263 miles round trip.
Sorry, but the camera didn't work, so my prose will have to suffice, Gentle Readers...
This ride is the brain child of my friend Steve--a seasoned Randonneur, and two-time veteran of Paris-Brest-Paris, and other countless brevets... If you ever want to ride the long ride, you want Steve in your pace line. So here's my shout-out to Steve--Yo, Steve--Allure Libre, mon ami!
4 am Marana
Dogs freak out
Packed, and ready to roll--Callie, my dog, and Shasta, my neighbor's dog that I'm watching while they're away, can feel the excitement--or something. So they're outside and in the garage with me. My hope is they'll run around, get some exercise, and leave me to finish getting ready. One of my other neighbors appears, and starts up his motorcylce--at 4:30 am (Kind of odd actually) Callie and Shasta freak out and bark and growl and chase him as he speeds off. Great. I've woken up the whole block...
Steve arrives in the Mystery Van
Callie likes Steve--she barks--Shasta starts barking. It's more of a, "Hey Steve is here!" bark, and pretty loud... So whoever got woken up, went back to sleep--is now awake again.
Bev bids us farewell
5 am Marana
We roll out
Going down Tangerine to the Frontage Rd, we can ride about 28 to 30 mph for 6 miles. That's pretty cool (enjoi while we can) and there on the Frontage Rd, just as we turn to head North, Picacho Peak is visable about 27 miles in the distance. About 13 miles past the landmark will be breakfast...
Wish I had the camera. At sunrise, Picacho Peak is awesome, as are the Picacho Mts. Father Kino noted Picacho Peak when he first arrived in the area in 1775. I've also learned that near the Dairy Queen was the stagecoach stop in the 1870s. They went through Picacho Pass and turned left (West) and went on to San Francisco. (image borrowed from the web)
Welcome to Eloy -- Evil Eloy
There's an old legend about Eloy that goes like this: A guy gets off the train and takes one look at this shit hole and says, "Eloi! Eloi!" "Eloi" is supposedly the Spanish pronunciation of the biblical quotation, "Eli, Eli, Jama sabachthani?" meaning, "God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Somewhere leaving Eloy on the way to CG, I ran over something sharp in the road and my rear tire blew. If you've been reading the blog this summer, you know my luck with blow-outs... To my dismay the rear tire is gashed. We are about 40 miles into our 130 mile leg. My brand new Continental set of tires I just bought($$$)--So now the rear tire is crap.
Eloy is an evil place. We change the tire. WHAM. The tire blows again... "Eloi! Eloi!" Okay, this time we use the dollar bill trick to keep the tube and tire in place. Keeping our spirts high, we decide we'll make it to breakfast and find a bike shop open--I'll buy a new tire and we'll get some more tubes. As we're leaving, I hit my head on the "Welcome to Eloy" sign. We had been using it for shade while we fixed the my tire--ouch! It hurt.
When we reach Casa Grande, I see a UPS guy getting gas at a service station. He gives us directions to the bike shop, and the I-Hop, and the strip club--not really, just playing!
Steve and I decide the tire will make it to Scottsdale, but we'll buy extra tubes. Steve says he'll loan me a tire for the return trip back to chez Marana. Really I think we just want to get rolling. The bike shop guys know Susan Plonsky, and they know we're the sick long-distance riders--they give us directions to get us up the road to where we'll catch the Casa Grande Century course, and on to Chandler, AZ.
Alexander John Chandler, 1859-1950, born in Canada--he was a veterinarian when he arrived in Arizona Territory. Later he had a large farm and citrus groves--no relation to my people. We ride the Casa Grande Century course on Hwy 87 for a good while--and we are riding strong and making good time. Other cyclists are out enjoying the cool morning. This part of Hwy 87 is probably the most scenic of our ride. Open desert, lots of giant saguaros, and rugged moutains in the distance. Traffic is light, and people driving don't seem to be in hurry.
Before long, I begin to recognize Chandler--we're getting into what used to be farm country. Developments are underway with nice homes and shopping malls--Circle K's begin to appear. It is worth noting that its late morning or going on very early afternoon--Friday--but as we buy ice and get water, etc, mexican laborers and guys like that are buying cases of cheap beer. Hopefully we won't meet up with them later on the road.
My moral is boosted by arriving in Chandler, but we still have a long way to go. I'm still confused about time and distance in the Pheonix area because I really don't know that much about it. South Mtn becomes a visable landmark.
100 Degrees +
I have one more flat tire before we start to push through Guadalupe and then Tempe. I must tell you Gentle Reader, that although we are riding fast, averaging between 16 and 19 mph, the flats have slowed us--and the heat is beating us down. We have to stop when we can and get ice and water. Steve's call to Kim on the cell let's us know that the temp is 106. We push through Pheonix proper, stop at Taco Bell because we're starving, and start making a gradual climb through to Scottsdale. ASU and Tempe are beautiful, but its so hot! We're also manuvering through early afternoon Friday traffic.
Camelback Mtn is our next landmark. We're about 20 to 25 miles from Steve's house--its due North of us. We go thru Papago Park, and then thru some pretty posh Scottsdale neighborhoods. Check out below, mes amis!
I'm leaving out stuff because I only have one thing on my mind.
We make it to Scottsdale, and Kim is getting dinner ready. After a quick shower, I'm starved! Dinner is the best!
Back to Marana
After a few more glasses of Italian wine, and a few more beers--we pack up our gear so we can be ready to roll at 3 a.m.
3 a.m. in Scottsdale--
The road is wide open for us. All the traffic that we had to drag ourselves through is now gone, and we fly down to Tempe to our favorite I-Hop. There is no one out, say a few party-goes returning back to Mommie and Daddy's house. Its clear, cool, and the only sounds are spinning wheels, a few yawns, farts--and my stomache grumbling. Geez, after all I ate and drank you think I wouldn't be starving--but I am.
I-Hop staff is wide awake and professional. The waitresses do a good job dealing with a few drunk college boys... My omelette is the size of an SUV, by the way.
We have made good time, riding fast, getting good service--before I know it, we are on the outskirts of Chandler--a quick look over my shoulder, and I can see the lights on South Mtn. It's like the 4th of July.
We are riding at a good clip, and by 9 - 9:30, we are in Casa Grande. But I think the funk is getting to me, because at our stop for water and ice--it takes us/me 30 minutes to get it together to get back on the road. Because we're tired, and now because of the heat, our stops will become frequent and time-consuming. We're gonna work on this so as to cut our time down. I've thought about driving out on the course for next years brevets and stashing stuff... As we get through Eloy, thank goodness, there seems to be only one place to stop and get some shade and some rest. Its an old foundation of a building by the side of the road. The trees have shaded the slab and its still cool from the eveing. Steve and I both lie down, take off our shoes, and rest--but after a few minutes, I feel myself falling into a very deep sleep. But we got to get out of there and keep rolling--but I wouldn't have caught myself, I believe the both of us could have falling asleep for a very long time. The longer we take getting home, the hotter it will get.
As we're getting our asses in gear, two cyclists roll by and wave. After a few miles on the frontage road, they are in sight. We catch up to them and have a friendly chat. They are two brothers from Chandler, Arizona. One of the brothers has been living on the East Coast and is home for a visit. They are both eager to be out riding. They think our ride has been "Sweet" and they know our course and think that it is way cool that we left at 3 a.m. They are on their way to Tucson to meet friends and party. I hope they'll get a ride back. It is going to be hot, and although the guys look fit, they havn't ridden in awhile... Pichaco Peak looms ahead about 6 miles in front of us. We'll stop at DQ for lunch. We move on and quickly drop the brothers, as we are riding strong and fast.
After a quick burger, ice and water in the bottles, we step outside to mount the bikes--it is noticably hot--and I mean like over 100 hot. Holy Shit but we are going to fry, and we know it. But we only have about 27 more miles. They will be unforgiving. We are riding strong, and soon I see the Marana Circle K a few miles ahead--which is good because I have no water left.
We have a six mile climb up Tangerine Rd to the finish. We road about 12 miles an hour, which is a good pace, but soon, I'm sweating so much that I'm wiping sweat out of my eyes and I can't see. I have to remove my helmet for the climb, just so I can better wipe the sweat off my forehead. In the couse of this six miles, Steve and I are both soaking wet.
Made it. And I still feel strong! But I need a shave.