Training for Cycle Utah

I have been working hard to get ready for the Cycle Utah ride. Primarily I have been riding my “Loop 1” route of around 30 miles and really pushing taller gears. And it seems to be paying off.

I have hit a 14.5 mph average on the loop, which considering it is urban with a lot of intersections and stop lights, is not too shabby. I do occasionally get to cruise at the 18 mph level. Not often but enough to give me some encouragement and noted improvements.

The thought is to ride the loop often and push where it counts up the hills in as tall of a gear as I can. This is instead of doing longer rides with maybe more hills but less frequently.

I get up at 4:30, have a cup of coffee and out the door at 5 am. I am back by 7:30 am or sooner. I have my ride done in the coolest part of the day, don’t need sun screen, no traffic for much of the ride, and see lots of critters like coyotes. Also many runners and walkers too. It is almost ideal.

 

 

Not One More Cyclist

Today, Saturday 19th of May, was a ride down to the state capital for the “Not One More Cyclist” organization to emphasize cyclist deaths and accidents. Hopefully making more aware of the issue.

I rode 3-4 miles to the Gainey Villages to meet up with other Scottsdale cyclists for the ride down to the state capital. The ride was about 26-27 miles at a club pace. Since I normally ride alone I fell in at the back as I’m not use to riding in a group at that pace. Maybe there were around a hundred riders in our group from various cycling clubs. I did not see many team riders though.

While there was a nice bunch at the capital it was a little underwhelming for the cause.

Rio Verde Loop Summary

I was up at 4:00am and after a breakfast of oatmeal loaded up with five water bottles. Two were filled and I would fill the others later.

Rode up Pima to 90th street and Via Linda. No traffic at that hour. On to 96th Street on Via Linda. City workers started building up traffic as I rode down Via Linda. Turned north on 96th Street and on up to Sweetwater. East on Sweetwater to 100th. North on 100th to Thompson Peak Parkway (TPP).

Grind up TPP to Pima. Stopped at DC Ranch and TPP where I filled all water bottles up. North on Pima to Happy Valley Road where I turned east into a heavy wind and ground my way up to Alma School Road to Rio Verde Drive.

Horrible ride east down, down and more down to Forest Drive. Picked up a bike lane around 136th Street. Lots of traffic coming up Rio Verde Drive going west. Almost continuous.

On south on Forest Road thrugh Rio Verde. Stopped for a water break under a tree. Then on to McDowell Mountain Park where I took another break at the entrance where there was some shade.

It was a climb on into Fountain Hills where I decided I needed some Gatorade and a Snickers. By the time I got to Shea and the Circle K I was wiped. Spent a half an hour recovering with 48oz of Gatorade.

Slow climb up Shea out of Fountain Hills and then a fast run into Scottsdale. By the time I got to Mountain View and Via Linda legs were cramping to much to ride. Stopped at AJ’s for a Mountain Dew and rest legs. A slow run on to home. 12:00 noon. 61 miles.

Rio Verde Loop

In preparation for the Adventure Cycling Associations June 9th Cycle Utah tour I have been doing some 40-45 mile daily rides. This week I’m stepping it up a bit and doing a 60 mile Rio Verde Loop.

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Rio Verde Loop Elevation Profile

 

Big Bend Summary

Big Bend was an interesting ride.

I rented a Chevy HHR which worked out nice. Bike fit in back nicely and great gas mileage. I had planned on two days from Scottsdale to Balmorhea but made it in about 10 hours of a steady 80 mph. So I camped two nights at the state park. The next day the rest of the group pulled in.

My ride buddies where “Spoon” in his 77th year with controlled AFIB. Absolute amazing rider under those conditions on a bent. Spoon is from Blue Springs  Missouri . “Harpo” at 70 was the youngster and strongest rider from Linden, Texas on a Tour Easy. Both Spoon and Harpo have toured together before and have a lot more touring under their belts than me. Spoon had set this tour up as he wanted to show us what he considers an underappreciated ignored area of the US. Spoon has spent a lot of time in the Big Bend area touring on a bicycle, RV’ing, and flying into the area with his airplanes. Not many people know an area better than Spoon does of Big Bend.

Tons of climbing which meant slow going with the fully loaded bike and a bit of walking and pushing too. I recall doing that about four times. 90% was on Texas chip seal which sometimes made cobblestones look smooth. But always had a nice wide shoulder except in the National park.

We left our cars at the state park in Balmorhea (balm-moore-rhea) after talking to the park ranger and rode on to Fort Davis, a short 36 miles up through Wild Rose Pass. Nice camp ground at the Fort Davis state park where we were visited that night by a herd of Javalinas. On the way in we stopped at the Fort Davis National monument where Harpo and I toured the old fort. Spoon had already seen it.

Fort Davis to Marfa was a short ride. Stayed at an interesting “camp ground” owned by Felipe, a county commissioner who also loaned us his truck so we could run out and see the “Marfa lights” that night.

Marfa to Presidio was a long 61 miles with a bit of climbing. We rode into Presidio at 102 degrees and stayed at a motel. We all were pretty bushed.

Presidio to Chisos Basin was a pickup bed ride/tour. Coming into Presidio I had noticed Spoon’s rear tire wobbling. I thought maybe a loose spoke, something easy to fix before we left the next morning. Well the next morning the loose spoke turned out to be a tread separation. We waited until the local “walmart” store opened and Spoon bought a very heavy Bell mtb tire. But it did go on and seemed to be okay to ride on. However in the process of putting the wheel back on we somehow managed to pull out a BB7 brake pad. None of us had ever dealt with disc brake pads and it took us a long time to figure out how to get everything put back together. By that time the heat started coming on and this we knew was the toughest section of the whole tour, “the river road.” The original plan was to do the 50 some miles in two stages. But now with the heat and late start we op’ed to hire a ride. Spoon rounded up Alberto who $100.00 would haul us over to Chisos Basin in the Park. He would also turn out to be our “tour guide” as he had worked the road in construction and was interesting to talk to. Harpo took the first turn riding in the pickup bed. After that I wouldn’t give up the spot as it was great for taking pictures and seeing the country. We stopped in Study Butte for lunch where we did get some cell service. We saw quite a bit of the Rio Grande as we drove along the river road. But all said and done I doubt if I could have ridden that segment in three days. I would have been pushing my bike most of the way. It has the steepest grade maintained by Texas. In fact two cyclists died coming off one hill.

Chisos Basin was a great place to camp and we had maybe a three quarter mile walk up to the lodge and store. The lodge had a good restaurant so we made the trip a few times. The only downside was there no showers but good restrooms.

The views were grand and we hiked a couple miles down to the “Window” and back up. Spoon only had spd bike shoes and I only wore Shimano spd sandals so rock scrambling was an interesting time. Harpo only wears normal walking shoes so he had fewer issues. Spoon saw a black bear up at the lodge. While walking up to the lodge we saw a black bear cub. So the bear boxes at camp were nice and well used. There was no cell phone service at all but there was free Wi-Fi at the lodge that Spoon could use with his iPhone. (I just went over to the dark side and switched out the Blackberry for a Droid Razr Maxx because of that issue). Harpo had a run-away air mattress as high winds tossed the rocks he had anchored it with. Scott, our neighbor, had rescued it. But we had the whole camp ground looking for it.

If you imagine Chisos Basin being in a volcano with a steep climb up into it and another steep climb back out that was the situation. 17-20% grades on a narrow curvy road. So the plan was always to get toted up and back out. The main issue we were faced with was coming out and heading back north was  we were faced with a 90+ mile ride with the last 50 or so miles without services on a steady climb to Marathon. And the heat was coming on strong now. Harpo made arrangements with the general manager, Danny, of the lodge and services for the park concessioner to carry us out to the northern park entrance $25.  This would cut off about 42 miles and we would then make a run to Marathon. We all hauled about two gallons of water and Gatorade each. It was a hard hot ride that day and as we pulled into Marathon we were running dry. Along the way Scott a camping neighbor in the basin stopped on his way out. In Marathon we stayed at a motel and Harpo took me on a tour of the “Goal Hill” hostel. A funky hippie free will bunch which lets bicyclist stay free in their “accommodations.” Spoon had found a motorcycle group (Harleys) in the basin that had an air pump so he aired up his new tire. The downside was to come as the tire had to be continually pumped as a slow leak had developed. Not sure if it was due to the tube tire misfit or rough handling using the air pump. In any case it did not help Spoon’s day.

We got an earlier start the next day for a 36 mile climb up to Alpine. Probably the best riding day we had as there as an overcast most of the day. Along the way we had a couple we had meet at the Chisos Basin Rest aunt stop and visit with us.  In Alpine we rented a car and drove back to Balmorhea and picked up our vehicles and returned to Alpine and got our bikes and gear. I was too early in the day so I headed out and overnighted in Lordsburg, NM. The next morning I was in Scottsdale by 9 am.

All said and done it was a great and enjoyable experience and I am glad I did it.

Checkout the entire tour with pictures

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Getting To and From Big Bend

Looked at several options of getting to the start and end of the Big Bend tour.  The least complex and cheapest is to drive from Scottsdale to Balmorhea and back. It is about 625 miles one way. One long day’s drive or two short days drive. Total of around 1300 miles. Estimated cost $500. Car rental of $300.00 plus gas $200.00.

I went to Enterprise for an Economy car rental for a couple of reasons. First fuel economy and second it will be sitting in Balmorhea for a few days and it shouldn’t be a high value target.

Our meet up will be in Balmorhea (bal-mur-RAY) State Park a very interesting place unto its self. Probably well worth a day looking around at the springs.

Balmorhea State Park

The Bruce

 

Here is the Bruce in all of its glory fully loaded for Big Bend.

 

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The Bruce

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