Monday, September 7, 2009

Midnight Journey

The Coy Mistress in Payson

I am not the best person to accurately note the time in the middle of the night. I had originally opted for a 2 am start and so set the alarm for 2:00 AM. I went to bed around 8 and woke up at what I thought was 1:55. Turns out it was 11:55 but I didn't figure that out until I was all dressed and heading out the door at 12:20. I figured since I was all ready to go I'd just head out and deal with it. It's a good thing I did as the ride was a little more involved than I thought it would be.

Night riding is always interesting and at the same time can be dull as well. I tossed my mp3 player in the jersey pocket since I would be doing so much night riding. I had a very diverse collection of music. Some which was helpful to keep the pace up and some that wasn't. I had finally had a chance to fix my generator light this week by putting a new switch on and removing the rocks that held the lense in and glued it in better.

Not a lot of support along this route (43 hill infested miles at that). Independence is critical.

There is a lot of climbing on this route. The first bit I did a few weeks ago as a century to the Mt. Ord turnoff. Climbing it at night was a bit different. The beeline was deserted at 2:30 am. I could take the lane while climbing to avoid the rougher parts of the shoulder. About halfway up the first half of the hill I was riding along in the darkness and out of nowhere I come upon this guy walking with a dim light down the hill. He sort of mumbled something at me that I couldn't catch and walked around me and watched him fade away in my rearview mirror. It was almost like a ghost. A few miles up the road the mystery would deepen. I had not seen a car or anything else he could have come from and was wondering what was up. I had put my mind onto other things when up ahead I saw a Trek MTB bike with a kickstand sitting on the shoulder up ahead. It had a taillight and everything. I wondered how the guy got the bike up here, assuming it was his. I also wondered why he left it here in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night without a soul around. Bizarre.

The good sized hill before the really nasty hill.

At another point I heard a large animal make a huffing noise in the underbrush to my right side and almost had a coronary. Despite knowing that attacks are extremely rare I am always afraid of encountering a Mountain Lion. I think it was probably a Javalina or something but the mind doesn't necessarily go with the most rational explanation first at night.

It was a beautiful night to ride through the desert actually. The moon was full and you could see the hills and mountains around in the moonlight. The only drawback was the first few hours were in pretty humid and warm conditions as the night time temps continued to drop from the days warmth.

Closed Rest Stop

Dropping down the back side of the Mazatzal divide behind Mt. Ord was really cool. Traffic was non-existant so I had no problem taking the lane and held 40mph most of the way down. Of course at night it seems faster but I was sitting up so as to air brake a bit. It was a long cool descent. Temps were pretty much perfect. About halfway down a pretty good sized shooting star streaked across the sky straight out from me far ahead.

After the bottom of the hill there were a few miles of hills left before the rest stop. The sky was just starting to get light when I pulled into the rest stop and discovered that the spigot Tom Baker and I used in May no longer worked. I had a momentary pause since I kind of depended on water being here. I decided to try the drinking fountains and thankfully they still worked.
Sunrise caught me making the big climb out of Rye heading up to Payson. I was starting to feel the climbing a little bit. By the time I got to Payson I would have 7000' climbed on my Altimeter. After chatting with a man from Scottsdale I was on my way back at 7:40.

Hill looking back after crossing the Mazatzal divide.

The ride back was a long one. My legs were starting to get a little irritated at me from all the climbing. By the time I finally got back to climbing the Mazatzal divide I really was not looking forward to the climb. I must admit I kind of wished I had my triple chainring. It was around in here I remembered that I had forgot to buy sunscreen in Payson. Fortunately for me there was a guy broken down halfway up the hill and his friend who had stopped to help him had some he said I could use. If not for his generosity I would be a lobster right now.

The pass on top of the Mazatzal divide

Knowing that I might in all likelyhood encounter warmer temperatures when I got back down to the desert I had selected a route that took me down by a lake and the Salt River. I hadn't thought about Labor day traffic and a road with no shoulder but it didn't turn out to badly in the end. I did in fact start to get warm after I had visited my water stash and refilled and climbed the last big hill before getting off of the beeline hwy. I thought I might be able to make it but as I headed down the Bush Hwy and things warmed up I knew I would need to cool down somehow or I would start going through water at a rate I couldn't sustain.

Before I got to town I would stop at the Salt River twice to wade out into the water and dunk my head in the water and soak my cap. Water is a great thing for absorbing energy and cooling you off fast. It was a lifesaver. The climb up King Kong (hill by granite reef dam) would have been a lot worse if I had not cooled off first.

Getting back to town I would hit a sobriety checkpoint where they were stopping all traffic. One of the Officers jokingly asked if I wanted to fill out one of their forms and then waved me through. I was glad I wasn't in a car. I ran out of water in here but from here it was downhill to Dairy Queen where a large Banana cream pie blizzard was waiting for me. I also ended up getting a full meal after I finished the Blizzard. I was hungry. I really drained the tanks today.
152 miles in 12 hours riding time and 11100' of climbing. I kept thinking it was a slow time but with all the climbing and the warmer temps towards the end I don't think it was too bad. In any case it is what I could do so I'll take it.
Just checked my May 300k report and this ride officially had more climbing than that ride so this is the most climbing I have ever done in one day.


Oliver said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Bruce's Bike Blog said...

Good Job... Cheers! Bruce