Iím currently planning my cycling events for the year and working to get back into better riding shape, now that the worst of the heat of the summer is starting to inch behind me.† Iím already registered for The Tour of the White Mountains (TOWM) and El Tour de Tucson (ETT).† TOWM is October 3, so just 2 short months away.† Iím signed up for the 65 mile course along with Chris Z.† Robert and Chris M are supposed to sign up any day now.† This is the distance we attempted and failed miserably at last year, having finished only ~45 miles of the course, before being forced to DNF by race organizers as the rain/lightning was about to pound us into submission.† Honestly, I was toast anyway, so the rain didnít actually stop me.
Finishing the 65 miles will be challenging.† Itís a challenging course, and even without the challenge, just riding 65 miles on a mountain bike is a long ride on dirt.† Currently, my strength is well off what I need, while my endurance is only off by a bunch.† Stated differently: I could ride 65 easy miles without much worry, but TOWM doesnít offer 65 easy milesÖthey are tough, high altitude miles.† That means more hill climbing work in the McDowells over the next two months to build my strength up.† Sunday, I had visions of a Sunrise climb, but failed 1/3 the way up, as I was simply feeling ďcookedĒ, from the early morning heat at only 7:30am.† Due to misplaced sunglasses, I left my house at 6:30am, which was 30 minutes later than intended, and under the direct sun, just couldnít motivate myself to push through both the heat and the pain of the climb.† I still rode for 90 minutes, but it wasnít pretty, and demonstrated to me, just how far out of mountain biking shape I really am right now.
For ETT, my goal isnít to just finish.† Iíve finished the 109 mile event the last 2 years in a row.† Two years ago it was in 6 hrs 23 min, and last year in 6 hrs 1 min.† Both results were Silver medal finishes.† Gold medal finishers are under 6 hours.
Naturally, this year, Iíve got my sights set on Gold.† And I donít want to just make Gold, I want to cruise comfortably into a Gold finish.† That means 5 hrs and no more than 45 mins.† 5 hrs 30 mins would be better.† Iím currently riding the 45 mile Cave Creek loop in under 3 hours, including the necessary stop at Cave Creek Coffee Company.† Thatís a good start, but I need to lop off a good 30 minutes from that ride/route.† I love the route for itís relative lack of traffic, and similarity to ETTís course conditions, so itís tough to want to mess with a good thing, but I found a way to add 9 miles, including another 3 mile climb, without adding any traffic, so from now on, my Cave Creek ride will be 54 miles.
The other big ride I have yet to do this season is the Rio Verde around the mountain ride.† Thatís roughly 50 miles, but it includes either going up 9 mile hill (up Dynamite Road from Rio Verde) or the 10% grades that are in Fountain Hills, depending on which direction is ridden.† Either way, itís no picnic, with terrain significantly harder that ETT, and thus why itís a good training ride.
But the ride I really want to complete during preparations this season, and if I can Iíll know 6 hours is well within my grasp, is the Bartlett Lake Dam ride.† From my house itís nearly a 75 mile ride.† And itís either up or downÖthereís almost nothing flat about the ride.† I tried it last year, and failed to get to Bartlett Lake, riding only 50 miles, instead of the 75.† It was brutally windy that day,† but I know itís a ride I need to conquer if I really think a Gold finish is within my grasp this year.
FYI, the Bartlett Lake ride is one that Lance Armstrong was known to ride back in his US Postal days when he stopped in Scottsdale after visiting Tucson to ride Mount Lemmon.† I suppose thatís the allure for me as well.† If itís good enough for Lance, itís certainly good enough for me.
Iím also 100% committed to riding the 24 hrs in the Old Pueblo again.† Team Are We Dead Yet? will hopefully continue to build on itís experience and strengths and find a way to complete 14 laps this year.† If we can stop sleeping together as a team, I think we can do it.
Iím also probably going to ride Tour de Phoenix (April 2010?), as Chris Z said he really enjoyed the ride last year.† Itís 75 miles, and seems poorly named as the ride never once pedals over any portion of Phoenix soil, but the ride should be fun, and a great way to maintain my fitness/focus after the 24 hr race, which annually seems to be a problem for me.