Hiking day/Biking day/Snow day? - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

January 26, 2021

Hiking day/Biking day/Snow day?

It’s cold, just a few degrees above freezing this morning, overcast, and showery.  And windy.  Rain is due to end by about eleven with gradual clearing after that, but it’s never expected to break fifty degrees.  While we’re discussing how to spend our day, I look out the window and see that there’s even snow mixed in with the rain.  

We’ll wait for the rain to cease of course, but it doesn’t really sound like a biking day to either of us.  A hike though - that could be amazing.  Snow on the mountains, maybe even some snow still clinging to the cacti here and there.  I map out a pair of lowland hikes as candidates, and while Rachael curses as she struggles with getting them loaded to our Garmins I break out the new set of hiking poles I bought at REI a few days ago.

I’m excited about having hiking poles.  I have a pair back in storage now, but I either couldn’t find them or didn’t think to look for them when we decamped from Portland three months ago.  We’ve been wanting to mix more hiking days into the routine, and hopefully hiking poles will make that possible for me.

This new set of Leki poles look like a promising design.  Articulated and collapsible, it looks like I might even be able to fit one into a pannier and take it along on a bike tour.

Fully collapsed, it will break down to a length of 14 inches. There’s an expansion joint to adjust it to your height, with a lever to lock it in place at the desired length.
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Jacquie GaudetLook similar to the ones I bought myself this summer (different brand, though). I'm pleased with them and always take them along on hikes, but don't always use them. They really help take the load off my suspect knees going downhill, though, and also when it's slippery or there's a stream to be crossed.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetDownhill is where they pay off, alright. It’s reassuring to not have the fear that my knee will buckle on me if I come down wrong.
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1 month ago
Unfortunately, even though it’s rated for use by folks with heights from 135 to 185 cm (which barely includes me), even fully extended it seems much too short. Worse, when you lift it from the ground the bottom segments drop out and dangle free. This will never do. No one like hiking with a limp stick.
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Jacquie GaudetMine took me a while to learn to operate and since I don't use them that often, I have to relearn every time. The length is meant to be shorter than ski poles. For reference, I use 115 cm poles for downhill skiing, which feel really short after skate skiing (for which the poles are longer than classic cross-country) but my hiking poles I generally have at 105 cm.
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1 month ago

Something’s clearly wrong here.  Rachael and I are both reasonably bright, even if our memories are getting questionable.  We can read and interpret instructions, and have imaginations.  We scratch each others’ heads (an entertaining bonding exercise - you should try it yourself sometime!) over the typically cryptic and terrible instructions (the illustrations don’t even look that much like this model), stare at the pole, try everything we can think of, and finally give up.

In the meantime, the weather situation gradually looks more iffy.  We’re thinking it might not be the best idea to drive a half hour to a trailhead after all, perhaps only to find that the trails are messy and there’s still a cold shower passing through.  We hatch a new plan (something we’ve been doing a lot of lately, btw; I’ll bring you up to date on that on  one of these slow news days): I’ll drive out to REI to return the pole or get tutored, and drop Rachael off near the loop on the way so that she can walk along it for a ways to see the mountains and snow before walking home.

I drop Rachael off, check in at REI, and learn the secret trick.  There’s a second expanding segment, not apparent when you look at the pole and not indicated in the instructions.  When you pull it out to its full length, a concealed pin pops out and locks it and the entire pole in place. 

The end of the hidden segment is just to the right of the silver collar. If you twist it and pull hard, it pulls out. And if you keep pulling far enough and hard enough, it exposes the locking pin.
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Perfect! The right length, secure. Let’s take a hike!
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I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the balance of the day.  I have a route loaded to see a different set of murals, or I could bundle up and ride a section of the loop.  When I’m driving home though it starts to rain - the forecast is off again, astonishingly enough.  I think of Rachael being out in this, but she took an umbrella and will be fine.

I get back to the house about one.  It still looks grey and threatening, and now the forecast indicates more rain coming in a half hour.  I sit, and wait it out.  This continues for two hours, as the rain keeps stretching out and eating into the remaining daylight hours.  

Finally it looks dry for the rest of the day.  There’s still time for me to bike my mural loop - 9 miles, and about a dozen new murals - so I decide on that.  Two blocks from home I’m biking up Park Avenue when Rachael yells out from the sidewalk.  We very briefly touch base, but she’s in a rush to get home - for a biology break of course, but mostly because she’s nearly frozen.  She’s gotten wet and cold, is prone to hypothermia anyway, so she rushes on toward home as I continue north, bound for the first mural of the day.

A passing glance east on 9th Street to admire the snow on Tanque Verde Peak. With more time, a better plan for the day would probably be to bike out to the Loop and cruise along the base of the mountains.
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There are so many murals in this town. This one wasn’t even on my radar, but I have to stop.
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Catching the mood on Historic 4th Avenue; by Ignacio Garcia.
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I’m barely five minutes into my ride when Rachael calls, with a panicky tone in her voice.  She’s at the house, but can’t get in.  She’s unlocked the screen door but the key is stuck in it and she can’t get it out to unlock the main door.  Her hands are so frozen that she can’t manipulate the key.

It’s a good thing I’m so close to home!  She shivers on the porch until I arrive, distracting herself by watching the hummingbirds hover around the feeder by our front window.  I help her get inside so she can head to the bathroom and a hot shower, and then return to my circuit.

I want to pause here to take credit for my considerateness.  A less thoughtful and sensitive person might have paused to take a photo of Rachael shivering by the front door before letting her in. I’m sure you’ll agree it was the wise decision.

Sonora, on the Historic Y Building on University Street; by Mata Ruda. Interesting book she’s reading.
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Jen GrumbyPedagogy of the Oppressed?

That is a good book. Have you read it?
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1 month ago
Clint Eastwoods double, on 5th Avenue.
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Greeting from Tucson, By Victor Ving and Lisa Vegas.
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A dinosaur mural by Chris Andrews, on the corner of Helen and Main. I especially like the triceratops skeleton in the lower right.
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This wasn’t on my list for the day, but now that I know what this structure is, I have to stop. I’ve biked past it several times before without bothering to check it out.
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This is the Bike Church, erected in 2009 as a memorial to bicyclists killed in traffic accidents.
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The entire structure is built from bicycle components or portions of frames, all painted stark white.
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I really like this mural on Saint Mary’s Road, by Wagon Burner Arts. I was sorry I couldn’t get a cleaner view of it or keep myself out of the image.
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The Saint Mary’s mural brings me to the Loop, along the Santa Cruz River.  Looking north, I can see the Santa Catalina Range covered in snow.  The sight lines are poor, and the mountains are obstructed by wires and buildings.  I decide to bike north along the loop a ways hoping for a better look.  I do get one, sort of, but it’s not quite satisfying.

Remarkable. It would be even better if I could get an uncluttered view.
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I keep going.  Eventually it becomes obvious that the remaining murals will need to wait for another day.  I cross east on busy Grant Boulevard, work my way to Mountain Avenue, and race north toward Rillito Wash.  I know there’s a good view to be had at the end, on the Loop; but it’s getting late in the day.

Finally, about half a mile from the loop, I come to a large park with fine views of the range.  Good enough.  I stop here and line up with two other photographers who have pulled over in their cars for the wonderful spectacle.  To the the east the snow-covered Rincon Mountains are also visible in the distance; and to top it off, a full moon rises above the clouds.  An incredible evening.

As I race back to the house in the fading light, a brilliant sunset develops in the eas, and then fades away.  I make it back to the neighborhood right about sundown.  Brilliant.

The Santa Cruz River (with water, for a change), and Tumamoc Hill; from Grant Boulevard.
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Awesome.
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Also awesome.
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Ride stats today: 19 miles, 400’; for the tour: 2,198 miles, 80,000’; for the year: 21 riding days, 935 miles, 26,000’, and 2 flat tires

Today's ride: 19 miles (31 km)
Total: 2,198 miles (3,537 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 5
Comment on this entry Comment 4
Bob DistelbergStopping to take a picture of Rachael before letting her in seems like it would have been a pretty high-risk move on your part. You made a wise decision.
Fantastic photo of the snow covered mountains!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bob DistelbergI’m a pretty slow study, but I have picked up a few insights over the years. It helps getting regular feedback.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Scott AndersonI read quite a bit of education non-fiction back in the day, but I missed this one somehow. It looks worth a read, alright.
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1 month ago
Gregory GarceauAt least THIS time you had to break into a place so Rocky could get INTO a bathroom. I remember a couple of times when you had to bust her OUT of a bathroom.
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1 month ago