Sunday, January 30, 2011


Evening on Red Mountain

In February the Brumbys are organizing an informal time trial over Usery Pass.  So,  it stands to reason that many of them have a desire to train on the backside of Usery theoretically.  Sterling sent out the plan on Friday that it was to be a double loop on Saturday.  It's not typical of the Brumbys to double ride anything but that's what they decided and it fit into my training schedule good.  It goes without saying that I woke up late on Saturday though.  Well,  actually I didn't wake up late,  I just got out late so I had to meet them along the route.  The other thing that didn't go as planned was my attire.  How can it be such a warm Friday night and such a cold Saturday morning?  Perhaps I should take the advice to put a thermometer outside my window.  Anyway, I opted out of the tights and long sleeve jersey for the arm warmers, vest and tights.  It was to be a cold cold morning.  Yeah, I can hear all you guys up north playing violins.

I was able to get to the point they usually turn off of McDowell before they did so we hooked up and Sterling welcomed me to the group where I took my place at the back.  I am still trying to get back to where I was last year at this time.  Sure enough I held them until we started to go uphill and then the fast guys dropped the hammer and raced to the top.  I said goodby and figured I was gonna ride solo most of the morning.  Interestingly enough,  they waited at the top for everyone to regroup.  What a classy bunch of guys.

After swooping down Kong (packs roaring along at 40+ mph always make me really nervous so I hung back a bit).  We cruised along over to the bottom of little kong and I figured I'd be dropped for good this time, when what was this?  I passed Sterling, and then a guy named Frasier (who I would ride with much of the morning).  So perhaps, I am not in as bad shape as I thought,   perhaps the January guys are mostly diehard racers.  I suppose the fact I've dropped 6 pounds in the last couple of weeks doesn't hurt either.

Fascinatingly enough,  there was another re-group at the top.  I was two for two.  On the backside Sterling told everyone not to bother waiting at the top.  I pulled ahead of Sterling and Frasier (but they would stay in view all the way up).  I watched the fast guys eventually fade from sight and got into my own mojo,  I figured now at last, the group would go on but at least I had Sterling and Frasier to ride with.  Wonder of wonders, there were a few guys that came back my way as I neared the top.  I figured they were going for a repeat but as I crested, it turned out that I had again made the regroup and they were just going back to see where Sterling was.  I am climbing stronger lately,  perhaps I will be able to finish the Mining Country Century in March after all. 

I really wanted to climb over Las Sendas Mt. this morning and was tempted to let the group go so I could cut through Las Sendas the hard way when lo and behold,  they turned up Hawes.  Sterling bid goodbye as he had to head home,  but Frazier and I climbed in the back and watched the strong racing types muscle up the 8% hill that is the top of Hawes.  Again they waited at the top for us,  I could get used to this riding the whole day with the group thing.

Interestingly enough rather than head straight around Usery again they opted for a Las Sendas loop.   When it looked like they were going to do another I asked if anyone wanted to do another Usery loop.  Around six of us split off to head onto the usery loop.  Frazier and I held onto the back of them and amusingly enough we weren't that far behind them when we got to the top.  At the top we compared bike computer notes and found we had climbed 2500' this fine chilly morning.  By the time I got home I was further surprised to find I had gone 54 miles.  I hadn't intended to go that far so I could save something for the afternoon ride with my kids.

 Sometimes you gotta walk.

I have to say I was a little tired after cleaning the back yard and hauling a giant truckload of trash out to the dump but what matter wounds to the body of a knight errant?  For although he tires he will rise again, and woe to the hill that shall try to oppose him!  Of course,  I'd be towing my youngest up that hill on exhausted legs.  Still, you have to just do these important things sometimes whether they hurt or not and the feeling was not unlike the feeling one has when they have to get back onto the bike after lunch during a long brevet so it was nothing new.

Today was to be my youngest's first time around the usery loop (on the trail a bike).  Lets just say she wasn't too happy with the long climb up the hill, and since she was already upset she decided she'd stay that way all the way down the other side too.  Just when I was muttering never again under my breath she decided to calm a bit despite the fact we dropped down into the cool of the river bottoms.  By the time we were climbing kong she was pedaling for all she was worth and seemed to be having fun,  which was good because I was doing likewise.  I have to tell you, an 8% grade is a lot harder when you are towing someone up it.  She was a trooper though.

Upon reaching the top I went back down to give Joseph some company as he walked up the hill.  I wasn't there to motivate him today as it was all I could do to maintain balance and forward Momentum.  He just wasn't having a very energetic day, and the fact he's a little heavier than last time we did this didn't help a lot either.  Still, they all made it.  By the time we got back to the car I had 72 miles and over 3000' of climbing in the bank and they had 18 miles and 500-600 feet of climbing.   I haven't ridden anywhere near that far since last July when I rode the Dirty Mogollon Madness permanent with Mike Sturgill.  Needless to say it felt good,  a tired good, but good none the less.  I signed us all up for El Tour de Mesa earlier this week (the 26 mile version) and I think they are in good shape to do it without too much work between now and April.

Downtown Phoenix at sunset

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