Bryce Canyon 200k Brevet

Three weeks after I only made it 200 miles on a 400k attempt in Southern Utah, I went back for a much less ambitious 200k!  Since the ride fell on Saturday June 20th, the day before father’s day, I expected to make the drive alone.  Luckily, my friend and fellow randonnuer Carlton VanLeuven also wanted to do the ride and contacted me the week before to see if I’d be interested in carpooling to Utah.  Even better, I had some work to finish before I could leave on Friday, but since Carlton was going I stuck him with the first driving shift (thanks Carlton!) so I could do some work until we got far enough north that I lost my cell signal.  Relatively uneventful drive up north.  We did pass one femaie RAAM racer between Flagstaff and Tuba City, but I’m not sure who it was.  I took over driving in Page and we made pretty good time overall up to the start in Panguitch.

The Bryce Canyon 200k is essentially the first 100 mile loop from the Desperado Dual, with additional out and back rides to Tropic, Utah in Bryce Canyon and an out and back a bit farther along to Junction, UT. The weather forecast called for some strong wind out of the south/southwest and scattered showers.  We wouldn’t be let down. Carlton and I got up early and made it to the start with plenty of time. Panguitch isn’t a big town, so we just rode our bikes from the hotel to the start.  We chatted with Lonnie Wolff, the RBA, and a couple other riders while we waited for the official start time.

After last month, I decided I wanted to keep my effort down to around 180 watts.  With 4,500 feet of climbing on this ride, keeping that average would be a bit tough for me!  Carlton and I started together and worked pretty well together.  Carlton hasn’t been riding ultra distance for long, but he certainly is getting strong fast!  There is a pretty good climb shortly after getting out of town that goes past some Hoodoo’s.  We stopped once to take a couple pics on our cell phone cameras.  A guy from Yuma past us while we were paused.  The wind had been blowing at the start, but it really started to get strong when we got to the top of that climb.  But at least it was a cross wind, so it really wasn’t too bad.

The guy from Yuma stopped at a gas station a mile or so before the drop down to Tropic.  I’d never done that stretch, but it was a FAST 8% 2 mile+ descent!  I didn’t quite break 50mph going down, but dropped Carlton.  I slowed down near the bottom and Carlton wasn’t too far back.  The road was pretty damp from a shower that had passed through and we did get sprinkled on a bit going into town.  We stopped at the official checkpoint to get our receipts to prove we were there, but didn’t stay too long and left together.

That fast descent was now a hard climb!  Carlton’s quite a bit lighter than I am, so he made pretty good time getting up that hill.  At least he was nowhere in sight by the time I got back up to the top!  But I did a pretty good job monitoring my effort and was satisfied that I didn’t over-do it.  Just after making the turn toward Antimony, an antelope and I exchanged a long stare as I went by.  That cross wind was now a really strong tail wind and I started making good time, riding over 30mph for quite a long distance.  It still took a good 15-20 miles before I started to get glimpses of Carlton riding off in the distance.  We drop down into a canyon before Antimony and I came pretty close to catching Carlton, but the wind shifted and we suddenly faced a strong headwind.  I didn’t want to force it through that wind, so I slowed down and Carlton pulled away again.

Other than the wind, it was a nice ride through that canyon.  Carlton was still at the country store in Antimony when I pulled in.  I filled my bottles, had a quick snack then we headed out again, but didn’t stay together too long.  Carlton was riding a bit harder than I wanted, so I let him go.  Didn’t take too long before I lost sight of him again.  The wind started shifting a bit as we road past some pretty big bluffs, then turned into a strong cross wind.  With the turn towards Junction, it became that super nice tail wind again.  Carlton was chatting with some local folks at the checkpoint gas station when I pulled in to fill my bottles again.

We commiserated a bit about the headwind we would face headed back to Panguitch, then headed out.  We weren’t disappointed, that was one hard headwind (sustained at around 25 mph, directly in our face!). Carlton did a lot of the work getting us to Circleville, then we started trading pulls.  There’s about a 10 mile section that goes through a valley and the wind seems to really increase through there.  We had some super strong gusts.  At one point, Carlton said he couldn’t keep the pace and I said “Good, neither can I!”  We split up for a bit and rode at our own recovery paces, but never got too far apart.  We’d alternate working together then riding at individual recovery pace.  Near the end of that valley Carlton dropped way back, so I sat up and tried to recover some in that wind.  Off in the distance we could see a pretty good rain cell that appeared directly in our path.  Turns out Carlton slowed to eat some to regain some energy.  I probably should have done the same.

It wasn’t long before he came by me, but I didn’t want to keep his pace and let him go.  It was warming up quite a bit, so I took my arm warmer off and just plowed through that wind at a nice steady pace.  About 5 miles from the finish I hit that rain cell.  The temperature must have dropped a good 15-20 degrees in about 5 minutes.  I quickly pulled over to get my arm warmers back on, then plodded through the rain to the finish.  Surprisingly, Carlton had only gotten in a few minutes before me.  We sat and chatted with Lonnie for a bit before heading off for showers and dinner.  The last 35 miles or so were really windy, but overall it was a pretty fun ride (and a bit of time helps forget the pain of slogging through a strong headwind!)  LOL

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