Hmm. Where to begin. I could start by saying everything kind of went south on Thursday night and that I didn't finally find a place to sleep until midnight since the campground gate closed at 10 pm ( I ended up at a nice little hotel down the street from the start line). I could talk about getting out of work late because of a critical project. I could talk about promises kept to my son before I left, but I have worked out most of that stress at this point and it is behind me. The promise kept to my son is a part of his memory now and I think we can rest assured that was a good decision no matter the lateness of my departure (I promised him a bike ride, kind of ironic really).
I treated this as another training ride. I probably should have tapered a bit more before it but it all worked out. Temps were warm heading out of Safeway and the morning commuters were polite for the most part. It was a nice morning for riding, even if 5:30 am did come too early.
The stretch out to Vernon though arguable the less scenic part of the journey always seems to surprise me with something. On this morning, I was riding along when I surprised a couple of deer on the otherside of the barbed wire fence and they started running alongside me. "Cool" I thought. Within 100 yards they had joined about 30 other deer and the whole herd was running alongside me at 22 mph and slowly they peeled away and ran off into the brush. That was certainly not something I have seen on previous brevets.
I had a lot of crosswinds, even starting out but not too far after Vernon they got pretty bad. It was tough to hold the shoulder. I managed to make it though. This stretch went a lot faster for me than last year. I am definitely stronger this year. Near the end of the stretch there are bizarre melons growing on the side of the road. They look like miniature watermelons but I am not brave enough to try one and risk the unpleasant effects. Not while wearing bibshorts anyway.
I hit a pretty substantial headwind the last 7 or 8 miles into Springerville. I figured if I pushed hard into it though I might be able to get a bit of tailwind before it shifted after I turned at the Circle K in Springerville. I did manage to get a bit of it after my stop at the circle k to top off.
Last year I ran out of fluids before getting to the sunrise turnoff and I had a pretty miserable ride down to McNary. I decided that even though we were stopping off at Greer I would still top off. The stretch between Springerville and the turnoff to Greer always seems to get me thirsty for some reason. As it is a deceptively arduous journey up a false flat in the full sun. There is also a little more climbing than I thought going to Greer but it wasn't bad.
One of the great things about brevet riding is that though the hours are long and one continues to eek out a steady constant cadence endlessly, it is quite therapeutic. I guess there is a zen like quality to these at certain points in the ride. As you move on and your body realizes it is losing the battle and it's will is dominated by the will of the mind things seem to resolve the further you move on. Things that aren't really so important kind of fall out of the thought process.
As I approached the bottom of the big hill I felt myself getting lulled into the same mental process as last year and I had a strong urge to pull over and lay down. Must be something about the area. I did not succomb this year I am pleased to say. I still wasn't getting full breaths but I was getting enough to move me up the hill.I had a pretty stiff headwind climbing to the quaint little mountain town of Greer and behind me the little innocent wisps of clouds were starting to organize and darken. The post office was open when I got there luckily as I was not able to get an official card or post card from Susan before the event so I got a stamp on my card I printed out from the website. Then it was off to the library where the nice librarian let me have the key to the restroom so I could refill my bottles from the sink. I was irritated upon leaving to find that my bike had been going 60 mph for the whole 10 minutes I had been stopped. I don't think I will go wireless again when I get a new bike computer down the road. I think the power line out front was the culprit.