Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Salt River Century - Brevet Training

What: 101 miles...favorite local ride
Where: Salt River Area near Saguaro Lake
When: March 12, 2011
Who: Solo
Description: Needed to get in a long training ride for the upcoming 600km Tombstone Brevet March 19...decided to get up real early, gear up, and get a good long ride in.

Following the 400km Arivaca Brevet, I felt the need to ensure I kept training...and got in a hard ride or 2 prior to the final in the Series...the Tombstone 600km (380 miles.) There are some people that talk negatively about East Mesa...but most of them aren't cyclists :) We have some great rides that are all accessible from my front door. This is another one of my favorites...typically I have 3-4 local rides that I do on a regular basis, this is a combination of all of them.

101 Miles...combining "Usery Loop," Bush Hwy and B-Line Hwy, Ellsworth Road to the Mesa Gateway Airport, and "Tour de Smell (Apache Junction loop.) "

My fastest century so far...ride time under 6 and 1/2 hours...about 45 minutes of stops...always surprises me when I see how much time I spend on breaks...never seems that long when I am out riding.

Definitely some climbing on this ride...out to Bush Hwy and then a few miles on the B-Line...about double Usery and some quite a bit steeper.

Once again I underestimated how cold it could get down by the Salt River...I left my house at 4:45am and temp was 58...2 hours later it was 37 degrees...definitely could have dressed warmer :)

Quiet mornings, lonely roads, AZ sunrise, small breeze...reminds me why I love cycling!!

Cruising along early in the morning...bento box with food, Garmin, aero bars...this setup is superb for my long rides.

Crossing the bridge near a popular fishing/tubing area along bush hwy...

Bull Dog cliffs along the Salt River...this is the turnaround/parking area used by the Salt River Tubers during the summer. Good little stop with restrooms.

Google Earth of the Parking Area.

Much better picture of the Bulldog's pulled off the web...I have watched base jumpers launch of these before...very cool.

Passing by Saguaro Lake...some really steep but short climbs right here...

More of Saguaro Lake

Looking back down Bush Highway from the intersection of B-Line Hwy. I had forgotten how much climbing it took to make it out to this point...definitely worked hard and was feeling it. Took some time to change lenses on my sunglasses, eat some food, and turn on Pandora...some Techno to set the Tempo for the next couple of hours...yes, the iPhone and 3G worked great out here...very surprising.

Heading towards Payson on the Bline Hwy...huge pull off that is nice to ride on. Have to keep a close eye out for glass and areas where cars have "burned"... makes for some weird pot holes and places for debris to collect.

Desert is starting to bloom...lots of grass and some spots with wild flowers.

Heading out further on the Bline...this hill is about 2-3 miles of 5-6% grade...good fun on the way down. Seem to be hitting 40+ mph on just about every ride now :)

Almost to my 50 mile turnaround spot...this is a wash beside the road...I believe it is Sycamore Creek.

Not a very romantic area to enjoy an apple and some coconut milk...turned around here...mile 50.

Beautiful views of 4 peaks all along Bush and BLine Hwy's...Have hiked/climbed it a few times but need to do the "Traverse." All 4 peaks in a day...about 3 miles of Scrambling...

Yes, everything came out ok :) Bathroom pit stop at Salt river tubing area on the route back home.

Getting a little sun...added a new light to my helmet...very handy for reading directions at night or clipping into pedals when it is really dark.

Blurry picture of Red Mountain North of the Salt River. Definitely a prominent feature on the ride...gorgeous red rock...best view is at the bottom of Power road as it turns West and becomes Bush Hwy.

Summary: Great solo ride with good views and some decent climbs. I felt really strong on this one and have really noticed the changes in my legs from the Brevet's. Felt good all day and pretty much fully recovered in 2-3 days. I have hit 1200+ miles of riding since January 1st...a record for me and I can really feel the difference with all that saddle time. Looking forward to completing the AZ Brevet Series and "officially" qualifying for the Paris Breast Paris. Definitely praying for good weather and safety this weekend for the 600km! ...then, Whats Next?

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 corners...lol.

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 dark...as promised by Susan...we had a killer tail wind. Match that with 1-3% descent and we were flying! 30+ mph for quite some time...got 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 Junction...wow...best 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 it...you 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!