Sunday, February 25, 2007

A mixture of experiences

Well, the 400k was Saturday (at least for me as I am helping out on the real event next week). I didn't get a whole lot of sleep the night before so I was drowsy already at the start. Not a good thing. I pulled into the lot at 5 to 4 at the same time as Mike Sturgill (he was doing the same thing I was, just a lot faster ;) ). First thing that was noticeable was that it was COLD outside. I am glad I brought all my warm gear, the only thing I could have brought that I forgot was shoe covers as my feet got cold.
Mike Sturgill didn't have a receipt yet so he took off to go get one while I finished getting my gear setup. I passed him while he was in CIrcle K getting a receipt but he soon caught up to me and passed me. I would see his taillight ahead of me down through Eloy but That is the last place I saw it. Other than the bitter cold it was actually a nice morning. Winds were low and there wasn't any traffic to speak of. It was a good morning to just lean back in the seat and ride.
I managed to get through Milligan and Picacho without getting caught by a train. I was surprised to make it to Picacho peak still under the cover of darkness. Usually it is getting light when I get here. I guess it is due to the fact I was about 20 minutes ahead of what I usually arrive at coupled with the fact we are running this a few weeks earlier this year. All in all it was a little depressing to ride out of Picacho in the dark. I don't know why it seemed that way it just was. I was a good ways down the frontage road before the first crack of dawn happened and then I noticed a funny sign I had never noticed before (or maybe it didn't strike me as funny before)

"Hey Natasha! Where we find top secret Missile Base to kill Moose and Squirrel?"

"Boris Darling! Look, there is sign showing way to top secret Missile Base!"

But seriously, isn't it just a little obvious to name a road "Missile Base road"? Or maybe that is just a decoy. Hmmm. Anyway, I was in Marana before the sun peaked over the horizon and the day was going ahead of schedule. I didn't really have to stop anywhere other than to take pictures so I just kept moving on up to Saguaro national park.

"Master Rando Ninja!"

Turning up onto Sandario road there were some Balloons flying about. I was only able to catch two of them in a frame at a time so here is the best picture of those.

Balloons over Marana High school

Recalling last year I enjoyed climbing Sandario road without nuclear headwinds. I was doing great on liquids and things so I decided to forego the stop at Picture rocks and push on to Mission road. I stopped to snap a picture at the edge of Saguaro National Park and moved on.

The Brevet Mobile at Saguaro National Park

I did really well gearing down through the next hills to make sure that I didn't go out of zone 3 on the heart rate this time. It saved the day in the end since other problems would make things difficult later on. At any rate, it was really nice to have extra energy riding through the Tucson mountains and not having to recover through that whole section.

The south end of the Tucson Mountains

On mission road I took my first rest stop at the Circle K that is a control on the return on the 600k. It was nice to sit and take a break for a bit.

I steeled myself down for the long slow climb up Mission road to Helmet Peak which I think looks more like a lazy dog laying down but oh well. I stopped near the top to snap a picture of an interesting shack I always think I should get a picture of every time I pass it.

Love shack, baby love shack. Tin roof! Rusted!

And to the Victor go the spoils

Interestingly enough I didn't get my highest speed of the day coming down Helmet Peak road but I did get up to 35mph. I was still feeling pretty good here and made good time going down La Canada. I stopped at the gas station next to the Frontage road and bought some chips and gatorade (which I think started my problems). After finding the correct entrance to the frontage road after almost going on the freeway I was on my way (I think they have realigned the frontage road to go west of the Gas Station now instead of east of it but maybe I am just remembering things wrong). The Arivaca stretch is where things started to get rough on me. I was having some stomach problems and I just wasn't getting the energy I needed out of my legs. On one of the hills my chain over shifted down and Ripped my headlight off the front of my bike. I was able to secure it but then the same thing happened again down the road. But using 2 of my last zip ties I was able to get it on there again and soon I was over the climbing. I have to confess to something here. I uh, broke the speed limit twice heading into Arivaca, I came cooking into town at 40 mph in a 35 and 28 in the 25.

Arivaca Mercantile

After getting food and my card signed I sat down and realized I felt like crap. For a minute I thought I had caught one of my kids colds. I was dizzy, my stomach hurt, and I had really bad Gas. If there had been a ride there I probably would have DNFd but there wasn't and I figured since I didn't feel as bad while I was riding the only thing for it was to get back on the bike (it was around 3:30 by the way). Just down the road the chain overshifted (I really need to adjust the derailleur one of these days) and the light ripped in half. It was a good thing I wired the 4 LEDs in two parallel series as one of the wires was severed but the other one (on the side of the light that broke off) was still attached. So I used a zip tie to hold it on and figured I would figure something out before it got dark and I should be to Robles Jct well before dark. I wasn't counting on the headwind that I encountered when I turned north. Between the headwind and the stomach thing I was only able to keep 13-15 mph so it took me a lot longer to get to Robles and I hit a pretty low point mentally in here too (funny how headwinds play with your mind). Sunset caught me about 5 miles outside of Robles Jct so I put my helmetlight on and aimed the remaining LEDs as best as I could until I could use Electrical tape from the store to fix them up. Robles Jct has to be another of my favorite stops as it also has a table (like La Palma except this table is a little less improvised). The store actually also sells Picaddilly pizza. Now I know, if you were having stomache problems you likely would not think pizza was the best idea but it looked so good and I just couldn't resist and it turned out to be just the thing I needed. Incidentally I think most of my problems came from mixing Gatorade (uses Fructose) and Maltodextrin as fuel sources. I think in the future to allow for variation in Drinks I will go with Water and Gatorade and solid food. I just can't drink one thing for over 14 hours straight.
Heading out of Robles Jct my energy picked up and so did my speed. I managed to stay up at 18-19 for most of the rest of the ride with drops down to 15 along the frontage road in a few places.
Along Sanders road I had two dogs come at me. When I yelled "stay" one of them stopped. The other one came over and started circling me, I couldn't figure out what he was doing, and then It occured to me he couldn't figure out a place to bite me since my legs were up in the air and butts were for sniffing not biting in the eyes of a dog. So I moved on and left him puzzled in the darkness behind me.
Between Marana and Casa Grande I kept fantisizing about stopping and sleeping in a hotel room either in Picacho, or Eloy, even off of Peart rd in Casa Grande. I was extremely Drowsy. I hadn't been able to catch up on sleep too much the week before and Friday night I got to bed late due to having to get everything ready since I hadn't had time Thursday or Wednesday.
I kept telling myself I was almost back though and kept pressing on. I managed to miss the trains at Picacho/Milligan this time around (which was good because it was FREEZING out there). The ride to I-10 from Eloy was long as always but surprisingly enough the victory lap from I-10 to the end seemed long too due to the fact that I was really tired.
After getting a receipt from a Scary looking guy at the circle K. No, lets pause a minute on the scary looking guy. This guy was a dead ringer for the scary guy in the jail cell with Fletch if you have seen that movie. I mean if I was an armed robber and walked into this Circle K to rob it I would turn tail and run as soon as I saw this guy. Anyway, he was nice enough, just had the perfect looks for a convenience store clerk on graveyard shift.
So I get back to my car thinking what a wonderful thing it will be to fire up that heater and go take a nap at the rest area. I prop the bike up against the car, unlock all the doors as I don't want to have to take the keys out and turn the car off while loading my bike up. Put the keys in the ignition and twist, and nothing happens. "No no no no no, this can't be happening" I think. Of course it was. My battery was dead due to my radio deciding that today was the perfect time to break and not turn off (snd due to the dome light being on all day I am informed by Mike Sturgill). In case you were wondering how likely it is for a very peculiarly dressed person who is very visible to flag down a car in the middle of the night in Downtown Casa Grande, it is not very likely. The police department said they couldn't help me other than calling a tow truck. The nearest help would be walmart 3 miles away. I was seriously pondering trying to get a car battery in my seat bag (I think that would be a bit too much for it now that I am in my right mind again). When I thought I would have another go at flagging somebody down. Lucky for me a Mother and her daughter (the angels of mercy) came cruising through the parking lot and passed me but then I think they saw my bike and assumed that I was probably still a weirdo but a harmless one. I had Jumper cables, they had a running car, and we were back in business in 5 minutes.
So, since I had also been fantasizing about hamburgers all the way up Jimmie Kerr Blvd I pulled around the corner and, I am ashamed to say, pulled in to Whataburger and ordered the Angioplasty special. Yes, the triple meat, triple Cheese, with a large fry, and I washed it all down with a quart of the Strawberry milkshake drink I bought at Circle K. At the rest stop down the road I fell asleep setting the alarm on my watch and woke up 2 hours later totally disoriented with a watch that was all screwed up since I had been holding the buttons for 2 hours. After that I managed to make it home OK but I think that is the tiredest I have ever been.


Bruce's Bike Blog said...


Congradulations on a strong finish!



Anonymous said...


Good job and thanks for the photos on the blog!


Fellow RUSA Junkie

BryanG said...

Nice report as always. Thanks for helping out on Sunday!

BryanG said...

Nice ride report as always. Thanks for helping out on Sunday!