Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Random Act Of Kindness or Accomplice?

The Gulch 

Three weeks ago I set out on my ICE trike at 5:00 p.m. to run a couple of errands.There are many, many connectors to Tucson's multi-use, non-motorized path fondly known as The Loop. A few feet into the ingress I was using to access the Path, I came upon a late 40-something man standing over his bicycle. 

Me: You ok?

Man: I just need some shade.

Me: Well, the only shade right here is that scrawny Mesquite tree right there.
Scrawny Mesquite Tree

Man: Well, I think I'd rather just go down in that gulch.

Me: Why? There's no shade down there. Are you from around here?

Man: Yes

Me: Well then, you can just cross the Country Club bridge, ride down to that ramada right over there and there's a lovely park with real trees, a restrooms, tables with benches. I'm heading that way if you want to follow me. How long have you been out? (It was one of our merely 100 degree days).

Man: Since about noon.

Me: Wow, that's a long time. Do you have water?

Man: No

Me: Well, here drink up. I don't need this. I'm just running a couple of errands.

He drank only a modest amount of water. As I turned to give him my water bottle I noticed that his Tee shirt had only a tiny bit of sweat on it. I also noticed he had no water bottle cages on his bike which was a brand-new looking suspended hybrid. 

Me: Well, I'm heading on now to do my errands now. If you want to follow I can point out the park.

Man: No, I'll just go down in the gulch.

It took me about a half mile before it occurred to me the bike was likely stolen. I had not noticed the make/model of his bike so no way to call it in.

What began as a random act of kindness I'm confident turned into my being an accomplice.

Three weeks later my bike was stolen. Karma? Don-know.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Able To Drive Again, Wonder For How Long?

August 2013, age 67, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. Quite a surprise since there were no pre-existing circumstances. I am one of the 60% of all people with the diagnosis of epilepsy for whom there is just no cause found.

In the state of Arizona one must be seizure free for 90 days before being able to drive legally. Many times these almost three years I would approach 90 days and then have another seizure. There was one time I was able to drive for several months, and then lost my privilege again. 

Quite coincidentally my bike was stolen just a couple of days before I reached being seizure free for  90 days. 

I credit cycling on Tucson's deadly roads1,000+ miles per month before, during, and after my diagnosis with my being able to return to driving with nary a hitch. As a cyclist who shares the roads with motorized vehicles who travel 45 mph or more, one becomes hyper alert to traffic behavior. One becomes skilled at  sharing the road with behemoths who are sometimes thoughtless or worse.

And so today, June 21, 2016 was my first day to drive since my perfect storm of flu, pneumonia, and seizures mid-March. 

What I noticed:
  • I felt no leaping for joy; 
  • I felt grateful to not have to ask Kirk to drive me to where I needed to be by 7:30 this morning.
  • I felt grateful I didn't need to leave the house by 5:30 on my bike to get to where I needed to be by 7:30 a.m.
  • We've had temperatures that have averaged 107 the last couple of weeks and are forecasted to continue. When bike commuting at those temps you do what you need to do, get home ASAP, and stay home.
  • But today, since I could drive, I did multiple errands on my way home from that 7:30 a.m. event. 
  • I was surprised at the freedom I felt to go into places for my errand shopping and not have the nagging angst whether I'd have a bike when I exited the store. And of course, a week ago today when I came out of the optical store I did NOT have a bike. GONE. 
  • Most of the time I take my bike, now trike, into the store with me. But there is no way to trike it down the isles of grocery stores. So, it is still left vulnerable within the vestibule of Safeway, or the like.
When I get my new bike in a week or so I will gladly return to bike commuting nearly 100% of the time. 

I will be continue to grateful for the privilege of driving if there are times I must; but if I have to surrender the privilege again, so be it.

I will continue to share the road with great respect for all users whether I'm driving or biking. All of us are vulnerable road users at one time or another. We are all mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, husbands. wives, partners. All of us want to come home safely each day.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

R-12 Abandoned

July, 2015 I completed my first R-12, an award given to Randonneurs who have completed 12 consecutive months riding a sanctioned Randonneuring event. In the case of the R-12, the event must be a minimum of 200k (125 miles). All Rando events are unsupported; some are organized events meaning that the event is published (called a Brevet) and a group of Randonneurs will all start together. The rider must complete the ride in a given time for the ride to be successfully completed. 

These are small events compared to the El Tour de Tucson-type rides. A typical number of riders would be 10-50. There is another sanctioned Randonneuring event called a Permanent. It is not a publicized event. The rider simply contacts the owner of the route, asks permission to ride the route and follows all the procedures, including documenting that the event was completed in the required time frame. 

Riding for the R-12 award is not necessarily the hardest part. Equally challenging is managing my calendar, managing my health/wellness, coordinating family and community responsibilities, and, oh yes, managing the weather.

The satisfaction I enjoyed of completing my first R-12 was enough for me to "re-up" for my second R-12 which I started in October, 2015.

Every part of the country has its challenging and troublesome months weather-wise. Southern Arizona's challenging months need no explanation. Sure, I could go to a cooler clime and score a successful ride in our hot months. But flying with my trike is not easy and it's expensive for a on-day ride. Driving to Southern California could be an option, but I've been unable to drive for virtually the entire time since I was diagnosed with epilepsy in August, 2013. 

June, 2016 has been a record setter for consecutive triple digit heat days as well as how hight the thermometer went on each of those days.  

My Rando friend, Amy Acosta, and I planned to ride a Permanent from Tucson to Phoenix on June 8th. It would be my 9th qualifying ride out of 12. Kirk was already in Phoenix;  we'd enjoy a play day before heading back to Tucson with Kirk by car. The forecasted temperature for the 8th was 108. Amy and I agreed it just didn't seem wise to knowingly set out to ride through the desert under those conditions.

BUT, Saturday, June 11th looked very promising: the high would only be 95. We'd ride a Permanent around Tucson. We started riding at 05:00. Lunch was at Mile 84 in Marana. I had no more in my tank. It was 95 degrees with a humidity of 60-65% when we're acclimatized to an average humidity of 10%. 

I abandoned my quest for number 9/12 toward my R-12. Hopefully there would be another under triple in June. There's no evidence that such will be the case.

June 14th my trike was stolen. My 2nd R-12 quest is now totally abandoned.

I'm expecting my new trike to arrive by July 1st, so I'll start in July for a new R-12 quest.

Life happens.