Saturday, July 23, 2011

Great Day! Mile 70 was better than mile 20.

If it's going to be a long day, it better be good.  I got up at a quarter before 5 am for the second straight day.  On tap for today was a planned 80+ mile ride to Marana, Arizona, where I'd meet with my wife's family for a group birthday party (lots of July birthdays).

I packed four water bottles, two with water, two with gatorade.  I also brought a 3 liter camel back, a snack bag of pistachios and a few gel shots.  When I hit the road at 5:20, it was under thick dark cloud cover. A papery cloud washed over San Cayetano, the mountain that is the local landmark, giving the appearance of fungus over its peaks.  

My game plan was to just cruise until I got to Tucson, 60 miles north.  I did a great job for the first 20 miles, averaging 17.5 mph, keeping my cadence high and the perceived effort low.  I practiced something new, stretching on the bike.  I've stretched calves and hamstrings before, but today I unclipped one foot at a time and stretched my quads.  It worked great.  Amazing how comfortable I've become in the saddle.

But then, I started to feel really good and opened up a bit breaking 28 mph on a flat straight away.  DOH!  No biggie though, it was shortly before my first planned stop at about mile 35.  

At the break my average speed was up to 18.5 mph, even with the stretching.  The gas station where I stopped had water, gatorade and a snickers bar waiting for me.  A quick trip to the bathroom, munched the snickers and filled up the drained bottles, then down the road I went.

Over the next 25 miles I flew.  There were quite a few other riders, mostly riding in groups.  The road is a two lane back road that bisects pecan groves. I was tempted to slip in behind one large group that must've been doing 30 mph.  The vacuum they created as they went past me was incredible.  Oh well, I was about 40 miles into a projected 84 mile ride.  Next time maybe.

My average speed kept creeping up and my thighs began grumbling.  I alternated drinking water, NUUN, and gatorades while balancing intake and sweat rate.  It took a lot of practice to get it right.  But still, I was worried that if I kept that pace I'd suffer cramping problems.  I'd see how that panned out.  But at mile 45 I was having doubts and not having such a great time anymore.  The clouds hadn't made it this far north and the sun was HOT!  My butt was getting sore and I began to labor a bit.

I made it to Tucson in just under 3 hours of riding time.  It was just after 8:30 when I was rolling through old down town Tucson.  The Mexican restaurants were hopping, selling their Saturday morning specials.  The Mexican bakery smelled particularly tempting.  I almost went in!

As I learned, you can't fly through town.  The roads have a lot of debris and pot holes, stop lights, pedestrians and so on.  It's my first experience riding in town.  I made the most of it.  I pulled over, grabbed my bag of pistachios.  I coasted, largely no-hands style, for about an hour munching on pistachios.  I went from old down town to new down town, through the "hippie" part of town, through old neighborhoods with lots of neat architecture, past the university and then finally into urban sprawl.  

The problem I was going to have was time.  I hadn't used enough.  My wife was bringing a change of clothes for me but wasn't expected to be at my in-laws' home until 11:30 or so.  I decided to buy another gatorade and a protein shake, and use the bathroom before taking a detour to explore some of the bike/hike routes around town. Also, I needed a restroom to dry off a bit. The heat, sweat and time in the seat would work their evil if I wasn't proactive.

I met some riders who were resting and pouring water on their heads.  It turned out they were heading past where I could catch a bike route.  AWESOME.  We chatted for a few miles and went our separate ways.  

The bike routes were so unbelievably awesome.  Mile 70 was better than mile 20!  The bike route trailed along side a river, winding and rolling.  Lots of wildlife darting here and there kept me distracted from my chaffing rear. Sadly, after 8 miles, the fun was up.  I was deposited on I-10's frontage road without a bike lane.  Ugh.  

But, I felt so great after cruising around Tucson and taking in some nutrition that I rode to a Starbucks a few miles past my in-laws' home.  On the way there, a coyote froze in front of me.  He was going to cross the road but stood watching me instead.  I slowed and we exchanged greetings, inter-species style.  

At Starbucks I ordered an iced Americano.  As I did, I suddenly was struck by my incredible INCREDIBLE stench.  I operated the debit machine at arm's length out of respect for the baristas.  

I made it to my in-laws house, stinky, sweaty and in my bike gear.  It would take my wife another 2 hours to show up!  In the mean time, the neighbors came over for lunch.  I'm never socially awkward, well, never unless I'm wearing tights and stink!  


Distance:  83 miles
Time:  5 1/2 hours 
Fluids consumed:  3 liters, and 6, 24 ounce bottles 
Food:  2 gel shots, a snickers bar, a bunch of pistachios and a protein shake

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