In the past few years I've posted over 17,000 photos of the cycling community on Facebook. You will find community bike rides, races, Mountain Biking, Mt. Lemmon, kids, El Grupo Youth cycling.... Please like the page. Chances are I have a photo of you. www.facebook.com/pages/The-Damion-Alexander-Team/228735085153
Who is Damion Alexander and
Hello. My name is Damion Alexander. I’m on a journey and will be sharing it on this page. I’m hoping to inform, entertain, motivate, and enrich those who choose to read this. Hopefully, this will be interactive and will help bring our community together.
May 24, 2012
Day 22. I'm in the big apple to see my son perform piano at Carnegie Hall and to meet with Metro Creative about creating a new ad agency. My priority I rented a bike from Pedal Pushers. I called in advance and Tony had a Kona hybrid waiting for me when I arrived. The cost for 5 days is less then if I rented in central park for a few hours. They are located at 1306 Second Avenue
It was pouring rain, but after the rides in Tucson in over 100 degrees this week, riding in the rain was refreshing. I felt comfortable riding with traffic and noticed that cyclist here have absolutely no respect for any laws. One way streets, sidewalks, red lights, seemed to not be respected. I had been seeing info over the past year on how great the biking is becoming in New York. Perhaps I missed these routes in the city. The past on the West side on the Hudson River was great. Similar to the Urban Loop, but with more people.
This week is fleet week and there are tall ships in port next to the Intrepid. It seemed that every few peers has been converted into a park or playground. That was very cool.
The total ride was just over 30 miles. What a great way to see the city. In a few hours I went from the hotel to my appointment, down to the Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street and back up the West Side into Central Park.
Here are a few pictures of signage I saw today.
Here is one of the many parks.
A Cyclist just happened to work his way into the center of the photo. How does this happen? You might start to think I like bikes!
It seemed like it was mandatory to get a hotdog from a street Vendor. This one was just closing up and only had a pretzel left. Barbara, the owner, gave me the pretzel and we talked for about 15 minutes. Built, owned, operated & employees disabled vets & surviving spouse. 4 carts along east side (fifth avenue) central park. My phone was dead and she was kind enough to take my photo and email me.
What's better than a pretzel? A free pretzel.
May 23, 2012 - Day 21 of 365
If you scroll down you can read the previous posts.
Day 21. This calls for a celebration. I'm of drinking age!
I would not have been on my bike today if I were not committed to riding every day. I'm sure I'll have many days like this. It was not that I did not wan't to ride, I just had a full schedule. If you did not know, my son Samuel is playing at Carnegie Hall in New York this weekend. Today was like any other last day in town. Meeting house keeper to go over watering of plants and other misc,. Finish loading a 40 foot dumpster with landscaping. Listing a new home for sale and getting all the marketing in place. Packing. Sophia's 5th grade graduation. Thankfully, I got everything finished I needed. I never like to wait on getting homes on the market, but the client needed to reschedule for next week. Hooray!!!!
Cross Training. I've lost 5 pounds. If you want to cross train, I'll get another dumpster for you to fill at our house.
Since I thought my schedule was so packed I got out to ride at 5:30 in the AM. The pre ride excitement was a small leak in the irrigation that had a baby bunny and a family of new born quail hanging outside my front door(fix Irrigation leak - CHECK).
My ride had some new exploration of a wash I had never been up. I rode from home down the Tanuri wash. I've spent many hours riding in here and a trail exists, but it is easier to just stay in the sand bottom wash. It has been cleared( I'm not 100% sure who did this, BUT THANKS). All of this sand riding has really had a huge impact on my overall performance. It is not easy work, I often have to dig real deep like riding a 16% plus grade climb, but if you keep spinning, you keep moving.
I rode down the Tanuri wash to the Tanque Verde Wash. The Tanque Verde merges with the Pantano and becomes the Rilitto River west of Craycroft. This is where the Urban Loop ends at it’s farthest eastern point (for now). Instead of going to the Unban loop I headed East. There are a few miles of single track that lie between Sabino Canyon and Craycroft. On the south side of the wash is Tucson Counrty Club. If you love sand or are interested in setting a great personal challenge, try riding over. Sometimes, someone compacts a trail that links the two banks. I’m guessing its some one from the TCC. It makes it “easier” to cross. If you do make it over, there is a trail that follows the golf course before heading North again. The contrst betreen the desert and verdant grass in pleasing on the eyes. If all that water use bothers you, don’t worry, they use all reclaimed water and it goes back into the aquifer. I’ve been able to ride there and back without stopping, but I won’t do it again until the weather cools down.
Today I stuck on the North shore and found a nice trial leading up a wash I had never explored. It was a tight, winding trail, but fun to ride. The hope was that it would connect to River Road. I have been exploring the washes to see what trails currently exist. It’s incredible how many exist. I’m not sure the history on these tracks or who made them, but the more I look, the more I’m finding. Some are definitely equestrian. Others, like the one I followed today, was a ¼ mile private access from someones back yard to the wash. Many of these trails cut over association common ground and private property. I’m very respectful of any signs that say no trespassing, but so far I have not seen any. I’ve named the trail system “TDAT”. I’ll talk more about it at a future time. If you know of a section of dirt anywhere in Tucson that is not on the map, please send me a note and I’ll go check it out. Hopefully, I’ll publish a TDAT Map after we have enough entries to warrant it.
After doing a quick out and back on the new trail I spun around on the North bank. There are trails that run all over this area. Most are hard packed, no obstacles, mostly straight and flat. Great beginner MTB trails. If you stay in the wash heading East the path continues for some time, but progressively becomes less trail and more wash. Go far enough and it becomes a paved walkway along the wash. This calls for some climbing out of the Tanque Verde Wash, but very doable. Today, I turned around where the path meets Cloud Road and headed back to the Tanuri Wash.
A little hitchhiker, creosote. The trail could use some clearing.
In all of my writing, I’ll try and give accurate descriptions of the terrain. I will eventually have a rating system. As much as I love biking, I still remember some rides early on where I was on trails that were above my head. I finished those rides, but some were hike-n-bikes and not pleasant. I never want someone to come to me and say I said something was easy when it was a Spiker Deer Trail (SPD). John Spiker is known to have trails that fall off sharply on one edge, are riddled with technical sections followed by parts that no one with a brain should ride.
Trail summary of the Tanuri Wash heading North from the Tanque Verde wash. The Tanuri wash is about half way between Sabino and Craycroft. It is just west of Tanuri if you are on River Road. The entire section below River Roa is all sand. Some is hard packed, but much is sink in and spin sand. If you can run a lower PSI on your tires or ride a Surly “Pugsly”, or want an intense work out, this section is a great, wide open wash with plenty of room to spin. You have one nice feature, a under bridge tunnel crossing. There is a concrete retaining wall with a 12’”-18” step up. The left side is easiest to ride. Otherwise, sit back, take the weight off the handlebars, and pedal like a hamster for 10 minutes. As soon as you get to River road and cross it, head up the hill to the right. This connects to a dirt road. This is easy riding. Flat, straight and obstruction free. Of course, if you are a masochist, you could opt to stay in the wash and ride in the dunes. Just before the Arroyo gets to the first crossing of Tanuri, the trail ends and the last 100 yards are in the stream bed. If you cross the road you will be greeted by…. more sand. You can jump on Tanuri and bypass this short section. The trail again crosses Tanuri and I’ve found several trails in this area, but they are not really marked or maintained. They cut from one side of the wash and back. As before, if you like the sand, just stay in the dry stream bed and yuou will be rewarded with your own private beach. There is one more crossing where Tanuri dead ends into Via Colorado/ Via Velazquez. The next section is similar to the last and dead ends at rock canyon road.
There is one alternate route that Is much better. When you come out of the first wash crossing on Tanuri go West on the pavement to Wilmot. There is a great trail there. It’s not technical, but is a good skill builder as it weaves through some jumping Cholla, Prickly Pear. It has a moderate climb and some rocks. It loops around to a utility road. It rides very different depending on direction and I highly recommend going both ways. At the top, it spits out onto Territory. I’m getting tired saying this, but there is also a wash option to the East of the loop. Personally, I really like this wash. In the late afternoon, it has such a high bank it shades the trail. I find that worth the effort of pounding the legs to do it in the shade.
I’ve been typing this on the red eye from Phoenix to Philly. The next few posts will be from New York City. I have only one meeting and a day of riding ahead. Perhaps, a nap in central park is going to be needed.
The motivation for me to start this blog came from Jax Mariah. Jax ran everyday for a year and finished in May of 2012. I was motivated by her experience to attempt to do the same on bicycles. I have some time restraints, work, family, and travel that are going to make this challenging at time.
So, Lets go for a ride and share some stories.
First thing first, I am going to answer a few questions about my love affair with the bike and the 365 consecutive days of going for a ride. Many of you who read this are friends on Facebook and seen my photos and posts over the past few years. I am a transparent person and have been open about sharing my world. For those who are not on Facebook or not my friend there, It’s time to join. I’ve posted 98 albums and have over 6000 photos on my personal page and another 30 Albums and 2000 images on The Damion Alexander Team.
Why am I riding 365 days in a row?
What was my first bicycle?
My first bike was a big wheel. OK, it’s not really a bike, but it has pedals and wheels and I have a photo of me on it. I was really cute until I turned 8.
"Damo" on Oak Street in Telluride. 1975ish
My parents divorced when I was 5. My Dad is a great guy, but he should have never had kids. He would show up with toys and joy and then disappear. On one such trip, shortly after my parents split and he was looking to buy some affection, he bought two brand new Mongoose Motomag bikes for my brother and me (note to parents trying to buy affection…. it works, but I’d rather have had an old bike and a Dad who would go on rides then a new bike). I spent my childhood on that bike. This was in a pre-Mountain Bike World and the trails and infrastructure were non existent. That did not stop us from blazing many of our own. My favorite rides were down the middle of the sidewalks, terrorizing tourist, and locals alike, in what I considered “my town”. In the winter, I took screws and made studded tires lined with duct tape. In the spring and fall I had a brown strip up my back from the mud. In the summer we built huge jumps in the San Miguel River.
What was the first memory of riding a bike?
I was a short kid. My bother had a bike, but I could not come close to the pedals. My dad tied blocks of wood to the pedals so I could reach them. We practiced in our yard on Oak Street. My first solo ride was on a flat street, Galena, in front of our house In Telluride. My dad pushed me and off I went. He ran behind me encouraging me. It was freedom. It was flying. It was a street that went from flat to steep real quick and I left my dad behind. We had not worked on braking and I found myself bloody at the base of the hill. Even with the blood and dangling skin, I was hooked. I can’t ever remember a time after that when I did not have a bike.
What is my favorite ride in Tucson?
This is a hard question. There are so many favorite rides. I have always considered myself more of a mountain biker then a roadie however because of time constraints I ride on the road more often than the MTB. There is limited mountain biking in a close proximity to my house and I really do not like to get in the car to go for a bike ride. So I’ll answer in two parts.
On the road…. I really like riding in Fairfield in the Foothills. This community of Patio Homes is located between Kolb Road and Craycroft and South of Sunrise. The associations takes great care of the roads and parking on the street is against the restrictions. I live near this area and with steep hills, limited traffic, car free streets, and well cared for pavement this is where I ride the most. I can hit speeds of 50 and am still winded by many of the climbs.
Sabino Canyon also rates towards the top of my list. It is only a few miles to my house and is a pretty special 3.7 miles ride into the canyon. There is also a nice ride to Bear Canyon, but the road is in poor shape. However, watching the Sunrise or Sunset from Bear Canyon is perhaps the best Vista in Tucson. When the water is flowing a quick dip at the end of a ride is a refreshing way to finish a summer ride and I’m usually dry before I get home. I have so many great stories in Sabino and will share them in future posts. If you go thee for a ride, remember, times are limited when you are allowed to ride. Never on a Wednesday and Sataurday or during the day from 9-5.
Doing my public service on Bike Patrol in Sabino Canyon
Mt Lemmon. Do I need to say more. It’s getting love in must do rides in publications around the Universe. This ride offers so many challenges and rewards. In the heat of the summer nothing is better then leaving home early, doing some repeats at the top and meeting the family for a hike, crepes, and some fudge. Being able to climb above the heat really makes Tucson bikeable 365 a year. The decent is as close as you can come to flying without wings. I’ll definitely have many addition posts on this incredible backyard playground.
Saguaro East is another ride that I never tire of. The 8 miles of one way traffic with a blend of rolling hills, one great climb, incredible scenery and wildlife make it so great.
The Urban Loop. I’m OK riding with traffic, but often times I just want to spin away from cars. This loop will be 55 miles when completed and currently has over 22 miles of traffic free riding. Many additional miles are completed, but they are working ( as we speak) on connecting them. Before the end of 2013 most will be completed.
On the Mountain Bike Side I have just as many rides I love.
My all time favorite is Fantasy Island. I think there are better trails, but this is where I really got back into riding as an adult. With over 25 miles of single track there is a little of everything desert riding offers.
For the scenery, Starr Pass and Sweetwater are my favorites. When I was publishing the Tucson Pedaler my office was on the West Side of the Tucson Mountains and close to the trail head. I spent many lunch hours riding on Yetman and Cat Mountain.
Starr Pass. Scenery is here, wish you were beautiful.
50 year trail is a seriously fun ride. The shoots are a blast and if they were closer, I think it would be my first choice.
Bug Springs on Mt. Lemon is perfect for a summer ride. I like to ride it from home. It is 12 miles from the base to the trailhead on the highway and then a hike and bike, but the reward is worth the effort. It is a little technical in places (I recommend dragging your ballz on the rear tire).
Finally, the Arizona Trail. If you have not guessed, I like to climb. Pistol hill heading south has a great balance of climbing and free flowing single track. I personally built a small section in that area, so it will always hold a special place in my heart.
What is the Tucson Pedaler and what part did I play in it?
The Tucson Pedaler is Tucson’s community Bicycle Newspaper and was my baby. I was hired by Tucson West Publishing and immediately knew that Tucson needed a paper all about the cycling community. I wanted to cover the characters who make Tucson such a bike mecca. The pinnacle for me at the paper was seeing Tucson Pedaler mentioned 4 times in the application for Platinum status from the League of American Cyclists. The paper also allowed me the opportunity to sponsor and promote bike related movies at the Fox Theatre. We were able to bring With My Own Two Wheels to Tucson and showed it 14 times over a week in schools and at The Fox Theatre. As a result of the trip we have raised nearly enough funds to buy 100 bikes for world Bike Relief.
Why did I leave the papers?
I’m a Realtor and that is my career. I’ve been among the top 10 agents in the city and even when working full time as a publisher was able to remain in the top 100 agents citywide. I was at the papers for a few years to help out a friend, and past real estate client, who owned them. He was so pleased with the service and job I did for him that he hired me to take over 5 publications in Southern Arizona. Publishing was incredible as it opened up many doors and allowed me a much deeper knowledge of our community, but I never really loved the job or saw it as a career. I’m hopeful that the Tucson Pedaler continues to publish and I highly recommend you advertise in it if you have a bike related business or a business that wants to attract the cycling community. I’ll continue to provide them with content if they ask, but so far, they have been allowing me to focus on my real estate business.
What is a real estate bike tour?
This is my dream job. Why look at homes in a car when you can look on bikes? If you ride, you want to know how easy it is to access your house on your iron horse. Also, you notice so much more on a bike. Is there a loud dog next door? Around the corner is there a dump? Perhaps there is a BMX park and access to the Urban loop. The world is different on two wheels. I’m accepting referrals! Also, if only one spouse rides, I go out and preview the homes with the rider first and limit it down to the homes that warrant a second showing. I have not yet reached the level where I am completely car free and will work with those who don’t want to ride and look at homes, but I really appreciate people who allow me to say to my wife “Yes honey, I’m working on my bike today!!!”
What races do I compete in?
Compete is not the word to describe me in races. I train hard and go mellow on race day. I’m out to participate and have a good time. The ultimate race has me finishing with over 1000 photos. I love the scavenger hunts El Grupo does, All of Epic Rides events, Mt. Lemmon TT, El Tour De Tucson and the Urban Assault. They are not about “winning” but about having a good time. In the past few years I’ve been riding in El Tour with my kids. I look forward to the day when I can draft off Sam for 109 miles and get Platinum.
Samuel riding away from the Pack in 2011 El Tour.
How many miles do I ride per year?
I’ve been between 4,000-6,000 the past few years. I don’t ride with a computer. Lately, I’ve been using Strava. Strava is an App that tracks your rides. There are segments that are recorded and you can try and beat your best time or be the fastest ever and capture a KOM- King of the Mountain. I really enjoy the comparison against my best times. I’m on a personal mission to capture the KOM on every segment in my neighborhood. You can follow people on Stava. Just go to Strava.com. One of the cool things is seeing all the pros who ride in Tucson and are using the App. Somehow, I feel a little better knowing that the names above me are doing this for a living and not just super human weekend warriors….. like Richard Biocca.
When is the best time to ride in Tucson?
All the time. My regular rides have been Tuesday and Thursday morning at 5:30. In the summer the sun is just coming out, in the winter, I’m home before the sun comes up. What it has taught me is that it’s always a good time to ride. One caveat, have the appropriate gear. Personally, I like riding in the summer as I like less layers. The ability to put on a jersey and shorts and be out the door is better than the winter multi-layering. On the other hand, you can always put on more clothing, you can only take off so much. If you have not invested in a night light, go get one now. The cost is a fraction of what they were, the brightness is 10X, the weight is a millionth of what they were and the battery last long enough for most rides.
What groups do I ride with?
I’m a member of he Cirrus Visual Team, but the friends who I ride the most, they are members of Summit Velo. I am a member of GABA and SDMB. If you are interested in going for a ride, contact me. If you are fast, I’ll try and hang on. If you are slow, we will have a nice conversation. I’ve spent hours on rides with kids, so no speed is to slow for me. I’ve found ways to make every ride fun.
Do I ride with my family?
Nothing gives me a greater joy than riding with my kids. I’ve had many of the best conversations with my kids while riding. Is it always fun, no! There has been scrapes, blood, frustration, whining, and the kids have had issues as well. I’ve seen them accomplish what they had previously considered impossible. Samuel did the 85 mile El Tour with me last year and won for the youngest kid to finish. Sophia rides on the Rilitto, but she still will jettison her bike and chase down lizards. Janna, my wife, will go on an occasional rides andwe have been trying different bikes, but the bike bug has not nipped her yet. She is a swimmer and is the Master swim coach at Ventana Canyon CC.
In the summer of 2012 Samuel joined El Grupo Youth Cycling. This is one of the best community run orginizations I've had the pleasure of being a part of.
From the El Grupo website a few paragraphs of who they are. "El Grupo is a 501c3 non-profit youth cycling team in Tucson, Arizona that affords the opportunities of cycling to local teens who otherwise would not get the chance.Our mission is to empower youth through bicycles.
We aim to instill life-long healthy habits and build character and camaraderie through riding and racing bicycles and bicycle advocacy. By maintaining a clubhouse and by coaching five group rides a week, we provide a consistent, safe, family environment so these youth may grow up mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy. We embrace all forms of cycling, from road and mountain bike racing to bicycle touring and daily commuting. Our goal is to educate and inspire youth to overcome obstacles. El Grupo uses the bicycle for positive development for at-risk youth that would not otherwise have healthy, skill-building, and goal-oriented activities in their lives.
While we are currently the #1 Junior Development Team in Arizona, we are also developing the next generation of active, health-conscious, community-minded cycling enthusiasts in Tucson and Pima County.
No special skills or gear are required. The lack of cycling gear should not be a deterrent, as we have access to free or low-cost bicycles, helmets, lights, etc.
What do you I do for the biking community in Tucson?
I do everything I can to be knowledgeable about what is happening with the community and sharing the message. On most every ride I take photos and post them to Facebook. I have 69 albums and over 5000 photos. People seem to really like images of themselves while riding. If you are not my friend, please ask and see if I have a photo of you. I attend the Bike Advisory meetings every month at Himmel Park Library. This is a great chance to see what is coming and what issues the community is facing. I am on the Bike Patrol at Sabino Canyon. I do bike patrol because I love riding in the canyon and riding in the canyon is a privilege, not a right. The Ranger has the discretion to decide to shut down the canyon to all bike. The current Ranger, Stan Helin, is bike friendly and even considering opening it up more hours and more days. However, if a bike collides with a walker it is possible we could lose the privilege entirely. I REALLY don’t like to reprimand people for speeding, but I hope that by informing them of why the rules exist that we will continue to be allowed access. I also raise funds for charity through the rides I do."
What was the most painful moment as a result of riding a bike?
My brother Brad was giving me a ride on Mainstreet in Telluride. He leaned back and I fell off the saddle and I landed on the wheel. Instead of falling backwards, I was pulled forward. I’ll just say, I was so surprised when my wife became pregnant with Sam.
Who is my Biking hero?
The everyday rider. I like to see people getting into bicycling. I’ve seen people go from 300 plus pounds down to 175. The bike has the ability to transform a life. Anyone who chooses ride that path are a huge motivation and inspiration for me. Scott Mercier was my favorite pro. Mostly because we grew up on Oak Street and our families were very close. I think that until the past few years the only races I watched were when he was on the Olympic team in 1992.
What are the best products I have purchased for my bike?
For the money, arm warmers. Something so small really changed my comfort level while riding. On the bigger ticket side the Santa Cruz Tallboy. I’m was really not fast or great on the dirt, but this bike has changed my world. Chamois Buttr also gets my approval. With the buttr, I’ve never had issues. Without, lets just say I never want to ride without my chamois well lathered.
How many bikes do you have and what are they?
Not enough. My understanding is the perfect number of bikes is X + 1. X being the number of bikes you currently own. I have a Cannondale Six, Santa Cruz Tallboy, Sticka Bike (an old Giant converted to a single seed and covered in stickers), an 85% completed single speed custom built by La Suprema, A New Belgium Cruiser, an office bike, an old Cannondale out on loan and a tandem trek we borrowed from a friend.
What bikes do I want?
I don’t want any additional bikes, I NEED a TT bike, newer and lighter road bike, a Surly Puglsy and the last few parts for the La Suprema. I’m not going to temp myself with a road bike or TT at this time, but if you get so much satisfaction from my blog and want to take me shopping, I’m game. I’m 5’9 and my 40th bday was July 13th. I actually have gone out of my way to not test any bikes as I understand my weaknesses. The Tallboy was the first of many 29er’s I demoed and it took the fun out of riding my 36 pound tank of a GT I-Drive. The recognition that the bike really makes a huge difference is an expensive awareness. I’d rather ride in bliss on my existing fleet.
What tips do I have to be able to ride everyday?
Ha, check back here daily. I might have some great ones. Always keep your bike ready to ride. Have the appropriate clothing laid out in advance. I do a body check and go from my head down. Helmet, glasses, music, jersey, arm warmers, vest/jacket/ rainrear, bib, leg warmers, socks, shoes, shoe covers, road ID, water, nutrition, lights charged, check tires, tire pressure. Do routine maintenance. Be ready for the unexpected. So far, in 20 days, I’ve had 7 flats. I ride with extra tubes and a pump and a patch kit. Some days, the world conspires against you and you need to switch out bikes.
The previous paragraph was written in May of 2012. Today is December 7th. I am 218 days into my year long goal and have not missed a day yet. I've had some incredible experiences, rode with many friends and family, a a much better on my skills, have done the shootout, hired a coach, Jason Tollus, with Carmichael Training Systems, had the flu, biked in Colorado, New York, New Mexico and California. I'm as much in love with the bike today as I was when I started this, but definitely question this goal on occasion. The greatest challenge is when work days run long and I get hom at 9 at night and still need to ride. I'd be lying if I did not say I have had some pain. I've crashed 3 times, all on the Mountain Bike. I had a few weeks of riding with more pain than I would like, but who,likes any pain.
What questions do you have for me?
What would you like to see me write about?
Who do you know who wants to go on a real estate bike tour, so I can tell Janna it is a real estate appointment! Please;-)
I look forward to hearing from you.