Sunday, January 29, 2006

Winkelman in View. O! The Joy!

(Click on the picture to see larger view of Steve at the Shrine of Our Lady of Randonneurs)

When Lewis and Clark were on the Voyage of Discovery back in '04 (That's 1804), Lewis was writing in his journal that the Pacific was close. Indians they saw on the Columbia River were wearing British waist coats they had traded, and caps British sailors usually wore. When Lewis did see the ocean a few days later, he wrote, "Ocean in View. O! The Joy!" Well mes amis, you can imagine how Steve and Yours felt with Winkelman quickly coming up to greet us!

Our Voyage of Discovery begins in Catalina. Claire's is open. The plan is to have breakfast while the sun warms up the road. Catalina is a bit higher in elevation than Tucson--its freezing outside by the way.

So we're in the Cafe and the local Old Farts and Ranchers--guys who had cattle before all the land speculators came--hack, laugh, bellow, wheeze and cough. They tease one of the waitresses because she's taking "Orgimick Chemistry" there at the University.

Mystery Van with all our stuff.

Gentle Readers, explitives can only describe how cold it is. In fact this is one of the coldest times I can remember going out on the bike. It is January though... We are in the mountians... And we will be climbing up into the mountains... Hmm. I guess next time I should think about someplace warmer.

Claire's was good. Steve had too much coffee--way too much coffee. Anyway, if there's anything that goes with Randonneering in Arizona, its cattle guards. This butt-ugly cattle guard is the most dangerous I've ever encountered. It will be a short ride if Steve falls and breaks something.

While Steve surveyed the Tortolita Mts to the West, I rode up a few miles to the entrance of Bioshpere 2. I took this picture of what looks like old Hwy 77 up to Oracle. I'm afraid that its so cold my camera's not working properly. But I was able to get this shot and a few more.

Ready for the climb to Oracle. That'll warm us up.

The 13 mile ride up to Oracle is cold, mes amis. As we climb, all the cold weather clothes keep us warm, but make us sweat. You have to be sure and drink all the time or you can get dehydrated pretty fast.

In Oracle I get a flat. I have to pull the thorn out of my tire with tweezers. Flat tires can slow you down because it takes a few minutes to sort everyting out. Even with two people working together to get back on the road, it still takes time. If you try to hurry you can screw up and have a flat in another mile. Anyway, best to have a flat on the up hill--before a speedy down hill--umm, if you get a flat on the way down to Mammoth, at the speeds we went--well--you would probably not live to tell the tale. You would have to settle for your buddies telling the tale.

And the downhill ride was great, and I felt pretty comfortable going 30 to 35 mph for 12 to 15 miles to Mammoth. So we got to Mammoth and stopped at Circle K. Just got a little water to make sure everything was filled up--since I'd not been futher than the Circle K, I didn't want any surprises.

Just past the Circle K outside of Mammoth, I saw this shrine at the base of the Catholic Church of the Holy Sister of Sacrament-- or something like that. So we paid our respects, hoping for safety, good roads, and a good place to eat in Winkelman

Our prayers answered, mes amis!

20 miles to Winkelman so says the road signs. And it is sweet because we are gradually descending. The road is pretty smooth, and we're riding 17-19 mph. This is great but of course we know it will suck coming back. Climb climb climb--climb some more. O well, enjoy the road and the wind and sun and freedom you feel on the bike. Home jobs mundane Saturday f_ckin chores and shopping malls are many many miles away.

4 or 5 milse out, we see two huge smokestacks down in the valley below. "Must be Winkelman." I say. "Must be." says Steve. By now I am starving!

So we arrive in mining town of Winkelman, and before you can blink an eye, you're in the mining town of Hayden--and just as you are about to leave Hayden--Hayden is another blink, you come upon the two choices for food. Rosa's Mexican Resturant, or Los Dos Amigos. You can guess which one we chose--If you said the one with the least amount of bullet holes in their sign, you guesed right! Only two bullet holes in Los Dos Amigos! And we liked the sound of it.

We were made to feel most welcome and had a good hot lunch. Our waitress said the building didn't have any heat, so she and the cook were staying warm over by the stove. We didn't mind. I was just glad to have a seat and eat some pretty good Mexican food. I would definintly go back and eat there again.

Kind of weird thinking about it as I write this-- but how lucky can you be to have a fast descent, find a place to chow down with your name on it, and a strong tailwind on the return! Yes Gentle Readers, we had an awesome tail wind that got us back to Mammoth in no time. We were going back just about as fast as we came down. Our Lady of Randonneurs must have heard our prayers!

What can I tell you about the return trip from Mammoth up to Oracle? It was a cold and windy long-haul. The sun was out but is was not a warm sun. Still, we had to put on sunscreen. And we had to wear our warmers--that makes you sweat. But the miles melted away and the worst was over when we finally reached Oracle. It was exhausting.

A quick 12 mile descent back to Claire's and the Mystery Van--98 miles later and we are back.
I've already done 3 century rides in January--am I crazy or what? This ride was just a little tougher than most because it was so cold.

The 300 km in February 11th. See you there!


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ride Report, or Back in the Saddle

Yes I'm back in the saddle again. My commute this morning, although not the long route, was cold but brisk--just the way I like it. Well, the first 1/4 mile was freezing and I was wondering what the Hell I was doing--why wasn't I just driving in like the rest of the mob?

Then I remembered the last few weeks were traffic has been unbearably slow. Its because of the Snow Birds--what we used to call Blue Hairs back in Oklahoma. Its lighter longer in the evenings which will make my long commute home better. I can see, motorists can see me, and I can ride faster.

This weekend Steve Tartar and Yours have planed an epic ride to Winkelman--which will be about 25 or 30 miles past Mammoth. Mammoth (click to see blog entry) was a fun ride back then, so now to Winkelman. To save about 40 miles I believe we will leave from Claire's Cafe. This of course means we will have to have a hearty breakfast before we start the climb to Oracle. Mammoth will have a fast winding downhill with some crosswinds. I hope its not too cold.

I checked in with Gerry Goode and he's given me the particulars to Winkelman, including a place to have lunch. We're leaving from Claire's because if we try to go from my place to Winkelman, we'll run out of daylight on the return. And if we leave real early its just too cold. On the brevets we can drop our warm gear at the controles. But I hate to carry all that suff with us because we have a pretty major climb from Mammoth back up to Oracle.

Steve and I are preparing mentally and physically for the 300 kilometer February 11th. I'll do some long commutes into work to get the bike adjusted and my butt ready for the long haul. Last year it rained for the whole 16 hours we were riding. I suppose I'll be telling about that one for a long time.

Allure Libre!

Monday, January 23, 2006

My back is out, and, My gas grill is on fire

Well, Gentle Readers, since the new year I've done two centuries. Not bad really. But I am reporting that my back is shot and I finally dragged myself into the chiropractor for some relief.

Its the old horseback riding mishap from years ago that has me down. When I was a few years younger--what seems another life--I had two horses. I loved them dearly, and while going to school in South Dakota, rode them on a pretty regular basis. I became an accomplished rider, and had a few spills here and there, but had a fall and really messed up my lower back. Nowadays when I do something that's just a little to much, like try to lift something too heavy, or twist the wrong way--zing--the back goes and the pain is draining.

I took today off as the doctor told me to move around and twist and bend to stay loose. I got the gas grill ready and played fetch with Callie, my dog. I was just getting the steaks for dinner ready when I noticed the smoke--like something was burning. It has been kind of breezy the last few days, and well the fuckin thing was on fire--the grease and stuff that slowly accumulates on the grill caught fire. So I turned on the hose and sprayed a little water on the grill and it went out. Of course when it went out there was this huge cloud of smoke that I'm sure everyone in Dog Mtn could have seen.

I called Bev on her cell to tell her that the grill burned up. So she suggested I go over the neighbors (they're out of town and we are watching their house) and use their brand new grill. I did but the the steaks didn't come out very good--the dog got most of the steak and she's happily sleeping on the couch as I write this.

Oh yeah, Thursday night the refrigerator went out and I had to haul all our food to the nieghbor's house and put in their fridge (that included those steaks mentioned above) oh and my nieghbor had to go to Georgia all of the sudden and he asked me to take down his Christmas tree lights on his roof so he wouldn't get a $250 fine from the Dog Mtn Home Owner's Assoc.

My nieghbor, also named Bruce, and my self, put up the lights back in November. It was a two man job then, and taking them down was also a two man job--well you might guess how I probably threw out my back--climbing up and down on the roof of this huge house in a cold evening wind. Its a wonder I didn't fall off the roof and break my neck. But these things have to be done, mes amis!

So I spent Friday waiting for the refrigerator repair man to show, and luckily he had the part that went bad. So after mopping the floor--again--and bringing back the food from the nieghbors, I think I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich for dinner.

If you're still reading this crap you will realize that I don't have a bourgeois life style where I can just go for joy rides on expensive bicycles wearing my expensive and swank roadie clothes--there's always shit I have to deal with and if I'm lucky I get to go out and ride.

Well, next post I will have adventurs and photos so stay tuned!


Saturday, January 14, 2006

200 Km Brevet

C'est moi, mes amis! A la finis!

This was a tough one, mes amis--43 miles of headwind to the turn-around controle where lunch awaited. Steve and I rode strong, and surged remarkably far despite gusty winds. I had to hang on Steve's wheel the last few miles to the lunch stop because I seemed to have some kind of personal vendetta with the Forces of Nature today. I was not going to let the head wind break me--but I was hurting. The controle with food, water, and snacks was just in the nick of time!

The first part of the ride was uneventful but fun because everybody was feeling relaxed. John Heller, Eric Ewing, Paul Layton and Dave Peashock--and others--road the first 15 miles or so at a casual friendly pace. As people got warmed up and all salutations, gossip and stories of other rides got exchanged--things played out.

Paul and another recumbent bike fellow found their groove and moved on up. I could see Paul's new tail light for many miles until he either turned it off or was too far ahead.

Steve got his groove and was riding strong-- and I followed. We were moving right along and Dave Peashock stayed with us until the first controle. At the first controle I noticed one of the stronger riders from Phoenix just leaving the controle as we pulled in.

Eric and John were pulling a friend of their's along as it was her first brevet and she's never ridden over 70 miles. Well I got it in my mind to catch the woman from Phoenix and maybe get a pace-line going. The Phoenix people do ride strong. It took some time but right around Coolidge we caught up with her, but with our momentum to catch her we rolled past and dropped her after a mile. I bet she started out too fast with the really really fast guys like Sandiway, and blew out early. That's something you can't do in randonneering. But she probably gave it her best shot.

At the next controle, which was back at the starting point, we shed out warm clothes, filled up our water bottles, and grabbed our Camelbaks. We had to ride 43 miles West on Indian 15 to the lunch stop, and then turn around for the finish.

The Headwind was brutal Gentle Readers. Relentless is a word for it--and we slugged it out with the road, mile after mile. And really, we were riding strong--14 to 15 mph whereas last year, we would have only been able go 12--or even less. It was a headwind like I had in Cochise; a storm front is moving in the clouds and you can smell the rain. It is a lovely smell, but it rides that wind and that wind will kick your butt!

Out on Indian 15, I had seen mustangs. They're probably not mustangs but feral horses--which means that once they were domesticated, you know standing around endlessly in a stall or ram-shackle corral--but now they're free and running with the herd and they can't be re-captured. I saw about twenty of them peering down at us uneasily from a high ridge. They looked strong and defiant.

Miles ahead we see a group of riders and we start to make our way to them. Steve asks me if we should try to ride with them. They were the young, fit, looking guys at the bike shop controle--kind of cockey but you know how young dudes can be; they think they're invincible. Sooner than we thought, Steve and I were right there on their wheels. We said hello and they were all smiles--except one of the lads was in trouble--slouched over and bearly able to keep his head up. So it seemed the two would do their best to pull the suffering one to the controle.

Gentle Readers, I must tell you that I have been that fellow being pulled in by his friends--in fact I was near to the same condition about five miles from the controle. I needed water and food. I was running out of power--and the head wind was even stronger! Now we began to see other rides on their way back, and this was a good sign because it meant we were going to make it. And of course the other riders were flying because now they had the tailwind!

Steve was holding up fingers. "Four miles!" "Three miles!" "Hang on, Dude--two miles!" At last--Susan's truck! Food! I could write a book about the food, so I will say I stuffed as much of it in face as I could--then stuffed my pockets full of whatever else I could carry. Cookies, chips, power bars, granola bars, Double Stuffed Oreos if you can believe it! Two bananas...

Susan a la controle.

A tailwind like the one we had is like a dream. We rode for 47 minutes at speeds of 22 to 25 mph. We rode hard as we could, and sometimes we road at 27 to 30 mph. To gain back my strenght, I continuously re-hydrated and nibbled every morsal of food I had--until it was all gone--because I knew what would no doubt happen--and it did happen, Gentle Readers--

The last 12 miles, by Steve's account, was the distance we rode--once again--into a brutal headwind. The wind shifted as we made our approach back into Casa Grande. I began to lose heart because we had been riding so strong, and I wanted to blow away our time on the 200 km from last year. It looked like we would just have to settle for finishing, which we did, about 4:20 pm in the afternoon.

Dave Peashock at the finish of the 200 Km Brevet.

Steve had to leave and get back to Scottsdale. I decided to wait for For John, Eric, and Dave--and it was about an hour before the Phoenix woman showed up. Half hour later Eric and John showed up, and they had done the smart thing and stopped by Dairy Queen to get ice cream before coming into the finish--a tradition I think I'd like to follow!

Eric and John, Mr. D and Mr. Q

So we hung out and talked and ate some more sandwhiches left overs from the lunch stop--and cookies, and muffins! and more sandwhiches! And after a while I started feeling good about my ride and everything, knowing that no matter what, I can do this. Always will be the people faster and ahead of you. And you will be faster and stronger than others. But in the end we all made it.

Yours with Susan Plonsky, aka, French Toast

Allure Libre ! Viva les Rondonneurs!

Monday, January 09, 2006

French Toast, Steak Tartar, and The Bandit

We did the Casa Grande Century this last Sunday, and it was fun--got to have time to eat at Denny's before the ride started. We took the lead from our RBA and had French Toast--Later, our RBA pulled the pace line for miles, and we said it must be that French Toast she had for breakfast! So Steve and I gave her the new handle, "French Toast"

My bike fits neatly into the back of 22X

Susan, our Beloved RBA, had ridden a 200 Km the day before.

The first ride of 2006, and Steve's third time to ride the Casa Grande Century.

Well, right away we jumped on a pack and rode in different pacelines. There were about 200 people spread out on the road--but it was fun to ride in a pack, then move up to a faster pack, and kind of leap-frog our way up. Everyone was friendly and we talked to many people. These GABA Phoenix guys were different from the GABA Tucson fellows--GAY Buh Tucson guys seem to be old and grumpy--Whereas the Phoenix people were all a mixture of young and old. Even women road--and they were fit and they road fast! Everybody was enjoying themselves.

At the first controle they had food and water. Steve and I stuffed our pokets and kept going, as we're used to fast five-minute stops on brevets. Most people however stopped and talked to friends and visited. Some people turned around or went a different route to do the metric century. We had been riding in a paceline with three young women that pulled our group right along--they turned off to do the metric century and they looked strong. As we were leaving, I over-heard one of the girl's boyfriend saying to another guy, "Holy shit, she's killing us..."

Steve and I pushed on--and most of the time we had a tough headwind... We meet up with French Toast and she pulled and pulled and pulled! Dang! Susan has a coach--a virtual coach--a thing she does on the web--he calls her sometimes, hmmm--but she will not give up any coaching secrets! Steve and Susan kept talking about food, and the matter of SteakTartar came up over and over again. All I really heard is that it's illegal, what ever the hell it is!

We actually pulled in a few stragglers thru Eloy and on to the big lunch in Casa Grande! Gentle Readers, you must know that the ride cost $20 to enter, and after December 31st, the ride amount was up to $30. Well I decided I would not pay--and ride as a Bandit. I didn't get the commerative Casa Grande socks--Bummer! But I did go to the lunch and they had a ton of food so really I didn't feel too guilty.

Peanut Butter and chocolate cake--Susan's super-secret training formula revealed!

What can I say, without Susan to pull, Steve and Yours struggled through the head wind, and it got stronger the last 17 miles of State Route 87 back to Chandler. But actually we were riding pretty strong ourselves, a far cry from last time I was on this road. That was Paul Layton's brevet this last September... O! I will not forget that ride for as long a I live! We affectionately call the the Hunt Hwy the Grunt Hwy. We were glad to be off 87. Only a few miles to go, and suddenly no head wind!

We got stuck at a light on Grunt Hwy, and a pack of riders came up behind us. We started out, but they were going so slow--I wanted to be done, mes amis! We got up to the front and broke away and just hauled ass--every light to the finish was green for us and we road like out pants were on fire! I know those guys behind us hit every light and had to wait!

Yours at the end of the ride. We did the 100 miles in just over 6 hours--that is pretty darn fast for Steak Tartar and The Bandit, and considering the headwind. There is no doubt in my mind that riding in a paceline is the way to go, mes amis. And, what the Hell, over Christams I ate and drank to much and put on a few pounds--but this will quickly burn away.

Just so glad I'm back in the saddle and feeling strong after several weeks off!