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Monday, February 3, 2014

The Gila Monster 300km Brevet

I arrived in Arizona on Wednesday hoping the last few weeks of indoor training were going to cut it for the “Monster”.  Paul Anderson, Mike Healy and Trev all arrived on Friday and we convened at the Best Western in Casa Grande.  My friend Jim Smith who would be spending the following week in the desert with me also joined us.  Jim had no plans on doing the event but would start with the group and return when he hit the 50km mark for a 100km day.  I have had the pleasure of riding with Mike on a few brevets last year and although I find him a man of few words one can’t say he isn’t spontaneous.  The Monday before the event Trev announced in one of the training sessions held at his studio that he would be joining me for the 300; flying out Friday and coming back Sunday then put the course profile up for the class.  Mike took one look and said “I’m in.  See you Friday night”.

After a breakfast at Denny’s, (the only place we can get enough food into Trev in a reasonable short period of time), where we received the hotel and the seniors’ discount, oh ya, big money savings when you’re my age, we headed to the start in Coolidge. 

A great turnout of 46 riders on a beautiful day, at least from our perspective. Paul Layton would be the trail boss and we would see him often throughout the ride.  Carlton Van Leuven’s family was providing support at the controls throughout the ride and did an amazing job for the riders. 
Paul and Stephen Cresting Gonzales Pass

The ride starts on a long 50km gentle grind so things strung out fairly quickly. The night before the ride we talked about actually riding with the hard men and women of Arizona on this ride, ok most of the discussion was directed at Trev, we needed him to behave for the first 150km of the ride.  Surprisingly he actually settled in and we had a good pace-line of 15 riders rolling down the road.   Actually, Paul and I needed to dial it back bit, after one pull Steve Atkins muttered something about trying to kill them, in a friendly kind of way.  This didn’t last long as Trev flatted after a pull and asked that it be passed up the line. Paul and I were wheel two and three after Trev and never got the message so after our pulls we realized Trev wasn’t with us and were then told he had a flat.  We turned around and headed back down the road looking for him.  We finally connected with him and then realized we lost track of Mike.  We were fairly confident he was up in the group so the hard work of the chase commenced.  It took us an hour and it might have been longer if there hadn’t been a control at the junction.  Amazing how much distance a group working together can cover.

Paul Cresting the Monster
We were quick at the control as riders were drifting out as the road got a lot steeper heading into Oracle.  It was at the control that we realized that Mike was not with the lead group and must be back down the road.  We elected to press on were not worried about Mike.  Now we were into our kind of climbing and the three of us worked well together moving up the road. 

Tire Change
Great road and scenery with the temperature getting a tad chilly on the decent down from Oracle.  Trev said he could see the goose bumps on my legs two-bike lengths back.   It was then my turn to have a flat and with my poor tire change we were stopped a short time later dealing with another one.   A few riders came by with Steve and Tom slowing up to make sure we were ok.  There were a half dozen of us at the Winkleman control where we were treated to a gourmet feast by the Van Leuven family.  I should have passed on the pickle as we were to hit the Gila monster climb shortly after the control.  We made good time over a few good size rollers then hit the climb.  Trev pulled away as he ended up standing pretty much the whole 12km’s, that’s what happens when
your running an 11-21, I suffered and actually whined a little on the final 14% pitch.  Trev was waiting for us at the top with Paul pulling around me for the final 5-meter push to the summit.  Paul would ride steady and hard all day, some of the best riding I’ve seen him do in some time.  Our jackets came on and we started the descent into superior where we met Paul L at an unofficial stop.  We were able to water and fuel up then pounded towards the out and back turnaround with one course correction along the way.  Roger and Toby arrived at Basha’s store as we were heading out for the final push home.  Trev had a small “all contact point” meltdown in Florence but he re-grouped and we pushed home to finish three minutes before sunset completing the 303km’s in 10 hours and 57 minutes.  We were off the bike for 1 hour including flats and traveled slightly over 30km/hr. while moving.  We were met by Paul L at the finish who had cold drinks and warm pizza for us, a real class act.
Heading to the Finish

Now we worried about Mike.  I neglected to bring a change of clothes, which was rectified at the Walmart.  Paul and Trev were highly influential in choosing my attire.   We tracked Mike down an hour back on the course; he was in great spirits and riding well.  After a beer at the local bar in Florence where my new attire was warmly received we headed to the finish to welcome Mike.


Oh and Jim, he ended up riding 160km, there were no services at the 50km mark, I kind of knew that J

Ready for the night life

2 comments:

Relentless said...

The Speed Theory Canadians have been developing a reputation on the AZ brevets. Steve Atkins does a great write up in most of the Brevets. You can see his post here.

http://cyclewhitney.blogspot.com/2014/02/gila-monster-300km-brevet.html

Jonifide 5 said...

Great write-up! I think I was supposed to be one of the Az 'Hard Men', but I wore my Hello Kitty stretchie pants & delivered a limp performance. I'll bring my Jens Voit to the 600K:-)

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