|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 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.|
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|
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.|
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|
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.|
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.