Saturday, August 1, 2009

Life in a Bottle

Typically water is a substance we take for granted like the air we breath. We turn on the faucet and it comes out. It is virtually a free commodity that even falls from the sky at times. In the desert these times are few and far between and any given tycoon would gladly give his fortune for a gallon of water if caught without in summertime. If one plans on travelling in the desert, plans have to be made. One can't go trotting out of town with no idea where a watersource could be within a couple of hours. Between my house and the Mazatzel divide by Mt. Ord there are 2 gas stations. Both of them are within the first 10 miles from my house.

This created a conundrum when I chose the pass for my ride destination today. In summertime it is difficult to carry 6-7 hours worth of water (in my case it ended up at about 2.5 gallons). So, afterwork on Friday I took the long way home and stashed some water at the turnoff for the western trail about 6-7 miles past the bush highway turnoff. I chose 3 seperate stash locations so if something goofed with one I'd still have the other two. I ended up using one and a half of them, I'll go up and retrieve them tomorrow afternoon on a ride with the kids.

With this water stash I would have water at the 34 and 65 mile points of my trip. This was quite doable. It also gave me a good bailout if I got to it and found the water was gone for some reason. When I was stashing one of the bottles I turned around and there was a DPS car! I don't think he saw me though as he was responding to an accident up the road. It would have been funny if he had though. You have to really watch those nefarious types that hide water in the desert.

Beeline highway a few miles from my water stash

It was 85 degrees at 3:30 am at my house. I had a headwind all the way up Usery Pass but on the backside I thought I was imagining things but I actually felt a bit chilly. I couldn't believe it. As dawn came when I was getting close to the bush highway my thermometer read 73 degrees. I even hit a pocket of 69 degree air up on the beeline. One of the reason's I chose this route is the turnaround is at 4600' which means cooler overnight temperatures. The funny thing was it was colder down by Saguaro lake than up on the side of Mt. Ord.

The idiot of the day award goes to a guy and his girl on a motorcycle without helmets and no taillight. They were practically invisible from behind in the dark. I wouldn't have been surprised to see them as part of an accident up the road.

Ah the great western trail! Funny, they don't mention the strong smell of urine in all of those old western shows. Seriously though the area around this sign wreaked. Fortunately my water stash was down the hill a bit.

The road coming down.

A few miles down the road from the Great Western Trail, the hill starts. It's a fairly long hill with a bit of a dip halfway up as you go past sunflower. You know it's a big hill as about every quarter mile the shoulder pavement is damaged from where a car caught fire. When they say turn off your air conditioner they mean it!

Starting to heat up at 7%

Car-B-Que marking

It's a beautiful morning for climbing. Climbing the hill on a bike is a much different experience. For instance, when you see the 'Whiskey Springs' sign next to a bridge, in a car you just see a bunch of desert, but on a bike you can look under the bridge and sure enough, right under the road is beautiful greenery and all the telltale signs of a spring.
His high and mighty Ordliness

Of course what goes up must come down. I had finished off my bottle full of maltodextrin and had 2 bottles left but it was all downhill, with a few small exceptions, to my stash. Dropping off the hill I was pleased to note a lack of bike shimmy as opposed to last week. The only bummer was some idiot decided to chip seal the shoulder so I had to ride the lane most of the way back down. When the shoulder finally went back to being smooth though I kept hitting burn spots where the pavement was rough which was annoying.
Dropping down into Sunflower

Life in a bottle.

It was getting noticeably hot when I got to my stash. I drank a couple of quarts and filled my bottles too. It was going to be a hot ride back to town. I tried Mick McCombs trick of riding the wrong way on the other side of the highway on the wide shoulder as opposed to getting squished against the cliff face of the south bound lane with no shoulder. It worked pretty good actually. My legs were a little tired climbing the hill but not bad.
The Mighty Superstitions

Coming down the bush hwy I did pretty good on energy and only saw one cyclists coming my way. I am sure the fact the temps were getting into the upper 90s had nothing to do with it. I did see one other cyclist out but I would be most of the way up Usery Pass before I caught up with him. He was an older guy on a mountain bike. I can't figure out how anyone could deal with a moustache in this heat. It would drive me nuts and probably was dripping salt.

The climb up Usery backside was sweltering until I realized I wouldn't need two water bottles at this point and dumped one of them over my head. I perked up noticeably as the air felt cooler as the evaporating water chilled my head and front. I had energy to spare when I reached the top and was able to pedal strong all the way to the gas station just before getting home to get some recovery goodies.

This entire river will be sucked into the houses of the Phoenix Metro area.
All in all it was a good ride. I rode 100 miles in 6 hours and 45 minutes with 6300' of climbing. I also had energy to install a new toilet to boot! (My son managed to crack the tank on the one in the kids bathroom last week). It was a good ride. I'll do it again sometime but probably not anytime soon. The water stashes are a bit of an inconvenience to setup.

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