Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gila River Valley 200k Brevet

February 18, 2012
Ride Report

The sun came up just at Tom Baker started the pre-ride meeting for the first running of the Gila River Valley 200k. About 20 souls showed up for this brevet designed by Tom and now part of the Arizona Randonneurs Brevet Series. Thanks to Tom and Susan for adding this new ride to the calendar!

Some of the usual suspects had signed up for the ride including Lonnie Epic Wolf from Utah. He was also attending a horse show in Scottsdale and was able to slip his brevet machine into the truck and out of the hotel for today's ride. Unfortunately, he rolled into the start just as we were rolling out!
Tom Baker, noting the direction of the start!

A tandem team of Paul Danhaus and Jenn Bixby from Wisconsin also were in attendance. When Tom announced that is was 7 am and time to go, I rolled out with Carlton van Leuven. Temperatures were in the low 40's, but the sun was up and there was little wind. Soon we were joined by Paul and Jenn and we worked together heading toward Sacaton. This was Carlton's first ride of the season over 50 miles and he decided to drop back. We continued through the village of Sacaton and stopped for a short break at the convenience store across from the Veteran's Park. One of the Marines in the famous Iwo Jima photo is from Sacaton and honored here! (Ira Hayes - Wikipedia has his story with a tough ending)!

Leaving Sacaton we were faced with the most brutal climb of the day, nearly 6 miles of 2-3% grade!!!! Once we cleared the top we congratulated each other, happy that the day's climbing was behind us! Soon we were rolling easily into Casa Grande and the first Checkpoint. Mick McCombs pre-rode the course with Tom Baker and was an ever-present support volunteer. He was in the parking lot of the Frys in Casa Grande and was able to sign our cards and refill our water bottles. Thanks Mick!

As we were rolling out, Mick mentioned that Susan had seen Lonnie working his way up toward the front of the peloton. We left the check point and soon were heading into the building wind on the 12 mile run to Eloy on Jimmy Kerr Boulevard. We reached the Circle K in Eloy recorded the answer to the Information Control Question and reloaded our bottles and took a natural break.

I called Mick and he said that Lonnie was only about 10-20 minutes behind us. I told Paul and Jenn that I wanted to wait for Lonnie so we could catch up. As Paul and Jenn took off Carlton rolled in and soon after that Lonnie rolled in, surprised that we were waiting for him. Another group from the Arizona Bicycle Club was on a ride to Tucson, so this little Circle K was quite overrun with cyclists!
Lonnie's Circle K Lunch!

Carlton enjoying a beverage

Lonnie was a little surprised to see us!

Soon we were rolling out of the Circle K; heading north with a nice quartering tailwind. The road is flat, straight, and unremarkable. A great section to ride with friends and share stories!

Here is a little video, sorry about the wind noise:

Our little trio rolled to and through Coolidge. Our quartering tailwind had shifted to a stout cross-wind and with the rough road, our group was suffering. As we neared the Pinal Pioneer Parkway, Lonnie decided to drop off, take a break, and ride the rest of the way in alone. We bid him good luck and farewell as we continued to ride toward Florence.

Mick was again waiting for us at the Information control at the intersection of the Old Florence-Kelvin Highway. He signed our cards, filled our bottles and we were on our way. The wind was continuing to build out of the west as we rolled through Florence and past the barbed wire and guard towers that surround the various units of the Arizona State Prison!

Leaving Florence we began what could be called the 'tour de foreclosure.' Lot's of partially completed developments and many empty houses in the Queen Creek area. I had no idea there was an Anthem development on the southeast side of the Valley!

We reached the Queen Creek Olive Mill and with only 5 miles to go I was somewhat temped to stop in for a wine tasting and a gourmet sandwich. They feature locally grown and processed olive oil, fine sandwiches and local Arizona wines. It was bustling with a live band and lots of traffic - next time!

We pointed our steeds into the wind and clicked off the last few miles of Chandler Heights Road, rolling into the Bashas' at Power Road, 7 hours and 38 minutes after we had started. RBA extraordinaire Susan Plonsky signed us in putting this brevet officially in the bag!

Paul Danhaus stopped by on his way out and soon Lonnie joined us at the finish line. Overall a great new route ridden with some great old friends!

Steve Atkins

Lonnie at the finish
Susan, not buying some of our stories

Post ride recovery meal!