We flew from cold, wet Seattle to hot, sunny Tucson on February 12. We have 10 days to play in the sunshine, due to Spencer’s school schedule. Our plan is to spend 4 nights with our friend Susan Reed (who we met last winter down here) then Sunday we move to Steve Wilson’s place. We’d met him in 2003 when we did the ride from the Grand Canyon to Nogales. This is our Warm Showers payback for hosting other riders last year.

The trip down was uneventful (as all plane flights should be). I got the bike put back together with a minimum of trouble by around 7 PM. And we settled in with Susan to watch some of the Olympics before we retired. The next day we planned to do a short “shakedown” ride.BICAS-sign

As we got ready to leave I noticed my bottom bracket was wobbling 1/4 – 1/2″ side-to-side. That’s not good. Never fear, Susan led us to a bike repair shop called BICAS. BICAS stands for bicycle inter community arts and salvage and they are very cool. Outside there’s all kinds of sculptures and functional things like bike racks all made from salvaged bike parts. BICAS-insideInside sports 7 workstations, tools for loan, tons of used and new parts, and mechanics on duty to help you solve your dilemma. For $4 an hour you have free run of the store. Quite a deal. My bracket problem stumped the stars there, but they were willing to work with me on it. Between the two of us we figured out the solution and we took off with Susan for a 25 mile ride around “The Loop”, bike trails following the two riverbeds in Tucson. That night I helped Susan adjust the shifting on her recumbent. She’d replaced the cable housing while I worked on my bracket at BICAS. It took us about 45 minutes to get it right. Two bike repairs in one day: I’m feeling like a mechanic!

Spencer helps SusanYesterday we opted for a longer ride up to Twin Peaks and Rio Vistosos. That was 45 miles with substantially more climbing. We didn’t really feel very strong. To be sure, we haven’t been on the bike in months and Sheila hasn’t had a lot of cardio exercise since her accident last May. But we stuck it out. Stuck might be a good adjective since our bottoms were so sore by the end that we were pretty much stuck. Along the way I got to help Susan again, this time with her front derailleur. Woo Hoo! Susan’s good to ride with because she knows all the roads. She rides 12,000 miles a year! IMPRESSIVE! She led us through some wonderful neighborhoods which sidestepped the busy streets I’d have taken us on.

Susan helps spencerToday we tried to do a 35-40 mile ride. But on the way out of town I was hearing some rattling. We stopped at BICUS again, but couldn’t find it. So I paid them the $4 shop fee from Thursday (I hadn’t put my wallet or my tools on the bike that first day!) and we went on our way. We climbed Starr Pass (tiny) and were just getting ready to descend when Sheila and I both heard loud rattling. A long hard look showed one of the bolts holding on our front brake was missing! Guess what? Another trip to BICUS. I really hope it was the last one. But they had huge buckets of bolts to choose from plus a little lock-tite, and we were off. It was late enough now that we just cruised to the University District and had lunch. Then we meandered back home. We went 27 miles in 5 hours. Not our best time:distance ratio, but then, we’re on vacation and it’s sunny. Who cares? It’s 87 degrees out and life is good.

Bens Bells volunteersOur meanderings included a pleasant layover in a tree-shaded plaza that boasts volunteers painting ceramic pieces (notice Spencer and Susan in the background). They are community volunteers engaged in Ben’s Bell Project, commemorating the untimely passing of a 3 year old boy. His family started this nonprofit with a simple and worthwhile mission: to inspire, educate and motivate each other to realize the impact of intentional kindness and to empower individuals to act according to that awareness, thereby strengthening ourselves, our relationships and our communities. Food for thought.

Now for a shower and some horizontal relaxation followed by a night of Olympics viewing.

Sunshine = biking as a way of life