Saturday, October 31, 2009

Beeline/Saguaro Lake/Usery Pass Training Ride

October 31, 2009:

A few members of the San Tan team were thinking about the Mining Country Century for this weeks base ride on Sunday. Because of the unusually cool snap (low 40's in the mornings) the motivation to head to Superior at 0500 for a 0630 start disappeared and the ride fell apart.

Debby and Mike are in California for a Band Competition so I decided to make it a civilized start and ride Saturday at 9 am. So onto Topo USA to look for a comparable century. I mapped a route from home to the Beeline Highway to Saguaro Lake to Usery Pass, and onto the Chevron at Brown and Ellsworth (my personal favorite east Mesa stop!). 52 miles one way, 104 total, perfect. With convenience stores at 26, 52, and 77 miles, the resupplies would be easy and no need for a CamelBak. Plus lots of hills once you get to the Beeline. Topo USA says over 4600 feet of climbing over 104 miles. Not as much climbing as the Mining Country, but there was no approach drive tot he start. This ride starts right in the old driveway! Here is the topo:

Let me just say this about the weather: I love Arizona. While it was cool this morning, once the sun came up it was perfect riding weather (60's-70's). Just bibs, base, jersey, and sunscreen and I was out the door. It could not have been a nicer day to spend out on the bike in some of the nicest scenery in the Phoenix area!

The Beeline has an excellent bike lane and the climbing and scenery is outstanding once you get past the concrete plant and landfill on the reservation. As usual, many triathletes were out, and a few groups had support vehicles. Once I reached the top of the hill at Fountain Hills, the crowd thinned out and I was enjoying the light traffic, perfect weather, and swirling winds.

I paused at the Saguaro cutoff to take a few pictures (great views of Four Peaks, Weavers Needle, and the Superstition Mountains), and then I was barreling down the Bush Highway toward the Lake and Salt river. The ride has 4 major climbs (to Saguaro cutoff, up the north side of Usery Pass, up the south side of Usery Pass, and back to the Saguaro cutoff).

As noted the weather is changing, we were having unusually cool weather, and today and tomorrow the weather pattern is changing, becoming warmer and unsettled with lots of wind. Throughout the day, the winds seemed to be generally crossing tail or crossing headwinds, only a few places with full on head or tail winds. Not bad at all!

I rolled into the Chevron three hours into the ride. Normally I would enjoy a tube steak and a Sobe drink. Today I was experimenting with Hammer Perpetuem and HEED with a few gels, so I just was filling water bottles at the soda fountains with my liquid concoction. Very efficient at getting in and out quickly, although I did miss that dog at the half-way point.

I ended up consuming 288 calories per hour, a little lower than my goal of 300 and my legs felt it at the end of the ride. However I didn't bonk and was able to generate power above my normal cruising intensity at the end of the ride. I think if I had downed 1-2 more gels I would have been better.

This week I traveled to Canada for work and did not get to my yoga/pilates class. That combined with the amount of time I spend in aero-bars on the Beeline (due to the headwind), with the 4600 feet of climbing, my hip flexors and lower back really were sore at the end of the ride (and still are).

The great thing about an out and back route (it was so nice I rode it twice) is that the scenery looks totally different on the way back and was awesome. I had an uneventful ride back and arrived at home at 3:30 (6 hours 30 minutes). I hopped on the mountain bike and took the girls (our three Labradors) for a walk/run. Then off to Basha's to pick up some Halloween candy, dinner, and a few well-earned ice cold adult beverages!

No tricks today, only one great Treat!

Steve Atkins

Friday, April 24, 2009

Rund um Koeln to Amstel Gold and Everything in Between!

My week in Germany during Mark's spring break:

Arrived at Dusseldorf after a very comfortable flight on Lufthansa ( although I slept through most if it).

Mark, Hubert, and Gerlinda were waiting for me. After big hugs we were on our way to Pulheim. We piled into Hubert's Ford minivan and soon after we left the airport Hubert got Flashed (yes photo radar in Germany too)!

We stopped at the village bakery and Girlinda picked up some fresh bread and we enjoyed some nice fresh bread and we arrived at the Festers in time for a light lunch.

After lunch Mark and I hopped on our bikes to ride into Pulheim. I picked up some euros at the ATM and we walked around the Church and adjacent park. A mass was starting (Easter Monday) and Mark introduced me to some of his friends that were hanging around. We continued to the Train station and took the Train to Koeln (Cologne).

Mark broke his arm riding his cruiser bike to the ski village in Austria the week before I arrived. So what little riding we did was on his cruiser bike and a borrowed Cross bike for me. Hubert was looking to get in a few more kilometers so he rode his bike to meet us in Koeln. We linked up at the Cathedral and climbed the stairs (509) to the top of the bell tower. The view was good, it would have been great if not for the fog!

We descended the steps and wandered around Koeln together.

We had a Donner (like a Gyro) pita. Hubert made his way back home and Mark and I went to the finish line of the Rund um Koeln (tour of Cologne bike race). We arrived as the juniors were finishing their circuits.

We found a good spot for the pro race and cheered on the riders. This was a race where the riders rode for their countries. A Dane won the race. We enjoyed the the euro pro cycling vibe, Koelsh brew and fresh pretzels!

We made our way back to the train to Pulheim. We unlocked the bikes and headed back to the Festers.

Gerlinda made a nice dinner meal and we spent the next few hours visiting with the Festers.

We hit the sack in the guest room in the basement near midnight.


Road trip in the Rhineland. We all piled in the minivan and headed for Koblenz. A very nice city where the Rhine and Mosel rivers come together.

There is cool monument there that we climbed up. We had a nice lunch of Donner pitas in the town square.
We headed up the road to Loreley. A place on the Rhine where the cliffs are very high. We viewed an unimpressive museum before we hiked to the cliffs and took the stairs down to the river.

The legend here is of a beautiful maiden that sings beautiful songs and lures the bargemen into the rocks.

Earlier in the day Hubert asked me if I am allowed to drive in Europe with my American license. I told him yes and that I enjoyed driving in France last year. I thought he was just curious. Actually, he and Gerlinda hate to drive. When we were ready to head back to Pulhiem, he "offers" me the keys and says he and Gerlinda would prefer if I drove, so off we go with me behind the wheel.

We arrived home. Dinner will be German BBQ!. Hubert needs to go to work to pick up his computer, so Hubert, Andreas, and I grab the bikes and ride to the RWE control facility. Mark passes on the ride and fires up the grill.

RWE controls the German power grid and the control center for the whole country is in Pulhiem.

Andreas and I took the controls while Hubert conferred with his colleagues. The rumors of brown-outs that night are highly exaggerated!

We returned to the house and enjoyed a great feast that Mark prepared (one-handed). Hubert's neighbors across the street joined us for an 'English' party. Christian had done a foreign exchange in Lexington Kentucky, so he and his wife Annaka joined us after dinner for some Koelsh (local Brew) and some English conversation.


Hubert had a morning meeting in Dortmund (60 km away) so Mark and I decided to tag along. Hubert pressed me into service and I became his chauffeur! We parked the car at the RWE offices and headed for the subway station. We took the subway into the city center and decided to go shopping.

Mark needed a cell phone charger, and as we rushed out of the house, Mark forgot his regular shoes. He was wearing his haus shoen (house shoes) wooden clogs not meant for sight seeing.

So we jumped into a sports store and found some walking around shoes. We toasted our success by having breakfast at a sidewalk cafe. We went to the tourist office and picked up a map of the city to plot our next move. We learned from our tour map that Dortmund is famous for steel production and beer. We spot the Brewery Museum on the map and decide that will be our first stop.

We took the subway to the brewery museum and pretty much had the place to ourselves. We checked for a brewery tour, but none were held that day. We decided to head back to the city center and look for a phone charger. We ended up buying a new prepaid phone since it was cheaper (€19) than a charger. We went back to the square for lunch at a brew haus we spotted during breakfast. We had a huge lunch of schnitzel, blood sausage, potatoes and applesauce. Of course washed down with a local Dortmund brew.

Back to the subway to make our way the Westfallen Park. Its a huge park that reminded us of the Olympic Park in Munich. We rode to the observation tower platform of the TV tower in the park. It was still a bit hazy, but we had great views.

We grabbed an ice cream and wandered back to the RWE offices just as Hubert was leaving. He quickly exited the driver seat and tossed me the keys.

We headed for Oberhausen, to visit a planetarium but arrived just as it closed. So back to the van, and the autobahn to Pulhiem. We arrived back a little after 7. Hubert wanted to show me the country side around the village so we hopped on the bikes and headed out. We visited a transformer station and rode by a new coal fired power plant. We rode back over a hill that was reclaimed strip mine and was already well forested.

We arrived home for a light meal, and another "English" party, this time at Christian's house.


After three late nights in a row, we treated ourselves to a little later wake-up call. We generally just chilled out in the morning. We packed Mark's cross bike (I would take it home with me) and a bunch of winter clothes that Mark no longer needed to lighten his load when the exchange ends.

After lunch, Hubert and the three boys Fabian, Christian, and Andreas, Mark on his road bike, and me on a borrowed cross bike head out for a 50k ride. Hubert and the boys leave first, and Mark and I a little later. We meet up in the next village. The problem for Mark is he cannot get comfortable on his bike and ends up riding one-handed mostly putting pressure on his lower back. He decides to head home.

We press on past the power plant Hubert showed me Wednesday and to all the way to the coal mine. It is an enormous open-pit operation run by RWE. One side they dig out the coal, on the other they restack the dirt and tailings and reforest it. Its like a big moving wound across the landscape. If a village is in the way, no problem. Tear it down and rebuild it outside the mine boundary. We rode through one new village on the way back.

Near Pulheim, RWE has a museum that was very interesting that outline the whole process. It was in a park that included a castle that had been restored.

After dinner, Hubert joins his buds at a local pub for a game of Scot. Mark and I rode over after dinner and had a great time with his friends.


We awoke to heavy rain and water leaking into the basement guest room. The whole family springs into action. Hubert heads up to the roof to find the leak. Girlinda directs us to move/disassemble furniture out of the leaking room. We pull back the carpeting and get most of the furniture out of the way.

Huber finds the cause (clogged gutter) and the kaos abates. Hubert joins Mark and I as we head to the bus stop. We take the bus to the train station, then hop on a DB Regional train to Aachen Germany. Two more buses and we walk into our base camp for the next two nights, the Aachen Holiday Inn!

Our original plan was to cycle to Aachen then spend the next two days on bikes touring Belgium and Holland and catching the Amstel Gold protour bike race. With Mark's broken arm, we adjusted the plan. We will take the train to Aachen, then rent a car Saturday morning, and motor tour.

While Mark and I were disappointed with the change, but both noted how crappy the weather was (raining, cold and misty) and would be through Saturday. The alternative plan was much better than the original.

We checked into the hotel and settled in. We grabbed a Pizza from Hellow Pizza, a couple of cold beverages from the lobby, and retired to the room to watch a movie (Tratior) on Mark's computer. After the movie I headed out to find the Avis location (500m from the hotel) and get some supplies from the Shell Convience Store.


We had a huge meal at the hotel and walked over to Avis to get our car. We decided since I would be lugging the bike back to Dusseldorf, we would check on keeping the car until Monday morning. Good news: No dropoff charge, or addional fees if we got to the airport by 8:30 Monday morning. Bad news: The TomTom GPS navigation system needed to be returned to Aachen, and they closed Saturday afternoon, so we couldn't drop it off. So we left with an Avis map of Germany and our compact Fiat with the Mark Mark navigation system!

First stop Liege. Mark did a great job getting us right to the city center. We went to the tourist office to get a map of the city and inquire about rental bikes (the weather was foggy but improving). No rental bikes in Liege so we wandered around a little and plunked down at a sidewalk cafe for a coffee. We spot another toursist office on the way to a park we thought might be interesting and stop in and check again for bikes. No joy.

We find the trail up to the overlook and it is beautiful. Very green from the rain. We make our way to the top and spend some time looking around and taking pictures. We decide to head back to the city center and descend a huge stairway back down to the city level. We are sure it was famous since a bunch of tour groups were gathered at the bottom.

We headed back toward the car and stop at a cafe looking for pomme frittes (french fries). They only serve them with meals so we pass and try a local brew while we plot our next move. We had found a good Michelin map earlier and decide to head for Bastongne.

As we make our way to Bastongne the weather takes a turn for the worse, and its back to rain, drizzle, and cold. We both agree that today we would rather be touring by Fiat rather than bike. We arrive in Bastongne and follow the signs to the Historical Museum. From the outside it looks a little small and we both think it reminds us of the Gen Patton Museum in Californina. Once inside however, it was awesome.

We grabbed the audio tour (mine in English, Mark selected German) devices and headed in. We spent several hours enjoying the museum and the film documenting the Battle of the Bulge. Outside we climbed the mounument to the Americans how served in the battle. It was very impressive.
Hey, ever been to Luxembourg, no? Well lets go there for dinner. We head out through beautiful countryside to Luxembourg. We stopped twice on the way, once at a memorial to the 90th Infantry that liberated the town of Berel, and then at a park in Kautenback where I spotted a pomme fritte stand. We enjoyed our snack and continued to Luxembourg.

We parked on one side of the river, and made our way to the other on foot checking out the city. We crossed a bridge over a park where the river was several hundred meeters below. We walked into one restuaruant that turned us away (no reservation) and had a great Italian meal at the one next door. We made our way back to Aachen in the dark and plunked into bed at about midnight!


Race day! We chow down and check out of the Holiday Inn and motor to Valkenburg, which is only about 50km away. We found a great parking spot and headed into the city center where workers were erecting the race barriers. The race will come through here three times, finishing at the top of the Cauberg (a very steep hill). We decide to walk the Cauberg and it was hard to walk. The racers will go up it three times. We wander back into town and find a table outside right on the the course. We order coffee and decide this is the place to watch the race from.

We met a couple from Holland and had great converstation. Suddenly, the race publiticy caravan barrels through town and we realize only the finishing lap will go in front of our Cafe. We jump up and move to where there racers will come through.

We are 20 people deep in front of a bar blasting techno music and the crowd is fired up singing to the tunes. The leading group of 5-6 riders come through and the crowd goes crazy. 20 minutes later the rest of the peloton comes through. We retire back to our table thinking the next time they will pass in front of the cafe.

Nope. So we race up the street after the caravan comes through to find a spot where the crowd is thinned out. We do and have a great view of the race going by. Now the gap is down to about 2 minutes.

We decide to head up the Cauberg to watch the finish. We find a spot 600m from the finish and climb up a wall which offered a great spot to sit and watch the race. Also, a bar across the way was playing the race broadcast (alternating in Dutch, German, English, and French) so we could listen to the race action. Finally the leaders (3) with only a 20 second gap flash by. From Road Bike Rider Weekly:

Classics veteran Sergei Ivanov (Katusha) won Holland 's Amstel Gold Race in a 2-up sprint with Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank). Robert Gesink (Rabobank), who was dropped by the pair on the climb to the line, hung on for third place in the 258-km (160-mile) race as the bunch closed fast. Said 2008 winner Damiano Cunego (Lampre), 5th this year at 8 seconds, "We waited too long to bring them back. Things slowed for a minute and we lost precious seconds." For Russia 's Ivanov, 34, it was "the biggest win of my career. We will celebrate tonight. We will drink vodka."

After the race we head back to our trusty Fiat. We motored back to Pulheim just as Gerlinda was making Hawaiian Open Face sandwiches (bread, ham, pineapple, with cheese melted on top!). As Mark says, "Girlinda gets it done!" Hubert was working the night shift so we chilled out, and I packed up.


Hubert waits up for us to have breakfast together, the boys pack their school bags, and I point the Fiat toward Dusseldorf.

I had not seen Mark since we dropped him off at the Phoenix airport last August, so this trip was even more special. We had an awesome time together.

Click here to check out Marks blog (his Mom makes him update it at allowance time!)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Blustery 400K

2009 Arivaca 400k Brevet
Ride Report - Steve Atkins

Baboquivari on the road from Arivaca!

Debby's favorite thing to do these days is comment on the weekend weather forecast that includes rain/wind/or both and say; "Hey don't you have a brevet this weekend?"

While rain was in the forecast earlier in the week, it was not as the brevet neared. Record winds were recorded in Northern Arizona and hit the state hard on Friday.

While the 400k is certainly not the longest brevet distance, I think it is the most difficult. This years 400k (255 miles) was no exception:

We had a half-day at work on Friday, so I was able to organize my gear, load the suburban, and was all packed by 4:30 pm! Deb, Michael and I enjoyed a lenten dinner of clam chowder, vegetarian shepherd's pie, and fish & chips, at our new favorite Irish Pub - Rula Bula in Oldtown Tempe. Two Blue Moon's and I was tuckie-bye by 9pm.

I arrived in Casa Grande at 4:30 am and the randonneurs were starting to assemble. On this ride, Mike Sturgill would be the RBA so Susan Plonsky could ride 'with her buds in the peloton.' We blasted out of the Wal Mart lot at 5 sharp into the dark.

A fast group formed and I jumped in and we worked well together through Eloy to the Picacho turn-off. Part of the group missed the turn, and we never really regrouped completely. We rolled into the first checkpoint at Picacho Peak at 6:23. I was reloading my gear and I looked up and a good chunk of the group was gone, dang! I jumped on and started to chase, but then thought better of it and settled into my own pace. Outside Marana I stopped for a natural break, and John and Liz Mazzola flashed by on their road tandem.

We teamed up and rode together to the Mile Wide Cutoff. John and Liz were part of the 2006 Epic 400, and we shared memories and caught up as we made our way up Sandario road. We parted company on the steep climb into the Tucson Mountian Park, but I would see them often during the ride. At the Kinney road checkpoint, I quickly reloaded my supplies and was back out on the road. The wind to this point had been a gentle breeze mostly out of the southeast.

As I climbed Mission Road, I thought wow, a 400k with nice weather! Well, cresting the climb at Helmet Peak, the nice weather was replaced with a strong headwind that would be my nemesis for the remainder of the ride. The Tucson Bike Classic 3 day stage race was held on this road today, so I was treated to several pelotons of racers coming from the south.

Bombing down the hill to Green Valley, I missed the turn for the new control and was soon lost. I backtracked, but did not know exactly where I was at. I decided to stop at the old control on Continental and I-19. This decision almost cost me a disqualification for all my efforts on the 400. The RUSA rules are clear, you must stop at each designated control. Our local RBA pleaded my case to RUSA and I was assigned a time penalty, but was given credit for the ride and avoided a dreaded DQ. I won't make that mistake again!

Soon I was pounding away on the I-19 frontage road working a strong headwind. I thought, well at least when I turn west toward Arivaca it will be a strong cross wind!

Nope, as I made the turn, the wind continued to rotate around the compass, so when I reach the turn at Arivaca road, it was a full on head wind. This little 22 mile section to Arivaca is a leg killer. Headwind, and lots of very steep short rollers. As I rode along I caught Roger Peskett and we worked together to the control point at Buenos Aires Wildlife Preserve. A very nice control, shade, tables, and probably the only calm spot in Southern Arizona!

I chowed down a wrap and a coke and was out of there in about 20 minutes. As I was leaving the control John and Liz pulled in. I wanted to get going to get through the last 7 miles of headwind, and more importantly, make the turn to Robles Junction and grab some tailwind before the wind continued its move around the compass. I ran into some local residents as I headed out.

Today it was not to be, only a tailwind in a few twists of the road, so for the next 36 miles it was a strong cross-wind as the wind continued its trek around the dial. I arrived at the Store at Robles Junction and feasted on a can of Campbell's Chicken Vegetable Soup and Sobe Lizard Fuel. I bought a gallon of water and parked on the tables out front. As I was eating, Mike Enfield rolled in. We shared the water and both commiserated about the wind. I topped off and was leaving as Roger Peskett arrived.

The road turns east here, so finally I had about 5 miles of tailwind. As I was riding along, I thought I noticed the wind on my left cheek. How could that be, the wind hardly ever shifts from the North in the early evening. Turning north for the long slog up and over Sandario road, wham-o, yet another headwind. I put my head down and replayed some song over and over in my head until I reached the top. The wind was still there, but on the downhill side it was a little easier. I stopped at Painted Rock to put on my night gear, vest and leg warmers.

The temperature felt like it was dropping quickly. I was back on the bike and rolled into the last control at the Circle K in Marana. I was sitting on the floor (too cold and windy outside) enjoying a hot dog and Gatorade when John and Liz strolled in. The plan was to ride together to the finish. I walked outside and with the cold and wind I started shivering like crazy. I told Liz I needed to get moving to warm up, and they would probably catch me right away. So I hammered away on the frontage road screaming like a mad man that "ITS COLD" trying to warm up.

I never really warmed up. It was not that cold (low 50's?) , but with all the sweat from the day, my clothes were clammy and the wind chill didn't help. I really needed the poly pro base layer that I decided not pack for this ride. About 3 miles from Casa Grande I thought a 747 was landing right behind me. Actually it was John and Liz hammering away on the tandem. He had an array of incredibly bright lights on the bike that really lit up the road. I tagged on and held on for dear life as they picked up the pace headed for the finish line. At that point all I was thinking of was getting finished and wrapping up in the blanket in the Suburban!

We rolled into the finish at 9:55 pm (16:55 elapsed time) and checked in with Mike Sturgill. I hopped into the Suburban and changed into dry clothes and wrapped up in the blanket! A little later I said good bye and thanks to Mike for running a great Brevet, and John and Liz for their great company all day and dragging me in those last 7 miles!

I turned on the heater full blast and pointed the Sub toward Tempe and a warm bath!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

End of Pavement 200k Training Ride

Yesterday I decided to add a few miles onto the San Tan team ride to put in a 200k ride to get ready for next week's Araviaca 400k. I have always liked the End of Pavement (EOP) ride and it is a 100 mile round trip from the house so I figured if I tacked on the Team ride, it should be close to 124 miles or 200k.

EOP, as is known around here, is the place where the pavement ends on the Apache Trail, past Canyon Lake and Tortilla Flats, at the top of the hill before the descent to Fish Creek and Apache Lake.

Ride Report:

The alarm went off at 5:30 am and my first task was to fill up the Suburban with gas and buy two bags of ice for Debby. This action was required to secure my kitchen pass for the day. Debby was helping out with a percussion competition and needed the ice.

I was off at 6:15, heading for Paragon Cycling in Mesa. The team meets there for the 'shop' ride Saturday mornings. Its about 17 miles to the shop, I arrived there at 7:20, turned off my lights, and purchased a single shot of expresso at the coffee shop next store. With my water bottles topped off, and a shot of caffeine I was ready to go!

20 of us left the store at 7:35 and headed north toward past Falcon Field to Power Road/Bush Highway. It is about 15 miles to the Salt River Recreation headquarters at Bush and Ellsworth. From there you turn right for the climb up Usury Pass. We regrouped at the top of Usury Pass. No takers to join me to the EOP, so off I go.

At Brown and Apache Trail is a service station/convenience store called the Dash Inn. I topped off the water and grabbed a chocolate milk and was back on the road into a very strong headwind. There were several groups of riders heading back, moving very fast with the tailwind.

Soon I was working the switchbacks on the first climb. The ride is generally uphill to the EOP with three distinct climbs. The first is where the road twists and turns through the mountains above Canyon lake, the second, the climb out of the lake on the hill above Tortilla Flats. Lastly, the five miles UP from Tortilla Flats to the EOP.

There was some relief from the wind in the switchbacks. Soon I was on the downslope to the lake. The wind was so strong here that I didn't need to use the brakes on the descent to the lake (which was covered with white caps!).

Tortilla Flats was really hopping with winter visitors and motorcyclists. I stopped briefly to stow the arm and leg warmers and was back on the road. Here creek flows over the road, so I carefully rode through about 3-6 inches of creek flowing across the road.

Its five miles of steady climbing, most of it into a strong wind. Finally I reached the EOP:

At the End of Pavement

Turning around, I was at speed in no time. Suddenly I felt a sting in my hip. A bee was caught between my waist and thigh and nailed me. I shook it off, but too late to avoid the sting, and concentrated on the descent. I was back at Tortilla Flats in no time! My computer showed a max speed of 49.9 on the descent. I rode into the forest service campground at Tortilla Flats and topped off the water bottles for the run back into town.

I made great time, and stopped at the Chevron store at Brown and Ellsworth. I bought a hot dog and Sobe beverage for a little solid lunch. After I took the first bite I discovered it was a Jalapeno Dog, wow! Little bits of Jalapeno mixed into the meat(?) substance in the dog. Quite tasty, and no ill effects later!

Mark called me from Germany as I was riding along Lindsey road in Gilbert, and said; "where is everybody?" I told him I was 104 miles into a 120 mile ride and Mom and Mike were at a percussion competition. He was looking for someone to send him a report he wrote last year for English class that he wanted for school in Germany. I pointed out it was sunny and 84 and nice to be out on the bike! He is recovering from Karneval in Cologne germany (Here is his blog.) , having a great time, but missing our great riding weather.

I rolled into the driveway with the computer showing 8 hours and 14 minutes and 121.6 miles.

It was a great day on the bike. My only regret was forgetting the sunblock!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Fast 300K!

Casa Grade 300k Ride Report

February 7, 2009

Steve Atkins

All the ingredients for another wet desert brevet were aligning. The perfect weather the weekend before, increasing rain chances in the forecast, and my normal bad weather luck. So it was time to break out the Moots TailGator (normally I would not use the TailGator for a 300k brevet) and stuff it with my rain jacket, rain legs, and emergency blanket, just in case. I packed up the Suburban and was out of the house by 4:50 am and made my way to Casa Grande and arrived at the start at 5:30, plenty of time to get ready for the 6:00 start.

Susan moved the start/finish line to the 24 hour Wal-Mart in Casa Grande. A nice improvement over the alley in Historic Downtown Casa Grande! Hot coffee and ample restrooms were available at the start. After a quick rider briefing we were coursing our way through Casa Grande behind Susan’s brevet mobile. At the outskirts of town she pulled away and we were off.

The pace picked up right away with a strong group of riders from Calgary and the usual suspects (Sturgill, Enfield, Peskett) and we made great time to Coolidge. The temperature was a balmy 50 degrees and with my Patagonia base, jersey, vest and arm warmers I was quite toasty!

We turned onto the Pinal Pioneer Parkway and encountered a light headwind coming out of the south. The winds out of the south would increase throughout the day. The group worked well together and we pulled into the Tom Mix control, only 10 minutes after it opened at 8:10.

I left the control with the Canadians, Sturgill, and Peskett but could not keep up the pace and dropped off the group. I ending up riding to the Kinney control alone. I arrived to find Roger Peskett at the lunch control at 12:58. The rain never came and the sun had been out all day. I took the opportunity to take off the leg warmers and lather up with some sunscreen. Mike Enfield rolled in as I was heading out.

As I noted earlier the wind had been increasing all day. In fact, riding through Gates Pass, the wind was swirling quite strongly (20-25 mph) from all directions. Leaving the control and heading north, I enjoyed a great tailwind and motored along the next 20 miles with little effort and great velocity. Mike Enfield flashed by outside of Painted Rock.

Reaching the Circle K in Marana I topped off my water bottles and hoped the wind would hold, but as the route turned to the northwest, the great tailwind became a maddening cross-wind and slowed my progress greatly.

Susan changed the course to avoid the dreaded 10 mile pull into La Palma, instead, we headed into Eloy. I reloaded my water bottles for the last time at the Circle K there and headed due north to 11 Mile Corner. With the change in direction, the wind was again mostly a nice tailwind, and with the fresh road surface those 8 miles flew by.

Turning west for the last 8 miles to the finish, the wind again became a ‘training aid’ to add a little exclamation point to the brevet. I rolled into the finish at 5:25 and a couple of other riders will milling about. Paul Layton pulled up at 6 as I was finishing getting packed up. I jumped into the Panda Express for a nice dinner and was on my way home.

With the fast start and generally favorable wind conditions, this was my fastest 300k at 11 hours and 25 minutes.

Special thanks to Mike Rollinson for stopping by the house at mid-day to spend some time with the dogs (Debby and Michael were in California with the Corona Steel Drum Band).

Another great Arizona Brevet – Thanks Susan!!!

Click here to go to Susan's website with links to other blogs.