Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saguaro National Park 300k Brevet

Ride Report

Before I get to the ride report, Susan Plonsky our regional brevet administrator made a few changes to this years route. I have only one word: BRAVO!

She eliminated the spur past the Marana batch plant and the pothole laden Airport road to Silverbell near the I-10 in Tucson. Instead, she added Twin Peaks Road, a new divided boulevard with bike lanes through 'new' Marana all the way to Silverbell for the approach to Gates Pass. To make up for the loss of mileage here, she added a few miles in Casa Grande at the start, again all on great road surfaces! Thanks Susan!

OK now for the ride report: Over 40 riders lined up for yesterday's Arizona Randonneurs 300 Brevet. The Round Trip Bike Shop in Casa Grande opened early to host the start of this brevet and offer last minute cycling needs, rest room, and most importantly a warm place to wait for the ride to begin!

Reflective bikes and Randonneurs at the start

I arrived in plenty of time to set up and check in. After nearly forgetting my brevet card in the rest room at the bike shop we were ready to start.
Balaclava in place; stop shivering for a clear picture!

Susan had a number of volunteers working the event today so she was able to ride with the group, so that meant no 'brevetmobile' leadout. So as we roll out of the bike shop I turn on my computer. No speed or heart
rate data  is registering. I check the speed sensor and my strap and restart the computer. Nothing. As we rounded the first turn, I noticed the front wheel quick-release is on the wrong side. I pull out of the pace line, flip the wheel and rejoin the group that was caught (luckily for me) at a red light. With the sensor magnet on the correct side, I had speed and distance data, but still no heart rate.

The monitor strap needs a little moisture between it and skin to work. Since it was under several layers of clothing, I figured I would deal with it later. A group of ten or so riders formed at the front led by Stephen Kenny and his merry group of fast Canadians from Alberta. We settled into a nice pace as we dropped into agricultural area just outside of Coolidge AZ. As we descended past the Community College the temperature continued to drop. Later in the day, Dick Wiss mentioned his Garmin computer registered a very cold 24 degrees in this section of the ride!

Soon we were on the Pinal Parkway heading toward the sun and the first checkpoint at the Tom Mix roadside memorial. The group worked well together in a single file pace line and our spirits lifted with the increasing temperatures! We were in and out the checkpoint within ten minutes, our group of ten still intact. Now that I was warm and sweating my heart rate monitor was working fine! As the grade and pace increased, I let the group go and settled into my own pace and enjoyed the very lovely morning. I recorded the following video just as I reached the "summit" at about the 63 mile mark:

I rolled through Oro Valley and stopped at the Circle K on Tangerine to refill my bottles, down a Starbucks Frappachino (Caffeine and sugar, yummy), peel off a few layers and add sunscreen. Back on Tangerine, I turned left on Twin Peaks Road for the descent to I-10 and Silverbell road. It is a new road that leads to a new overpass at I-10 and is a huge route improvement!

I caught Dick Wiss at a stoplight on Silverbell and we rode together to the control at Kinny Road. Here we were greeted by volunteers at the checkpoint offering sandwiches and Cokes.

Volunteers seeking shade!
Soon Dick and I were rolling out of the checkpoint heading north toward the finish. As we cleared the Desert Museum we were greeted with a stout headwind that stayed with us until we made the final turn westward only a few miles from the finish. We also came upon the local rider often spotted in the area known as The Wolf.

We worked together to the Circle K in Marana and as we headed up the dreaded I-10 frontage road I started to suffer, and Dick did most of the work dragging us along and keeping the conversation going. When we pulled off at Picacho School Road I told Dick to go ahead and I backed it off a little further. I limped into Eloy and stopped at the Circle K there for one last reload of water bottles. I needed a jolt, so I pounded down a Starbucks Doubleshot.

As I headed up toward the information control, the Doubleshot did its magic and I was able to generate some good power and speed for the last 20 miles of the ride.

Its a secret!
I rolled into the Round Trip Bike Shop just before 6 pm for a time of 11 hours and 55 minutes. I visited with Russ, Dick, and the checkpoint volunteers for a few minutes then headed back to Tempe, happy that this one was behind me.

Steve Atkins

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Casa Grande Ruins 200km Brevet

Ride Report

The Southern Arizona Randonneurs 2011 brevet season started with a very well attended 200km brevet on January 8, 2011. Over 60 riders, a new record, set out from the Round Trip Bike shop in Casa Grande at 7:30am heading out for the first of two legs to this 200km brevet. I arrived and checked in with plenty of time and was very excited to see such a great turnout, lots of new riders and many of the 'usual suspects!'

The group rolled out without Susan's brevet-mobile 'lead out' since a number of riders had not yet checked in at departure time. We settled into a nice controlled pace as we headed out of town. By the time we reached the I-10 overpass, a group of about 20+ riders had formed at the front and we worked together making great time to the first checkpoint at the ruins, only minutes after it opened at 9am.

Last year I was amazed by the speed of the check-in and ended up being left behind. This year I bolted to the restroom first to reload my water, then get my card stamped, and then get back on the bike. Even then, about 6 riders were already gone. I set out and tacked onto a group that caught me and by the time we turned onto Martin road, the group had reformed with about 12 riders. We worked together and were back at the bike shop just after 10am.

When we arrived I went right to my Suburban and reloaded food and got rid of one layer and my booties. I checked in at the bike shop and was back on the road with two other riders. We rode together out of town and I dropped off when the pace picked up. Soon the large group caught me and I tacked on. I stayed with them as we entered the reservation and took a few pulls at the front. Once we hit the rollers, I decided the pace was a little too hot and dropped off. A tandem and one rider from the Canadian team had the same idea and we formed our own little group and worked well together to the turnaround on Indian 15.

Susan Plonsky at the Lunch Turn-around

After a Coke and a wrap I was back on my way towards Casa Grande. The tandem team and I shared the work much of the way through the reservation. They decided to take a break and I continued on alone. They caught me again just as we left the reservation, but flatted soon thereafter. They had everything they needed for the repair, so I rode the in rest of the way solo.

I arrived back at the shop a little after 2pm, (6 hrs 40 min). I was very happy with my time and had a great day on the bike. The weather was cool and sunny, the winds were light, and it was a great start to the 2011 brevet season. I am already looking forward to the Saguaro National Monument 300km brevet in just three weeks!

Steve Atkins