Sunday, March 12, 2017

Gila Monster 300km Brevet

Ride Report
February 2017

16 riders lined up in the Coolidge Arizona Walmart parking lot for the 2017 edition of the Gila Monster 300km brevet. Roger Peskett (who provided support at Oracle Junction) and Bob Larsen pre-rode the route the previous week to check out the road conditions be available for SAG support during the day.

Carlton leads the Rider Meeting
A relatively civilized start at 0700, but with sunrise at 0721 and temperatures in the 40's, extra layers and reflective gear were the order of the morning. A large contingent of fast riders formed at the start, and happily we settled into a reasonably fast pace and headed out of town toward the first control at Oracle Junction.

Its about 12 miles to the right turn onto AZ77, then its a long 'false flat climb' (2000 feet over 32 miles) before a 5 mile descent to Oracle Junction. With such a large group, each person only needed to take 2 or 3 pulls before we had the top of the hill in sight.

With a change up front about a mile from the top, the pace quickened and I dropped off, too early to burn matches! I was able to keep the group in sight on the descent and arrived at the control just a few minutes behind the lead group.
Carlton and Roger at Oracle Junction
After a quick reload, and peeling off a layer, I left the control and resumed climbing toward Oracle. The lead group was already out of sight and I settled into my own pace. Its another 12 miles of gentle climbing to Oracle, and with the sun out and recent rains, the air was crystal clear with stunning views.
Grassy desert!
Hitting the top at Oracle the road tilts down for about 10-12 miles of 5-7% downgrades, very fast and fun, and with the morning warming up, not too cold. After rolling through Mammoth, I stopped at a paved pullout for a break and to eat some snacks and check in with Debby. It was about this number of miles (different route) where I crashed in last years Vulture Mine 300km Brevet! For some reason Debby requested more frequent check-in texts/calls for the balance of the day.
Nearing Winkelman AZ
The smokestack from the old smelter is visible from nearly 10 miles away, and at its base would be Carlton and the lunch stop.

Carlton carving portions off a 6-foot submarine sandwich
Temperatures were rising, and Carlton suggested picking up an extra water bottle in Kearney since the next water would not be until Superior. After a sandwich, chips and a Coke I was on my way. After a stop at the Dollar Store in Kearney for a water refill, the climbing starts again at the Ray Mine and continues to the 'End of the World' climb.
The Ray Mine
After a short steep punch the climbing eases off and continues up and past the Ray Mine. From this section of the road you can view the vast and colorful Ray Mine works. Not an low impact business by any stretch!
Wash at the base of the EOW climb
The climb is a double dip, so after reaching a false summit the route drops steeply for about a mile before tilting up at 10%+ for a little more than a mile of uphill suffering to the End of the World!
Weavers Needle in the distance, at the EOW summit
Head down, lowest gear, and 20 minutes of uphill grinding are rewarded with a great view of the Superstition Range and the next stop in Superior AZ.

Due to construction on US 60, the route heads into town and down Main Street. I stopped at a grocery in Superior looking for some salt and calories. Chips; check, Starbucks Frappaccino; not stocked but I grabbed a Dunkin Dounuts coffee drink instead.

Leaving Superior, the construction zone only extended a mile or two, then we were treated to the new and improved US 60, divided highway with ample shoulders all the way to the turn around/checkpoint in Gold Canyon.

This was an 'open control' meaning a receipt from any business would suffice. I was craving fries and Coke so it was the Jack-In-The-Box restaurant for me! They must have been gourmet fries, because they took nearly 20 minutes to get! No worries, time to reconfigure the layers, check lights and don the reflective gear for the final run back to Florence and Coolidge.
Fries and a Coke to go!
I rolled out as the sun was nearing the horizon, and was treated with this fantastic sunset at Florence Junction.
Sunset with 25 miles to go
The Coke and fries were a good start. Mix in a Starbuck's Frappaccino from the Florence Circle K (control) and finally I was starting to feel strong again, I was able to hold a strong pace for the last 10 miles of the ride and find Carlton at the finish in the Walmart parking lot. Rolling in about 8:15 PM; that put my total time at 13 hours 15 minutes. Not my fastest time, but after a year off, it was good to get the 300km Monkey off my back!

I grabbed a sandwich for the road and was happy to have this 300km brevet in the books! Thanks Carlton for the great support and putting this route back into the rotation!

Steve Atkins

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I always love reading about these rides knowing this is what I would love to do but knowing full well it's something I could never do. Cheers to Steve!