Monday, May 30, 2011

28 C's Kelvin

Picketpost Mountain

They say, at least in Phoenix,  if the high temp on Memorial day is going to be less than 90,  it is indeed a federal crime to not do a long ride.  Not wanting to go to Levenworth I decided I would ride to the end of the world and back, but as I thought about it some more I thought I would just go over the end of the world to the Florence Kelvin highway and ride my 28 C's Kelvin permanent.  I've always wanted to ride this but never got around to it.  Was it foolish to walk in to a 200k ride with 5300 feet of climbing with 1/3 of it on a 20 mile stretch of dirt road on a lark without training for it?  Maybe,  I have a good healthy hurt on right now,  but half of that is my ribs which are pulled or cracked or broken (gonna check in with the doc tomorrow,  it's been 4 days and they're not getting any better so it's not a pulled muscle).  The other half is a good hurt although it would likely be less so if I had re-applied sunscreen at lunch.

It would be 4:30 by the time I got my receipt at the start.  I'd put a time of 4:15 on the card so I hoped I wouldn't need those extra 15 minutes.  Turned out I was fine.  I purposely skipped putting a control in Florence to give folks that might be a bit slower time to catch up if they haven't made up the time from the slower portions on  the climbs and dirt road.  Truth be told,  I had plenty of time in Florence even.  

Even on Memorial day there wasn't a whole lot of folks out at 4:30,  of course I guess most folks sleep in on Holidays.  Not your avid cyclist in a Phoenix summer though,  we have to get out in the cooler parts of the day like all desert creatures.  I was annoyed to find part of my route was detoured due to construction but that wasn't unexpected.  What's an extra mile or two between friends huh?  

East Apache Jct brings a fun set of rollers on the way to US-60.  The Superstitions loom large and are beautiful with the Sun trying to peak out from behind them.  On US-60 the sun would come out for good as I rode on the shoulder avoiding the expansion cracks on the shoulders between cars.  Traffic was definitely picking up.  Folks were heading out of town to recreate at their locations of choice in parts east of the valley.  I bet all the folks that went up to the pines for camping were freezing their tookus's off.  I was.  It was 52 degrees,  can you believe that?   This has not been the typical May in the Sonoran Desert.  I almost wished I had brought my wind vest and knee warmers at a few spots.

I pulled into Superior sometime after seven and got my receipt at the Circle K.  I had an hour in the bank for the next section.  We had the climb up to the end of the world and then all the glorious dirty fun of the Florence Kelvin Hwy.  

It was a beautiful morning east of Superior.  The birds were chirping, traffic was light,  the temps were cool,  all was right with the world.  Of course there was that 10% grade  before the long downhill.  I confess I walked part of it.  I was determined not to blow myself up before getting to Lord Kelvin's piece of work down below with multiple 10-15% grades.

When I finally got to the bottom of the big hill (drops 2000 feet in 8 miles with several 10% sections),  It was time to take my piece of the Florence Kelvin Hwy.  The town of Kelvin was as bustling as ever, with a dog barking as the only sign of life.  Below Kelvin the Gila river was flowing pretty good.  I stopped for a picture and stared at the daunting task of the next mile which looked like a wall at the end of the bridge.  It's a nice stretch of 15% grade.  What was it with these miners/stagecoach roads and their love of steep grades?  At least the first bit was paved.  I have to feel for those poor horses of yesteryear.

Me and the Gila River at Kelvin
At the top of the hill and the end of the pavement I stopped to pull a little trick an old mystic medicine man taught me.... lower the pressure in your tires for dirt for better control.  Having 28 c tires on the Coy Mistress meant I could go down to 70 lbs without fear of pinch flats and I must admit it was a nice ride.  Nicer in fact than when I rode this stretch on my commuter bike awhile back.  The vibration absorbing technology in my carbon frame and the large tires made for an awesome combination for absorbing washboards and other dirt road fun.  The 28c's were a close fit but I had about an 1/8th of an inch clearance and knowing I had an Aluminum crown on the fork I was good.

After the first hill,  you scrub off all that elevation you climbed and go right back down to the Gila.  You don't get a chance to look at the Gila of course thanks to the Diamond Ranch and their private property but you lost all your hard earned elevation nonetheless.  Descents on dirt are slower on a road bike by nature,  at least the nature of not wanting to biff it and comb rocks out of your skin.  It's tough to make up your time on the descents.

From the Diamond Ranch there is a 5 mile climb that rises around 1400' and has multiple sections of 7-10% grades.  Being on dirt makes this a little harder even.  The country you climb through though, is beautiful and you can see mountain after mountain behind you rolling out as you get further up the grade.  The road seems to go on forever as I work my way back and forth across the road seeking out the parts with the most firm surface.  

The really beautiful part of the Florence Kelvin highway is the traffic,  or lack thereof.  I think I saw a car ever 20-30 minutes or so.  Of course this adds to a sense of the remoteness.  I was glad for the collapsible water bottle I'd filled in Superior and lugged in my giant seat bag of holding.  I was also glad for the cooler temps.  This climb would be an absolute beast in the heat and the likelyhood of running out of water before reaching Florence would be high.  Even with an extra bottle.

Stopped to take a picture on the big climb
 Of course after cresting there is a long but gradual descent into Florence.  At this point the wind decided that it was not enough to have hampered my efforts to get to Superior but would seek to frustrate me for the rest of the ride.  I think this was the cause of much of the hurt.  5300 feet of climbing plus 100 miles of headwinds.  Ugh!  Still,  the beautiful countryside made up for it.  I made really good time heading down towards Florence.  The frame and the tires were absorbing an incredible amount of shock and I was able to maintain 17-20 + mph most of the way to the pavement after stopping at the information control.

At the pavement I re-inflated my tires and headed off for the long headwindy stretch to Florence.  The first bit of pavement was almost rougher than the dirt humorously enough.  I would play tag with a large truck pulling a trailer and another pulling a tricked out Jeep.  Tthey had to stop and add some gas at one point so I passed them again.

The stretch down into Florence seems to take forever.  Especially when one is hungry and there is a burger and fries waiting somewhere down there.  I knew there was a McDonalds but if I stumbled on a Sonic perchance, I would be a happy man.  I gotta have my Cherry milkshake.

Delicious Florence

I sat down for Lunch right around noon.  There was a Sonic and I had a wonderful lunch but I should have got the single burger instead of the double.  It would haunt me down the road an hour or so.  Heading out into the farms North of Florence I got really sleepy and a little nauseous.  I overdid lunch I think and perhaps I was just a touch behind on water.  The water issue I could deal with,  the other I would have to ride out.

This section used to have a lot more farms but Anthem and the lads decided it was just the place to put a master planned community.  Of course the master's didn't plan on a housing bust.  Anthem seemed to still be in business but the lads to the North lost their shirts.  There are whole neighborhoods fenced off with streets and streetlights, parks with play equipment, but no houses.  Ghosts that stand as a reminder of the housing bust.  I could never figure how these neighborhoods so far from any jobs could ever succeed anyway with the price of gas being what it is.  If I went rural, at a minimum, I would not want a homeowners association.

It seemed to take forever to get to the Gantzel market.  When I did I was please to note I had several hours until the control closed.  The headwinds had really taken their toll on me and I admit I really wanted the ride to be over at this point.  Still,  there were only 20 pretty flat miles left so off I went into the traffic and monotony of south Ironwood road.  This course is 80% awesome.  This last part of course is the miles you need to get back to the car after experiencing the awesome and of course is the price you pay at the end of a long day.  Still,  it is not without it's scenery as you once more approach the Superstitions and tired legs turn on to Baseline road and lead you back into Mesa from whence we started so much earlier in the morning just before dawn.

I would finish 11 hours after I started.  10 hours on the bike and 5296 feet of climbing and 140 miles on the odometer.  Tough but beautiful day and another one of my unridden permanents knocked off.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hills, several kinds.

Canyon Lake
Tough ride.  Really tough ride.  It's tough to ride depressed seeing as one of the signs is not enjoying things you usually enjoy. Still I had to do something Saturday.  It's been a really tough week and I needed to unwind.  I originally had bagged my plans of riding the Tortilla, Lakes, and Hills populaire in favor of a full nights sleep but since I woke up before 5 and couldn't get back to sleep, I was at the start just before 6 ready to ride.

You know it's tough when you start "one more mile" ing yourself 5 miles into a ride.  I wanted to go back and take the motorcycle out into the back country but I couldn't go back and take the motorcycle out because the chain needed adjusting.  So I continued on.  I figured I'd at least make it to the Superstitions.  Of course once I got to the Superstitions I had to go to Canyon Lake and by the time I got there it would be dumb not just to go to the turn around above Tortilla flat.

It was a beautiful morning with temps in the 60's but it didn't take them long to get into the 70's.  There was a good wind coming down the hills into my face but I had the false hope it might be a tailwind on the way back.  Still, hope although misplaced is still hope and any kind of hope when your depressed is good.

I didn't see a whole lot of cyclist's out until I got to the lake and then I started running into groups of them coming back.  This was probably the last Saturday to enjoy this ride without suffering in the heat on the way out.  The lake was beautiful, but it always is.

The hill heading up to the turnaround was a little therepeutic.  We climb hills to get stronger.  Suffering makes us stronger.  It is upleasant but often necessary if we want to make any kind of progress.  Some hills seem endless such as Mt. Ord,  End of the World, Mt. Lemon, Mt. Nebo,  but we eventually reach the top and feel better for it in the end.

At the turn around I made a note of the information control and turned around.  3/4 of the way down the hill I almost ran over a gila monster sunning on the road.  I stopped to go back and get him off the road before he got squished.  He had a leg missing and it looked like a bird or something might have picked a fight with him.  He hissed at my bike tire as I nudged him off the road.  Just after I took a picture another cyclist climbing the hill came over to check it out.  We both left hoping he would have enought sense to stay on the safe side of the fog line.

Gila Monster
 The return was warm and for the first time this year I needed to stop at the marina to refill my bottles and everthing.  I drank more than I thought I should.  It was getting warm and I'd need it for the climb out. 

All the headwinds of the early morning were now headwinds of the late morning.  I hunkered down and cursed the wind and pressed on.  At the last turn I stopped at sonic to eat a recovery meal.  I still had an hour left to do the last mile or so.  The ride didn't help my depression much.  But I did accomplish something.  I got 100k in and I helped my body maintain it's fitness so when this depression does end,  I'll be in shape to do the things I want to do when I want to do them again.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Backup plan Butcher Jones

Yesterday found me missing the Brumby's by 5 minutes so I decided to head out the Bush Highway to Butcher Jones beach at Saguaro Lake.  I like Butcher Jones as a turn around better because you get to see pretty trees and a lake as opposed to a freeway overpass.  Anyway,  the temps were just under 60 degrees starting out and I confess more than once I reflected on the fact this is probably the last perfect cycling day until October or November.

It was also the last day I could get away with skimping on water as I should have filled up at the edge of town but stupidly pressed on out into the sticks.  From here on out the rule is "Never pass up a water source without topping off".  I managed ok but I ran out of water just as I pulled up at Sonic at the end.  I ran into another cyclist down at Butcher Jones but he was not on his bike, but out with his family. 

The beach was beautiful with the huge trees on the side and the birds chattering.  The lake was fairly calm, though dotted with fishermen out for the morning's catch.  I am often surprised that more roadies don't make Butcher Jones a destination but instead opt to jet right on by in their rush to make a beeline for the beeline.  I guess it might be the rough pavement,  or perhaps it is the inclusion of another hill.

Here's some video of the highlights of my ride,  I think I finally got the helmet cam mount more stabile-