Unfortunately after El Tour de Phoenix I came down with a nasty head and
chest cold, so I didn't ride at all between the 6th and the 14th. I felt
fairly recovered by Friday and did a loop around Bush Highway to see how
my chest felt. I still had a bit of a cough, but was feeling pretty good
otherwise, so I decided to go ahead with the 200k brevets over the
weekend and they were hard, very hard. I expected the climbing, but
climbing combined with strong headwinds was a bit much.
The drive to Reserve NM took about almost 6 hours and when I got there I had developed some pain in my neck and right shoulder. I slept ok Friday night, but still had that pain in my neck and shoulder when the ride started. It did loosen up during the day, but pretty much stuck with me all weekend and is still bothering me today.
Saturday's ride was scheduled to start at 8am, but nobody thought about the hour time difference between Arizona and New Mexico. I decided to play it safe and was ready at 7am Arizona time, which turned out to be the correct time. There were supposed to be five riders, but one guy arrived late (time difference got him). I rode with a couple other riders at the start, but they stopped when the guy who was late drove up. One rider went off the front early. I caught him on the second major climb. We talked for a little while before he dropped back. Turns out he raced in RAAM 2004 with the 8 person Insight relay team and will be racing RAAM again this year as part of a 2 person relay team. Nice guy.
The ride to Eager was pretty nice. There were some hard climbs, but there was a tail wind most of the way. There was one long stretch of relatively flat area where I was able to easily maintain 30+ because of that tail wind. Along that stretch I had a front tire flat. It wasn't a blow out, but the tire went flat pretty quick. Nothing quite like going from over 30+ to zero in a really short space! It was completely flat by the time I got stopped. I'm just glad it didn't happen on a descent!
There is a long very gradual climb when you first leave Eager. That tail wind had become a strong cross/head wind. When I hit the actual climb up to Sunrise, it turned into a strong head wind. There were several stretches where my speed dropped under 6 MPH. It was a slow, tedious climb to the top with at least three false summits - yes, I did curse after the second false summit! There was still quite a bit of snow on the ground near Sunrise and that wind started shifting around, so there were some pretty good sections where it was a tail wind and I made some good time into Show Low. Total distance was 117 miles and it took me about 7.5 hours including stops. The RAAM racer finished about an hour later, but he spent about a half hour having lunch in Eager.
Sunday's ride was harder. There was less climbing, but the wind was stronger and lasted longer than Saturday. When we left the hotel I got through a light as it was changing and everyone else got caught by it. The wind didn't start to get strong until close to Springerville, so it only took about 2.5 hours to get there from Show Low on US 60. I was the first one to the checkpoint, but five or six riders showed up within 5 minutes. I don't like stopping for long, so I left the checkpoint shortly after they got there. The wind had picked up pretty good and I only got very brief respites when the road turned. That stretch that I was able to go 30+ through on Saturday was hell. I'm glad I put my aerobars on for the weekend because I stayed in them most of the day other than when I was climbing. I was going so slow that I kept expecting the Colorado folks to catch me, but they must have been suffering as much as me.
There was another checkpoint in Alpine that I stayed at a little longer than I normally would. Riders started showing up when I was thinking about hitting the road again. The wind seemed to shift with the turns in the road, so I felt like I was battling a head wind all the way to the final turn to Reserve. It's too bad too because there were some really nice descents that would have been a lot more fun without the wind pushing my bike around. Going up one climb I caught up to John Hughes, the managing director of the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association. He had a nasty crash on some railroad tracks late last year (broke his pelvis in a couple places) and is still recovering, so he wasn't doing the full distance. He rode with the SAG vehicle between some of the checkpoints, which is why he was out in front of everyone. We talked for a few minutes about the Death Ride (I was wearing my DR jersey) then he dropped back. Another nice guy.
I finally caught a break from the wind the last 7 miles into Reserve. The brevet course had us leave Reserve and go 9 miles to a small place called Cruzville. There was a nice tail wind on the way out, but with some climbing. That head wind was back for the return to Reserve, but there was a lot more descending, so it wasn't too bad. I crossed paths with Susan Plonsky (Arizona's Regional Brevet Administrator) just as I was getting back into Reserve. Sunday's ride took about 8.5 hours (including stops) and was 127 miles. I finished about 10 minutes ahead of John Lee Ellis, the Colorado Regional Brevet Administrator and the guy who's managing the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association's Mileage Challenge and Year Rounder Challenge. I've traded emails with him several times this year, so it was nice to meet him.
Overall it was a very challenging weekend. I haven't downloaded my ride data yet, but I spent a lot of time in zone 4 on Saturday. On Sunday I stayed mostly in Zone 3, but noticed that I had a hard time keeping my cadence up and my average cadence is probably somewhere in the mid 70's. No knee problems, but my legs are sore.
Copyright © 2005 by Mike Enfield. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04/06/09 11:29:49 -0700.