Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Arivaca 400k Brevet Ride Report

My trusty steed, just before the ride.

About 30 riders gathered in the predawn darkness of the Casa Grande Walmart parking lot for this year's Arivaca 400 Brevet. The ride starts at 5 am so I try to arrive between 4:15 and 4:30 so I can change into my riding kit in the restrooms. I am always struck by the ubiquitous greeter; "welcome to Walmart sir" at 4:20 in the morning! As I turn the corner into the brightly lit big box cavern, I discover most of the people actually in the store are randonneurs cued up in the rest room!

Susan Plonsky, our Regional Brevet Administrator, outlined the rules for the day and we soon were pressing off into the darkness that is Arizola road. 2 miles later we were on the main road and the pace picked up. I jumped in with the fast group and we were at the first check point in no time.

This group was running a little too hot for me, so I lingered a few minutes (Roger Peskett, Paul Danhause, and Dick Wiss left while I was milling around) with Russ Cummings and we set off together. We caught Dick Wiss and formed a trio that held together all the way to the Arivaca control. We shared brevet and PBP stories that made the rough Mission road to Helmet Peak go by quite quickly. We carefully descended into Green Valley, being especially alert not to miss the turn into the control in Green Valley (see last year's post). We reloaded and were on our way to the frontage road. FLAT!
Dick hit a deep crack in the pavement and pinch flatted. He changed the tube and we were soon back on our way and heading east onto Arivaca road. Here is where I started to suffer. Russ and Dick were just chatting away and I had to really work to stay with them. The scenery was spectacular, the hills were covered with bright yellow wildflowers. The rain has been very kind to the desert this year. Soon we were descending into Arivaca and were 'greeted' by a local that must have been irritated by all the cyclists on the road so he leaned into his horn as an extended welcome to Arivaca!Susan Plonsky at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Preserve and Control Point

I enjoyed a turkey wrap and Coke and was able to catch up with Susan. She does such a great job organizing our Brevets, I always feel badly about rushing through the control. Since I was feeling so crappy, when Russ and Dick were ready to go, I told them to go ahead, I was going to try to recover a bit. Susan and I were able to visit and catch up. When the next group of riders rolled in, I decided that I should get going and pushed off.

Riding alone on the road to Robles Junction was not a wise choice, as there was a strong headwind most of the way. About 2/3's of the way to Robles, Dave Lehnen and Mike and Susan Snow caught me and I jumped on. I was able to hang on and take a pull into the store at Robles. I reloaded and pushed out ahead of the group and told them they would probably sweep me up again. They did at Saguaro National Monument. I tacked on again but became chilled as we descended through Painted Rock and I peeled off to put on another layer at the convenience store.

They were getting ready to go at the Circle K in Marana when I arrived. I needed a longer break and wished them good luck. I picked up some beans and chocolate milk and plopped down on the floor in a corner of the store. Its always interesting to see the looks of Circle K customers as they walk in and see a cyclist on the floor enjoying a can of baked beans!

I knew it would be cold when I got back on the bike and it was. I again failed to consume enough calories during the day and would pay for it on a cold 45 mile slog into the finish. I grabbed a hot coffee in Eloy and finally rolled into the finish just before midnight.

So 18 hours and 48 minutes after we started, I was tapping on Susan's window in the Walmart parking lot to wake her up and turn in my brevet card. We said good by and I tossed my bike in the back of the Suburban and climbed into my sleeping bag. I couldn't fall asleep and decided to get something to eat and head home. I slipped into the house without waking the dogs and crashed in the guest room.

I always seem to suffer on the Arivaca 400. The 2010 edition was no exception!

Steve Atkins

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Carefree 200k Training Ride

Next week is the Arivaca 400k brevet so this week I figured I needed a 200k training ride. I haven't done this ride this year and with all the rain, I figured the desert would really be in bloom!

Mark and a bunch of his NROTC buddies were staying at the house last night and decided they would leave for Austin at 6 am this morning. Sounded like a good starting time for my ride, so we got up together. Five of them packed into a 4-door Yaris, I mounted my trusty 5500 and we were off. Me for 8 hours and 123 miles heading north to Carefree; they headed east to cover 950 miles in 17 hours. I am home writing about it, they are still on the road!

As I was packing up last night, I went to refill my Thermolyte container. D'oh! Only 8 tabs, only about half of what I need for a 200k ride. Luckily, Mike Rollinson, Hurt Locker Founder and personal trainer had a supply. I picked up some tabs at his house on my way out.

Very mild morning, 58 when I left the house, but as the sun came up so did the wind. Mostly north and north east, so big headwind to the half-way point. At least it was a cross-wind going up 9 mile hill. I topped off the bottles at the Shell Station at the top of the hill. After a short downhill, back up into the wind on Pima. I reached the Bartlett Lake turn off just after 10am. Apparently there is a mussel problem here in the desert!

Happily back on the road with a great tail-wind I was back to Dynamite road in no time. I still had one full bottle so I decided to skip the Shell station and top off at the Circle K in Fountain Hills. I stopped just outside Rio Verde to snap a photo of some neat blue wild flowers. They reminded me of the Blue Bells back in Texas!

Reaching the Circle K in Fountain Hills, I reloaded my bottles and grabbed a turkey sandwich. I took a little break and soon was flying down the Beeline with the wind at my back. When I crossed the mighty Salt River on Country Club road, and entered the swirling vortex known as Mesa AZ, the tailwind was no more. I think I hit every light on Extension, but made it home just before 2.

Felt like I had gas left in the tank. My calorie intake was 302 per hour, a little less than I was shooting for, but better than the last two sub-300 calories per hour rides. Will need to focus on eating a little more on the 400 next week!

Steve Atkins

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Saguaro National Park/Casa Grande 300k Brevet

Obligatory Weather Comment:

I suppose that it is only natural as a brevet rider to complain about the weather. I was really prepared for wet 300k. As late as Wednesday the long term forecast called for 50-70% rain chances all day Saturday. I guess that's why they call it a forecast!

Conditions for this year's 300k turned out to be nearly perfect (except for a few blasts of head/cross wind in Marana and the last few miles). The weather was mild and wind was at our backs most of the day. All the rain gear I had been trying out over the past few weeks stayed in Moots Bag!The reflective riders before the start

As I was preparing my coffee at 4:35 am for the drive down to Casa Grande, I received a text from Mike Rollinson, wondering if I was on the road yet. I called him back to ask him why he was up at that early hour, and he said he had been up all night supporting a relay road race. He wished me luck and I was down the road and at the Wal Mart in 45 minutes with plenty of time to get ready.

I jumped in with the fast group knowing I would get spit out early due the the stomach flu I had been pestered with all week. The group split after we turned on Pinal Parkway and I stayed in the back. We rolled into the first checkpoint at a little after 8. The fast movers were leaving as we arrived. I jumped on Roger Peskett's wheel and we worked together almost to the top of the hill. Roger was too strong for me so I watched him head up the hill. I stopped at the top for a couple of photos. There was plenty of snow on Mt. Lemmon!

I coasted alone into Tuscon and stopped at a new Circle K on Tangerine to reload. As I was refilling my bottles, Paul Layton and Wayne Churchman rolled in. We left together and made our way to Silverbell. Wayne excused himself from the group and Paul and I traded pulls until we neared Gates Pass, Paul dropped off to his own climbing pace. I arrived at the Kinney Road control and reloaded my bottles.

I normally would rave about Susan's wraps at this point in the blog. I decided due to the stomach and intestinal distress I had all week, I would stick to the liquid fuel that seemed to be working so far. So I was out of there pretty quick. Plus, the wind was from the south so I wanted to jump on and take advantage.

It was a great tailwind until I reached the Marana airport, where it became a fierce headwind. I stopped at the airport to call Debby and let her know I was feeling weak and to take a break. We talked for a while and I decided to get up and get going. Just then Paul Layton and Russ Cummings rolled by. I jumped on and caught them by the time they turned on Sanders road.

We worked together and our speed continued to climb with the growing tail wind. We stopped at the Dairy Queen to reload and we were back on the road. After a couple of rotations, I started to feel some cramps so I let them go and dialed back my pace. The wind was also making its way around the compass; going from blessing to curse!

Reaching Eloy the cross/head wind became quite annoying. When I turned North to 11 mile corner, my speed picked up and I made good time to SR287 with the wind again at my back. Turning west into the wind, and not being able to generate any power, I trudged on in to the finish as at whopping average speed of under 10 miles an hour for the last 9 miles!


I rolled in at 12 hours 7 minutes for the 190 miles. My second fastest 300k and only 25 minutes slower than my personal best for this distance. Being sick all week definitely reduced the on board glycogen and I suffered for it at the end. Plus, I was only able to consume about 200 calories per hour during the event, which also contributed to my lack of power at the end.

This week will be an easy week with the San Tan Criterium, then back to building distance for the 400 in four weeks!

On the Pinal Parkway, while the ride was still fun!

Steve Atkins