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?