Archive for November, 2011
A beautiful Thanksgiving Day in Sabino Canyon with the sun streaming through a large Arizona Sycamore (Platanus wrightii).
One of the highlights of the day was this nine-piece Mariachi Band.
They set up on the east side of the first river crossing (the Santa Cruz River) so that as we crested the bank we were treated to their beautiful costumes and lovely music!
This guy definitely deserves some kind of recognition for riding 111 miles on a unicycle. How he handled some of the steeper hills, descents, and cross winds, I have no idea.
This was not an easy picture to make while riding in a packed field near the start of the race. I have the Ebisu’s stable handling to thank for it.
Featured Comment by Andy: “I am the mystery unicyclist. I completed the 111 mile ride in 8:51:46 for a Silver finish. My unicycle has a 36 inch wheel with a geared hub that has 2 speeds 1:1 and 1:1.5. That allows me to go really fast in high gear and shift to low gear to tackle the steep hills. I have a detailed write-up of the day on blog page of my website www.tucsonuni.com.”
I was really excited about El Tour having heard so much hype about it over the years.
Things started great until about the 45-50 mile mark when I began to develop a sharp pain in my left knee (a recurring problem for me). I pushed on for another 10 miles or so, but the pain became excruciating with every pedal stroke. That’s when I knew my day would end with no chance of finishing the full distance. I abandoned the ride around mile 59, after about 3.5-to-4 hours of riding.
Still, it felt great being up before dawn and riding in darkness to the start line, then pedaling through the desert as the sun rose slowly in the sky.
Plus, I made a few nice images that I hope to post over the next few days.
Today is the 29th annual El Tour de Tucson — a 111 mile ride around the perimeter of the city.
This image has nothing to do with the Tour…(It was made on 4th Ave. last week-end)…but I really dig it!
Plus, for days afterward my housemates and I could not stop belting out Taaacooo Barrachooo in absurd operatic fashion.
Click below to hear award winning singer-songwriter and Bay Area troubadour, Forest Sun, giving his rendition:
I love mixtes and I often ride one despite the tendency of people to connote them with “ladies” or “girls” bikes.
In fact, I wrote about mixtes — their practicality and how they relate to my sense of manhood — in a post a couple years ago which you can read here.
The Greater Arizona Bicycling Association (aka GABA) had it’s Fall bike swap this past Saturday. Oblivious to the schedule, I arrived at 2pm just as everyone was packing up.
Maybe that’s for the best. I own four bikes already and I have two, unfinished, project bikes (which are basically just bare frames — an old Raleigh Supercourse with exquisite Nervez lugs and a very practical Peugeot mixte).
Still, I was secretly hoping to find another 1980s Fuji tandem with Campy and TA components like the one posted on Craigslist a couple months back (which I missed out on).
The warm glow of the desert at dusk.
I passed one car and one rattlesnake during the ride. Plus, I got to see the sunset.
Saguaro National Park is part of the national park system so bicyclists are required to pay an entry fee just like everyone else. The cost is $5 (with re-entry permitted for seven days with the receipt). Automobiles are charged $10.
As Laura commented in the previous post, a National Park Service annual pass can be purchased for $80, allowing unlimited entry to all parks and national monuments for 12 months.
This is a great after work ride since my day finishes on the east side of town.
The short, very steep descent immediately after you enter the park is a recipe for a wipe-out if you’re not expecting it. (Just beyond the shade in the above image the road plummets and makes a sharp right hand turn at the bottom!)
There’s a parking lot at the Sahuaro Baptist Church on Old Spanish Trail and Houghton, which turns this ride into a short 12-mile loop. Starting the ride at the church means not having to deal with streets like Broadway during the rush hour.
Staying with the Italian theme from yesterday’s post, I bring you this architectural wonder currently under construction in Milan.
According to the Financial Times, it is “the most exciting new tower in the world“. Read more at Stefano Boeri Architetti.
As it turns out, my favorite gelateria (Gelato Allegro) is becoming my favorite place for a real Italian-style espresso. I was so excited by this find that I forgot to make a picture of my espresso before consuming it! So what you see is the empty cup.
Allegro uses LaVazza espresso and Ivan (the owner) pulls a very short shot (i.e., a ristretto shot), which is just how I like it. Even though coffee snobbery is achieving new heights with places like Cartel Coffee and Sparkroot here in Tucson, it’s still nearly impossible to get a genuine European-style ristretto at these places or anywhere else.
Here is a very good exposition of what makes an espresso so unique (courtesy of the Josuma Coffee Company):
Espresso is approximately one ounce of a dark, smooth, heavy-bodied, aromatic, bittersweet coffee drink topped by a thick reddish-brown foam of tiny bubbles. It is not six times stronger than a cup of coffee, as many people imply from the smaller volume; it is actually a completely different coffee beverage. The foam, or crema, that captures the intense coffee flavors is as important as the liquid coffee underneath.
crema markedly alters an espresso in terms of its mouth feel, density, viscosity, wetting power, and foam-forming ability, making it the single most important indicator of espresso quality. If there is no crema, it means the oils have not been emulsified, and hence it is not an espresso.
The remarkable thing about a properly made espresso is that maximum flavor is extracted from the ground coffee while much of the caffeine and excess acids are left behind. The high pressure of the extraction and the small volume of water that passes through the ground coffee are mostly responsible for this feat.
Ascending from the valley floor in Tucson to the top of Mt. Lemmon is equivalent to traveling from Mexico to Canada — in terms of the biological diversity and the number of ecological zones one passes through.
These high elevation mountain zones are called Sky Islands:
Weldon Heald coined the term “sky islands” in 1967 to denote mountain ranges that are isolated from each other by intervening valleys of grassland or desert. The valleys of this basin and range country act as barriers to the movement of certain woodland and forest species, somewhat like saltwater seas isolate plants and animals on oceanic islands – hence the common association with the archipelago phenomenon. Other species, such as mountain lions and black bears, depend on movement corridors between mountain islands to maintain genetic diversity and population size. (from The Sky Island Alliance website)