Sunday, February 14, 2010

Flying Tigers

Alan and I just past the Town of Oracle, ready to descend into the town of Mammoth, AZ.

We didn’t have a New Year’s Day Ride back in January this year—but why not a Chinese New Year’s Day Ride? And a super ride to boot! Alan invites me to ride with him to Mammoth, Arizona—an old mining town about 45 miles North East of Tucson. This will be a training ride for us for the 300 KM Brevet the end of the month. Since it’s the Year of the Tiger, and I’m a Tiger according to the Chinese lunar calendar—This should be a good vibe. And of course it was, Gentle Readers of This Blog.

The ride to Mammoth is on Hwy 77, which is Oracle Rd through Tucson and then the Town of Oro Valley, and then up to the Town of Oracle. At the top right where the town lies, Hwy 77 begins its long descent, at a 7% grade. Mes amis, you can fly down the road at high speeds for almost 18 miles uninterrupted—what a blast.

Oh yeah, I rode with my Schmidt generator hub--some drag but I think I did okay with it and all the climbing.

It was still cold for us in the morning but we did the climb to Oracle, and then began the downhill leg. I wish I could tell you it was fast, but we did have a bit of a headwind on the way—still, I reached 35 mph and maintained that speed for many miles. Alan soared ahead, as he is great on descents—I’m gaining more confidence as I ride with him. I’m just afraid that my bike will suddenly fly apart or something like that—but having a scientist along to explain the physics, and then experiencing how those physics apply, makes me relax and enjoy the ride.

There’s not much in Mammoth and for us, the turn-around is the Circle K for water and to shed our jackets.

Our Lady of Divine Tailwinds Back Up Hwy 77.

Just past the Circle K about half a block, is this quirky shrine. Most likely put up by the miners asking for divine favor from the hazards of their often dangerous jobs. We pay our respects, and of course we ask that our climb back out of Mammoth be swift and safe.

Heading back to Oracle, you can just see Mt. Lemmon off in the distance, covered with snow.

Alan felt strong, and lead the way up and out of Mammoth. Our pace was solid and I have to say that there seemed no wind at all. Usually as you ride, you have that roar of the wind in your ears--this time, as we climbed up the hwy--there was barely a sound in the morning desert air. Traffic, for the most part, was no where to be seen or heard--there were long stretches of stillness and silence. Mt. Lemmon's snow glowed in morning light, and the other mountain ranges and valleys opened and spread out before us.

I'm still working on getting my nutrition right...

Alan and I climbed surprisingly well, and in no time the landmarks of the Town of Oracle appeared--and did other cyclists. We had a tailwind descending back down into Tucson and we flew back in now time at all. Our fellow cyclists out this morning were having a stiff headwind we could tell--and then at one point as we got closer to Oro Valley, we had the headwind. I could tell Alan was feeling pretty good, but even as I descended down the road, I could feel leg cramps coming on. "Drink!" Alan kept telling me, "Drink more!" Besides that, I'm still not taking on enough calories.

Alan and I split off as he went his way back home, and I headed West back up to Dog Mtn. I pushed through a headwind the entire way back and had enough fluids and gel to get my body back up to speed. At home I had a bagel, took a quick shower, and then slept for about two hours. The day before on Saturday, I had done all my chores, including ironing shirts for the next few days, etc etc.
Sunday afternoon and evening to relax, cook a good dinner for me and Rico--and then go to bed early. A great way to start the new year!

Cheers! Bruce


Red Bike said...

18 miles at 7% - wow.

There's nothing like that here in England that I know of. All the local hills are much shorter (thank god).

Bruce's Bike Blog said...

Hey Red--

As you're flying down the road, you realize that you're gonna have to turn around and climb back out. The climb has three stages so you get a few breaks-- I'm still feeling it in my legs and lower back even today.

Cheers! Bruce