There were between 45 and 50 riders at the start which is more than ever show up for any of our local NM brevets. Everyone sporting some sort of light, some quite bright and others barely visible, for the 6am start with a 730ish sunrise.
This year the start was much more casual than last year and a good group formed of about 12 riders. After about 25 miles I was feeling like the little sister and sprinted ahead to pull over while letting the rest know what I was up to. As the group rolled by I heard someone yell to soft peddle and when I finished my business and got back on there were 4 or 5 others taking advantage of the break as well. So we regrouped and chased down the rest of the group that had continued on and rode into the first check point at about 45 miles.
Everyone took care of their business and we all got don to work grinding out the Pinal Parkway, which is one of those "climbs", 1 percent grade for 25 miles or so and into a light headwind. As we neared the top it becomes more rolling and couple of the guys could not help but push the pace a bit and the group broke up. Chris and I probably could have stayed with the three in front but decided that with 100-120 miles still to go it was not the best idea. Lucky for us the guys that popped earlier where big, meaning that once things leveled off they went steaming by and we hopped on for the free ride up to the front three. We entered the outskirts of Tucson in a group of 8 or 10 and rode to another convenient stop at a gas station at about 90 miles to refill water. This section had some roads that were different from last year or at least repaved and was quite nice.
After toping off bottles we were all back on the road still together. Eventually we turned onto Silverbell Rd and followed it passed Ina Rd at which point the pavement gets terrible and the terrain becomes rolling. This naturally lead to the group breaking up again and this time pretty much for good. The ride up and over Gates Pass was longer than I remembered and narrower as well. We picked up one guy that fell off of the front group on our way to Gates Pass and rolled into the lunch stop will him to see the front 3 or 4 sitting there eating.
We probably could have hurried out of the lunch stop to leave with the lead group which were a bunch of Canadians, how are they in shape to hammer for hours coming from Canada?, but again decided to take our time and make sure we got enough fuel in our bodies to survive the rest of the ride. We ended up leaving the lunch stop with Roger Peskett and having a third to share the work with was nice for the return trip.
We ground around until we reach the I-10 frontage road and I had to stop to give my legs a break. I always go through a bad patch at some point on rides of 300km or longer, it just depends on how bad. A quick stretch and we were back on the road. The frontage road is pretty good to start but eventually the pavement deteriorates, it is like they tried to chip seal over the top of the old road surface and it did not all stick and in places the whole surface looks like checker board due to cracks. Through all this your scenery never changes, you are staring at Picacho Peak which looks oddly like a rumpled cowboy hat sitting beside the interstate. Luckily the road surface improves and you get to stop at Picacho Peak to refuel.
From here it is a series of long, straight and flat roads until you are only a couple of miles from the finish at which point you have to fight with traffic on Florence Blvd for a mile or so to get to the finish. We rolled into the finish a little after 5 in the evening, checked in and headed off to get some food and start driving back.
All in all it was a good ride for me, any ride of this length in which I don't have issues with cramps or an upset stomach is good, but I also managed to do my share of work on the front through out the day as well. Now it has been a week and I have not been on my bike since, not by choice though. NM got hit with the winter storm and temperatures of -5 to -10 for a low and in the teens for a high will put riding on hold for most, maybe not the Canadians that we rode with though. Hopefully I will get in about 60 miles tomorrow in 25-35 degree weather, riding when it sucks just makes the LONG rides so much easier when the weather is nice.