Sunday, August 7, 2011

Finally, a new ride!

I couldn't sleep.  I was amped up about the new ride I'd scheduled for this morning.  I drank a lot of water, ate a lot of carbs (and junk too), drank more water and finally put a large glass of water by my bed.  At nine pm, I went to bed.  ...  ...  ...  9:02: Geez, I can't sleep!  I needed a good night's rest.  My legs were a bit sore and it was sure to be a tough ride in the morning.

I tried again.  I thought of how the ride would go, visualized how it would work out.  This sometimes puts me to sleep.  No dice.  9:22.  I then decided to think about work, maybe that'd send me away.  Nope.  I tossed and turned and would just dip into sleep when a mouse would sneeze in Chicago and I'd stir.  It felt as thought I was flirting with night anxiety, which I get periodically.  My heart was beginning to race a bit.  I tried the heart-rate monitor to was a whopping 58 bpm!  That's a solid 10 to 12 over my normal heart rate though.  I couldn't lay in bed or it would legitimately start racing and then I'd never fall asleep.  At 11:00 I decided to try a warm bath.  I read a Bicycling magazine and then planned how my training schedule might go with work.

At midnight I tried again and fell asleep.

A few things about the ride excited me.  First, it was a new destination; the Whipple Observatory Visitor's Center  at the base of Mt. Hopkins.  Second, I started the right the day before with my wife, but just got a tease of what it would be.  She began having some asthma problems and we were running out of time.  So, we had to turn around.  I did take this picture though.

Sometimes the memory of a view of a road, or trail, haunts me, beckoning my revisit.  I was captivated.  I wanted to ride that road, see what was over the hill and around the bend.  I knew the road on a motorcycle, but things on a bicycle are quite different.

In addition to the scenery were a pair of mating Red Tailed Hawks.  They were HUGE.  One of them was very annoyed by our presence and would fly overhead screaming.  He was close enough that we could see his mouth opening and his chest moving as he belted out his screech.  The other, I'm assuming female, sat atop a powerline pole just looking at us.   

 We also found "fresh" backpacks left by illegals.  In fact, I'm sure we just missed seeing them getting picked up.  I've seen countless illegals and smugglers and so on, I live right in the region most heavily traveled (supposedly) on the US-Mexican border.  Anyhow, I decided to share a picture of the packs as well as a souvenir I picked up while looking through the bags. 

At six this morning I felt like I'd over-slept.  I remember thinking,'s gonna be hot on the ride now!  

I felt relieved when I realized I had plenty of time to make breakfast (peanut butter and jelly) and have some coffee.  Like last weekend, I toiled with the decision to take or leave the camelbak.  This time the stores were not as ideally located as last weekend and the trip is 25 miles longer.  I left the camelbak again.  Turns out, I didn't need it.

My goal today was to work on my cadence.  I've been finding that my knees and hips get tired if I have the cadence in the 80's or lower, but 95 to 105 and I don't get sore or tired.  I wanted to see how much validity was in this observation and today was a good opportunity to do that. 

At mile 15 (or so), I was passed by a gentleman in his mid-60's.  Not just passed, but blown away!  Some people talk about getting chic-ed, I got geriatric-ed.  As he rode by he asked if I was riding to Green Valley again and that he'd seen me riding there from time to time.  He was just riding around Tubac, probably a 20 mile loop as I've seen him ride out of a housing development there in the past.  That realization made me feel slightly better.  Still, I had been maintaining an 18.x mph average at that point and got smoked.

I rode the 26 or so miles to Elephant Head Road.  The road was uphill and I was tired.  My bladder complained to me about riding.  I looked around for a secure place to wander into the shrub and answer the call when someone in with a thick Scottish accent said, "Good morning."

Collin, he later introduced himself as, was a stud rider.  He had finished in the top 10 for the 80 mile leg of El Tour de Tucson the previous year.  He slowed down and I sped up and we rode to the top of the road, at the base of the mountain, together.  It was about 8 miles from where we started riding together and I was glad for the company.  Not only was he quite interesting, but by riding with someone else, I didn't have to fight myself to keep pushing up the hill.  

If you look at the graph of the elevation at the bottom of the picture, you can see, it was quite a hill to climb!  Here's the link to the map if you would like to watch the fly over feature (google earth required).

We stopped at the top and refueled.  After a short break, we went our separate ways.  Collin had an appointment to keep later in the day and blasted ahead down the mountain.  I had another 32 miles to go (he has 14) so even if I could've kept up with him, I needed to pace myself.

The ride was what I'd hoped it to be.  There are a lot of wild flowers in full bloom right now, the air was still but warm (and humid) and the views were spectacular.  I only had one car that didn't give me proper space while passing me, and otherwise, saw very little traffic.  I beat the rain home and am sufficiently exhausted, though in high spirits.  What more could an athlete ask for?  How many other experiences are fulfilling in so many ways?  Accomplishment, euphoric ephemeral corporeal experiences, fellowship, and the fact that through it all you've promoted your ability to do more of it next time!

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