Thursday, April 21, 2011

600km Tombstone Brevet...quick China update

Today, Dylan and I hiked up Big Black Mountain again. This time with a couple of British kids, Cara (16) and John (12), their mom's hip was acting up so she did not come. This time we just went up to the high temple and back down the road as there were clouds billowing over the communication towers and the wind was picking up while we were at the temple. You notice a lot more when it is not raining, though it was cloudy. For example, you can see one of the high temples from the one at the bottom of the stairs, Linda and I never really looked up because of the rain. There are numbers painted on every hundredth step, so now I know that there are 1301 steps to get to the high temple and 1333 to get to the parking lot that the lazy take a shuttle up to. Later I found out that the staircase up to the communication towers has one unbroken section of about 500 as well, so something like 1900 steps to the top of the mountain. Anyway it was a nice day out and Dylan walked the first 100 or so steps on his own.

Well it has been awhile since I did the 600km Tombstone Brevet in Arizona with my dad. He flew out on Thursday and we had a pretty leisurely drive out on Friday from Albuquerque. We headed out to diner after checking into the hotel and tried to go to Olive Garden again (Chris and I had tried to go before the 300km). Now I'm baffled, it seems in Albuquerque you can just walk into Olive Garden whenever, but in Casa Grande there is always a 45min to hour long wait, at least on Friday night. Anyway, we found diner elsewhere and got to bed. We woke up early to have a real breakfast at the Denny's out in front of the hotel, then finished getting ready and headed to the ride start.

We checked in maybe 5 minutes before the start time and got ready to go. Everyone rolled out and things stayed pretty tame at the front end of the pack even with some yo-yoing and swerving within the lead group. Dad started to mention that the pace may be a bit high after going through Eloy and I mentioned that we would drop off once we hit the frontage road, which I did with my usual rest stop, though at this point dad was doing better and I told him to continue on as the pack rolled along the frontage road. I had been hoping to catch back up to the group, but apparently took too long relieving myself and shedding layers. Anyway, I tried and proceeded to set personal peak power output numbers for the year for intervals from 15-40 minutes, not the best idea at 25 miles into a 378 mile ride, but I figured that after the first check point we would be loosing the lead group anyway and easing up significantly. Thankfully dad dropped off the lead group before the first check point and drifted back to me and we cruised in to Marana as while the lead group was still getting snacks and such.

We headed out after taking care of things and rode on just the two of us until we reached Saguaro National Park where we made a quick stop and another group caught up to us and we ended up riding off and on with them through the end of Mission Rd which went much better this time. With out the heinous head wind from the 400km, we were averaging a couple mph faster that the fast group was on the 400km. Passing the race groups from the Tucson Bicycle Classic was pretty impressive with the noise they were making (headed downhill they sounded like a line of cars passing instead of bikes) and intimidating with the yellow line violations that were committed as we were riding the opposite direction.

After a stop in Continental at which I was hoping to get pizza but the shop in the gas station was closed, we headed out on Sahuarita Rd.. This road felt pretty grueling on the way out, like it was all uphill and into a headwind or something. I was definitely experiencing a low point along here and felling pretty frustrated. The we turned on Hwy 83 and things got worse. It looked like rollers but it felt as though we were going uphill the whole time. Eventually I could not bear it anymore and pulled over while dad continued on. I ate, stretched and watered a bush, no trees around. After my break I felt much better and cruised along passing dad on a long steady climb that seemed to be doing a number on his mental state. I pulled over at the top and waited for him and we rode down and into Sonoita and then the hero run into Elgin with a raging tailwind. It felt great to be cruising along at 25 mph with very little effort after suffering for 25 miles or so.

A little, but very late lunch for us at the Elgin Club provided by Susan and it was on the road to Tombstone. This bit was great, the sun had just set, there was very little traffic and a tailwind again. Of course this meant turning around and riding back into it. A light snack in Tombstone including a cup-o-noddles and we were on our way back having finished just over half the ride. Lucky for us the wind had started to die down by the time we were heading back though it was still there. It was very cold leaving Tombstone as we had cooled down and there is a steep downhill coming right out of town so we stopped and put more cloths on and continued on. Apparently there was a fair bit of downhill as well as the wind helping us on our way out to Tombstone as things were quite a bit slower headed back towards Elgin though we made steady progress and eventually were topping the last hill before the diner stop back at Elgin. That last downhill into Elgin almost had be shivering off the road and I was worried about making it to Sonoita and the hotel for the "night".

I put extra plastic on before we headed out again. Bags over my feet and legs to help block the wind. It turned out to not be as bad going from Elgin to Sonoita where we had a reservation at the Sonoita Inn which is really quite nice. By the time we made it to the Inn and found our key, made our way in finding my drop bag but not dad's (which got sent to the Elgin Club instead of the Inn) it was 2am and I managed to crawl into bed around 2:30 for a 5:30 wake up. I was not psyched when the alarm went off in the morning, but rolled out of bed to a pretty nice continental breakfast. After finishing getting ready to go we ran into Wim, a friend of Stephen's from Calgary, these Canadians use Tucson as a winter home. Anyway, Wim's wife encouraged him to hurry up and leave with us and I told him to not worry since he had rolled in at maybe 10 the previous night and I knew my dad would not stand a chance keeping up with him.

We got on the road about 6:30, a little later than planned but since the next checkpoint was 60 miles away it was not a big deal especially once I found out why I was so frustrated the day before. Turns out that after a couple of miles of rollers and one hill it was a raging downhill to Sahaurita Road, never dropping below 25 mph and Sahaurita Rd itself is mostly downhill as well. A stop at McDonalds was followed by a tedious (because it is dead straight) but relatively mild 5 mile climb took us back up to Mission Rd at the top of the rollers. This climb really took its toll on dad and he did not seem to be doing very well at this point, he was having trouble dismounting the bike and complaining of "stinging" in his legs. Needless to say we took it real easy through the rollers and then coasted the downhill on Mission Rd. It is always nice to get 15 miles in without having to push the peddles. We made it back into Tucson and took a nice long break to eat a sandwich and other stuff. We took it nice and easy through the rollers in Saguaro NP and again enjoyed a tailwind most of the way into Marana.

While I had been concerned for the last 50 miles or so if my dad would want to drop out, at this point I knew we would finish. We had maybe 6 or 7 hours to go 43 miles back to Casa Grande and while it was going to be slower than I wanted we would make it. The Frontage Rd along I-10 was bad again, for some reason everyone complains about this road, but for me it is not so bad when you are doing it in the morning or returning in the dark, but when you are headed north on it at the end of a ride and it is still light out it is every bit as bad as people say. We took a pretty long stop in Eloy just 14 miles from the finish, we did need to refuel, but ended up staying for quite some time. We left Eloy as it was getting dark and toddled along towards Casa Grande, at this point I was riding ahead then slowing down or waiting not wanting to get out of sight of my dad since I knew where we were going at this point. We eventually rolled into Round Trip Bike Shop a little after 8pm with under an hour to spare on the 40 hour time limit.

We loaded up the bikes and headed off to check in with Susan at her hotel and turn in our brevet cards. We checked into our hotel and cleaned up, talked a bit about going to get diner and decided that sleep was more important at that point. We both crashed hard and did not move till the morning. I got up and told dad I was going to get breakfast and went to the hotels continental. Eventually I finished breakfast and dad had not shown up so I headed back to the room to see what was up and he was not there either. Turns out he thought I meant that I was going to Denny's and he was equally confused when he got there and I was not in the restaurant.

We packed up and headed back to Albuquerque, through more snow (what is the deal, I get snowed on on my way home every time). We made it back home with just enough time to take apart dad's bike and put it in the box to head to the airport. All in all it was a good weekend, though Dylan wished Yeah-Yeah could have stayed longer or spent more time with him and let me know it on the way home from the airport.

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