Life in Arizona involves being surrounded by people constantly involved in some sort of outdoor activity. People run, hike, skydive, ride motorcycles and ATVs; you name it and it’s probably being done around here somewhere. This story is about our adventure in bicycling; how being surrounded by miles and miles of perfect bicycle trails and thousands of spandex-clad, Lance Armstrong look-alike riders led to a brush with an angry bee.
We both own and have had some kind of bicycle for as long as I can recall. We have two mountain bikes sitting in the garage that we’ve ridden occasionally but generally we’ve been more of a mall walking family. On an almost daily basis, we see couples out riding together and really enjoying the Tucson sun. I’ll blame Stacy, but in reality, I think I started the conversation about giving it a real try. I started interweb searching bicycles and found that they’d changed a bunch since I first bought my mountain bike fifteen years ago. Carbon fiber things and disk deals, lots of lightweight stuff so you can go really fast. I managed to get Stacy involved and she took the lead like she often does. Before I knew it, we were popping into bike stores and sitting on tiny little seats trying to decide on reach and height and frame type and brakes and of course colors. Somewhere along the way Stacy fell in love with a black sparkly paint job on a racy bike that we found to be impossible to find locally. She did some searching and found the one in Phoenix at a small husband and wife shop. Since we were taking the kids to the airport to fly home from their visit anyway we had a ready-made excuse to stop by and look.
The shop was in a less than perfect area of town, with the pot shop and porn store to the left and right of their front door, we knew we were probably in a store where good deals could be had. S: Well, NO… as the sparkly bike was hard to find. That’s where I had the real dilemma, I really wanted to find a big sale, but couldn’t on this bike. I could have purchased last year’s model in Tucson for a lot less but it didn’t have disc brakes and it was black and red, not sparkle black and with pink letters. The struggle was real! Ok, now back to Glenn’s story… The owner was all bike, he had the greasy hands of a mechanic and the Ironman tattoo on his leg that just said I know of what I speak. He had the bike already pulled down and set into a fitting thing. Stacy climbed aboard and took it for a stationary test ride. After a few minutes and a few adjustments, she was moving right along, while standing still. The bike guy described how he tested everything and torqued each nut and bolt to spec, how he personally makes sure each bike rolls out of his shop ready to ride. We got detailed instructions on care and maintenance and he told us how Stacy picked a great bike and she’d have plenty of room to improve before outgrowing this machine. He pulled it out of the vice and carefully leaned it against the wall while he discussed shorts and gloves while his wife worked on the sale ticket. After a few pointers, he asked if there was anything else we thought we might need and my beautiful Yaya pipes up all loud and proud with “where are the kickstands?”!! (Now all our bike friends are cringing with just the thought.) Of course, I’m standing a little behind and have full visibility of both Stacy and the bike guy and get to really enjoy the show. Bike guy, being the professional rider and triathlon dude et-al, hears “kickstand” and I can only imagine him visualizing mounting a big gaudy piece of steel onto this super lightweight, finely tuned carbon fiber racing machine with the disk brakes and tubeless tires and all the wiz bang gadgets that go with. I see his head kind of start twitching like a bobblehead toy as I’m sure he’s second-guessing what he just heard. I grab the bike, and Stacy and we escape before bike guy’s head fully explodes. I tell him she’s just kidding, just to bring his blood pressure down a bit as the door is closing behind us. Stacy not having seen the episode is asking, “What? What?” as I usher her out the door to the car. On the drive home I tell Stacy the story and we got a good laugh and then she says, “But I do want a kickstand”. S: Okay, yes, I still want a kickstand and Glenn did find a portable one that uses a magnet to put on and take off. My fantastic husband ordered one and tried to install it but apparently my bike has an angled piece that goes through the wheel and so it won’t work on mine. It will work on his and he tried to make me feel better by telling me that my bike has a better part and that’s why it won’t work. Long story short, we’re still on the hunt for a kickstand. Yaya needs a kickstand!
Now onto my bike and how the search led to a weekend in San Diego for Stacy. I found a bike I liked and also found that the local stores around here didn’t have the size I needed, size short and fat. Stacy did some interwebbing and found one for a good deal all the way in California. It just happened to be right down the road from the Hotel Coronado AND we happened to have a coupon or points or something that would get us into the hotel for, Stacy’s favorite word, “FREE.” So off we went – on a six-hour drive across a giant beach with no water also known as the Sonoran Desert. Three hours to Yuma, Arizona where we stopped for breakfast because, Stacy had us on the road early, early; to have the best chance of using the hotel as long as possible. Two egg McMuffins from the drone behind the register and off we went again. Across the rolling waves in the ocean of sand and before we knew it, we were in the land of the socialist utopia. A couple wrong turns and a twelve-lane highway later and we were there. A vast warehouse with bikes and bike parts as far as you could see. These dudes rode bikes but in no way compared to Phoenix triathlon bike guy, they put air in the tires and bolted on some pedals for me since mine didn’t include starters, and off we went to the beach weekend. S: Two quick points here, Glenn bought his own pair of starter pedals- clip on one side and flat on the other. I just can’t wait to see him try out some fancy cyclin’ shoes and clips. He showed me a few “funny” clip mishaps on YouTube so I think I’m going to pass on that adventure.
Arriving at Hotel Coronado was an experience in itself. We crossed a giant bay bridge and landed on the other side where they had a toll booth that I guess was off for the day because no one was home. We drove some two-lane roads, through some tiny house neighborhoods that cost way too much and then past some newer looking condos until we pulled up to the big hotel. A great big sign told us we had arrived. In we drove past valet parking to the cheap seats that still cost about seventy dollars a day to park if you weren’t a hotel guest. Even then I think it was still about thirty-five a day to park. But I digress; we headed into the lobby, which can best be described as Grandiose. There was a giant chandelier hanging from the ceiling and there were formally attired attendants at the registration desk and concierge table. Bellmen shuffled around taking overpriced luggage to rooms on shiny carts. This is the epitome of formality and lavishness. We’re next and up to the desk we go to check into our free room. We had just overhead the couple in front of us negotiating an $1,800 dollar a night room but we’re staying on a “Stacy deal” – I’ll have one of those for free please! Registration lady politely takes our info and punches some keys while Stacy tells her “we’d like an upgrade” to our FREE room! Registration lady says, “Of course” and I didn’t know it at the time, but I’m sure she giggled inside a little as she put us in Rapunzel’s tower. S: Okay, you are only getting half of the story from Glenn. Yes, the people in front of us were paying that much per night for a regular type room, and Yes, I did request a complimentary upgrade. Check into hotel perks; when you get to a certain level you can get complimentary upgrades. If you have the hotel credit card you automatically get this benefit. I can tell you all about points and upgrades, just ask me 😊
After a brief wait for the room to be readied we received our keys and off we went on our search for the enchanted upgraded room. The hotel’s main building is in the shape of a square with rooms on the four sides and a giant open-air courtyard in the center.
The hotel itself is a historical exercise in grandeur. There are photos of past presidents, sports heroes, and celebrities who’ve visited the hotel, along with historical artifacts adorning the walls. The hallways have the feel of an old mansion as you walk along the creaking wooden floors. Even the elevator is a throwback in time with the permanent attendant and the manual doors. We stepped aboard and she asked for our floor then made small talk as we climbed the three floors to the top of the hotel. We rolled our little overnight bag down past a dozen or so doors looking for our suite. The numbers rose, we counted; we walked – and we missed it! Turn around and try again, nope still don’t see it. Past the housekeeper and wallah, there it is; like a hidden passageway in the middle of the wall, literally the middle of the wall. The door actually rose about a foot above the floor and as we opened it, realized that this was because it closed into the first step of the stairway to nowhere! Narrow, steep wooden stairs to an afterthought of a room. Yes, I admit it did have windows all around and some did have a view of the distant ocean, but several also had a view of the adjoining roof and it was really a distant ocean so no sound of waves crashing on the beach like we’ve come to expect from living in Florida, visiting Daytona or Cocoa Beach. After checking out the shoebox sized bathroom I was about done with our “upgrade!” I also pointed out that the stairs we’d climbed were a little close to the bed and I could envision my beautiful Yaya taking a midnight stroll to the bathroom and ending up at the bottom of the stairs crumbled up against the funky step-door. S: We walked in and the tv was on and there was this nice message “Welcome Mr. and Mrs. Dennis”. Nice touch! As much as I hate to admit, Glenn is right about the possible Yaya hazard but the views were incredible in all directions. The room was round and had windows all the way around. It was a bit different, but I loved it!
We discussed it and after pointing out the stair hazard, off we went with a disappointed Stacy to the reception desk to seek another upgrade, maybe a little more of a sidegrade and not quite this far up of an upgrade. Along the way we stopped to chat with the housekeeper who excitedly told us that this was the “honeymoon suite.” I should note that this confirms my suspicion that this was Rapunzel’s tower because there was no way to carry the bride across the threshold unless your plan was to drag her up the narrow stairs by her hair.
The front desk found us another room, not quite as unique as the tower but at least I didn’t have to worry about Stacy taking a tumble at two in the morning. We learned that the hotel was packed this weekend because it was Comic-Con in San Diego. I kept my eye out for costumes and did see a couple of wizards or trolls or something but much to my disappointment no Princess Leia. After dropping our stuff in the room, we headed out for food. We’d already checked the hotel dining options and found them a little pricier then we liked. The food didn’t sound that appealing either but certainly not sixty-dollar calamari. Pizza it is, a block or so away we found a little shop which smelled like we should eat there. We took a nice table in the shade outside with a great view of the oddities walking by on the street. We both ordered sub sandwiches which turned out to be a lot larger than we expected. Definitely could have shared one of those things. Most memorable from this lunch was our first experience with the paper straw disaster. At first there didn’t seem to be too much of a difference from the normal plastic we’re all used to, and then it happened; the sag. The straw became soda-logged, well mine did, Stacy’s just became water-logged. Either way they started to fall apart and we were onto straw number two. Later we learned that it’s against the law here in snuffleuppogus land for a restaurant to disperse the evil plastic straws. If we can save the world from just one spitball fight then by god; it’s for the children!
Back at the hotel we put on our walking shoes and headed out to the beach. As weird as this part of the country is, the beaches are absolutely gorgeous.
We were treated to some amazing sunsets and Star Wars playing on the big screen. Did I forget to mention that it’s Comic-Con! The hotel had a huge inflatable movie screen set up on the beach with chairs and couches and what looked like a giant inflatable bed lined up in front of the screen. Stacy checked and they were going for big bucks so we sat in a park bench just outside the pay per view section and watched the sunset.
We sat for a few minutes of the movie then decided to wander along the beach to try for some sunset pictures. Stacy walked in the surf a little and we checked out some sand castles. All in all, it was a good night seeing a part of the country we don’t get to see that often.
The following day we had breakfast and walked on the beach some more before heading out on our six-hour trek back to Arizona. Back across the ocean of sand to our pitstop in Yuma. This time no McDonald’s drone, we went full native and found a Del Taco for some Mexican fast food. I’m not sure why but somehow we ended up with two separate orders. I had a taco and burrito which turned out to be a much better choice than a big mac. Stacy got a taco and some chips or something, then I noticed it; she got the Senior Citizen Discount! And she didn’t even ask for it. So now here is the conundrum she faced – whether to be angry that the clerk thought she was a senior citizen or to be glad she got a discount!!! Oh my, I could see the gears turning in her mind on this one! S: The second order was when I went back for dessert and on that order, I was awarded my senior discount. I really thought I looked pretty good earlier when we left the hotel.
A week or so after our beach adventure we’d done a few short rides around the neighborhood on the bikes. So far so good and we had even done a fifteen-mile Saturday ride to Panera for some bagels. We got up to about three rides a week in the mornings before I went to work and were doing pretty well. On our Wed morning ride, we hit about six miles at a pretty decent pace. I think we had increased a little each morning and I was feeling good with our progress. We even started to look at spandex diaper pants for the bike rides and checked out some of the clip-on shoes. Not quite sure we’re up to that yet but I’m sure when we are it’ll be another story. Anyway, as we were wrapping up the Wednesday morning ride we turned onto our road heading home. With only about three hundred yards left to our neighborhood, I was relaxed and listening to the wind whistle by as we coasted downhill to the entrance. Stacy was in the lead and I happened to glance up to check my distance – and then I saw it – Stacy kicking at passing cars. My first thought, someone drove too close and she was pissed, no; maybe a leg cramp she was trying to shake out. Visualize this, Stacy coasting along about fifteen miles an hour with her left leg straight out shaking like she’s doing the hokey pokey! I catch up just in time to hear her exclaim “bee, bee.” Well, not much I can do at this pace so I yell for her to stop and by this time the bee is gone but the stinger remains. I manage to brush it off and we do a limp and pedal the rest of the way home. Stacy got a few home health hacks mixed up and went with the “hair of the dog” first aid treatment and tried putting honey on the bee sting. Luckily no permanent damage was done by the bee or the honey and a few ice packs later she was good as new and ready to shop again.
I do see a lot of riding in our future but we’ll need to Stacy proof the adventures from here out, first aid kit and bee sting gel, and maybe knee and elbow pads (but no kickstands yet).