With the arrival of the Tour of the Gila, my first two ultra-endurance blocks in the training plan come to a close. The block was not everything I hoped for. Work and travel competed for time with the planned three-day weekend blocks. Back problems off a great 6 hour Friday ride forced two days completely off the bike. The planned Congress to Flagstaff preride was delayed. Still, there were four weeks over 400 miles (two of them over 500 miles), and 13 rides over 5 hours in just 8 weeks. Just two years ago, I would have been completely buried by this volume, now it feels rather ordinary. I hope it is enough for RAW.
There were some truly epic rides, a solo 165 mile ride up to Kitt Peak and back. Kitt Peak was always just too far to ride--now its not far enough, I had to do a loop in town, and a longer loop back in town to bring it up to 165 miles. I saw a herd of wild horses coming back. The rock buttress north of the Kitt Peak summit is always impressive. The 9 hour with two dog sitting stops was fabulous too... finishing well past sunset. One of the more epic rides was the humbling ride to Windy Point. Just when I thought 6 hours was "easy", between the 40 mph winds, and the first day in sustained >90 degree heat, I finished up on impulse power. Experience got me home without a rescue, but lessons were learned, and heat accumulation is still to come.
The plan ahead it to head off to Tour of the Gila. I love Gila--a race I first did in 1991. Gila is a classic American amateur stage race, one of the last of its kind. Last year was the first return to Gila in over 20 years. This year I return with a different goal and perspective. This year, its about riding fast, some sustained climbs at altitude, and having some time relaxing at the cabin. Two years ago the 70 mile road stages would have seemed long. This year, they will feel more like a sprint. Gila starts with the 70 mile road race to Mogollon--a route so epic, so European, so cool. I still remember the first time in 1991, climbing shoulder to shoulder, 6 abreast, with the peloton spread out ahead up the climb.
Returning from Gila, I'll have three more weeks of big volume. Hopefully we will get the Congress to Flagstaff pre-ride in. I'm still hoping to pack in some 10+ hour rides, then resting the final two weeks into RAW. There is still so much planning to finish up. My son Jack is now on the crew, flying from Minneapolis to Oceanside to support! He helped get me through my 14 hours Dirty Kanza 2014. My crew impresses me...each brings something very special to our team: unique experiences, perspectives, and skills. Just 42 more days and it all begins.
My RAW Story, Day 170, 42 days, 16 hours to RAW 2019.
My interest in ultracycling dates back when I first started seriously riding a bike in college in the early 1980s. This is my RAAM story preparing to compete in the Race Across the West in 2020 and RAAM 2021.