. I didn't know I would lose my heat acclimatization between the end of summer in Chicago (August) and the never-ending summer in Arizona. I didn't know how to monitor my fluid and electrolyte loss when sweat in AZ evaporates before your skin even thinks of glistening. I didn't know the perils of Gatorade. I didn't know how much to drink, how often, and how to make certain I balanced my fluid and electrolyte intake.

Despite my many unknowings I finished as the 2nd female overall, but I ended up in the Douglas Hospital for an overnight stay with hyponatremia--basically too little salt. Thank goodness for my crew, my son, Daniel and his wife Rachel, and my good friend, Suzanne, from Chicago.

I had much to learn about ultradistance cycling.

Having successfully crossed our continent with PAC Tour in 2006 in 26 days, I returned to Douglas in 2007 to right my mistakes in 2004. And, while I was at it I decided I'd opt for the 252 miles distance.  My son, Bryan from Eugene, OR, joined Daniel as my crew.

I aborted the 252 after only 27 miles.


I had fallen while riding just 2 weeks before the Cochise and sustained a crush injury to my left calf. The injured muscle, under the exertional effort of climbing the 2000' Mule Pass, caused the muscle fibers in my calf to release some toxic contents into my blood stream which were toxic to my kidneys.

It was personal growth to surrender the ride rather than ride through the dysfunction and risk long-term renal damage. While it was indeed growth, the emotional toll of having abandoned the ride that had been such a financial investment tapped into some childhood demons that strangled me like a boa for longer than it should have.

So back I came in 2012 to finish what was started in 2004 and aborted in 2007. The 60,000+ miles between the aborted 252 and 2012 have taught me much, AND we now live in Tucson so I'm permanently heat and hill acclimatized.

This year Kirk would be my crew. while I was riding joyfully, he was joyfully seeing the likes of Bisbee, Tombstone, Benson, the Dragoons for the first time.

It was grand to see Mule Pass in the light of day instead of in the pitch of night; it was a joy to ride I-10 since being re-surfaced. The weather gods prevailed and it was not too hot, not too cold, and the wind was just right--even a tail wind after turning south on Dragoon Rd and Rt 191. It was a relief to feel   "on top" of my fueling, fluids, and electrolytes.

And, best of all was pulling into the finish to cheers from Kirk and the Perimeter Bicycling Staff who have become good friends since Tucson has become home.