Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Saguaro Lake 200 km Brevet

Mike Sturgill providing the rider brief
Ride Report
January 9, 2016

On a chilly morning, 27 randonneurs lined up for the first ride of the Arizona 2016 Brevet Series. Mike Sturgill would be our trail boss and many of the usual suspects (Carlton van Leuven, Roger Peskett, Michael Mooney, Stephen Kinney and his merry band of fast Canadians, Robert Larson on a fixed gear, and even Mike Enfield) assembled in the predawn darkness in Fountain Hills Arizona. After several days of unusually heavy rains, and low temperatures, it looked to be an interesting ride, and it was.

We rolled out in a very civilized manner and cleared the rollers that apparently combined with the world's largest fountain, made this town's name; Fountain Hills!

On the Beeline highway we dipped into the Verde River valley and temperatures dropped to the dew point and suddenly we were riding in fog with about 20 meters of visibility and 100% humidity!

Eventually we climbed out of the fog on the Beeline Highway, only to drop down back into it when the Bush Highway descended to the Salt River.

The Canadians and fast movers head up to Usury Pass
Happily the main group stayed together until we reached the base of the climb to Usury Pass. At  this point your humble correspondent dropped off the pace and settled into a steady climb in the desert fog! About halfway up the climb, the fog dissipated and we were treated to a beautiful sunny morning!

Mike Sturgill set up the first checkpoint at the top of the climb, and as I rolled in, the Canadians and fast movers rolled out. Carlton stayed behind and we rolled out together after checking in and refilling a bottle. But after a few hundred meters, I noticed he had forgotten his helmet. He circled back to get it and I rolled on at an easy pace knowing he would catch me shortly.

Heading back into the fog
The route continues to McDowell road and reconnects with Power/Bush Highway for the return trip along the Salt River and Saguaro Lake. As the road descended back to the Salt river, we were greeted again with a heavy fog bank. It held until the climb outside of the Saguaro Lake Recreation area.
Looking back at the fog along the Salt River
Continuing to ride alone, I wondered where Carlton had gotten off to? Traffic was relatively heavy on the Bush Highway heading back to the Beeline, but once the fog cleared, the vistas were awesome, as the snow line had dropped way down, and covered the nearby peaks.
Four Peaks, with snow!
Mazatzal Peaks with Snow!

Beeline Highway, fog in the distance
After stopping for a few pictures on the Bush Highway/Beeline Bridge, it was back onto the descent into another fog bank along the Verde River. However this time the fog had thinned and Carlton joined to share the work for the run into Fountain Hills and the lunch/checkpoint.

Carlton had missed the turn on McDowell and added some 'Bonus Miles' to his ride before rejoining. Just inside the Fountain Hills City Limits, and a few miles from the lunch stop, my rear tire went soft. Stopping to fix it, the culprit was clearly visible, a small wire from a steel belted radial had lodged into my rear tire.

Carl stopped to help, and within 10 minutes we were back on the road fully inflated and rolling into the lunch stop.

Mike Sturgill, included a Subway lunch in the entry fee, so after re-loading the bike and re-configuring the clothing layers we grabbed lunch and then set out for the second half of the brevet.

We caught Roger Peskett and a small group rolling out of Fountain Hills and they joined us for a few miles before a mechanical caused them to drop off.

Carl and I made our way through Scottsdale and North Phoenix without incident, until he had a flat as we were making our way towards Pinnacle Peak.

Carl fixing his flat
On the climb up to Pinnacle Peak, Carl dropped off the pace (seat post problems) and I continued to the checkpoint at the Shell Station at Alma School and Dynamite Roads. It was a big day for the Powerball, so the line was long to get a receipt and continue on the ride.
Ready for the 9 mile descent
Downhill finishes are always appreciated, and being able to enjoy a 9 mile descent after 100+ miles of riding was especially pleasing! Hitting the bottom of the hill in Rio Verde, a series of rollers brings this brevet to a end.

Arriving at the Subway just under 8.5 hours after the start, there was only two things to do; load up the bike, and enjoy another Subway sandwich!!
Less organized, but ready to head home!
It was great to see the old crowd and meet some new comers for the first brevet of the season. Thanks Mike for supporting a great ride.

Next up...The Vulture Mine 300km, come join the fun!!!

Steve Atkins