Biking my age in miles: 74 - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

December 17, 2020

Biking my age in miles: 74

So this is what I was holding back a few extra miles in the tank for yesterday.  Today’s the day, the one day in the year I dedicate to biking my age in miles.   I started this challenge-to-self six years ago, back when 69 miles didn’t seem especially impressive or challenging.  At 74, I’m putting a bit more thought into it and starting to wonder how long I’ll stick with the idea.  

I’m pretty sure I wrote up all of them at the time, but the earliest two were posted on a different website and I haven’t managed to locate them.  Maybe I’ll find them on a backup some day, but here are the predecessors still in print:

     71: In Portland

     72: Also in Portland

     73: At Lake Coeur d’Alene

Conditions are ideal for a long ride today.  It’s still cold when we wake up, but rising rapidly.  The expected high is forecast at about 70, winds should be modest, and there are supposed to be broken clouds that should provide shelter from 7 hours in the sun.

I’ll need seven or eight hours, because on a ride like this I’ll only average 10 mph because I’ll stop for every interesting bird I see, hoping it will stay put or edge out into the sunlight where I can get a better look at it.  The sort of ride that will slowly drive some of us batty, so Rachael elects to let me humor myself on my own.  She helps me pack, fixes me a turkey sandwich, wishes me well, but makes her own plans for the day.

I sit around watching the temperature incrementally inch up until around 8:30, and then prepare to go.  I have a bit of a scare when I get outside and find that both of my tires feel low.  Not another flat!  But no,  they just need a refill.  I pump them up, say a small prayer to myself, and bike off down our bone-jarring street.

The ride gets off to a rough start, but fortunately it’s only like this for the first mile.
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It’s a slow first mile until I make my way to a Mountain Street, a north-south minor arterial with a good bike lane and a reasonable surface.  It’s probably the best route to take if you’re headed to the northern side of the loop.  Three miles later I’m looking across Rillito Wash at Mount Lemmon, thanking my good fortune for such a splendid day and for the good health that allows me to enjoy it in this way.

After four miles, I reach the Loop. The entire remainder of the ride will be spent on the loop, until I return to this point and bike home the way I came.
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So what is there to say about sixty-six miles on the Loop?  I got my kicks on the Loop 66, but I think I’ll leave it at that.  I’ll just share with you some of the reasons I decided to stop along the way.

There must be at least thirty arroy-spanning bridges on the loop. They’re nearly all weathering steel and have some bit of artwork branding them. This one is perhaps my favorite.
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A Gambel’s quail, gamboling.
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Jen GrumbyOK. This one has been flagged for a limerick opportunity .. and now I'm back.

A gamboling Gambel's quail?!
Out gamboling amongst the kale
No money required
From this bird that's retired
Just a head feather with a tall tale.

OK. I'll stop now. No more limericks today, I promise!
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYou know, I was thinking this might pull in a limerick at the time. I’m glad you wrapped back around and picked it up.
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3 months ago
This coyote in Rillito Wash watches calmly at a safe distance. He takes his time as he gradually makes his way towar the brush and disappears into it.
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Spaced out along the Loop are many public works of art. Extreme Batty Bikers is my favorite. It’s a delight to come by it again.
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I don’t know. Bell’s vireo maybe?
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This is collections month over on Cycle365. Are we tired of collections yet?
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This spur of the Loop along the Santa Cruz River is the greenest part of the loop. As opposed to most of the arroyos the loop follows, there’s actual moving water here.
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Say what? This Say’s phoebe gives me a quizzical look - or maybe a flirty one?
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Jen GrumbyQuizzically flirtatious?

Flirtatiously quizzical?
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyBoth seem appropriate, but a limerick would probably make thee point best.
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3 months ago
The Santa Rosa River.
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I’m surprised at how common vermillion flycatchers are here, but maybe it’s just because they’re such eye catchers too that you notice them. I’ve seen them every day we’ve been out so far, and four or five times today. I’ll stop including photos of them soon so I don’t try your patience. “What? This bird again?”
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Jen GrumbyI could never tire of this flamboyant creature.
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3 months ago
On the other hand, I may just keep posting every halfway decent shot I get of this bird.
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Question for Bill: is this one of those cactus wren nests you were talking about?
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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like it! Enclosed nest with opening in the side, surrounded by thorny branches.
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3 months ago
We’re on the south side of the loop now, heading east along Julian Wash, maybe forty miles into the ride.
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I’ve probably just forgotten, but I don’t remember these having such a vivid violet hue last year. Is it because we’re earlier in the winter?
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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like Santa Rita prickly pear, which is usually purple.

http://southwestdesertflora.com/WebsiteFolders/All_Species/Cactaceae/Opuntia%20santa-rita,%20Santa%20Rita%20Pricklypear.html
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3 months ago
Rincon Peak, nicely framed by Holding Hands, another favorite work of art.
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Waiting out a very long train, Rita Road.
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It seems like nearly every time I’m out biking I pass someone stalled along the way and shout out to see if they need help. For a change, I’m flagged down with relief by this guy, on a remote spot in the trail with a broken pump.
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Closing in on the goal but with still twenty miles to go, I appreciate this long, gradual downhill along Pantano Wash.
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This is the first time that I can recall seeing a fence built of railroad ties.
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My 10 mph average was spot on, and I’m back at the north end of Mountain Street at about 4:30.  Fifteen minutes later I’m bouncing the final, slow mile home.  The odometer turns 74.0 miles just as I round the corner a block from the casita.  Perfect!

So how was my day, and how do I feel about it?  Pretty perfect.  No flats, just the right number of reasons to stop, the turkey sandwich I enjoyed sitting in the sun along Julian Wash was delicious (Thanks, Rocky!), and other than feeling a bit saddle weary I feel surprisingly good at the end.  With more daylight, I feel like I’d be good for another 10 miles or more.

And, because I like to keep track of such things, here’s a list of the birds I saw along the way.  Not too bad, considering there aren’t that many birds around in the desert anyway and it’s not that easy spotting them from the saddle without scaring them off before you get a decent look.

In alphabetical order: American widgeon, Bell’s vireo, blue-grey gnatcatcher, cactus wren, English sparrow, Gambel’s quail, great-tailed grackle, killdeer, mallard, mourning dove, roadrunner, rock dove, rufous hummingbird, Say’s phoebe, vermillion flycatcher, western kingbird, white-crowned sparrow.

So disappointing. I was hoping a resurfacing crew had been working the neighborhood today while I was out.
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So what did my partner do to amuse herself while I was out acting my age?  As you’d expect, she enjoyed the chance to take a break and kicked back in the casita, watching soaps and lapping up cookies and popcorn.

Oh, wait.  After consulting my notes, I see that’s not exactly right.  She biked over to J.J. Bikes to have her gears adjusted, and while she was waiting took a 13 mile hike west of town to Tumomac Hill, a small hiking preserve.  She got home not that long before I did, and I think was nearly as tired.  It looks like a fine hiking area offering great views of the city and surroundings.  We’ll have to go back together when we’re ready for a break from the bikes.  She brought back these photos as enticements:

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Kelly IniguezDid you have any trouble navigating the downtown section with the green sidewalks? I did that following Steve and even then I was confused. I think I will
Give it a try on a Sunday with less traffic.

Happy
74 miles for your birthday!
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3 months ago

Ride stats today: 74 miles, 2,100’; for the tour: 947 miles, 35,900’

Today's ride: 74 miles (119 km)
Total: 947 miles (1,524 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 10
Comment on this entry Comment 25
Bill ShaneyfeltThinking that maybe biking my age in furlongs would be appropriate as my knees wear out... My almost daily 10-20 miles should fit the concept!

Congrats!
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3 months ago
Jacquie GaudetWell, it's my birthday today and I'm not biking--or skiing or hiking or doing much of anything active. It's pouring outside and only forecast to get worse as the day goes on. High winds too, meaning falling trees and branches in the forest.

Maybe next spring I'll bike my age in miles. It seems like a good tradition to start.
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3 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesGreat idea, but since we are Canadian and cycle in km we should be able to bike our age well into our 2nd century.
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3 months ago
Mike AylingWell done Scott!
I am with Steve, kilometres are much easier!
Mike
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3 months ago
Tricia GrahamWell done as like Canada we measure distance in kms would like to give it a go
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3 months ago
Bob DistelbergYou are inspiring me to give this a try in the coming year. It'll be the big six five for me, so seems like a good time to start a tradition.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetHey, Happy Birthday! Sorry I forgot to send a card this year, but then I forget nearly everyone’s birthday. And besides, I don’t think you mentioned it before. Jeff should start a birthday registry on the website, and send us reminders when the birthday of someone we’re following rolls around.

Good choice for a way to spend your day. I wouldn’t go on a long ride up there in this season either. Or maybe ride my age in furlongs, as Bill helpfully advises.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bob DistelbergI keep forgetting what a young whippersnapper you are, Bob. Good idea to start earlier in life than I did so you can rack up a few easy years before it gets tough.

Do you have any flat roads up your way? You might want to plan for a vacation in someplace flat when the time comes.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesThe thought is certainly there. Unfortunately we measure in miles down here, and nowhere else seems to want Americans in their door at the moment for some odd reason.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Mike AylingNoted. The thought is certainly in the back of my mind as a hedge when the time comes.
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3 months ago
David MathersCongratulations and Happy Birthday,
I think celebrating in kilometres makes sense! Well done... I could not ride 74 miles right now without tripping over my tongue. Keep up the great work and raising the bar for the rest of us!
Cheers, David and Anne
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3 months ago
Patrick O'HaraNice work, Scott. You're a madman. Kudos.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Patrick O'HaraA madman? I’ll assume that’s meant in a good way. Otherwise, I’d be a mad man.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo David MathersThanks, Dave. I hope you’re enjoying retirement up there. I’ll imagine you and Anne are chafing to hid the road to somewhere warm once this madness passes on. Any plans?
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3 months ago
Suzanne GibsonYou will be doing your age in miles for a while yet, I'm sure. Just have to choose a summer month when the days are long and you can dawdle all you want.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonToday at least it feels like I’ve got a few more episodes in this series yet to be run. I’m thinking 80 would be a nice goal, but we’ll see.
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3 months ago
David MathersPuglia is on the top of our list. We had plane tickets to Naples last spring but we now know how that worked out. Unlikely we’ll tour in 2021 so we will have to cycle locally and dream of the good old days. Yes, retirement is great!
Cheers 🍻
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3 months ago
Kathleen ClassenCongratulations on another great birthday ride. Like the Grahams and the Grampies we are grateful we measure things in kilometres up here. We may have to start this as a tradition too. It is such a great idea and much easier for Keith to achieve than shooting his age in golf.
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3 months ago
Bruce LellmanCongratulations, Scott, for yet another successful number-of-years-of-age-ride (NOYOAR). You have inspired me to start doing this but I will wait until summer for my first one.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanNOYOAR! Thanks for giving me another metric to track, and a handy label for it. I’m hoping I can run it for 12 cycles, through age 80; but one year at a time.
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3 months ago
Jen GrumbyI love that you had such a great bird sighting bonus on this ride!

You're an inspiration for both miles ridden and birds identified and photographed.

If I ever try this, I'll likely go with the Canadian NOYOAR. So this year 50 kilometers = 31ish miles. Sounds doable!
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyNOYOAR? Please explain. Also, please shut up about only having to bike 50k to bike your age.
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3 months ago
Patrick O'HaraTo Scott AndersonOnly in the most respectful of ways would I ever refer to you as a madman.....You're a legendary madman!
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Patrick O'HaraWell, that was prompt - not. Catching up on some old emails?
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3 months ago
Patrick O'HaraHa ha. Kind of. Found your message in my SPAM folder. Thought I'd reply to clarify that I really do not want to make you a 'mad man'. Really enjoying following along on your journey. Keep the birdie pics coming.
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3 months ago