Joe and Karen Zazzera had been thinking about doing ATC and had their lodging all squared away, but had some conflicts and decided not to ride. Being a procrastinator, I didn't have my lodging reserved so they offered me their room at the Pine Haven B&B in Pine. Great! I called to get the reservation swapped and thought everything was good. On Thursday I called to confirm that I had a bed but was told their was a bit of confusion and someone named Mike had called to cancel, but not to worry they had a "sleeping area" for me. That sent off little alarm bells, so I asked if a "sleeping area" had a real mattress -- nope, it has a thick foam pad! After long rides the prior two weekends, spending the night on a thick foam pad after riding 100 miles did not appeal to me at all! So I cancelled and started checking my options. Jeff was riding with a small group and they planned to stay at the Days Inn in Payson. Perfect! But the Days Inn was sold out. In fact there was a classic car show going on AND a 50 mile Ultra Marathon trail run going on that weekend, so ALL the major hotels in Payson were sold out! Crap, just my luck! I started looking at Camp Verde since it's only an extra 40 miles or so from Payson, but then I would have to figure out how to deal with my duffle bag. Annette had plans for Friday night and didn't want to drive it out to Camp Verde (can't blame her there). So I kept looking in Payson and found the Budget Inn which was right across the street from the Days Inn! As long as it has a real bed, I'm happy!
DAY 1 - Friday
It was pretty brisk at the start, but I figured it would warm up some as the day went on, but mother nature disagreed! So I started with arm warmers and full finger glove liners, but didn't take a jacket, vest or leg warmers. The forecast was for mostly overcast skies with scattered thundershowers. I pulled in next to Jeff and Jacqui who were just starting to get ready. Adam Schulte, Sue Atkins and Jen Stern would make our riding group for the day and Keith (sorry Keith, didn't catch your last name) would be driving Jacqui's car as our SAG. This was Sue and Jen's first ATC! I also met up with Greg Rozzell at the start (he's loaning me some flashing lights to use on my cross state record attempt -- thanks Greg!). He and another Procon rider left shortly after I got there. The "Lockwood Express" left right around 6:30 and we made pretty good time going out of town. As usual for me when it's brisk out, nature called 10 or so miles into the ride, so I pulled ahead of the group along Beeline Highway to find a good bush. They didn't get to far past me when I finished and I was able to get back on the back without too much effort.
Beeline is a very scenic road that you can really enjoy on a bike. It has big climbs and some really nice descents. We got sprinkled on once, but the rain pretty much held off. I must admit that wheel sucking off of Jeff made that first day a lot easier than normal for me too! On one of the climbs Sue dropped off and we lost Jen on one of the descents. Jeff set a great pace and pulled Jacqui, Adam and me all the way to the SAG at the junkyard in Rye. Awesome! Jeff had a noise coming from a pedal, so he took it off to grease it. Jacqui and Adam rode ahead and I hung back and chatted with Jeff going up the Rye hill climb. Near the top Jacqui and Adam were stopped. Not only did Jacqui have a slow leak on her rear tire, but one of her Topolino spokes broke too! The Topolinos had been in an accident and she thought they didn't feel right and that would be why.
Going up Rye hill I did notice that the temperature was dropping quite a bit and I was starting to see my breath. After stopping for Jacqui's problem I got pretty chilled, so I set a good pace going into Payson. Payson is a little over 70 miles from the start and I wanted UMCA mileage credit for the ride, so I decided to continue on the course and back track to Payson to log over 90 miles. Riding past the Budget Inn I had to chuckle because I could tell I would be experiencing "classic" Payson! There's a nice canyon with pretty good climbs on the far side of Payson. I went through that canyon and turned around shortly after the road straightens out and becomes a 4 lane passing area. Wound up logging just over 91 miles for the day. And the room didn't turn out to be as bad as I expected. It was an old hotel, but looked like it had been recently remodeled and the bed was comfy!
DAY 2 - Saturday
The clouds had cleared away and the wind was cooperating, at least from what I could tell because I spent much of the morning wheel sucking again! The forecasted low was supposed to be 38 degrees, so we decided to leave Payson at 8:30, so it wasn't really that cold when we left, but I still had on cold weather stuff. Jeff set another really nice pace going out of town and up to the top of the rim to the turn on 260. Somewhere near the descent I decided to finally work some and went to the front (I was supposed to be challenging myself and really wasn't doing that while sitting on Jeff's wheel). It was a fun descent down to Camp Verde, but I was pushing the pace a bit too hard. I heard Jacqui say something, so I slowed down. We stopped at an AM/PM in Camp Verde to shed clothes because it was really starting to warm up.
I let Jeff, Jacqui and Adam ride a bit ahead of me between Camp Verde and Cottonwood so I could ride my own pace for a while and get more of a challenge from the wind. I probably should have waited until after Mingus to challenge myself like that! Somewhere along there Keith pulled up and we were able to unload our jersey pockets of all that cold weather stuff. It really is nicer not having stuff pull your jersey down.
I definitely wasn't keeping up with my "on the bike" nutrition on Saturday and Mingus let me know! This was my fourth time going through Jerome and up Mingus Mountain and it was by far the hardest. The heat in Camp Verde got to me and I was sweating profusely going through Jerome. I finally stopped and took some endurolyte electrolye supplements and ate a clif bar which seemed to help. Everyone was waiting at the top, including Keith who thoughtfully also brought along a bag of much appreciated ice! The descent down Mingus has some bad corners with sand or debris in them, so we were relatively cautious on the descent. Jeff pulled ahead and Adam and I waited for a minute at the bottom for Jacqui to catch on. We caught Jeff a few miles later and I pulled for a bit. As normal there was a nasty, shifting headwind going through Prescott Valley. At one point I heard Jacqui call out "Glass!" and looked down and to my right and sure enough there were some bits of glass. I looked up and saw a big pile of glass right in front of me and went right over it! It was like someone swept it up into a pile just for me. I put my hand on my tires and the front one felt clean, but it felt like something was stuck in the rear tire, so I stopped to check. Sure enough a piece of glass was lodge in and I heard a dreaded hiss when I pulled it out. Adam came back for me and waited while I fixed the tire. When we started rolling again, I was spent, completely drained, nothing left. Adam pulled me quite a bit before I started feeling only slightly better. But his stomach started bothering him. I wasn't able to really push the pace, but when I looked back he had dropped off so I slowed down and he explained the stomach issue. I was starting to bonk pretty bad but really didn't want another Clif bar or gel, so I just rode slowly to the hotel. It's been a long time since I've been that wiped out after a ride! Adam pulled in shortly after me, still experiencing some stomach problems.
The group was staying at the Prescottonian and I was at the Motel 6 about 1/2 mile away. So I got my bag, changed into sandles and walked my bike over to my hotel to rest and get cleaned up. I went back to the Prescottonian to have dinner with the group and had a ham sandwich and potato salad. After dinner we walked over to a Circle K so Jeff could get some chocolate and it was on the way back to the hotel. I mentioned to Jeff that I planned to just drop my bag at the official bag drop so I wouldn't have to carry it back to his hotel and he suggested that if I wanted I didn't have to wait for the group. Hmmm... I was supposed to challenge myself and after Saturday's ride I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep up going over the mountain on the way out of Prescott, so that sounded like a pretty good idea. When I got back to my hotel I realized I was still pretty hungry, so I called Dominos for a pizza ... and wings ... and a 2 liter bottle of diet coke. I wound up eating 10 wings and an entire medium Extravaganza thin crust pizza before bed!
DAY 3 - Sunday
When we were riding on Friday Jeff mentioned that some people had gotten lost on the ATC course. It's a fairly straight-forward route with only a few turns that you could miss, so I was surprised by that. I should have knocked on wood because, of course, I missed the first turn! I left my hotel around 6:30 or so and decided to ride through old town Prescott on my way out of town. I was supposed to turn on 89 which is right in the middle of town and completely missed the sign. So I wound up riding into the hills west of town which looked really unfamiliar. I finally thought this ain't right and turned around to see if I could find someone who could give me directions. I finally crossed paths with a local guy out for a ride and he pointed me to the correct turn, so I wound up getting some extra miles and climbing in for the day. It was close to 7:00 when I finally got out of town and started the climb up the mountain.
That pizza and wings really did the trick because I was feeling pretty strong going up the mountain. The switch backs and descents on the other side make for some of the best riding around. The corners are wide enough to take at a decent speed and have some good technical sections that are just plain fun to ride. And I was making great time! I didn't need to stop at the first SAG, so I went past, but stopped shortly after to take off my leg warmers. I took my glove liners and arm warmers off while riding. I also didn't need to stop at the SAG at the top of Yarnell Hill and had another fun and fast descent. The miles just seemed to fly by and I was surprised to see that my average speed when I got to Wickenburg was 19.7 mph. Not bad at all considering how I felt on Saturday. I did need to stop in Wickenburg to fill my bottles and I ate some pickles, but didn't stay there long. Three other riders left shortly after me and setup a pace line. The lady in the group invited me to jump on when they went past, so I did. This was a really good pace line. We were maintaining a speed that was just fast enough to get my heart rate up then allow me to recover before I was at the front again. We were working really well together. We picked up one more rider, so we had 5 in our line for a while, but two guys dropped off after we turned towards Lake Pleasant.
I was taking some long pulls and the lady who was riding with us was taking long pulls. She was quite impressive! But they both needed to stop to fill bottles at the SAG that was out in the middle of nowhere and I kept going, so I only rode with them for about 11 miles or so. I was still making good time and my average speed was up to 20.4 mph. Then I hit the hill going up past Lake Pleasant. My speed dropped off and I could tell I needed to eat something, but I wanted real food, so I didn't push my pace and just settled in. I knew there was a Chevron just past I-17 that I had stopped at with Elliot a few years ago. When I got there I crossed my fingers and went in to see if they had my favorite mid-ride snack -- a ham and turkey with cheese lunchable! I was in luck! They also had these little cheesecake bars so I got a couple of those too. They had a couple tables outside, so I went out and sat down and had a nice relaxing lunch. I hung out there for about a half hour or so and a couple other riders pulled in to get some fluids and food. One guy was having some knee pain and was looking for advil that another rider gave him.
I always forget how long the climb up through Carefree and Scottsdale is. I kept expecting to get to the descent down to the freeway, but it just seemed to take forever. I didn't rush though since I was close to the finish and had already stopped for 1/2 hour which is way longer than I normally stop for. The wind had also picked up and the temperature was getting into the 90's, so I didn't want to risk any last minute cramping by pushing myself. Besides I was already happy enough with being able to maintain over 20 mph pretty much by myself. My average at the finish dropped down to 19.1 by the time I got back to the Landis shop in Scottsdale.
So last July I tried to do three hard events in one month and failed. I rode Death Ride, then the Taylor House Century, then tried a 200k in Colorado that I wound up abandoning. This month I did three significantly harder events with literally 3 times more miles and twice as much climbing and finished without pain. Wow, what a difference! Last year I didn't pay close enough attention to recovery between events, this year I made that a priority. I've also followed my training programs fairly closely which has really helped me improve, so I owe a big THANKS to Jeff for helping me get where I'm at now. My confidence level for my cross state record attempt is pretty high. If the wind isn't extreme I really think I have a good shot at beating my goal of 20 hours. Three more weeks and I'll find out!
Copyright © 2006 by Mike Enfield. All rights
Revised: 04/06/09 11:29:48 -0700.