Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Unfinished Business: Dex Tooke

Available Through The Race Across America Store 
Dex Tooke is my hero, my model of how to be just a regular person who has an epic goal. He knew how to surrounded himself with a crew team of people who were totally invested in his succes--riding solo in Race Across America (RAAM) a one-stage race at age 60+. He fell short of the goal with the finish line nearly in sight in 2010. BUT, he got back on his bike a year later and crossed the finish line in Annapolis. His unfinished business was finally finished. 

Every year since Dex published his book, Unfinished Business, I re-read it just before the start of RAAM. Even though I know the outcome I'm riveted by his compelling telling of his 2011 RAAM. Tears roll down my face; I cheer for him; I feel his demons (and my own) trying to choke out success; I feel his mental and physical fatigue and that of his crew. After all, this is a one-stage race 24/7 for 12 consecutive days for rider and crew. I collapse in a puddle of delicious tears of triumphant success and fatigue when he and his crew are received at the Annapolis finish line. 

I am not and never was RAAM material; and, of course, I never will be given this is my 70th year.

But, I totally, totally relate to being just a nothing-special kind of rider who just happens to have my own version of epic goals. My most recent epic goal was that of riding 200 miles, a double century, in 12 hours. I caught the vision in 2011, went for it in 2013 and failed; went for it again in 2014 and failed. Went for it again in 2015 and Finished The Business--precisely 200 miles precisely in 12 hours. 

Still don't know how I did that, I really don't.

But I do know that Dex rode with me, especially in the last 30 minutes of my race against the clock. 

Let me share with you a few paragraphs from Unfinished Business that resonated in my mind's ear for the last minutes and miles of my 200/12 as I chased down my own ticking clock. 


From Unfinished Business pages 166-167 by Dex Tooke:

"Time was so critical that Joni timed my 15 minute sleep to the second. I awoke and immediately started asking questions. Joni just told me, "Shut up, we don't have time for your questions. You just need to get on your bike and ride!" 

"It was a little after 3:00 a.m. when I climbed back in the saddle--in less than nine hours the RAAM official would turn off the clock at the finish line."

"I began to ride again, but my speed did not improve. Joe and Dan looked at their charts and they could see that my average mph was continuing to drop below the critical line. At this point, Joe was desperate to do whatever he could to keep my RAAM from going down the tubes, so he grabbed the PA system mike, knowing I could hear him better than when he used the headset, and he started working on me."

"Dex, you gotta go faster, You have to push. Dex, what do you want to say in three weeks? Do you want to go back to Del Rio and tell all the Dexans that you did the best you could but just came up short?"

"When you get back to Del Rio and speak at the Lion's Club and the Rotary Club, how is your speech going to end, Dex? Are you going to tell them you didn't finish RAAM? Are you going to give them excuses?"

"Dex, you are writing that speech right now. You are writing your final chapter in RAAM. How is that chapter going to end, Dex? I want you to show me right now with your pedals and your body how that speech is going to end. Do it right now, Dex." 

"Tears of joy poured from Joni as she saw me wake up. She said, "Guys, he is doing what he does best now. I've seen this before. He's going to make it."

"Dan called it the single most impressive demonstration of pure will he had ever seen." 


As for me, well, when any of us is in our 70th year, the clock is proverbially ticking away from anything physically epic. 

What I knew was that on January 11, 2015 all the conditions were as favorable as they were ever going to get: weather, bike, crew, physical health. I needed to give this ticking clock everything I had and answer Daniel's loud speaker:

"Ok, Mama, you can do this, but you gotta pick it up, you can do this but you gotta pick it up. We're going 20 but you gotta pick it up to 21." You can do this Mama, yes, you can!" No coasting, you gotta keep pedaling; you can do this, grab my wheel. You can't let up."

And when my clock stopped, I had finished the business: 200/12, an accomplishment that could only have happened with a huge supporting cast on that day and many years of days before January 11, 2015.

Huge hugs of gratitude to all of you who have helped me finish this epic goal.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

200 Miles/12 Hours Elapsed Time Vanquished

Susan and Jeff at the start of the 200/12

I DID IT, yes, indeed, I did it Sunday, January 11, 2015: exactly 200 miles in exactly 12 hours according to the iPhone world clock. 

So why, 200/12? Well, it all got started in Springfield, Ohio in 2010 at Calvin’s Challenge, a 12-hour Challenge ride. The goal: how far can you ride in 12 hours? I’d never raced the clock before in an organized ride, had no idea what to expect. 

I don’t remember how far I rode in 2010, but nothing impressive at all. But I learned a lot as I watched how other riders set up their personal SAG stop, whether they were riding self-supported or if they had a crew managing their fuel and fluids. 

I rode Calvin’s again in 2011. I would again be riding it self-supported, but I had a much better idea of how to organize my fuel and fluids to manage my off-the-bike time, an essential for time trial success. My goal this time was to complete a 300k distance (186 miles) in 12 hours. My computer read out was 186 miles in 11:30 and so I stopped. I had met my goal. 

Only later did I realize that 200/12 was quite possibly in reach but I would have to hurry because Mother/Father Time was marching on: I was then 66.

2013 my husband Kirk and I drove to Coachella, CA for the 6-12-24 Hr National Championships. I would try again, this time with Kirk crewing providing my food, fluids, and nutritional supplements along the way. I abandoned the ride after about 150 miles because of seizure activity, a new diagnosis I had acquired about 3 months before the Time Challenge.

I was keenly disappointed because clearly there was no chance I would be doing anything serious with ultra-distance cycling at my age; I would not be registering for any more organized time challenge rides. And so, it seemed, a goal was removed from my bucket unachieved.

Then Dan Fallon, an ultra cyclist from Prescott, AZ who also rides a recumbent, offered to support me doing a 200/12 apart from any “officially organized” Challenge Ride. THANK YOU Dan, for your idea and your awesome support April 2, 2014!!

On Dan’s recommended course (Eagle Eye and Salome Roads West and South of Wickenburg, AZ) I punched out the first 100 miles in 5:30. Good start. Then this wall of wind just ground me to a halt. I abandoned the ride after 135 miles. No need to continue when 200 was nowhere within reach in 12 hours.

And so, the 200/12 goal was, once again, removed from my bucket unachieved.

Then, Good News! my cycling friend, Jeff Rogers, would be in Tucson for the month of January. He, too, had been questing after a 200/12. Maybe, just maybe, working together on the road with Kirk crewing for both of us, we could get ‘er done. And so the planning began.

We wanted to keep it simple, do it locally, but we needed to find a course that was flat, with no stop signs, minimal traffic, and with a reasonably good road surface, the latter being somewhat hard to find in Tucson.

And the answer to those questions was: the I-10 Frontage Road between exit 236 (Marana Road) and exit 212 (Picacho Blvd) on the East side of I-10. There was a McDonald’s at exit 236, lots of services at Picacho Peak, exit 219, and nothing at exit 212. Kirk would park the SAG vehicle at Red Rock, Exit 226, roughly half-way in between.

Our bike computers started rolling at 7:03. 

Outbound, heading northwest, was ever so slightly downhill, an elevation gain over 24 miles of 22’. We also had a tailwind and saw speeds between 20-25. While that felt good, we also knew those 20’s would become 12-15’s when we turned around to head southeast. And that’s exactly what happened. Not only did we have a headwind, but we also had an elevation gain of 428 feet over those same 24 miles.

Lap 2 was pretty much the same weather-wise. Kirk met us at mile post 236 at 1:00 p.m., with 96 miles done: a Micky-D burger for Jeff and my long-distance bike lunch of moist rice, tuna in olive oil, kalamata olives, and avocado. All the bio needs, including having eaten our fill, were met and we were back on the bike in 15 minutes.

Mile 111 required a strategy change. Jeff was dealing with some digestive issues and urged me to continue on without him. He would keep riding, but didn’t want me to slow down. He and I had had several conversations the week before the ride considering as many “what-if” scenarios as we could imagine so each of us could be as successful as we could be, neither of us encumbering the other with whatever life happened to us on the road.

And so, I rode on. 

Daniel, our son who lives in Tucson, a strong rider who also just happens to be 6’-6”, would be joining our team at 5:00 p.m. to put his fresh legs and billboard-sized body in front and let us grab the slip stream behind his wheel. 

And so, at mile 160 I met him on the road, minus Jeff, and slipped behind his wheel.

Daniel shouted: “How’s the pace?”  We were going 20 mph. 

“Faster!”  I said. He picked it up to 21. 

“How’s the pace?”  

“Faster!” I said.  He picked it up to 22.

I said, “When you hear my Zipp freewheel hub clickety clicking, pick it up, cuz then I’m coasting!” 

And so we rode at about 22mph till we turned around to head South for the Marana Road, exit 236, for the last 20 miles. And then it got tough, really, really  tough.

It was full-on darkness now. Kirk was in direct follow-mode providing protection in the rear from any oncoming car traffic and adding his beams to the far less than pristine road surface.

I had a chance to make it, but a very, very slight chance. So slight that even taking a sip from my Camelbak hose would break up my cadence just enough to fall off Daniel’s  wheel. 

Every couple of minutes Daniel would shout out ”What’s your mileage?” I had put a little flashlight between my jersey and my partially zipped windbreaker. I’d dig it out and train the light on my Garmin and Cateye and shout out the mileage. He’d grab his phone out of his jersey pocket and quickly do the math. 

“Ok, Mama, you can do this, but you gotta pick it up, you can do this but you gotta pick it up. We’re going 20 but you gotta pick it up to 21.” 

“You can do this Mama, yes, you can!” 

Then I’d hit a dip in the road or a major hole or something unseen and my freewheel hub would start clickety-clicking. 

“No coasting” he’d shout, “you gotta keep pedaling; you can do this, grab my wheel. You can’t let up.”

“I can’t reach your wheel!” I’d shout, after having lost cadence managing through the road surface irregularities. 

He’d back off a bit while I’d shift down and up a gear to pick up the cadence and then grab the power.

And so the back and forth fighting against the clock continued. 

He never, never let up with his encouragement. As tired as I was, I knew he had to be nearly as tired to be in all out sprint mode for 40 miles, no break from pulling, doing math to make it all come out right, navigating the road in the dark.

Then he shouted: “Do you have to stop exactly when it turns 7:03 or do you have the whole minute?” 

“I don’t know, I said, I don’t know what the seconds were on my Garmin when I started. I’m taking the whole minute of 7:03.”

“Ok then”, he said, “I’ll stop you with 10 seconds left in the minute of 7:03.”

And then it was over. 

Kirk pulled up behind us and stopped. None of us knew how far I had gone till I pulled out my flashlight buried in between my jersey and windbreaker.

200 miles exactly before the stroke of 7:04.

I know, our rules wouldn’t have met RAAM standards, but I never was, and never will be  a RAAM-type ultra-cyclist.

But, it felt so unbelievably good to vanquish my goal of 200/12.

AND! Let me say how amazing Jeff did!! 

Not only did he had GI issues after lunch and had to slow a bit for awhile, but he never stopped. He was able to pick up the pace and continue to 7:03 with a PR of 187. AND, he did all of that without the benefit of Daniel’s slip stream, Daniel’s encouragement or Kirk’s protection and headlights after nightfall.

Now, his accomplishment is amazing. But, being +/- 11 years younger, he’s got a few more opportunities to hit that 200/12, if he chooses to keep that goal in his bucket.

And finally, NONE of this could have been even remotely possible without the wrap-around, comprehensive, cheerful support from Kirk. Crewing is hard, hard work and a sacrificial gift of love.

A huge hug of thanks to all who have supported me for so many years through so many times and events of joy and challenge.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Journey of Victory Through Self-Surrender

I can’t take credit for the title, Victory Through Self Surrender, or the concept of Victory Through Self-Surrender. E. Stanley Jones, a 20th century United Methodist missionary and theologian wrote a seminal book by that title; Rick Warren, founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA regularly addresses the core issue of surrender leading to victory in his sermons, devotions, and books. 

I am not a theologian, I am certainly not a missionary. I am, however, a woman of faith trying to live my life in some kind of a balance of acceptance of my gifts, foibles, and circumstances. To that end I find myself regularly challenged to surrender myself to a power greater than myself, whom I call God, while at the same time to take responsibility for myself. 

I, like all of us, have gotten banged around and banged up by life. Some of us have experienced more of that than others. Some of us have done some remarkable inner work transforming our woundedness into jewels which we use in service according to our given gifts. Others continue to live their lives in defended denial losing the gift of self-acceptance, the gift of intimacy with those who truly care about them, and the opportunity to serve fully.

My own personal survival strategy for getting banged around my first 20+/- years was to isolate and not let anyone be a part of my life, a part of my journey. It was a pretty lonely way to live. 

Fortunately, a couple of health issues, now long passed, turned out to be ones I couldn’t fix all by myself. Managing through those taught me the value of seeking out people, professional and non-professional, who could journey with me, a much less lonely way to live.

And that brings me to the present. 

As many of you know I was diagnosed with epilepsy the end of August, 2013 after a rather dramatic first-ever episode. An Epileptoligist immediately put me on an anti-convulsant medication; we tinkered with the dosage for 6 months before finding a therapeutic level; and I stopped driving, because in Arizona people can’t drive until they have been seizure-free for 3 months. Eighteen months later I am still trying to count to three. 

Having worked for 40 years with addicts and their families, I knew first-hand the value and power of Self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. One of my first efforts in coming to terms with my new diagnosis was to attend a local Epilepsy Foundation Self-help group. I attended maybe 4 meetings and found them to be even more than down right depressing. Most everyone there seemed dulled by either their medications, their brain surgeries, their  disease or co-occurring diseases. Many were unable to work; all were unable to drive; many lived in group homes or had a full time care giver. Clearly the epilepsy self-help community would not become a primary means of support for me.

I “girded my loins” suiting up for the big game of not becoming my diagnosis, not living the life of a victim. I would demonstrate to myself and to anyone who cared to watch, that I could and would do everything I had been doing before my first seizures and just as well as.

And, to a degree I pulled it off. I have ridden another 12,000 miles on my bike this past year, as I have done 8 of the last 10 years; the other 2 years I “only” rode 10,000 miles. Some of those years were when I was still working full time. I continued on the Board of my local bike club, was active in our church, active in the community, did some serious international travel with Kirk, and visited friends and family across the US. 

But, as this year, 2014, winds down I am coming to terms with the reality that, like with most, if not all, chronic conditions acceptance of the condition requires a delicate balance of strength, courage, action, and embrace. By embrace I mean I need to learn how to make room in my spiritual house for  epilepsy.

I find I need to organize my life in such a way to make room for rest and recovery; there are days I just can’t do what is on my calendar. I need to shift my roles and commitments to community activities to allow me to do just that, rest and recover, when I need to, without letting down the organizations in a troubling way. 

I need to become a trigger sleuth. Can I understand what begets my seizures? Can I integrate traditional and complementary modalities that I can use to intervene before, during or immediately after the seizures begin to reduce the frequency and their impact on my daily life?

I need to lean into my holistic treatment team, listening to them, receiving from them, using their expertise.

I need to prioritize time in my daily life for a different balance of quiet time and active time.

I can offer no prediction as to how effective my efforts will be to balance strength, courage, action, and embrace of my disease. But, I am hopeful that, at a minimum, my 2015 strategy will reduce the power of the seizures to interfere with my daily life. I’ve already put a number of new “dailies” into practice even before 2015 begins. It will be fun to revisit this post a year from now to see what I’ve learned. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Lessons From The Blue Hose

Camelbak Hose
Kirk and I spent a couple of days in Scottsdale celebrating his birthday in early December. 

While riding from Phoenix to Tucson by bike is not a challenging ride or inspired by scenic awe and wonder, there is a Randonneur 200k Permanent Route between the two cities. Riding it would qualify for my December Permanent, number 5 out of 12 toward my R-12, an award given to riders who ride a minimum of a 200k approved route in 12 consecutive months. 

I had had a spate of seizure activity for the week preceding my 200k PhxTuc Ride so was grateful my Rando friend, David Brake, would be riding with me, just in case...

The start was 7:15 a.m. at the intersection of Ray Rd and Priest/56th in Chandler. I loaded my bike on the rear rack and packed all my on-the-bike gear carefully in the car. We left in the dark headed for the Start. David would meet us there. 

Meet we did. David and I were both in a most unpleasant dither, I because I couldn't find my blue hose, my only source of fluids for 129 miles; David because he couldn't find his sunscreen. Both of us crescendoed in our own personal dithers, our spouses just wishing we would leave and reminding us that we both deserved each other given our momentary inability to be gracious and civil to them. 

I knew my blue hose HAD to be in the car. I knew I had put it there, but dang it was just not there! Dither grew into an almost panic as I contemplated the dehydration hole I would end up in not having an efficient and accessible source of fluids. And, having just moved through at least a week of seizure activity, who knew what kind of a trigger dehydration would be!? 

Then Kirk, bless his heart, found my blue hose. It was on the floor on the passenger's side in the front. It was still too dark to see it against the black rubber matting. Phew! I began to breathe. I don't know if David ever found his sunscreen, but that was replaceable at any convenient store. Not so a blue hose.

And so we began our 129 mile 207k ride to Tucson.

Nature called at mile 18. Off the bike I had a sinking feeling: all my classic pre-seizure auras and I still had about 110 miles to go. I guess many of us with seizures don't always know what triggers our seizures. Some triggers are predictable, but there are certainly a lot that don't have a 1:1 causal relationship. I was pretty convinced my blue hose dither didn't help maintain my intracranial equanimity. But I also had not been aware of the auras until I got off the bike at the Circle K. Grateful to have gotten the message at mile 18 instead of mile 36 or 69, the next two known rest stops. 

David and I fell into quiet riding, no chatter, and I practiced some meditative breathing and Jin Shin Jyutsu finger holds hoping and praying that my own version of on-the-bike neuro-bio-feedback would interrupt the seizure process.

Our first required stop (Control) was at another Circle K, this one in Stanfield, where we need to purchase something as proof that we were on the pre-determined route and that we were there within the required time limits. Got off the bike and I was aura and seizure free and remained so for the remainder of the ride.

David's wife, Kristy, met us at the finish at Cortaro Rd/I-10; I appologised for being so unpleasant a few hours before. 

It was an awesome ride; thoroughly enjoyed David's company and learned much from the blue hose.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Mustang Corners 200k Perm Description

This icon is now closed, but the building still stands at the NE intersection of AZ 90 and AZ 82

Route name- Mustang Corners 206k

RUSA Route number- 2442
Distance (km)- 206k 127.7
Format- Loop--only clockwise
Climbing (ft)-5,114'
Location- starts/ends in-Tucson
Dates available-all year
Contact- Susan Reed
Date approved- 2014/9/16
Route in RWGPS

This route starts at the intersection of 22nd St. and Kolb Rd. at McDonald's on the SW corner.

The route "tacks" East and South until connecting with Mary Ann Cleveland Way to Vail; head South on Colossal Cave Rd to "Old" E. Benson Hwy which is also the I-10 Frontage road on the East side of I-10. E. Benson Hwy becomes Marsh Station Rd. Marsh Station Rd. dead ends at exit 291 on I-10. Merge onto Eastbound I-10 shoulder to Exit 302 for AZ 90 South toward Ft. Huachuca and Sierra Vista. Continue South on AZ Rt 90 to AZ Rt 82. Head West on AZ Rt 82 to Sonoita; head south on AZ Rt 83 to Old Sonoita Hwy. Follow Old Sonoita Hwy to Colossal Cave Rd and backtrack to the Finish at 22nd St./Kolb Rd.

You will ride through beautiful rollers through the Sonoran desert, a 10 mile stretch on I-10, lush grasslands, and more fun rollers and a couple of Border Patrol check points. Always a good idea to have your government issued ID with you.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

El Tour de Tucson Was Golden

Sunset on our Golden El Tour Day
The 32nd El Tour de Tucson has been planned as a Family event for 4-5 months. Our son, Daniel, lives here in Tucson with his family and our son, Bryan, lives in Eugene, OR home of the mighty Ducks, except they have been dunked two years in a row by our Cats. Our daughter, Katie, is not a cyclist but would cheer for all of us from her home in chilly Chicago. 

Both Bryan and Daniel are full-time bike commuters in the regional extremes their towns offer with not much time in their late-thirty-something lives to get more training beyond their commutes.

For Bryan his last century was 27 years ago at age 13. The 32nd El Tour, at 104 miles, would be a stretch. His longest training ride this Fall was 70 miles. He didn’t feel very good physically after that ride and his confidence was shaken.

Early August Kirk had his nasty bike crash breaking 8 ribs and his clavicle, the latter requiring major surgery and reconstruction with a titanium plate. No one knew at that time if he would be able to ride El Tour at all.

In the beginning the plan had been that Daniel and I would ride the 104 together for Gold; Kirk and Bryan would ride the 104 together to finish. 

Kirk, in his methodical, persevering, masterful way was back on his bike within 3 months  post injury and was committed to riding El Tour, but the 55 mile distance, not the 104.

The Reed Team reconstituted itself with the new plan of Bryan and me riding the 104 together to finish, Kirk riding the 55 mile alone, and Daniel riding the 104 alone for Gold. 

Bryan’s flight from Eugene to Tucson Thursday evening before El Tour on Saturday was the flight from hell; he was in transit 16 hours.  We had rented a bike for him from Cycle Tucson which arrived  Friday morning before he did. 

It was good fun riding with Bryan to the Tucson Convention Center to pick up our rider packets and enjoying a Starbucks bev of choice on the UA campus. Starbucks is a Bryan and mom ritual, but it most often happens on the Ducks campus in Eugene.

Not surprising, each year I am a year older, a little no brainer, but each year I find that my biggest cycling performance challenge is tweaking my nutrition: fluids, fuel, and electrolytes. At least for this year I think I have that one nailed for me. But Bryan’s 70 mile training ride that left him feeling bad was about just that: fuel, fluids, and electrolytes  and he was asking me to coach him through the 104 miles how much and what to eat, drink, and supplement with electrolytes. 

I felt honored that he would ask and trust me and I felt the pressure of his El Tour success riding on my shoulders. 

He had received some advice from a friend of his, I believe a runner, who had cautioned him about not going out too hard and fast at the beginning and then not having enough in the tank to finish. Sage advice, but in the case of 3,000+ 104 mile riders having a mass start and all the platinum and gold riders bunched up at the start, it’s pretty hard to go out too hard and fast. Plus, at about the 10-15 mile mark is the first wash crossing. So, probably 200 riders are bunched up to walk down the steep slope into the wash, walk or carry their bikes across 150 yards of wash and then walk back up the steep slope on the other side. 

There’s a SAG stop, replete with Mariachi band/music on the far side of the wash so people are bunched up there taking care of bio needs etc. So, the first time the space opened up to ride at a pace of one’s choosing was about mile 15.

We lined up at 6:30 for a 7:00 a.m. start (sunrise was 6:59). It was in the low 40’s at the time of waiting for the start. Our fingers didn’t warm till well after the first wash. Bryan was in cargo shorts with lycra bike shorts underneath. He felt the cold big time even though Eugene had already had a serious cold snap. 

I think it was a huge help to him, I know it would have been to me had I been riding a course for the first time, to know what to expect: when we’d be turning out of the wind, where a convenience store was that would offer a Red Bull or a bathroom that didn’t have an endless port-a-potty line; where the hills started, when we’d be done climbing for the day, etc. To that end, the lines for the port-a-potties at the start were 20+ deep and the first few SAG stops the lines were similarly deep. So, we stopped at a Shell station about maybe mile 25 (Wilmot/I-10 for those of you who know the area) and took care of many needs.

Here’s a link to the course, only 104 miles this year. At about mile 50 Bryan had an unexpected behind-the-knee, sharp tendon pain that really scared him. We lowered his seat about 1/8 of an inch and I suggested he stretch. The climbing would be over after another couple of miles and we’d have gentle rollers for about 10 miles before the final hills up Pusch View off of Oracle and then up La Canada to Tangerine. Then the climbing would be done for the day. That intervention "held" for the duration of the ride.

We had been successfully ahead of the merge of the 75 mile riders who joined the main course and enough behind the 52 milers that when we reached the intersection where they joined the main course they did not swell the ranks of the riders to a disabling degree. Not the case with the 40 mile riders. They and we reached their merger with the main course at the same time and what a swell it was, more like a swarm, I would say. These 40 mile riders are oft your least experienced riders, thrilled to be a part of a large event, many don’t have the best of bike handling skills, and there are often a bunch of children/pre-teen-types. Tangerine Rd, which we shared with truck traffic, and which has an adequate shoulder for a few bikes but not hundreds of bikes, was packed with all of us. 

Just before we reached the 6 mile descent on Tangerine we had to stop for a traffic light. Although there were cops patrolling all the intersections, at some major intersections the cars do need to have an opportunity to move through. It was our turn to stop and now we had another HUGE bolus of riders who began the 6 mile descent down Tangerine to I-10. Usually you can take that stretch at 30 mph, but not 5 abreast with that many or more in front and behind you. That was a bit of a disappointment. Lost some time there. 

But at the bottom of Tangerine, before hitting the frontage road all the way to the finish line, Bryan was feeling good and had surrendered his “lets go this at a conservative pace” mode. We busted it as fast as we could back to the finish.

He was absolutely ecstatic!!! We finished at 7:35. He really didn’t think he could make it the whole way. I'm confident his awesome success will open all kinds of possibilities for him: maybe a new, more performancy bike sometime, maybe more bike events (he’s eyeing the 2-day Seattle-to-Portland (STP) in 2015), etc. I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to be a part of his success and soooo grateful, my nutritional strategies worked for him.
Bryan chose to wear one of Kirk’s jerseys which turned out to be a UA jersey with a big wildcat on it. Coming from the home of the Ducks, Bryan has disallowed me from posting any pix of him in a UA jersey. He forgot to think about the impact of his friends seeing him in a UA jersey. Pretty funny.

Kirk did AWESOME, did 52 miles in 3:33, right in the middle of the pack.

Daniel smashed GOLD coming in at 5:06  (6:00 was the Gold cut-off). He was able to hook on to a train of riders for the last 40 miles and they pace lined it on in. He is totally pumped. Platinum is definitely in his future.

When parents are nearly 70 (that would be us) and your kids are nearly 40 (that would be Bryan, and Daniel is close behind him),  their day-to-day tangible needs are fewer and that’s how it should be. But it feels real good to be asked for help from time to time and it feels extra specially good when the help they asked for is actually helpful.

We had an awesome Mom and son bonding day; Kirk and Daniel each exceeded their expectations.

And besides all of those good things the UA Wildcats beat the Utah Utes, and the Oregon Ducks beat the the Colorado Buffalos. 

Oh, and if you hadn’t already heard, the high was in the low 70’s, sunny skies all day and winds no greater than 6 mph. The 2013, 31st El Tour was fully redeemed in 2014.

A Golden day all around. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mustang Corners: The Ride

As many of you know I set a goal for myself of earning an R-12 award which means that  a rider must complete a route approved by RUSA (Randonneurs USA) that is a minimum of 200km (125mi). The rider must ride at least one RUSA approved ride each month for 12 consecutive months. 

My first ride for my R-12 was in August, following the Arivaca route with 3 other Randonneurs. 

My September 200k was the day after the Skull Valley Loop Challenge from Phoenix to Tucson. I arrived home from the September 200k seriously depleted. Won’t ever know definitively why, but likely a combination of having put so much of myself out on the road for a respectable finish at Skull Valley; some nutritional deficits having been away from home for about a week; the temperature hovered around 99 for the duration of my 125+ mile ride; and I was carrying panniers full of gear I had been using for the preceding 5+ days in Prescott for the Skull Valley ride. And then, of course, there is always epilepsy and the anti-seizure medications both of which have played havoc with my ability to predict what I’ll be able to do day-by-day.

Whatever the influencers were that contributed to a less than enjoyable September 200k, it raised doubts in my mind that my R-12 would be possible. Maybe between turning 69 in mid-October and trying to cope with epilepsy was heralding a diminishment of my cycling goals and abilities?

I had targeted October 18th, my 69th birthday as the day I’d ride my 200k following the route I had designed and had had approved by RUSA: Mustang Corners. October 18th came and the combo of seizures and medications left me depleted and unable to even fathom a 125 mile ride 10 miles of which would be shared with 18-wheelers on  I-10.

Kirk and I had planned a 4-5 day bike trip in South East Arizona leaving Tucson on October 26th returning on October 30. There would be no time left in October for me to ride my October 200k. I sadly surrendered my R-12 goal.

Thursday, October 23rd a miracle happened. I had some body/cranial work done. Friday I awoke feeling focused, energized, and raring to go. First time I had felt that good since before my first seizure the end of August, 2013. With such a reprieve I cleared my calendar and set out Saturday, October, 25th to ride my October 200k.

Mustang Corners was a glorious ride completed with energy to spare!

Kirk drove me to the start, 11 miles from home. I’ve ridden all the segments of Mustang Corners a couple of times to many times but today would be the first time that I put it all together. Routes have always been my friends. I ride my routes, short ones and long ones, to spend time with my route friend(s). Mustang Corners has it all:

  • A local segment from the start (22nd St/Kolb Rd) to Vail, including a few miles on the Julian Wash, part of the 55 mile multi-use path that circumferences Tucson
  • A 10 mile stretch on Marsh Station Road through exquisite desert, even though the road surface leaves much to be desired
  • A 10 mile stretch on I-10
  • About 70 miles on AZ Rts 90, 82, 83, and Old Sonoita Hwy which I’ve ridden so many times with PAC Tour and so many PAC friends
  • And finally, a return on the route from Vail to the start/finish

Loved the familiarity of knowing the roads and having such rich memories of previous rides on these same roads alone or with other riders.

Loved waving to the rest stops where PAC Tour had SAG stops waiting for us

Loved not having the nagging pre-occupation of dread waiting for the next seizure shoe to drop.

Always have loved the expanse of open ranch surrounded by mountains where I believe I can see Apaches mounted on their horses, war bonnets waving in the breeze.

Loved finishing the 200k with energy in my tank, my hope rekindled that an R-12 just might be possible in this my 70th year.