Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tucson - Day 3

Despite the humor in the house, I think everyone had a bit of concern about today's ride, an 80-ish mile trek out to the top of Mount Lemmon and back, 52 of which was the ascent and descent of the mountain itself. We made our way to IHOP to fuel up, double checked everything on our bikes, and then headed out to meet PJ and Lou for coffee. Just before we left, Pig glanced down at my rear cassette and asked me what I was doing. My race bike is set up for the flats of Iowa, so my smallest rear gear is 23 teeth. A look around showed everyone else running 25s and 28s. Since I didn't bring a spare cassette with me, this was going to probably make a long day even longer. We took off around 10:30 so that the temps at the top of the mountain would be a bit warmer by the time we got there. The ride out to the base of Mount Lemmon is a straight flat run from the edge of town. We ran a fairly up tempo double pace line to the base of the mountain and mile marker 0. After the first 3/4 of a mile, I already knew I wasn't going to be able to keep pace with the rest of the motors in our group. I yelled goodbye and settled in for the trip into the pain cave. About mile 3 or so, I passed Bobo and motored on, but by mile 6 he had caught my wheel and continued ahead of me. There's not a lot to say about the climb, other than it was steady, beautiful and painful. I found myself tapping my shifter and wishing that it would drop down one more gear. When it didn't I up-shifted to the 21 or the 19 and stood on the pedals to build up a little more speed and give my legs a bit of a change up. I opted for no headphones to make it a mental training day as well. This left me with a soundtrack of three Theory of a Deadman songs running through my head for the next three hours. I recall stopping for brief food and rest breaks at mile markers 8, 13, 17, 19 and 23. By mile 17, I had to break out the windbreaker due to the wind and the temperature drop. At a rest point at mile 23 a woman asked to get my photo with her 91 year old father. I felt sorry for the guy having my exhausted mug in a photo with him. At mile 25 I caught a reprieve as the road turned down towards the ski resort. I saw Pig and Rich pointing the way to the restaurant. Unfortunately this was at almost the peak of the mountain, and resulted in riding the steepest part of the climb (over 12% grade) as my body was at its weakest. I soldiered on for the next mile or so, briefly glancing down and seeing my speedometer read 4.5 MPH while I mustered what little energy I had left to make it to the restaurant at the top.

I stumbled into the restaurant, collapsed in a chair at the end of the table, and ordered a cup of coffee. From everyone else's accounts, I looked like I had a run in with a bear (or worse) somewhere along the way up. It also sounded like there was some doubt that I was going to even make it to the top. After a turkey sandwich and some warm potato salad, it was time to make our way back down. We made the quick steep descent back into the fork in the road, and started the short climb out until the real descent could begin. Sergey and I had chatted earlier and had decided we'd take it easy on the descent and avoid any potential issues. The "ride" down was fast, windy and cold. Temps at the top of the mountain were around 48 with winds gusting to 20 MPH when we left. Sergey and I kept our speeds checked to a max of 35 MPH. I hit a large rock at 25 MPH around mile 8. I managed to stay upright and pulled off to the side while the air hissed out of my tire. The rest of the ride down was uneventful. We took a minute to regroup at the bottom and then rode a fast double paceline back into town. Showers, and some well earned food, drink and ice cream finished out the day. Everyone hit the bed pretty early to try and rest up for Friday's 125 mile excursion to Kitt Peak.


GPS data - Total feet of climb is way off for some reason.

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