Margaret leads the paceline, followed by Jim--both from the Great State of Texas.
I was fortunate to ride with two strong Texans from El Paso, Jan from Tucson, Dave Glasgow, also from Tucson, and legendary Olympian, Mike Allen of Wilcox, Arizona.
The goal of this brevet was to finish strong, make sure my bike was set for the longer brevets—and then just relax and enjoy the ride. I also hoped that I would find people to ride with. Steve Star of the Blog was not riding this one with me. I mostly relied on his randonneuring skills to get us through the tough brevets—and there were many, Gentle Readers.
The best thing I did was re-format the cue sheet with print large enough that I could actually read while riding. This helped in a fast group of cyclists. In the past, there was always Steve to keep an eye on the cue sheet. When there’s a rider doing that, everyone else can relax. This time I found myself with the cue sheet and everyone relying on me to keep us on course.
The first loop goes out to the Nat’l Monument. By the time I reached that first control, I was riding solid with Jan from Tucson, Jim and Margaret from Texas, and Mike Allen. At the Ruins, we picked up Dave Glasgow—not hard to miss in his Furnace Creek 508 attire.
Yours and Jan, out on Indian 15--a scenic hwy on the reservation.
Glasgow and Mike Allen really picked up the pace and soon we found ourselves back in Casa Grande, and ready to head out to the reservation. On this particular brevet, there’s always a strong headwind going out—brutal in some years—and then at the lonely controle at mile 88, riders turn around and get an incredible tail wind for the trip home. I promised my new pals we’d easily head back at 22—24 mph.
I could not sustain the speed Glasgow and Mike Allen were cutting into the wind heading out to the reservation to that controle—so with a bit of persuasion, I convinced the others in my group to let them go and we’d stay together and take turns pulling through the headwind. And it was agreed, and soon the Olympian and Leprechaun pulled away.
The headwind comes from the Southwest today...
You can almost guarantee that you will reach the controle running on fumes. There will be 30 miles of constant headwind to drain all your energy. If not for Jan, Margaret, and Jim, I would have not made this brevet--I was already tired and just fighting off leg cramps. Only Susan's wraps saved me from DNF!
The fast people were coming back all smiles, and we wished them well. My hope is that they saved a few wraps for me! Actually not just a few, but several.
We made it. I felt lucky to be at the RBA's truck--I got a scolding for sitting on the RBA's cooler filled with the iced-down coke--no time to sit! Eat and get going, she says! Of course she's right. I stuff wraps, trail mix, and chips into my back pockets and we all jump in the saddle and take off to finish.
Back in 2004, when we did this 200 for the first time, the mileage worked out to where Susan pulled in to set up the controle next to a large cow carcass. It most likely got hit by a car. A pack of reservation dogs were aggressively munching away as we pulled up, kind of like those wildlife shows you see on TV where the lions or the hyenas are ripping apart a kill.
It seems we will just get home and beat the rain!
We took turns pulling and yes I do believe at some point on the way back we reached 23 and 24 mph with the tailwind helping us along. But as I warned, near the end in the late afternoon, the wind shifted and the tailwind disappeared. Eventually it was hard to keep that fast spin. Clouds came across the desert with a faint hint of rain. We would have 15 miles of tough going to get off the rez and back to the bike shop.
Back into town, we checked the que sheet one last time, and eased our way the last few miles to the finish.
For me, I'm just glad I finished. I'm not the fastest rider and headwinds tire me out quickly. Riding with stronger people like Jim and Margaret made me push hard. They were good sports when I asked that we slow down the pace so I could rest and not get dropped.