New Arizona E-W Cross State Record was
RECORD TIME: 19 Hours, 46 Minutes (17.34 mph avg)
Rider: Mike Enfield
We did it! This was a team effort and I couldn't have set this record without awesome crew support from Elliot and Mike or getting advice and guidance from Derek who had prior knowledge of the course from his record setting ride last year! They all did a fantastic job!
Elliot re-introduced me to cycling in 2002 when he convinced me to join him on the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training to ride El Tour de Tucson. He was with me when I finished my first 100 mile (century) ride during the 2002 MS150, riding the extra optional miles on the first day so I could watch my bike computer move past the 100 mile mark, so it's really only fitting that he was with me to create this bit of history. Without his support, encouragement and, yes, even the constant harassment about being a freak of nature, I don't think I would ever have considered a cross state record. And he is hereby forewarned that if he doesn't stop pestering me about riding RAAM, he's signing on to be crew chief again! ;-)
Special thanks to Mike Cox who is also my bike mechanic. He does a great job maintaining my bikes which gives me confidence that I can finish really long rides without mechanical problems. If you don't regularly have your bike checked I not only recommend doing it, but have it done by a skilled professional like Mike at Curbside Cyclery!
I also couldn't have done this without the assistance of my coach, Jeff Lockwood, who has taken me from being an overweight couch potato trying to complete his first 100 mile ride with Team in Training (Jeff was the TNT coach at the time) to an accomplished, competitive cyclist in 4 short years! Trust me when I say having an incredibly knowledgeable person help you learn and improve makes a dramatic difference in the time and effort required.
Anyway... about the ride... Marvin Atwood's record time from last October was 21 hours, 10 minutes. My goal was to finish in 20 hours, 15 minutes maintaining 17 mph overall including any stops along the way. With my crew's assistance I was able to get from the Arizona/New Mexico border to Davis Dam on the Arizona/Nevada border in 19 hours, 46 minutes beating my goal time by almost a half hour!
On Friday morning before heading up to Gallup I checked weather.com and the forecast was not in my favor. I expected some headwind, but the forecast was for a 13 mph headwind at the start, dropping down to 8 mph wind through Holbrook and Winslow then dropping to 2 to 4 mph in Flagstaff before increasing back to 8 mph to Seligman when it was expected to really increase to a wind advisory with 20 to 25 mph steady wind out of the Southwest! That was going to make beating Marvin's time hard and making my goal time nearly impossible! My confidence took a hit!
When we got to Gallup the wind was really blowing hard. The sustained wind was much harder than 13 mph with what had to be close to 30 mph gusts. We made a last minute run to Pep Boys to get some reflective tape for my bikes (forgot that requirement) then had a nice Salmon dinner that my dad made for us (Thanks Dad!). Although the guys had some 'issues' with the broccoli and cauliflower veggies later in the night, but I won't get into that!
When we got to the start an amazing thing happened! The wind completely stopped ... dead calm! Luck was on my side after all! Right at 7 pm I rolled past the state line sign and my 20 hour time trial began. I've done a lot of really long rides and have learned that if I start slowly and gradually build up my pace I do a lot better overall. With no wind but the promise of it later in the ride I broke my own cardinal rule and started the ride way harder than I should have. I was making great time, but glanced at my heart rate monitor while going up one climb and saw that I was going into the bottom of my lactate threshold zone. What was I thinking? Crap, that was way too hard. On this kind of ride I should never let my heart rate get that high! I immediately backed off wondering how big of an impact that mistake would have on me later.
About 50 miles into the ride, in the middle of nowhere and a good 20 miles before Holbrook, a guy appeared in my headlight, coming out of the bushes on the side of the road and he strolled across the shoulder getting ready to walk across the freeway. Weird... I only planned to stop if nature called relatively urgently and that first call came about 61 miles into the ride, before Holbrook. We did a rapid stop and I don't think I was off the bike for more than a minute or two. Just after Holbrook that 8 mph wind hit. It wasn't brutal, just kind of tedious and occasionally hard. I glanced down a couple times because it felt like someone was holding my saddle so I thought I must have had a flat, but it was just the wind. With the amount of debris in the road I was really lucky not to have any flats along that stretch! Somewhere along there I started noticing jack rabbits running alongside the road next to me. The guys in the van said they saw quite a few following behind me during the night.
We past the Winslow city limit sign 102 miles into the ride at 11:56 pm. I did the first hundred miles in under 5 hours and was a full hour ahead of my schedule! Wow! A little past Winslow I had my first flat. Picked up a couple wires, but Mike did a rapid tube change and I was on my way again pretty quick (after putting on my arm warmers because the temperature had dropped into the 50's). Having a professional bike mechanic along for the ride was definitely in my favor!
I had planned to switch to my Trek 5200 for the climb up to Flagstaff because it has a triple chainring and I was concerned that I might want to use the extra gears, but when we did that flat change Derek told me I was already on the climb and that it was about as hard as it would get, so I kept my 5.9SL to spend more time in my aero position. A quick side note... I was having some problems with wrist pain from my Profile Cobra aerobars, but Mike made a last minute adjustment before the ride and I had no wrist pain and was able to stay in my aero position for a good 80-85% of this ride! Did I mention how great it was to have a pro mechanic on my side? :-)
Anyway... when we stopped for that flat I was now almost two hours ahead of schedule, making excellent time. Unfortunately the wind continued to increase and by the time I got to Flagstaff flags were pointing straight out at me and it was a long slog up the hill. I wound up giving back almost an hour of my extra time getting up and through Flagstaff. Just after Flagstaff I stopped again to put on a vest, glove liners and leg warmers. I didn't look at the time, but Elliot told me later that the temperature had dropped into the high 30's! I should have brought my shoe covers because my feet were frozen! After getting past the Arizona Divide I started a really appreciated descent and was making good time again. The wind also started to taper off, so I made great time to Williams.
The sun came up sometime around 5am, so the guys decided to stop in Williams for a bite to eat (they had to follow right behind me when it was dark, but could leave for a short time during daylight). There was a really nice descent after Williams and I discovered that I could almost get into my hyper-tuck for super fast descending - my hands were blocked by my aerobars, so I couldn't tuck my arms under my body, but the position was good enough to give me some good speed and I decided I probably wouldn't use my 5200 at all since I was getting a lot more advantage from having the aerobars on my 5.9SL than I would have from having extra gears.
At the bottom of that the descent the guys caught me again and we stopped for a quick breakfast of two sausage and egg McMuffins. I also took off the cold weather clothing because it was rapidly heating up. Those breakfast sandwiches turned out to be a mistake! I had been eating ham and lunchables at regular intervals (in addition to a variety of gels and clif bars) and was doing fine from a nutrition standpoint. But after eating those breakfast sandwiches I started to feel bloated and wasn't hungry at all anymore. That's not good when there are still over 130 miles left to ride! About 70 miles or so out of Kingman the wind really started to blow and the temperature started to get extreme. The wind by itself would have been brutal, but combined with temperatures that topped 100 degrees, it was hellish!
I took a nature call break about 260 miles into the ride and I could tell I was starting to suffer now. I hadn't eaten anything since those McDonalds sandwiches and my stomach was definately upset. I wasn't sure if the problem was those sandwiches or too much Accelerade, so I started alternating a bottle of Accelerade with a bottle of Endurolyte laced ice water. I knew I needed to eat something so I had several gels and a clif bar. There are some huge rolling hills going into Kingman and I suffered up each one, but somehow I was able to maintain part of my time advantage from earlier in the ride.
In Kingman I decided to stop at a truck stop to try to go to the bathroom. Partially successful and my stomach felt a little better, but not much. Elliot bought me a Red Bull -- gives you wings you know! ;-) and an ice cream sandwich. I took a very long 22 minute break in Kingman - longer than all of my other stops combined! But I really needed it, I was on the edge.
There were really only two significant climbs left with 30-35 miles to go, but the wind, heat and dramatic temperature change had taken their toll on my body. I had a lot of chest congestion and was starting to have a hard time breathing, wheezing with every breath. I made it to the top of the hill outside Kingman ok and had a nice descent to the turn towards Bullhead City. There was a strong cross/head wind through the valley. The road is long and straight and you can see exactly how far you have to go before hitting the final climb. It was discouraging to say the least. But I kept turning my cranks and before I knew it I was starting to climb again.
That hill was absolutely brutal! I also didn't know how far it was to Davis Dam and I thought I still had a good 15-20 miles to go. About half way up I was seriously thinking about stopping and having the guys pour some cold water over me to cool me off when they drove up next to me and said this was it! The last hill! The record was mine! Only 1 more mile to the top! Encouragement right when I needed it the most! I was probably going 9 or 10 mph up the climb, but it felt slower. The guys pulled up again with the theme song from Rocky blaring out the windows. I was done, wiped out and didn't feel anything like Rocky so I said "That's so wrong!" They pulled up one more time to warn me to take it easy on the descent. Fools! I had nothing left! Take it easy... I didn't plan to turn my pedals again unless I was forced to! There were a couple strong gusts on that last descent that blew me around a little, but not too bad. I made a cautious turn onto the Davis Dam road and hit the final very small climb that I probably could have coasted over if I took the turn a little faster, so I had to turn my cranks a few more times before the last descent down to the Dam.
What an awesome ride! The guys did wind up dumping two gallons of ice water on my head at the finish, but with the 106 degree temperature I really appreciated it! We took a couple pictures at the finish and headed to the hotel in Laughlin. On the way back to Phoenix Elliot pulled the minivan onto the shoulder for a minute to show me what it was like driving on rumble strip at 15-20 mph. I have a whole new appreciation for what they endured!
A final note... This ride was in honor of my mother-in-law, Judy Segol and her fight against Alzheimer's Disease. While I met my goal of setting a new cross state record with an average speed of over 17 mph and my fundraising shaving challenge was met by a single $1,000 donation, I still didn't quite make my goal of raising $5,000-10,000 for the Alzheimer's Association. I appreciate everyone who donated on behalf of my ride, thank you all. Several people told me they would double their donations if I was successful in the attempt and to you I also owe a special, very heartfelt word of thanks. During that last hill when I honestly didn't know how much farther I had to go or if I'd make it to the top and had a feeling the record was slipping through my fingers, that extra incentive did help me and I did think about it. So thank you, thank you, thank you!
If you haven't made a donation, it's not too late! We're getting close to that $5,000 mark, so your donation may be the one that helps me make that fundraising goal and make this ride 100% successful! Information about the Alzheimer's Association and ways to make a donation are listed below. Or, if you see me, I'm more than happy to take a check made out to the Alzheimer's Association that I'll mail in for you. Thanks!
I'm doing this ride in support of the Alzheimer's Association. My mother-in-law has been afflicted by this terrible disease and I know personally how devastating it is to the person who has it and to family and friends. The disease seems to strike randomly and is one of the few diseases remaining where there are very few treatments available to help fight the affects. More research is really needed to help understand more about this disease and to find ways to fight off or eliminate the symptoms.
Click on the "PayPal Donate" button above to make a tax-deductable donation online using Paypal. Paypal will email a receipt that you can print out and retain for your tax records. You can also call 602-528-0545 to donate over the phone (you will need a credit card number and the expiration date). Or, if you would rather send a check, please feel free to make one out to the Alzheimer's Association and reference "AZ Cycling Record" in the memo field. Send the check to:
Alzheimer's Association Desert Southwest Chapter
Alzheimer’s (AHLZ-high-merz) disease is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities. Alzheimer’s disease has no known single cause, but in the last 15 years scientists have learned a great deal about factors that may play a role. Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, new treatments are on the horizon as a result of accelerating insight into the biology of the disease. Research has also shown that effective care and support can improve quality of life for individuals and their caregivers over the course of the disease from diagnosis to the end of life.
The impact of Alzheimer’s on individuals, families and our health care system makes the disease one of our nation’s greatest medical, social and economic challenges.
This information has been copied from the Alzheimer Association website. To learn more about this awful disease and the progress that is being made to find a cure or at least delay progression, please visit their website. All money raised will go directly to the Alzheimer's Association and will not be used to fund this ride.
*The Alzheimer’s Association is not responsible for information or
advice provided by others, including information on sites we link to.
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Copyright © 2006 by Mike Enfield. All rights
Revised: 04/06/09 11:29:47 -0700.