Interviewer = You, whoever you are
Interviewee = Me, the Author
You: What’s occurring/happening/going on then?
Me: I’ve recently bought a 2007 Cannondale Prophet mountain bike for $300 on Craigslist in Phoenix, Arizona.
You: WTF! Isn’t that a long way from home? On a different continent even? How the hell etc……?
Me: Yes, and yes. However, as our son and his wife live there, and we visit them occasionally, it’s actually cheaper to buy something to ride rather than rent a bike. It will also be there for every visit, and our son can use it as well. Logical?
You: I thought I was asking the questions. Anyway, what’s it like? Was it a good buy?
Me: It’s always a risk buying blind, but this one turned out to be as good as it looked in the photos, luckily. When we arrived in Phoenix for a holiday recently and I saw it for the first time, I was pleased with the purchase.
You: Where you able to just jump on it and ride?
Me: Technically, yes. However, on a first ride out, it soon revealed the need for a new bottom bracket as it was worn.
You: So, what did you do?
Me: I went to the LBS (local bike shop) and they fitted one for me. I also managed to secure their last 2 pairs of brake pads that they had in stock for this bike, as the back brake pads were close to needing replacing. The other pair are in the spares box. I like having spares.
You: Lucky buy then. What’s the riding like out there in Arizona? A bit desert-y isn’t it?
Me: Desert style it certainly is and not something I’ve ever ridden before. Firstly, I can ride from the house straight into desert. Secondly, the texture of the granite rocks provides the most grip I’ve ever ridden on before. The bike had been fitted with new tyres and I found myself dodging cactus and riding up climbs I wouldn’t have thought possible.
You: Is it all rock riding?
Me: No. In between the rocks is a sandy base. What’s weird about riding on this glassy sand is that it sounds like you’ve got a puncture and air is escaping from the tyre. The sand makes this ‘escaping air’ noise as it is pressed against itself by the wheel. It was a bit disconcerting at first and I did stop once to check if I had actually punctured 10 minutes into the ride.
You: Sounds good. Any other interesting geological facts?
Me: Not really. But the positives associated with great granite traction can be turned upside down if you fall off and land on it. It takes skin off any part of the body unlucky enough to hit it. It’s gravel rash city! I took the skin off one knee in a slow motion crash. The bike was fine though…..However, in a second low speed ‘step-off’, I smashed the rear derailleur and it’s frame mount (see pic below), so after a quick Amazon order, I replaced both. In all my years of riding, I’ve never broken either of these two parts on a bike, so it is testament to how destructive these rocks can be.
You: Wasn’t the weather too hot to cycle in?
Me: Even in November, the temperature was hitting 30C or 70F in the afternoon, but morning rides were perfect.
You: As you were on holiday, what music were you listening to? Anything local to Arizona?
Me: Good question. The album I had on repeat was ‘Cos I luv you’ by Lizzo. It’s ace. It also has a very striking album cover, which is a picture of Lizzo sitting on the floor naked and with a specially made (apparently), 4 foot long wig flowing down her back. Like I said, very striking. Apart from that and listening to local buskers (see pic below) in Phoenix, nothing local to Arizona.
You: I notice that the bike has a Cannondale Lefty fork. What’s it ride like then?
Me: Brilliant! I was really impressed with both front and rear suspension. Whilst it hasn’t got masses of travel, it’ll ride up and down things more than you’d think. It’s a really comfortable bike ride. Another bike that Cannondale got right first time. It also has a SRAM groupset, which I haven’t had on a bike before and it changes gear and works perfectly.
You: Are the trails quiet or busy with people etc?
Me: The Phoenix South Mountains where I rode the most can be busy with people and horses. It depends what day and time you go. Whilst riding up a hill one day, about 5 other riders were coming down hill and the front rider had a little cowbell attached to his handlebars so everyone knew they were coming. It seemed effective and sounded good too. The people I met up there were an interesting bunch from the skinny mountain-goat-runners to the dog walkers, to those on the larger human being size, who were clearly trying to shift some weight off. The dog walkers were well geared up with special non-spill water containers and regularly stopped to play bar-man/bar-woman to their canine companions.
You: Did you crash into any cactus?
Me: Errrrrr, no. However, the number of different cactus varieties out there is both impressive and interesting. I did expect to get an errant cactus spike in the tyre, but all was good.
You: Whilst I’m interested to hear about the bike related stuff, what else did you do on holiday there?
Me: The big life opportunity was to walk down 6000 feet/2000 metres from the South rim of the Grand Canyon with my wife and son, stay overnight at the Phantom Ranch by the Colorado river in the bottom and then walk back up the following day. It was a round trip of 31 miles/50 kilometres in total. Whilst we had clear blue skies, the temperature at the top of the rim on day 1 for a 7am start was -12C/10F and with a bloody strong wind. It was warmer in the bottom Of the canyon and day 2 was a lot warmer, fortunately. We were all a bit achy on hitting the top again on day 2 and we celebrated together with a glass of fizz and some good carbohydrate, Parmesan fries.
You: What was the weirdest road sign you saw out there?
You: Every different country has different ways of saying the same thing regarding road signs doesn’t it? So what did you see that was different to Europe?
Me: Weird question, but since you asked, it was this one below which was on the road to the worlds most intact meteor crater, in the Arizona desert.
You: Will you leave the Cannondale forever in its home country or bring it back to Europe at some point?
Me: Dunno. We’ll see.
You: What did you read whilst you were on holiday?
Me: Nothing particularly hyper-literary. I ordered some back editions of Dice Magazine, which is a small boutique-zine devoted to motorcycle choppers. I like the creativity that people apply to custom motorcycles. The characters and bikes in the pictures are interesting and colourful. It’s a good way to switch off from the day job.
You: Is the Cannondale for sale?…..
Me: Everything is for sale for the right price isn’t it?
You: I guess so. Thanks for the interview.
All photos by the Author