Sunday, October 14, 2012

2012 Cochise County Cycling classic.

Spaghetti Dinner before the ride at the Cochise County Fairgrounds,  Joe, Becky, and  Adela

This year's Cochise Classic was a mixed bag of experiences.  It's never fun getting a call while you are riding that your son is under the care of the EMT's with stomach aches and that he might have to quit the ride.   It's also not fun to be in a rush to make a bunch of deadlines like checking in and getting to the start line,  but sometimes life does crazy stuff to us and we have to do our best.   I suppose riding prepares us for such things.

Friday was originally planned to be a nice leisurely travel day down to Douglas, Az.   Perhaps stopping off to sight see in Tombstone.  Unfortunately Adela's birth brother recently was discovered to have a rare heart defect that was genetic and so,  wouldn't you know it,  the only day we could get Adela in for screening was our leisurely travel day.   As a result we didn't get to start our 4 hour drive to Douglas until 4 PM.  Nice.   Since registration closes at 9 that was cutting it close.  I had fears of no spaghetti dinner left for us.

Fortunately,  there was indeed spaghetti left and everyone was even able to get T-Shirts in their sizes sort of (not a lot of kids do Cochise so small adult sizes have to do).  We caught the tail end of the instructions for the 49 and 97 milers and were able to be entertained by the instructions for the 165 milers while we ate our delicious Spaghetti dinner.  I love Cochise.   This ride just has a much more homey feeling than either Tour de Mesa or El Tour de Tucson.  The kids enjoy it too and have grown quite fond of the PBAA staff.

The motel (6) was out of roll away beds (but they did give us half off our room rate to compensate) so I had to duck over to Walmart and purchase an air mattress and fleece sleeping bag liner so I could get some sort of sleep.  The kids had the giggles so it took them FOREVER to fall asleep.   This would put us behind in the morning as it took me forever to get them to wake up.   We still hadn't finished packing everything when we went out to watch the 97 milers cruise by which would have us cutting it pretty close to get to the start line by  8.

I discovered around now I had forgotten my bike shoes but fortunately I was wearing my biking sandals whose cleats are eggbeater cleats but with a little squirming I could get them to clip into the tandem's Time ATAC system.   Amazingly enough,  I told the kids to put their own numbers on their bikes and you know what?   They did it successfully!   So between them doing that and me pumping up the tires we were able to sidle up to the start line right as they started the national Anthem.

Temps at the start were just getting into the 50's when we started so I let Becky borrow my jacket.   I rode with her until we caught up to Joe and his flat tire and then she took off to find Josh.    I had Joe's flat fixed in a jiffy (no thanks to Josh who raided my tool bag in order to stock his own with my tire irons,  not a good thing seeing as I was bike patrol and he wasn't....  grumble grumble).

About 5 miles in I made the mistake of pointing out a water tower in the distance I thought was the first rest stop.    Thus,  by my own stupidity,  I started the "we have to go THAT far????", "When are we going to get there?",  "We'll never make it!",  etc,  etc.   I have a mental note made to never do that again.   Standard answer from now on will be,  "oh,  I think it's a little ways further on" which could mean anything from 2 to 100 miles.

Also around here I got the call from Sheila saying that the EMT's had Josh in their care and he was complaining of a stomach ache!   Augh!   I don't know if I have shared with you fair readers about my son,   but he seems to relish being treated by EMT's and has an uncanny knack for telling them what they want to hear.   Today he didn't feel like he could finish.   I'm pretty sure he went out too hard and overdid it a bit.   Anyway,   I pulled up in a few minutes and got briefed on the whole situation and found the EMT's had got him on oxygen but hadn't taken his heart rate yet.   I reached in and felt his pulse.   A very calm, resting heart rate of around 85 ish for the young lad.    It didn't strike me as being the heart rate of a body in duress.   So my decision was to put Josh on the back of the tandem for a few miles to let him recover and see how he did, while his younger sister pedaled his bike.   If he was still feeling unwell we'd call it quits and head back in.

Less than a mile or two down the road he was energetically mocking his brother that he was getting beat by a girl.   The heart rate seldom lies my friends.   Learned that one from the Seawolf although I hope I am a much more merciful and loving mentor than the terrible sea captain, but that is a neat trick which works well on Josh.   That kid has been to more emergency rooms lately when nothing turned out to be wrong with him. From this I have learned that cat scans and ambulance rides are expensive,  Josh can act really well sometimes,  and let the kid out of your sight only at your wallet's peril.  That being said, one of these times it could be real so I am always second guessing myself just in case.  This time though,  he recovered quickly from whatever he had, real or not and I am thankful for that.

By the time we hit the college he was ready to get back on his bike, and Adela,  who hates his bike,  was ready to get back in the lap of luxury on the back of the tandem.    One amazing thing was we actually caught a few of the border patrol crew at the stop.  I think it was a husband and wife or boyfriend girlfriend.   He was on a road bike and she was on a mountain bike and they were wearing border patrol jerseys.   He said later on (we'd play tag for the rest of the ride)  that this was only her 7th ride since she was 9.   She did awesome.

The boys took a little inspiring to get  to the next rest stop up at the top of a long hill but they started passing people and that helped a lot.  That and Sheila was on the side of the road periodically cheering them on.   Between those factors and a few "Scooby"  snacks they made it to the top just after 11.   I knew if they could make it this far they would finish before 1:30 which was the cutoff for the 49 mile riders.

Joe.   I love the kid but I wish he would learn how to not ride his brakes downhill.   I think he descends slower than he climbs.    I am sure he will get over it someday so I am patient but darn it makes for excruciating descents!   The border patrol couple left us in the dust in this section as they did not have any issues with fast descending and pedaled along at a wonderful clip.  The last guy even caught us just as we were leaving the rest stop at the bottom,   I think he stayed for awhile though as he finished about 20 minutes behind us.

The last 10 miles were a bit of a slog for the boys but after we turned onto  highway 191 the helpers there said Dan McGehee was on his way and would be passing us soon and that got the boys excited so they started pedaling hard.   Sure enough about a mile down the road Dan came roaring by and yelled words of encouragement to the boys.   The guy has been blasting the watts for nearly 7 hours over 160 miles averaging over 24 mph and he can still cheer on the little guys.  Dan's a class act my friends,  wish all racers were like him.

After that the boys got the border patrol couple in sight and passed them with about 2 miles left to the finish line.  It was funny to see the boys jockey for position down the closing stretch but in the end they crossed the line together at around twenty after one.  I'm a proud Dad.  Waiting patiently at the finish line was Becky.   She had finished an hour and 20 minutes earlier.   I knew she was ahead but I didn't think she'd be anywhere  close to that far ahead.  Her secret to success?  She didn't stop. Not once.  " Except when She fell down" she tells me.  Dang!   Don't get that girl mad fellas!

Cochise Classic Video

Monday, October 8, 2012

of Pulling Teeth, and Watching Them Grow

Well fair readers, I don't know how many of you will have any common ground to this post but then again, maybe you will, it is a post about struggles after all and that is at the essence of successful Randonneuring. Often times I feel like I fall into a small niche. Someone who would love to be a serious Randonneur or a fast cyclist but often finds his responsibilities as a father interfering with training and his ability to ride with others. My number of Brevets I can run have dropped and my number of rides with the kids has risen. Interestingly enough, the challenges remain although they differ in many ways.

Today's kids and tomorrows Randonneurs face a lot of challenges. They live in a world determined to make them Obese and as inactive as possible. Everything cool is aimed at keeping them firmly in their chair and out of the elements or anything active. Part of this is television/ipods/video games and part of it is perceived safety issues and part of it is real safety issues (let's face it, drivers aren't getting any smarter or safer). Add to this multiple school schedules seemingly designed to make it impossible to get a morning ride in and you have setup a number of challenges which could make an otherwise difficult task nearly impossible.

These are the demons I have fought the last 3 months or so. Want to see something scary? Try and get 4 sleepy kids out of bed before daylight so you can get a measly 5 mile ride in before the bus arrives to pick 2 of them up just before 7 am. The 2 that wouldn't otherwise have to wake up that early can be pretty vocal about fairness and how it should allow them to stay out of the whole affair. Many comments ensue about the unfair tyrant of a Dad who tries to prepare his kids so when the day comes for the ride he signed them up for they will not fail to complete the ride in under the 5 hours allotted for 49 miles. Frustration peaks many times after pumping up 10 tires and discovering how quickly the awakened have fallen to recidivism as the clock ticks and the zero hour speedily approaches, as well as any chance for a suitable workout.

I have to say, that training others I have endured more and harder challenges than trying to train myself. I can push myself to the brink without second guessing myself. If I fail to make a workout there is no one to blame but myself and the resentment is processed effectively without fear of damage to relationships or tender feelings. This is not true for trying to help another accomplish great things. One must coach at their pace and mental competence. I have developed a large capacity to suffer and work hard on the bike over the years and often it is difficult to work with kids that have many years ahead of them to learn these lessons and gain this kind of self control. Then there is the self doubt, have I pushed too hard? Have I not pushed hard enough? I fear the former more than the latter and probably err on that side.

Saturday is the ride (Cochise Country Cycling Classic 49 mile). This year it is 49 miles and after all the miles of training we opted to put my youngest on the back of the tandem, the plan is to let her still ride her own bike at El Tour though (42 miles). To be sure, I feel her contribution a lot more after all this training than in the past when she did all her training on the tandem with me as opposed to riding her own bike, Saturday was her first tandem training ride and we only did that as I wanted to iron out any tandem issues that might arise. I believe they will all finish under 5 hours. I believe that it will be a good day too. The boys are a lot more stable mentally this year, not to mention they ride faster as well. How much of that is riding with the Two Wheel Jones Juniors and how much of that is we have ridden more I don’t know but I think it’s a healthy mix of both. Maybe someday they will ask me to do the 165. A man can dream can’t he?

This year also marks the first organized ride my oldest has ridden in all on her own power. I finally got over feeling bad about neglecting taking her out on the bike for a few years while I tried to be a good rider. My wife told me that whether she wants to ride or not at this point I should just make her go as she needs it. So sign her up and make her go I did. She has been vocal at times, but as of late, she has been almost supportive and agreeable. Strange behavior this is, coming from a teenager. She even had several likes when she posted we had done a 35 mile ride on facebook. Maybe I’m not so overbearing after all, or maybe the bearing I am doing is good bearing.

Anyway, I’m excited to be taking the kids down to Cochise this week and ride bike patrol in support of them and any other riders in need. The day will come I am sure when they are off leading their own lives and I will have all the time in the world to train and try to be the best rider I can. Maybe even get to Paris one of these years to ride the Randonneur Super Bowl de France. They will always have these memories of riding with their Dad and how he would push them to accomplish things none of their friends did, and work with them and teach them not to take the easy way out but rather to strive and push and finish the ride and do their best to have fun come what may.