Sunday, May 26, 2013

Burma Shave Brevet, 1st place....and Lantern Rouge.

Burma Shave signs, memorials to the old Burma Shave signs of yesteryear.

As of this week no one else had signed up for either of the distances for the Mother Road 200/300k.  So, not wanting to impose on anyone, seeing as I was the only one signed up for the brevet,  I offered to ride self supported so no one would have to spend their day out supporting one rider on a 300k.   This was one of the things I think that led to a bit of a slower time this around,  as well as the wind, which fortunately took a little time to start it's huffing and puffing.  The other thing I thought would be an issue was my foot, as my wife had backed the car over it while I was working on the  jeep in the driveway Thursday morning.  Turns out it wasn't an issue since most of the damage was on the heal and it turns out I don't use my heal much when on the bike.  Walking yes,  cycling no.  For the win!  So though I could hardly walk Friday,  I found I could ride without problems.

The Jeep I am proud to say stood by me through the 2 hour drive to Chino Valley Saturday morning and I had 15 minutes to get everything ready.  The manager couldn't get me a receipt I soon discovered but gave me a signed business card.   Hope it's enough.   The things you find out when switching a ride from a supported ride to a self supported ride huh?   They were nice enough to let me use their bathroom to get ready (and not tow my car away during the day,  must say I appreciated that).

Temps out of the gate were 50 degrees but would drop to 44 down in Paulden,  and I with nothing but a wind vest (glad I brought that) for additional warmth.   My attire strategy did work out but I had cold fingers for the first hour or so as the sun took it's sweet time to warm things up.

Steve wasn't there so someone had to take the beer sign shot.
 I had a bit of a tailwind kick in a few miles out of Ash Fork and it was much appreciated but it would slowly strengthen into an overpowering crosswind/headwind for most of the rest of the day.   I remember thinking how cool it was to see a wind farm up on the hill above Ashfork and then suddenly check myself as I thought  where there is a wind farm there is usually wind.  Darn!  Maybe wind farms aren't so cool after all.

I made a quick stop in Ash Fork to get my proof of passage and water and then forged on ahead at nearly the same time I was there 2 years ago.   I think I was stronger this go round but took longer in the controls due to being self supported.

I suppose I should mention I tried a different bike for this brevet.   Since the pavement as  I remember it was a bit sketchy much of the way (yeah it's a historic road, that will happen) I opted to ride my commuter bike with 32c tires to perhaps gain a little efficiency with the larger tires on the rough pavement.  The shoulders on the interstate had a weird large chipseal type shoulder and I think the tires really shined in here.   That is once I passed the bag full of poop on the shoulder on the entrance ramp of course.   Somewhere out there is a really high class person.

Ye Olde Crookton Railroad Overpass.
Crookton Road was a pleasure as always.   I hunkered down for a good climb through some interesting hills dotted with old dilapidated buildings bedecked with no trespassing signs.   I started seeing prairie dogs in here,  I would see several throughout the day diving into the safety of their holes as I passed.  Just over the pass I stopped briefly at the Crookton Overpass to take some pictures of original route 66 pavement and the old bridge.

From there it was a nice drop down into Seligman and pleasantly,  there was not nearly the headwinds in this section as there were last year,  so I guess the wind fairy did throw me a bone or two before throwing me under the bus.

On top of Ye Olde Crookton Railroad overpass
 Not being one for big meals (my apology's to the Extreme Picnicking Society) I opted to stop at the General Store for Ibuprofen and water rather than get my proof of passage receipt at Ye Olde Road Kill Cafe.

As I moved on into the Valley west of Seligman the winds would slowly build to roaring and direct headwinds the closer I got to Grand Canyon Caverns and from there to Peach Springs they would hold me below 12 mph or so the rest of the way until I started down the 6% grade into Peach Springs and then they let me get up to 20 or so.    I figured I'd at least have a tailwind coming up the hill though.

One other perk of my Commuter bike is it has 3 bottle cages and I used that last bottle before I got to Peach Springs.  I didn't think I would but I was glad I had it.

Lonely power pole,  shot by a lonely randonneur.
 Again I opted for the market over the restaurant for my control receipt so as to get some water and supplies.   I downed a delicious cherry Dr. Pepper which pepped me up.   Several times during the filling process of my bottles the wind would pickup and blow the empty water bottles I had bought half way across town before I could chase them down and finally got smart and weighted them down until I was done and could throw them all away.   Did I mention it had gotten windy?

I decided I should head back while I had a bit of a tailwind which did in fact stay a tailwind for the whole climb,  so that was kind of nice.   Once I got over the top though it was more of a cross/headwind for the downhill parts which was annoying.  I took a lot longer getting back to Seligman than coming due to the winds.  I constantly would see tumble weeds rocketing across the road as well as other debris,  giant clouds of dust often whipped across the road.  It was a trial.   I spent most of the time at 11 - 12 mph.

The Endless Valley
 Upon finally having conquered the endless valley upon my return I decided to sit down for a bit in Seligman, I had noticed that morning the presence of an "A&W" at the edge of town and so opted to sit and have a large root beer and some fries to get me back to Ash Fork and to help ease the memories of the struggle in the wind.

One of the highlights of my day was on the stretch back to Crookton Overpass when I was successful in getting a train engineer to honk his horn at me when I gave him the sign.  That has to be a tedious job sometimes I am sure,  crossing the wide grasslands of northern Arizona.  Which is why I was pretty sure he was looking at me,  the only different thing out there, as I gave him the horn honk sign I had used so many times as a kid from the backseat with the passing semi's much to my parent's annoyance I am sure.
The Best Market in Peach Springs,  and only one.
 The winds didn't abate much as I pulled in to Ashfork.  I am happy to report there were no signs of bags of poop on the eastbound side of the interstate.   I pulled into the station feeling a lot stronger than I had 2 years ago.  The wind would make up for it though.   I had strong headwinds all the way back,  but I did at least get to Paulden before I really would need my lights,  so I did get to get the descending (if you could call it that with the wind) out of the way in the last evening light.

I managed to get back about 8:40.   39 minutes longer than last time but I figure I can account for that with wind and being self supported.   It was a good day.  A day full of solo introspection and open road.
Evening Shadows