You know, I really need to improve my time management for Brevets. I
thought I made enough time, but the sign-in line was a bit longer than I
expected so I wound up leaving a few minutes after almost everyone
elseÖagain. Bruce Chandler was parked next to me and said that his ride
partner, Steve Jewell, wasnít able to make the ride. I finished getting
ready a bit before Bruce and we wished each other luck before I headed
I had a cycling lesson with Jeff on Wednesday and we talked a little
about ride strategy. Jeff knows that I have a tendency to start a bit
harder than I should, so he told me to take the start easy and ride my
own pace only after a really good warm-up. So thatís what I did. The
first hour and a half to two hours were at a relatively low heart rate,
never higher than my endurance zone. I passed a few people on the way to
Picacho, but didnít catch the big group until I picked the pace up along
the frontage road between Picacho and Picacho Peak. As I approached I
thought about sitting in their pace line for a few minutes, but I had a
good rhythm, my pace was at the top of my endurance zone, bottom of my
aerobic zone, and I felt good, so I just said ďGood Morning!Ē as I went
The first stop was at the Circle K in Marana. The ďfastĒ group was
headed out a minute or so after I pulled in. Since the sun was up now I
stripped some of my colder weather stuff then headed out. That big group
pulled in just before I left. Apparently Mother Nature felt bad about
the wind during the last few brevets because there was only a light wind
for most of this brevet. That made for some really nice riding and I
made great time to Tucson. The farmers were flooding fields when I
turned onto Sandario and there was a break in one of the barriers
resulting in a bit of a river across the road. It was clear water
though, so I could see where the pot holes were and went through it
pretty slowly. Luckily no cars came through at the same time to soak me!
I like to do rides that challenge me. Iíve done this 600k a couple
times, so this time I decided to challenge myself with some sleep
deprivation and ride straight through. I was concerned about fluids, so
I brought my camelbak as well as two 33 oz bottles. I had plenty of
fluids, so I didnít need to stop in Tucson to refill anything. I did see
the fast group as I went by the last Circle K at Drexel and Mission
Roads, but I didnít need to stop, so I kept going.
With the light wind I kept a pretty good pace down most of Mission Road,
but slowed down a bit near Helmet Peak. As I hit the top of the biggest
climb I noticed another rider coming around the corner at the bottom,
but when I got onto Contenental I didnít see him any more. I stopped at
the Chevron checkpoint to get my brevet card signed, re-fill my fluids
and get something to eat. It was a bit before 11am, so they hadnít
started making pizzas yet. That pizza at this stop during the 400k
really hit the spot so I was a little disappointed. I bought water and a
bag of ice and went out to fill my bottles. I was still filling bottles
when Wade Baker pulled up. I bought a gallon of water, but only needed
about half of it, so Wade filled his bottles, went in and got his brevet
card initialed and asked if I was ready to roll. I still hadnít gotten
something to eat and I like to keep well fueled for these kinds of
rides, so I said no and he was off. I donít think he was at that stop
for more than 2 minutes!
I went back into the store and was surprised to see the first pepperoni
pizza coming out of the oven! Score! I was eating my pizza and drinking
a Dr. Pepper when Mike Sturgill, Steve Kinney and Bruce Taylor pulled
up. They used the rest of the water and ice, but werenít ready to leave
when I was, so I headed out again. I wouldnít see Wade again until about
6 miles out of Tombstone when he was on his way back, putting him 12
miles in front of me!
The climb up to Sonoita is always tough and this year was no different.
Itís a long deceiving climb and it tends to get hot, but I was well
prepared with fluids and didnít have a problem getting up it. As I
approached Sonoita I was surprised to see a few cyclists heading in the
other direction. I pulled into the convenience store in Sonoita just as
two other riders who appeared to be coming from Tombstone. I chatted
with them a bit in the store. Turns out that this was also a PAC Tour
Steve pulled in shortly after me and Bruce wasnít too much longer, but I
didnít see Mike again during the ride. Susan changed the route this year
to make the distances more similar to Paris-Brest-Paris distances and
sent us a little out of Sonoita to the small village of Elgin. There
were some pretty big rolling hills that I didnít expect and I could tell
I was getting a bit fatigued, so I was glad to take a bit longer at the
Elgin Checkpoint to enjoy a turkey wrap and some chips. Steve and Bruce
pulled in a little after me. I finished eating before them and headed
Itís mostly downhill between Sonoita and Tombstone, but there are a
couple of pretty good climbs along the way. Steve caught me just after
one of those climbs and breezed by me like I was standing still!
Impressive! I kept to the plan though and kept riding at my own pace.
Steve was at the Circle K checkpoint in Tombstone when I arrived and
Bruce showed up while I was in line to buy my ham and cheese lunchable,
some funions and a flavored water. Steve and Bruce put on their cold
weather stuff, but it still felt a bit warm to me, so I just put my arm
warmers on. That was a big mistake because the temperature plummeted as
soon as the sun went down! Lucky for me, Steve and Bruce decided to wait
for me and we all left the checkpoint together.
Steve is an awesome cyclist and pulled us most of the way back to Elgin.
He pulled off once and I took the lead for a fraction of time, but the
wind chill was too much for me Ė I really, really should have put my leg
warms on in Tombstone! But at least riding in their draft gave me plenty
of time to get some good recovery riding in and I really appreciate they
let me stay back there! Just proved that I can wheel-suck as well as
A dinner of rice and chicken courtesy of Jennifer Gibbon waited for us
in Elgin. It was really quite good -- Thanks Jennifer! Bruce was staying
in Elgin, but Steve was spending the night in Sonoita, so, after putting
all of my cold weather stuff on, Steve and I headed out again. We had a
good chat on the way to Sonoita. Steve is visiting from Canada. His
daughter is doing some cycling training in Tucson as part of the
Canadian Junior National Cycling team. They are quite the cycling
We parted company in Sonoita and I started the climb through the big
rollers before the descent back to Tucson. Unfortunately I sweated a bit
on the climb and really felt the temperature when there was any wind
chill. My Polar shows the low was 42, but with that wet jersey it felt a
LOT colder! My plan was to take it really easy on any climb and make up
the time on the descents. But any time I got up to a good speed Iíd get
really cold. The descent down to Tucson was harder than Iíve ever
remembered it. My jersey never dried out and stayed wet all the way back
to Casa Grande.
I had a scary moment at the turn onto Sahuarita road when I hit a patch
of sand and my back wheel started to slide out. I think thatís the
closest Iíve ever come to taking a spill without actually going down,
but somehow I managed to stay up-right. At least it got the adrenaline
pumping! I stopped at the convenience store on Houghton road for another
flavored water and to warm up a bit. The descent down to Sahuarita was
slower than I would have liked, but it was more important to stay warm.
The climb up Helmet Peak seemed to take forever and that was the first
point where I started to regret the decision to ride straight through.
The ride down Mission road was a bumpy as ever and I hit several
unexpected potholes. I may have to think about upgrading my lighting
system because my pair of Cateye HL-EL500ís just werenít doing the job!
I probably should have replaced the batteries in them before the ride.
Another tactical error. I stopped at that Circle K at Mission and Drexel
road and had a cup of French Vanilla whipped hot coffee and another bag
of Funions. Yeah, I know, it doesnít sound like the best combination,
but I wanted something hot to drink and the Funions sounded good at the
time. I stayed in the store to eat and warm up. I got there just before
2am. It was memorable because the clerk was happy that the customer
traffic would go down when he locked up the alcohol.
Riding through Saguaro National Monument at 3am will always be one of my
favorite rides. No traffic, no sound but your wheels on pavement and the
occasional jack-rabbit sprinting off to the side. The sensation is
difficult to describe, but I highly recommend it. Especially when
thereís a full moon out highlighting the Saguaro cactus.
I made pretty good time between there and the Circle K checkpoint back
in Marana. That river had dried up and I got a bit of a tail wind along
Sanders road. I tried to have another ham and cheese lunchable, but the
quality of the ham was disappointing so I passed on that and just ate
the cheese and crackers with another flavored water.
The rest of the ride back to Casa Grande is pretty flat and with that
bit of a tail wind I was able to keep my speed right around 20 mph the
rest of the way in. Just hard enough to keep my body warm. I was glad to
pull into the finish though, but the gate at the Alley checkpoint was
padlocked and no one was around, so I called Susanís number and left a
message that I had pulled into the finish a 7:14 am. Less than an hour
faster than last yearís time, but last year I spent 4 hours resting at
the dinner checkpoint, so my ďon the bikeĒ time was actually several
hours longer than last year. It was an interesting experiment in sleep
deprivation, but I donít think Iíll need to do that again any time soon!
Iíll definitely be using the sleep accommodations at the Grand Canyon
600k at the end of April! My polar chart for the event is
interesting. Hard to see the detail on the graphic, but it shows
how heart rate comes down as you get fatigued (click on the thumbnail to
get a full screen view). I felt like I was in an aerobic zone
during those last miles between Marana and Casa Grande, but my heart
rate on the polar indicates more of an active rest rate - below zone 1!
And yes, that 191 cadence was electronic interference! I don't
spin quite like Jacqui! I've been having a lot of difficulty
getting my cadence sensor to work consistently, so there are a lot of
gaps in cadence on the chart. The new Polar CS600 Mike Cox has
waiting for me should correct that problem ... when the cadence sensor
gets off backorder that is! <Sigh>