Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mt. Lemmon

I’m polishing off a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food as I type this. As a matter of fact, I had a huge piece of apple pie today as well, but more on that later. One of the benefits of training days like we had today is that I still think after all the calories I took in today, I’m still in caloric debt.

We decided to do the famous Mt. Lemmon ride today. We left the hotel at 8 am and spun an hour and 15 minutes through the city to get to the base of the climb. This climb is 27 miles! It’s not climb 5 miles, then descend a bit, then 2 more miles of climbing, then some descending... No, it’s 27 miles of climbing, with the exception of some downhill from the 22 to 25 mile point. In Connecticut, we have lots of climbing, but nothing that goes for more than 15 minutes. We were climbing for over two hours! My plan was for Brian and I to ride up a bit and let everyone do the first nine miles solo, finding their own rhythm, so that we didn’t dictate their pace. Then, we’d ride back a bit and spend some time riding with each person. Brian turned at the 5 mile mark to take a quick pee break and ride with a few of the campers. I continued onward. The wind started really blowing on the mountain and the weather was changing. At nine miles, it was getting chilly, and all that I had on was a pair of bib shorts and a sleeveless jersey. I turned and road back a bit and saw Jerry and Gus coming up. I continued on with them. We were all getting a bit chilled and I turned at the twelve mile mark to see that I was alone. The sag wagon was back at the nine mile mark, and I didn’t want to turn back to ride downhill and chill more, so I soldiered onward. The ride was gorgeous. One road that swept through the mountain side with spectacular scenery. I maintained a steady effort and the wind kept picking up and the temperature kept dropping. I road into town at the 25 mile mark and headed up the ski road to the 27 mile high point at 9000 feet altitude. I was freezing at this point.

I descended back to town from the ski area, and we all met at this small little restaurant that supposedly has amazing pie. We all had some pie and lot’s of coffee (and the pie was quite amazing) and then put on every bit of clothing we could muster from the sag vehicle. Most put their bikes on the sag vehicle and caught a ride down to the 12 mile mark and descended from there. I had to ride down this mountain! The climb up was incredible but the ride down was absolutely awesome! The scenery was even better heading down. I had my ipod on and felt relaxed and warm again from both the three mile climb out of town at the top of the mountain and because we we’re descending. Because of this, I was gliding through the turns, reading the lines very easily. It was such a cool experience. In fact, this was one of the coolest rides I’ve ever been on! Where else do you get an opportunity to climb 27 miles and then descend it?

After regrouping at the bottom, we road back to the hotel easily. Another six hour day in the saddle. We followed this up with a one hour brick run.

Everyone did really, really well today. Jerry from Arizona had ridden 35 miles further than he ever had before on Monday. Then he came back two days later and did it again! He and Bruce had minor accidents today on the mountain but they are both fine. Bruce is racing IM Arizona in three weeks and is in unbelievable shape. He was cruising on the brick run today, as was Jeff. Sarah, Peter, Mike and Jim all had huge days as well today, and they smiled while doing it! Gus – he is setting himself up well for a breakthrough year. Brian and Jill have unbelievable training grounds here.

More and more food is being consumed at dinner each night. We went to another great Mexican place tonight and everyone, even Bruce, was chowing down!

OK, that’s all for now. Today was one of those training days though that’ll go in the memory books.



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