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