Monday, March 26, 2007

A first time for everything.

Well, it was an interesting ride all told. I managed to get 7 hours of sleep the night before which was really nice. I hurredly got breakfast and headed out of the house. Over the next hours drive I would slowly become cognizant of little things I had forgotten. The biggest of which was my floor pump. So 5 AM found me using my itsy bitsy little topeak mini pump which I had bought as it only weighed 50 grams thinking it would get me on the road again in a dire emergency. Well, I think it is going to go up on ebay next week to another rider who has the weight weeny fever, in the meantime I think I am going to return to the good old trusty Road Morph (funny how we have delusions of Grandeur and get sucked in to snazzy equipment that works in theory but not in real world applications). Anyway, I don't know if I got my tires up to 120 like I wanted but like it or not I was off into the night where I was perplexed by a flickering headlight. "Shazbot! What is up with my equipment today? It was working great before!" I thought. Anyway, after getting Mr. Scary looking guy at the circle k to sign my card I set about pondering why my light was acting up which upon close inspection of the circuit (down the road and in the dark of course as I waited until it went all the way out to try and trouble shoot it, luckily my headlamp was in fully functioning order). Turned out it was broken connection in a wire which I forgot to resolder, I twisted the wires together and was off with a nice bright headlight once again (mental note to self, fix that before you remove your generater or it will bite you again down the road in a few months). I was finally off and enjoying the nice warm morning, in fact, I was a little over dressed but it was still too cold to pull the jacket off. Eloy found predawn light appearing in the east. "Dang" I thought, "that daylight savings time switch is really goofing me up, ......wait a second Arizona doesn't have daylight savings time!" It was about here I realized that the early dawn was due to the 5 AM start time of the 600k this year as opposed to the 4 AM start. This led to a few interesting things, the dogs were awake as I passed Picacho. Heading down Milligan two come after me, one that could keep up and one that couldn't. The one that could was almost ready to cross the road at me when two cars came from the opposite way.
"Well Pooch, I know what your thinking, are those cars going 40 or are they going 50,.... well, in all the hubub I kind of lost track myself, so I guess you better ask yourself this question, Do I feel lucky? Well do ya mutt?"
The "mutt" stayed and didn't get turned to street sausage lucky for him. Down on the turn on Vail I saw two more dogs but these dogs were still yawning and didn't feel like chasing anything before breakfast so we were all good and I called them good dogs.
Somewhere around here I took a picture of Picacho peak in the mist. Yes, it was a rainy day ride. I had been lucky to miss a set of showers thus far and would continue down to Picacho peak.

Past Picacho Peak was another story. A large thunderstorm cell had just moved out and most of the streams that flow across the road, were flowing, and some had large deposites of sand left a long ways up the pavement, meaning if I had been an hour or two earlier I would have been facing hip deep fast moving water. As is I had to navigate beaches that were made of of 8-12 inch deep sand, mud and other refuse. Somewhere along this strange stretch we call the frontage road I found another amusing sign.

"Looks like Mr. Incredible has had to do some freelance to pay the bills."

After managing to get through the frontage road without a flat (miracle of miracles) I got my card signed at Marana and was off only to notice a disturbing construction sign on the side of Sanders that said Sandario road was closed and to take the detour. Well, I decided I would see for myself and luckily I was pleasantly surprised to find out they either had not closed it yet or they were closing it further down than Mile Wide road. Hope it is the latter for the people riding this weekend.
The stretch through the Tucson mountains was pretty as always and went fairly quickly. I took a brief stop at the Circle K on Mission road for a drink and to fill the bottles and was off up Helmet peak road heading into some showers. Before I got to the rain I was passed by two roadies in matching kit setup for time trialing. They were a lot faster than I was and decided to let them go as the two of us were on very different rides. Not too far after they came screaming back down the hill and I found out why in a few minutes, it was raining. I put on my jacket and continued on up the hill and finally got to the top and made sure to go straight. Surprisingly the hill on the way to Duval mine road seemed just as hard as last year despite my lighter rig. I think I was fatiguing a little faster than I would have liked to admit though I was keeping my heartrate in the lower end of zone 3. Anyway, I got to the Continental control and decided to buy a pizza to get the old furnace going again. It worked for a bit but I was getting some crazy headwinds here and kept noticing that to the north where I was headed there was a monster of a thunderstorm. I took a little comfort in noting that the last few days had the storms tracking north and in fact it had moved out just before I got to Sahuarita. Unfortunately it had left a wake of crap on the road. I was forced into the car lane many times due to things in the road and by the time I got to the roadrunner market my tire was squishy and I was freezing. That storm must have been a cold front as well as the temps since Helmet peak had been lower than they had been at the start line. Roadrunner market marked a time to reflect on my situation as I mulled over a cheeseburger and a bottle of fuse. I evaluated the following conditions-
  • Light was jury rigged and undependable
  • Temps were considerably lower and this was still 2000 feet below the elevations I would need to ride at most of the night.
  • I was cold and wet and not too far off from being uncontrollably cold.
  • Tire was flat and the roads ahead were likely even worse due to storms visible up in the higher country as I cruised down the Nogales Highway.
  • I was really tired for some bizarre reason, my eyesight was getting a little funky.
  • I was all alone out here and Elgin control was not an option for getting warmed up, Help would be a few hours away.
  • 1 flat could be enough of a pause to start hypothermia and the chance of flatting was increased due to the recent storms.
Perhaps it was the warm store, but I rather think that with all the little things coming together I decided to do something I had never done before and that was to end a ride prematurely. I guess it happens to everyone sooner or later. Of course this decision would affect my goals for the rest of the year since this ride was my booster to a longer ride this summer but sometimes things are just not in the cards. Maybe next year. I called Susan to let her know and to get Bruce Chandler's cell phone number (Bruce had offered assistance when I did the 400 solo if I had problems and I hoped his offer held good for the 600). I happened to get ahold of Bruce just as he was walking out of the office and he was fine with picking me up (I have to tell you, even if you aren't riding with them it is good to have friends nearby when you are in a jam). Between my incoherent talk of Sahuarita road and Bruce's questions we managed to confirm my location at the RoadRunner market which Bruce knew and the rescue wagon was on its way (well actually it was the rescue sedan but I am not picky). It was nice to get into the car out of the wind. I was kind of bummed most of the night. It was a little difficult to deal with my first DNF. Not that I ever looked down on someone else who DNF'd but it was a new thing for me and it was sort of something I had to come to terms with. Sometimes there are things we haven't planned for, sometimes our bodies throw us a loop, sometimes the equipment (or the memory that was supposed to remind us to fix it) goes on the fritz, sometimes the weather is against us, and sometimes, on rare occasions, they all come together and stop us in our tracks. So, I will look on the bright side, the Long Distance riding season is over for me (yeah, just going to do those little century things now for a bit) and I can now catch up on all those things around the house that I have forsaken (like the retaining wall I need to build in the back yard, just what I need too, more upper body muscle mass, ugggh!). Oh well, it has been a good season, I think I have had enough of long rides alone for a bit. Maybe Bruce and Steve will let me tag along on a century one of these Saturdays, might even have to break out the upright bike again.

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