Thursday, February 25, 2010

tour of the moon

Yesterday I read about a contest being held by the bike lemming that had entrants asking several questions, including how many biking movies you could think of, which was your favorite and why. One of the first that came to mind for me was American Flyers, the 1985 Kevin Costner flick about two brothers heading west to ride in a race called Hell of the West. That fictional race was based on the Coors Classic, and the last two legs were through the Colorado National Monument west of Grand Junction.
Then I was flipping around cable channels later in the day, and there it was, American Flyers. Now, it's a cheesy movie that not many people would really want to see more than once. But there are some fun scenes of training rides in the Midwest, supposedly Indiana and points west. But the real scenery comes in the race scenes. It opens with a stage in the boulder area and moves on to the Monument for a ride that's been called the Tour of the Moon for it's incredible rock formations, hills, and tunnels. It was fun to watch those scenes since I rode through the Colorado National Monument on the BTC last June.  I decided to do a little research on the Coors Classic.
In 1975, the founders of Celestial Seasonings tea company launched a race called the Red Zinger Bicycle Classic to promote their tea by the same name. It was a popular, local, Colorado race. Four years later the PR director bought the rights to the race and took his idea for a bigger event to Coors Brewing. Over the next 10 years it grew into a hugely popular American tour, with stages in Colorado, Nevada and California. One year there was even a stage on the Big Island of Hawaii. It grew over time to become the fourth largest bike race in the world, after the Tour de France, Vuelta Espana, and Giro d'Italia. Winners included Greg Lemond, twice, and Bernard Hinault.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

escape to alcatr(AZ)

It was funny to read Lizzylou's post about visiting Phoenix last weekend. I was there too, but I didn't see her. I escaped from winter for a week and joined several family members in visiting my nephew and his wife, and my oldest brother, who all live in Phoenix.

A few years ago we were there in March, and drove out to Bouse, AZ to see if we could find out anything more about the training area where my Dad spent some time before going to Europe in WWII. General Patton had created a desert training center in parts of CA, NV, and AZ in anticipation of joining the fighting against Rommel in Africa. By the time they were ready to go, fighting in Africa was over and Dad's battalion found themselves on the way to Normandy for D-Day.
We found out that they held a ceremony each February to honor and remember those who trained at Camp Bouse and fought for our freedom. They invited my Dad to come the following year, and he's been there for the ceremony the last three years. Better late than never, the 748th tank battalion is found! It's emotional and uplifting to accompany Dad to this place that represents a big part of his life. That night we raised our glasses to his buddies, Barney, Crist, and Red who were fast friends through the war, and for the rest of their lives.
We spent most of the rest of the week enjoying the weather and my nephew's backyard. And on Monday we got together with some close friends and their beautiful girls. We spent several hours in the sun eating pizza, chips and pico, and hot salsa. But mostly laughing and catching up. I didn't even get on a bike, though Chuck lives close to some great trails in South Mountain Park. So, it's back to the trainer while winter hangs on to the bitter end. I hope it makes spring that much sweeter.