Sunday, February 17, 2008

All work and no sleep makes Paul a some singd dsk


Friday night my wife pointed out to me how interesting it is that no matter what week the brevets are held, that is the week out of the month where everything goes to pot. Case in point, we were holding this conversation at a ritzy restaurant up in north Scottsdale at 11 PM at the night before the start (not that meals at ritzy restaurants are bad, but they are not the best if they are keeping you out of bed on a night before a brevet). The week featured our son working through some new meds for ADHD (Which didn't work, and the side effects were that he was up all night the few nights preceding the ride), a daughter with Strep, me with a sore throat (don't think I had strep), and a discovery that both of my wheels had issues.

The back wheel the week before pulled a spoke right out of the rim leaving a big crack and further inspection revealed hairline cracks in numerous other spokeholes. So a new back wheel was in order since I wouldn't have the time to break in a homebuilt one before the brevet. After this though I thought an inspection of the front wheel was in order too and found the braking surface on the rim to have worn outside the allowable limits over the last 20000 miles so the front rim needed replacing too and since there was no more money for a new front wheel I ordered up a rim and built it onto the old hub and spokes 2 days before the ride.

So, to sum it up- New wheels, 4 hours sleep, just recovered from sore throat. I had a lot that could go wrong, thankfully it didn't (other than the shorts I wore didn't work out so well).

Nothing but Fumes Man-

So, I did manage to wake up in time despite the 4 hour sleep. It just so happened that part of the reason I woke up was because of gastrointestinal distress. So, although I was able to wake up in time I was still late getting out because of issues arising from an unhappy gut. Fortunately I had prepared just about everything the night before so I just had to hop in the Jeep and take off. The Jeep was nearly on empty but I thought I ought to be able to do it so I took off. Every gas station I passed I kept thinking I would hit the next one until I was out to riggs road and that gas station was not a gas station at all but just a building that looked like one. So I drafted a semi all the way down to Casa Grande hoping that I would have enough and 100 feet before the first gas station heading into town the engine died and I coasted into the pump. Even with such a lucky event I only had 5 minutes until the start when I arrived and most of those would need to be dedicated to my recurring GI issues. So, I was pulling my bike out of the car when I watched everyone else leave the parking lot behind Susan's RBA mobile.

A Late Start-

So all alone I pedalled off into the predawn darkness from the parking lot. I soon found out that it was a lot harder to set off the traffic lights without the RBA Mobile out front of you. I think I hit every red light I could on the way out of town. I made a point of not getting in too much of a hurry to catch people as I didn't want to blow up to soon. That being said I did manage to pass a few guys changing a tire at Cox and Woodruff who would have a compadre waiting for them over at the Community College. With dawn the light fell on a landscape riddled with puddles and water from the rains of the night before. The humidity made it feel a little colder than it otherwise would have been. On the other hand all the water over the last few weeks had made the desert very green and beautiful so there was a bit of a tradeoff there. I found the sign at the Dairy, telling people who bought homes within a mile of it would smell the stench, quite humorous. That's one way to keep the housing developments away from the farms. I am sure that there will still be 3 miles of rural road near that dairy on the 300k route for many years to come! That being said, it is amazing how far the developments are getting built out into the farmlands of Coolidge.

It's not easy bein Wheezy-

Turning onto 287 heading up into Coolidge I ran into Bruce and Steve and hung on their wheels for a bit to chat. Said chat turned into a full day of riding together. The speed I was keeping up was similar to theirs and Bruce asked if I minded if they drafted for a bit and I didn't mind at all. So it was that we started the long climb up the pinal parkway. We were passed by the guys that had been fixing the flat right before we turned onto the parkway as we were turning off our lights. I enjoyed the company of Bruce and Steve as we climbed the parkway. I don't usually ride with people much and so it is nice to get the opportunity to ride with someone. At the Tom Mix stop Susan had Salami sandwiches and I thought that was kind of odd. But sure enough, right after we left the stop guess what I started craving? Unfortunately I would have to let the PopTarts do the burning until Lunchtime. I was finding that I could only stay off the bike for so long before the old GI problem started banging at the back doors so staying on the bike was important. We were able to make pretty good time out of Tom Mix except as the miles wore on Bruce seemed to be having a harder time as his breathing sounded a little more forced as we worked up the hill, and after awhile he started lagging back and at one point Steve and I looked back and he wasn't there at all. So we went back to find him and he had had a flat. Bruce had been struggling with broncitis recently and was having a hard day of things. I am sure the cold air didn't help too much either. It wasn't too far after this that the clouds which up until this point had been everpresent opened up just enough for us to look down on the snowline on the Catalinas. Yes ladies and gentlemen we were looking down on the snowline. Why there was not any where we were I can't tell but we were above the snowline. So yes, here I am out on a winters day with ski gloves on, shivering in the wind and I am looking at mountains covered with snow but am I skiing? Actually it almost did feel like skiing descending down into Oracle Jct. At least it was as cold as hitting the slopes. Hopefully the folks from Idaho enjoyed it (I heard someone was down from Idaho, hope you didn't let our little slice of winter make you feel like you didn't get your money's worth).

The Epic of Scott the construction worker-

We had an information control on this brevet at Rancho Vistoso, and though technically "Scotty's Potty's" or "Louies Loos" could "Technically" have been an appropriate answer to the question on the sheet it was something else. I for one was quite happy that a portajohn was one of the things in the vicinity as of course my good old GI problem was still alive and kicking. So, for an afternoon break I got to examine the construction worker petroglyphs on the walls of the john. It was a touching tale about a man named Scott and his struggles with identity and the great trials of construction life. I wonder if they get charged extra if the guys writing on the walls use a sharpie marker? Scott must have been the foreman.
The Next section featured some absolutely dazzling views of the snow covered Catalinas as the clouds broke up and showed the mountains in all their splendor. I am glad the storm ended before midnight as we certainly would have been riding in snow had it not done so.
Down on Tangerine Bruce decided that he had to call it quits at that point. Steve and I had seen this coming a bit as he had been gradually slowing down for a while and we could tell he was hurting. So Steve and I headed on while Bruce headed for home. I had a rough patch when we got onto Silverbell but hopped onto Steve's wheel for awhile and made it through. I think I got behind on Calories a bit. It was around in here that the Sun came out for good and heated things up. I even took my windvest off at one point. It never did quite get warm enough to show my RUSA colors though (Long Sleeve jersey stayed on all day). I managed to actually break a sweat climbing Gates Pass even.

Somwehere in here somebody replaced my good old brooks saddle with one of Sheldon Brown's "Real Man" saddles.

Well we ate at the lunch stop at 4:50 PM. I figure that makes it linner. I made no excuses this time and chugged the Salami sandwiches right down. They were quite tasty. Almost as good as the food was the opportunity to sit down. Unfortunately, the end doesn't get any closer by sitting around so we were soon up and off again riding into the approaching dusk. We did manage to get to Picture Rocks right at dusk (and turned our lights on) but we would be to Marana before it was fully dark. As soon as the sun went down the temperatures seemed to plummet as well so we didn't stop for too long so as to avoid the shivers. Thanks to a good healthy infusion of calories at lunch and Marana we were able to roar down the frontage road at a rollicking pace of 15+ mph most of the way making quick work of it. It was in here too that I dug out the MP3 player as well so that might have helped the time to pass a little more quickly as well.

Paul the Randocicle-

We opted to rest at the Picacho gas station since I was struggling with a sore left arm that didn't want to stay on the hoods and also my aforementioned backside. So we sat down by the front door and had a drink and some food. I think there is a correlation between suffering and perception of time. I would postulate that the perception of time passage is directly tied to the amount of suffering a person is having. If the suffering is high then the perception of time passage is slow. Through here I was starting to hurt and the passage of time was seeming to lag. I got to where I figured we were passing about 1 mile for every song on the mp3 player. I was really starting to miss those hours of sleep I missed out on the night before.

Heres to Roger "Sat at La Palma for hours" Peskett-

Along 287 I talk to Steve and mention that I don't think I've met Roger Peskett before but if he is still at La Palma he is tops in my book. It seemed like it took us forever to get to the prison but after that things went pretty quickly. If it hadn't have been such a cold night it would have been a very pleasant ride up 287 with the stars out and no winds. It still was pleasant of course once you got past the chill. Roger was in fact still at La Palma (Thank you Roger!) and better than that he had Chocolate! Normally I don't do chocolate on brevets but this time it looked really good. Due to Paul the Randocicles tendency to start shivering we took off before long and were off to the finish line. Eleven mile corner with it's 6 miles to I-10 sign was a welcome sight. There were a number of road turds on the shoulder here that had to be dodged (hardened mud clumps put on the road by cars with mud on their tires) which added a little variation to the otherwise straight road. The hotel sign on the edge of Casa Grande said 52 degrees but I think that one is wrong, they must have their sensor too close to a light. The other one I saw on the way out after the finish line said 42 which I think is a much closer temperature to how cold it really was. Anyway, we finally made it in. Susan wasn't even asleep so either she wasn't really sleepy or we must not have come in too far behind the others (or Roger Called her maybe?). Anyway, we finally finished at 11:40 PM. A nice long day in the saddle. I need a warm ride after these last two really cold 300Ks I have ridden.


Bruce's Bike Blog said...


Thanks for your help on the Brevet.
It was good that you were along to let me draft--the snowline was cold and tough.

Let's hope we do better on the 400 with warmer weather!



Steve Atkins said...

Good job Paul, hey where can I get one of those saddles!

Steve A

Roger said...

Hi Paul, It was good to meet you out at that lonely outpost known as La Palma. We really have my wife ("C.G.") to thank for the chocolate - it was her idea! I have always appreciated the great amount of time that Susan Plonsky puts in on the Arizona brevets, so was happy to be of some help by operating the La Palma checkpoint while I am recovering from an injury. Roger.