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Froze toes Casa Grande (Arizona)
- [first draft: March 7, 2003]
It has been too long since my last visit
to Le Grand Tour -- the first cycling event of the year in Casa Grande, Arizona.
3 years went by. I moved to Arizona in Nov 1999, and in 2000 i went to all of
the cycling events. Even two races on top of that. I never thought in 2000 that
in the 2 years to come i'd miss all of the events. I never stopped cycling, but
for reasons other than my choice (ok, it was because of girls) i didn't attend
The first March Saturday in 2000 was
a warm day. Today was not. Since Tuesday it has been raining or overcast, and
even Friday was windy. The weather forecast at 7:14am on Saturday (the day of
the event) was "mostly cloudy, 42F low, 60F high, 10mph wind from South".
2 events came to my mind -- the 8mile time-trial on December 1, 2000 by Los Angeles
and the "Froze Toes" cycling event in Missouri. By Los Angeles, the
event was an individual, "no drafting" everyone-on-his-own kind of event
for only 8 miles -- I drove there through San Diego (a detour, but never a bad
drive through the Beach Cities). It was the second time i camped with my bike
in the tent -- the first time was the "Missouri State Championship",
but that's another story. "Froze Toes" was the first cycling event i
saw in person, in February 1999. 2 months later i bought my Trek. Let me just
say that February in Missouri was cold, and the wind made it feel even colder.
I wouldn't bike in that weather even if i got paid.
I have been spoiled by Arizona since
1999 -- I have ridden my bike in every month of the year. Today the cycling weather
was the coldest i experienced yet in Arizona. I slowly pulled off the long pants
by jeep, and yupppp..... it was cold. Over my short sleeved jersey i had a sweatshirt,
and it was coming with me. I decided to pass on the poncho i considered as a wind-breaker
(under my jersey, on top of thermal t-shirt) -- it was a little windy, but the
skies were clearing, and we had sunshine for the start of the event. I heard the
announcer while changing, 5 minutes to go. I made it to the start line, after
packing enough food and water for 70miles.. just in case. As it turned out, i
only drank 1 bottle out of 4, and didn't eat anything while riding -- the battle
against wind and time didn't call for more.
At 9am we started out from Peart park
through the streets of Casa Grande, and headed out of town. The wind was still
with us, but the sun was smiling. My hands got real cold in the first 2 miles,
and i wished for gloves. My cycling gloves left half my fingers exposed, and i
tried warming them with my breath while riding. The first 2 miles went by really
quickly, and i did some speed bursts to pass some people, and to get on the wheel
of others. A group of 4 came from behind, pulled by big #274. The fellow looked
like his bike was too small for him, but it was just his body type. I jumped on
the wheel of the last guy, and then the group was 5 strong. We were challenged
by the man in black, number #170. He came and went -- looked like he started late
and was now in a hurry to win the event. He wore long sleeves both on top and
bottom -- skin tight, of course. The event was not a race, but tell that to the
racing spirits... and besides, even I put in my best effort...
By the turn at mile 8, our group combined
with other riders and there was about 8 of us. At one point i was in the middle.
Ahead of me were #365, #366, and #364... heyyyyy, consecutive numbers. #299, a
girl, was with them too. #174 charged a couple times, and i followed him too.
He didn't really break away, and we were caught and passed by the group. It's
a lot easier for the group, than for an individual. The lead man spends as much
as 50% of energy just fighting the wind.
It turned out to be a beautiful day.
Perfect for cycling. There was some wind, but nothing to complain about. As i
was sitting in the middle of the group, thinking that i could go on like this
for 100 miles, i thought about the Kevin Costner movie -- the one with the "Hell
of the West" cycling event, where the bad guy says "Enough of this Sunday
stroll, let's hurt a little bit!". While that was a pro race, and this was
really meant as a Saturday stroll for most, it felt too easy for me in the pack.
Boring, effortless. I knew what was coming, but i was ok with that. When #174
pulled off the third time, i pulled off right after him, and then i passed him
like he was standing. I was at 27mph and clear of the pack. That lasted for a
good 2 minutes, and then.... the price -- i spent 15 minutes recovering, dropping
to 20mph then 15mph, while everyone in the group passed me and i'd never see them
again. :-) Mission accomplished. I did my push-recovery cycle. At an extreme level
-- i wasted myself totally and felt like stopping because of it.. but it sure
felt good giving it all !!!!!!!!
At mile 20 i was happily cycling along,
just about recovered, and then i saw the sign. "Photos ahead". "300
feet ahead". "Ride slowly and single file for best results." Well,
no problem about the single file. I was alone for miles. There were 2 photographers,
at least pretending to know what they were doing. About half a mile later, i approached
a road block. Over 200 sheep were crossing the road. Wow. One dude saw me and
started splitting up the sheep quite quickly. I slowed down but never touched
the ground with my feet. The sheep were making their sheep sounds as i crossed
slowly between them. Sheep sheep everywhere. Where is my camera? Of course i had
to mark this spot on my GPS -- mounted on the handlebars. Garmin Vista, the GPS
has been my newest toy. I only had it for a week.
The end came too soon. I remembered the
path well, not where the turns were, but the overall shape of it -- it was same
as in 2000. This event has been my favorite since 3 years ago -- it's the first
event of the year, nice and flat :-). The 30 mile end came too soon. It came at
a 27.6mile mark. Grrrrrrrrrr, not even 30miles. I felt like cycling another 15miles
to go. I never touched the food i brought to eat while riding -- my "performance"
or "bonk" as it's called (when you waste yourself to the point of dropping
out) impacted that -- food was the last thing on my mind. I know what 60miles
feel like. I remember the feeling i had in Tucson in 2000, when my legs were saying
"no more" after 50miles when the (little) hills appeared, and i was
dragging myself, feeling the legs spent. But i never stopped, that's not how the
game is played. In the saddle to the end. Bring the food, bring the water, but
The next event will be on April 12 --
El Tour de Phoenix. A 70 mile event starting in Mesa, along highway 202 for a
a bit, then up Scottsdale Rd and down back again. Lot of police support stopping
traffic as 300+ riders fill the streets starting at 8am. 2 memories from 2000
for that event -- i was late and had to intercept, and park wherever...... and
i learned that eating cheese for breakfast before the race is a killer. It totally
weighs you down. So don't do it.
The day's statistics were:
|Distance: 27.3 miles
||Time: 1h 36min
||Max: 28.0 mph
||Total Odometer: 2145.3mi