A century route starting from north-central Phoenix / Paradise Valley, with a 50 mile loop from Gainey Village to Fountain Hills to Gilbert Rd to Mesa, Brown Rd, Rio Solado Pkwy, and back to the Paradise Valley area via 68th St, followed by an out-and-back to the Carefree Towers. 121 miles with 3,500 feet of climbing.
Who turned the switch on?
All spring I’ve been waiting for my legs to come round, doing numerous 50 milers up tough hills, using steady, brisk spinning. Up till last week, it all seemed for naught, as I just haven’t had any power in the ol’ legs, and have had a general sense of lethargic-ness. I just haven’t had any energy.
But all that changed last week. A combination of four tough rides — (a “perfect pace” 50 miler with the Bullshifters out to the Sun City / Surprise area on Saturday a week ago), a climb fest out to Fountain Hills leading the Los Coyotes ride the following Sunday, a brisk training ride around Paradise Valley with the Tri Scottsdale group out of Gainey Ranch on Tuesday, followed by another tough Tri Scottsdale workout to the Hills of Via Linda on Thursday – all these rides left my legs feeling strong.
By Saturday, my legs were feeling really good, and I noticed on a ride out to the Hills of Via Linda (again), that the climb up Scottsdale Mountain didn’t feel near as hard as it otherwise had all spring. My legs were back.
It’s like someone turned a switch on in my legs.
All this set me up for a magical century ride on Sunday, where I got stronger all day long, up until the last few of the 121 miles I would end up riding.
May 19, 2013, 6:00 am — The Los Coyotes Fountain Hills / Gilbert Loop
On Sunday morning I lead the Los Coyotes ride on what has become one of my favorite loops: Out to Fountain Hills, down the Beeline to Gilbert Rd, and then south and west through the streets of Mesa / Tempe / Scottsdale. There’s a good sized group out today: Roland, Lynsey, Tom, Kevin, Greg, Thad, Paula, Tim, and Phil have graced us with their presence. Most of us had somewhat of a late night the night before, at a party at Thad and Paula’s. I don’t know about the rest of the group, but I was pretty beat when I got up at 5:00 am.
But my legs feel good on the way out to Fountain Hills, and I notice on the climb up Shea Blvd that it doesn’t feel near as hard as it had all spring – just like my experience with Scottsdale Mountain the previous day.
“It’s all downhill from here”
That’s what I tell the group as we reach the top of Shea. I tell them we have 25-30 miles of downhill / flat riding coming up, including a brisk spin down Shea to Beeline Hwy, and then further southwest to Gilbert Rd. Riding along with Greg down the Beeline, he and I reach speeds of 29 mph with ease, as we try to chase down Roland, who had gotten a jump on us and was zooming down the road with abandon.
We take drama lessons
At Gilbert Rd we turn to head south, and the group goes through a bit of “drama” as first Thad stumbles and falls while trying to clip in, bending his left brake / shifting lever assembly in the process, and Kevin has a flat, with half the group not noticing and continuing to zoom up the road. None of them know the route.
The group eventually gets back together along Brown Rd, after I “lecture” (ever so politely) about the group etiquette of waiting for others – especially the leader, heh heh. In their defense the group that had gone on ahead had tried to call us on our cell phones, but I don’t often hear my phone ringing when the wind is in my helmet.
It all works out in the end – well at least for a few miles anyway.
Cones of confusion
Somewhere between Rio Solado Pkwy and Mill Ave in Tempe, Paula loses her way. There’s a triathlon going on at Tempe Beach along Mill Ave, and I guess Paula gets mesmerized by the cones and confusion and somehow disconnects from the group.
I guess it’s my fault for not waiting at the corner for everybody, especially after my little mini-lecture.
Yup, what goes around comes around. Ha!
We put out APB’s for Paula’s whereabouts, and she was last reported to be heading west somewhere in the Priest / McDowell Rd area. She’s probably in LA by now.
Kidding aside, Thad waits for her at a Circle K as the rest of us head north to complete what turns out to be a 50 mile loop.
I hope Paula made it back safely and that everyone had a good time!
Gainey Village, 10:30 am — The day’s just getting started
My legs felt good the whole way around the loop. If anything, they got stronger as the miles accumulated. The weather has been very nice — almost chilly at the beginning. And even now, at 10:30 am, it’s not all that hot.
Hmm … , I say to myself. I’z got a supposed double century ride coming up in June, (the Grand Tour). Maybe I should take advantage of the nice weather and good leg sensations and go for a century today.
I figure if I head up to Carefree and back, that would make enough miles for a 100.
So off I go. Tim comes with me for part of the trip, and we make our way up Thompson Peak Parkway to Pima and Pinnacle Peak Rd. We part company there as Tim leaves for home, and I continue up Pima.
My bike has other ideas
The idea is to ride as far north as Westland Drive, and head west to Scottsdale Rd, down Carefree Highway to Cave Creek Rd, and then loop home. I know that will get me the requisite miles.
By the time I reach Westland, I decide I might as well head up to Carefree. It’s only a few more miles. So what if it eventually puts me over a 100. From there, I can zoom down Cave Creek Rd all the way back to Phoenix.
I reach Cave Creek Rd, but instead of turning left, down the hill, my bike has other ideas. It steers me east, up the climb to Carefree Towers (Bartlett Lake Junction). What the hell is my bike thinking?
I figure I’ll go along with this climbing nonsense till Tree Lined Trail (a 1/2 mile up), and then turn around. That’ll teach my bike! But somehow, Tree Lined Trail comes and goes. Somehow, so does Lone Mountain Parkway, and the next thing I know, my bike is passing the towers and reaching Bartlett Lake Junction.
The interesting thing is that on the climb I felt way better than I did a month ago on the Desert Classic Century. Then, I almost passed out just reaching Lone Mountain Parkway. It was hot that day, and it’s almost as hot now – except the tail wind I’m feeling has a bit of coolness.
And now, my legs feel as strong as they did when I started this morning, some 84 miles ago. It’s magic!
Surprise at AJ’s
I zoom back down Cave Creek Rd to Pima, retracing my route, reaching Pinnacle Peak Rd by the 94 mile mark, where I stop at the AJ’s to refill water bottles — only to have someone come up to me and ask about the Grand Tour (a 200-miler in Malibu, CA.) I was wearing my 2011 Grand Tour Jersey and he had noticed it.
Turns out it’s Artie from the Bullshifters, wearing street clothes, a hat, and guitar in hand. I didn’t recognize him without a helmet. I didn’t recognize him with a guitar. It takes me a while to make the connection – to remember that he was a musician and that’s who I’m talking to.
The Los Coyotes group often stops at AJ’s at Pinnacle Peak and Pima on Sunday mornings, and a jazz trio has been there almost every time. All the while it was him that had been playing guitar. I just didn’t know it.
Make it a double (metric)
I leave AJ’s and begin calculating how many miles there are to reach home, and realize that if I completely retrace my route back to Gainey Village, rather than heading more directly there, I can easily get in a double metric century today (120 miles.)
No, I’m not completely crazy – honest! There’s some logic to doing more miles. It’s not every day you have the time to put in a 100 miles on your bike, and every mile after a 100 is a valuable commodity. It provides hard-won information on how your body responds to the miles, and it gives you the confidence to go even further.
As in the Grand Tour?
Three weeks ago I was feeling there was no way I’d be doing a full double century (200 miles) any time soon. But now I’m reevaluating that. My legs seem to be back to their normal self. They haven’t felt this good since before I crashed, a year and a half ago.
Perhaps the Grand Tour is in the cards after all.