Sunday, March 15, 2015

A pace line wasn't quite enough....

Saturday March 14 Casa Grande to Catalina state park (northwest corner of Tucson, AZ)
Well, confession time. We didn't do the whole route on our bikes today. We got to the 48 mile lunch and SAG stop and we were bushed. This changes us from EFI (every freakin' inch) to, well, rational human beings? Well, tired human beings anyway.
Here's how it went:
We started the day with a light northeast wind which was pretty much a headwind as we were traveling east. We have had a headwind most of every day for the past five. So, no big deal, just hunker down and keep moving. Then we had about 3/4 of a mile where we were moving south. Wooee! Tailwind. Well, we knew that wouldn't last but what was unexpected was that when we turned east, the wind was a full on southeast gale. It changed that fast! Bubba took the blame for it because he said that he commented on that it didn't seem very windy; unlike this day during past years. No sooner had he said that than the wind speed increased.
We met up with Dean and Judy fighting the wind. They asked if we would like to join up in a group to form a paceline. They even said that I wouldn't need to take a turn at the front since my low riding bike wouldn't be much of a windbreak for the uprights. So we formed a line but quickly realized that the line would need to be staggered in the shape of half a v because the wind was coming off our left shoulders. Essentially by doing this you place yourself in the other person's slipstream. The difference in effort is dramatic. We were individually struggling to do about 8 mph and in the paceline we were able to do about 11 mph with far less effort. (In the past when I used to train with a heart monitor I could see my heart rate drop dramatically).
The front person would take a turn for about a mile or two, then slip back to a spot in front of me and the second person would become the front person, etc. The road was a decent riding surface and it was almost deserted most of the time so we took up the whole lane. Then when someone was coming we'd move over to the side. This worked fine except for a couple of people who let us know that they felt bikes don't belong on the roads at all by blaring their horns. I wonder if they treat every combine or tractor the same way?
By the time we were done with the 18 mile stretch Dave's hip was starting to hurt and I could see him rubbing his knee. We stopped at the 48 mile mark and asked for a ride into camp. A lot of people sagged in but Dean and Judy kept on and did the whole 70 miles. They are troopers! Later when they road into camp we gave them a big thumbs up. More practically, Don handed Judy a beer before she was even off her bike! The last person in, Rich, received a spontaneous standing ovation when he arrived just at dusk. We are starting to bond as a larger group with smaller groupings within the larger group.
We had a surprise at our first SAG stop. We were riding up and a couple of people were standing there. The woman was taking our picture. I didn't think much about it because our support staff is taking pics to compile onto a thumb drive so we will have lots of pictures to keep when we go home. However as I got closer I realized it didn't look like Joyce. Then my brain finally clicked into gear and I realized that it was our friends, Lorriann and Dale! Dave didn't even realize until he was off the bike and standing in front of Dale.
I'm  going to close now so I can post this and charge my phone. I am a couple days behind on the blog. Tomorrow we have a 70 mile uphill day (3000 foot elevation gain) to Tombstone, AZ. We will be treated to a gunfight reenactment in Old Tombstone with corned beef dinner afterwards so I may not find much time to blog. Wednesday is a shorter day of riding  so hopefully I can catch up.

Our paceline friends, Dean and Judy

Just before sunrise in the Catalina mountains 

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