Sunday, February 17, 2013

2013 Gila River Valley 200km Brevet

Ride Report
February 16, 2013

Tom Baker leading the rider meeting
Tom Baker added this great route to the AZ Brevet Calendar along with the Around the Bend 400km last year. I rode them both last year and enjoyed the new routes, especially with the start only 20 minutes from the house! Both are on the calendar this year, but I was planning on riding only the 400 in two weeks. With the 400km only two weeks away, and my schedule keeping me off the bike last weekend and next, I needed to put in a long base ride.

Lonnie "Epic" Wolff was in town with his wife for the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show and managed somehow to slip his bike into the horse trailer and signed up for the ride. Dick Wiss and Carlton van Leuven were on the rider list, so this really was going to be just a long training ride with a few friends. That was my story and with my kitchen pass secured I signed up on Wednesday and was at the Basha's Shopping Center at Power and Chandler Heights Roads at 0630 Saturday morning.

On the Hunt Highway - Tom Baker Photo
Everyone was ready to go with a few minutes to spare so Tom went over the route, controls, and warned the group that our route would be sharing the road with a cycling race for a few miles on AZ187 outside of Sacaton. At 0700 the group rolled out to get this one started. The pack rolled out as one group and I settled in with Lonnie, Carlton, and Dick happy to cruise along at an easy pace with the rest of the group. There were three fast recumbent riders and they came around and picked up the pace. So after a mile or so of 17-18 mph warm-up riding, the group accelerated to 20+ mph and held that pace for the first hour of riding to Sacaton. With the large group, even at the fast pace, we were able to enjoy great conversation. The best was the discussion surrounding the term "Epic" when describing a ride. Lonnie "Epic" Wolff pointed out that only a certain level of suffering, injury, and/or duress could make a ride an "Epic." While many rides may be remarkable, only a few are true "Epics." With that settled, most of the group stayed to together, all the way to Sacaton.

Rolling out of the Casa Grande Control
The group shattered on the small climb out of Sacaton. Carlton, Mike Barbour, and Clint Wisdom went off the front while the rest of the group spread way out on the road. Carl sat up and waited for me and I bridged us up to Mike and Clint. By the time we reached the 187 Dick Wiss had joined us and the five of us formed a line on the much busier than normal 187. Stage 2 of The Valley of the Sun Road Race was also on the road (running the opposite direction) and we saw two or three groups of riders heading in our direction. AZ387 was closed for the race which put most of traffic on 187.

A fast descent had us at the second control in Casa Grande. Tom was already there to sign our brevet cards, so we checked in and rolled over to the McDonalds for some drinks and an opportunity to shed some layers. Another group was only a few minutes behind and rolled in for the same routine.

Tom at the Florence Information Control
We rolled through Casa Grande on one of the Brevet trade routes, Trekell Road. It is a direct shot through town, but most of the road surface is in bad shape. So imagine twelve or so riders dodging in and out of traffic, potholes, and simulated pave! A left turn puts us on AZ84 for the 12 mile run to Eloy and the next Control. Trains, traffic, and a building headwind again split the group, but we regrouped to reload drinks and answer the control question on our card (for proof of passage) at the Eloy Circle K.

Dick and Carlton at the Florence Control
The building headwind on 84 became a nice quartering tailwind for the next 12 miles toward Coolidge. Dana Lieberman flashed by on his disk-wheeled recumbent and Mike, Clint, Carlton, Dick, and I hopped on as he took a 6 mile monster pull. We held a great pace between 22-25 mph on that section, but all good tailwinds come to an end! The wind shifted from the south-east to due east first becoming a strong cross-wind, then a block headwind and the route turned east! We dialed back the pace as we pressed into the wind. The 5 upright riders organized into rotating pace line, with Dana behind us. But with the gusting wind we had difficulty holding a consistent pace so he dropped off.
Florence Control - Tom Baker photo
We finally turned north for the slight downhill run to the next control at the Old Florence Highway. Traffic was light and we were able to form an echelon to combat the crosswind. The ever-present Tom Baker was at the fourth Control to sign our cards. With a HUGE tailwind, we were soon among the security fences and guard towers that is the Arizona State Prison at Florence!
Carlton and Dick, happy to be on this side of the fence!

We stopped at the Circle K in Florence to reload our bottles and have a snack for the final 36 miles of this one! The Circle K was rocking with the noon Saturday lunch rush! Dana rolled in while we were there and we rolled out together.

Mike, Dick, and Clint in Florence
We were still enjoying the strong tailwind, as we left town, but with it would soon become a strong cross wind on some narrow busy roads. With no where to hide and with Dana, Mike, and Clint picking up the pace, I told Carlton and Dick I was going to let them go and we agreed to dial back our pace. Soon we were in the Anthem development in Queen Creek where the roads widened to allow us an echelon again, but the route turned east, for one more pull into the wind!

Stopped at the last information control
The rest of the route 'sawtooths' north and west to the finish. So we would have a couple miles of tailwind, followed by a couple miles of crosswind on mostly rough narrow farm roads.We left the farm roads and entering Chandler, we came upon Mike and Clint fixing a flat, they had everything they needed, so we pressed on.

Thankfully the last 6 miles were westbound, so we had a gentle push to the end of the route. Dana was already there, and Tom was manning the final control. Clint and Mike rolled in a few minutes behind us.We signed our cards, complained about the wind, packed our bikes, and headed home.
All smiles at the end!

It was another great day on the bike, riding with old friends and meeting new ones. The conditions were good and the company was excellent! We made great time, 7 hours 31 minutes. A few minutes faster than last year. (Ride with GPS Details) Also, my nutrition plan (Hammer SE/Pepsi, Shot Bloks, and Honey Waffles) worked great. I was able to ingest 395 calories per hour during the ride, a personal best! No bonk and plenty of power at the end.

In the parking lot, Carlton noted we'll be back in two weeks for the Around the Bend 400. Yeah, just think, at this point in two weeks time, we'll only be half finished!!

Tom says,  "I didn't have anything to do with the wind!"
Here are Gerry Elam's , Lonnie "Epic" Wolff's, and Dana Lieberman's blogs for different viewpoints of the ride.

Steve Atkins

1 comment:

Bruce's Bike Blog said...

Hi Steve! A few years back Steve Jewell and I were riding from Tucson to Scottsdale (a training ride we did often) when we suddenly found ourselves in that Sacaton race and in the pace line! We got all kinds of looks and double-takes from the racers when they saw us--with our hubs, lights, saddle bags, etc! They were like, "Who are you guys?" Oh it funny!

Cheers! Bruce