This ride wasn't necessarily an epic ride, but it was awesome! The weather was the total opposite of the 400k last month and made for absolutely great riding. I have been having some problems with front tire flats, so before this ride I decided to switch from cloth rim tape to Contenental's high pressure rim straps. It was a little tricky getting the valve hole lined up, but boy does it cover those spoke eyelets. The end result was a flat free 372 miles! Woohoo!
I also had problems with my new Profile Design T2+ Cobra aero bars. The left arm rest kept slipping and it turns out the carbon was pinched under the clamp. I tried moving it, but the same thing happened. Don't know if it's just a flawed bar or if I put too much pressure on it when I use it. Dang. So I ran down to Landis and picked up replacement arms for my trusty old Airstrykes to use for this ride. I'll work with Mike Cox and Jeff to see if we can find a better way to secure the arm rests on the Cobras because I would like to use those for my record attempt next month.
Anyway... since the 600k started at 4 am I decided to spend the night in Casa Grande. As luck would have it we were experiencing a nasty wind storm when I left. I had my bike on top of Annette's Saturn and was keeping an eye on it through the sun roof. Some of the wind gusts were strong enough to really rock the car while I was driving. Shortly after getting out of town I was passing another car when a particularly strong gust of wind hit. I heard a pop, looked up and saw the front end of my bike lifting off the car! Crap! Hit the brakes and headed to the shoulder as fast as possible! We have Saturn's upright bike rack on that car so the arm that clamps to the down tube was all that was holding the bike to the car. No damage done, but it certainly was a scare! I took the front wheel off, put the back seats down and stuffed the bike in the trunk for the rest of the trip! Guess a 75 mph headwind + one heck of a strong cross wind was too much for it! Not a good way to start the weekend!
I got up at 3 am to start getting ready. I decided I wanted a shower and was kind of taking my time since the start was less than 5 minutes away. Of course I took longer than I should have and wound up rushing to the start and got there minutes before we left. I had just enough time to get my stuff on. On Friday Jeff told me to ride my rollers for 30 minutes and think about how I wanted to ride the course. The group headed out of town at a faster pace than what I wanted, so I dropped off right away and started riding my own pace. I was maintaining an easy distance pace gradually working my way up to an endurance pace, where I wanted to spend the majority of my ride. I think Mike Sturgill must have led the rest of the group out because I caught and past them several miles after we went under I-10 and well before Eloy. I could occasionally see one lone blinking light off in the distance and figured it had to be Mike.
When I got to the first checkpoint at Picacho Peak, Mike was there working on his rear derailleur. The cable snapped and he had to ride a 39x11 for quite a while to get to the checkpoint. Ouch! Lesson learned: Have your cables checked and/or replaced at least once a year! :-) I didn't have a cable or the knowledge to help, so I headed out. Mike was able to use a stick to set the derailleur at an easier gear and quickly caught up to me. He stayed on my wheel for a short while until Steve Atkins pulled up with a Campy cable that worked with Mike's Shimano components. I knew I wouldn't be of much help, so I didn't wait around to find out if it would work. Besides I figured Mike would catch up to me sooner or later.
Sure enough just as I was finishing up at the checkpoint in Casa Grande, Mike pulled in and was ready to go again before I was! We were just pulling out when Catherine Shenk pulled into the checkpoint. She's a pretty impressive rider! Mike and I worked together for quite a while and I started working harder than I should have. Soon my heart rate was going from aerobic to no man's land and touching lactate threshold. When Mike pulled I was in a low aerobic zone, then I'd go to the front and get into no man's land or creep up to the bottom of LT. At one point I looked back and Mike had dropped off. I eased off and when he came up he said he was getting over a cold and didn't want to cook himself! Dang! Wish I knew that when we started! I said that was good to hear, for me, not him! And we took it a little easier after that. We did stop at that small convenience store (the Road Runner Market on Houghton) that we skipped last year and I bought an emergency bottle of water to stick in my jersey for the climb up to Sonoita.
When we turned onto SR83 headed to Sonoita I told Mike I was going to take it easy on the climb and I dropped off his wheel. I took my time and was shocked when I got to the top! Last year that hill was absolutely brutal. I ran out of fluids at least 10 miles before Sonoita and was seriously considering abandoning. This time I was expecting the hill to be brutal and was better about conserving strength and water. The result: I got to Sonoita with an almost full bottle remaining and an untouched emergency bottle! If you have the chance to do a reconnaissance ride for an unknown course, I would highly recommend it, even if it's just the key parts of the course! What a difference! Mike was just leaving when I got to the market in Sonoita. I took my time there and just as I was leaving Catherine pulled up again. She said the climb was brutal and not at all what she expected! Knowing the course has huge advantages!
The wind had been relatively calm all day until Sonoita, then it really picked up. Luckily if was a tail wind and I absolutely flew to Tombstone, maintaining over 30 mph a lot of the way. It was fantastic! Nothing like a good strong tailwind to refresh the legs and get the motivation back up! I made if from Casa Grande to Tombstone in 11 hours 30 minutes including 1 hour and 8 minutes for various rest stops or check points.
Mike was talking with Susan when I got there, but he quickly headed back out, not even waiting to eat the pasta Susan was preparing. The weather channel predicted that the wind would calm down between 8pm and 9pm, so I figured that's when I would head back. Last year I relaxed on the couch for a few hours then slept for a few more spending about 9 hours relaxing in Tombstone. This time I was a little torn. I wanted the rest, but I was also curious to see how I would do on an overnight ride since that's what my record attempt would be. So after I had Susan's great pasta, I immediately headed for a shower and a bed. I slept pretty soundly for an hour, maybe two, then started to toss and turn. Couldn't get back to sleep. The wind had calmed down quite a bit (at least I couldn't hear it howling through the window any more), so I decided it was time to head out. I got there at 3:30pm and left at 7:42 pm, spending just about 4 hours resting.
I wasn't sure what stores would be open in the middle of the night, so I stopped at a Circle K when I was headed out of Tombstone to get an emergency bottle for later. The temperature was dropping, but I had my arm and leg warmers on and wasn't too bad. I stopped at a Shell station about 20 miles out of Tombstone and re-filled a bottle. The temperature was dropping, so I put a light jacket on and kept going. When I got back to Sonoita the stores were closed, but I heard people calling my name. I pulled in to find Susan, Gerry Goode and another gentleman whose name I didn't catch. Gerry had pulled into that same Shell station that I did, but his bike fell over and a light mount broke. They were just finishing fixing it when I got there. Susan had some water, so I filled a bottle and the other gent (wish I caught his name!) had some food, so I took a banana.
Gerry led us out of Sonoita and I stayed on his wheel for a bit, but I wasn't working quite hard enough to keep warm, so I stopped and put my skull cap on. Nothing like a skull cap to keep the body warm! Gerry had gotten quite a bit in front of me, but I just maintained an endurance pace and caught him somewhere before the top. We were on a slight climb when I went around and Gerry reminded me to watch the speed bumps on the descent but he didn't join me for the rest of the climb. Great guy! I took the descent relatively fast, in my drops instead of aerobars so I would have good control when I hit those speed bumps (they weren't above ground but were grooves in the road that feel like washer-board). At one point a deer startled me as much as I startled it. It started running along the shoulder next to me, then ran up a small hill and turned and looked at me. Just glad it didn't decide to try to cross the road, that would have been ugly! I made really good time and was surprised to see the Road Runner Market on Houghton was still open (it closed at midnight and I think I went by sometime around 11ish).
The ride back to Sahuarita was quite pleasant. There wasn't much traffic with a full moon and no noise. I had a small incident in Sahuarita that I won't go into detail about because my wife worries enough as it is, but someone was looking for a gas station and I couldn't understand him because he was speaking in Spanish. At midnight you really don't want someone asking you questions in Spanish when you are riding a bike and you don't speak the language! Someone in another car got it straightened out and we all went on our merry way. No big deal (now).
The rest of the ride back to Casa Grande was pretty uneventful. There wasn't much wind and I was able to ride easy most of the way. If you ever get a chance to ride by Old Tucson and Saguaro National Monument at 2 am, I highly recommend it! Quite peaceful and the rollers make for a fun ride! But when I got back to Sandario road I was getting pretty tired of sitting on my saddle and spent more and more time out of the saddle spinning up and coasting while leaning against the edge of my saddle. Not very efficient, but at that point I just didn't care any more. I wasn't bonking or anything, just tired of sitting. Total time to get back to Casa Grande was 10 hours 59 minutes with 59 minutes at various stops.
I was supposed to keep this as base miles, which means low aerobic zone or below. I did pretty good!
Zone 4 (lactate Threshold):
4 minutes (I blame Sturgill for this! ;-) )
Zone 4 (lactate Threshold):
Now if I can just do that again for this weekend's back to back 200k's through the Salt River Canyon!
Copyright © 2006 by Mike Enfield. All rights
Revised: 04/06/09 11:29:48 -0700.