Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tombstone 600 April 26-27, 2008

A few lessons learned!

My plan for this year's 600 was to ride straight through and skip the sleep stop in Elgin. So to make sure I wasn't up too late the night before the ride, for the first time ever, I had all my gear organized and staged Thursday night. All I needed to do as pack up the Suburban Friday night and I set my alarm and was in the sack at 9:00 pm, a new bedtime record before a brevet.

Early Friday morning I rolled over and looked at the clock: 4:19am. DOH! The alarm didn't go off, so I jump out of bed, grab my clothes, brew a coffee and I am out the door at 4:28. With 45 miles to go and a start time of 5:00 am, I know I will be late. With my gear in the front seat and the Sub on cruise control I gear up on the way to Casa Grande.

Lesson One: Pack every thing two nights before and be ready to go!

Lesson Two: Double check and back-up the alarm. I found out from Debby that I set it for 4:40 not 3:40 as I had planned (she was not too happy about getting her wake-up at 4:40!)

I called Susan (our Brevet Administrator) at 4:45 and told her I would be late. She said she would wait for me at the start and reminded me not to speed (I saw two highway patrol and one sheriff vehicles on the way!).

I arrived fully clothed (gloves, helmet, glasses) at 5:08, pulled my bike out of the back, gave Susan my drop bag, picked up my card and I was out of there at 5:11.

I caught the Utah contingent outside of Casa Grande and by the time we hit Eloy, everyone except Mike Sturgill and Craig Long were in the group. The headwinds picked up and Rodger Smith did a great job getting us organized into a double pace line that we held together (more or less) from Picacho to Marana.

The road tilted up and the wind eased and the group shattered. Somewhere along this section I lost my cue sheet, but the morning was spectacular and I made great time and hit the checkpoint at I-19 at 11:40am. Mike and Craig were just finishing lunch, I topped off my bottles and we headed off together into a stiff headwind. Turning east on Sahaurita road, the wind became a strong cross and our little group broke up. I would see Mike and Craig off and on throughout the remainder of the ride.

At the Houghton Road mini-mart I topped off my bottles and headed toward Sonoita. On the long climb, I ran out of water, and due to the heat became dehydrated. I figured two large water bottles would be plenty, but I really needed three. I hate wearing a Camelback on the bike, and I knew this would be the longest section without water on the ride. I wished I had bought an extra water bottle at the mini-mart and stuck it in my jersey pocket.

Lesson Three: Buy an extra water bottle for remote sections.

Arriving in Sonoita, only 9 miles from the checkpoint, I stopped at the mini-mart and bought water and a Coke and tried to recover. I lingered for a while and headed to Elgin, where Susan, Mike and Craig were wondering if I had taken a wrong turn. I hadn't, but I must of spent more time in Sonoita that I had thought. I ate a little, changed clothes and headed out for Tombstone. Along the way, I had a nice tail wind, but suffered from the dehydration and a sour stomach. What little food I had in Elgin ended up on the road to Tombstone!

I arrived at the checkpoint Tombstone just before 7 pm. I downed a large Sobe drink (always works when I get sick or dehydrated) and headed out. I pounded down another Sobe at the Mustang Corner store half-way back to Elgin. The had sun set and I started to feel better. I arrived back in Elgin just before 10 pm.

I declined Susan's offer of dinner and opted for a can of beans I had in my drop bag instead. I changed into dry clothes again and left Elgin just before 11 feeling much better that when I had arrived there 7 hours before.

It usually gets very cold around Elgin and this year was no exception. I really didn't get warmed up until I reached Sahaurita road at the bottom of the hill. I reloaded my water bottles at the secret location provided by Susan. I also checked my stashed water at the Houghton road market and it was there.

I reached the I-19 at about 2am. If there had been a Motel there, I would have checked in. There is a new 24 hour Shell station there, so I asked where the nearest motel was. Since it would have been 10 miles off route (5 each way), I decided to take a short break in front of the store. I headed out some 10 minutes later and I could see Mike Sturgil's tail light going up Helmet Peak Road several miles in front of me. I came upon Mike quite suddenly as he had stopped on Mission to work on his lights. We rode together through the night and all the way to Marana.

Mike was ready to 'get this ride over with' while I really needed some breakfast, so he left while I finished my Circle K Breakfast Sandwich and chocolate milk. I left Marana about 7 dreading the building headwinds. About a mile or two later I reached down for my water bottles. DOH DOH DOH! I left them on the counter at the Circle K. I returned the Circle K, retrieved my bottles and headed out again. As I was leaving I considered putting on sun screen, but decided since I would finish at about 10am I wouldn't need it.

Lesson Four: You make mental mistakes when you stay up all night.

I wasted 20 minutes and got a nice sunburn because of my two little mental mistakes in Marana.

The last 45 miles of the Casa Grande brevets are flat, but always seem to be into a headwind. This ride was no exception. Arriving in Casa Grande I was fighting a stiff crossing headwind and dodging flying debris. I arrived at the finish line just before 10am, very happy to have that section behind me and this ride in the bag.

This was the first time I arrived at the finish before our brevet administrator. So I completed my card, dropped it in the designated spot, and headed for home fighting Mr. Sandman the whole way!

I completed the ride within the time goal I had set and learned some valuable lessons.

Steve Atkins