Sunday, February 10, 2013

Friends in High Places

Cliffs at Water Users Recreation Area
So,  it appears to have been some time since I posted anything bike related on this blog.   Well,  blogs are kind of funny things,  as are cyclists who also may have many other facets to their lives.  Of course this blog has been stuck on my last backpacking trip for sometime,  what a last post to leave the blog stuck on huh?  Not even cycling related.  Well, we're back.   Not entirely mind you,  but I do hope to complete the Mines to Pines  200k at least and maybe the Route 66 thing they are doing.  We'll see.  Anything is progress at this point.

The last week of December I did something I probably shouldn't have done  and I should have known better,   Randonneuring being 70% physical and 80% mental and all.    I attempted to ride my Apache Trail 200k with Steve,  Carlton and Mike of Southern Arizona Randonneurs fame.  Well, I haven't been keeping a record of all the junk going on in my life but suffice it to say I have had some family issues going on with kids in the psychiatric ward for a few weeks and other family related issues.  It was a very tough December and I've decided I'm going to celebrate Christmas the week after Thanksgiving this year so that December will not ruin it this year but I digress.   I missed El Tour in Nov.  too and that was quite a mental blow,  I really do look forward to that as part of my year and so the end of last year dealt me a couple of haymakers mentally and my miles went way down not to mention my will to ride.  To cut to the chase,  by the time we were to Tortilla flat after 50 miles I was totally blasted and the other 3 were nice and strong and I had to bow out.  Just wasn't there physically or mentally.   As an extension,  I had to miss the 200k because my bro. was in town from back east,  I had intended to ride the 300k but bagged it due to not feeling up to snuff,  partially because of my terrible showing at the Apache 200k.  Since my wife's friend had offered to watch the boys for her while I was out of town,  we decided we would spend the day together.   I think it was time well spent but still think perhaps I might have had a nice day riding with the moderate or slower riders at the 300k and could have finished.   Oh well,  we will never know now,  Marriage wise though I think I have come out ahead in the deal, so no regrets.

The most important thing as far as this blog is concerned is that I think my desire is coming back.  My neighbor got me onto this STRAVA thing and though I don't get to ride with others too often,  I get to see kind of how I measure up.    At least along my commute route,  I measure up quite well having 2nd place and a few King of the Mountain's status's.   That cheered me up considerable and has me pushing the heartrate up again.   Of course,  the segments I ride on the weekend which non-commuters / racers  ride have me placing much lower but then again those are hilly areas and I have admittedly gained weight which I have now got some incentive to lose again.

Which brings us to yesterday's ride!  At long last you say,  a blog about one man's demons and his will to bike maketh not the most interesting reading I am sure.    I was orginally going to try and catch the Two Wheel Jones folk at 7:30 but the boys didn't go to bed without a fight Friday night and I ended up sleeping in to 8 AM on Saturday so it was up to me to ride the road alone,  but it was not without friends.

I skipped arm warmers and went with wind vest and leg warmers (shorts and jersey a given of course).   I was the least dressed person I saw with most having jackets or at least arm warmers.   If I did it over I think I would have done the arms.  Anyway,  with the idea of perhaps getting into the brevets this year with the mines to pines I decided to go over Usery Pass to the scenic cliffs at water users and back for a nice 1700 feet of climbing.

It was very cold but I pushed hard up Usery and tried to work hard along the Bush highway.   I saw a few of the Two Wheel Jones folks climbing the backside.   Didn't see anyone out on the Bush on the way back to Water Users,   not a lot of folks doing the beeline loop I guess.   I snapped a picture at Water Users but got numb fingers and decided it would be best to head back and get the furnace heating my under clothed body again.

I had an interesting time climbing the back of Usery as I turned after two other guys and was making good progress on catching them when the one must have told his friend he would wait at the top for him and took off.   I soon passed his friend and the person in front of him that he passed.    From then on I would stay about 100 feet behind this bright orange figure who tortured me all the way up the hill.   I was pedally at maximum sustainability and couldn't gain on him.   We just pushed like that all the way up the hill as though he were taunting me.    Well,   after we passed the NRA pit I finally made a final push and caught him and upon saying hello I discovered it was David from Southern Arizona Randonneurs fame!  He mentioned he'd done the 300k last week and knowing I kept up with him up the hill gave me some hope.   Maybe I could have finished it.   Anyway,  we had a good chat and I asked him about his rides and how they were going and I mentioned my intention to do the Mines to Pines.    It was awesome to have run into someone I know out here,  and even a randonneur at that!   He had to wait at the top for his friend and I headed off for home.

Really funny how running into someone you know can make the ride so much better.    I may not have placed very high on the segments out on that route compared to all the racer fold but I think I did pretty good for me and am quite pleased with the results.

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