Sunday's 400k was reminiscent of the back-to-back 200k's going from Globe to Show Low last year - brutally windy, windy, windy! The ride was scheduled to start at 4am, so I decided to spend the night in Casa Grande and avoid the early morning drive. Of course I completely mis-timed getting up and wound up getting to the start only 5 minutes or so before everyone left without me. I figured I'd be alone most of the day anyway, so I didn't let that bother me and left at about 4:10am. There was a bit of a head wind, but not too bad. Not 10 miles out of town my rear tire went flat. I definitely wasn't having a good start to a long day! Luckily Susan pulled up behind me, so I had good light to change the tube and she grabbed her pump and filled the tire for me.
I started passing folks just outside of Eloy (this time with solid tail lights and not an annoying blinking light!). The wind had picked up some and it was now a hard head wind. There are train tracks on the other side of Picacho and I caught the tail end of a train, so I took the opportunity for a bathroom break. Once passed the train, I started making decent time, even with the wind (more of a cross wind along the frontage road). The majority of people were still at the checkpoint at Picacho Peak. I checked in, ate a banana, then headed out again. Six riders left before me, two guys were alone and there was a group of four. There was still a cross wind, but it didn't bother me too much, so I was making good time and passed those riders within a few miles of the checkpoint.
The temperature was pretty cold (my polar shows a low of 26 degrees!) and at one point I went to get a drink and the nozzle of my water bottle had frozen closed. Took me a minute to figure out why it wouldn't open! The sun came up just before Marana. The temperature and, unfortunately, the wind came up with it. I had a tail wind push me to the turn onto Sanders Road in Marana, then fought a strong cross wind to Avra Valley Road where there was a daunting headwind. Luckily that only lasted for a mile before turning onto Sandario with a hard cross wind. That wind was pushing my bike all over the edge of the road with a couple scary moments where I thought I was going off the edge! Nothing quite like riding a bike that's angled to the side from the force of a crosswind!
That was pretty much the case all the way down to Green Valley. Any turn to the East resulted in a massive headwind and the turns to the South had a strong crosswind. I took a few minutes to strip some of my cold weather gear at the checkpoint along Kinney Road. Dave Peashock was manning the checkpoint and filled my bottle for me. I've seen Dave's name in prior Brevet results, but I hadn't actually met him before. Thanks for the support Dave!
The ride down Helmet Peak road outside of Green Valley was probably the most demoralizing for me. Normally I easily cruise down that at over 35 mph, but with the headwind I was working to keep my speed up to 16! ******* Wind (put your favorite expletive in front of that!). Yes, tourret syndrome had started to kick in at that point!
I stopped at the little convenience store I normally stop at in Green Valley (on Continental, right by the turn onto the I-19 Frontage road) to fill my bottles and have a snack. This time the personal pan pepperoni pizza looked good. I also had a calorie laden Jones' Cream Soda and an ice cream sandwich for dessert -- mmmm. It was 11:30am, so I'd been at it for 7.5 hours and was not going to be setting any personal best times on this ride! So I called home and left a message for Annette to let her know that I would be on later side of the "I'll finish between 8:00pm and 11:00pm" window, then hit the road again.
The wind had been coming pretty consistently out of the East, so I was expecting a tail wind when I got to Arivaca road, but it was a cruel wind and seemed to shift to the south quite a bit. Another cyclist passed me along Arivaca Road. He said he was visiting from Oregon where he also participates in Brevets. Seemed like a nice guy, but he only had about 50 miles in his legs, and I was over 115 miles at that point with over 140 miles to go, so he rode on ahead and I didn't try to stay with him. Arivaca road goes through a bunch of rolling hills. Between the short climbs and the cross/head wind it seemed to take quite a bit of time to get to the lunch checkpoint.
Susan and I had a good chat about Paris-Brest-Paris while I was eating a ham and cheese wrap. She's never had a desire to do PBP and her reasons caused me to question my own desire to do that ride. She enjoys long distance, but without the crowd, with good accommodations and with people who are genuinely happy you are participating. I would expect PBP to be pretty much like 650 miles of El Tour de Tucson -- very, very crowded with people from all over the world standing in lines at checkpoints, waiting to eat, and trying to get that last sleeping spot. Hmmm... very good points indeed. I've never been one for crowded rides. She asked me what my dream ride would be and I couldn't answer that. I'll have to think about it more. Finding out about PBP was what turned me on to riding Brevets a couple years ago and I know I want to do all the U.S. 1200k's at some point, but dream ride? Needs more thought, but I do know a dream ride for me certainly wouldn't include thousands of cyclists...
The 11 mile stretch between Arivaca and SR286 was awesome! A stong tailwind had me flying through there. Just what I needed to refresh my legs and keep me going. Unfortunately the turn onto SR286 resulted in another strong crosswind, just on the other side of my body -- still coming out of the east. At least it was pushing me towards the middle of the road instead of off the edge! I'd occasionally get a cross/tail wind and was able to pick my speed up several times, but overall, it was a slow ride to the convenience store at Robles Junction. That pizza earlier in the day really hit the spot, so I decided to get another one. Unfortunately it wasn't quite as tasty as the first one. Still hit the spot though. Three racers were there fixing a flat and we left about the same time to face that wicked strong headwing along Ajo Way. I passed them as they were getting organized and kept a strong 17 mph - trying to get through that 6 mile stretch as quickly as possible. At one point one of the racers on a time trial bike went by me and stayed up ahead for a mile or so, then circled back to his friends. I just kept riding.
The turn onto Sandario was a welcome relief! My speed immediately jumped up to 20-21 mph. I saw Dave Peashock sitting in his car at the intersection reading something, but with that sudden boost in speed, I wasn't stopping! So I just waved as I went by wondering if he noticed me. A few miles down the road I saw the road was blocked by fire trucks and there was a long line of cars. Uh-oh. I rolled past the cars to see what was going on. On the other side of the fire engines was a medical helicopter. There wasn't an accident, so something must have happened at one of the homes in the area. We waited for 5 minutes or so before the helicopter took off. The pilot's skill was impressive given the strong wind. There were power lines right next to the road, but he went straight up, turned into the wind and was off.
The wind was coming out of the East to East/Southeast (cross wind/cross-tail wind), so I was starting to make good time again and got through Sandario Road relatively quickly. The sun was starting to set now and I was hoping to make the last checkpoint at the Circle K in Marana before it completely went down. I had already turned my lights on when I was stopped for the helicopter, but still needed to change the lenses in my sunglasses for night riding and needed to put my reflective gear back on. The sun set just as I turned onto Trico-Marana road, but it was still light enough to get that last mile to the Circle K safely.
I decided to go with my old standby and had a turkey and cheese lunchable to re-fuel. An ice cream sandwich sounded really good, but it was getting cold again, so I decided to pass on that. When I left the circle K, I was happy to find a nice tail wind to push me down the frontage road. I made really good time to Picacho Peak, but then I really started to feel the efforts from the day so my speed came down. I was only 27 miles from the finish at that point and was ready for some recovery riding anyway. In hindsight, I should have gone with the "Deluxe" lunchable that had both ham and turkey instead of just the turkey only version because my energy level was sagging quite a bit after Picacho Peak. But, being that close to the finish, the thought of some ham and eggs at the Casa Grande Cracker Barrel was enough to keep me going to the finish.
So, 258 miles in about 17 hours 15 minutes according to my Polar. I pulled into the finish at about 9:20pm. Official time will be a little off since I started late. Only a little faster than last year's hellish 400k and quite a challenge overall with that wind. Hopefully mother nature will show some mercy for the 600k at the end of the month!
Copyright © 2007 by Mike Enfield. All rights
Revised: 04/06/09 11:29:48 -0700.