Sunday, April 8, 2012

24 hrs in the Batalion

The Batalion sans sleep deprivation
 Well,  first off let me say,  if your expecting an awesome tale of randonneurs attacking the world clad in Super Ninja Turtle pajama bottom's,  you need to check out the write up of the other team.  Although, having forgot my socks I did have one white ankle high and one green el Tour sock that I found on the car floor so i guess that was a bit adventurous.  The stores along our route did not have so much as a beanie when the cold night pulled it's punches.  However,  if you are here looking for a tale of studly gentlemen attired in matching dashing jerseys designed by some fashion genius,  then you have come to the right place.  Well, perhaps the fashion genius part is a bit of a stretch but we all did have matching jersey's to commemorate the occasion.

Incidentally,  before anyone gets on me about the spelling of battalion on the jerseys,  I used one of the flags of the original Mormon battalion  for art work and most of them weren't horribly well educated.  Our name was chosen mainly because Carlton pitched this originally to 3 Mormon's that he happened to know and hooked 2 of us.  I thought the selection of the name "Mormon Batalion"  for the team was catchy and signed on.  Now, before you point out the fact we had a 4 man team and I mentioned only 3,  being a bunch of Mormons (one of whom is a Bishop so no sneaky stuff was allowed from the other two), our team needed a designated drinker and someone to down coffee to keep us all awake and so Steve was brought on board.

Carlton, Steve, and Curt heading up 68th/College

The "Target"  for this Fleche/French Arrow was Boulder's in Tempe.  Our route was going to do a Robin Hood and bounce our arrow off a bunch of stuff in a loop before it hit the target unlike the other team which was going to shoot at it straight from the Grand Canyon.  Our team met at Boulder's.  By the time we got our receipts and collected together it was 11 and we were officially behind schedule.   On the other hand, we had chosen the minimum distance because I haven't done anything longer than a 200k this year and most of my rides before this were in the 40 mile range.  So assuming we didn't have too many issues and rode at any sort of a comfortable speed,  we had plenty of time.  Even so with the city traffic and lights and such we got to the first control a little closer to the closing time than we would have liked.

Curt and amusing roadside decor courtesy creative roadside landowner mad at the the city of Scottsdale.
 We had a really nice ride up through Scottsdale.  I don't know if it was the fact we had the word "Batalion" on our backs or something else but drivers were in general a lot less vocal than most.  We were stretched out for about 1/4 mile heading up among the buttes around pinnacle peak.   We took our first stop at the store at the top of 9 mile hill and I downed a fresa popsicle and some smart water and we were off for a nice jaunt through Fountain Hills.

Your's truly and Curt heading up to Pinnacle Peak
 Denny's was our control.  From hearing Carlton talk,  it sounds like Denny's is a popular stopping spot on Fleche's.  It's probably the 24 hr nature of the place.  Although, it might be that 5 star dining too,  one can never be too sure.  Anyway, the guys refueled on clam chowder and I had a bit of eggs, hashbrowns and pancakes (I'm not a big seafood fan).

Carlton and Steave in Fountain Hills
 The headwind we had through Fountain Hills was a tailwind on the Beeline and we had a nice ride up one of the last hills of the ride.  It was a beautiful day to be on a bike.  As always the Bush Highway was beautiful heading out past Saguaro lake and all the picturesque cliffs along the Salt River.  Curt started to struggle a bit in this section between the rollers and the backside of Usery pass.  Steve and I hung together heading to the top of the pass and waited for the other two to come up.

Heading out to the Beeline
 After watering up at the visitor's center at Usery Park we headed out across the east valley to the Superstitions where night fell.  I put on all my night stuff at the Dash Inn and we were off to the Red Sage in Gold Canyon for dinner.  Of course, Steve got the first flat of the trip just as Gold Canyon was in sight.

The three Amigos or the Tres friends.
 During daylight hours, 4 guys wearing matching jerseys are just guys out for a ride,  but as soon as that sun sets,  those same 4 are now extraordinary gentlemen doing something everyone should ask about.  We got to explain what a" Fleche" was,  well actually Steve, got to explain what a Fleche was 3 or 4 times at the restaurant during the time we were there.

Steve near Saguaro Lake
  I actually started to get drowsy just after the restaurant.  Perhaps it was the non-drowsy benadryl I had purchased.   Whatever it was I was really sleepy most of the way into Florence.  Maybe the road down into Florence was just a little too smooth and pristine.   Despite that we were ahead of schedule when we hit Florence and determined we needed to burn an hour somewhere and fortunately the good folks at Burger King let us sit in their lobby for an hour before they finally fully closed for the night at 11.

Getting ready to drop to the Salt River
 It took me about 10 minutes to stop shivering when we started again despite my full jacket.  It was me that was the slower one through here.  I was just on autopilot and sleepy as all get out.  I was really struggling and the anticipation of 80 more miles of this was really discouraging.  I determined to at least make it to Casa Grande and take a good nap in Denny's though.  Sometimes some food and a good nap can work wonders.  I was amused to wake up in Denny's too see everyone else with their heads tilted back and mouths open sawing logs.   I don't think the owners were too happy with a bunch of snoozing Randonneurs in their dining room, being a 5 star Denny's and all but they didn't kick us out.  

Water Stop at Usery Pass visitor center.
 The rest at Denny's was enough to move me on.  I was not bubbling,  but I was mobile and not propped up in a hotel room snoozing away a DNF, which was something.  I headed out alone as Steve had another flat and I told the others to catch up since I was the slow one and they were happy with that.  The roads were nearly deserted when I got out the west side of town.  I was able to ride the lane most of the way,  although there was nothing wrong with the shoulder in this section, it had to have been repaved recently.  I prefer the car lane so as to avoid flats which is a big reason I use a mirror.  On a night like this you could see a car coming several minutes before it passed.

old paint at the hitchin post
 The John Wayne parkway was even more deserted than Stanfield road.  It was also where I was finally caught by Steve and Carlton.  They rode with me for a bit and then pulled ahead at first sight of Maricopa.  I managed to get a bonus mile in as I overshot the control and by the time I got back both Curt and I pulled into the Circle K together.   We had a wonderful rando party on the floor of the Circle K much to the amusement of the workers.

Steve and the Superstitions after sunset
 Not too far North of Maricopa the sun came up as well as the traffic.  It was also the third flat of the day as Curt unfortunately was the recipient of some gift of the shoulder.  My spirits started to perk up with the rising of the sun and I was enjoying the ride again although the sore seat wouldn't have been unhappy for a quick ending.

Curt fixes a flat on a cold morning.
 Carlton's house was a wonderful sight,  or lack thereof I should say.  It is tough to see someone's house through closed eyelids with soft furry carpet beneath your tired shoulders.  After an hour or so of really intense dreams we awoke and made the discovery that our control was no longer in business (the Bagel Nosh next to Carlton's house).  So off to taco bell,  oops,  closed too,   better make it Arby's,  we went for a bit of breakfast and a receipt.

At the edge of Chandler we turned to Steve to guide us safely through the traffic of Tempe to help us make a safe arrival at Boulder's moments before team Grand Canyon showed up to join us for a wonderful breakfast and blow our minds with their awesome pants.

Paul , Curt, Steve, and Carlton