Saturday, May 30, 2009

Legends, Superstitions, and Ruins

It's 3 in the morning is mighty early. Dark too. Nice and cool, but that will end all too soon. It's a nice pedal east toward the Superstitions on Brown road. I got my receipt to start this ride at the gas station across the street from Alberstons. Today I'm riding the Legends Superstitions and Ruins permanent. There's not too many routes around here that are rideable this time of year. Last year Julie was going for her R12 award and rode this during the summer months in the middle of the night saying it was the only permanent around here that was rideable in the summer. I didn't want to ride all night and the temps were only supposed to get to around 100 degrees or so. I figured I'd be OK starting at 3 and expected to finish between 11 and 12.

The first hints of dawn are appearing in the eastern sky. Venus is bright and I can see the big dipper and the north star above as I climb the first sets of hills heading back to canyon lake. I see the lights of the city far in the distance as I go over the hill down into Canyon Lake. Temps back here are warmer for some reason. I would actually start the first of the days sweating climbing out. It was almost light enough to ride without the light when I got back to Tortilla flat. I had the same rocks jury rigged in my light that I put in there on the Mines to Pines brevet I did a few weeks ago. I really need to do a more permanent fix on those but for now they are working.

I didn't spend a lot of time at Tortilla Flat. It was going to get hot and I wanted to be as far along as I could before the heat hit. It was 74 degrees climbing out of the canyon, when I got back to Apache Jct. it was 66. Odd. I kept expecting to see the Brumbys going the other way but I beat them to the Dash-In and I was off on my own route from there. Out of the mountains and out into the fields of Queen Creek and coolidge. The sun was shining brightly and the temps were on the rise. I had 3/4 of a water bottle left and I figured I would take advantage of that new gas station at Ocotillo and Vineyard/Ironwood Julie mentioned.

The gas station came just in time. I made sure to soak my cap in the restroom sink and downed a lot of water with what was left over after I filled my bottles. It was a nice sit out front of the store but the fear of the heat got me going. I had 25 miles to the Coolidge control and it was around 80 degrees already. I kept speeds between 18-20 most of the way but this section is a little weird and always seems like it takes longer than usual. There was a few more stores out here than the first time I rode this with Susan, Bruce, and Steve and we all ran out of water.

I drive by many green potato fields and the birds are singing on the side of the road (for some reason they hang out by these farms, maybe it is the irrigation ditches). I get passed by the occasional car. I actually see several bikers out here training in the middle of nowhere. Most of them are heading in as the heat heads up.

Around here I start to past the ghosts of rich mens bank accounts. Vast areas with street lights and streets laid out in order with nary a house in sight. Weeds grow on the lots and the blazing sun heats the shadeless pavement. These are the remnants of speculation gone awry. No one has cash to build, no one is buying. Before gas prices rose and the housing market went bust this area was the next hot investment, the magic land of golden development. Now the streets lay empty and the would be gated communities are sealed by chainlink fences.

Last time I rode this I was a little ticked that Anthem came out and spoiled a bunch of pretty desert. Now I realize they actually are suffering for it and though they might be struggling, all this nice smooth pavement and large shoulders they paid for are still here. I guess it's a good kind of hurt from my perspective as a cyclist.

I have gone through most of my water bottles and the heat is making my maltodextrin hard to swallow. In Coolidge I fill a bottle with gatorade and drink lots of water. I know it is around 40 miles to the next water but with my speeds I figure I should be good after downing a chocolate milk and more water.

I run into headwinds in the next stretch once I finally get off after being quizzed by a guy in a dumptruck on which route I am taking back to Mesa and where hwy 87 comes out (I couldn't remember at the time but it is actually country club drive or Arizona Ave). It was a little frustrating but I managed to keep my speeds around 17. This section has a narrow shoulder so I kept a wary eye in the rearview mirror and didn't have any problems before reaching the nice shoulder on the Gila Indian reservation.

That little blip on the horizon is the Casa Grande ruins.
This is also a stretch that takes foever. Particulary after crossing the Gila River (which is dry). I see a bunch of cows eyeing me with apathetic indifference feeding before graffiti clad bridge supports and I stop to take a picture. I'm getting hot. Those poor cows look hot but there is shade right behind them. I have no shade. I will not have shade until I get to Walgreens about 12 miles from the end. Though there is a nice shade tree I used on my way back on the first running of this with Susan and company I would press on.

After the turn onto the hunt highwa a hot person could go mad for want of thirst in this stretch. The place looks civilised with houses and developments. After turning onto Lindsay there are even office parks, most with heavy vacancies. Traffic light after traffic light yields Orthodontist offices, Law offices, etc. No convenience stores a places to get water. I pass a church with people there but determine I will not bother them but press on. I still have water but I am low.

A water fall with my name on it. No, I mean it, the sign said "Layton Lakes". I had fantasies of jumping in it and telling any who might be concerned that it was mine. Standing in front of it wasn't getting me anywhere so I pressed on.

Even after I went under the 202 it took me a few blocks to hit the Walgreens where a few years ago I had rescued Steve Jewell from a zealous off duty paramedic who assumed Steve was in imminent risk of dying since he had salt deposits on his face. I am glad he is not around as my face is white with salt crystals. Cool liquids work miracles on me. I am thankful for the bench outside. I have noticed most walgreens have benches outside. A valuable luxury for a randonneur.

The next 10 miles were hot. I knew that there was a large blizzard waiting for me at the end though. Going under the 60 is where the victory lap begins for me. From there it is just 5 miles left and the end is close enough to motivate one out of the deepest funk. Still I am hot. At dairy queen I am surprised that as soon as I get inside I suddenly get wet. I have been sweating but it has been evaporating as soon as it is out. Stepping into dairy queen I am still sweating but in the cool air it is allowed to collect. People look at me. I don't really care. I am done and now I am going to get my just deserts. Oh, also that receipt that marks the end of another permanent finished.

It's a banana cream pie blizzard, it's got potassium in it don't ya know.

Monday, May 25, 2009

From Mormons to Mines (Mesa to Superior, AZ)

The mighty Superstitions

Memorial Day. It is a tradition of mine to do a longish ride in the morning. Typically a century but seeing as I am planing on running my Legends, Superstitions, and Ruins permanent on Saturday I opted to keep it down to a simple 80 miles. I had thoughts on Sunday of doing even less since I have a project overdue and I was going to work all day but wouldn't ya know it, one of my co-workers froze the database environment last night and they are having trouble getting the DBAs to come off of vacation and fix it! Aw shucks! Dang! Guess I'll have to fix my attention elswhere, like, a ride out to..... lets say... Superior Arizona?

I have never ridden my bike out to Superior before. The new road is done and the shoulders are nice, wide, and smooth. The shoulder coming back from Florence Jct is a bit of a bear but with a rearview mirror and sturdy wheels it is doable. most of the way has beautiful shoulders.

Anyway, I got out the door at 5 am and opted to leave the headlight behind but put the taillight on. I made good time heading east despite the tailwind. I kept a speed between 15-20 mph most of the way out to Florence Jct. which is a gentle climb, it's the headwind that normally gets you in this part.

The temperatures were just beautiful. I started off in the mid 60s and would just be peeking into the 80s when I got home. The climb up Gonzales pass was very similar to the backside of Usery Pass, with the exception that it maxed out at only 4% grade. The smooth pavement almost made the bike pedal itself it seemed. About halfway up the hill I saw 4 or 5 other riders going down on the other side of the divided highway. I wonder why this isn't a more popular cycling route?

A picture looking back where I came from. The first picture in this blog entry is of the other side of those mountains in the distance.

Yours truly in the final throws of climbing Gonzalez pass above Superior

All I need is a good bike and a wide shoulder to steer her by.

Picketpost Mountain

The Arboretum (it's also a state park and has some really crazy plants)

You are on a scenic road. Be sure to watch out for pine trees, cacti, and yurts (or is that a mosque?)

I pulled into Superior just after 7:30 which I was quite pleased with as I thought it would be closer to 8. The lady cleaning the rest area assured me it was open (I didn't even ask but she was eager to tell for some reason). Cold water on a sunny morning after riding 40 miles uphill is a wonderful thing Ladies and Gentlemen. Being acquainted with desert riding I chugged down a quart or so in preparation for the return. I had only drunk one of my waterbottles on the way up here. I refilled the bottle with maltodextrin and water, "Freshened Up" , in the restroom and then headed over to the Superior city historic park. For a few minutes.

The busy and hectic Superior Airport.

Watch out for Giant Pedestrians in the sky.

Mining cars leading into a pile of rocks made up to look like a mine entrance/potato cellar.

My bike takes a ride.

Little red caboose. (Little compared to what?)

Around 10 to 8 I was out on the road again. Coming out of Superior it is 4 or 5 miles before you get to the good shoulder again. This is where the rearview mirror comes in handy since I can ride the side of the lane until I see cars behind me and then I can steer off onto the rough shoulder until they pass. Passing the Arboretum again I am once again on that beautiful brand new smooth as a babies but pavement. The bike kind of climbs the hill on its own.

Gonzalez pass looking out into the desert above Florence

After Topping Gonzalex pass the crosswind would slowly become a tailwind as I passed Florence Jct. I couldn't believe how cool it still was this morning. Usually this time of year it is getting hot around 8:30-9 ish. I made fantastic time heading down the 60 despite having to jump onto the shoulder frequently as traffic passed. This shoulder has extremely bad expansion cracks that are several inches high and make for a bone jarring ride. The area just to the side of the white line is smooth though so between groups of cars one can have a smooth ride. Fortunately it is early enough there is not a whole lot of traffic. I did get passed by 15 RVs in a row just getting back into town though. That was really annoying.
As I cruised down Broadway I noticed my avg speed kept notching up as I was maintaining around 25-26 mph. By the time I got to Walgreens for my quart of chocolate milk recovery drink I would have an average speed of 18.1 mph over 79 miles and my bike computer said I had 4 hours and 20 minutes of riding time. I am quite pleased with that time. I sipped my milk for the last mile to my house and felt really good pulling into the driveway. A lot better than I thought I would feel since I rode a pretty hard 75 mile ride on Saturday. All that eating must have done the job. Anyway, it was a beautiful ride and I will do it again sometime.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Bridge that Ate People

4:30 Am, pavement looks dry, pretty sleepy but I know the ride will be awesome if I just get out the door. It is the first weekend in a while that I am able to hook up with the Brumbys. I am a bit late in hooking up with them and I meet them just before I get to Val Vista (just after they have left) and latch onto the back. I thought they were taking it a bit easy until we hit Power and then they ratchetted it up to 24 mph to rocket up into Apache Jct.. Two people drop off the back but I am holding on. Then everyone stops for a flat. I am cooling down and see a small group of slower riders head off. I take off after them as the rest of the group will catch me I am sure. After a half mile or so I catch the other group and we hold together almost up to where the real climbing starts where we are caught by the rest of the group behind us. This is the first time I have made it this far with the group.

As we start the climbing it is raining. It is also moderately chilly. I am amazed I am not the last guy up the first hill today. Descending down the other side I have to stop though as a guy has a broken a spoke and I offer help. He has a bladed low spoke count wheel with odd nipples that don't take a standard spoke wrench so I can't help him. Even with my fiber-fix spoke.

While we are trying to figure out his wheel a guy on a triathlon bike comes into the turn and loses it. He slides about 20 feet on the wet pavement and onto the shoulder. The lady behind him goes down too. I don't know if it was because she hit the brakes to keep from hitting him or not but she didn't hit nearly as hard as he did. Both had wheels out of true and roadrash. This would be the first of the carnage today. Down the hill and around the corner a rider would have an incident with the bridge that eats people. It's a steel decked bridge and even in dry conditions it makes me a bit nervous. When it is wet it is pure evil.

He gashed his leg open right down to the bone. Fortunately the MCSO deputy that passed us while I was helping the guy with the spoke problem, was able to help. I don't know how they evacuated him but he was gone when I got there and there were a few people left to warn others about the bridge. I have crossed that bridge in the middle of the night, in the driving rain, and heat of the day. It is a tough customer in any conditions. When it is wet it is even dangerous to walk across.

I am fatigued but I am determined to make it to the end of the pavement and back. The further we ride back the more rain we get. The skies clear up behind us but we continue to ride with the storm and wet. There is a crazy headwind climbing to the end of the pavement and I keep expecting to see the others coming down the hill. It is only after I have crested that the group is coming back towards me. They are roughly 5 minutes ahead of me I figure.

I could have easily done mid 50's down the hill on the way back but I am braking hard to keep the speeds under 40 mph because of the conditions. Back at canyon lake marina is the regroup but I need to get some water and mix in some energy for the climb out. There are still a few riders waiting for some buddys when I get back out to the road.
They catch me up again around the top of the climb out and we form a paceline that I hang with back until we get to Crismon road. I pulled once but the front two guys kind of took over which I didn't have too much of a problem with since I was tired and I still did want to save something for Monday morning. I found my way back to Sonic for a good first breakfast. I figure I need around 1600 calories extra today if I want to recover before Monday. It was a good ride.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Easy, Rainy, Soggy, Commute.

Cold grey day, in the end of May,
Clouds and rain hold heat at bay,
I think I like it better that way.
Cold wet mist, drops fall on my fist,
Lovely rain, the desert's kissed
Riding through puddles leads to bliss.
Cold is sound, dripping on the ground,
A music to soul surround,
Peace before work, and worries are found

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Time Trial

Having broken my record for the counter-clockwise loop around Usery Saturday night I was curious what I could do during daylight. This morning I rolled out of bed at 5:30 and out onto the bike for a quick trip around Usery Pass. This was one of my earliest distance rides (Well, 26 miles was "distance" back then) so it has become a sort of standard to gauge my fitness on. The first time I rode it it took me 2 and a half hours. Saturday night I was ecstatic to find I was able to do it in and hour and 28 minutes with an average speed of 17.4 mph. There is roughly 1000 feet of climbing much of it on false flats so I am actually pretty proud of that. There is also a nice section of 9% grade coming up "King Kong" from the Salt River on the Bush Highway.

This morning I would get hit by the occasional rain drop and I had a bit of a tailwind on the first bit of climbing. I was amazed to see the temperature was already 77 degrees but the cloudy sky kept it down but it would be in the 80s by the time I finished. I kept seeing cyclists going the other way, even a Brumby or two (I didn't wake up soon enough to join them as they meet at 5). I cruised up the front side of Usery faster than I ever have before maintaining 13-14 mph all the way to the top. The trip down the backside I kept it in the high 30s all the way down.

Coming in to the bottom of Kong I noticed a few people ahead of me and worked to catch up. The closest person was a lady that I passed at the bottom of the hill. The guy she was riding with seemed determined to not let me pass him when he saw me approaching near the top of the hill. I was above my LT pretty fiercely so I didn't want to completely blow myself up with 8 miles left to go. He stayed about 100 feet ahead of me up until he turned off to the right (though I was slowly catching him and would have if he hadn't turned).

I fought a pretty fierce headwind all the way home from here but managed to keep the speeds around 20 most of the way. It was a real hard slog since I had burned most of the matches I had left climbing Kong in the way that I did. Still, when I got home I had finished in 1 hour and 25 minutes which is the best time yet for me. I had an average speed of 18.2 mph which is not too shabby on that course.

Anyway, it was a good morning. Nice to see all the work I have been putting in has been paying off. We'll see if I can keep up with the Brumbys on Saturday. I hope so. I am in much better shape than when I rode with them last summer and earlier this year.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mines to Pines, Mr. Popeel's brevet.

First climb of the day.

I'm here to talk to you today about a 300k brevet. How much do you think you would have to see to finish a brevet like this? Mines? Pines? Yes, you have the mines and the pines. But my friend, I'm here to make a deal with you, this brevet also includes a 20 mile lake front ride by scenic Roosevelt lake! How does that sound? But wait! Theres more! Ride now and we'll even throw in a few creek crossings through a beautiful mountain creek! Still not sure? Well, what if we were to throw in 10, 400 feet of climbing! If you ride now, we'll even throw in a free Jinsu knife!

Seriously though, this brevet had everything other than an ocean front ride and I'm afraid that Arizona may have an extreme amount of variety but it has no ocean views so we settled for a lake. I was eager to ride this and I have been training for it ever since I helped on the 300k and Tom Baker said they were cooking it up. I have been working my way back from a knee injury and this was one heck of a ride to make my long distance comeback on.

Salt River Peak pass

I was suspicious of the 6000' feet of climbing estimate as put it in the mid 8000s so I trained with 5000 foot climb rides figuring that would prep me. Of course all climbing estimates were off, including mapmyrides. You never really know for sure on elevation though until you get an altimeter out on the course.

Due to road construction I didn't get to the Miami start point until 10 till 6. I found the men's restroom at the park was closed due to vandalism so Tom and I ended up using the Lady's room which didn't look like the model of cleanness or good repair either I might add. Still it was private. We finally got off around 5 after, which wasn't too bad. It was a beautiful morning. light breezes and temps around 60 degrees. We kind of just eased down the road at a pleasant pace. Past the scenic tailings piles (really, they are! you should have seen them before the mines cleaned them up and planted stuff on them).

Turning off of US60 we meandered down into green fields through an open valley between the mountains on either side. It was cool having someone to talk to as I often find myself riding alone usually. Tom pulled ahead when we hit the hills and I would catch him on the flats and downhills. I think this was due to the fact he had a handlebar bag and I didn't. Still I think he is stronger than I am and he might have just been humoring me most of the day to have someone to talk to. I have time though. One does not become a fast distance rider in a matter of a few months.

At the top of our first 7% climb of the day we descended the otherside down to Roosevelt lake. Tom kept asking how many brevets give you a beautiful lakefront ride like this. Not having ridden a brevet out of state I don't know. I do know this is the only one around here and it is awesome. It was a beautiful ride in the cool morning air and the lake smooth as glass on the right hand side. It was still early enough most of the boaters were awaking to the pain of their hangovers from the night before and not out on the lake yet.

Just after 8 we arrived at the visitor's center which had just opened. We got our cards signed and loaded up on water and I mixed some more maltodextrin up. I was determined to stay on liquids until lunch and then switch over to some more solid foods. It was a strategy that worked pretty good.

Roosevelt lake marina

Roosevelt lake is an awesome place to ride a bike. The shoulders are wide, you have lots of cool stuff to see including one of the few suspension bridges in Arizona and what used to be the worlds tallest Masonry dam until they encased it in concrete and raised the lake level. I had ridden acrossed the bridge by bike before (when I rode the Apache Trail) but I had never ridden the length of the Lake.

It was beautiful meandering back into the side washes and crossing the bridges, looking at the bluffs in the distance and the Sierra Anchas behind them. Ahead was Mt. Ord with it's firetower on top, and next to it, Tom made a point of saying, was Baker mt.. Being a Baker he makes a note of these things he says.
Past the lake we wandered into more green fields and a long set of rollers. There were farmers in one field using horses to plow the field. I have never seen a horse plowing a field. My wife's Grandpa has all the stuff to do it by the side of his house but he had used a tractor for years now (not that he farms anymore as he is getting on in years). It was cool to see farmers doing it old school.

There weren't any really big hills in here but there were a bunch of smaller ones all tending to move you up higher in elevation than the previous ones. It was starting to warm up a bit as the temps climbed up through the 70's and into the 80's. The rest stop by the highway was a welcome sight.

The rest stop has been closed for some time but the water is still on and it is cold water. There is nothing like splashing cold water on yourself on a hot day. Wash all those salt crystals out of your cap and hair. Soak the jersey a bit to get that "evaporative" cooler effect we can enjoy here in Aridzona. I make a note while we are here we have accumulated 3000 feet of elevation gain already and we still have the majority of the big hills ahead of us. Still I am feeling strong (which is good because there was a long way to go!)

Bikes bikes! Come and get your bikes! Big bikes little bikes, motor bikes, sissy bikes!
Just passed Rye we faced the biggest hill of the day. It was around 1700 feet high and stayed around 6% all the way up. I got into a good rythm with my triple and worked my way up the hill. Around half way up I was still feeling strong and passed up Tom. I kept going and figured I would wait for him up at the turn around if he didn't catch me first (which I expected he would). The climb was hot but it did feel cooler as we got closer to Payson. The hill seemed like it went on forever but with hills like this you just plug away and enjoy the moment by moment and don't think too much about how far there is left to go.

Payson was bustling the way it usually does on weekends. I figured I had half my water left so I would just keep cruising and out to the turn around. Nearing the other edge of town my little voice of doubt kept nagging me though. I ended up giving in knowing that if you fill up you will have it if you need it, and if you don't, then you could get stuck in a bad way, so in to Texaco I rode (on the wrong side of the road unfortunately as it is a bear making a left turn pulling out with all the traffic).

There was a bit more climbing than I remembered heading out Houston Mesa rd. Fortunately the scenery makes it all worth it. Traffic was fairly light. I discovered a little further back (just when my legs were getting a bit tired) that I had forgotten a hill with an 11% grade tucked back in there by the East Verde river/creek (where there were lots of people out playing in the water). I couldn't stop though, I was determined to get to the turn around and then to soak my feet in the mountain creek up near the turnaround. I must confess the 11% climb took a bit out of me getting up it. I was nearing 6000 feet of climbing already (the turn around was almost exactly 6000 feet) and I also needed to eat something.

Ahhh! The blessed turnaround, no it really was blessed! It was next to a church!
At long last I had the turnaround in sight. I found the stop sign appropriate. I made a mental note of the time and the answer to the question on the card and was off heading back the other way. Within a mile I spotted Tom coming my direction and let him know I was planning on waiting at the creek crossing.
The creek crossing! I wasted no time finding a suitable rock and putting my legs in the water.
I had a few toes that were numbing a bit and a good soak did them wonders. Theres not too much better stuff in life than a good foot soak and a cold mountain creek 100 miles into a ride. Drivers kept asking me if I wanted them to splash me as they drove through the creek. It would have felt nice but I had a cell phone in my back pocket.

The ride back was a rewind of all the rollers we had climbed to get here from Payson. I was starting to think 8000 feet of climbing might even be a touch low for an estimate. I was pretty tired through here and had to soldier on through fatigued legs. I was looking forward to downing a large chocolate milk or something at the Bashas Tom had mentioned.

I ended up taking down a quart of strawbery milk, some chicken, and mac and cheese. I started up with the endurolytes in here here too since I was starting to feel the muscle cramping coming on. The ride out the beeline was awesome since it is nearly all downhill to Rye. There was one spot where the shoulder stopped and we had to ride out by the traffic but there was only one guy who honked his horn since he had such a hard time switching lanes to go around a vehicle that was only going 10 miles or so under the speed limit. I got a few funky wiggles in here from crosswinds causing a little concern but mostly it was a smooth descent into the desert.

The ride back up to the rest stop was a bit more of a climb than I had noticed going down it in the morning. By the time we finished the altitude climbed had notched up to just under 8000 feet and we had the last major hill of the day ahead and lots of rollers. Temps were in the 90s as we slogged up the 4% grade to the rest stop at the turn to Roosevelt. The water at the rest stop was much appreciated when we did get there though. A brief respite from the afternoon heat. I'm glad the water was still on, and that the states budget cuts don't turn off the shade coming from the trees.

My legs were fighting through a good healthy fatigue now and I was very welcoming of the Tonto Basin supermarket 15 miles past the rest stop. We refilled water, and I downed a vanilla milk drink and a frozen dryers fruit pop (I still had some lunch gurgling down below so I didn't want to take in too many more calories). We had a good sit back in the restaurant and then it was time to get back out into the heat. A lady made a comment about the heat to us as we left funny enough. Like we didn't know it was hot.

This part of the ride was where I entered zen mode. That's the moment when you are tired and you get overwhelmed by how many miles lie before you. That is the time I live in the moment. Enjoy the journey and look around me to see what there is to see.

Evening approaches

We hit the lake just as sunset was about to begin. The setting sun brought out a lot of contrasts in the mountains to the north. I was hoping we would hit the bridge so I could get a good picture of it at sunset but I figured it would be close and likely we'd miss it.

Riding along in the shadows of the hills I ride over a bridge and I catch movement in the corner of my eye. Down below me is a family of Mule Deer come down to the lake for an evening drink. I pedal on into the peaceful hush of evening. When we get to the bridge it is nearly dusk and the shadows make it too dark for a good picture.

The ride along the lake has been beautiful. The evening falling upon the water makes for a peaceful transition to nightfall. I get a last picture of the dam before we take our final water stop at the visitor center which is closed. The drinking fountains are still on though the bathrooms and vending machines are tucked in for the night. It is time to don the nighttime reflective apparel. Soon many a driver will be wondering what the heck that shiny blinky thing is up head.

Tom pulls ahead pretty much off the bat as we are climbing for the next 10-15 miles. I also have to make a stop to fix my light after a crossing of the rumble strip shakes the LED lens loose and I have to wedge it into position with rocks from the side of the road. It held together for the rest of the night I am pleased to say.
I was dreading the climb up Salt River Peak pass as Tom called it. I got about halfway up and then I had to start "one more" ing myself. One more corner and I'll take a rest, no maybe one more mile marker. "Did it look like that cars taillights crested a hill? I'll ride that far and see." All in all I only stopped once and that was more to get a good look at the stars, though it was good to get the heartrate down a bit. Climbing in the dark is an interesting experience. You can't see anything ahead and the only way you can tell where you are going is the path the car headlights/taillights take. Eventually after who knows how long you are to the top. Night riding is a timeless endeavor. Time passes in a different fashion than during the day. You are not as aware of hours passing.
Eventually I make it to the top and enjoy the brightness of my generator light down the other side. There are rollers in the last 10-15 miles but once you pass that summit everything is a victory lap from there. I munched down a power bar (the kind made out of cereal and nuts not the gross ones). I was a little hungry but I was close to the end and I figured a 300 calorie snack would pull me in. Toward town I passed 3 police cars with people pulled over.

Pulling into the finish Tom was just coming out of the restroom having changed. I set my bike down under a light and took a look at what the final verdict for what the climbing was. We had climbed 10,400 feet in the course of the day. Just a tad over 6000 :) . I was glad I had mixed some higher intensity training in the last few months..

Head down, the feet go round,
Eyes directed toward the ground.
Wheels roll, and ever pull,
The dying day from tired soul.
On I ride, the wind has died,
the cool of eve is on my side.
Setting sun, the ride is run,
The finish awaits, and I am done.