Sunday, March 23, 2008

Century Ride This Weekend

It was a beautiful Spring weekend here in Tucson. Our plan was to ride, as much as we could, the John Farr Double Century Course. To do this, we had to start early--I mean real early, Gentle Readers--5 a.m. start time. This means I have to get myself up at 4 a.m. to rendezvous with Susan, John and Kathy. Above we are entering the boundries of Saguaro Nat'l Park. None of my photos of the bright full moon turned out this crisp morning. The full moon was lovely, and wildflowers were dreaming of another warm day--just hanging around being beautiful in the Nat'l Park--that's the life.

Susan sets a good pace for us this morning. We started at the traditional start of the John Farr Course, which is the McD's parking and ride lot at I-10 and Cortaro Rd intersection.

Our first stop at the Chevron on Sandario Rd. The Tandem is a fast machine and it seems that we're riding quick-time. It takes a good deal of effort for me to keep up, as I try to stay on the wheel of the tamdem for the first 15 miles or so.

Susan, the consummate Randonneuse.

There's still a bit of a chill this morning. I needed to stop for a rest. We are riding fast, and there is a slight incline for several miles going North on Sandario Rd. Border Patrol asks us if we've seen a group of illegals that are somewhere in the area--we haven't.

Dang! That was a fast 35 miles. We stop at the store in Robel's Junction, or the Three Points Store as all of us Randonneurs know it. On the brevets, its the last stop for supplies before a long trek back to the Marana controle, and points thereafter back to Casa Grande. We're starving, and have a quick breakfast of coffee and sausage biscuts. Border Patrol Officers whisk in and out for a quick cup of joe, locals buy beer and cigarettes, and cowboys gas-up their outfits and buy sandwiches.

You gonna eat all that?

Junk food and cycling sometimes really go together.

On the way to Sells, Arizona--US Border random check-point. We are close to the border with Mexico. The Border Agents and Officers are friendly and wave, and they seem like good fellows. Many times their job is more search and resuce. This area, in particular the reservation, is remote and dangerous. Many border crossers have lost their lives and they are lucky to be found by Border Agents. The desert's heat is unforgiving.

"We'll be seeing ya!"

As mentioned, you can perish quickly in the desert should you not be prepared. We have extra everything, mostly water. If you keep moving of course, you stay cool--but if you have a flat or some other problem--and have to stop, you quickly begin to burn in the heat. We need to stop and shed out morning jackets and leg warmers. We're already soaked with sweat.

Kitt Peak Observatory. I can see the telescopes from my kitchen window back in Dog Mtn. I have a good deal of respect for this peak and this part of the reservation. It is a mysterious and spiritual land. The mountain wispers to you, and the plants, wildflowers, and creatures buzzing and crawling and flying--sing songs of reverence.

We press forward. John and Kathy have had a better time with the headwind that has begun to blow down on us. The climb and the wind, and the speed we are trying to keep to is tiring for me, Gentle Reader.

After we get past the road that takes you up to Kitt Peak, there's a descent for about 20 miles or so down to Sells, Arizona. That will be a nice break from the headwind and the climb.

Susan and I climb and ride in the face of the wind, which has grown stronger as we pass wild flowers and saguaro. I observe that althought the wind is bearing down on us, the trees and wildflowers seem to bask motionless. It is as the wind only affects the riders--the spirits gently telling us we should not venture much futher today.

John and Kathy are waiting for us at the top near the pull-out by the cattle guard on the road which leads to Kitt Peak. John says that maybe its time to turn around. We are exactly at 50 miles, and its already 10:30 a.m. We've been gradually slowing down. If we continue on and try to do the double century, we probably won't get back until 2 a.m. in the morning. After a bit of a pause, Susan speaks up, "Okay let's go--" and with that we turn around.

We head back to the Three Points Store again. It seems that the way back was fast, but I couldn't keep up with John and Kathy. We regrouped and filled up with water at the store.

The breeze seemed to always be against us, even as we rode on Sandario Rd North, which is always faster. Here we are at Sandario Rd. and Mile Wide Rd. I needed to take a rest--we've been riding fast and at a high cadnence. Again, I'm trying to keep up and really I'm pushing my limits--it is good training however.

Surprisingly, the traffic on Sandario Rd, the road I like to call "Redneck Road" is light today.

103 miles today.

I'm glad I had good friends to ride with today. We rode fast, and everyone was a good sport when I asked to take a rest stop or slow down a bit--just should have put on some sunscreen.

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