Thursday, February 28, 2008

Better the 2nd Time Around

After having to abort the Cochise 252 mile classic after only 27 miles last October, 2007 (see posts labeled Cochise Classic) I was full of self-doubt. Was I washed up at age 62? Would I be limited to sojourns around my 'hood? And what about the Volae I had bought for the purpose of solo tours? My soul (and legs) were full of rides and a world waiting for me to discover. I hired a coach, Bart Bowen, to coach my self doubts and my cycling engine. He worked me hard and I responded, training to power through four months of Chicago's Siberian winter.

So here begins the Cochise redemption. In six days the desert will let me know if I'm good to go solo touring to GA, OR, and NH this season.

I rode this same route--Tucson-->Wickenburg-->Tucson with PAC Tour in 2006. That year I just followed the route cards without a clue where I was in the world or where I was in Arizona. This year, second time around, the route, the rocks, the hills, the towns, they pass through me; they have names and character. I know them and they know me. So even the interstate exits and the motels.

Day 1 I planned from Tucson to Gila Bend, 130 odd miles through Eloy and Casa Grande. About 50 miles into the ride, this Day 1, I came to my senses that 130 miles in one day was a little much so early in the season, riding a new bike, hauling gear for the first time, climbing, climbing, and oh yes, the last 30 miles of this 130 mile day would be on I-8. A flat tire would mean I would be riding in the remote darkness of the desert, temperatures falling with the sun. It would just be me and the truckers whizzing by at a legal 75 mph. Large Marge comes to mind.

Reason prevailed, I'd make this route into a 3 day ride, instead of a 2 day and would overnight in Casa Grande. Even if it meant having to miss a day of the conference at The Meadows, it was the right decision.

Route 84 through Eloy, population 10,000, 75% of whom are Hispanic on the way to Casa Grande, swells for 3/4 of a mile to a 4 lane road. Urbanites would think of it as a boulevard, at most. But here in Eloy it is a highway. I smiled at this "highway" 2 years ago and smiled again this year.

Grande "matured" sufficiently in the last two years to earn the right to have a Starbucks--a happy sight to my eyes. They even had a Tazo tea selection unavailable in the big cities--organic chai. Mighty tasty when dressed up as a tea soy misto.

In way before night fall; a good day on the bike. The desert and I were both smiling.

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