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.

1 comment:

Bruce's Bike Blog said...


Congradultions! I remember how tough that was. Here's the link to what I wrote when we did it...

Cheers! Bruce