What a busy couple of weeks! Sitting in the
airport waiting for a flight to Denver as I start to write this. The week before
Breathless Agony I was a "cabin parent" at Jake's 5th grade science camp
outside of Payson, AZ. Camp ended around 1:30pm on Friday. I drove home
quickly, stopped by the school to drop off some people who car-pooled
with me (and to give Annette a quick kiss in passing), then rushed home
to grab my bike and a pre-packed bag of cycling clothes. I got to
Redlands, CA at about 9:30pm. The drive wasn't too bad.
I was up early and got to the start with plenty of time to get my
registration packet and get ready. I wasn't in a hurry and there isn't a
mass start for this ride, so I took my time before rolling over to the
sign-out area. The ride starts with a very slight climb. I met another
guy from AZ shortly after the start. He was working on getting a
California "King of the Mountains" jersey (by completing 3 pretty
difficult climbing centuries). A few miles into the ride I slowed to
make a turn and noticed my front brake started rubbing. Weird. I tapped
the brake lever a couple times hoping to loosen it as I went around the
corner and my wheel just about seized up! I had to hop off and hold the
front end up to get out of the road. My brake lever had come lose,
slipped down and was crimping the cable. Crap. I wiggled it back up,
pulled out my multi tool and found that the allen wrenches were not long
enough to reach the bolt to tighen the brake. Dang. Alright, I'll just
keep any weight off of it and fix it at the first rest stop...
A few miles after that we hit the first descent. I tried to shift to my
52x12, but the chain wouldn't go down. I glanced down and the chain was
moving all over the place - wriggling back and forth like a rattlesnake!
What the???? I shifted back up a couple gears and looked at the
cassette. Before the ride I switched my Powertap from my Trek 5.9SL to
my Trek 5200 (with a triple). The 5.9SL uses a 10 cog cassette, the 5200
uses a 9 cog cassette. I put quite a bit of power into a rear wheel and
I tend to put gouges in the freewheel (where a cog will cut into the
freewheel). So I had trouble getting the 10 cog cassette off and getting
the 9 cog cassette on. I should have filed those ridges down, but I was
in a hurry. So when I tighted the cassette, the top 3 cogs didn't go on
straight and I didn't even notice. I didn't have time for a test ride
after switching cassettes, so I didn't find the problem. This was not
turning out to be a good ride!
We passed through Beaumont, so I hoped to find a bike shop that could
reseat the cassette. In the mean time, I just couldn't use my fastest
gears. Good for practicing fast cadence! I rode with a couple guys to
the start of the first climb and had to spin pretty fast on a couple
descents to keep contact. When we turned onto the first major climb up
Jack Rabbit Trail. The last time I rode this course, it had rained the
night before and I had to dismount a couple times to get around some
deep potholes. This time it was dry and I didn't have any problems. I
dropped the guys I was with near the bottom of the climb and just kept a
steady tempo pace going up. Jack Rabbit trail is not a maintained road
so there's no traffic and great scenery!
I rode the rest of the way to Beaumont on my own. There was a bike shop,
but it looked like it had recently closed. Crap. So I rode over to the
first SAG stop, but there wasn't any mechanical assistance there. Just
about every ride in Arizona has bike shops that sponsor support tents
along the way. I was disappointed to find this ride didn't have any of
that kind of support. But they did have the biggest fresh strawberries
I've ever seen! Tasty! The next pass is incredibly scenic and goes
through Oak Glen. I has some pretty long and steep grades, so you have
plenty of time to enjoy the scenery! That climb is followed by an 18
mile descent! I wish I had put on my leg warmers because it had yet to
warm up and that was one fast, cold descent!
The next two "passes" are really one big climb headed up to Onyx Summit
with a stop in Angelus Oaks half way up. I was feeling the effects of,
yes, starting a bit too hard (I know, I need to break that habit still),
so it was slow going for me. I jumped behind a tandem and another bike
for several miles, but dropped off and rode my own pace most of the way
up. I stopped for a good 10-15 minutes at the Angelus Oaks stop to use
the restroom and refuel with some more of those jumbo strawberries and
some orange slices. Then it was a pretty slow ride for me to the top.
The last couple miles just seemed to take forever, but I made it up
without issue. They had a party at the top with the grim reaper greeting
folks as they made the summit. I didn't hang out too long because it
actually got colder the higher I got. Someone said they had forecasted
snow at the top. Luckily that didn't happen! But my knees did start to
ache a bit from the cold (really should have put on those leg warmers
before the ride!).
Not having my full gear range meant I wasn't able to hit my normal
descending speeds, so it took me a bit longer to get down the 40 mile
descent. I was pretty happy that it had warmed up by the time I got to
the bottom. I checked in at the finish then headed over to an El Pollo
Loco for lunch before heading back to Mesa to pack my bags for a
business trip to Salt Lake City. Busy, busy! If you ever want to do a
super challenging ride, this one should be near the top of your list!
Great scenic climbs all along the course!