Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mt. the nick of time

Jeff Rogers (L) and MarkCotovsky (R) at EXO in Tucson
Many of you know the fun story of how Mark and Jeff and I began our friendship. It was PAC Tour Desert Camp, 2007 in Sierra Vista, AZ. Breakfast that first morning everyone was going around the table with introductions which, of course, included where we each lived. Lo and behold, Mark and Jeff (and I) all live in Wilmette, IL and only 3 blocks from one another!! And so began a wonderful friendship on two wheels. For over a year now we have been targeting early November for their first visit to our new life in Tucson. This November visit would include a crest of Mt. Lemmon and their first El Tour. 

I was so excited to see them when they arrived I took them on a night ride along the Rillito River Path before I even let them eat dinner!!

Kirk gave up his Rotary responsibilities Friday, November 9th in order to crew for us up Mt. Lemmon, or The Lemmon, as I call her. Little did we know ahead of the ride we would really, really need him.

Mark, Jeff, and Wayne Collup
The end of June Wayne crewed for Mark Dumas and me. It was only right that we crew for him as he attempted his first summit in years and his first ever on his Tour Easy recumbent.

The day was cool, about 50, at Le Buzz, the coffee shop 4-1/2 miles from the base of The Lemmon that serves as the start and finish of most hopeful summiteurs. The weather forecast was expected to deteriorate at Summerhaven, the finish atop the Mountain, by mid-day. Our goal was to seek shelter and hot chili at The Sawmill before the bottom fell out of the temperature and winds would gust at 40+ mph.

Kirk planned to meet us every 6 miles (It's 25 miles and 6,000' from the base of Mt. Lemmon to Summerhaven). That plan quickly was abandoned as the 4 of us got too spread out along the highway. Wayne turned in an awesome performance before turning around at mile 12.

Mark and I would be in each others mirrors taking turns leading and following from mile 6 to 25. By mile 18 we had put on all the extra layers we had brought with us on the bikes. The absolute temp had dropped to 37 and the winds were, indeed, gusting in the 40's. A couple of times I needed to stop and anchor myself on the mountain with both wheels and both feet. By mile 21 the clouds so thickly enveloped us I could no longer see Mark. The pavement was wet from rain and covered with pine straw. Mark and I would need to "take the lane" to better ensure we could keep the rubber side down as we rode the fast descents through miles 21-23 before the final ascent into Summerhaven. Kirk assumed a RAAM position of "direct follow" protecting us from cars coming up on us from the rear through that  risky stretch of blind vision.

The winds were so severe and the temp so biting we didn't even pause at the summit for the photo-op. We just scurried into the Sawmill for dry jerseys and a hot bev. We had barely changed into warm clothes when the sky opened up and banged down an inch of hail.

We willingly accepted Kirk's offer to carry all three of us down the mountain in our trusty van.

We capped day's accomplishment with pix and smiles once we got home where it was 30 degrees warmer than atop the Lemmon. 

Kirk's support for us was so extraordinaire we awarded him with his very own King Of The Mountain T-Jersey. 
Mark, Kirk, and Jeff

Jeff, Susan, and Mark