Sunday, March 28, 2010

Reflections of the week

Wow! I can't believe I did it! It really amazes me how much fun this past week was. With just over 100 days left before my cross country, I am feeling like I can truely do it!

So, what do I need to improve upon?

1. Speed, I am still too slow. I think with proper time management at the rest stops, I can keep up with the end of the main pack. However, if I can improve by 2 mph I would have more time to take pictures and stop at the rest stops as necessary.

2. Climbing - probably goes hand and hand with the speed. If I can climb faster I can keep from falling way behind.

3. Balance - I am sure I will be blown all over the road at one time or another. Developing better balance will allow me to keep from having to start over after being blown around.

4. Decending - if I was more comfortable coming down a mountain, I can gain much more time on my upright counterparts. I was passed by way too many uprights on the downhills. This is an area where a bent should excel. Of course, I don't want to throw caution to the wind either, but just being more confident about decending would be helpful.

What are my strengths:

1. Mentally I am on - no doubts! I can and will do this cross country tour. I am amazed that I went through the entire week without going mental. I was able to stay in the moment every day. Only the day we did Mule Pass did I let my nerves get to me; however, I never equated not doing the pass with not doing the tour - okay, that probably is a lie. I did do the pass and it was easier than I thought it would be. I was slow, but shortened my lunch time and finished before most everyone that day.

2. I know what I need to fuel my body on the ride. Hammer Rocks! Enough said!

3. I am a Randonneur and proud of it. I know I can do distance and I know how my body reacts to the distance and I thrive on it.

4. I truly want to do this ride. Each day will be different with its own highlights and challenges. This is an opportunity of a life time and I want to live it. I know there will be so really difficult days, but each day will be different.

5. I know the routine. Wake up, get to the trailer, air up, ride, stop for lunch, ride, drink recovery drink, clean the bike,shower, eat supper, get stuff ready for tomorrow, sleep.

Words of wisdom from others:

Many people told me to permit myself to SAG if I really needed to. I don't have to ride Every Fantastic Inch. It would be nice, but it is not realistic.

Other observations:

1. I recovered remarkedly well every day. My legs felt great every morning. I did better on the days that did not start climbing right out of the gate, but my legs were fully recovered each morning. Once again I attribute that to Hammer. I took the enduralytes, Anti-fatigue caps, Endurance amino,and race caps during the ride. I took the AF, EA RC and tissue rejuvinator and premium ins caps after the ride with 4 scoops of Recoverite. I took a combination of Heed and Whey before bed each night. I also rubbed my legs out with the stick each evening.

2. I need to make my gear bag as light as possible. 31 lbs is too heavy to lug every day.

3. I need to come up with someway to keep my bike from falling. It won't fit on Lon's bike racks, so I need to come up with something to keep it from falling over at the rest stops.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 8 Post Ride Mt Lemmon

More to come

Day 7 Back to Tucson

Once again we wake up to a beautiful morning! I am wearing the exact same set up as everyday except the day of the Chiricahauas. I am wearing my long sleeve base layer and jersey, shorts and leg warmers. Some mornings i wore my wind vest. Since I had not worn my rain jacket all week I packed it in the main bag.

For the first time the entire week I am ready before everyone else. Joan from Houston and I get a huge head start. Plus the first 20 miles or so were downhill so I had a good head start. Almost as if someone hit a switch, the winds started picking up the instant we left the rest stop. Plus this is where the gradual climbing began to Sonoita Pass. I like climbing the pass better in this direction better than from the North. At mile 40 we start the climb. I wasted too much time looking for a bathroom at this stop and am all of a sudden one of thevlast on the rode. Boy I wish I were faster!

Even though I know I am one of the last on the road, I am having a good day! Even with a headwind I am enjoying myself. The pass from the south is beautiful and I really notice how the road is cut into the mountain. The mountain with interesting shadows today is gorgeous. I also notice rain streaks in the sky! Of course since I packed my rain jacket!

The desent was not my favorite and I will really need to get more confident at desending. I make it to lunch and notice many has already left. The bunch from Chicago were still there but everyone else planned to ride. I would definately be the last one in today! The next 15 miles would be one of my favorite roads of the whole trip. Sahuarita road was lined with beautiful cactus especially the saguaro! Unfortunately I thought my camera was dead so I could not take any pictures. I finally make it in, last, but very happy and pleased with the ride.

I had decided not to ride on Saturday but to sleep in and maybe go sight seeing. Then I ran into Rob who had room in his truck for me and my bike to ride to Mt Lemmon. He knew that I was training for the transcon so I knew I needed to at least attempt the climb.

Wow! I had finished the official week and really felt good. Marcy and I grabed a good pasta dinner with the first decent salad and veggies all week!

Day 6 Bisbee and Mule Pass Up and Back

Today is the real test day. Consciencely or not, I knew today was as important as any day of the trip. Earlier in the year Lon indicated that Mule Pass would most resemble the climbs I would encounter during the transcon. So, today was my personal test to see if I could do it. I was so afraid of failing that this was the first day I awoke with trepidation. Once again the day started out very beautiful with very light winds. Every morning I attempted to get down to the trailers early as the earlier I started the more time I could bank on the faster cyclists. The more time I can make up for starting early the less my slow climbing would affect me. Today everyone and his brother was starting early! This put even more mental pressure on me. I was taking this ride too serious and I had a nervous stomach for the first time in a long time.

The ride started with two really nice downhills that if not for the traffic I could have bombed. We then started a slow accent toward mule pass. I was riding slower than I wanted but I did not want to blow myself up at any point of the day. Getting to the first rest stop At 15 miles I had already climbed 710 ft. And now the real test started. I am scared. I have no idea what mule pass even looks like. I just try to stay focused and go. There is more traffic than I would like while climbing - there is some shoulder but it has a lot of skree on it. I just try to hug the white line as much as possible. So far so good. The climb waivers between 2 -6% and although I am slow I am doing it! Thanks to God, I am doing it! At one point an additional slow vehicle lane opens up and I become more comfortable with the slow climbing. Grace, dan, and Susan all pass me on the climb so I am pretty sure I am the last person on the road. Finally I reach the summit. Lon is there taking pictures but the incline is still so steep I can't take my hands off the bike to wave. We make a left turn and still have a few hundred yards to climb! I reach the top to find Grace, Dan and Susan taking pictures. Yeah I have just climbed 1300 ft in 5 miles!

The desent would be tricky and I wasn't looking forward to it. This part of mule pass had eroded and had suffered a landslide. Fortunately this meant the pass was closed to cars but was full of dirt mounds every so many hundred feet. Little did I know that it was a built in speed hump! The 4 of us defended slowly taking caution with the areas covered in skree. Once we got back to the open road the desent went much faster. I felt like I could control the bike pretty well on the fast downhill even with the traffic.

I get to lunch hungry but too nervous to eat. I had not had much sustained energy duringvthe climb as I needed both hands on the bars at the steeper inclines. I choked down my favorite combination of tapioca pudding and mixed fruit. I sat with the young canadians and Lon. I meantioned something to Lon about the climb back out of Bisbee and he said I better get used to it as there would be at least 20 more just like it. Now I really feel the pressure. I could not enjoy the shopping in town with the climb back up looming over me. So I sucked it up and started up the back side of the pass. Immediately I was rocking up the climb. Even with the traffic I could tell the climb was way easier than I thought it would be! Another reason for my nervousness is this is one of the only climbs I did in 2007. Could I climb better on my bent or on my upright? I stop at the road blocks and heavy skree areas. Even on the steep grades I can easily mount my bike and continue the climb. I summit much more quickly than I thought I would! I did it! I did it. This climb was more like 750 ft over 2 miles or so.

The desent was also nerve wraking and I kept it below 40 mph. Susan N was behind me part of the way and commented later that she thought I handled the bike well. So, yes, I did it! I had just proven to myself that I can do the transcon! Yes, it will be a difficult but an amazing journey! Yes!

So, had I passed Susans test? I got lucky to be one of the first in and Susan was out working at the trailers. I asked her if I could talk to her about the transcon and she indicated that now was a good time. We talked for at least 20 minutes. We discussed the pros and cons of the week and the pros and cons of the transcon but through the entire conversation she appeared to have confidence in my abilities! Omg! I am doing the transcon!!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Day 5 Back to Tombstone

Yes, what comes around goes around! We woke up to a beautiful day with light winds. The first 7.5 miles were the exact same as yesterdays route with the difference that I was going 18 mph in a paceline instead of 8 mph slogging into a headwind! I was able to leave with the young Canadians and stay with them to the first rest stop. We were averaging 16.6 over the first 25 miles! Marcy my roommate and Veronica one of the crew were still at the stop and were leaving just as I was ready to leave. I asked if I could try and hang with them and off we went. It is my goal to be as strong as they are. I loved riding with them! We made it to lunch with a crazy ave of 17.5 over 47 miles! After lunch I struggled to keep up with M and V as we started a slight uphill climb. I ended up getting dropped so I turned on my iPod and enjoyed the day. I wish I were strong enough to keep up but I was still moving pretty good on my own. The next rest stop came too quick for me so
I just kept going. The next several miles were the prettiest of the day. Unfortunately, I came across an accident. Peter and Bob had gone down with Peter being injured badly. He was airlifed to Tucson and Bob was taken to Sierra Vista. Thankfully both are okay although Peter had several broken bones.

Eventually M and V caught back up with me and I chased them for several miles. They stopped at a turn and waited for me and we all rode in together.

Today was a great recovery day after the awful wind from yesterday. It was just fun to be outside riding in warm weather with friends

Day 4 Chiricahuas

Today is the big day! The day the whole week is named for - the Chiricahua Challenge and yes, the day lived up to it's name because of the wind! We woke up to a cold but sunny and windy morning. I decided to wear my new PAC Tour wool jersey since it was cold and I had also heard there was snow on the mountain. Like our first day going to tombstone, we started with a slight uphill climb and my legs felt really heavy. I tried in vain to hold onto Sid and Karen's wheel. They are a Canadian tandem couple who befriended me the first night. The wind was awful and I was doing everything I could to slog along at 7-8 mph. You have to climb through a pass 18 miles into the ride before you even get to the Chirc Mts. This 18 miles ended up being the hardest of the entire trip. The climb itself probably wasn't that bad but with the wind blowing at 30mph mostly headwind but with some ugly crosswind gusts, it was hard to stay upright. Numerous times I found myself struggling to hold onto the handlebars to keep my front wheel from being jerked away from me. It was like two kids fighting over a toy and both wanting it so much it is just a huge power struggle. More often than not the wind would win and I would end up on the other side of the road! Fortunately the scenery is breathtaking! Mountains are on either side of me and I eventually cycle into this great town. I finally made it to the summit and the rest stop. With the wind being so bad many cyclist decided to turn around and not attempt the big mt climb. With 20 miles still to go to get to the base Lon sagged 7 of us up to the next rest stop so we would have time to make the climb. From that rest stop we still had 6 miles to climb to the base. Slowly we made it to the foot of the mountain. At first when the climb started it seemed as if the wind had died down. But as I reached each switch back the wind would gust and I would have to wrestle again for control of the bike. Even with the struggle with the wind I felt like I had power in my legs. I was also awestruck by the beauty of the unique rock formations. After 3 miles and 3 extreme gusts of wind blowing me off of the road, I gave up and cycled down the mt. This is where I learned I need to practice decending more! I can get really fast really quick and did not know if I could handle the bike over 40 mph so I eased down the mt toward the lunch truck. All in all I was pleased with my perfomance in light of the 30 mph wind.

Lunch was the famous grilled cheese sandwhiches and fried potatoes! Yum! My favorite!

I rode all the way back from the lunch stop with a massive tailwind. Still kept the bike under 40 mph on the downhills.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 3 To Willcox

This was one of my best cycling days ever. I am still so stoked just thinking about it! We left tombstone into wonderful recumbent friendly
rolling hills. I passed several cyclists on the way to the first stop and averaged 16.8 for the first 21 miles. It was sunny and cool but comfortable. Leaving the rest stop 5 of us had trouble with the directions and doubled back 3 times before figuring it out. We turned into a massive headwind and onto I-10!

One advantage that I really did not realize a bent has is a head wind. On the flats I was able to ride with others I normally can't ride with. So, I was able to hang on to the back of the others for several miles until we started up Dragoon Pass. The pass was two long climbs of 6% or so. Not difficult on their own but very challenging with our 20+ mph head wind. I really had no trouble with either major climb until a gust of wind blew me into the rumble strip! Instictively I unclipped and at 6% there was no way for me to get back on the bike. So I just walked the last of the climb!

With the hardest part of the day over I got to rest and ride in with a group of others. Many people including Susan N said they really did not know if a bent could handle a climb like that with that kind of wind! Well I did it and felt great doing it!

Can't wait until tomorrows ride!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day 2 To Tombstone

All I can say is Oh my gosh I am having fun. These last two days have been very rewarding.
We rode from Tucson to tombstone over a really difficut pass and then from tombstone to willcox
over another difficult pass plus we had massive head winds that even the most expierenced cyclist
found difficult.

So, Sunday on the way to tombstone my legs felt like led from the very first mile. It was not long
before people were passing me and at a speed I could not latch onto. I kept telling myself that it was the
first day and one of the hardest. I did not go mental but slowly kept trudging along. I should mention that
almost all of the first 33 miles are uphill including the sonorria pass. I reach the rest stop 3 miles from the
summit to find that I am 15 min behind the next slowest rider and 30 from the next group. In order to keep
the group within the time limits I am sagged 3 miles to the top of the pass. I am okay with this and it does not
bother me. I know I could have made the climb if there had been no time constraints.

From there we hit a substatial 20 downhill to rolling hills trending downward. Susan r catches up with me and
we play cat and mouse to the lunch stop. There were still many people at lunch so I felt good that I was back up
with the group. The next 10 miles would climb another 1000 ft or so thus I got back on the bike to get to Tombstone
with the group.

The day was beautiful and the temps moderate. If it reached the 70s then it was a cool 70 as I wore my longsleeve
shirt under my jersey and leg warmers allday.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Day 1 Pre Ride to Saguaro Park

Ok I don't know how much blogging I will b getting done this week. The day is very full and I am ready
for bed. Had a good day. The bike came together pretty good thanks to sid from Canada and Eddie from
berkly ca. Cycled to the sagurao national park by myself. I am glad I was alone so I could go easy at my
own pace. I did 38 miles. Well I am falling asleep while typing so I will try to add more later.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Arrival in Tucson

So, I made it! The first step in my journey to my transcon. I am not
as nervous as I thought I would be. The flight here was uneventful.
It was very nice to step off the plane into warm sunshine. I arrived
too late to get my bike from storage so I will have to put it together
tomorrow. I have already met several riders that will be riding this
week as well as many who have been here for week 3. We belong
to a very tight community. I met several people here that know pam
and Dan from LSR and Matt settle from VA. There are several cyclist
here that have already completed transcons in previous years. I do
intend on learning a bunch from them. I also met Veronica who will
be crewing this week and for the transcon. For whatever reason I find
that comforting.

I am headed to bed but I willtry and keep updating the blog daily.

Btw I am blogging on my iPod so excuse my typos please

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Pretty Blue Bike has started its vacation!

After a cold and dreary winter with lots of sub 45 temps and lots of indoor trainer miles, my pretty blue bike is on its way to Tucson. I sure hope it makes it okay. The bike case is humongous! It is a crateworks tandem case. I decided to ship the bike instead of tryng to fly with it before I saw how big the case was. Boy, was that a good decision. I would hate to try and lug that big boy around an airport.

I was filled with a lot of anxiety when I left Jim's after the case was packed. Jim is in a cast after his surgery, but he has a scooter he can get around on. He was able to direct me in how to pack the bike, but was not able to help get it in the case. So, it was all up to me to get it packed. Boy, I hope and pray I packed it right and it ends up in the disassembled pieces that I know about and not any more! Then a dread came over me about the upcoming ride. I just can't believe that Desert Camp is here! I have been training for over a year now, and I am a completely different person physically today than I was a year ago and even 3 years ago when I attended Desert Camp the first time.

I know I can do this ride. It is scary though. I have no idea how to climb mountains nor do I know how to get down them. But that is what this trip is all about. Training for the mountains. I am just jealous that my pretty blue bike has started the trip without me!

BTW, to see pics of the Desert Camps that are currently going on log on to You will see a link for each week. Look for me on week 4!