I'd like to say I got my June century out of the way, but it would be more accurate to say that I finally got around to riding a century this year. After riding maybe a handful of times this year and gaining close to 15 pounds from this time last year, I finally started riding again the latter part of March. I started out with low mileage and by the end of April I was getting in 100-120 miles per week. May's mileage was much better, I ended up just breaking 800 miles for the month. I even rode the AZ district 40K TT and was pleasantly surprised when I broke an hour with a 59:25 and took third in the 30+ masters category. Not many riders turned out, which definitely helped my placing.
The first week of June was a lot cooler than the previous weeks so I thought it would be a prime Sunday to do a 100 June 6. Sunday, I got up at 4:30 so I would be able to meet my team by 6:00 in Awhatukee for the ride. There wasn't a big turnout, just six others. One guy just got a carbon fiber Trek and really wanted to try it out climbing so he turned off from the group a few miles out to go around South Mountain and up. The rest of us continued Southeast to Sacaton.
The morning was cool in the mid sixties with a fairly strong Southwesterly. The going was pretty easy heading East, but when we turned South things got quite a bit more difficult.
After about twenty miles, two of the riders had to turn around since they didn't have all morning to ride. At this time, we continued East for a few more miles from Ocotillo to Gilbert Rd. On Gilbert we turned South and really started battling the wind. It seemed like there was a dead cotton- tail rabbit about every tenth of a mile. I'll have to come out here sometime with my bow and get some rabbit hunting in.
Finally we reached Hwy 87 and turned toward Sacaton. The riding was much easier going though we didn't seem to let up any. The road was damp in places and it smelled like a shower had passed recently. We even felt a few drops of rain. Quite a change from the 100 degree weather I've been riding in recently.
Hwy 87 was closed up ahead due to the record rains in January which caused the Gila river to wash out about 400 yards of road. This was actually nice since the normal hwy traffic was non-existent. After passing through a few sets of barriers and going around chain-link fence crossing the road, we finally made it to the bridge. The bridge was fine. It was the road on the other side that had got washed away during the flooding. So far repairs had entailed building up the road bed. Currently it was a bed of fairly compacted sand (as compacted as sand can get). I made it most of the way across with only getting bogged down twice. The others seemed to have more problems getting accross so I waited for them on the other side. After we all got across, we again had to work our way through another fence and set of barriers then were off.
Finally the pace eased up to around 18 mph and we cruised along talking and joking around some. There was also some grumbling about squeeky cleats caused from the sand. Shortly, we turned of of 87 into the wind and started the one climb of the day over the Sacaton Mountains. It isn't much of a climb, maybe two or three miles that never gets steep. It just seems to take forever to crest the top and start down the other side. I tried to stay with Jeff as long as I could up the hill but wasn't able to. The other two riders, Art and Craig were strung out behind. I kept my pace steady and as strong as I could to stay as close to Jeff as possible. My fitness on the flats seems to be coming on well but I have a lot of work yet on hills. Of course, losing five more pounds would help.
After the crest, I kept it steady and slowly gained on Jeff. A few miles later, we stopped at an intersection and all regrouped. We ribbed Craig and asked if he took a detour up to a microwave tower on top of one of the mountains. That we couldn't figure why else he would have taken so long. He admitted that he hadn't really had anything to eat since Saturday morning, but had done some carbo loading the night before at a local bar.
From there it was just a few miles to Sacaton and Craig was hoping for a Circle K or some other convenience store. We cruised into Sacaton, which is a small village on/near (?) an Indian reservation. The only place that we could find open was the Sheriff's office. There was a coke machine there but we didn't have any change. We asked around for change, one guy had his hands tied (literally), but we finally scrounged enough for one can. Craig figured that there had to be a convenience store near by. The rest of us just laughed and reminded him that we weren't near the city, but in the middle of the desert. That it would be at least twenty miles til the next store. Art was starting to get tired too. I gave them both a big hunk of my Power bar and I ate the rest. I forgot how lousy they taste, and this one was a bit dryer than normal since I bought it last year and hadn't needed it until this ride.
A few miles out of Sacaton, the road looped back to Hwy 87. The loop went around the part that was washed out during the flooding so we didn't have to deal with that this time. We turned Northwest on 87 and started heading back. I thought we'd have a strong headwind here but it was a crosswind and wasn't impeding us very much at all. Again, the traffic was real light and we were able to echelon at about 20 mph. We turned North on Gilbert and had a nice tailwind but Craig was really starting to have trouble staying on a wheel so we were only able to go about 22-23. When we turned West on Ocotillo, straight into the wind, we really had to slow down and nurse him along. A few miles up the road, we turned North and headed into Chandler to find a convenience store instead of continuing along Ocotillo.
After getting some food and drink in Chandler, after about 70 miles, we continued on heading West/North back to the start. A few miles later, Craig headed off towards his home. At 80 miles, I decided to continue heading West into the Awhatukee Foothills to get 100 miles in while Jeff and Art turned towards the start for an 85 mile ride.
After five hours from when we started, I had 82 miles and was confident I would be done before another hour passed. I could feel the miles but didn't feel too tired, especially since I was just cruising steady.
The Foothills is an ever expanding subdivision that keeps reaching farther and farther behind South Mountain. The roads are fairly wide and the traffic is never too busy. There are also quite a few cyclists that ride in this area. I thought I would continue heading West into the wind as far as I could. Which means I would go until the development (and the road) end, then turn around.
I passed a couple cyclists on the way and chatted with one for a few minutes. We went over a small hill and I could really feel the miles there. Finally I reached the end of the road. It was quite nice to have the wind at my back after the turn around.
After wending my way through the Foothills, I finally made it back to the start, at Western Star Park, but was just shy of a century with 99.2 miles of riding so I just continued past. A few tenths farther, I turned around and ended up with just over 100 miles in just under six hours total time. My guess is with the stops, and jumping fences at the Gila, I probably had about 5 to 5:15 hrs riding time.
Except for the wind, the weather was perfect for a century. There was thin overcast for most of the ride, and the high for the day was a cool 79 degrees in the desert. Quite a surprise from the normals of 100+ this time of year.
It was quite nice to finally get a long ride in. Previously, this year, my longest ride was 56 miles. I admit though, that most all of my rides lately have been at least 40 miles long.
Copyright © 1993 Russell L. Corfman. All rights reserved.