I’m BAAaack!!

Wow, has it really been over a year since I’ve posted anything??  Man time flies!  I did have a bit of technical difficulty, but certainly should have fixed it sooner than I did. In my last post (from Feb 2010(!)) I mentioned that 2010 would be a year of cross training and down time.  That’s pretty much how it turned out.  I didn’t do any ultra-distance events, although I did finish several centuries on my road bikes.  One highlight was the 2010 Multiple Sclerosis “Bay to Bay” Tour.  This was the third year my company has participated in the event.  For 2010 we had 36 people on the team who raised over $55,000 for the MS Society!  NetApp was also an official sponsor for the event.  Good times!  For 2011 we’re shooting for 100 riders working to raise $100,000!  Contact me if you’d like to join us or you can DONATE to help us reach our goal.

Ride Marshal at the 2010 Multiple Sclerosis Bay to Bay tour

Ride Marshal at the 2010 Multiple Sclerosis Bay to Bay tour

I also did a couple half marathons with Annette and shaved 45 minutes off my Tucson Marathon time!  It may not sound like it, but I really did take quite a bit of time for recovery and relaxing.  I needed it, my motivation at the end of 2009 was lacking.

Thumbs up after the Tucson Marathon!

2010 Tucson Marathon Finisher!

Finishing the Tour of the White Mountains

Finishing the 2010 Tour of the White Mountains in Show Low, AZ

In terms of cross-training Mike Cox at Curbside Cyclery hooked me up with a sweet 2009 Cannondale Rize 2 mountain bike.  I have to admit I’m really enjoying single track riding!  I bought an annual pass for Usery Park and have been hitting the trails there quite a bit.  Blevins trail with Moon Rock trail is my favorite loop there, although I’ll occasionally throw in Cats peak trail when I want a bit more intensity.  I’ve only done Pass Mountain trail once, but need a bit more experience before I try that again!  My only mountain bike event for 2010 was the Tour of the White Mountains in Show Low, AZ.  I originally signed up for the 65 mile event, but after getting some feedback from friends who have done it before, I wisely decided to back down to the 35 mile version.  That was a tough ride, but I finished strong and plan to do the full 65 mile event in 2011!

Speaking of 2011, I’ve been off to a pretty good start!  My buddy Leonard Zito decided he wanted to do the 2011 spring brevet series.

Me and Leonard Zito after 200k Brevet

Me and Leonard Zito after 200k Brevet

He’s done a few centuries over the past couple years but hasn’t done any ultra-distance events.  So I decided I’d serve as a domestique and pace him through the series.  A brevet series consists of 4 rides of progressively longer distance.  So far we’ve done 3 of 4 events and Leonard has proven himself to be quite a good ultra-distance rider.  He’s done an excellent job capturing images and details of the events on his blog.

Leonard climbing Gates Pass on the 300k Brevet

Leonard climbing Gates Pass on the 300k Brevet

The series starts with a 200k (126 mile) event.  No sweat, well maybe a little sweat, but not too bad.  The second event is 300k (190 miles) which is a bit more challenging.  The 400k (260 miles) is always a challenge and this year was no different (these links go to Leonard’s blog).  It was truly epic and very reminiscent of the 2005 400k Brevet.  Leonard’s blog on the 400k is a quick read with some great pictures.  The final 600k (380 mile) event is this coming weekend (March 19-20).

In between the 300k and 400k Annette and I ran the Lost Dutchman 1/2 marathon.  We shaved about 12 minutes off our time from last year and set a new “couples” best time (our personal best time running a 1/2 marathon together, nothing official just our own tracking of our completion times…).  The Lost Dutchman course is very scenic without too much climbing.  I highly recommend it!  If you’ve never done a 1/2 marathon, the Lost Dutchman would be an excellent choice!

That pretty much brings us to this weekend.  For various reasons I haven’t been able to train as consistently as I’d like, so I was starting to get a bit worried that I’d be ready to pull Leonard through 380 miles.  Leonard is excellent about recognizing his capabilities and adjusting.  I’ve ridden with some other friends who have turned themselves inside out before telling me I’m going too hard.  But Leonard has a good feel for his “ride all day” effort level.  I use power meters on my bikes, so I know how many watts are being created at a given effort level.  During the 200k, Leonard would tell me when to back off and I found that if I maintained about 180 watts, Leonard stayed comfortable.  I generally ride at 220-240 watts, so that was well within my comfort zone.  It worked well for both of us.  Riding based on watts is great because it negates the effects of wind or climbs.  180 watts is 180 watts.  So we’d slow down on hills or in the wind, but our effort level remained roughly the same.

Back of the Enfield Chalet in Show Low, AZ

Back of the Enfield Chalet in Show Low, AZ

Anyway, back to the concern about the lack of consistent training…  Mesa Schools are out for spring break next week, so Annette and I decided to spend a few days at our “chalet” in Show Low, AZ (Chalet is the architecture type, really … and I’ve been told cabins don’t have garages).

Enfield Chalet in Show Low, AZ

Enfield Chalet in Show Low, AZ

Jake had a commitment Saturday night, so we were planning to drive up on Sunday.  I didn’t have any plans for Saturday, so, what the heck, I decided to ride my bike up.  I’d done the Scottsdale to Payson ride several times as part of the “Answer to the Challenge” but had never turned right in Payson onto 260.  I’ve been wanting to try to ride my bike to Show Low ever since we bought the chalet and this seemed like an ideal time.  So that’s what I did.

I didn’t have any time pressure, so I left Mesa around 7:30am with my bike loaded with my standard long Brevet setup (generator hub light, couple rear flashing lights, reflective straps, trunk of extra food and clothes…).  My course was over Usery Pass to Bush Highway.  Bush Highway to Beeline.  Beeline to Payson for that right turn onto 260.  260 to Show Low.  Simple.  It took about an hour to get to Beeline from my house.  There’s one steep climb right before Saguaro Lake.  I definitely felt the extra weight on my bike going up that hill!  I got into a zone and set a good pace to the Beeline.  Apparently I passed Leonard somewhere on Beeline where he was stopped to change a flat.  Leonard put in a nice 101 mile training ride that morning.  I didn’t even notice him, I was in my cruising mode.

It’s amazing how much you forget about how hard a ride is when you haven’t done it in a while.  There is some serious climbing to get to Payson along with some super nice descents.  I set my high speed for the day at 50.9 mph on the first big descent.  Nice.  I took my time on the hills and stopped twice for natural breaks.  The temperature at the start of the ride was around 58, dropped into the low 50s through the Salt River section, but jumped to 78 near Rye.  That was pretty warm.  Sweat was pouring off of me on the climb up Rye hill.  That is one LONG climb and I was starting to bonk about 3/4ths of the way up.  I ate some food, but my energy level was still off.  It took about 5 hours to get to Payson.  Not too bad considering it included over 7,600 feet of climbing!  I stopped at Cousin’s subs for a sandwich and to relax for a bit.  One sandwich wasn’t quite enough, so I had a second!  I felt MUCH better after that!

Checking the label on the Coconut Milk w/ Pineapple juice.  Mmmmm...

Checking the label on the Coconut Milk w/ Pineapple juice. Mmmmm...

With renewed energy I make my way out of Payson, but stopped at the Circle K in Starr Valley to get some coconut milk.  If you haven’t discovered coconut milk yet, give it a try!  A single serving has more potassium than 2 bananas.  The Coconut w/ pineapple juice (pina colada!) is my favorite.  Most sports drinks tend to taste nasty when they warm up.  On this ride I decided to test the coconut milk and stuck a box (yes, it comes in a box) in my jersey pocket before I left Mesa.  It. tastes. good. warm.  For some reason Circle K stocks this miracle beverage, so if I see a Circle K, you know I’ll be stopping for some Coconut milk!

With the turn out of Payson I picked up a tail wind that would stay with me most of the way to Show Low.  Nice!

Quick stop on the climb up the Mogollon Rim

Quick stop on the climb up the Mogollon Rim

Made the 5-8% grades just a bit easier to deal with, but the climb up to the top of the rim really kicked my ass.  That’s just a super tough, super long climb.  It was really slow going.  I did stop once for a quick pic (hard to show how steep the climb is, but notice the angle of the trees).

I was wiped when I got to the top!  And it was freakin’ freezing!  Should have taken another photo of all the snow.  I had to stop again to put on my arm and leg warmers!  I started again, but pulled off once more after about a mile to put on my full finger glove liners.  Wow, that was cold!  But now I was ready to ride!  From the top of the Rim to Heber is primarily down hill.  With that tail wind I started making really, really good time.  The easy spinning also allowed my legs to recover from the climb up the Rim.

There’s a Circle K just outside of Heber that I stopped at to replace my now empty box of coconut milk and to refill my water bottles.  The ladies at the counter asked how I was doing and I said “I’m tired.”  They didn’t seem too surprised that I had ridden up from Mesa, guess other people have made the trip by bike.  Anyway, I enjoyed the ride down into Heber then started the climb to Overgaard.  It was about 5:30pm so I decided it was time for dinner and stopped at Subway for a footlong ham and cheese with avocado.  That was just what I needed.  I called Annette and we talked about the remaining 35ish miles.  Neither of us expected it to be too bad.

Nasty looking jersey!

Nasty looking jersey!

The worst was definitely behind me, but there were still several 5-6% grades between Overgaard and Show Low.  That friendly tail wind became more intermittent as the road zig zagged along causing it to become a strong crosswind at times.  I can honestly say I was getting tired of the climbing by the time I saw the lights of Show Low.  Of course there’s a nice long climb to actually get into town, but it wasn’t too bad.  Neither was the final climb up to the Chalet.  It peaks at about 18%, but it’s a pretty short section.  When I got to the chalet I looked in the mirror and had to take a picture of the dried sweat on my jersey.  That’s what almost 18,000 feet of climbing does!  Leonard said to just scrape it off and use it in my next electrolyte drink! LOL!

My ride data is posted at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/72998735 if you are interested in seeing the full details.  Some key stats:

Garmin Edge 800 Mesa to Show Low statistics

Garmin Edge 800 Mesa to Show Low statistics

 

 

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