There are days when it all comes together and dreams come true I think. I have ridden fast centuries before but it was by myself and so telling people about it was kind of like the fish that got away stories. For the last two years I have always arrived at the final control with the fast riders already at home watching the 5 o'clock news. I have always really admired those fast guys (and still do actually, I hope I can gain their ability to do it time after time) so todays ride was a bit like a dream come true at several points as you will read.
Well it was a good ride all told. I got to the bike shop on time, I got setup and managed to get out of the parking lot nearly last as I was fiddling with my GPS that had a bum set of batteries in it anyway. So, with that in mind I latched on to the back of the group heading out. There were so many people at this brevet it was hard to work forward. The large group got up to a pretty good pace which I was able to keep up with until we got to McCartney but I figured they were pushing me out of my zone so I let them go. After we turned onto Pinal the group started to break up and I started to pass people. The funny thing is I kept passing people. I think the decision to hold back was a good one. The wind coming down pinal was really slowing a lot of people down. Climbing over the pass I pushed my heartrate a bit up into zone 4 and didn't feel too bad even though my Heart rate monitor was beeping at me. After topping the hill I really started to pass people as the recumbent really cruises down hills and I was able to keep a pretty good speed on Az87. The route to the ruins was a bit round about due to construction but we got there. I must apologize to the tandem that was leading a group I just passed as I cut the corner a little tight in all the confusion about figuring out what the cars behind us were going to do. The ruins turned out to be a really quick stop for me as I had plenty of fluids and energy so I took off my jacket, stuffed it in jersey and took off. It was a pretty quick trip back to Casa Grande. One thing of note was passing Gerry Goode. He is one of the people that always seems to be way ahead of me so I was surprised to see myself having caught up to him. Turns out the day would have other similar surprises. Turning onto Trekell was neat as the tailwind was pretty strong and I was able to fly down the road until I managed to hit every traffic light red.
At the bike shop I was pleasantly surprised to discover I had caught up with Alan Marmorstein. He is another person I am usually way behind. I guess I just was cruising today. It makes a big difference riding without broncitis like I had last year (training helps too actually, curiously enough). After moving my car to make the water man happy (I guess those parking spaces at the end of the lot are "HIS" spaces apparently) I was off. When my waterbottle fell out Alan and whoever he was riding with passed me up. I still had them in sight when Susan turned us around albeit they were pretty far ahead (visibility was good). I played recumbent tag with another rider much of this stretch as he would pass me going up a hill and then I would pass him on the downhills. We were flying through this section compared to last year. We were able to keep it over 20 for most of it and at times were up over 27 on some of the flat stretches.
The turn around is where things got interesting. Apparently the headwind helped us ride a little faster than Susan anticipated and all the riders from the guy behind me all the way up to the front rider overshot the control as Susan had not arrived there yet. Being the caring RBA that she is she came and told us to turn around. This was where I caught up with the lead group (there were only 5 people ahead of me!). Of course they were a few miles ahead of me down the road so I didn't really catch them but it was interesting seeing them this late in the ride nonetheless. I told Susan she must be Ricardo Montoban as it has always been my fantasy to catch up to Mike Sturgill. Of course, Mike (edit- it wasn't Mike Sturgill but I guess it helped me ride faster pretending it was, turns out the three I saw at the control were three different people as Susan had already signed the cards of Mike and the others) was still many virtual miles ahead of me having had to turn around but it was still kind of cool to get control cards signed with the guys at the front.
I had some chips and took off pretty quick. One person had left before me and I figured I would just ride and see how long it took all of the faster riders to catch up. Interestingly enough before we got back to the hills I saw a rider up ahead and I was gaining on him in the headwind (which was actually pretty strong). I had almost caught up to him when Steve and Bruce came the other direction and looked pretty surprised I was where I was (I was too actually) I managed to hang with the rider, or at least keep him in sight until around 8 or 9 miles out of Casa Grande when my last ten miles of overdoing it (well, I was pretty stoked to be riding a ft what I thought was the front, which will likely never happen again so I figured I would make it last) caught up with me and I hit a bad patch. My stomache was hurting and I just didn't have any juice left. Around here David Glasgow caught me and we talked for a bit before he pulled away. Not too long after this the drink I had taken started to give me a little energy and a paceline with a tandem and Alan pulled up and I grabbed on and pedaled hard to keep the back. After riding without a paceline for so long today I was pretty shot and was really glad to have a paceline to help me get in as my muscles were starting to hurt. Just as we hit the city limits I fell off the back but as that is where all turns and stop signs start I managed to catch them again before the stoplight going across florence and we rode back to the bike shop together. I ended up with a time of 7 hrs and 15 minutes which beats my time last year by an hour so I figure I'll take it. Even if I did sink back to the what was actually the third group to come in. Now all I have to do is figure out where Attoo is.
(Note: From looking at the results it looks like Gerry passed me up again. Still, it makes me feel good that I was only 5 minutes behind him)