Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Almost to Mexico...

This way to sun.

The last week was spent under sunny skies in Tucson, Arizona, familiarizing my body with real training again. Not exactly "fat camp," but my first legitimate bike riding for quite a while. It was exactly what I needed to jumpstart my season after committing to race Abu Dhabi in March. With the 120 mile bike segment, I am going to need the big early season miles...

Desert skies the day after a rain.

This is the third year that I have decided to spend a good portion of winter training in Tucson, and each time I make the drive down a smile forms as I crest the final climb out of Mammoth and head down through Oracle and see the valley city open before me. The promise of outdoor swimming pools, sunny weather, good company with my homestay and friend Brian, and countless miles of open road in beautiful desert scenery lifts my spirit and prepares me for long weeks of hard workouts. I stopped on the way down to run a few miles at the Salt River canyon, and then joined Brian for an interesting evening out on the town. We had a great sushi dinner at new place downtown, and then met up with friends at one of the strangest bars. Ever. If you get a chance, have "God" give you the tour at Meet Rack... Enough said.

Meet Rack. Weird.

Day one was a nice mountain bike ride in Starr Pass with the Honeybee. Saguaro, barrel cacti, ocotillo, saguaro, palo verde, prickly pear, and host of other hearty desert flora dot the landscape. If Brian wasn't trying to turn the screws and prove that he's better at something than me, I might have had a chance to look around a little... Oh well, maybe in January.

Cacti and stuff.

Share the road.

The next few days were a nice blend of solid training, drinking beer/watching football and basketball, doing a stretch session at Yoga Oasis and catching dinner at Wilko, watching Woody Guthrie's American Song at the beautiful Temple of Music and Art venue, and waking early for some swimming at U of A's Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.



I had some wonderful rides, including an interesting day on the Shootout loop (Mission road) where I saw three illegal immigrants running by the road (I know because I stopped and asked). Managed a couple great rides with Chris McDonald and his training posse (Hillary Biscay, Maik Twelsiek, Sam McGlone, Marilyn McDonald), and several solo rides with just the wind and my thoughts as companions.

San Xavier Mission.

Impersonating a saguaro.

Pit stop on Ajo highway.

Historic Tucson home.

Soon, names Kitt Peak, Sonoita, Madera, Mt. Lemmon, will become regular vocabulary, utterances in dreams, weekly journeys. I head back to Tucson in January to continue the build towards a successful 2011 season. In the meantime, I will enjoy the holidays and build some reserves for the next round of flogging.