Friday, February 13, 2009

Back in the Saddle

As if anyone in Calgary needs an excuse to jump on an airplane in mid-February bound for a warmer climate, Erik and I had several. Expiring flight credits and free hotel-stay points made a trip to Tucson a very affordable weekend getaway, even in a recession.

My Deaner had been collecting dust since its last tour of duty (Yukon/NWT, July 2008) and I hadn't ridden a bike since November. So, when Erik and I headed out for our first Tucson ride this morning, I was overwhelmed by the feeling of sweet, sweet joy. The cool wind on my skin. The sunshine warming my body and mind. The freedom. I haven't felt that good since, well, November. It felt good to be back in the saddle. It's like I can finally actually think again.

We headed west, over Starr Pass and through Seguaro National Park. It was a lovely storybook desert ride, with perfect temperatures, great roads and relatively little traffic. I was surprised at how tired my legs were after an 'easy' 3.5 hours. I guess I should be happy to crank that out after 3 months off the bike, but its never easy to go backward. Erik had intentionally kept the pace of today's ride civil, in anticipation of the 'Saturday Shootout'. The Shootout is North America's largest and longest running weekly group ride. A lot of pros and teams come down here to train in the winter - and occasionally they can be spotted at the shootout. When Erik was here last year, he saw Gord Fraser at the Shootout. The pace is fast and you need to arrive with your guns fully loaded. No point in getting tuckered out before a big ride like that.

For dinner, Erik took me to El Charro, which is reputed to be the oldest Mexican Restaurant in the US. It has been owned and operated by that same family since 1922. The signature dish, which Erik ordered, was the sort that you might expect to get for free if you could finish it all. He did. But we still had to pay. The restaurant's slogan is something like 'we're not good because we're old, we're old because we're good'. I can't really argue with that. Erik joked that we should go back there every night while we are here. I certainly wouldn't complain if we did.


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