This past Saturday I did my longest ride to date. Next
month is a 600k (385 mile) Brevet, but there will be a scheduled sleep
stop, so this is the longest one day ride in the brevet series. The
route for this ride started in Casa Grande, down through Marana, west of
Tucson past the Desert Museum and Old Tucson, down to Green Valley,
across to Arivaca, back up to Three Points, then back to Marana and Casa
Grande. The cue sheet can be viewed at http://www.azbrevet.com.
Brevets are timed events, but they arenít races. I had 27 hours to
finish the ride but was able to make it to the finish in about 16 hours.
I took the ride kind of easy and stayed below my heart rate training
zones for about 3.5 hours. I was in zone 1 for 4.5 hours, zone 2 for 6
hours, zone 3 for about an hour and 30 seconds in no manís land (the
range between aerobic (zone 3) and lactate threshold (zone 4)).
Below is my ride report and itís another long one. If you prefer not to
get these, let me know and Iíll take your email address off the list. J
I can't say that this was an epic ride, but it was definately long and
hard. I counted 13 riders at the start. We all left together at an easy
pace. Right away I noticed my cadence wasn't working, but I didn't want
to stop to fix it. I led the group, keeping my heart rate below zone 1.
I was in the front for about 12 miles when I realized there were 8 or 9
riders with us, so I dropped to the back. My heart rate was still below
zone 1, but I had a sudden realizaion that we should be sharing the
front - duh. Somewhere before Picacho Peak the guy who was in front
decided that he needed to stop and check directions -- so that's what he
did. No warning to the rest of us, he just hit his brakes and nearly
caused a pile-up. What an idiot. Anyway, I went to the front again when
we got to the frontage road by I-10 and went into zone 1, maintaining
just over 20. So I stayed below Zone 1 for a little over an hour at the
beginning. I stayed at the front for 5 or 6 miles, then pulled off and
found that there were only 4 of us left. Me, Elliot, Sandiway Fong (a UA
professor who moved here from NJ. He's done Boston-Montreal-Boston a few
times), and someone I didn't recognize. Anyway, the four of us rode to
the first checkpoint in Picacho Peak together.
Elliot had been suffering from some stomach problems for a few days
before the ride and he wasn't feeling too good at that point, so he
decided not to continue. Three of us left the checkpoint together with
me in front again. Doh! Forgot to fix my cadence sensor at that stop!
I'm not sure exactly how far I was in front, but when I pulled off it
was just me and Sandiway. We traded pulls for quite a way, but I was
doing longer pulls. The wind started to pick up just after Marana. It
wasn't brutal at that point, but it was hard. When we got to Mile Wide
Road (going up to the Desert Muesem outside of Tucson) I dropped
Sandiway. There was a "Secret Checkpoint" in the rollers between the
Desert Muesem and Ajo Road. Susan was pulled off the road and I almost
missed her. I took a pee break and got my brevet card stamped. Sandiway
got there shortly after me and he also almost missed the stop.
We left that checkpoint together (forgot to fix that stupid cadence
sensor again), but I dropped Sandiway on some of the rollers shortly
after the stop. For some reason my Polar didn't start recording after
leaving that checkpoint. It was displaying speed, but distance and time
weren't updating. I missed several miles of data before I realized it
and manually started the recording again. I hit the red light at Ajo,
which gave Sandiway time to catch up. The wind had picked up pretty good
by then, so we were fighting a bit of a headwind. Just as we were making
the turn onto Mission Road, Sandiway indicated he couldn't maintain the
pace, so I dropped my speed from around 16 to about 13. A couple miles
later, he again said he was going to drop off, so I slowed down again to
11-12. A few miles later he just said "Bye" and dropped off, so I picked
my speed back up.
Given the wind, I made pretty good time to Green Valley. There was a
really nice descent right before getting into town and that headwind
turned into a tail wind, so I was maintaining 30+ all the way down to
the turn onto La Canada. I stopped at a Chevron in Green Valley to fill
my bottles. The wind went from hard to brutal several times until the
turn to Arivaca Road. That road curves quite a bit, so occasionally it
would turn into a nice tail wind. I stopped somewhere on Arivaca Road to
pee and finally remembered to fix my cadence sensor. An older couple
passed me in their car, but shortly afterward, the lady driving decided
she needed to take some pictures of some flowers on the side of the
road, so she just stopped in the middle of the road. Weird. No attempt
at all to park on the shoulder. Just stopped in the middle of the road
in a section where it was a no-passing zone. I had to cross the double
line to go around.
I had a tail wind for quite a while going down into Arivaca and there
was a pretty nice descent. Susan had a lunch checkpoint setup in town,
so I had a turkey wrap, some chips and a jumbo cookie with M&M's on it.
The chips were a huge mistake. I was burping chips for the next two
hours, I won't be eating those again on a ride! Before leaving town, I
stopped at the general store and bought a water bottle to stick in my
jersey. There was a 45 mile stretch after Arivaca with no services.
Elliot had suggested buying a bottle there before the ride and I'm glad
I did. That stretch is very desolate. When you finally get out of the
rollers, you hit the top of this hill with a great view of the valley
and mountains in the distance. My first thought was "Wow, look at
that..." Then, "Oh crap, I have to ride across that and the wind is
going to be hell through there!" I was right too. There was almost no
traffic except border patrol vehicles. I emptied my bottles about 35
miles after leaving the checkpoint, so I stopped to pee and fill my
bottle with the one I had purchased in Arivaca.
I stopped at Three Points to get more water. I was wearing my Death Ride
jersey and the lady behind the counter really liked it. She had everyone
look at it and wanted to do a design like it for a motorcycle ride they
go on. There was a cross wind from that store to the turn onto Sandario,
then it was a headwind again, but it was just a hard wind, not brutal
like it was earlier. I made some good time when it would taper off.
Susan passed me right before I got to the Marana Airport. Sandiway was
in the truck with her. When I got to the finish Susan said he was sick.
The wind on the ride wouldn't have made it any easier for him.
The last checkpoint was at the Circle K in Marana. Just before I got
there I started to notice a pain in my right knee. It wasn't real strong
and I really only noticed it when standing. So I took it pretty easy
after that checkpoint. The wind finally died off, so my heart rate
dropped below zone 1, but I was able to maintain around 17-18 without
too much effort. The sun started to go down just as I got back to
Picacho, so I stopped and switched the lenses in my glasses for night
riding. When I got to the final turn back to Casa Grande, I started to
kick my speed back up again, but my knee started bothering me, so I just
soft pedaled the rest of the way in.
My Polar shows 14 hours 25 minutes on the bike, but it did miss a few
miles after that checkpoint, so I would say my ride time was closer to
15 hours. My total time was just about 16 hours, so I was much better
about keeping my stops short. During the 300k Brevet it rained, this one
was windy. If I had my choice I would take the rain over wind any day.
The wind just drains you physically and mentally. Because of the
combined wind and fast pace, Cochise Classic is still the hardest ride
I've done so far, but this one is a close second. This ride was
definately harder than the Death Ride. With the Death Ride there was
17,000 feet of climbing, but that also means 17,000 feet of descending.
This ride only had 5,000 feet of climbing over 257 miles, so it was a
lot of flat, in the saddle riding without much opportunity to rest. I
would say I probably spent 65-70% of my time on my aerobars, 20%
standing and 10-15% resting on my bars.
I iced my knee when I got home and rode my fixed gear this morning for
an hour on my rollers, which really seems to have helped my legs a lot.
At least my knee isn't bothering me anymore. My legs and glutes still
feel tired though. Hopefully I'll have enough time to recover before El
Tour de Phoenix on Saturday! :-)