Saturday, February 25, 2006

Recovery Day

No riding today, at least not for me. Saturday is the transition day between camp weeks, so there is no organized riding. There is a cue sheet available for those that want to ride on their own, but I'm taking the day as a recovery day. I've mostly been relaxing while trying to stay off my feet and my butt, and icing my knee every few hours.

I had a morning physical therapy session which was basically a deep muscle massage. For those that have never had one, I should tell you something. These are no new-age aroma-therapy spirit-channeling seances. They are serious muscle adjustments, and they hurt like hell when you have overuse injuries. My quads were pretty tight and knotted, especially near the insertion points. The therapist did her best to work out the knots, while I did my best not to scream. She told me that the inflammation in my knee was probably caused by the tightness. Who would have thought that the most painful experience of the week would be the massage table? I now have a daily appointment for the next seven days.

All of the tandem riders from Week 1 have gone home, except for one guy. He has a new stoker (the person on the back) coming in for Week 2. The theme for Week 2 is 'Bike Friday', so almost everyone coming in this week is riding a Bike Friday.

I've been told by several of the crew that the Bike Friday riders tend to be a lot more laid back than typical riders. As a result, the routes for Week 2 are shorter. On Sunday, we ride to Sierra Vista. That ride is about 85 miles with some climbing in the first 40, but after that, the rides are all less than 65 miles for the week. If I can get my knee through those first 40 miles, I should be good for the week. Although there is climbing most of the week, all of the rides begin and end in Sierra Vista. That will allow me to tailor my route and mileage without riding the van. It would also allow me to take a day off if I have to.

I'll be spending the rest of the day reading Dr. Andy Pruitt's 'Complete Medical Guide for Cyclists'. Better that I would have read that on the way out here rather than 'War of the Worlds'. I'll leave you with some photos I took this week -- mostly yesterday from Saguaro National Park.

  • Cacti and Mountains

  • Vista

  • Vista Too

  • Horizon

  • Big Sky

  • Greenery and Sky. With all of the plant life, it surprised me to learn that there has not been rain there for over 110 days. The park ranger was pretty knowledgable about the local vegetation, although he seemed more interested in telling me about all of the cyclists that die every year on Gates Pass.

  • Earth Meets Sky

  • Cattle Farm. We passed this on the way to to Gila Bend. I was planning on stopping there to beg some bag balm on the return journey, but I managed to find some in Casa Grande before the return.

  • McTown. Building tomorrow's baby boomer ghetto today. We rode through this town on our routes between Casa Grande and Gila Bend. This place is future shock waiting to happen. Literally thousands of new McHouses piled on top of each other with a McTown Center smack in the middle. All in the middle of a desert that relies on the distant Colorado river to keep its groundwater recharged.

  • Training Bike. In case you were wondering what I was riding. I also plan to use this on the second transcontinental. Most of the miles for the first crossing are on old Route 66 which will require a different bike.

  • Friday, February 24, 2006


    I left the motel today at 8:00 enroute to Tucson. The route was the reverse of the route to Casa Grande from earlier in the week. I started off just fine, but developed what seemed to be a bit of patellar tendinitis after about 10 miles. Often, random pains just go away after a while, so I let up and turned my attention to my knee to see where this was going. After another 15 minutes or so the pain became pretty severe so I babied it into the first rest stop. By applying power only on the upstroke of each pedal revolution, I was able to minimize the pain and managed to get to the rest stop by 10:00. When I rolled in, my knee was starting to get stiff.

    At the stop, I spoke with the crew and we decided that I would ride the SAG to the lunch stop. So, I sat in the van icing my knee feeling pretty depressed. For almost everyone else out here, today was the finale. The final ride back into Tucson for a week total of almost 500 miles. The other riders were going home tonight or tomorrow feeling great about the week long desert tour. Some riders had even gone off route earlier in the week to pad their weekly miles up to 500.

    Not me. I had blown my finale by pushing too hard earlier in the week. I may not have been planning on going home this week, but I still wanted to finish the first tour with everyone else. I came into camp with only about 600 miles for the year, and having been off of the bike completely for three weeks. What's more, I was sick for over two weeks just prior to coming to camp. I knew I had yet to build up a reasonable base for the season, and I had planned to ride gently all month. Yet, I hammered at least a little bit every day, and a lot on some. Sure, it was fun, but it was stupid.

    Had I only planned on being out here for a week, I would have just loaded up on ibuprofen, iced my knee at every stop, and finished the ride screaming. I could then go home and take a week off before nursing my knee back into shape. But I have to keep my focus on the larger goal and priorities. I have three very long tours planned this year and another 9000 miles to go. Riding every mile this week, at any cost, is not a priority -- regardless of how stupid I feel for blowing it.

    I'm going to write the 2006 goals down right now, so I can reinforce my memory. And so anyone reading can remind me what an asshole I am being the next time I post a blog about cruising at 300+ watts, pacing at or 22+ mph into the wind, chasing celebrities, or some other moronic self-defeating thrill seeking behavior. I should have written these down before. After I list them below, I am going to tape them onto my bike. In fact, I only need to tape the first three. Everything else can wait its turn.

  • Stay Healthy

  • Complete Route 66 Tour

  • Ride Every Mile of 66

  • Visit As Many Sites on 66 as Possible

  • Complete Transcontinental (66 + the Chicago-NYC route)

  • Ride Every Mile of Chicago-NYC

  • Complete Southern Transcontinental

  • Ride Every Mile of Southern Transcontinental

  • Ride the Pacific Coast

  • Ride Every Mile of the Pacific Coast

  • Ride 10,000 miles in 2006

  • That's it. That the list -- in priority order. Desert Camp is not even on the list. Desert Camp is supposed to be about getting my base miles in to prepare for Route 66, to learn about how my body reacts to riding long miles almost every day for a month, and to have sensible fun. Nothing more. Somebody please remind of that from time to time.

    Saturday is a day off, so with 44 hours of rest, lots of ibuprofen, some physical therapy, and a little luck, I hope to be healthy enough on Sunday to get back on track. I did come here to learn, so hopefully I learned the lesson well about priorities and pacing during tours.

    So, I rode the van to lunch, and then eventually to the motel. As the riders came into lunch, I sat on the benches with nothing to do. Normally, I do at least a little chatting. Today, however, my interaction basically went like this:

    Rider: Hey, are you on the van?
    Me: Yeah. Knee problem.
    Rider: Oh.

    Then they would sit down two benches away. You know how pack animals somehow know to stay away from the wounded in the group? Humans share some of that DNA.

    Lessons Learned

    I think we covered that.

    Ride Summary

    Distance: 26.5 miles
    Speed (avg/max): 11.6 mph / 19.3 mph
    Riding Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
    Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
    Power (avg/max) 121 watts / 362 watts
    Calories Measured at Wheel: 915
    Heart Rate (min/max/avg): 100 bpm / 156 bpm / 132 bpm

    Miles this Year: 952

    Thursday, February 23, 2006

    Unlikely Ally

    Last night we stayed in the Space Age Lodge again. Future historians take note. Commerce in the Space Age relies heavily on the Pre-industrial Age rail system. I know this because the railroad track that runs 30 yards behind the motel is extremely busy. About every 45 minutes, a freight train towing scores of huge crates labeled 'CHINA SHIPPING', chugs by and blows it's horn. All day and all night. Truthfully, I'm not too sure about the all day part.

    Today's route was shorter than usual, so we rolled out a little later than usual. I was last out at 8:00. Another reverse route -- this time back to Casa Grande. Buster rolled out right behind me, but mostly stayed back a ways. For the last few days, Buster and I have been adhering to a tentative unspoken agreement. He stalks me all morning, hanging on my wheel, taunting me, and providing the occasional nouggy. He lets me pedal to lunch and eat, but afterwards he beats me up and takes my ice cream money -- leaving me to limp my way on to the next motel. Even so, I'm getting used to the abuse and am not letting it get to me as much as I used to. In fact, I think Buster may actually be looking out for my safety, as I'll explain in a bit.

    The morning portion of the ride was a 30 mile stretch with a moderate headwind and a slight incline. The combination was frustrating because neither the wind nor the grade would have normally been that much of a drag. But the combination made me work pretty hard just to maintain 12-13 mph. The incline leveled off after the first snack stop, allowing me to pick up the pace a bit, but the wind remained throughout the day. The bulk of today's mileage was divided between two roads -- route 238 and route 347. Other than the scenery, both of the roads are almost identical. Two lanes, 55 mph, one running in each direction separated by a dashed yellow line, and a shoulder less than a foot wide. Because of the shoulder being so narrow, I essentially have to ride on, or slightly inside, the white line.

    The combination of that shoulder and the moderate truck traffic can make for some interesting riding. For the most part, the trucks swing wide into the oncoming lane giving me plenty of room. When they do that, it is actually quite helpful because all of the air they are pushing negates the headwind and gives me a few seconds of tailwind. There are some trucks, however, that don't give much room. When this happens, usually due the oncoming traffic which prevents the truck from swinging wide, the effect from the wavefront is much different. Instead of getting a gentle push from behind, you get a sharp lateral punch. Sometimes it is difficult to control the bike when that happens. Because of this, I always move my hands off of the aerobars if I hear a truck coming while there is oncoming traffic. This way, I have better control of the bike when that blast comes.

    This is where Buster comes in. I was riding along in a tuck, with my hands on the aerobars trying the duck the headwind. I heard a truck coming up behind me in the distance. Since there was no oncoming traffic, I figured I would stay tucked. The truck would give me the customary wide berth and tailwind. Buster, however, had other ideas. He tweaked me enough to make be want to stand up and reposition. To do that, I had to get off of the aerobars. Just as I had done that, the truck came by. It was probably moving about 75 mph and gave me no more than six inches of clearance. The shockwave pushed me to the right about 6 inches causing the handlebars to jerk pretty violently. I managed to stay on the road, albeit just barely. Had I been in the aerobars, I would have almost certainly gone down. Buster had my back.

    Just why Buster was looking out for me, I may never know. Perhaps he just wants to keep me around so he can continue to torture me. Or maybe he really does like me. Who knows. I think that, underneath it all, Buster is really just a sad and neglected kid who does not really want to seriously hurt anyone. Maybe one day Buster and I will become friends. Regardless, after today I owe him one.

    Ride Summary

    Distance: 68 miles
    Speed (avg/max): 14.7 mph / 22.6 mph
    Riding Time: 4 hours 38 minutes
    Total Time: 5 hours 26 minutes
    Power (avg/max) 137 watts / 674 watts
    Calories Measured at Wheel: 2,281
    Heart Rate (min/max/avg): 106 bpm / 165 bpm / 145 bpm

    Miles this Year: 926

    Wednesday, February 22, 2006

    Just Passing Through

    This morning I skipped the official camp breakfast and walked down the road to the Horseshoe Cafe. I wanted the authentic local experience, so I went in on the down-low. What does that mean, did you ask? That's old-man-hipster-hop vernacular for 'without my cycling costume'. Going into a place wearing that thing, pretty much eliminates the possibility of unguarded social interaction. This morning, I wanted to blend. You can learn a lot about a place by the way people react to your costume, but you can learn a lot more without it. Last night's Mexican dinner was somewhat authentic, but we were in a large group. I only had this one breakfast to get a shot at one-on-one interaction.

    As we move from town to town, I find it satisfying to use the little time that I have trying develop cultural snapshots. The available time to do this is preciously short. Indeed, one of the defining elements of distance cycling and touring is that wherever you are, you are just passing through. Other than sleeping, a meal (off the bike) is the most time you spend in any one place. While the motivations of long distance and touring cyclist are varied and innumerable, I think that most find satisfaction in that geographical and cultural movement -- and in the ephemeral nature of almost everything on the road.

    I personally feel that the bicycle provides the perfect vantage point for the road -- and everything around it. Cars can provide you with a high-speed visual experience. Motorcycles can add some auditory input to that experience. Only on a bicycle, however, can you cover significant daily distances while getting a full five-senses understanding of the places that you pass through. In addition, the physical and emotional drama, both highs and lows, of the cycling adds a unique element to your experiences. As a result, you may develop strong memories and feelings about something as large as a desert horizon, or as small as a pack of dogs or a patch of flowers. It is this personal component of the experience that focuses the meaning and power of the places that you visit.

    Ok, back to breakfast... Wickenburg seems to be a pretty sleepy town, and I was the only customer at 6:00. There was only one person working out front, so I was going to get exactly what I was looking for -- a one-on-one interaction. The woman, whom I felt must have been the proprietor, was probably around sixty, of slight build and moved around with a slow but efficient shuffle. I would guess that she has lived in the southwest, or other sunny locale, for most of her life. While she is quite adorable, she was probably a real looker in her younger years. She addressed me with classic diner familiarity, calling me by 'hon', 'darling', 'sweety', and such. I felt that her sentiments were sincere. I would guess that she is a happy person who likes people.

    The decor of the cafe was sparse but homey. About a dozen tables with red and white tablecloths, a counter to pay your bill, and a rustic wooden partition hiding the restroom door. On the wall was a collection of various kitschy items. A teapot, dried flowers, and some wooden plaques among other things. Taking all of this in, I was feeling pretty good. Here I was, with the place all to myself. I could hear the cook clattering around in the kitchen while the waitress shuffled around getting the place ready for the morning. Yes, I was getting an authentic breakfast in Wickenburg.

    Just as I was feeling warm and welcomed, I noticed a plaque on the collection wall. It read 'I would rather have 1 customer 100 times, than have 100 customers 1 time'. At first, I thought nothing of it but then I thought -- I am one of those 100 customers. My mood stared to change. What did that mean, exactly? Whatever it meant, one thing was clear. I could never be that 1 customer. I sat there finishing my oatmeal, feeling less and less warm and welcomed. Then I thought, maybe it doesn't mean anything -- maybe it is just a piece of kitsch that she put up on the wall because it fit the space or because it was given to her. No, that couldn't be it. Although casual, everything in the place seemed to be deliberate and meaningful to someone.

    As I was getting up to pay my bill, it occurred to me what it meant. It was not an indictment of a certain class of customer. Rather, it was both a declaration of her standards and an affirmation. She wants everyone who comes in to visit to want to come back 100 times. As I paid the bill, I told her that I noticed the plaque. I told her that I was just passing through, and that I could probably never visit 100 times, but that if I was ever nearby again I would come pay her a visit. She thanked me, calling me 'darling' or something similar that made me blush, and I left. I had my authentic experience. I'll have fond memories of Wickenburg, and when the cycling camp tour returns there in three weeks, I will have breakfast at my favorite cafe.

    Today we rode out of Wickenburg back to Gila Bend. I rode alone for almost the entire day. The return route was the reverse of yesterday's route, starting with a moderate 8 mile climb. Buster was threatening me most of the day, and the weather was beautiful, so I stopped along the way to take some pictures and video:

    The Road. Vulture Mine Road looking back in the direction of Wickenburg.

    Landscape Photo

    Landscape Video

    Abandoned Mine

    For My Wife


    A tandem couple. Contrary to what the sign says, they are actually very nice and intelligent people.

    Mystery Photo. Two gold stars for anyone who can explain this.

    Returning to Gila Bend via the mirror route meant that I would have to ride past the dogs again. I was actually a bit nervous about that. So were some of the others. As I was riding I started thinking that maybe I should defend myself. I thought about carrying some rocks or a stick, or some other pathetic stone age weapon. Would I feel bad if I hurt a dog? No. The stupid dogs were not going to feel bad about eating my leg or sending me crashing to the coarse pavement. I eventually decided not to complicate things with weapons. Instead, I slowed my pace a bit when I was about a mile away. I wanted to be ready to sprint when the dogs came out. It would be difficult, because there is a right-angle turn where the dogs are -- and it has loose gravel on it.

    When I was about a half mile from the dogs, I saw a dead animal in the road. It was a dog. I'm not sure if it was one of the dogs that came after us. It looked smaller than the attack dogs, but then again, maybe the memory of the attack dogs was enhanced by the drama of the moment. As I approached the anticipated turn, there were no dogs to be seen. I slowly turned onto Old US 80 toward Gila Bend and I felt sad for the dogs. I was thinking that perhaps one of their friends had died, and now they were in no mood to chase.

    Lessons Learned:

    Mistake: Blogging before laundering. When I arrived in Gila Bend I did a quick load of laundry at the laundr-o-mat across from the Space Age Lodge. When I got back, I realized that I forgot to wash my gloves, but decided to do the blog first. I figured I had time. While I was writing, the laundr-o-mat caught fire.

    Lesson: Maintenance first. Blog second.

    Ride Summary

    Distance: 87.5 miles
    Speed (avg/max): 16.8 mph / 34.5 mph
    Riding Time: 5 hours 13 minutes
    Total Time: 6 hours 21 minutes
    Power (avg/max) 136 watts / 575 watts
    Calories Measured at Wheel: 2,547
    Heart Rate (min/max/avg): 104 bpm / 174 bpm / 148 bpm

    Miles this Year: 858

    Tuesday, February 21, 2006

    Titty Twister

    I have good news and bad news. First the good news. I believe that the saddle issue is improving. I loaded up my chamois today with about 2 ounces of Chamois Butter, and that made a huge difference. Yep. We cyclists lube our shorts. Most non-cyclists are not familiar with that practice. No doubt, if they were, it would add more fuel to the 'cyclists are gay' fire. As if the colorful tights, fastidious dietary habits, and shaved legs were not enough -- we lube our crotches on an almost daily basis.

    With the extra (a lot extra) lube in my shorts today, I felt better most of the day -- until around lunch time when the cream was mostly gone. Then Buster paid me a visit. So tomorrow, I'll load up again and see what happens. If I can get to lunch again without too much pain, I think it will be safe to assume that the problem will clear up in a few more days. In the meanwhile, I'll stick with my naked pants.

    There is actually another less-known practice among cyclists that would provide ample fuel for the aforementioned fire. And that brings us to the bad news... I forgot to tape my nipples this morning. That's right, a lot of cyclists wear some type of bandage over their nipples. You can go ahead and snicker and call the bandage a pastie. But that's just because you are insecure with your own sexuality.

    You see for some us, our nipples get rubbed raw against our jerseys. For very long rides, without the proper protection, it is not uncommon to bleed through your jersey. That can be somewhat embarrassing. Especially when you are wearing a white jersey as I was today. Luckily, there was a first-aid box in the van at the first snack stop so I grabbed some adhesive tape and addressed the problem. But, for the two hours before I got to the tape, I was very uncomfortable. It felt like the nipple version of the Indian Arm Burn. That's somewhat ironic, given that I had the same feeling at my bachelor party, at which time I kind if liked it. Although in that venue, it was not a fat kid named Buster applying the burn.

    Today we rode to Wickenburg. It was a little colder this morning than it had been on previous days, but it warmed up by lunch. There was some climbing today, so we had to work a little harder to cover the distance. I joined two tandem pacelines today -- once before the first snack, and once before lunch. Those teams were fast. Near the lunch stop, I was pushing almost 300 watts just to keep up. Since I had the benefit of the draft, they must have pushing over 400 watts. I can only push 400 watts for about 3 minutes. Yeah, there are two of them on each bike, but believe me. They were fast. And about 15 years older than I am. One pair have been racing for over ten years. That is a theme out here -- everyone is both older and faster than me. Keeping up with the tandems had me pretty much blown up for the rest of the day, so I limped the last 25 miles into the motel.

    Lessons Learned

    Mistake: Riding through the remains of a dead skunk. While looking off into the distance, I failed to see it and rode through it. The odor was with me for a few hours.

    Lesson: A dead skunk can be more dangerous that a live skunk.

    Mistake: Failing to notice the pack of dogs. While following the tandems, I was focused on my paceline responsibilities and failed to see the three dogs charging across the desert toward us. We had just made a turn, so we were not moving very fast. Suddenly, I heard someone yell 'Go! Go! Go!' just as I saw the dogs about 30 feet away. We all broke formation and stood on it. We managed to get away, but we were moving at over 25 mph before the dogs dropped off the pace.

    Lesson: Dogs are faster than they look.

    Ride Summary

    Distance: 87 miles
    Speed (avg/max): 15.6 mph / 32.7 mph
    Riding Time: 5 hours 37 minutes
    Total Time: 6 hours 46 minutes
    Power (avg/max) 146 watts / 774 watts (probably the dog sprint)
    Calories Measured at Wheel: 2,940
    Heart Rate (min/max/avg): 105 bpm / 182 bpm / 159 bpm

    Miles this Year: 770

    Monday, February 20, 2006

    Never Say Never

    I really never have saddle problems. Usually my back is the first thing to give me trouble. That's what I tell people when they ask, 'doesn't your butt hurt riding all those miles'? I tell them 'no' because it's true. Or, at least, it used to be.

    You know that arm twist thing that kids do to each other? Someone grabs your forearm with both hands and twists their hands in opposite directions? When I was a kid, we called that an 'Indian Arm Burn'. I'm sure that there is a newer non-denominational name for it these days. Whatever they call it, I'm sure it still feels like having the flesh torn off of your arm by a fat kid named Buster. Well, imagine someone doing that to your ass repeatedly for hours.

    The pain started somewhere toward the end of yesterday's ride. By the time I got to the next motel, I was pretty swollen. I can't pinpoint exactly why this happened. Of course, I might be able to pinpoint it had I not been stupid enough to introduce multiple variables into a system that used to work just fine for me.

    Going into a new riding season, experienced riders stick with the tried-and-true clothing, saddles, and riding positions that have proven to be comfortable. The beginning of the season can be especially hard on butts, so you don't want to go changing anything during those first few weeks. That is, of course, why I changed everything before my first tour.

    A few weeks before leaving for camp, I replaced my 143mm Specialized Alias saddle with a 130mm version of the same saddle. I did this because I was trying to get even more comfortable (long sidebar story) and save weight. I put about 300 miles on the new saddle before coming to camp. I didn't have any problems with it, but I never rode it for more than a couple of hours. So that's one change. Secondly, I moved the saddle back a few centimeters. I don't even remember why I did that. Lastly, I wore some bike shorts that I don't use very often. I did this because they had a more 'modest' look, meaning that they let less skin tone show through in the more controversial regions of the body. I didn't want to be 'that guy' at camp with a bunch of strangers.

    So, with these three new variables, I cannot pinpoint the problem. There are, actually, two additional variables, albeit beyond my control. A lot of the roads out here have a much rougher texture that the roads I normally ride in New York. That creates a lot of movement that I'm not used to. And, the route this week is very flat. With less climbing, that means less time out of the saddle and more weight toward the front of the saddle.

    On today's ride, I went back to my usual shorts. Hell, if any crowd can handle the display, it would be this one. Besides, it's not like I'm sporting a Prince Albert. I also added a thin gel seat cover to the saddle. I know, I know, you are saying 'why introduce a new variable'?. Because without that cover, I'd probably be bleeding right now. For tomorrow, I'll move the seat a bit forward. I actually had about an hour long stretch of the ride today where I felt better. If I don't improve tomorrow, I may have to punt and try changing saddles. I know, more variables, but desperate times require desperate measures.

    OK, enough about my ass... Today we rode to Gila Bend. Most of the scenery was pretty dull, except for a 20 mile stretch of RT 238 West where the road actually had bends and rolling hills. I rode alone all day -- staying away from the few small pacelines. As a result, I managed to keep my heart rate a lot lower than yesterday. My power output, however, was very erratic because I keep shifting on the saddle and standing. Normally my power curve (downloaded from my PowerTap) looks fairly smooth. Today, it looked like an EKG.

    Speaking of rawhide, I passed about a dozen dehydrated cow carcasses along RT238. Each was all alone -- probably at least a mile between them. Some were laid out in a relaxed pose, looking a lot like their former live selves. Most, however, were bunched up in a cube-like shape -- as if they had been run through a car crusher. Since I did not stop to take a closer look at them, I really can't explain why they may have looked that way. Even though I eat more than my share of cow, it was sad to see them lying there all dried up and so far from the ranch. I guess some cows never come home.

    Gila Bend is a pretty nothing town. It looks like it grew out of a motel and a restaurant. That drew a laundr-o-mat, and few other random stores. Then they stopped before the gene pool got too large. Luckily, nature compensates for that danger with immigration, or as some of us now prefer to say, 'intelligent fiscal migration'. We are staying in that original motel -- the 'Space Age Lodge and Restaurant'. It was created during the Sputnik years by a local magnate. Take a look. It really is space age -- it has wireless Internet. Lucky you.

    Lessons Learned

    Mistake: The whole business with the saddle.

    Lesson: Once you get it right, leave it alone.

    Mistake: Providing minimal instructions to the Denny's waitress. For breakfast this morning, I ordered a plain omelet, rye toast, and a side of pancakes. What I failed to do, however, was to specify that the kitchen not put four tablespoons of butter on each of the items.

    Lesson: Better to be an annoying customer than train on a breakfast of twelve tablespoons of butter.

    Ride Summary

    Distance: 67 miles
    Avg Speed: 16 mph
    Riding Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
    Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes
    Average Power: 123 watts
    Max Power: 615 watts
    Calories Measured at Wheel: 1852
    Avg Heart Rate: 150

    Total Distance This Year: 683 miles

    Sunday, February 19, 2006

    Camp Begins

    Just finished riding for the day -- from Tucson to Casa Grande. The bulk of the route was an I-10 service road, but there was some beautiful scenery in the morning part of the ride through Saguaro National Park. I did not not bring the camera, however, because I was trying to reduce the number of variables for the first riding day. Although we have a SAG support van, I actually have to carry more items than I normally do when I ride in New York becuase the desert weather is inconsistent.

    When we left the hotel this morning at 7:00, it was about 40 degrees so I had to wear warmers and a jacket. By the afternoon, it was in the mid sixties and sunny. When I no longer needed the jacket and the knee warmers I was able to drop them in the SAG van during a snack stop. So, tommorow I will probably bring the camera. If I had it today, I could have captured a brief video of a dust devil. It just spun next to the road like a 5 feet wide, 20 foot high tornado. I'm guessing that they are common here, so maybe I'll see another when I have the camera handy.

    I'm feeling a lot more tired and sore than I had hoped to after day 1. I have not been on the bike much so far this year, so I guess it will take some time to come back. My heart rate was way up all day. I'm not sure why. Maybe first-day adrenaline. Hopefully that will improve during camp.

    Lessons Learned:

    Mistake: Forgot to wear sunblock (easy to do when you are leaving in the cold morning).

    Lesson learned: Wear sunblock

    Mistake:Did not eat/sleep enough the night before (couldn't be helped with the plane delay).

    Lesson learned: Arrive a day early

    Mistake:Rode too fast after lunch. I joined a tandem pace line to hide from the wind. Their pace was faster than I had planned on riding, but the headwinds were really starting to pick up, so I joined. Then, Lon Haldeman joined on my wheel, which made me feel some pressure to maintain the pace. So, we rode a good section at 22+ mph into the headwind. I probably would have had to work just as hard riding alone at 16 mph. Still, I should have made that assessment at the time rather than just stay with the line. If I were only out here for a few days, it wouldn't matter but I need to pace myself for the entire month of camp (and rest of the year).

    Lesson Learned: Ignore the celebrity factor of the people around you (there are many) and make decisions that will serve me best over the long haul. Besides, it's not like I could keep up with them for very long anyway...

    Mistake: Did not drink enough on the bike. I've been drinking and drinking since we got off the bike, to try and make up for it.

    Lesson Learned: Drink more before and on the bike. You can stop and go whenever you want to out here -- there's nobody here to see you...

    Stats for the day:

    Distance: 82 miles
    Average Speed On Bike: 17 mph
    Riding Time: 4 hours 50 minutes
    Total Time: 6 hours
    Average Power: 145 watts
    Max Power: 732 watts
    Calories Applied to Wheel: 2,500
    Average Heart Rate: 172 bpm

    Total Distance This Year: 616 miles