Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tombstone 600K Brevet

April 2010
It was a busy week before the 600 so I packed most of my gear earlier in the week. Friday night, the Corona High School Band and Arizona Wind Symphony held a concert lakeside at Tempe Town Lake. Since my son Michael plays in the Corona Band and my wife is a flute player with the Arizona Winds, I knew I would be rushing around after the concert, packing last minute items, and trying to get some sleep. With a 3:30 am wake-up; I only got a few hours sleep, and my story begins:

With a coffee in hand, I pointed the Suburban towards Casa Grande and reached the WalMart parking lot just before 4:30am. I was together and ready to go for the pre-ride meeting where Lonnie Epic Wolfe and I were visiting and comparing lighting systems. Lonnie and I rode together on many brevets, including the Epic 400.

Soon we were on our way and into the pre-dawn darkness of Arizola road. The usual suspects formed a fast group and I tacked on to the back. Once the group accelerated on Jimmy Kerr Road, I let them go and decided not to join in. Soon Rebbecca, Scott and Ryan caught me from behind and we formed a nice little group that stayed together all the way to Mile Wide Road. Lonnie and Joe from Utah also joined in so we were able to spread the work around.
Here we are at the first control. Rebbecca is phoning in her blog update. Very Cool. Soon we were heading up Sandario road and Scott (I think) had a loud clicking sound coming from his rear wheel. We pulled over to discover that a nail had lodged itself into his armored tire and did not puncture!Lonnie and I at Picture Rocks very early in the ride. Lonnie was riding with his 'wing man' Joe Schoney from Utah. We had great conversations all the way to Mission Road.

I was planning on skipping the sleep stop in Elgin, and since Lonnie and Joe were planning on sleeping there, I decided to pick up the pace a little and left our little group. Soon I was in Green Valley at a convenience store picking up some lunch. At this point the winds were moderate and the weather was perfect. Soon I was heading up the climb to Sonoita. There was a slight tail wind that made the climbing a little easier. I remembered to pick up an extra water bottle at the Road Runner Market on Houghten road in Tucson. The last time I rode this brevet, I ran out of water on the climb... not recommended.
I rolled into the Elgin Community Club to find Susan Plonsky hard at work making dinner. I changed into some dry clothes, had some food and was soon on my way to Tombstone.

As I was heading out I noticed this cattle guard warning sign. About half the cattle guards on the ride had gaps in the rails big enough to consume an unsuspecting rider's wheels (see training ride blog entry below!). If only the guards in Maricopa County had the helpful warning like these did in Cochise County!

Soon I was on the main road toward Tombstone. Downhill with the wind, the sun setting on the Cochise Stronghold Mountains, and feeling pretty good, the ride was going very well. Leaving Mustang corner (about 15 miles from Tombstone) I started seeing the first riders on the return trip. I rolled into the Circle K at sundown and grabbed a Chocolate Milk and a receipt as this is an official control point and turn-around.

Now the blessed tailwind was a cursed headwind. But with the sun going down, it eased off. What didn't ease off, was my fatigue from lack of sleep. It was only 7:30pm when I left Tombstone and 9:00pm when I arrived back at Mustang Corner. I grabbed a milk, sat in a chair out front and dozed off holding my cue sheet. A few riders came through, I think, while I was dozing. I got back on the bike hoping my power nap would revive me. It didn't. I rolled back into the checkpoint in Elgin at about 10:30. I ate some dinner changed again into some dry clothes and decided to nap. Problem: it was very cold in the unheated Elgin Club and I tried to sleep on the floor with only my clothes and a towel. Eventually I used some cushions from the couch that got me off the cold floor, but with my sleeping bag back a the start, I could not stay warm.

After waking up several times I decided that it would be warmer to get on the bike and get going. I am not sure when I left Elgin, it was probably about 3 am. It was a spectacular night, nearly full moon about to set, lots of stars, no cars on the road, but plenty cold. I rolled into a Border Patrol checkpoint where I visited with three very bored officers. We chatted until I started getting cold, then I said thanks, and headed up the last mile of the climb out of Sonoita.

Soon I was barreling down the descent into Tucson. I did not get sleepy again until the sun came up. Lucky for me a brand new McDonalds was open at the I-19 highway so I rolled right in for a Big Brevet Breakfast!

Fully nourished, I was climbing Helmet Peak stripping off layers and slathering on the sunscreen. I noticed that yesterday's tailwinds were becoming today's headwind! As I continued on the winds would increase for the rest of the ride.

Soon I was at Ajo highway where traffic was stopped for the Tour of Tucson Mountains Bike Event. I crossed the route and headed into the Saguaro National Monument, which was spectacular! Our route continued to Sandario road, where I rejoined the race in progress. There were many riders strung out on the route. I must have joined at the back of the race because I was passing many riders and a number of them jumped on my wheel for a free ride.

I left the 'race' in Marana and stopped at the last official checkpoint, grabbed a coke, hot dog and chips and took a nice break. While I was eating my lunch I had a great conversation with a Harley rider who was sharing the shade. He was off to Maricopa to visit his sister.
One last stop in Eloy at the Circle K because my knee flared up. I was icing it down when Tom Baker rolled through. He had left Elgin several hours after I did and was making great time. He left while I was still nursing my knee. I made one more stop for Advil, then made the final push into the WalMart parking lot.

I found Susan in a sea of drop bags:

I completed the paperwork, visited with Susan for a little while, grabbed a Chipotle burro, and headed home. I was feeling good, except for my knee that flared up 12 miles from the finish, I could have turned the bike around and kept going. I was also very happy to have this one in the bag.

The tale of the tape!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Beeline/Saguaro Lake/Usery Pass Training Ride

The plan was to ride the Beeline/Usery Pass loop with Scott Pfotenhauer. Scott has many miles on his mountain bike and recently acquired a new road bike. He had heard that this loop is an awesome ride. I love the route and was looking for some base miles to prepare for the Tombstone 600 next week. So last night we carbo loaded and prepared our strategy at Dos Gringos over burros and margaritas. At 5:30am I rolled into Scott's driveway and soon we were heading off into the dawn.

We headed out on the new multi-use path along the canal between Guadalupe and Elliott. It is new and at that time of the morning we had the whole path to ourselves. We headed north at Country Club and soon were on the Beeline Highway.
Scott cresting the hill near Shea
We stopped at the Chevron at Ft. McDowell to reload and pick up some groceries and were soon on our way up the Beeline. The desert is in bloom and the headwinds were light. A perfect morning. I dropped off for a break and then caught Scott:

We made the Bush Highway/Saguaro Lake Cutoff in no time. Right after the turn there is a cattle grate then a great descent towards the lake. I made sure Scott hit the turn and I pointed my bike downhill started the descent. After a few minutes I turned back to check on Scott. He was not there. I slowed and checked again, but still not there. So I turned around and headed back up the hill. As I got closer to the Beeline, I thought "oh no, that cattle guard."
The Death Crack that consumed Scott's tires and rims!

Sure enough, Scott was on the side of the road with two flats and two bent rims! Two other riders had stopped and loaned Scott one of their extra tubes (he had only one spare). They were rolling out as I got back to Scott. We booted his rear tire with duct tape, it had two cuts from the cattle guard, and replaced the tubes. The rims were bent, with two 'flat' spots, but were round and true enough get home.

After the repairs, ready for the 35 mile ride home!

We started again; another flat! One of my spare tubes we installed had a leak! We used the tube that the other riders gave Scott and soon we were back on our way to Tempe.

Thanks to the two guys that stopped and gave Scott a spare tube. It is normal cycling courtesy to slow and ask if a fellow rider "needs anything" when they are on the side of the road. These two guys that stopped were happy to give up a spare tube. While we were making the repairs several other groups slowed and asked if we were "OK" or "need anything." I don't think anyone went by us without checking. This camaraderie on the road is one of the reasons I love the sport so much!

Since the road is smoother on the Beeline and Scott's rims were questionable, we decided to save Usery Pass for another day and head back on the Beeline. We were exactly at the half-way point when we hit the grate! Normally, you can really move on the return trip on the Beeline since it is downhill and we had a tailwind. But with out of true rims, and a nice blister on the rear tire we just rode a nice tempo back to town.

With the ladies still out of town tonight, we head to Joe's Bar and Grill for dinner to replace the calories we burned today!

All in all, an awesome day on the bike.