I managed to wake up on time but spent more time at home than I had planned so it was a bit of a rush getting to the starting line on time but I managed to do it. I even had a few minutes to sit and shiver at the start for a few minutes on my bike waiting for the start. This was the first official ride the mighty K2 generator light would see (as well as the shimano 3n-71 generator). I was really happy with the way the wheels held up as I had built them myself (the backwheel needed to have a new rim put on it as a pothole gave it a bit of a thump).
It was a chilly morning, I had frost on my car but the bank's temp gauge in Casa Grande said 37. In any case it was to be a chilly day mostly (with the exception of gates pass of course). Right after we started Bruce pulled up alongside and we had a nice chat until my stupid water bottle fell out and I had to stop and go back (I would battle this most of the day until I had a "Well Duh" moment and fixed the problem). By the time I retrieved my bottle I was in the back of the pack and my heartrate monitor was reigning me in saying I was working too hard. I have to admit I did pretty good until we got to Tom Mix on listening to the little taskmaster. In the meantime it was quite a sight at the back. Everyones reflective clothing made them look like reflective ghosts floating along.
Things of note approaching Coolidge was the road of eternal stench, which was pretty bad. After the stench I saw a cloud up ahead and I thought to myself, "wow it is so bad it is visible!". Turned out it was just fog though and the stench was gone. The fog was fun as my headlamp looked like a light saber shooting out into the night. Someone behind me had an HID and similar to the effects at Fantasmic in Disneyland I saw a projection of me pedalling up in the fog. It was a pretty cool effect to see my shadow out pedalling ahead of me on the fog. Last year at this spot I was shivering uncontrollably but this year I was nice and toasty. Pedalling at the back but nice and toasty.
Turning onto Coolidge/Kennelworth we found a detour which was easily breached. I was pleased to note that on turning onto the Pinal Parkway that the sun was not up yet (it would rise a few miles from Tom Mix) as last year the sun was already up a ways when we got to this point (in all fairness though I had Broncitis last year so I was taking it easy).
It was in this section that the first earworm of the day started in my head (earworm is a song that gets stuck in your head) I had been watching the rider in front of me's reflector and it just started.
Triangle man, triangle man, Triangle man hates particle man!
They have a fight, Triangle wins. Triangle man.
Randonneur man, Randonneur man, Rides on the road as fast as he can,
Takes a sip of something gross, randonneur man.
I tried to keep the stop at Tom Mix as short as possible. I filled my empty bottle and ate a bannana and I was off (after getting my sweaty card signed of course (sorry Susan)).
I will admit this was my stupid section of the day. I kept on getting beeped by my heartrate monitor (which was really set at more of a 200k pace anyway) and I should have slowed it a bit but didn't I would suffer from Oracle jct to Trico as a result of this. It was a good climb though, I had dug out the MP3 player and had quite the collection of tunes on there most of which were good for climbing.
This years route featured a bit of a change in that the Tucson control was now at a house. I made good time cruising down from Oracle jct. and found my memory of the route changes was pretty good as I got to lunch. My legs were starting to scream for mercy around this point and I really should have ate more. I did eat some but I didn't do enough to recover. The lunch stop was very nice. A tired randonneur is not picky as to his accommodations, but a nice control, a really nice and clean and well stocked control, well, that is high style.
I am afraid that a bannana and a cookie at lunch were not sufficient I discovered as I tried to soft pedal to get my legs to be happy again. I would work my way up Silverbell dreading the coming climb that I knew was ahead as my legs were not happy in the slightest. I managed to coax a bit of a recovery out of the legs by the bottom of Gates Pass but it was soon gone again.
I admitted trouble and used my granny gear most of the way up Gates Pass but refused to concede victory to the steep section and so blew my heart rate out muscling over it to stop and recover at the top. I am proud to say I did not walk, though I did have to rest (no use damaging my legs and energy worse than I already had. Around here Dave Lennen caught me as I stopped for a picture of the beautiful sight of a wonderful descent down the backside of gates pass.
Heading down to picture rocks Dave and I would start exchanging turns for the rest of the ride (although I think the majority of the pulls goes in his favor). It was a long slow slog riding over to the Trico control and we had quite a bit of miles put in in the 11-13 mph range. I think I hit my lowest low at Trico, and finally did something about it. You basically know you are having a pretty good bonk when you are sitting in a dirty gas station restroom feeling dizzy and you start thinking that the nasty old floor looks like a nice place to just lie down on and sleep. Needless to say I downed a Strawberry milkshake drink and some nuts and gatorade and really went all out on stoking the furnace. The result of which was that by the time we hit the frontage road I was starting to perk up and our speeds jumped up to 17-18 mph. I did make a note that this year it was wonderful to realize that the sun was still high in the sky unlike last year wear it set on us at Marana.
With my newfound energy the stretch went pretty quick actually. It was very nice to pedal this section in the light. Though it was still open we didn't stop at Dairy Queen opting to move on to La Palma. Riding up the stretch to La Palma was gorgeous. The sun was nosing down to the horizon and I was watching our shadows pedal across the fields to our right keeping time with us in ever lengthening strides.
The Gothamesque metropolis of La Palma soon greated us. I kid about La Palma's small size but of course, among all the controls it is the most welcome and includes a table and chairs (nevermind the fact the table is an old cable spool and the chairs are old bent metal chairs). I have passed many pleasant moments of rest and reflection at La Palma and this day was no different. I bought a chocolate milk, some doritos and gatorade and prepared for the final leg as the group of riders just ahead of us pulled out.
Well, after loading the bottle full of gatorade, packing the Aquabats into the MP3 player ( good fast music to keep one moving and a little humor to relieve suffering) Dave and I set off into the embers of the recent sunset. It was just beautiful, I mean an amber glow over sillouetted mountains on the horizon, a smooth road, a good draft, what more could a person want?
We ended up pulling in just after seven for a time of 14 hours and 23 minutes, 12 hours and 41 minutes of riding time. This beats last years time by 6 hours, and my best time by an hour and 20 minutes. So even with a pretty good bonk it wasn't a bad ride. I did get the opportunity of welcoming others into the finish line after I finished as Susan had to go pick up someone who got sick in Marana (I guess there are worse places to get sick, but if I had my choice, I think it would be La Palma, then again, if I was sick in La Palma I think I would have to be pretty sick to want to quit at La Palma though).