Yesterday we had an eventful 200k out and back ride (starting in the Marana area and going to Summerhaven at the top of Mount Lemmon).  The ride started at 7am, but I didn't want to have to get up really early for the drive from Mesa to Tucson, so I spent Friday night at my brother Leo's house.  Leo's hospitality included a couple Sam Adams Cream Stouts to relax with after the drive (he knows I like dark beer, what a guy!).  Luckily he lives relatively close to where the ride started so I didn't have to get up too early to get to the start with plenty of time to spare.  Susan said there was a nasty accident on I-10 that was delaying some of the folks who were driving down from Phoenix that morning, so it was a good call to drive to Tucson Friday night.

Susan let us go right at 7am and I started to pull out with the group, but noticed my Polar wasn't working.  So I stopped and saw that I lost my speed sensor magnet on my rear wheel.  Luckily I hadn't removed the one I used with my old S710i on my front wheel, so I went back to Susan's truck and she loaned me a flat blade screwdriver to move the magnet from my front wheel to my rear wheel.  The group was well out in front of me, so I tried to take my time warming up down Tangerine road, but there were some rolling hills (maybe a headwind?) and I seemed to be working harder than I wanted to, at least my heart rate was elevated.  Ok, it couldn't have been that I haven't been training OR that I went out too hard...  I NEVER do that! LOL! ;-)

So I was working harder than I should have.  I just didn't really realize it until I caught someone 6 or 7 miles into the ride and saw the main group in front of me just before turning onto Oracle.  I rode alongside Jim Smith (I think) for a minute after turning onto Oracle, but the wind was blowing too hard for conversation (at least I couldn't hear) and there was a nice descent.  The group got stuck at the light going up the next hill, so I caught them there and rode with them to the left turn onto Ina.  I was at the front when the light changed and accelerated pretty quickly.  I thought people were behind me, but when I looked they were a bit behind me and I made through the next light but the group got stopped.  I was making pretty good time through that section and caught up to Roger Peskett several miles after the turn.  We traded leads a couple times, but Roger was riding a bit stronger than me.

I had just made the decision to back off when we went through the light at Swan and Sunrise.  There was a slight descent there, so we had some pretty good speed going.  I was maybe 20 feet off his back wheel when a car decided to go straight across Sunrise right in front of us.  We both yelled and hit our brakes hard, but there just wasn't enough room for Roger to stop and he collided with the rear part of the car.  He went down hard and started yelling in obvious pain.  If I had been on his wheel drafting I have no doubt I would have hit the car too.  I came to a stop pretty close to him, got off my bike and set it off the road.  Then I grabbed Roger's bike and got it out of the road too.  The driver had stopped and was out of his car when I went back to Roger.  I wasn't thinking straight and was trying to decide what to do when I looked over to see a paramedic coming over!  I looked over my shoulder and a bunch of firemen were headed our way.  The accident happened at the entrance to a fire station!  Talk about quick response!  There was also an ambulance at the fire station and they pulled it out in front of the bike lane to keep everyone out of traffic.

The firemen were talking to Roger trying to keep him calm and stop him from moving too much.  The guy who was driving the car came over to me and said he didn't see Roger, but said he did see me.  If I hadn't hit my brakes hard I would have collided with his car.  I don't think he was paying attention at all and I really didn't want to talk to him.  That was an accident that never should have happened.  The main group went by, but there really wasn't anything they could have done.  The firemen convinced Roger to go the emergency room and got him into the ambulance just as the Sheriff pulled up.  I called Susan after they moved him off the road and told her what happened and said I'd wait so she could get Roger's bike.  But she told me to just have the firemen put it in the station and she would pick it up on her way through.  Jim Smith and another rider pulled up and asked what happened.  I was still holding my phone and was coming off a pretty good adrenaline rush by then so my hands were shaking pretty bad.  I didn't notice until Jim pointed it out.  There wasn't anything they could do either so they continued on.

I took off all of my cold weather stuff while I waited.  After the ambulance left the sheriff came over to get my name and clarification on a few things.  "What happened?" (story above) "Were you in the bike lane?"  "Yes."  "Was the car turning left?"  "No, I think he was coming straight across the road, but I'm not sure where he came from."  "Was the impact near the rear passenger door?" "No, I looked and there is an impact mark by the rear wheel well."  The sheriff was still talking to the driver of the car when I left.  I kept thinking about the accident and debating with myself about continuing.  I've never ridden to the top of Mount Lemmon, but have always wanted to, so I kept going, just not as enthusiastically as before. 

Roger sent me a note last night.  The initial diagnosis is a separated shoulder and compression fracture to lower vertebra.  That doesn't sound good at all.  It's going to be some time before he's back on a bike.  To make matters even worse, his bike was brand new -- less than a month old.  I didn't look it over too closely, but did see that his handlebars were mangled.  Don't know what the condition of the frame is, but after that kind of an impact I don't know that I'd trust it.  We all hope you have a speedy recovery and will be able to join us in the 2008 brevets Roger!

Anyway, back to the ride report... Jim and that other rider were at the Safeway checkpoint at the turn to the start of Catalina Highway.  I bought some drinks to fill my bottles with and left just before them.  I did the Mount Lemmon time trial several years ago, but don't remember the climb being so hard!  Probably because I was in better shape then!  Of course the 40 mile warm up ride to get to the climb could also have something to do with it!  It was slow going!  I'm glad I brought my triple! (that's the number of chain rings next to the pedals for you non-cycling folk).  A couple miles up the climb Robert Havrda passed headed down.  I didn't recognize him until he turned around again and pulled up next to me to ask if I was doing the 200k.  He was pretty shaken up by the accident and was about to stop, but wanted to know what happened so I told him.

He and his wife Carol had tried to climb Mount Lemmon a few months ago, but sport motorcycles were taking the turns at very high speed and they didn't feel with those motorcycles, that conditions were safe, so they turned back.  Between the accident and the thought of those motorcycles he wasn't in the mood for the ride anymore.  We chatted for a bit about inattentive drivers and dangerous "crotch rocket" motorcycles then noticed Susan pulling up to the fee station.  He warned her that he was considering heading back.  Mike Sturgill passed shortly after that (he was delayed by the I-10 accident and got a late start).  Robert and I rode another mile or two before he made the decision to turn back.

It took me a bit over three hours of pure climbing to get to the next stop at Palisades where Susan had refreshments waiting.  I filled my bottles, had a ham and cheese wrap and chatted with Susan for a few minutes before continuing on to Summerhaven.  There were a couple good descents and let me tell you the wind up at the top was COLD!  On the last climb before Summerhaven I picked up a piece of wire and got a front tire flat.  I was right next to a guard rail when it happened, so I tried to unload weight from my front tire long enough to get me up to where the road widened out enough so I could change it.  Mark Goldentyer passed just as I was finishing up.  On a side note, Mark finished right behind me in 8th place at this year's 157 mile Cochise Classic! :-)  Anyway, I wasn't too far behind him and we wound up pulling into the post office in Summerhaven at the same time.  Susan had provided stamped postcards to mail from Summerhaven.  My son will be happy to hear mine was a spiderman themed card!  I went down the road a bit further to the country store to replace the water with some Gatorade (I was out of Accelerade powder).  I stopped before the first descent after Summerhaven and put on my wind resistant vest and arm warmers.  Mark had left by the time I got back to the post office, but was still with Susan at the Palisades stop. I had already eaten, so I just stopped to let Susan know I was heading down.  Mark was waiting for a friend.

It took me over 3 hours to get to the top and about 40 minutes to get back down.  Talk about a fast descent!  There aren't any really sharp corners so I never really had to use my brakes.  I pedaled through the flatter sections, but for the most part it was just staying aero for the descent.  I did stop once about half way down to take that vest and my arm warmers off.  The rest of the ride, thankfully, was relatively uneventful.  I stopped at a Walgreens at the start of Catalina Highway to get a receipt for my checkpoint.  Sandiway Fong and Alan Marmorstein were just finishing up and left a minute or two before me.  I saw them in the distance a couple times after I left, but I didn't have the energy or motivation to try to catch them.  I took my time, but I was getting pretty fatigued by the time I made the final turn back onto Tangerine.  Luckily there is more descending than climbing along there so I was able to rest some during the final miles.  My legs were starting to give me those cramping twitches so I just took it easy and pulled in just before 5pm.

Several folks were sitting waiting for Susan to get back with their drop bags.  I started to go over to the store to get a receipt showing my finishing time, but decided I could take a minute or two to lock my bike in my truck, get my helmet and gloves off and put on some sandals first.  I tried to call Annette when I was walking back over to the store for a receipt, but my phone was dead (no signal tends to do that).  After getting my receipt and dropping my Brevet card off in Steve's minivan I drove my truck over to where Carol, Robert, Sandiway and Alan were talking.  I tried to sit on the curb, but got a nasty charlie horse in my thigh.  That got me up again pretty quick.  We chatted for a few minutes, then I headed back over to Leo's house for a quick shower before heading home to Mesa.

it would have been a great ride if that accident hadn't happened.  Susan did another great job with route planning and support! :-)


Copyright 2007 by Mike Enfield. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09/16/13 12:59:26 -0600.