Sunday, April 10, 2011

375 Miles - 600km Tombstone Brevet

What: 600km Tombstone Brevet
Where: Casa Grande to Tombstone & Back
When: March 19 & 20
Who: Mike Enfield and I
Description: ...beyond description? But I will try :)

It has been 3 weeks since I finished the this final Brevet in the series of 4...200km, 300km, 400km, and 600km. It was a great ride and adventure, pushed me way past any limits I believed I had, and probably the toughest thing physically I have ever done. It is a strange feeling to have completed these rides...I have thought about this for several years, had countless hours of workouts, cycling, planning, and thinking of these epic rides...and now I have finished them. It is great to have an adventure/challenge on the drives me, keeps life exciting/butterfies, and keeps other things in perspective. This has been a great experience and one that I am not sure I will do again...but the further it gets behind me, the more I think I may?

** I must give serious Credit to my "blood brother" Mike Enfield. We have now been on some serious adventures together, shed some blood/pain, and had some great times! Without him leading me through these, navigating, and sharing with me all the details of what it takes to make it though...I seriously doubt I could have done it. Thanks Mike!!

 Yes, a total of 932 miles worth of self supported riding around Southern Arizona and I can now purchase the 4 medals and a schweet jersey! I have officially qualified now to ride the "oldest cycling event in history"...the Paris Brest Paris 1200km in August. I didn't start this series with that as a goal in mind and dont think I will be doing it. It is only held every 4 years though...and you must qualify the year of the event...

Casa Grande Arizona to Tombstone and back...on a

 Elevation Profile for the ride...was approximately 12+ feet of gain over the ride. Not bad at all for a ride this long...but some of those climbs were tougher than any I have ever done.

Ride wasn't pretty, but we got it done!

Last minute instructions from Susan Plonsky regarding the ride...then it is off into the morning darkness.

We got slightly off track for the 600km Tombstone Brevet, leaving our hotel in Eloy a bit late. We got to bed close to midnight and it really felt like I had just closed my eyes before the alarm was waking me up at 4am. We did make it to the start with about 5-10 minutes to checked in, got our Brevet cards and were ready to roll. The Temperature was about  53 degrees at 5am in Casa Grande so I decided to skip the arm and leg warmers. Once again, I underestimate how much the temperature can change in the desert...about 10-15 miles into the ride it was in the low 40's and once again I am freezing :)

 Yes...from 30 degrees at night to nearly 100 on Sunday afternoon.

About 10 minutes into the ride just outside of the city, I finish a little prayer on my bike asking God to watch over us for the next 2 days on the road. I look down and I have no water bottles! I think what in the world? Why would someone steal my bottles? What is going on? ...turns out in the rush out of the hotel, I forgot to grab them from the fridge in the Eloy! Luckily it was only about 1 mile out of the way on the route. We were able to swing by, pick them up and get back on the road. It did suck to loose the main group and I am sure we probably lost 30 minutes because of it...but, this ended up being a 38 hour ride...not to terrible I guess. Another Brevet lesson learned.

Organized the food and supplies for the ride...I try to stay so organized for these events...still can't believe I left my water bottles!

We made it to Marana in great time despite a bit of a head wind and phreaking cold temps...we caught up with quite a few riders there. Pounded down an Egg Salad sandwich, Coconut Milk, and Carrot cake...back on the road.

One of the climbs near Saguaro Park.

Saguaro Park was beautiful as usual and I was feeling really strong. We made it through the hills and rollers there in good time and were turning on Mission road before I knew it. This road about killed me last time...gave me serious doubts with the 2-3% grade for miles and a 20-30 mph head wind...this time, there was very little wind and we pushed right through it. We were in Green Valley (100+ miles) about 7 hours from the start. We stopped at "Tirvetti's" italian restaurant for lunch. They were really friendly and even let us bring out bikes in to keep them safe. Cleaned up a bit and had a great sit down lunch of lasagna, soup, and cake. took about 45 minutes to get our check completed and back out the door :( We burned probably an hour and 1/2 there...not good for a lunch stop.

Green Valley not looking so green...but still a beautiful little town.

Road to Sonoita

Following the lunch stop, we headed out of Green Valley and on to Sonoita. About 15-20 miles out of town on a long slight climb with rollers, Mike says to take a look behind me. There is Helmet peak off in the distance...shimmering in the heat...looking really long. He said that it is a bit intimidating to see it coming for nearly 20-25 miles after you have practically 280 miles in your legs...foreshadowing...

Yes, this climbed kicked by butt in the extreme...was about 15 miles of climbing with a Grade randomly moving between 3% and 10% at times....definitely harder than any trianing rides I have done. Especially after having put so many miles in prior to it :) I was definitely hurting a bit here! "IT NEVER ALWAYS GETS HARDER! I find that it really is true...and probably convinced myself of it after repeating it 300 times.

A look at part of the climb leading up through the hills to Sonoita.

Grasslands...crested the climb to Sonoita and now heading down into town.

One more climb prior to making it into town...not too bad.

 The Sonoita Inn...we have a room reserved here for a shower and a quick nap on the way back. Would be so great just to check in right now...but we push on to Elign, then the turn around in Tucson...about a 80+ mile round trip.

Elign Arizona...population 10? Susan had a great stop set up here. Cheese sandwiches, soup, cookies and other good stuff. Once again, a Diet Coke with Lime? Man those are good. 

We left Elign pretty quickly and were ready to get the 70 mile roundtrip to Tombstone done. It was now getting dark but we had a slight tailwind and before we knew it we made the right hand turn onto AZ83. It was a pretty fast descent with a few rollers on our way into Tombstone. At this point we did see the lead group heading back to Elign finally...they were probably 3-4 hours ahead of us. It was a little hard to think that they would be done that much sooner than us...but we weren't trying to set any records...just out there to finish all 375 miles and beat the cutoff time of 40 hours.

Sunset heading into Tombstone...was a gorgeous night!

Ahh...scenic Circle K in Tombstone...this was the extent of my first visit to the famous town. Of course, it was dark and getting late...I stole this picture from google maps.

At this point, the temperature had dropped significantly. After riding since 5am, my brain stops firing on all 3 cylinders I think. After eating some warm soup, strawberry milk, snickers bar etc etc...we headed back out into the cold and dark for our return to Elign. About 10 miles out of Tombstone I realize I had forgotten my riding glasses at the gas station! I immediately thought I am not riding back there...a decent little climb back into town and 20 extra miles...forget the glasses! A few minutes after that I stopped some on-coming riders and asked them to look for them...and pick them up if they could. Lucky for me, they were able to find them and get them turned in!!! I didn't get their names but I sure appreciate that!!!

The Super Moon!!! It was incredible! I heard reports that it was more visible than it has been for 18 years! We hardly needed lighting the moon was so bright and clear.

Another picture of it from somewhere on the web.

The temperature at this time continued to go the time we descended back into Elign it was in the high 20' that got cold. Once in the stop at Elign we really didn't eat anything...just got our cards signed and headed out for the last 10 miles to the Sonoita Inn...probably some of the longest/coldes miles I have ridden!

We checked into the hotel around 2:00am...they had food out on the table for us along with a little cupbard and refrigerator!!! Ahhh it was great...muffins, crackers, cheese, boiled eggs, juice!!!

Susan had dropped our overnight bags off at the hotel earlier in the day...was great to take a shower, put on clean clothes and get a few hours nap. Not sure when we actually got to bed but the alarm was set for 5:30am...ugghhh....The alarm did go off...but we stayed in bed another 30-40 minutes. Then put on new bike clothes and headed out.

I must say, I was feeling pretty sore and "not-mobile" ... butt was not enjoying getting back on the seat! But after a few miles things started feeling better. Because my sunglasses had not been returned yet, I figured I would take it easy on the huge descent out of Sonoita. After the first hundred yards I couldn't contain myself. I let it go and had a really fun time...despite 40+ mph and lots of tears streaming out of my eyes, Mike and I were making the turn to Green Valley at about the same time.

Heading back to Green Valley....Helmet Peak in the distance? Not sure on this picture.

We stopped at the RoadRunner gas station near Green Valley and had a really good breakfast burrito...eggs, bacon, onions, cheese, potatoes!!! As we approached Helmet peak a pretty good sidewind kicked up. Helmet peak is 2-3% grade for several miles and I was feeling drained but in pretty good shape. I stopped about 1/2 way up for a bio-break...when I got back on my bike and stood up to pedal I had a sharp pain under my left knee cap. It hurt bad enough that I could no longer stand and pedal at all.

Just after this Susan pulled along side us and delivered my sunglasses and refilled out water bottles. Perfect timing!

Alright...80 miles to go and I can't stand up to pedal. This makes it really difficult because I had to stay seated much more than I wanted to. It did get so bad for a while that I thought I may have to quit...but then, as soon as that thought started creeping in...many other thought's pushed it out :) I believed I wasn't doing any permanent damage to my knee so I figured even at my much slower pace I could still finish before the 40 hour cutoff. I gutted it out back to Marana and with 40 miles left my knee did recover quite a bit. We, once again, rode down the never ending, brain numbing, I-10 frontage road to Eloy...made one final stop for drinks and pushed hard into Casa Grande...We finished at 7:02pm, 38 hours after starting the previous day at 5am. Definitely the biggest physical challenge I have ever had and was a great adventure. I loved seeing all that country from my bike and accomplishing something that I have thought about for years. Good times with a good friend!

A picture from our 200km finish...for some reason we didn't really take any at this finish...just got our stuff, turned in our cards and headed to the Cracker Barrel for another Big Boy Country Breakfast!!!

Brevet Lesson's Learned?
- Coconut milk has lots of potassium and electrolytes...but is also a natural laxative :) Mike had to use his "emergency toilet paper" that he had been carrying for 6+ years of long distance riding...and there are not a lot of convenient places to have a "natural" break in Saguaro Park ... LOL.
- Water bottles are important to have when beginning a 380 mile ride! Double/Triple check you have everything before you start.
- Even though it is dark and you have clear lenses in your sunglasses...don't ever set them down...I didn't realize I had forgotten them for at least 10 miles... :(
- There is a battery in my heart rate monitor and cadence sensor :) They don't last forever :) Both died on my during this ride...should have replaced them.


  1. Great Post Babe! Wow! you did it! I think you are just amazing! What a good example you are to me about setting goals... BIG ONES too! and Attacking them. You really can do anything you set your mind to! I love you so much and admire your adventurous spirit... you rub off on me! Now it is time to make a new goal and attack... i may have to hold my breath to see 'WHAT's NEXT" for my Lenny! :)

  2. You are the MAN!!! That is so awesome!! You should do the Paris thing...who has that chance in a lifetime? I'd talk Nathan into going over there and cheering for you. Awesome post, great pictures. :)

  3. Great Work! I tripped over your blog a few weeks ago and have enjoyed it.

    Say what you will for New England weather; one thing it doesn't have is 65 degree temp swings. How do you pack for that?

  4. Thx Guys - I do love this stuff...talking Loree into going to Paris so I can ride my bike instead of Hawaii 15 year anniversary...not going to happen :)

    Jesse - I cary a trunk bag that holds arm/leg/toe warmers and a neck great...but still freeze below 30...and sweat it out at 100 :)

  5. Great write up. Takes me back to the first time I rode it. Nothing like those 5 or 6 miles of descent to Sonoita. I saw a herd of antelope near the top of the hill on my way back when I did that ride.

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