Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Fig Newton ride...AKA The Santa Fe Century

I only eat Fig Newtons once during the year, and it is on this ride. Usually I can do with out but they have them for the food stops and they are appealing. At least for the first couple of stops.

I met up with my friend Richard again this year to ride the Santa Fe century. If you remember from last year our hero had to quit at mile 76 or so with tire failure so I owed the ride, such as it is, a complete ride, the full monty, the total enchilada,.....well, you get the idea.

Joining the fun this year was childhood friend Mike Monroney. We met again through the amazement of Facebook and he has always wanted to ride a century ride so here was the chance. Holy Crap, 40 years since we had last seen each other. We were pretty good buddies back then goofing around in the neighborhood and then we went on a bike tour together when we were in Junior High up to Estes Park and RMNP. That is a whole other story and blog. Crazy!! We picked right up as if it had been 40 days instead of years. What a blast.

Off we go on the ride.

This was Richard after two blocks, waiting at our meet-up spot for Mike.
This was also the last time I saw Richard all day until back at the motel. He rode a very strong race!! Richard, you are such an inspiration for all of us just trying to get some miles in and fun on a bike. Note to Self, check....see if you are still riding centuries 14 years from now.

We started pretty early to try and beat the wind that always comes up for this ride as the day gets into the afternoon..
A nice cloud cover to start the day which keeps it cool and no sun baking my brain.
 It always takes me a few miles to find my rhythm and pace so Richard and Mike were both out in front while I was just enjoying the early morning ride. They set up six total food stops but they push you out a bit for the first in Madrid, about 25 miles in. I enjoyed the before mentioned Fig Newtons and some fruit and PB&J's. Sun burned off the cloud cover and the day was ON!!

Up and up out of Madrid on the climb up Stagecoach pass. For me, this is the toughest part of this ride. It is relentless and there is a false top. I am ready for it now but that first year, you top out, there is some flat, then you go around a corner and, boom, another steep pitch. Just about crushed me that first year. Right after popping over the top is the best riding of the whole trip. A nice downhill and then a cruise up on the ridge as you head for the food stop below Heartbreak Hill. The scenery is just pretty up here and easy pedaling!!

Much of the talk about this ride involves Heartbreak Hill. With good reason!! It is one steep-assed climb! So much so that it is a no-brainer for me. I pedal until it becomes crazy and hop off and hike-a-bike. I actually like the hike-a-bike. A break off the saddle, use of a different set of muscles, a chance to stretch and stride out. It is only about half a mile and when I get to the top I'm not all wiped out. Jump back on and go! Mike rode all the way up. He told me he employed a mixed strategy of standing on the pedals, regular sitting and a bit of switch backing. Takes some pretty good leg strength to pedal up.

Another year and I did not break my heart on Heartbreak Hill!!
After a nice downhill we come out of the mountains and roll on into the high desert of NM. I am always amazed by this part of the ride, out there past the Stanley food stop. You can see forever to the horizon and there is very little in the way of civilization! Now, I have ridden my bike for awhile but, c'mon, I know there is a big town out here somewhere that I rode away from. There is such a variety of terrain and scenery on this ride that makes it so enjoyable for me.

These cactus plants were in bloom. They always look like little mini Christmas trees, except a little more prickly!!
Mike was waiting for me at the Stanley food stop so we got to ride together for a bit heading into Galisteo. By then the food at the food stops had lost their appeal to me. I made myself eat at the Cedar Grove stop but just could not face any more food at the rest of the stops. Don't get me wrong, the food stops are fantastic on this ride. Fresh cut up fruit, sandwiches, snacks, water and gatorade. The support for the riders is the best on any ride that I have been on. I know I have to keep eating and drinking but just can't make myself. I got a bit dehydrated by the end of this ride. I was drinking up a water bottle every hour and know that was not enough and the gatorade, even diluted, just gags me.

Mike is still pretty enthusiastic after 70 plus miles!!
A big tip of the chapeau to the Search and Rescue people for the popsicle stop before Lamy Hill. That bit of sugar got me going on up the hill. I just rolled right on by the Eldorado food stop, by then I just wanted to be finished. They had us down the Old Las Vegas highway back to town and I sure liked it instead of the trip up the interstate. As always, those last 15 miles are not much fun with sore hands, butt, and legs but after the voices in my head telling me "no way, will I never have to do this again", You step away after a few days and realize how much fun it was and how much satisfaction that it is to ride 103 miles at an event like this.

All in all a great weekend of cycling, friends new and old, good food and beer, good summer weather.

Thanks for reading, everybody have a good rest of the week!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Not a training ride

I am in complete agreement with my friend Teesie about "training". I really don't go on training rides. I just like riding. If I have an event scheduled I am aware that I need to get some extra rides and miles in before the event mainly so I can enjoy the event instead of it turning into a suffer-fest. But training??? Not even sure what that term involves. Guys ask me when talking bikes and rides what my split times are and my fastest miles when maxing out, and my cadence and gear revolutions per foot and all sorts of bike-speak that I have no idea what the hell they are talking about. All good!! It is what motivates them to be out on their bike and that is a good thing!!
I bring this up because last weekend I was out riding my usual Horsetooth ride and when I stopped at the top of one of the climbs I got to talking with a guy who was a "real cyclist". Super lean and fit, retired from working and was asking if I rode out there much. Al did not ride on the weekends usually because that is when all the novices cluttered up the roads. (Hey! I resemble that remark!) We got to talking about rides and he asked if I was training for a ride. I told him that I really was not training but I did have the Santa Fe century coming up. Wow! That got old Al going with all sorts of questions about my bodily functions and training programs that I really could not answer. He left me with a "good Luck" wave and pedaled off into his bike world.
Anyway this was last weekend because I had a golf event on this last Saturday and Sunday's ride was wiped out by the snow event we had, so, I'm rolling with the "training" that is already in place for Santa Fe.
Here is some pictures from that last ride.

Ranch scene on the way up into Masonville. Some fat and happy horse stock working the new spring green grass.

There is a collection of old farm equipment displayed in Masonville.
There are five climbs to work yourself from the south end of Horsetooth until you pop out on the north end and drop down into LaPorte. They are short but steep climbs that are a good workout. I have always liked this ride because of the pretty scenery that the Hogback can give you.
First climb
Horsetooth is very pretty this spring because it is already full and the run-off is just starting. I think most of this water goes for irrigation in eastern Colorado, so it should be a good year for the farmers. Also a good year for the boaters and recreation out on the water at Horsetooth.
The climbs are caused by either going up and over the hogback or the drops down to cross the little side dams of the reservoir ans climbing back up the other side. Here I go down to a side dam and you can see the climb up the other side in the picture.
After the drop down to Laporte it was the ride back south through Ft. Collins and back to Loveland. Nice ride today because those 18 miles heading south I had a nice tailwind pushing me along.
After up and down roller riding out in the foothills, I had a nice ride through the farm country that is between Ft. Collins and Loveland.
And, back to my truck for a visit to Big Beaver!!
All in all, a pretty good ride for a non-training ride!!
Next report from beautiful Santa Fe!!
Everybody have a great week!!