Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June 3 (Day 154) - Moving towards Flagstaff and higher elevations, biking mentality

Today I moved 44 miles north on Interstate 17 from Black Canyon to Camp Verde en route to Flagstaff. These miles included a moderately challenging 3,800 vertical feet of climbing. For the record, this is the gross amount of climbing that I did today; It is not the net change in elevation. For the next few weeks, when I throw out an elevation change it will be this gross number that refers to the total amount of vertical distance gained during the day. You can see all this graphically in the elevation profile box on the left hand side of the map below. I will be attaching these to the maps for the next few months so you can see exactly what my rides look like.

Today's ride was designed to set me up for a Gray vireo search tomorrow morning. There is a decent spot for this species about 12 miles north of Camp Verde. I did not bird this area today as I would have had to bird the area in the middle of the day and then either climb another 4,000 feet to Flagstaff or backtrack the 12 miles south to Camp Verde for the night. I decided it would be best to hit the vireo spot at the crack of dawn tomorrow. Its a bit of a bummer to only cover 44 miles in a day, but after I get through Flagstaff I am going to be putting up 80-100 miles a day for 3-4 consecutive days. I should enjoy these shorter days while I can.

One thing on which I have not yet fully touched is my choice of the bicycle. The obvious environmental considerations aside, I really like the physical and mental challenge of biking long miles day after day. As a former distance runner, I am very familiar with the demands that endurance sports present. In order to be successful in sports like running, swimming, and cycling a person must actually enjoy being miserable for long stretches at a time. One thing that helps me fight through particularly adverse stretches is the knowledge that I have put myself in the particular position; No one has forced me into it. I must actually like the adversity since I am here under my own volition. In many respects, it as though I am putting myself through a hazing routine. I may at times complain about wind, hills, and other challenges, but at the end of it all I realize that these obstacles are simply opportunities to push myself and build my character. In a world where technological and mechanical advances make so many aspects of life physically easier, I am exceptionally proud to say that I have bucked this trend in favor of rolling "old skool" on my bike.  

OK, the Kings play the Rangers in the Stanley Cup Finals starting tomorrow night. In preparation for this, I'll post a photo of Sonia and me with The Cup. It came to visit MGH (where I worked in Boston) when the Bruins won it in 2011. Sonia rubbed for good luck that day, and the Kings won it the following season. I hope this picture brings them luck tomorrow!

The hardware

Here we are on the Kings TV broadcast in LA.
The TV folks found us in the crowd at a game in New Jersey.

I will be equally excited as I am in the above photos if I can find the Gray vireo tomorrow! I am also starting to think that Sonia and I should just travel around, do funny stuff, and blog about it for a living. People do less and make ends meet (Congress, e.g.)


  1. Loving these last couple of posts! Now that the SE AZ bird twitching madness is over and B4B is back on the road, here are some requests for possible topics in the coming days. Typical food and water intake for a day in terms of where you get it, what it is, how many calories; weight gain or loss/other body changes you've noticed so far this year. People you're meeting and local conservation initiatives (or local environmental issues). The flat tire count keeps ticking upward -- are there any decent stories with that or has it become run-of-the-mill now? Any close calls in terms of safety? How is the bike holding up. Scenery photos; common birds being encountered during rides; video of you going hella fast down a mountain. In general are you feeling worn down or do you still have similar energy level you had back in January? Are you keeping field notes on everything you see when you go birding, or are you just ticking the target species? Okay, that's probably enough for now!

  2. If you miss gray vireo near Camp Verde, you are guaranteed to find then near Flagstaff. Just head a few miles east of town on I-40. Once you come down out of the ponderosa pines and past most of the pinyon pines, there are miles of juniper savannas. Gray vireos nest up there in big numbers. It's a good area for pinyon jays, too.

    If you don't want to take I-40, you can take 89 a few miles north from town and then take Townsend Winona Road to the east. Cross back over I-40 and head south into the forest service roads. If you are hearing plumbeous vireos, you're probably too high up.

  3. Well, I'll pile on to Anonymous's list of suggested topics. As a cyclist, I'm interested in the mechanics of birding by bike, ie. how to you store and access bino's and camera while on the bike, how often do you dismount to track down a bird as opposed to trying to ride to a new position(I assume your choice of riding shoe may influence this), and how do different birds react to you on a bike as opposed to being in a vehicle, etc. My personal experience is that birds are wary of the human body no matter how it's presented.
    Keep up the good work!

    The Feral Cyclist