Taylor House Century 2009

Mike Cox at Curbside Cyclery finished my new Calfee while my kids and I were off camping at Kinnikinick Lake the weekend before the Taylor House Century.  Luckily Jeff Lockwood was able to squeeze in a bike fit for me on Monday, so the bike would be ready for it’s maiden century!  I had decided to try one of those saddles with the gap in the middle to see if it was more comfortable on long distance rides, but we couldn’t get the fit quite right, so I defaulted to a tried and true Fi’zi:k Arione which corrected the fit issue.

I drove up to Flagstaff on Friday night and spent the night at Dave and Jackie Flake’s house (thanks for the hospitality!).  Dave was planning to get up early for work, so I got up pretty early myself and had more than enough time to get to the start.  So I stopped at a Village Inn for a good breakfast.  I still got to the start with over a half hour before the start.  I checked in, finished getting my stuff together, then headed over to where some fellow Bullshifters were gathered.

We had a nice tailwind for the early part of the ride, so the pace picked up pretty good.  I rode with a few Bullshifters at the start, then someone flatted and we stopped for a minute, but another group of Bullshifters went by, so a couple of us continued on.  We split up a bit on some of the faster descents and I found myself riding alone for a bit.  Then Dave Holdeman came by with a couple other guys, so I jumped on Dave’s wheel for quite a while.   The two guys he was with pulled just about all the rest of the way through the flats outside of town, but they pulled away on the climb up to the Sunset Crater turn.

I stuck to Dave’s wheel, then went around him at the top.  I think he may have decided to wait for someone because I didn’t see him again.  I had a fast ride down to the Wupatki turn.  Shortly after that turn two guys caught me and we worked together for quite a while.  There were a number of false ascents and descents through there.  On one of the  2% descents, we dropped one guy, so two of us rode to the  SAG stop together.  I filled my bottles, used a port-a-potty, then headed off, taking a pretty short break.  It was starting to warm up pretty good, so I wanted to get back up into the pines before the temperature got too hot.

About 5 miles or so out from there, the guy I rode into the SAG stop with pulled up, but I knew what the climb up to Sunset Crater was like, so I told him I’d be taking my time so he rode on with another guy.  I saw him again at the SAG stop shortly after the climb started, but he was getting ready to leave when I pulled in.  They had little bite size red potatoes at this stop, which are turning into one of my favorite mid-ride foods.  They also had a tasty seasoned salt mixture to go on them.  Tasty!

The Calfee had been riding GREAT so far.  The couplers make a bit of noise that I can hear in the headset, but it’s not too bad.  It handles REALLY nicely on fast descents.  And the triple gearing was just what I needed for a long climb.  I was a bit concerned about my left knee, but it hadn’t been bothering me up to that point.

Anyway, the climbing really started in earnest after that water stop with several long 6-8% grades.  I just dropped into a granny gear and slowly spun up those sections.  I hadn’t really been on my bike much since the Death Ride and the lack of training was starting to have an effect.  Those steeper grades started to feel a bit harder, so I was ready for a break when I got to the SAG stop that was at an overlook about 3/4ths of the way up.  I filled my bottles again and had a popsicle (the temperature was getting pretty warm).

A mile or two before the summit, there’s a relatively short 13% grade, but it was enough to make that knee pain return.  This time it wasn’t the sudden, sharp pain, but a constant ache.  Not good.  I eased off my effort quite a bit, but even spinning that knee pain was still there.  There was one more SAG stop just before the turn back onto 89, so I decided to take a longer break there to rest my knee.  Clouds had been slowly building up and it looked like we had a pending monsoon storm.  A loud crack of thunder convinced me it was time to leave.  The last time I did this century I hit a solid downpour right before getting back to town and didn’t really want to repeat the experience.

We picked up a pretty strong headwind with the turn onto 89.  I had a good descent, the plowed my way through the wind.  Only 10 miles left, but with that headwind and some slight inclines, my knee was really starting to bother me.  There is a steeper climb about 2-3 miles from the finish.  I got most of the way up, but my knee was really starting to get bad, so I got off about 200 meters from the top and walked the rest of the way up.  Luckily that last mile was a descent, so I pretty much coasted to the finish.

Overall it was a great ride until my knee started acting up.  I was talking to Mike and Cindy Sturgill at the finish lunch about my knee and Cindy mentioned that she had a problem with her IT band that was causing knee pain.  I think that may also have been my problem because my knee stopped bothering me almost immediately, but my lower back and the bottom of my leg started to ache pretty good on the drive home.  I don’t think I have enough climbing miles in my legs to be doing the more extreme climbing events that I did in July.  But I’ve done quite a few Usery Loops and a trip out to Beeline without any knee problems.

I’m still planning to do the Son of Death Ride in September, so I’ll be focusing on getting a lot of climbing miles in between now and then! 🙂

    1 comment to Taylor House Century 2009

    • Mike Cash

      Mike, I’ve been using a Selle SMP Stratos saddle for quite some time. At first I wasn’t sure about it but after a few rides I grew to love it. Selle makes the SMP in 5 different versions of padding comfort. You will sit on your sit bones as there’s no middle to the saddle. Of course that means there’s no possibility of numb crotch or any other pressure-related maladies. http://www.sellesmp.com/en/default.htm

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