Sunday, February 01, 2009

RBA Arizona Randonneurs

Susan riding in Saguaro National Park, on the 300 KM Brevet Course.

As the RBA for Arizona Randonneurs, Susan is the brevet official for our rides. Most people do not know, but she pre-rides the course to make sure the cue sheet and places like stores and places for water are available for riders. But she also pre-rides so she can get credit for the brevets--and she does it solo with no support or bag drop, etc.

Riding a 300 km, or almost 200 miles, by yourself--can be daunting, but Susan does the entire series this way. Often she's already completed many brevets in Utah or New Mexico prior to running the Arizona Brevets.

I live on the course, and about half way through as she passes my house, I join her--to give her company and support--and to ride with her those long hours in the dark. It gives me a chance to go over the route for myself, and make sure my bike and my gear are set for a 300 and the night riding we'll be doing.

The toughest part of the ride will be to the top of the front side of Gates Pass. This is the old mule train road built by Tom Gates back in the 1890s. It is beautiful and breath taking country in more ways than one!

When you reach the top, as Susan and I have done this afternoon, you have 100 miles under your legs. The rest of brevet is smooth sailing. Once you're out of the Nat'l Park, you prepare for the flat, long ride back to the start at Casa Grande.

Saguaro Nat'l Park is one of the most beautiful places on this Earth, Gentle Readers of This Blog. Normally I'm her very early in the morning to beat the heat, the tourists, and get to our breakfast place--then home before everyone wakes up. This is one of those time when I'm here in the Park and the sun is setting on the mountains and the saguaro!

I ponder the wonder of it all--Susan records her controle times.

Gentler Readers--this was the show stopper. Just about out of the Park I have blow-out! It's one of those four inch wood screws right through the tire. I boot the tire with a dollar bill and hope it holds.

It holds until about the Marana controle at the Circle K. I ride with Susan through the dark and we get through some of the more busy and narrow sections of the course--where there's not much but darkness, starlight and fields of cotton. In the little town of old Marana--the tire finally gives out.

I tell Susan that she's going to have to go on without me. I'll try to see if I can fix the tire somehow, and then I'll try to catch up with her. But even in the darkness, with a dim lamp from a nearby farm equipment barn, I can see the tire is beyond repair.

I was very lucky this time, mes amis--a quick call on my cell and it just so happens that Little Egypt was on her way back from Phoenix. She was only a few minutes away--she rescued me as she was right by the exit where the Marana Contole is located.

Susan was on her own again for the last fifty miles back to Casa Grande. She made it, I'm happy to report, but it was later than she had expected. My flat slowed her down, but she was a good sport about it--and we made quick work of fixing things up when the mishap did occur. Had I been by myself, and had it been dark--and cold--I know I would have had a hard time keeping my wits!

I'm glad I was able to ride and see the park and write to you about this adventure.

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