El Tour of the Tucson Mountains XX

30 04 2006

I've ridden this event before when it was shorter, and started at Pima Community College. A lot of things about this ride have changed, and I am one of them. After my poor showing at the recent El Tour de Phoenix, I was hoping to turn in a better performance. Due to personal circumstances, I was unable to pick up my information packet and numbers the day before in Tucson, so a friend and fellow Landis Team Member, Jose Migioni, who was also riding was able to pick them up for me.

Now that I live in Gilbert, I decided to drive to the start from home, meaning I had to wake up at 3am. Once I arrived at the start line, I lined up at the front of the gold section (because I was unable to pick up my platinum pass), so I could catch up with Jose during the ride. At the start line, I had a heck of a time getting my heart rate monitor to pick up the signal from my chest sensor. After several restarts, I was able to get things to work with about a minute to go before the start. In hindsight, this little mishap may have signaled an auspicious start to a ride that will not soon be forgotten.

The starting signal was given, and I clipped into my pedals without looking (always a good sign), and started rolling out with the rest of the pack. The lead group started, then rounded the first corner only a few hundred feet from the start; I sprinted to keep up, then slowed to maintain my place. We got to the second turn, which was nice and gradual, and rode onto the Frontage road. This is where things would even out for a while. I tried to find my pace and get comfortable in the pack. I found my friend in the pack, and was trying to catch up to him, however, there were several riders between us. Then, the unthinkable happened: I was keeping the pace and trying to maintain a good line, when I felt a little give on my handlebar. My instant reaction was to sit up. Thankfully, the bar did not come completely off at that point. I let up on the gas and tried to get to the back of the pack. It was also thankful that I was on the left side of the road, which had a little more room. I drifted back, but tried to keep up with the back of the pack. One thing this mishap did make abundantly clear is the lack of my technique.

With only one half of my handlebar still solid, I was unable to keep up with the tail end of the lead group. I could not power the pedals with as much force as normal. I never realized how much I depend on the handlebars for the force I place on the pedals. I slowly drifted further and further back. Then came the railroad tracks. I have had problems with these tracks with a full handlebar. Luckily, there was no one else around so I could take up as much road as I need to clear the tracks with relative ease.

As soon as I realized that I had no chance of finishing in a normal time, my next goal became to simply finish. And not only to finish, but to cross the finish line with no hands, or holding the broken half of the handlebar demonstrating my determination and skill. I forged on, managing to clear Rattlesnake Pass climbing with half a handlebar. Moving onto Silverbell, I knew that some serious hills were fast approaching. But first, I had to wave to the camera man and the news reporter who was reporting his story as we rode by. I doubt the camera man saw me, or was going to ruin the reporter's transition to his story. I'm not even sure if people who were cheering on the side of the road or the drivers of the cars we passed noticed either.  Someone had to at least do a doubletake somewhere and make sure they were seeing a guy with only half a handlebar.

Throughout my entire ride, I was able to gain ground going up the hills, and loose it on the way down. I could tell I was doing well on the hills because I was actually passing people.  I was hoping they would look at my situation and perhaps kick themselves for being beaten up a hill by a guy with only half a handlebar, but I think the people I was passing were not as competative as the ones I usually ride with.

I soon discovered that my maximum speed was about 25mph. I usually do a lot more than that on many of the hills on this course. So, now, not only is my top speed pretty slow, the only way I could safely stop was to use my front brake. My rear brake was still usable, but was rather cumbersome to use since the handle was free floating.

Along the way, I noticed a man who happened to have his right arm amputated at his elbow. His bike was setup with a time trial aerobar and pad so that his stump could still control the bike. In these odd circumstances, I was hoping to get some advice on how to turn my bike safely with only one arm. Afterwards, I jokingly asked if we could trade handlebars. He gave me a few words of encouragement, asked that I ride safe, and pedaled past me with the rest of the group.

Along the back of the pack was a tandem of an elderly couple. They were going about my pace, so I rode with them for a few miles. When the hills came, I tried to keep my pace, and dropped them fairly easily. However, they caught me on the down hill. We managed to ride like this for several miles. The last time I saw them, they mentioned to my how surprised they were, and also offered some words of encouragement. I was still a bit upset at my misfortune and kind of kept to myself.

So, it came, at last, on the downhill corner of Ajo and La Cholla, I was approaching a tight right turn on a downhill and into traffic. Needless to say, with my current bike, I wanted to take the approach as safe as possible. As before, I used only the front brake, and as before I slowed. After almost clearing the hill, and beginning the right turn, I heard a loud pop, and the evident hissing of a flat tire.  Still determined to finish, I patiently changed the tube, checked for any garbage in the tire (of which there was none), and filled it with air.  Not less than 10 seconds had the tire been inflated did it explode again. I had no more spares, no more air and no more resources. My day was done.

Reflecting on what could have been a really bad riding day, I made the most of a bad situation, and gave as much as my bike and body could give. There were several reasons I kept going: determination, and wanting to finish what I started. But I also figured, if I had stopped earlier:

  • it would have been a huge waste of effort just to get to the start line at 4:30am;
  • it would have been a huge waste of money if I didn't continue on;
  • I didn't want to waste a perfectly good opportunity to ride on the road with police officers stopping traffic for me;
  • and, I wouldn't have such an awesome story to tell if I had stopped.


26 04 2006

Eliana found some stickers around the house recently, and as usual, she wanted to put them all over herself. But this time, she thought her sister might enjoy some sticker fun, so she put a few on Annabelle’s face.

Baek-Il Get-together Saturday April, 30, 2006

23 04 2006

This saturday is Annabelle's 100th day of life.  Not so special by American standards, but by Korean standards, its definately a higher priority. 

 If you are in the area, please stop by and wish Annabelle a Happy 100th day. And have a bratwurst, too 🙂

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My Favorite Part of the Day

21 04 2006

Many parts of the day were considered for this award, however, the final decision was made a little easier by the fact that my daughter is a major part of my favorite part of my day.

Everyday that I pick my daughter up from school/daycare, I find her classroom, and wait in front of the window of the classroom. My intention is to see her reaction when she finally notices me suddenly appear to pick her up. It is great when she is playing, then looks up and sees me, then smiles a huge grin, and immediately stops what she's doing and runs full speed to the classroom door. As soon as she starts running, I make my way to the door as fast as I can, and open it. I get down low enough, and open my arms wide and wait for her to slam into me. These moments are priceless memories that are easily my favorite parts of the day.

When I was there

21 04 2006

This morning was a little crazier than usual. Everyone woke up late, meaning we were all behind schedule and hurrying to catch up. Eliana and I packed our bags, and grabbed our breakfasts to go so I could get her to school in time for me to get to work.

The really weird part of the morning was when I dropped Eliana off. Usually when I drop off Eliana, she wants me to carry her into the center with her backpack on, and carrying her lunch. This is quite a task, and it gets worse over time as she became heavier. Even though I tried to get her to walk in, I understood that she may be tired, or uncomfortable or just shy. She might have also just wanted the security of me holding her (she is a daddy’s girl). Today, she walked in, holding my hand. I was glad to see she was more comfortable with the whole schedule of going to school and being confident enough to walk herself.

Yesterday, we were given notice that when we get there before her Teacher arrives, she will go into a new room. So, today, we headed to the new room, and she just froze at the doorway. As soon as I saw her freeze, I remember how I reacted to new classrooms when I was a kid, and it was pretty much the same way. I know that I was always uncomfortable being the new person in the class (and while I don’t freeze, I am still uncomfortable being the new person in a room). I would have liked to stay there an help to reassure her and help her be comfortable, but I think she handled the situation very well. She didn’t cry instantly, she just wanted to go to her normal classroom. Also, a couple of kids came over and said hi, and I tried to get one of them to say her name. They were a little older, so they seemed to pronounce her name easily. I reluctantly left as I had to get to work.

It is amazing how lifes little experiences remind you of so many things about yourself. I only hope that I can learn well enough to help Eliana overcome her reluctance, as I would have like someone to help me.

Diabetes no more

19 04 2006

I recieved an Instant Message from Jeong today saying that the doctor’s office had called. I had recently visited this new doctor, since it was my first visit, the topic of my diabetes obviously came up. After I described the way I deal with my condition, he got to asking “are you really a diabetic?”. It was a weird question, and frankly sometime I have indeed asked myself numberous times since I have not had any problems.

While this is welcome news, it leaves me to wonder, what was I really diagnosed with so long ago? What happened to me back then…I saw the test results, I was a diabetic. Hopefully the doctor has some answers in a couple of weeks.

Online Bike Lane map

16 04 2006

Web mashups are now donig crazy things on the web like tracking your Fedex packages along its trip on a Google map. This is cool because the mapping part is done for you, while you take car of getting the data.

I had an idea for a good mashup that could help cyclists all over the country. Have all the usable bike lanes available on google maps. Now, of course it would start off with one city, but I can see how several metropolitan areas can be stored in this mashup, and in some cases (like Boulder and Denver) how they may even connect. It could also be a community of cyclists sharing their favortive rides, as well as commuters who have a best route to a certain area. This will definately help new commuters overcome the fear of finding a safe route to work.

There are several possibilities with this mashup…I just hope I can find some time in my crazy schedule to get something running. The only thing is how am I going to get all that data without doing it myself?