Wednesday, March 2, 2011

400km - Arivaca Epic Brevet

What: 400km Arivaca Brevet "Titanic"
Where: Casa Grande Arizona - Arivaca Loop
When: Feb 26, 2011
Description: 257 mile Brevet Arizona...Susan, Brevet administrator Extraordinaire was asked "How do you do it?"meaning, "how do I always manage to schedule the Arivaca brevet during a perfect storm of sand, wind, rain, and snow...I obviously have a talent for it; if only it were useful."

45 Cyclists signed up for this ride, 7 didn't show, 12 didn't finish, 10 pre-rode the course the week before, and 16 finished this crazy day (could have mis-calculated this.) Everyone suffered on this ride...some of us were able to pull it off for a lonely cold wet celebration at the Round Trip Bike shop. This ride tested me thoroughly... more than a physical challenge, but mental and spiritually. I think some times when you put yourself out there like this, dreaming big and riding out past the nervousness and fear, you really have some time to see who you really are. I have been really impressed with the quality of human beings out here on these rides...the challenge can be extremely tough...some make it and some don't...but are better for having tried I think.

Man this is a long ride :) Once again, the longest I have gone on a bike ever...257 miles in 21 hours 45 minutes

 Overall Ride Stats...17 hours riding, 4 hours of stoppage...45 minutes helping a fellow rider get an ambulance!

 Elevation Profile and speed over time...notice at about hour 11...nothing like a -2% grade and a 30 mph tail wind!!!!

Crazy temperature changes on this ride...had to be ready for aprox. 80 degrees down to nearly freezing with wind and rain...skimping on gear for this ride could put you in serious trouble.

 Mike booked a room at Motel 8 to save us an hour of travel before the ride began at 5am. Up at 4am and ready to roll.

Yes, I brought my own toaster :) Mike lauged at me for this one...but 2 pieces of wheat toast with peanut butter and honey are mandatory to start an Epic ride like this one...just can't cut

We started off with much smaller numbers than the previous 2 brevets. The weather forecast for this weekend had been all over the map...predictions changing by the hour it seemed. Borrowing a "neck warmer" from Mike and Loree strongly encouraging me to bring my gortex rain shell made the difference in actually finishing this ride...I have no doubt!

Mike and I road with the main group to approximately Picacho Peak area...then dropped off and settled into my "go all day" pace. We made great time up to that point and a little before 8am we were in Marana. The glorious I-10 frontage road and a 10-15 mph head wind had me complaining a bit. I mentioned to Mike Sturgill (brevet legend :) assisting at the check points...that the wind was a bit annoying...he answered me saying "you think this is wind? this ain't wind." If this ride were a movie...the lightening and thunder would have sounded with premonition... 

Plowed fields heading out of Marana...wind is beginning to pick up. (This pic pulled from the web.)

Once again we make the climb through Saguaro regional park...pull through the rollers (one with a short 17% grade...phreaking steep)

Cool picture of S. Kinney road heading out of South Tucson...

Topolino's and Toilet Paper? Mike was generous enough to point it out after a bathroom break...could have ridden with this on my heel for quite a few miles...good times!

A stop along a tough stretch on Mission Road..."real wind" is now hitting us hard 20-35+ mph...match that with a slight 1-3% grade sustained climbing and it got tough mentally/physically for me. 

 Gorgeous Southern AZ...yes, there are prettier places on this planet..

 Coming up on the Gigantic open Pit Mines

SAN Xavier Mission...gorgeous Catholic mission in the middle of no where...really!

Finally made it into Green Valley at about 105 miles of riding. We took almost an hour here to have a breakfast omelet, hash browns, and a bowl of fruit. It is crazy how great food tastes after 100 miles of riding.

 Turning onto Arivaca road...the wind is now reached "ludicrous" speed...stupid! If I wouldn't have had an omelet recently...might have tried this place for a steak...strange.

 Arivaca road...Mike must have seen I was struggling here...becoming a long day and really wanting to make it to the Arivaca checkpoint! He must have lied to be 10 times about "this is the last hill"...we are just around this corner and we have it...uh huh Mike...I use that on my kids too :) Glad I had a good buddy to ride with! Would have been much slower and more crazy solo. I must have repeated a quote I had heard somewhere a hundred times..."It Never Always Gets Harder." There are low points and high points to every ride...on these it seems to happen multiple times...just got to push through the low ones...a better one is on the way.

 Ahhhhh....Arivaca stop...cookies, turkey wraps, soda's, and chips! Thanks for being out here Sturgill!!!

 Great time for a stop.

Leaving the stop in Arivaca, we had 12 miles of rollers with a side/tail wind. Wasn't as bad as I had expected...or maybe it was the crazy head wind most of the day that made this seem like a piece o cake!

Great views of Baboquivari Peak along this small stretch...looks like a great rock climb...another box to check on the life list!

Making the turn onto SR-286 just as it was getting promised by Susan...we had a killer tail wind. Match that with 1-3% descent and we were flying! 30+ mph for quite some dark on us at this point and was glad to have Mike's generator hub light blazing the way.

 Only traffic on this road were AZ border Patrol...guess it is a hot spot for illegals coming across the border.

 Stopped for 30/40 minutes at 3 Points Robles Campbell's Chicken and Stars I have ever had...mmmmm mmmmm gooood!!!

At this point, the stars a gorgeous...can't really see any clouds and the wind really pushes us up into Saguaro Park and down into Marana. We stop for more soup and food...then off to the great old Frontage Road back to Eloy. This road really tries your mind...if you done understand!

Finally pull into Eloy and am really needing a break. I can see the stars are gone but there is no rain. We take our time recovering and getting some hydration and food in us...then as we are about to head out the rain hits! It is 37 degrees and is making for a punishing 17 miles back to the finish in Casa Grande. We get out our warmer gear and rain jacket...then make several attempts at getting out of the Circle K before we actually make it.

 At this point, I know that we are going to make it...but start to really worry about others who might not have been as prepared. I said several prayers asking God to keep us all safe out there and get us safely through this. At about the finish of one of these I looked over to see a blinking red bike light and a rider waving his arms near a closed down hotel...I then hear him yelling for help. I signal to Mike and we turned around and headed over to see what we could do. The situation ended up being much more serious than I had thought. As we pulled up to him, he literally could not control his body and collapsed on a bench under a small roof. He had made a wrong turn before Eloy, didn't have warm enough clothes and no cell phone...he was in seriously bad condition! This poor guy was into the late stages of hypothermia, shivering un-controllably and unable to communicate. We made several calls and got an ambulance on the way. Mike had a space blanket and we wrapped him up with that...we both sat on both sides of him trying to hold him and warm him up. The Casa Grande ambulance took their sweet time...taking over 30 minutes to finally arrive...luckily I had a friend that had come out to meet us at the finish. I was able to call him and we loaded our rider into the car and got the heater going good. Once the ambulance arrived and took over, we headed out to finish the last 5 miles.

Another Brevet lesson learned...these rides can kill you if you are not well prepared and the conditions are right...another prayer thanking God that we came across him at the exact right moment and were able to find and help him.

 Ambulance has taken our friend to the hospital...reporting that his body temp was 93 and dehydration/protiens in his blood were shutting down his kidneys. I got a call from him Monday morning that he was doing well and will live to ride another day!!!

 Signing our Brevet Cards at the Round Trip Bike Shop! 257 miles completed...Epic Conditions...Great Times!!!

IHOP at 3:30am...definitely had no problem getting all this down! Wasn't quite a "Big Boy Country Breakfast" at Cracker Barrel...but it did the job. Back to Mesa by 5:00am, dropped off Mike, made it home, took a shower and in bed by 6am...ouch.

Ride Summary: Despite Epic Conditions...warranting the label of a "cursed" ride and a possible renaming to the "Titanic" 400km...I did have a good time. Pushed my limits further than I ever have, tested my determination/dedication/preparedness...etc.etc...Had a definite adventure with a good friend! Good Times!!!

3 weeks till the Tombstone 600km!


  1. great post lenny! i enjoyed all your great memories of this EPIC adventure! I am so proud of you! you are are my cycling hero! i love you

  2. The hardest ride of the series is now behind you! With the sleep stop, the 600k isn't has hard as the 400k even with similar conditions. 2005 was about the worst weather I've encountered on this 600k (see, but as long as you get a bit of rest, it's all good. :)

  3. I can hardly wrap my brain around what you did. This is crazy and amazing! Congrats. And how blessed that guy was. You literally saved someones life. WOW

  4. Sounds like you had a good go of it. On the 600k, mission road will seem like nothing to you you now that you have climbed it with massive headwinds. I did the 600k after the 2005 400k "epic" and mission road just didn't have the same punch to it without the 30 mph headwinds. Of course, next time you ride from Arivaca to Three Points it will seem like it takes forever since that stretch normally has headwinds. Congratulations on an epic finish.

  5. Wow, congrats on a great ride and rescue.

    I maintain a list of 'mostly rando' blogs written by RUSA members at If you would like me to add your blog to the list, please post a comment there.


  6. Nice job, thankfully someone noticed the ride in distress and was able to help out. I wish I could get myself to carry and use a camera on these rides.