Sunday, October 13, 2013

Cochise Classic

I have been working hard on my training for the Death Valley Double Century.  I have never ridden anything past 130 miles at a time on my bike, and that was last March when I tried Death Valley and got myself a DNF.   So am training hard to make it happen this time.   We have a local event called the Cochise County Cycling Classic ( CCCC ), held in Cochise County, AZ, and Coach Jen at Desert Endurance thought I should do this, so got all signed up and ready to go.

The ride starts in Douglas, goes to Bisbee, then Tombstone, then Benson, up I-10 to Dragoon, then Elfrida and McNeil and back to Douglas, for about 164 miles, and 4600 feet of climbing.  

You have to have your own SAG support and John Mertes agreed to help me out, so the two of us headed to Douglas on Friday, got my signs for the car and we were ready to go.

John, my Crew !

Stayed at the Gadsen Hotel, build in about 1907 or so, old fashioned rooms, big sweeping marble staircase, real gold leaf on the columns, beautiful stained glass, all in the middle of sleepy little Douglas. And Pancho Villa rode his horse on the staircase.

Villa's horse did go up the stairs of the Gadsen

Out the door at 5:30 for a race start at 6:20 right after sunup.   A chilly and very fast start, working much harder than I should have, had to dial it back a bit.   The 92 mile lead group started 10 minutes later and they are really fast, passed me out on AZ 80 near Cochise College.  I was stuck on the wrong side of the rumble strips when they passed.  Once they got by, I tried to get over and onto their tail, but they were smoking it, and I dropped off the end.  Then connected with a couple of other very small groups, but everyone was broken up by the time we started climbing into Bisbee and that was the last of group riding.

Fast climb up Mule Mountain in Bisbee, and at the top, John tells me I am in the middle of the 20 some riders doing the 165.   Then a very fast descent and another climb to Tombstone.   Pretty cool to ride past Boot Hill with "The Magnificent Seven" playing on your ipod.   Waved through the Border Patrol checkpoint, and pretty soon am in Benson with John telling me I am about 11 or 12 out of 23...  Cool !

Now I get to ride with the trucks on I-10, dodging the tire litter and uphill to Texas Canyon, to Dragoon.   I passed a little ranch near Dragoon with a sign that said "Rattlesnake Ranch - All Snakes Protected".   Should have gotten a picture, but was concentrating on where the cattle guards were.   At this point I am showing about 100 miles on my Garmin, and there are a lot of miles left.  Make a right onto AZ 191 headed south, with a sign showing Douglas 57 miles.  Yeah, that's what I signed up for, but really I have to do another 57 miles !

Lots of wind out there.  The first part of the ride was mostly through hills with lots of limestone outcroppings to look at.   This next part is a big flat piece of farmland, looking a little bit like South Dakota or similar, except for the mountains on either side of the valley.   The wind picked up, slowed me down to 11 or so for a while, finally turned into a west crosswind, and John is SAG'ing all the way down the road for me with fresh cold water, and treats from my cooler.   I would gulp down a San Pelligrino, eat a Snickers bar and get back on down the road.

Finally it is right at sundown, and I can see the fairgrounds buildings in the distance.   Mount up a light on my handlebars and ride in the last 5 miles.   I think my time is about 11:10 give or take a couple of minutes and I had hoped for less than 12 hours, so I am happy and think I placed 9th out of about 20 ??


Rolling up to the Finish at CCCC

Next stop Death Valley.  Just have to see if we get to ride in DV National Park, or if we are forced to ride over in the Amaragosa Valley because of the government shutdown.   Either way, it will be quite a challenge, a longer distance and more climbing.

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