Saturday, September 13, 2008

Day 6 and 7: Bye Arizona, Pacific Time Zone and Continental Divide

Day 6. 122 miles and 4,350 feet of climbs

A fun route but challenging ride. A lot of the ride was on I-40 and interstate riding is always a challenge. The exit and entrance ramps are dangerous because the cars are moving extremely fast compared to a bike. And the bike has to pedal across those ramps. The other hazard on an interstate is the blown tires junk. And there are a lot of blown tires. The steel wires from the blown tires lead to lots of flats.

Another section of the ride was on Route 66. It is an extremely rough road. But some of the sites are a lot of fun.

The Wigwam Motel

Looks Like a Scene from Cars

I Thought You Guys were Extinct

Those of you not really interested in cycling strategies might want to skip the next two paragraphs.

What made this day especially challenging was where the climbs were in the day. By mile 60 we had climbed only 1,000 feet and the elevation is above 5,000 feet. By mile 92 we still had only climbed 2,900 feet. With only 30 miles to go several of us were feeling very good and we picked up the pace. But 30 miles is still 30 miles as anyone who has done an MS 150 can tell you that last 30 miles can be hard. In the next 22 miles we would climb another 1,400 feet and get caught in a thunderstorm which would give us a strong headwind, drop the temperature 30 degrees and soak us. In short, our plan for the day was wrong and we did not save enough energy for late in the ride. We struggled to finish.

Another lesson comes from the desert ride which is still impacting many riders including me. While the sock of ice around the neck was necessary to keep my body temperature down, the water from the melting ice ran down our backs and washed lots of salt into our cycling shorts. That salt irritated us in places you don't want to be irritated. I have two spots about the size of English muffins centered on each tailbone that are very tender. The treatment is to use lots of chamois cream and wear two cycling shorts. The preventative was to use lots of chamois cream reapplying several times a day and swapping those shorts half way though the ride each day. Every day I learn more about riding.

Day 7. 157 miles and 3,700 feet climbs

From the beginning this was expected to be one of the hardest days and after yesterday I took no chances. I talked to cyclist who had done the route before to get an idea of the climbs. I took every opportunity to save energy remembering that when I had 100 miles done I would still have 57 to go. And I concentrated on eating and drinking right. I kept drinking from my Camelback like it was oxygen.

Two States Down, Seven to Go

We left Springerville at 5:45 am with the temperature 43 degrees. It was barely light. When we crossed into New Mexico we also moved into the mountain time zone. Later we crossed the continential divide which was no where near as interesting as Colorado mountain passes.

Continental Divide NM Style

Very Large Array (expand picture)

Further down the road we passed the Very Large Array for listening for intelligent life in space. These things are huge but the road was quite far away. If we weren't on bikes we would have rode over and gone through the visitor center.

Over all the 151 mile ride went much better than I expected.

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