Charged my telephone last night (discovered a message sent from Denmark by Mr. Vittrup) and set the alarm at 5.55 am...
Oatmeal, coffee, dressing and putting lights on the bike as the sun was just rising as I took off at 7.00. It was 2 degrees C and going down 1st Ave. towards the Rillito River, I was shivering and wondering why I was doing this.
I met with Curtis and Skiles at Starbucks and was surprised to see how many riders had shown up at the start. The 14 km "warm up", to Valencia, was very cold lots of riders just kept joining the group. When we hit Valencia there must have been close to 150 riders and I found myself sitting in the last fourth of the strung out peloton. The 31 km false flat (400 m ascent) out on Mission Road has seen some, much needed, road repairs and you don´t have to constantly worry about hitting a big pothole or crack in the road. I had decided to stay in my little chainring for as long as possible and I ended up averaging 97 rpm´s for the 53 minutes.
I didn´t see the front at all but just spun along at a medium/hard effort, dodging the riders who dropped back, one by one. At the bridge people were opening big gaps and I could see the front guys upping the pace some 200 meters up the road - they were gone. We regrouped and made a paceline up the next rollercoaster section. We had people joining from the back and at the hill, that acts as the unofficial finish line, the pace eased off and we joined the front group.
There were lot of Team USA guys, riders that rides on and off for the American National U23 Team, in Europe and elsewhere.
I thought I might have seen some of them as ,in September 2007, Dan Olesen, Peter Bech and I went to Geel, Belgium for the PowerMan Duathlon (where took a surprisingly 6th place in a worl class field). The day before the PowerMan we watched the Team Time Trial in the stage race of Tour of Antwerpen? One guy, Sheldon, actually did it and we spoke a bit about racing abroad, Danish U23 riders and so on.
On the fast descent down Duvall Mining Rd, I almost forgot to turn right on Continental, to go to Madera Canyon.
Madera Canyon is a beautiful place, on the slopes of Mt. Wrightson. From Continental Rd, it´s 21 km, starting with a gradual climb, but when you enter the Coronado Natl. Park sign it gets downright brutal. I decided to mind my own business and set a HR limit of 160. That strategy had me dropped instantly, but some of guys that tried stay for as long as they could, soon came to a standstill. I turned around at 1560 m above sea level, with half a mile to the turn around point, as I wanted to descend by myself on the twisty, bumpy road.
Going back on Old Nogales, a guy asked me: "so, I´ve been staring at your butt for a while now and I was wondering what the zipper on your butt is doing?" The zipper is a key/creditcard pocket that Fusion puts in all their running/multisport tights, as I explained.
The guy turned out to be Curtis Gunn, who was at work, "at the office". He is currently the only professional cyclist living in Tucson, now Gordon Fraser has ended his long lasting carreer and Phil Zajicek has moved to Boulder, Colorado.
Gunn used to race on the track, but now races for the California based "Team Succesful Living".
Being the most succesful/most experienced/only pro cyclist in the 12 man group, Curtis is now the unofficial "Capitaine de Route", the guy that typically makes the calls, regarding speed, route and so on. Gordon Fraser used to be that guy and it´s actually really nice to have a leader of the pack, officiallyor not, as the pace is much more constant and disciplined, in contrast to a non disciplined group where lots of guys (including myself) will feel the need to show thir stuff and it tends to be a prolonged shootout!
All of a sudden Gunn´s back tire exploded and we all stopped waiting for him to fix it, though he asked us all to keep on going if we wanted, but no one did - that´s a great example of how the mechanisms are working. I wouldn´t have expected nobody to wait for me, had I flatted, and I think most guys accepts this.
Well, I ended up riding 182 km in 6.10 and I felt I could´ve gone on for another couple of hours, had I had more food and water. I actually considered running for half an hour right of the bike, but turned on the TV to watch Greenbay crush Seahawks at Landbough Field in atrocious snow conditions. Well done Favre & Co, I really hope they´ll win the Superbowl this year.
Tomorrow is "the Sunday long ride", but I doubt it´s gonna be longer than today, but we´ll see!
PS: the Fusion 3/4 Multisport Knickers did a great job today, considering the thin chamois, I´m starting to grow some nice thick elephant skin in my sitting spot, as I didn´t feel sore at all.