Sunday, August 19, 2012

High Country 200km Brevet

August 18, 2012
Show Low Arizona
Ride Report


With the Whitney Classic only a few weeks away, Michael and I have been dialing up the distance and climbing. Last week we worked in an 85 mile ride from Mormon Lake to the AZ Snow Bowl from the St. Timothy's Father/Son camp out with our Whitney teammate, Daniel Tansill. This week, we put the High Country 200km Brevet on the training plan. Another Whitney teammate, Carlton van Leuven had signed up so we were looking forward to riding with him and getting some distance and climbing in.

We headed up to Show Low Friday afternoon and checked into our room near the start and drove through town looking for a spot for the pre-ride meal. We stopped into the Elements Bistro (tiny cafe that started dinner service on Friday/Saturday nights only a few weeks ago). We had the place to ourselves. They did not have any PKU friendly items on the menu, but Michael, our waitress, and the chef combined the vegetable of the day (zucchini and squash) with the special (spaghetti and meatballs) to make stir fry veggies over pasta with marinara sauce! It was great.

The Ride

We were up at 5, packed, coffee'd and at the starting line at 5:30. The ground and roads were very wet from some heavy overnight rain. It was cool at the start so we pulled on the arm warmers for the start.

All smiles at the start
Paul Layton, today's Trail Boss, pre-rode the course on Friday and was doused with heavy rain. He noted in the pre-ride briefing that historically on this ride, if the pre-ride is dry then the event is usually wet. Since he was hammered with rain, our day should be dry. We packed our rain jackets anyway, but his prediction was correct and our rain jackets stayed stowed all day.
Paul Layton - Trail Boss
Some of the usual suspects, Roger Peskett and Russ Cummings, were at the start and at precisely 6 am, we were off. We soon formed the lead group with Roger, Russ, and Kevin Arps.
The Lead Group, Kevin, Roger, Russ, Carlton

Just outside Show Low after a pull a the front
About 45 minutes into the ride, Carlton flatted (small rock from the wet roads) and the group went on while Michael and I helped Carlton change his tire. The middle group of riders went by while we were stopped, but we were soon back on the road.
After Carton's flat
After Carlton's flat we rode as a three man group. The first checkpoint was the small store in Vernon. Since the store was closed, our ever-present Trail Boss was there to sign our cards and refill our bottles. The middle group was checking in and left a few minutes after we arrived. The riding was spectacular with lots of rollers and sweeping views. We caught the middle group somewhere in this section when they pulled off at the top of a roller to peel off a layer. With the sun up, it was starting to get a little warm. We made great time to the twin cities of Springerville/Eager. We stopped at the Eager Circle K to reload our bottles as Kevin rolled in. We left together to climb the hill outside of Eager. It was a steady climb of about 8 miles. It was very warm on the climb. As we neared the top, a group of very enthusiatic young women leaned out of the window of their car as they passed shouting "Venga, Venga Venga!"

Paul and Mike at the Top of the Big Hill
Paul set up a SAG stop at the top of the hill on the road outside the scenic view. We reloaded our bottles, had a quick snack and were back on the road. Our Italian fans had stopped as well and shouted additional words of encouragement. We shouted back Buon Giorno! and were on our way.
Most of the climbing is behind us!
With the climbing behind us we were treated to more sweeping views on a grassy plateau at 9000+ feet elevation. The only drawback to this section were the very annoying, rough, and wide frost cracks on the road. It was about 5 miles of punishing road surface (AZ 261), but with little traffic and great views, we could endure the pounding. Soon we turned on AZ 273 toward Big Lake and the road improved considerably. As we approached the turn off to the Big Lake check point, we waved to Russ and Roger, already on their way back to Show Low.
Mike on the rough section

AZ 261

The checkpoint is the general store at Big Lake. It had more camping and fishing tackle than food, but we found some Campbell's soup (cream of mushroom for Mike and Carlton, I dined on a can of cream of chicken) in pop top cans that made a very tasty lunch. At about 300 calories per can, loaded with sodium, and served at room temperature they were consistency of pudding. A perfect brevet lunch!

Kevin rolled up as we savored our meal. We took a somewhat leisurely time with lunch and Kevin left just before we decided to get going.
Lunch at the General Store

Big Lake AZ
A great day at Big Lake
 The road surface on AZ 273 was great; a good shoulder with light traffic. As we left Big Lake we cheered approaching riders as they made their way to the checkpoint. The next 16 miles from Big Lake back to AZ 260 were very nice, the wind picked up but the scenery was great as we passed the trail heads to Mount Baldy and rode past the Sunrise Ski Resort. Once on the 260 our quartering headwind became a tail wind and we started the long descent back to Show Low (2500 feet over 38 miles). We rolled through McNary and decided to make one last stop at the Hon-Dah convenience store just outside Pinetop. With our bottles filled and a quick snack we pointed our steeds toward Show Low and covered the last 17 miles in less than an hour in somewhat heavy Saturday afternoon traffic.

Paul Layton was at the finish when we rolled in  8 hours and 38 minutes after we started. Thanks again to Paul, he was ever-present to support the riders and pre-rode the course alone on Friday to support the randonneurs and be the Trail Boss on Saturday. He took care of our paperwork and we packed up. Carlton had an extra O'Doulles for Michael so we toasted our success in the parking lot, cleaned up and headed for home.

We all agreed that this was a fantastic route, in perfect weather, with great friends!

Steve Atkins