Tour of the Gila Update #1

 

Gettin here:

We arrived last night without incident at around 6pm and made it to our host housing spot just 2 miles west outside of town. Having the van to drive in all together was a great treat and fresh change to the caravans that we used to roll in to get to races like this. I had full control to “teach” the kids about “great” music and to prohibit any other electronic devices.

Our House:

We are straying at a very nice, quite, and close to town house and the owners have been just great. They gave us the keys and opened their home to us after just 15 minutes of having met us. They have gone for the weekend and the house is ours. Kindness like this is no novelty it’s just a shame that more people just don’t get to experience it.

The Race:

Logan, Donovan, Nathan, Marcos, and myself as most of you know are riding in the 4-5 race. This is the biggest, baddest, longest, hardest, stage race we or El Grupo has ever entered. We each have our goals and roles in this race and from the gun we were all tested.

Donovan has a goal to finish this sucker. No small task. Well step one today was accomplished. He finished roughly 15 minutes behind the leaders. In front of many and behind others. But most importantly alive and ready to race another day, and with the Time trial his best event up next.

Marcos has the role of super supporter at this race. He is being tasked with closing gaps, helping flatted teammates, pulling if he needs to. This is one of the hardest jobs as he knows if does it as is being asked there is little chance that he is going to have a real shot at the end of the race. However Marcos in true Eagle Scout form has accepted this job with eagerness. THANKS MARCOS!!!! The thing is he is totally strong enough to do all of these things and kind enough to understand the importance of the task. So today when Logan flatted at the most inopportune time, just before the intermediate sprint when the pace really kicked up, Marcos dropped back and worked for his teammate the rest of the day picking off dropped riders one by one the rest of the 35 miles. A grand applause and thank you to you Marcos.

Logan this is your third flat in a row at a race and you took it in great stride today. Knowing we have 3 more races to come and plenty of miles to go. Thanks for riding so strong in the end with your teammate and may the 4th time be the charm.

So I heard about Logan flatting about 5 minutes after it happend, so once I heard about the flat only Nathan and I were left in the front group with about half the race left to go. I had been doing a ton of work all day, trying to control the race as much as I could and really doing way too much, but it’s what I thought was best for the team. Of course Nathan was at the back of the 25 strong peloton when I heard about the flat so I went all the way back to try and talk with him, then went all the way back to the front to try and slow things down for Logan and Marcos. This did not work unfortunately because there was a break up the road and no one wanted me to slow anything down. So it was up to me and Nathan.

At this point the great climbs of the race had not arrived and I was still feeling great. I got Nathan on my wheel and brought him straight to the front with me so he would not caught up behind anybody. The race ended with a good 12 miles or so of climbing, so perfect for Nathan right. My job then was  to get him to the base of the climb in good position without much work being done, if any.

Well I did my job, even with him getting a flat right at the base of the climb. The climb was not 12 straight it was like 5 straight then some tough rolling hills. I did not know that so when I got to the top of the first hardest, longest, climb with the last dozen of the race I thought we were doing great and I was still alive. However the ensuing hills put the fork in me. With about 6 miles to go I finally lost the leaders and eventually came in about 2 minutes behind the leaders in the second chase group.

Nathan of course was up the road with the last 7 and FINISHED 2ND. That’s right 2ND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lizzy of course was racing as well and wouldn’t you know she too flatted but at about the 5 mile mark. She then spent the rest of the day by herself. Almost 55 miles of solo riding, or not easy at all terrain. The fact that she had the guts to finish means a lot to me. Well done young lady.

Last and not least Richard raced but unfortunetly crashed out. I can not give too many details unfortunately. I will have him post.

A lot of thank you’s now. First and most important to Daniela. She is being the most super supporter in the world right now. Making food, driving everywhere, and making sure we are all in the right place at the right time. We could not do it with out you –THANK YOU!!!

To all the parents and believers of this team. We know you are behind us and we believe.

To all the younger riders reading this at home. If you want to be here then a year of hard work awaits you. All of you have the potential, but it means nothing without hard work. I hope to ride this beautiful race with many of you in the years to come.

GABA Volunteer Appreciation Picnic – Saturday!

GABA is one of El Grupo’s sponsors and biggest fans. And we love them just as much! GABA put on the Bike 2 the zoo and the Bike Swap Meet that we all just volunteered at AND they put on wonderful supported bike rides and tours – like the Luna Lake one coming up on May 28th-31st (NOT to be missed!)

So GABA wants to say thanks to all its volunteers, and many board members have made efforts of reaching out to El Grupo to make sure that we are there. Here is more details on the event. It will be at Udall Park from 9amish to 1pmish with lots of games, stories, prizes, and food involved!

While Ignacio and I, as well at the A team and Richard, will all be at Tour of the Gila, it would be so very appreciated if El Grupo had a presence at the picnic. There are two rides starting at Udall Park that El Grupo could join in on. With most of the coaches out of town (Ignacio, Richard, Alex, Lauren, Nippy, Christian & Daniela) we are going to need your help and initiative to make this happen. I think the best option would be for riders to start from Udall Park (or ride out there, Newgan, Tyler, & Daniel?) and then join their rides.

Here is what they offer: The day begins with two bike rides from Udall. Expected ‘Return Time’ between 9-9:30 A.M.

Ride 1) 7 AM – C/C+ – 30-40 miles                 Ride 2) 8 AM – C-/D – 10-15 miles

I think ALL OUR RIDERS should do the 7am ride, and those that want a more rigorous or lengthy ride can ride from the clubhouse. The one tricky thing will be for those that have their bicycles at the clubhouse and need to get them that morning. Ideally, you can have your bicycle at home that morning OR Mark Franklin (or maybe Colin?) has offered to help open up.

Please post what works for you. It is a great chance to get a ride in with people who know who you are simply because they support and love El Grupo – and for us to show our love and appreciation right back to GABA. They will need to know a rough head count for food purposes, so please let it be known if you will be joining in on this or not.

Also, there is not a ride on the schedule for Sunday, but if folks feel like they have the energy and leadership to organize one, they should go for it. Mt. Lemmon time trial is in 3 weeks!

Tour Post (Eureka – San Rafael)

I apologize for not posting this a lot sooner (like during my trip) but here it is finally.  I feel even worse since this isn’t a post of the rest of my trip but I’ll get those to you guys as soon as possible.  Also, I bested my camera and found a port for the memory card so all the photos are uploaded on Facebook here and here.

 

So I left off when I was still in Eureka at Scott’s and Alice”s house taking a night off from camping as they had given me a place to stay.

 

Day 11, Eureka, Rest day

I woke up the next morning intending to continue on the road but not really in the spirit to get on my bike.  It was then, as I was packing up that Scott offered to have me for another night.  I didn’t have to think about it for too long before accepting his offer and taking the first rest day of my trip.  And am I glad I took it.

 

I hadn’t realized how worked up I had been from simply biking  and making sure I was getting to where I needed before dark.  Any stress that I’d had up until that point seemed to go away by just sitting around and really just taking a break for a day.  Scott also took me around town in the morning, showing me to the craziest bagel shop I’d ever been to and giving me a ride to the local food cooperative.  He also helped out with some suggestions about food that I gladly took as up until that point, my meals at camp grounds had consisted of pasta, peanut butter, and… wait no, it was only those two.  So, his experience backpacking really helped me in picking out some food that would keep during my trip and still be delicious.  During this time, I was also able to work on my bike a bit and assess some problems that I had been putting off until then.  Later that night, Scott and Alice took me to see Willow, a cheesy 80’s fantasy movie that had me smiling the whole time.  Afterwards, they took me out to dinner.  Yeah, this was the coolest rest day I could have asked for.  Thanks Scott and Alice for being awesome hosts.

 

Day 12, Eureka – Humbolt Redwoods State Park, 50 miles

 

Before I headed out this day, I went over my route with Scott and made a quick adjustment that would skip over a few difficult hills but take me through Humbolt Redwoods State Park. It took me away from the coast and through the forest.  I was pretty okay with the trade off.

 

 

It was a great ride with almost no rain.  I was able to get to the campground around 4 pm with plenty of time to set up camp and have dinner.  This was also the night I found out about MIT.  So yeah, it was a pretty good way to start back on the road.  An older couple also invited me to their campfire.  It was cool to actually talk to someone at a campground as I was usually alone at campsites since it really wasn’t vacation season.  They used to be kayak travelers (I dont know the technical term but its like bike touring, but in kayaks).

 

Day 13, Humbolt Redwoods State Park – Westport Union Beach State Park, 65 miles

 

The next morning was pretty uneventful but half and hour after I got on the bike it just started to pour.  All I could do was hunker down and just pedal.  I didn’t take too many pictures during this time except for this one because it lifted my spirits a bit.

 

I DID IT!! I MADE IT TO THE SHIRE!!

 

As you can see, my mind was kind of wandering at this point.  About half-way through my ride, I came to a town called Leggit.  I stopped at a gas station, bought a Snickers for morale and confirmed my directions with the guy at the counter (he gave me a free muffin too).  This was the point at which I turned off of the 101 onto Highway 1.  It was kind of weird to think about how far I’d made it so far and that I’d be taking this road all the way to the end of my trip.  I made the turn off onto Highway 1 and started on an 8 mile ascent that took more than an hour (still in the rain of course).  That Snickers and muffin didn’t last long.  This climb was followed by an even longer decent which on a less rainy day would have been fun but was terrifying on the slick roads.  The cable tension for my brakes slowly got looser and looser the farther downhill I got.  My hands were cramping up by the time I started going uphill again.  I continued doing a few shorter ascents and descents, all through foresty switchbacks that gave me know indication of how far I had gone or how far I had to go until finally…

 

COAST!!! (It also stopped rainig around this point)

 

I was so excited to see the coast again, and the camp ground I was staying at was only three more miles down the coast.  It was pretty much right on a cliff that overlooked the ocean.

 

 

I had my usual pasta and peanut butter and went to bed before it started raining again.

 

Day 14, Westport Union State Beach -Manchester State Park, 58 miles

 

The next morning, I woke up to find that it wasn’t raining but the clouds still looked threatening enough to get me moving on the road as soon as possible.  Within the first mile of my ride, I met my second bike tourist.  He was a younger guy from France heading in the direction that I had just came from.  He had taken 6 months off his life to ride around the world and was currently on his way to Vancouver to catch a plane to his next destination.  Not long after that, I saw a group of at least 6 other bike tourists heading towards me.  I slowed down and stopped but they didn’t.  Oh well.

 

It was a very sunny ride and took me through the very touristy town of Fort Bragg.  I pretty much had rolling hills the whole way without too many crazy ascents or descents.

I made it to Manchester State Park without incident and made an awesome dinner from the stuff Scott had told me to get in Eureka.

YUM!!! (This was a good break from the normal peanut butter and pasta)

 

Day 15, Manchester State Park – Bodega Bay, 70 miles

 

I was thinking about it and I think this was my hardest day, which is strange as it didn’t rain that much and the terrain wasn’t anything I could handle.  Before I get to why it was so tough, here’s some more pretty pictures.

 

 

Alright, I think is was just a combination of the rain teasing me by stopping whenever I put my rain gear on and starting up as soon as I took it off, the constant up and down switch backs along the coast, the corners that made it hard for cars to see me, and the fact that I rode until 2 o’clock before realizing I didn’t have any food to make lunch with.  All these little things just kind of added up and just hit me mentally and made it a frustrating day.  As far as that not having lunch thing went, I kept on riding thinking that the next town would be just around the next corner.  Around 4 pm, I couldn’t take the hunger, got off on the side of the road and had ate what was left of my peanut butter and followed it up a few squeezes from my bottle of honey.  This held me off until I was able to pick up a sandwich in the small city of Jenner.  While I was there I got a call from MIT telling me of some deadline I had to remember.  Without thinking about it, I asked the woman on the line what day of the week it currently was.  I think she thought that it was a little strange that someone not know what day of the week it was.  Anyways, I arrived in Bodega Bay a little while after.

Day 16, Bodega Bay – San Rafael, 53 miles

 

So the day before, when I got into the campground at Bodega Bay, the park ranger saw that I was traveling by bike and mentioned that there was a huge storm moving in the next day (what would be today).  He advised that I not try to bike through but I figured that it couldn’t be worse than the weather I’d already been through.  To make sure I missed the majority of it, I woke up super early (6:00ish am, that’s super early when you’re running on bike touring time).  I broke camp and went to a convenience store for a bagel and muffin so I wouldn’t have to make breakfast.   At this point it was 7ish am and as soon as I stepped out of the convenience store to start my days ride, the rain started to come down.  By the time I got my rain gear on, it was pouring with one of the strongest headwinds I’d had (I’d later learn that there had been a small tornado nearby… you know whatever).  Fortunately, I was in a much better place mentally than the day before.  Since it was raining, I really didn’t want to stop and pretty much just pushed through the rolling hills and the roads covered with fallen branches.  There were also very few cars on the road because of the storm.

 

By the time I made it to Olema, a town within 20 miles of San Rafael, I was pretty high on the fact that I had just biked thirty miles in torrential rain and wind and feeling pretty awesome about it.  It made me feel even better when the people who I asked directions from thought I was crazy.  The last twenty miles into San Rafael weren’t too bad (relatively of course) and were even better since I found this bike path that kept me off the main road for most of the ways.

 

I got a little lost in Fairfax county but eventually made it to the home of Steve and Darcy.  At their house, Steve had every single tool that you could need for a bike and I was able to make some adjustments to my brakes that were greatly needed.  I had an awesome time with Steve and Darcy really just talking about bikes and touring.  Steve had been involved with cycling for 20+ plus years so he had a lot to say about them.  I also got my butt kicked in Scrabble before going to bed.

 

Alright, that’s it for now I’m going to get more up as soon as we get back from the Tour of the Gila.

Saturday’s Bike Rides

If you are going on the Old Man Shoot Out, it starts at 5:45am now!!! You will need to be at our house BEFORE that to make the start. No one is going on the “Big Boy” Shoot Out this weekend. ALL OTHERS (whether you are A, B, or C team) will be going on… Read more »

Water is Good For You

Hey everyone this is a reminder of the real importance of staying hydrated all day. It is getting hot and if we wait until just before practice to drink water we are going to be far behind what we need. So please have a bottle in hand all day at school. If you don’t not… Read more »

Nathan’s “Surprise” Birthday Party!!

Here are the details for Nathan’s “surprise” 18th birthday party this coming Saturday, April  23. Everyone is invited – riders, coaches, parents, families,etc. If possible, everyone will come from their respective rides that Saturday morning to Stone Curves, and hang out as long as you can from about 10 am to 2pm. Kathleen has generously… Read more »

Zoo Bike Valet pics

Marcos helps a young man retrieve his bike. To see the images on Facebook: HERE I will have the Old Pueblo Grand Prix pics up in couple days.