Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cochise Classic 2007

At the finish of the Cochise County Cycling Classic, Douglas, Arizona.
Joan, Kathy, John, Larry, and Yours.

The race starts at 2 a.m. Saturday morning, mes amis. We've driven down from Tucson, set up our stuff, and then gone to the YMCA to pick up our ride packets. At the pre-ride dinner, we see old friends, and eat a big spagetti dinner while Richard and Andy of PBAA go over a few details of the race. Waiting in line for dinner, I see and say hello to Mike Enfield--Mike, a strong brevet rider, is riding the 157 mile event.

We all get to bed by 8 p.m. and rendezvous at 1:20 a.m. to head to the startline in downtown Douglas. Needless to say, I was nervous and didn't sleep too well--

The start is always exciting, as there are about 20 riders instead of 8,000 for El Tour de Tucson.

Everyone is in good spirits, and the Star Spangled Banner is played live by a real bugler. That was cool. Richard DeBerdanias has a few words about living in a free country and how we can do ride like this, as soldiers--like my wife Bev deployed in Afghanistan--protect that freedom.
If she knew I was down in Douglas, however, I'm sure she'd be kind of pissed off--why wasn't I painting the kitchen or doing yardwork this weekend?

What happens at Cochise, stays in Cochise--that's what I say!

Allure Libre!

Cochise starts at 2 a.m. Saturday morning, so there's a good deal of riding in the dark. Kathy and John are about 15 - 20 miles into the ride, outside of Douglas, on the way to Bisbee.

The first check-point is in Benson, Arizona. John and Kathy have arrived at 7 a.m. and have a quick bite to eat. They are soon on thier way, and I'm happy to say that the stop was only eight minutes!

You still have to be very careful while on this ride. Kathy didn't look when she bolted out to make the turn to I-10, and a semi was coming down the street. Luckily he saw her and got out of the way.

Dave Glasgow was struck by a taxi back in August, and is making a strong recovery. He's been asked to be the 252 mile race marshall. John and Kathy are numbers 31 and 32 respectively.

On the way to I-10... This part of the course is the most dangerous. What's been made more difficult is that we've been told that we cannot, under any circumstances, as support vehicles, stop on I-10--or the Cochise Classic will be cancelled--indefinitly.

And I will tell you now that the Sherriff's Dept did shadow the entire course, and each rider and crew the whole time we were riding.

We've had a tail wind all day. Here we are at the Texas Canyon rest stop. John and Kathy are in much better shape than I was at this point. Again, Larry and I do our job as crew members and the riders are on their way.

This is the rest stop right before crossing over into New Mexico.

A girl I met at the rest stop! Hey, like those boots, Baybee!

Ride so far has been good. Kathy reported that a semi hauling a wide load--a house--passed very close, and just over her head.

But we know the ride will start when we cross over the New Mexico State Line and turn South back to Douglas. The tailwinds that have made the ride good so far, will now be headwinds--headwinds of 35 to 40 mph, Gentle Readers of This Blog.

Larry and I continue on to the Check Point in Road Forks.

Kathy rides in and reports that John has had a flat tire. I stay with Kathy while Larry drives up to meet John, who as been able to get down to the exit ramp. Larry switches out wheels, and soon John is coming down the road to meet us at the Check-Point. We lost very little time at this un-planned stop. You will notice that we put Dave Glasgow's speakers on the top of the truck, and we've got them hooked up to John's CD Player. At this point we can follow behind the riders--Beck, ABBA, Hank Williams Jr. and many more tunes keep the mood funky!
New Mexico, on Hwy 80--the true test of the riders begins.

80 miles to the finish, mes amis. Headwinds here are as stated before, 35 mph.
We will ride through Apache lands--where Cochise and Geronimo held out against the U.S. Army. Its remote out here, and beautful. Sadly, the Apache are no more--they are on a reservation far removed from this area.
John riding against the headwind, heading South to Douglas and the finish.
Senic Hwy 80.

Still riding strong!

Douglas is on the other side of the range, then Mexico.

John rode Cochise last year. This year he is 20 pounds lighter and much stronger. He's trained all year, and we've trained all summer together as well. He has been a good friend, and an inspiration! Go John!
Headwinds are slowing all the riders down. Everyone is tired but pushes on.

When I rode in 2005, this is where the rain and hail thrashed me! I was almost struck by lightening several times. There were a few close calls for other riders behind me--too close, and a few dropped out so as not to risk getting killed. I was lucky I didn't buy the farm out here on this road, mes amis.

Kathy and John are okay--its tough out there for sure, but they are riding strong!
Kathy's first time to ride Cochise. She is very strong and has trained relentlessly for this day.

John riding strong and staying in high spirits even against the headwind.

Even though they are exhausted, there's 30 miles to go--still with steep climbs and fast downhills in total darkness. Larry and I follow in the SAG vehicle. I keep the tunes up-beat and rolling out.

We finish.

Our mentor, Dave Glasgow--who we know will ride once more.


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