Saturday, June 4, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend Training Block

Ride Report

The training plan called for two 9-hour training rides on Saturday and Sunday. I selected the Mining Country 130 (this version of the Mining Country is an out and back from Superior to Globe via Winkelman) for Saturday and figured I would ride to Bartlett Lake on Sunday for another 150. I put the word out to the AZRandon and San Tan group lists looking for riding partners and only Marty Liddell was foolish enough to join the fun on Saturday.

Mining Country - Saturday

We left the house at 4 am and were on the bikes heading toward Winkelman at 5am. Its all uphill to the back side of the End-of-the-World climb, but soon we were bombing down the 14% + grade toward the Ray mine and Kelvin. There the road becomes a very pleasant roller all the way to Winkelman. We rolled into the Circle K and reloaded our bottles about 7 am in very cool weather. The next leg is a 25 mile climb to a pass named El Capitan about 11 miles outside of Globe. We each bought extra water bottles and headed out.
Marty in Winkelman
The route joins AZ77 and the car and boat traffic picked up noticeably, so did the grade. About 5 miles from the top, at the 50 mile point of our ride I gave the keys to Marty who turned around and headed back toward Superior (he was only looking for a 100 mile ride today). The grade lessened and soon I was at the top of El Capitan!
Summit of El Cap!
Looking northeast from the summit
The weather changed dramatically when I crossed the pass with the cross-winds and temperature picking up dramatically. The 11 miles passed quickly and I stopped to reload at a Circle K on the edge of town. I chatted with some motorcyclists from San Diego and soon was on my way back to Winkelman. The winds continued to build and unlike this mornings cool breeze felt more like a blast out of an oven! I reached El Cap and started my descent hoping this weather change was only on the east side of the divide. Unfortunately, the winds continued to build slowing my descent and as the elevation dropped the temperature increased dramatically.

I rolled back into Winkelman hot and frustrated from the wind, but hoping that as I made the harpin turn back toward Superior the wind would be a helper (or at least netural). With the temperature now over 90, I reloaded my bottles, and dumped the first half gallon of cold water over head and down my back to cool off and enjoy some evaporative cooling.

The run from Winkelman to Kearny/Kelvin is normally a pleasant rolling climb through an area with several active open pit copper mines. Today it was a long slog into a hot dry wind. I normally don't stop at Kearney, but today I did to reload my bottles with ice, and dump another half gallon of cold water for the last long climb of the day.

The wind continued to build and felt like it was gusting to 25-30+ miles per hour! The last two miles of the climb to the End-of-the-World has a 10% grade road sign. Marty's Garmin computer indicated 14%! The wind was so strong, and I was so cooked, that on the steepest section I had to dismount about half-way up and walk to stay upright. Even walking, my heart rate continued to increase. After a quarter mile, the road turned slightly and the wind became a cross so I remounted and rode to the top. I stopped at the top and found some shade in a road cut and took a little break to try and recover. Finishing the last of my water (including my spare bottle!) I set off for the last 5-6 miles of downhill riding to Superior.

I rolled into Superior and went straight to the Circle K and bought water, ice, peanuts, and a couple of Mountain Dews. Outside the store I topped off my bottles with the Dew and dumped a gallon of cold water over my head and back. I rolled back to the rest area dripping wet, found some shade to cool off in, and waited for Marty.

Cooling it with a Dew at the Superior rest area
Marty arrived shortly and we packed up the Suburban to head back to Phoenix. With the wind and heat conditions, my 9 hour planned ride had stretched to an 11 hour Epic!

Pinnacle Peak - Sunday

After Saturday's extended adventure, I modified my plan for Sunday to cover 7 hours of riding. I would ride the route to Carefree, but turnaround at Pinnacle Peak. I set the alarm for 4 am and was on the bike at 4:30 heading out into a calm cool morning. Rolling out of the house, I was not totally recovered from yesterdays adventure and had that familiar Day 2 feeling! Winds were forecast again today to build throughout the day out of the southwest, so that with this route I knew I would have an additional 'training aid' on the return.

At the base of 9-Mile hill
I reached the Circle K in Fountain Hills as the sun came up and rolled through town to the golf/retirement community of Rio Verde. I was about 1/2 way up 9-mile hill before the winds picked up. They were coming directly from the south, and were still cool so it was only a cross-wind was not really a bother.

I rolled into the Shell station, bought a power breakfast (hot dog and Doubleshot) and turned the ride back toward the river and home. The 9 mile descent was fast and fun, however as the cross winds increased I came grim realization that when I reached the bottom and turned toward home, it would be about 40 miles of headwind all the way home.

It was, but being mid-morning the temperature was still cool. I rolled into the house about 11:30 am, covering 100 miles in about 7 hours.

With this two-day training block done, I looked forward to an easy recovery ride on Memorial Day!