Wednesday, October 07, 2015

70th Birthday 300k (192 miles) Ride

                                                   Susan, Jeff, David

It has been a long while since I have posted on Bentwanderings. It is not for lack of cycling activity, that's for certain. But, when you live in a place like Tucson where you can ride 365, there are fewer epics to write about and the dailies are more often heart-stopping sunsets, cactus blooms in the Spring (that is likely to come in February), endless wind, dramatic monsoons, desert-desiccating heat, and critters like rattlesnakes, cyote and Javelina. Facbook has become an easy vehicle to capture many of my dailies. Now, however, I want to capture my most recent epic event: my 70th Birthday 300k on my 4 month old ICE Trike.

I knew I wanted to mark my 70th in a way that would be significant for me. I just recently completed my first RUSA R-12 and for a brief moment I thought maybe I should complete a 600k and add another 100k. But, seeing that I have never completed a 400k or a 600k, a 700k was, well, totally unrealistic and just plain stupid.

I know an older gentleman who states his age by subtracting from 100. I think he is 20 now via that math. That gave me an idea: 100 minus 70 equals 30 add a zero equals 300. All I had to do was create a 300k RUSA route out of Tucson and VOILA: my Birthday 300k.

And so began the planning.

My gratitude list since I retired and moved to Tucson is way longer than any list I gave to Santa when I was a kid. Being able to ride 365, being a Randonee in a way that works for me, and having two handsfull of Randonneuring friends are just three on my gratitude list.

Finding a date for my Birthday 300k took a bit of doing: a date that fit the calendar for the 6 Randonneurs who wanted to be a part of the ride, all of whom would be traveling from out of town or state, and finding a date when the University of Arizona would not be playing at home thereby filling all the available hotel rooms.

While my actual birthday is October 18th, October 3rrd was the date that met the above criteria. By the time October 3rd came, 3 of the 6 riders had either taken ill or were in an active recovery mode from serious cycling related injuries.

Jefferson Rogers, my friend from Chicago, and David Brake, one of my Phoenix friends would join me. The three of us, my husband Kirk, and David's wife, Kristy, had dinner at Neo Malaysian Friday night and did a bit of planning for Saturday. Both spouses would be in the ready should there be a ride stopping event for which a rider needed to be picked up. Equally important was that we NEEDED to have a celebratory birthday cake at the last Control before the Finish. Kirk took on the finding of a Gluten free, Vegan cake that met my dietary needs.

Our route started and finished from the Country Inn and Suites near the Tucson Airport. All the riders overnighted there on Friday. 3:00 a.m. came early for us to ready for a 4:00 a.m. start.

While we had 20:32 to complete the ride for RUSA credit, we didn't want to have to be in the saddle that long AND we wanted to do everything possible to be off Empire Mountain before the dark of night. The first 5 miles down that mountain is a 5% grade, full of switchbacks, 15 sets of rumble strips and a fair amount of bidirectional traffic even at night.

Our route is one I know very well having ridden it many times with PAC Tour and on various Brevets, and 200k's. But this was my first for cobbling all the segments together into one ride, one route.

Basically, we would begin and end from the Tucson airport, ride through the Tohono O'odham Indian reservation and the San Xavier Mission, South to Nogales through Tubac and Tumacacori, Patagonia, Sonoita, and turned around at Whetstone. We would pass through Sonoita a second time and then head North up and down Empire Mountain and back to the airport/finish. Birthday cake would be served in at the Quick Mart in Vail (AZ) on the hood of our car.

Enduring memories of the ride:
     ----Fellowship and commitment to the success of the ride by all 3 of us and our spouses
     ----The quiet of 4:00 a.m. ride out in South Tucson
     ----A family of longhorn cattle alongside of us on Mission Road (open range), in the wee hours of civil twilight (twirise??)
     --- The 3rd Control in Nogales, AZ, with Nogales, Sonora MX within sight
     ----The buzz of activity at the Circle K, our 3rd Control in Nogales that made Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving at Walmart, almost pale
     ----The joy of a most supportive tailwind heading East on Rt 82 from Nogales to Whetstone (about 50 miles) where my speedometer read between 20-25 mph)
     ----The agony of the 20 miles of a 20+ mph headwind on the return from Whetstone to Sonoita.
     ----The gratitude for summiting Empire Mountain with still light in the sky
     ----The "Oh no, well here we go" descent of Empire Mountain in the dark of night
     ----The gratitude of a safe descent and the turn onto the "quiet" relief of the I-10 Frontage Rd
     ----Birthday cake on the hood of the car

     ----The final 20 miles at an average speed of 20 mph beating our ETA at the finish.

Over the last 14 years of riding one or another of my recumbents, and after coming back from 11 years of disabling back disease in the 90's, this 300k is one of my to-be-savored-memories for life to come. When I am 30 years from 100 clearly my opportunities for epic rides are measured. The satisfaction of successfully completing such a ride and being able to share that experience with good friends is a truly a treasure.

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