Saturday, January 7, 2012

CG 200k 3M

MMM  =  Me and the Minnesota Maidens.   I suppose I could say Minnesota Maidens with legs of steel or titanium or something like that.   It's always a bit intimidating riding with folks from out of state as they usually do a lot more of these than I do and today it showed a bit.  For one,  you really do get a lot of endurance built up doing those things.  You may not be able to ride superfast but you can at least hold your speed alot longer than someone who might not do as many of these.  Anyway,  I suppose I should backtrack a bit.

It was interesting showing up at the shop bright and early.  It seems like I don't recognize as many people these days (some have moved,  some just don't come out anymore) but it wasn't too long before Lara recognized me from the ride we did on Mines to Pines a year or two ago.  She has a real good ability to recognize people.  I remembered her of course,  after she mentioned where she knew me from,  but if she hadn't have said anything I wouldn't have probably thought about it.  

Susan said her piece about 20 after and then cast us all off trusting us to know the way.  No motor drafting,  no one to trigger the lights for us on the way out of town,  why,  it was almost like she expected us to be self sufficient or something.

I always feel really good the first 5 miles or so.  I tell myself what an awesome cyclist I am the way I am keeping up with all the fast guys.   How it seems like nothing to just pedal along behind everyone.  Of course,  once the five miles is up that typically marks the end of the warm up for the fast guys and I get a reality check as the speeds ratchet up to superhuman.

My bike computer got left on my commuter bike so I had no idea how fast we were going.  I'd later learn it was around 25mph.   Of course I did my best to hold on.  Last time I did this I was able to hold them most of the way up the pass but last time I did this I was in a lot better shape.  Today I would find myself running out of air huffing like a steam engine about halfway up the main drag to I-10.  I was thinking that I should probably drop off somewhere in here when I saw someone drop off the back.  Figuring if I tried to man it out the only result I would get is a lot deeper in oxygen debt and be out there trying to recover alone.  If I dropped now I not only would not need to recover as much but I would at least have someone else to ride with.

Enter Lara.  Yes,  year before last when we rode the Mines to Pines we rode pretty much the same speed along with Tom Baker and interestingly enough, it was to happen again today.  We worked pretty good together.  Heading up to the pass above Coolidge we spotted a group behind us and kind of hoped they would catch up but they never did.  One person of the group did and passed us but by the time we started heading down the otherside we would pass him and would be off to the ruins.

Lara surmised the other group was about 2 minutes back and sure enough after we got our cards signed the group showed up 2-3 minutes after us.  One of Lara's friends from Minnesota was there and she did a lightning turnaround and headed off with us and so it was the Ladies from Minnesota ,  who I must say are pretty strong riders for being from a  place with a more difficult cycling season this time of year, and I. 

In my experience,  the CG 200k is an interesting beast.  It doesn't have a lot of climbing but the winds are the issue.  If one takes too long to get out to the turnaround one might find that the headwind they fought all the way out turns around and becomes a headwind all the way back.   If you work a little harder to get out to the lunch stop faster though you might have some tailwind on the way back.  So we worked a little extra hard on the way out and got a little payout.

I have to say these Ladies worked my poor legs ragged.  I thought the lunch stop would never appear.  Not having a bike computer makes it hard to know how far things are and I didn't want to get into asking "are we there yet?" too much and becoming a pest so I just pedalled on.   About 5 miles out from the stop I was thinking I was seeing a mirage ahead that looked a lot like a rider.  The wind was becoming a real nuisance.  Enough of a nuisance that the rider in front of us,  who was not a mirage, nearly got caught before we arrived at lunch.

Enter Brian.  We had a good lunch and I think I ate too much as the stomache was not happy about an hour down the road.  Anyway,  Ryan decided to ride back with us and so we were a group of four.  Well,  3 and an anchor,  although to be fair I did take my pulls until about 13 miles from the end when my stomache started to act up and my legs just wouldn't churn out the revolutions anymore.  Fortunately everyone was patient with me and pulled me the last ways in.  This is what I meant by perhaps endurance being a bit higher for folks that do a lot of these.

The wind in the last 13 miles shifted to a nasty headwind  (but the tailwind was very nice while it lasted).  I entered zombie mode and just kept pedalling as best I could.  Lara asked me if I had been drinking and I replied "no,  I had not been drinking".  Then I realized she was talking about water.  I had been drinking water but the stomache was not very happy.  I probably should have been drinking more water but Michelle's comment about a bike bottle full of Vodka made me laugh.  Mirth is good when your dredging the wells.

The pavement eventually turned to utter crap and of course, this means you are getting close to home.  For some reason Casa Grande must not have a very large street maintenance budget.  I'll have to ask my friend about that come to think of it,  he's a city planner down there.  Being in that dark place of suffering and delirium I steered us past the turn and we had to go back and find it.  We didn't get far but if we had just done the first turn like we were supposed to we might have finished with more than a minute to spare before hitting 8 hours.  As is, we did in fact beat 8 hours.  My goal was to beat my first time on this course of 8 hours and ten minutes.  I would have been happy beating my worst time of 8 hours and 30 minutes but 7 hours and 59 minutes is more than acceptable.  Not my fastest time,  but not my slowest by quite a bit.  All in all it was a good day with good riding company.  Who can ask for more?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Keeping up with the Two Wheel Jones's......almost.

As many of you may know,  at least those of you who are omnipotent, my boy's are on a junior's cycling team as they will be racing age next year.   The team is run out of a bike shop called Two Wheel Jones east of us a few miles.  They have a weekend ride that meets there and this Saturday I found myself in need of a stiff ride and they were headed out to Canyon Lake and beyond so I decided to hop on thinking they might not be as crazy fast as the Brumby's and perhaps even had a 'B' group that wouldn't be too slow.

Yep,  pulled up behind a fine set of riders out on baseline heading over to the same ride I was.  I even caught up to them.   Felt pretty good about myself at that point I must say.   We chatted it up all the way out to Signal Butte Road and then signed in and waited for the ride to start.  Since we were such a large group they were splitting into an A group and a B group.  B group was supposed to wait 1 minute Tricia said as she sped off to catch the A group 20 seconds or so after they left.  All of us of course thought she was leading the B group so we sped off after her and humorously enough,  the B group caught the A group after a few lights.

I believe we caught them because of the headwind they were fighting,  or maybe that is why we stayed with them.  That being said once we turned the corner I found myself on the back after a few folks dropped off and the old familiar Yo Yo action started up and I was getting winded fast.  I had to bridge a few gaps that formed in front of me and before long I was cooked.  Just like with the Brumbys.  Except I actually had started being able to hold the Brumbys before my training sloughed off.

I spotted a couple of folks in my rearview mirror and I softpedalled until they caught up.  It was one of the kid's from the blue team (older faster kids, mine are on the orange team).  This was his first time out to Canyon Lake on a bike.  Needless to say I was impressed.  In fact,  he outclimbed me on every hill.  Not by much mind you, and truth be told I was holding a little something back for EOP,  but for a 15ish year old,  that was pretty darn good.

Sorry I never finished The last post,  this week was similar to last week,  there were around 50 riders most of them of good fitness levels,  I held on until the hill at Usery Pass and then I was off the back.  Funny thing was I thought I was last once the 4 or five people behind me passed me up but I passed them going down the other side and they passed me up again before we got to the beeline.  I passed one lady and told her I was thinking of turning up to Four Peaks for a few miles if no one was up at the beeline.

There was a regroup up at the beeline though and as we waited with them I discovered there were quite a few people behind me.   I guess we were sort of an A- or B+  group that formed in the wake of the fast guys.   Someday I'll be back up with hanging with those fast guys but today it worked out pretty good.  I ended up riding with Walt.  Walt's the dad of one of the kids on my boys cycling team and we had a good discussion about that,  randonneuring (yeah I was flying the colors on my jersey that morning) and whatnot.  I emailed him the info on the brevet scene down here and maybe will have another recruit on our hands? 

A few times I found myself struggling to hold onto him but I think I am not too far behind his fitness level.  It was really cool having someone to ride with.   I think I'm going to make this ride a weekly thing.  Their meeting place is a bit closer than that of the Brumby's and there is the fact my kid's are on the team and it's cool to mix with the other parents  out on the road as opposed to watching the kids practice.

Next week is the 200k in Casa Grande.  It's been a few years since I did it but I am looking forward to it.  Susan posted the 2004 results on the website and my time was 8:10.   That was both the first Az Brevet for AZ Randonneurs and my first Brevet.   8:10 was lot longer than the sub 7 hour I did year before last.  That's my goal though.  I'd like to think I am in better shape than I was in 2004.   I haven't trained much,  but seeing as I finished the Mt. Lemmon 200k a month or two ago I think I probably can do it.  Hopefully there will be someone my speed out there.  Hard to believe it's been 8 years.   I've also started bike commuting since then of course so that will help too.