Saturday, June 28, 2008

Running with the Brumbys (well sort of)

Down on the Hunt highway near the Salt River there is a herd of wild horses. If one rides through there enough it is a given you will see them or have to wait for them to cross the road. This is the name the local cycling club adopted for their moniker taking the name for wild horse from the movie "The Man from Snowy River". Of course, if one has seen the "Man from Snowy River" you know that these horses can really move, hence the name.

I rolled out of bed this morning after a spunky 5 hours of interrupted sleep and managed to collect everything I needed and get out to the meeting place by 4 AM. There were 2 people there. at 4:10 we decided to get going. First off, let me tell you to never be fooled by the age a guy looks. His hair may be grey but it is the legs that count. I was holding on to this guys wheel for dear life as he pulled us at 20mph uphill, and upwind. Brown road has a 1% false flat heading east and I usually ride much slower, but not this morning!. They did drop me just past power road but by the time I got to Ellsworth they had stopped to hook up with a guy there and another group was approaching from the back. All told when we left the intersection we had about 30 cyclists. We were a mob.

It has been a long time since I have done any pack riding but fortunately it is like walking or uh, pardon the pun "riding a bike", and I managed to cruise along with them. We held 20mph all the frickin way across Apache Jct, steadily climbing towards the superstition mountains. I was amazed at the amount of distance we covered. Of course all good things eventually come to an end, and once again, just before the big hills started I found myself dropping off the back. I am close to being able to hold the Brumby's but I am not quite there yet. I have the jersey though so I am obligated at this point to get to the point I can run with the pack. I did find I was able to catch up to them at most of the regroups even if I was the last one.

At Canyon Lake everyone had gone up to the end of the pavement so I followed. About halfway up the fast guys came shooting down. I climbed on. Despite getting dropped I was making record time up this hill today. I got passed by a guy I had passed down at Canyon Lake (he was waiting for someone). He didn't pass me too fast though and I got to the end of the pavement just as he was heading back. I had to stop at the top to change the lenses out on my sunglasses. I chatted up Paul while I was up there. Paul is a 6'7" giant that is training for a 200 mile ride he hopes to ride in 10 hours. I'd be happy for 100 in 5 hrs. We road down the hill together. At tortilla flat he decided to do a repeat like the rest of the fast guys did. I headed back to Canyon Lake though as I didn't think I had a repeat in me today. Perhaps next time.

At Canyon Lake I downed a quart of water and refilled my bottles. I had heard the moderate group was supposed to get here (they were supposedly meeting at 5 AM and were going to turn around at Canyon Lake). I had hopes of riding back with them but waiting only brought the fast group in on their way back from the end of the pavement. After everyone refilled their bottles we were off. Not too far out of here I was promptly dropped again, but not before I had a good conversation with the guy that came up with the name for the club. It was kind of cool. Although I was slower than them I did not do too badly. Though my legs had had a good workout today I had good power going up the hill out of the Canyon. My back started to let me know it was a little tired of all this climbing at this point. I need to find some excersizes to strengthen my core.

At the corner of Ellsworth and Brown I was waiting at the light when who should come out of the gas station behind me? Yeah, you guessed it, the fast guys. They were going to go around Usery Pass to get an even hundred miles so we said hi and they went their way and I went mine. One of these days I will hang with them. I didn't do bad today though. I would run into one of the club's organizers getting back closer to the car. He was having back problems so he was just out for a good spin. We chatted it up a little and then he headed off. Getting back to the car I found I had gone 70 miles in 4 hours and 12 minutes. To give you some idea of how much faster today's ride was than what I am used to. My all time fastest time on this course is 4 hours and 20 minutes. " Yeah, so you pulled 8 minutes off, big Deal" you say. Well, when we remember that this is 6 miles longer than the route I usually go suddenly we get a much much better time. I figure I was running about 25-30 minutes ahead of my best time. Not bad. Average speed was 16.5 mph and total climbing was 3864 feet. I ended up weighing exactly what I did when I left so I think I nailed the hydration thing. Next week I hope I hang on longer!

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