I took Thursday and Friday off of work since the kids were out of school and we planned to head down to southern Arizona a few days before the Cochise County Cycling Classic, but my son had some last minute doctor's appointments and we didn't get out of Phoenix until Friday afternoon. I also developed some chest congestion Wednesday night, but I wasn't planning to compete this year, so I didn't worry about it. The drive to Douglas was relatively quick and uneventful although I must admit I'm surprised Tucson would allow ADOT to close ALL the freeway exits and on-ramps through downtown Tucson!
Sean Tressler saw us pull into the Motel 6 to check in and came down to say "Hi!" We were running a bit tight on time though since I had to be at the mandatory 7pm announcements meeting at the Douglas YMCA. We got there just as they started serving a spaghetti dinner. Bruce Chandler, a fellow randonnuer, was a couple people ahead of us in the food line. He was crewing for a couple doing the 252. The key announcement was a last minute change in the starting time. The 157 mile group had been scheduled for a 6am start, but the local law enforcement pointed out sunrise wasn't until 6:19 am and it would be illegal to start without lights. So they changed the start time to 6:20 am, one minute after official sunrise and 10 minutes before the 92 mile group of riders started. There were 23 riders scheduled to do the 157. Someone asked about the weather and we were told to expect 30+ mph gusts in the afternoon. Ouch.
I got over to the start Saturday morning with plenty of time. It was a bit brisk, but the sun was shining and the wind hadn't picked up yet so it was quite nice. We took a leisurely pace out of town, which was fine by me. I haven't been training consistently ... ok ... at ALL (other than events), so I planned to just enjoy this ride. I did stay with the lead group and took three pulls at the front on the way up to the start of the foothills leading to Bisbee. Then a guy in a Milram jersey picked up the pace and I decided to drop off, leaving a group of 6 or 7 ahead of me (The guy in the Milram jersey won). The wind was odd this year and there was a headwind going through the foothills and up Mule Pass. Mule pass is always a hard climb, even when I'm in pretty good condition and there isn't a headwind. I worked harder than I should have going up. Just before the split between the tunnel and the road going down into Bisbee, the lead group from the 92 mile event caught me. Doug Terrell was in the group, so I pulled up next to him to say hi really quick. They were going harder than I wanted to, so I didn't even try to stay with them and just rode my own pace up the hill. One other group from the 92 mile event passed me before I got to the top where Annette was waiting with a fresh bottle of Accelerade.
I had a fast descent down the other side, but only hit 48.1 mph, then the expected tail wind blew me across the plains towards Tombstone at a fast clip. I passed two of the guys from the 157 lead group along there and a couple of guys who were doing the 92 (you can tell which event people are doing based on their rider numbers. Everyone doing the 157 had rider numbers in the 100's, people doing the 92 had 300's and 400's). Annette was waiting with another bottle at the top of the hill just past the plains. She has the bottle hand-off down to a science! About 6 miles outside of Benson I shed my arm-warmers and got a fresh bottle. As I got into the outskirts of Benson I started to feel a bit fatigued, so I sat up and rode easy for a while. Marvin Atwood passed as we were going through town. I thought about jumping on his wheel, but I didn't have anything in my legs and I wasn't racing anyway.
I got a pleasant surprise when I turned onto the freeway. There was a tail-wind! Wow! That never happens! But I still didn't seem to have anything in my legs. Hmmm... That's odd. Then I realized I must be bonking! It doesn't happen to me often, but I hadn't been paying attention to nutrition and hadn't eaten anything since before the start. Crap. I slammed a couple energy gels, ate some Clif blocks, rode easy for a mile or so, took another energy gel and started to feel better. But I wasn't able to capitalize on that tail wind along the freeway. Annette and the kids were waiting at the bottom of the Dragoon road exit, so I stopped and swapped bottles. Annette had some sliced ham, so I took some of that and headed off again. Wonder of wonders, there was another tail wind heading down Dragoon Road! I kid you not, I probably averaged over 30 mph through that section and probably would have been able to go faster if I wasn't running my compact crank. My cadence was well over 100 rpm most of the way through there. When I turned onto 191 I saw Marvin riding in the distance and his support car pulling off the shoulder, so I almost caught him. I was tempted to give chase, but I wasn't racing (Yes, I did have to keep reminding myself of that!) and Annette had pulled over so I stopped and changed bottles and told her what a great ride Dragoon road was!
I really wish I had been in competitive shape for this one, because for the first time since I've done Cochise there was a tail wind on 191! THAT'S unheard of! But shortly after turning onto 191 I started to get those twinges that signal impending cramping. I installed some laminate flooring in my house the prior weekend and my thighs were pretty sore for several days afterwards (do you know how many squats you have to do to lay laminate flooring??), so I half expected to have some cramping problems on this ride. At the next spot Annette stopped at I also stopped and asked her to grab some Lava Salts for me, but the Lava Salt bottle was filled with Accelerade powder! Crap! I flashed back and remembered I put the lava salts in a plastic bag and put them in my Randonnuer trunk and had filled the bottle with powder for a Brevet. Oh well, I had some more salty ham instead and kept going. Because of that tail wind I made great time until just outside of Elfrieda when the wind shifted. Then the ride got hard.
I tried to power through the wind, but my right thigh cramped and that was the end of that! So I slowed down and started riding easy into the wind. The support car for riders 110 and 117 (Cindy and Heath McFarland) started to pass me occasionally and the lady driving was very encouraging, clapping and shouting encouragement or just smiling each time I passed her. It's always nice to have a little extra encouragement on a long hard ride. :-) I had one more cramp in my right thigh, but it wasn't too bad and a little on-the-bike stretches seemed to take care of it. I stopped once for a nature call and stopped a few times to change bottles. The last section of road before the turn off of 191 just seems to take forever and it was slow going. I rode easy to the turn and stopped at the car to eat a banana, have a bottle of water and rest for a bit. Cindy and Heath passed while I was resting there. I had a tail wind now, but decided to just ride easy and try to recover some before the finish. Brad Wingate also passed me along there but I had planned to finish between 9 and 10 hours and was well under 9 hours thanks to all the tail winds, so I wasn't in a hurry.
Dan McGehee was at the finish when I pulled in. He had won his 7th straight 252 mile event! Wow. He's a great guy and we chatted a minute. He said it would take a few weeks to get over that wind. The 252 riders apparently had worse wind than normal. I mentioned the chest congestion and he said the same thing happened to him at the 508 (that would be the Furnace Creek 508) and he wound up in the hospital. My chest hurt when I coughed, but it didn't seem to be any worse than when I started and I started coughing stuff up later in the evening which usually indicates the worst is over.
So, the unofficial results are posted. I had no idea where I finished after the ride or what my final time was, so I had to wait for the results. Looks like I came in 7th out of 17 finishers with a time of 8 hours 51 minutes. Not bad at all considering my lack of consistent training. And I didn't thrash my legs too badly doing the ride, so I'm planning on doing the "Heart of Arizona 200k" this coming weekend, then I'm headed back to Boston for another week of business related travel. <Sigh>
Copyright © 2007 by Mike Enfield. All rights
Revised: 04/06/09 11:29:47 -0700.