Sunday, November 20, 2011

El Tour de Tucson

8,700 riders lined up for the start. Photo complements of Arizona Sta
 Perfect weather for the 29th riding of El Tour de Tucson, a race that attracts ranked riders from all points N, E, S, W, and even internationally. Of course the elite riders are protected from the mass of 9,000 riders by being given a place up front, tucked safely behind the pace vehicles.

It's a chipped ride now, so no more having to line up at 3:00 a.m. to shiver in the chill of the moon to assure a desired position on the start line waiting for the 7:00 start. What better way to inaugurate my being a Tucsonian than by riding El Tour.

My garage door woke the neighbors at 5:15 a.m. who had arrived home only an hour before.  Lights on, I rode down the dirt path from my garage to the Rillito Wash Path, to Mountain Ave, through the University of Arizona that still slept, through the heart of downtown Tucson and finally to the start line at 6th Ave. and 13th St.--7.5 miles from home. I lined up with the other riders who were planning to complete the ride in the 7's.

A male quartet from the U of A sang a stunning rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and the mass began to roll out. Couldn't put both feet in the pedals for at least a block, going so slow compressed by carbon, steel, titanium, passion, and adrenalin. But when I did clip in with both feet there was clearly something amiss. But of course, it was at least my 10th flat in two weeks, despite Mr. Tuffy kevlar rim strips. Off the course, onto the sidewalk to change my flat while 4,000 riders left me behind.

The upside: well, I didn't have to jockey for position in the throng those first few miles; the downside: by the time I was rolling again all the police had left their positions at traffic intersections so I had to obey the traffic signals losing precious more minutes waiting for lights to change, etc.

As many of you know, El Tour features the crossing of two dry river washes for a total of about 0.8 mile. I caught the tail end of the 4,000 at the Aid Station on the far side of the Santa Cruz Wash.
Crossing the 1st Wash: Photo by the Arizona Star
Topped off my tube with the floor pump and spend the rest of the day passing as many riders as I could. Having ridden the course a week before paid off in spades knowing where my favorite Convenient Stores were, where the climbs were, and where the speedy descents were and whether I would want to have my windbreaker on or off.

The 85 mile riders folded onto the course at about mile 26 of the 111 mi route. The 85 milers only had to off-road through one Wash, the one through Sabino Creek (dry) which skirted Canyon Ranch through their parking lot.

Bill Walton, of basketball fame, was riding El Tour; I bumped into him in the Sabino Creek Wash, both of us sucking down some Gu Gel. I had a deep conversation with my first celeb: "Bill, I just gotta ask you, what size is your frame?" His response was thorough, but hardly expansive: "72". And then we were both off into our own rides.

At mile 50 I was back on roads that I ride weekly; so good to be on familiar roads. The 60 mile riders would fold in shortly on Sunrise Dr.; and finally the 42 milers folded in Rancho Vistoso near Catalina State Park.

The good news was that I had no more tire issues and the strong headwinds that had been predicted for the last 20-30 miles were not all that bad and the dropped cell phone I found at mile 90 was able to be returned to its rightful owner at the finish park.

El Tour by the numbers:
  • 8,700 riders, about 50% rode the 111 mi route
  • temps ranged from 60-72
  • I was the only female recumbent rider on the 111 mile course; there were 8 male bent riders who ranged in age from 47-68 on the 111 mile course. I finished in the 44th percentile among All the bent riders--7 hrs 42 min
  • There were 16 women riding upright bikes in the 61-70 year old category, my age group (age 66).  I finished in the 75th percentile among all the women in my age category, although I was really my own category of 1: a bent rider in the 61-70 year old category. 
Take aways:
  • It was a GREAT day. Loved every minute of it, except the flat
  • It would be fun to be more competitive, but given my age and classification of the bike I ride, I turned in a respectable showing.
  • Wonder why it is that out of nearly 9,000 riders on 17 women in my age category toed the line? Don't know the true answer, but what works for me is to smile one of gratitude for the gift of being able to put my wheel on the line and ride the distance
  • Next year I think I'll ride again, but do so as a Bike Patrol giving back so others can have a glorious El Tour.
Eric Marcotte of Scottsdale,  left, men's winner in the 111-mile race
Photo by Arizona Star

Jennifer Wheele of Tucson, women's winner in the 111 mile race
Photo by Arizona Star

Monday, November 07, 2011

Arivaca, Arivaca How Are You?

Always wondered what Arivaca meant: dry cows? sister to frere jaca (aka Jacques)? Who knew it is the oldest continuously inhabited townsite in Arizona. It was home to the Hohokam Indians from 300 BCE (before common era, the pc replacement of BC or before Christ) to 1,400 CE before the O'odham and Spaniards and Anglos showed up. And, it means "little well or place where water comes up."

I had several really fun opportunities for a long ride on Saturday, November 5th and I'm so, so glad I opted tor the 142 mile (+ 5 miles from the finish to home) with Mark Dumas and 2 of his Bike and Breakfast riders, Derek and Big Dave. Big Dave is big; I thought our son Daniel was big at 6'-6", but Big Dave was 6'-10" before he fractured his hip in a bike wreck and is now only 6'-9".
Left to Right: Derek, Mark, and Dave
Friday night before the 6:00 a.m. departure from the U of A Flagpole, the ubiquitous start of many Tucson bike rides, the wind gusted to 50 mph threatening to launch our patio table's umbrella from our 4th floor patio. The rain came, too, overnight dropping the temp an additional 20 degrees below its usual sun-gone-down dip. Whatever our weather would be for our ride would be better than if I had traveled 200 miles (one way) north to Congress, AZ for the AZRando's 200k, which, I heard, even offered snow at the higher elevations.

Mark has been the leader/instigator of the Bike and Breakfast rides for quite awhile now. A social group they are, that proffers challenging rides to boot. An unknown, me, showing up for the first time under the shelter of a flag pole for a 140 mile ride sent a chill of doubt through the other riders.

Headlights and blinkies on, we set out for the 1st of 4 legs: Green Valley for breakfast in 35 miles. I love to experience new routes, and about 120 of the 140 miles would be new vistas, new terrain, new joy, oh, and a little pain. We were passed by a couple of huge peletons from the Saturday Morning Shoot-Out gang and a fiercely strong mixed tandem. We were content with our conversational pace up the climb.
A wonderful surprise on the descent into Green Valley's Mama's Kitchen!! We passed a mountain biker who, it turned out, was Mark Mandell, my friend from PAC Tour's 2011 Desert Camp, who had crashed badly about a month ago breaking his shoulder in 5 places, breaking 3 ribs, and suffering a concussion during a Tucson Shoot Out ride. He's obviously on the mend. Read more about his shattering of the Arizona Perimeter Record.

Breakfast was full of "big fish" stories about our various cycling pursuits and then off on leg two, 35 miles of headwind and perpetual climb into Arivaca. I think all of Arivaca's population of 698 was out and about dancing, hooting, and hollering for their Fall Fair.

Leg three had to be the best of all. Clearly the direction was both downhill, kissed by a tail wind, and the most glorious non-billboard scenery imaginable of Altar Valley, Baboquivari Peak, a 7,730' sacred peak to the Tohono O'odham, and Kitt Peak National Observatory.

Our third rest stop at about mile 114 was Three Points, however, I think there are really only two: an expanded convenient store and a closed restaurant. We opted for the the expanded convenient store for the likes of beer nuts and beef jerkey. We left Three Points at about 4:15ish with 25 miles to go; Should be back to Tucson in civil twilight. But there were some mechanicals on our dance cards.

Derek's 2 month-old armadillo tire was slashed by some angry detritus on the 3' margin of Ajo Highway with its 55 mph traffic. The setting sun was so bright in my rear view mirror I didn't realize I had "lost" them for about a mile. Called Mark, walked backwards toward them, the tire had been booted with a dollar bill, but with concern as the boot wanted to pooch through the slash. Letting some air out of the tire to protect against a blowout laid his tire vulnerable to the inevitable pinch flat. We're way beyond civil twilight now, patching his only tube by the light of our headlamps, and using my tire boot made from a piece of discarded tire I carry just for this particular "just in case" purpose.

Up and running again with 20 miles of Ajo Highway night riding, not meditative at all, unless you call praying for safe delivery onto Mission Road meditative.

This Arivaca Loop will go down in my book as one of my two most favorite one-day rides, the other being my 300k with Michelle Williams in NOLA last February.

If the Ride and Breakfast riders will have me, I'm looking forward to many more rides with them.

Thanks, guys.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tucson Musings

Courtesy of

It's difficult to say when we arrived in Tucson; it has been, what you might call, a series of soft landings. There was the week of September 4-11 when we hotelled it at Varsity Clubs of America at Alvernon and Speedway. That was the week we made serious tracks with Liz Ryan, our interior designer/decorator.

That was the week we were amazed, surprised, and pleased to discover the civility of drivers and store workers, including those at places the likes of Staples, Circle K, and Ace.

It's the culture here for cars to NOT race through yellows. They simply stop and wait for the next green. They also do not race ahead of cyclists and then cut them off to make a right turn.

Left turn arrows are, for the most part, trail the green light. But what's totally an enigma for me is that some left turn arrows lead the green, sometimes the Leading Arrow is announced by signage, and sometimes not. Moral of the story: do NOT assume you know the light patterns. 

Dedicated bike lanes are omnipresent and drivers are omnicourtesous, for example slowing to make their right turn to let the cyclist clear the right turn zone. By the same token it is the culture here for cyclists to wait patiently for the red light to turn green. No cyclist even thinks about running a red.

Store workers smile and greet you every time you walk in any store and ask if they can help you find something, even if it's just a Red Bull or a MousePad.

That same Labor Day week I rode 300 amazing AZ miles. Locals said it was too hot to ride a century, but I said "Bring it on, I've been waiting a LOOOONG time to feel the warmth." 

 We left Tucson September 12 not to return for nearly 2 weeks, our renters' lease still being operative until October 1st. September 25th was another soft landing date--back to the same Varsity Clubs of America. More work with Liz Ryan, lots of work on Kirk's part to refinance the mortgage, multiple trips to the Motor Vehicle Division to get Driver's Licenses and Car License Plates, lining up health care professionals, and on and on.

October 1st was another soft landing date: the date we took official possession of 2399 E. Blue Diamond Dr., at least in the eyes of Waste Management, Tucson Electric and Water. October 1st, in came the tradesmen of all flavors to put fans in the ceilings, install custom bookcases, closet interiors, and brilliantly beautiful colors on the walls. After 39 years of parsonage life, no more egg-shell white on every wall and ceiling.

Riverwalk Townhouses

October 8th was another soft landing date, but actually not really soft. That was the first night we slept in our own place. Only problem was we didn't have a bed yet, so it was floor camping. Our bed count since June 26th was 44 different beds in 27 different states.

October 10th was the hard landing--our Chicago furniture finally arrived, along with 103 boxes many of which are Kirk's books and that was after he purged 50% of his collection before leaving Chicago. We had said bye-bye to our furniture on June 24th, 3-1/2 months earlier.

And so began the joy of discovering what was in all of those boxes and figuring out where it would live at 2399. Thanks to Liz Ryan we knew where the furniture would go, but all of our newly ordered furniture won't be here for 8-12 weeks. So, it's not quite floor camping, but we're not entertainment ready either. ;-)

And so, in between unpacking boxes and multiple trips to Bed Bath and Beyond I've ridden about 1,700 miles most alone, but some with our son, Daniel, a few with the Tucson Recumbent Group, a few with Arizona Cyclist Shop (got handily dropped on the Twin Peaks climb), and looking forward to riding with "The Dogs" next week.

Along the roads I've seen moles, shrews, rattlesnakes, hummingbirds, coyote (up real close and very personal), mice, rats, but no javelina yet. Shots from the road:


Once Again

Shades of Sunset

Another Sunset

Need a Vacuum?

Says It All (p.s. not mine)

The 0.15 mile path from our Townhouse to the Rillito Path

One of the many "washes" that fill with water during the monsoons

A portion of the once mighty Santa Cruz River. Most of the Santa Cruz in Tucson is a dry "wash".

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A Season Passed

For 40 years we loved everything about Chicago, except the winters. It was home for our careers, childrearing, Rotary-ing, cycling, growing, celebrating, learning, and cheering for the Cubs (alas to no avail). June 26th we embarked on our 99-Day-Trek-To-Tucson right after lunch, right after Kirk preached his last sermon at Trinity United Methodist Church in Wilmette. I had wrapped up my Recovery Coaching Practice just days before. October 1st, 99 days, 12,400 miles, 27 states, and 44 different beds later we reached Tucson where the I can ride 365 days a year, the skies are always blue, and we’ll be only 8 miles from our son, Daniel, and his family. These past 99+ days have been about our shared Trek-To-Tucson so I have not posted in Bentwanderings. But, we're here now, Tucson is home now: I have an AZ Driver's License (they didn't even make me take an eye test) and a new cell phone number with a 520 area code. If you'd like to read about our Trek you can catch the blog here: Trek-To-Tucson

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Plan, But Don't Plan The Outcome

I had been planning this half-solo, half-groupie ride for better than 6 months. PAC Tour would be riding the eastern half of Route 66 leaving Amarillo May 21st and arriving in Chicago June 5th. I would ride four days down to Litchfield where they'd enter Illinois and then ride back with them to Chicago. Perfect! Their finish motel is only 8.5 miles from my house!

So, the planning began--customizing and tuning my new-to-me Bacchetta Ti Aero, route planning, drop shipping supplies to myself along the way, test riding the bike with loaded panniers, etc.

Sunday, May 29th finally came: Day 1--Wilmette to Joliet. Dave Eidenburg would meet me on the road by Swedish Covenant Hospital and we'd breakfast at Ina's instead of our "regular" Lou Mitchell's. The 29th was also Bike The Drive with thousands of cyclists enjoying the freedom of riding Lake Shore Drive for several hours while the road is closed to all car traffic. Lou Mitchell's, being close to The Drive, would surely be overrun with cyclists, tourists, happy Holiday-ers, but probably few regulars.

Chicago's winter has been endless and the Spring, if you can call it that, has been ridiculous with cold, rain, wind, storms, and more. So,I was not surprised to awake Sunday, May 29th to find the temp in the mid-50's, fog that could best be described as pleuritic froth so dense it dripped off my handlebars and soaked my knee warmers. Oh, so glad it was 6:30 a.m. and no one was on the road cuz my visibility was, at best, two car lengths. I needed to wipe my glasses every 30 seconds just to see anything. Even considered turning around, loading my bike in the car and driving to Joliet. An option, yes, but decided to decide after breakfast with Dave.

Indeed the fog did lift, at least at Racine/Randolph; but by the time we reached Indiana/Roosevelt it had returned with a vengeance. On we rode to 71st/Cottage Grove where Dave would U-turn to go home and I would seep alone into the southwest side's blight and fog.

I wanted to pee before Dave left, but finding such a facility was a challenge since gas stations in ghettos don't typically have restrooms. But what did manifest was what would be the first of 4 close encounters-of-the-police-kind right there on the corner of 71st and Cottage--a Chicago Police Station!! While there the sky opened up with proverbial buckets which gave Chicago's finest a chance to check the hourly forecast for me and "bless" my route. Gave Dave a farewell hug and headed out into the drizzle, pizzle, and pour Oh Lord.

Vincennes, the road, turned out to be under construction (rough, grooved surface) so sidewalk riding, curb and water-filled pot hole hopping while praying my gatorskin tires would resist the everywhere detritus.

Finished the ghetto; breathed easily in the beauty of Beverly; then girded my loins for surviving my invisibility in the fog on unshouldered, 45 mph south suburban streets. Jumped the sidewalks many times to stay out of harm's way, playing the stop lights for lane space.

Old Plank Trail was music to my eyes, even paused long enough to call Kirk with an update of my continued survival. Fog still BIG, but being the only wheeled vehicle on the Trail, actually being the only creature on the Trail, didn't seem like it should be too hard until--the 7:00 p.m. darkness at 1:30 p.m. turned to 11:00 p.m. darkness; the fog on my glasses became blinding rain, and the hirsute foliage edging the trail alive, competing with my trail space. And so it went to New Lennox when the elements became more civil and a Police Station appeared at trail side. Close encounter of a police kind # 2.

Did he think it safe for me to cut through the east side of Joliet to get to my motel or should I take the extra 7 miles to route around the "iffy" neighborhood. He voted for the extra 7 cautious miles.

The Joliet Red Roof watched me pour water out of my shoes, pour out of my pannier rain covers, and pour out of my panniers themselves. Washed my bike with shampoo out of the motel waste basket and stomped around on my clothes in the shower and fell dead asleep at 5:00 p.m. awakened by Rhonda's call saying she was at the front desk ready to take me to Syl's for dinner.

Day 1 in the books, a day of wise riding, protection and luck. Grateful for them all.

Willing To Accept Help

Monday, May 30th, Memorial Day awoke with a welcome visage: warm, sunny, blue skies; not even a thought of rain in the air or in the forecast.

The new roads bypassed the truck-laden roads out of Joliet and 12 miles later I was on the frontage road of I-55 aka Old Route 66. Nothing could be sweeter after yesterday's hard-earned fog-sodden completion.

Oooops, the pavement ended. YIKES, was I so mesmerized I missed a turn? Turned around to find my maybe missed turn and, VOILA, my close encounter of a police kind #3. The Sheriff re-directed me through the unpaved road, onto Duck Pond Road, and finally Dresden, my red carpet into Coal City. Duck Pond Road was Avatar Forest magical with frogs singing, cottonwood puffs filling the air like huge snow flakes and cool tranquility.

Fluid unload and reload at the Coal City ACE and on my way again, except not really. Heading South out of Coal City was the beginning of 25-30+ mph winds and temps that reached 95 for the rest of the day into Bloomington. No worries. I had plenty of daylight for the remaining 90 miles, plenty of bottle fuel, bars, and all would be fine. Plus, I would pass through Gardner, Dwight, Odell, Pontiac, Chenoa, Lexington, and Towanda. I could cool off in the service stations, no biggie.

By the time I reached Odell I had a disquieting sense that all was not fine. This was only the 4th day in 2011 I had ridden in Illinois with short pants, short sleeves, and short fingred gloves. I was not heat-acclimatized.

I had a serious bout of hyponatremia several years ago in the Cochise Classic--the result of coming out of the temperate October climate in IL and into the heat of AZ for the one-day ride. I've been told having had one bout of hypoNA predisposes you to future bouts.

By Pontiac I'm huddling in the shade of The Pontiac Family Kitchen's awning and putting ice under my helmet and down my shirt, the first of several more such attempts at cooling. The wind is picking up with each hour of the day and is solidly and relentlessly in my face. Pontiac's bright spot was a conversation with the Pritchards, long-time curators of the Pontiac Route 66 Museum, who were leaving the Family Kitchen.

By Lexington I'm seriously questioning whether I can make it to Bloomington, yet my options are none but to keep moving forward. Sat for a long while with as much skin as I could put on the cool tile floor of the Freedom Oil Convenient Store with ice under my cap and inside my shirt downing Hammer Endurolytes like Pez Candy, and having no idea whether I was ahead or behind with electrolyte replacements. I'd only peed once in 8 hours, not a good sign. Drinking nauseated me and even Lays Classic potato chips, the only convenient store food I can eat, wouldn't't go down. My caloric intake for the day was downright puny--a Larabar and a couple of bottles of fluid.

I'm in trouble. Big trouble.

My elapsed speed has been reduced to something like 8.5 mph with all the stops I've needed to make to slow my heart rate down, cool off, etc. Stopping once again under an overpass between Lexington and Towanda I have my #4 close encounter of a police kind. Steve Kennedy, State Police pulls up along side me, gives the thumps up sign in questioning and I return with the thumbs down. We chat, would I want to put my bike in his back seat? That was downright humorous. I smiled the first time since the Avatar Forest. Can you even imagine getting a Bacchetta Ti Aero into the back seat of a sedan??? I thanked him for his kind offer and pressed on down the road toward Towanda. He says he'll send another officer out a little later to check on me. It was a relief to know that someone knew I was out here.

Once again my cool down ritual at The Fast Stop in Towanda with 11 miles to go. Each of these 10 mile stretches seem like 25 or 30 on regular days. Four miles out of Towanda close encounter of a police kind #5 this time it's State Police Officer Eric. He says a lot of people are worried about me and we're going to load my B into his trunk and he'll SAG me into the motel. With tires, weapons, first aid kits, and more in his trunk, I think it is a full miracle we were able to lay the B on top of it all and bungee the trunk lid with my cable lock. It was only 7 miles, but it felt like 30.

After checking into my room I reached for my phone to call Kirk and my phone was GONE!! I know I hadn't been thinking clearly for several towns, but my last memory with my phone, which I could have sworn was in Towanda, was moving it from my hip pouch to the pouch on the back of my bike seat so the dripping water from the ice in my shirt and under my cap wouldn't drown my phone. Phone lossage was indeed a show stopper. I had to call Kirk via the hotel room phone. Amazing I even knew his number since he's speed dial "K".

Decision made. I would need to layover in Bloomington an extra day to recoup and regroup including buying a new phone. Did call the service station in Towanda to see if my phone had been found. No such luck, although the thought of riding 24 miles round trip to pick it up, had it been there, sounded like an over-the-top challenge at the time.

Sometimes when I fall short of a goal I beat myself up with a cacophony of self-talk. This was not one of those times. I had planned well, trained well, and was fully ready. There is no way I could have heat-acclimatized for mid-90's and high winds in one day. After all, I had been wearing winter or storm gear up to this very day for 6 months!

I was grateful for the SAG; grateful for having had the hyponatremia experience several years ago so I could, at least, knowledgeably try to manage my physiology; grateful for Hammer products to give me the confidence that I had supplements at hand designed to support athletes under such conditions; grateful for 5 different Officer Friendlies along my way; grateful for the Pritchards who brightened Pontiac for me;grateful for Paul, the La Quinta Proprietor, who was genuinely relieved to see me arrive safely; and grateful for Kirk at the other end of the hotel phone line who, as always, was full of support and constructive problem solving.

Day 2 in the books.

Bloomington: Recoup and Regroup

Given the events of Foggy Day 1 and Steamy Day 2, meeting PAC Tour in Litchfield would not be doable.

First order of business on Day 3, this my day of recoup and regroup in Bloomington, was a bike ride to the Library to plan my route to Lincoln where I WOULD meet up with PAC Tour to ride the last 3 days of their eastern half of the Route 66 Tour. One of my learnings from my several years of self-guided touring is to remember to build in "cush" time to manage through the occasional unplannables. Without some cush-time, the unplannables will, indeed, bite you in the kneecap. The events of the last couple of days definitely fell into the category of unplannables.

Google on the Library Computer found me my route to Lincoln, the local Starbucks, and the Verizon Store; all my needs can be met with these 3 finds.

Sipping a Chai Latte on the Starbucks' patio on the corner of Washington St. and Veterans Parkway when 19 y.o. Barrista Jason, on break, sat down at my patio table to swap bike and riding stories. His longest ride is 50 miles; he rides a vintage Schwinn. He's a tiny little guy whose smile is twice the size of his whole body. He'd easily make weight as a Jockey for sure. His big, fawn eyes went dreamy imagining what it would be like to have the freedom to ride the country. Fun to be a part of planting a dream in a young'n's heart.

Off next to the Verizon store and served there by Andre, a 48 y.o. born-again Christian, 6-months retired world-class, professional body-builder wrestler and inspirational speaker. My B parked in his store gave him license to swap stories about the mental aspects of our sports. Check him out on YouTube. He sold me an iPhone with a ballistic proof shocking pink case. Not sure I need all that protection, but right now I'm practicing being willing to accept help.

With Tuesday as a Recoup and Regroup Day, I was ready to roll out of the Bloomington La Quinta and say farewell to Paul, the proprietor, and his 2-week-old baby girl on Wednesday, Day 4.

I am not a fan of Cracker Barrel, but that was the only restaurant within walking distance of my La Quinta. Another thing I've learned is I need animal protein especially the morning of a long ride or when on multi-day tours. So, stopped at Cracker Barrel with my loaded B for a carry-out order of a couple of sausage patties and met Todd, a local business man, who was interested in where I was going, my route, whether I'd ridden in the Madison, WI area, his hopes to do so, etc. We must have spent 30 minutes pouring over maps, and his making call after call to city hall and the parks dept trying to figure out where I could pick up the trail to Shirley, IL.

I left Bloomington in perfect weather, Thank You!--warm, breezy, pure sunny delight. Even found the path Todd had worked so hard to find for me, but with no thanks to the folks who answered his calls at city hall or the parks dept.

Stopped in Atlanta, IL at a service station and was nearly to Lincoln when a 16 y.o. on a BMX trick bike rolled up along side of me; he'd been chasing me down since Atlanta. He'd never seen a recumbent before and just had to see it up close and personal. Satisfied, he turned around a rode back to Atlanta.

A most sweet conclusion to Day 4.

Riding In The Pack With PAC: Lincoln-->Pontiac

Always feels like a homecoming when I rejoin PAC Tour whether it be for a Transcon, a week of Desert Camp to break the monotony of Winter, or just to ride with them a few days on one of their longer journeys, which is the case this week.

Today we're riding about 80 miles from Lincoln to Pontiac savoring the sites of some of Illinois' Route 66 lore, like the Paul Bunyon Hot Dog Statue, The Palms Grill Restaurant rich with homemade pies, Funks Grove Maple Sugar, and lots and lots of 50's memory lane in Pontiac.

Jim Hlavka under Paul Bunyan in Atlanta, IL

Breakfast at The Plam's Grill in Atlanta

One of many murals in Pontiac

Mike and Nancy Meyers on their Rans Sevo Recumbent Tandem


Me again

Bikes parked outside The Plam's in Atlanta for a breakfast of homemade pies

Jim, Don, Al, and me at Baby Bull's in Pontiac

Next To The Last Day--on to Willowbrook

Pix say it best.

Jim under the Gemini Giant in Wilmington

Another mural, this one in Wilmington

Another hot day for Lon and all the riders

Final dinner at the Route 66 famous Del Rhea

Lon auctioning the Route 66 map for $750 to Lenny. Proceeds will support Lon's educational projects in Peru.

End of Route 66--The Tour and The Road

Next time I ride with PAC it will be 2012 and I'll be an Arizona resident--WooHoo!

A HUGE thanks to Susan Rosenblatt for being the resident photographer for the entire trip. You did an awesome job.

Last rest stop before Lou Mitchell's for breakfast

Almost There

Susan Wells, Susan Rosenblatt, and Susan Reed

Buckingham Fountain

Chicago style mural in an underpass

This bike as traveled the entire Mother Road

See you on the next Route 66 PAC Tour

Once again, pix say it best.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Calvin's Challenge

Jeff Rogers

Calvin’s was handedly one of my most gratifying one-day rides. Yes, the 186.5 miles in 11:30 felt good, actually really good; but the gratification was much more about all the little things that I learned and changes that I made between Calvin’s 2010 and Calvin’s 2011.

For starters I had never “raced” and actually didn’t think, in 2010, of Calvin’s as being a race. Yes, I knew it was timed, but...just naive, I’d say. So, in 2010 I didn’t think racing strategies. Just showed up to ride.

2011 I was thinking ‘race’ and showed up early at the start along the HS driveway semi-circle that served as Loop Counting and Start/Finish and staked out a golden spot for my cooler full of non-allergenic goodies to sustain me through the ride and into the long evening at the Awards Ceremony.

2010 I was still getting sick, sick, sick in the stomach, every time I rode and didn’t know why. Who woulda’ thunk that Hammer HEED was a performance stopper. But, shortly after Calvin’s 2010, thanks to a hot tip from Sandy Earl, I eliminated HEED and I eliminated getting sick! So, what’s in my bottles now? One scoop of Hammer Sustained Energy and 2 scoops of Clif Electrolyte Replacement Drink--a winning combo for me.

Embarrassed to say, but I’ve also become a fan of RedBull; I’m otherwise, compulsively attentive to what I put into my fuel tank. But April 30th at Calvin’s 2011 three small cans of Red Bull were in my cooler--my special treat after each 50 mile loop.

2010 I rode my Lightning P-38, my steady friend for 7 +/- years and 80,000+ miles. But in 2011 I showed up on my new-to-me Bacchetta Ti Aero. Don’t think I was imagining things, but what a HUGE difference this bike did make. I’m a believer in the B!!!

Added a new Bent Up Cycles Aero Seat Bag which allowed me to carry 2 more water bottles, in addition to the 2 mounted on my carbon seat frame. Clearly helps to be able to go twice as long without having to change out bottles.

That the weather was PERFECT, even by non-Calvin’s standards--no rain, decent temp, but yes, some wind, along with no mechanicals added to the days gratification.

My goal was to ride a 300k (186 miles) in 12 hours. That seemed quite attainable given my times for several round-trip jaunts to Milwaukee and a recent 300k. I made my goal at 11:30. I chose not to ride another 7 mile loop, although I had plenty of time to do so. Somehow 193 just didn’t have a ring to it, and I didn’t have time to do 2 more loops and hit the coveted 200 miles in 12 hours.

Had I 4 bottles on my bike and 4 more bottles pre-filled, so all I had to do was swap them out, and had I known that, if all conditions were right, a 200 was within reach, I’m confident I could have hit that mark, as well.
While there will not be another Calvin’s in my future, since we’re moving to Tucson in the Fall, there will be lots of WARM 300k’s, 200 milers, and 12-Hr’s out in AZ and Southern CA which will be fun opportunities for me to push my limits.

Thanks Calvin’s!!