Tuesday, February 21, 2012

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

Last weekend,  I raced the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo mountain bike race out at Willow Springs Ranch, close to Oracle, AZ. The race is put on by Epic Rides and they do an awesome job of it. We had a 5 person co-ed class team with one member not able to make it ( leaving us with 4 riders ! ).

I rented an RV, getting camp setup on Thursday, the Team showed up on Friday evening and the race started at 12:00 on Saturday and ran continuously until 12:01 on Sunday.   About 1500 riders on a 16.5 mile course through rocks, gas line/jeep road, cholla catcus, past cattle and watering tanks, a lot of singletrack and a good hill climb leading back down through  a partially technical section back to the Start/Finish Tent.

So, I take my new BMC 29'er SpeedFox bike out there and ride the course that I have ridden maybe 20 times before, without a flat.  Guess What ? Cruising along at close to 20mph on a flat section, feeling strong and great, after climbing the 7 hills on the gas line road ( known as the "bitches"), I feel something is wrong with the bicycle.   I look at the rear tire.  It looks fine.  I look at the front tire.  It is totally flat.  Then we hit a little bump,  and I go skidding along on my left side ( shoulder, elbow, ribs, hip, knee ).   A little bit of blood on the new bike, jersey, Camelback, a flat tire, and now my fork is not even close to alignment with the handlebars. A fellow named Michael stopped and helped with the alignment while I am changing my tire, and we got the thing back on the road, but I lost a lot of time. Finish the ride ( with an unacceptable time for me ) and go to the First Aid tent and get swabbed out.

Our team rotation goes through, and it's my turn, and close to midnight, so I gather up my lights and set out.  I felt pretty strong ( couldn't stand on the pedals because my ribs hurt ), and I get through about 3/4 of the course and another flat.   Change that by the side of the trail, and finish the ride.

Back to camp, and park the bike.  Go inside and then come back out and a THIRD flat ( back to the front ).   OK .. it is pretty obvious that when I pull over to let someone pass that I am hitting some prickly pear and spiking my tubes and I don't have sealant because I didn't get it together to get Stans setup on the new bike.  ( EPIC FAIL on that )

So, I borrow two Slime tubes and put those on and get an OK ride done on Sunday morning after sunrise without any flats.  Our team finished 29th out of 33 teams, so not as good as we had hoped, but we have to remember that some teams have done this a lot and are a lot better organized.    I can be riding along, feeling that I am really getting the hammer down, and then one of the better fellows comes by like I am just puttering around the park on a fat cruiser bike.

Next big ride, the Whiskey Off-Road 25 in Prescott on April 28.    We will be properly sealed !

Before the Race ( by TucsonVelo.com )

Starting on First Lap  ( by TL )

Will get back to CTS for some training on Thursday (after the sore rib heals a bit), and will get my plan together to get up to about 250/300 miles per week by early May on my road bike.    There is a lot of work ahead.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

First Entry Feb 9

Well, here we go.   A couple of days ago, I committed myself to doing the Big Ride 2012 across the US from Seattle to Washington, and got my donation webpage setup at:

http://action.lungusa.org/goto/ingrammp

Now, you might ask why I would want to do this, and I guess I will say "it's complicated".   During the last couple of years, I have ridden and coached, with Team-in-Training doing various events to raise money for research into blood cancers and will do so in the future.   It's been fun to ride with lots of  great people and to know that you have helped to fight some very bad cancers.  

But when it comes to breathing, things connect a little closer to home, in that my wonderful wife of 39 years, Susan, needs to use an oxygen machine every night just to keep the O2 levels in her blood at something that she can get through the day with.    Also, some 30 years ago, I was a 2 pack-a-day smoker.  It was hard to quit, and I probably did so only at the urging of my 7 year old son.   ( I am continually surprised at how many young people take up smoking thinking that it's "hip" or "cool", the same thing that made me start smoking when I was 16. )

So, knowing that ALA helps with tobacco cessation, with fighting to support the Clean Air Act, with finding cures for lung diseases, it looks like a perfect fit.

I will get to fundraise for a wonderful cause with ALA, to , and I also get to go out and do something that I have thought about for a couple of years, to see my country from a unique and privileged perspective.... a bicycle seat !

I have read through lots of blogs of other riders in past years and think I can do this.   I looked at some of my Garmin data from the last couple of years and realized that I did about 5500 miles last year and about the same the previous year, so I know I can ride some miles...... BUT the Big Ride means that I have to do a big chunk of what I did in a year in a matter of 7 weeks.

Some Ocotillo with the Catalina's in the background 

Rincon Mountains along Cactus Forest Loop
Work is particularly quite today,  and it's 75 degrees here in Tucson and just a perfect day for a bike ride, so here's my first ride entry.  Just a little loop around the Cactus Forest Loop in Saguaro National Park East.  

I took my time this afternoon and ambled along.  We have a session at Carmichael Training tonight doing climbing repeats.   We'll do 110% of our Steady State wattage for 8 minutes, then 3 minutes off and then repeat 3 more times.   The last 3 minutes of those 8 minutes at 110% just take a lot out.  But it's good stuff and will help make me stronger ( to fight those headwinds across somewhere South Dakota ! )

WooHoo !