Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Camp Verde to Flagstaff City Limits (almost a Double)

Mt. Humphry from Lake Mary Road

Ride Report May 18. 2008

I was planning on riding a double century last Saturday. Deb 'suggested' that I do the ride on Sunday, since I am always 'not worth a crap' the day after a long ride. So Sunday it was. Since it is already in the triple digits here in the desert, it was off to the rim country for climbing and cooler climes. This is my last 'long' training ride before the Shenandoah 1200 in June. I mis-calculated the time to drive to Camp Verde(closer to 2 hours, not 1) and had to shorten the ride to 180 miles to be back home by 10:00 p.m. when my kitchen pass officially expired!

I have ridden this route many times, and this was by far the most enjoyable. The weather was perfect with a consistent cross-wind from the west that kept me cool most of the day. The sun was out all day and traffic was light. I would have liked to have made it all the way to downtown Flagstaff for a latte at the Late for the Train Coffee Shop, but due to the time I turned around just inside the city limits sign when my computer indicated 90 miles and 2 pm.

Camp Verde to Clint's Well

I set out from the Clear Creek RV resort just outside Camp Verde at 6:33 am for the long climb up to the rim. The first 23 miles or so are up AZ 230 to the AZ87 connection. Turn left and climb a couple of more miles to the 7450 elevation sign. From there, its 8 miles of descent on a narrow two-lane to Clint's Well. Traffic was light and the air was cool. I arrived at the Mustang Gas Station/Mini-mart at about 9:30 and enjoyed a turkey sandwich and Sobe Lizard Fuel.

Clint's Well to Mormon Lake Lodge and General Store

Most think it would be a steady climb toward Flagstaff, but actually the route descends for a few miles before starting the climb up to Happy Jack, about half-way to Mormon Lake. There are no services in Happy Jack, but there is a Forest Service office, with a hose bib in the back, where I have gotten water in the past. No need this trip, I was solid on water and dropped down to Mormon Lake. I arrived at 12:17 and chowed down on a Campbell's Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup. Cold out of the can (mucho grams of sodium) and muy tasty. Chased with another Sobe and I was on my way to Flagstaff.

Flagstaff City Limits

The ride from Mormon Lake to Flag was stunning. This has been a wet winter, and Mormon, Upper and Lower Lake Mary were all full. The road here is two-lane with an excellent shoulder. Lots of riders were out doing the loop from Flagstaff to Mormon Lake and back. At one point the cross-wind turned into a tail-wind on a downhill section and I was cruising easily at 40 mph! The shoulder disappears at the Flagstaff City limits sign and I turned around about 2 miles later when my computer indicated 90 miles at about 2:00 p.m.

Back to Mormon Lake

The ride back was excellent. Many boaters and fisherman were enjoying the lakes, and while the grass has not really greened up yet, the views were great. I made my way back to the Mormon Lake lodge. Since it was hot, I treated myself to an ice cream sandwich, can of Beanie Weenie, and another Sobe Lizard fuel. I left just before 4:00 pm.

Mormon Lake to Clint's Well

The climb out of Mormon Lake to Happy Jack went quickly and before I knew it, I was descending with outstanding views of the rim area. I rolled into Clint's Well at about 5:45 and purchased a tuna sandwich and large Coke from the fountain. I was craving a chocolate milk, but they were out. So Coke it was, stirring the straw like crazy to 'shake out' the carbonation. I sat outside for a few minutes at the store. They have two benches where I usually take a break. I met a guy who asked me about my ride. Turns out he runs a small construction company in Gilbert AZ and we talked construction accounting while I hammered down my sandwich and Coke. I was out of there at 6:09

Clint's Well to Camp Verde

I was dreading this portion of the ride. Sunday evening on a narrow two-lane highway. Well traffic was light, and the road surface is improved from last year. So that while the space outside the fog line was only inches, it was smooth. I hammered up to the 7450 sign and then started the descent. It is a rolling descent until you hit the safety pullout about 12 miles from the end of the ride. Then its a 6 percent grade from there with one 'false flat' about halfway down. It was now dark so I put on the clear glasses and turned on my Schmidt generator hub and pointed my ride downhill.

The sky was fire red, and with a slight headwind, my speed held at about 40 mph nearly all the way to the car at Clear Creek. At that speed, only a few cars passed me, and all gave me plenty of space. I hit one snake and about a million grasshoppers as I rolled into the heat of Camp Verde.

It was 8:10 when I arrived back at the car. I was very happy with the ride and my food strategy. Mostly convenience store stuff supplemented with a few gels and Ensure.

Overall rating: Excellent

This was a good shakedown ride for the Shenandoah 1200. I carried nearly everything I will have on the bike for the 1200. With about 10,000 feet of climbing, elevation, and remote sections, this is one of the best brevet training routes in the state. Combined with the great views and generally excellent roads, this ride is hard to beat. Now if I had just left 1.5 hours earlier !!!