Today we got a late start but better late than never. We decided to ride Gate’s Pass today. I found an easy route online that was about 70 miles round trip. The ride started out perfect – tailwind, flat smooth roads with blue skies above. We headed about 45 minutes down Silverbell before making a left on to Avra Valley. And then we met the wind. I know wind. I live in Illinois. I have done Kona. I know what it feels like to be tossed around by the wind. But the wind in Tucson is not nice. I was tossed all over the place. Kicking myself over and over again for bringing a TT bike to Tucson. What was I thinking? I wasn’t – I just figured I ride Blue, I will bring Blue. I do not like riding Blue here! Next time I'm in Tuscon I'm bringing my road bike so I can actually drink. And shift. And brake. And descend...
We got past the airport and made a turn on Sanders, to Trico. The wind was swirling all around. Make up your mind! Are you tailwind, cross tail, crosswind? I wouldn’t be so lucky to have headwind today. At least headwind slows Chris down. Another turn and we have tailwind. Thus begins the fast train down the road. Focus - focus. Except this is a very busy road with crummy pavement. Yet again I am geared out, spinning over 100 rpms and holding over 26 mph. I can go no faster. I am officially off the 53 – 39. This entire trip here I feel like I have been riding a bike with training wheels. I’m spun out and misgeared. At times it has been frustrating but I keep saying to myself makesmetoughmakesmetough.
At this point in the ride, about 40 miles into it I am getting tired of the wind and barely hanging on. At one point I think to myself – it’s me and my legs. But my legs feel ok. Then what else? I go through the checklist of things that could be wrong other than my legs. Brake pads rubbing. Flat tire. Anything, right? Well lucky for me I slow down and realize that today I do have an out – my tire is flat. All right! It’s not my legs after all. But...crap! I don’t have any C02 and there go the boys sailing away down the road. And away. And away……Turns out they figured they dropped me and I was “having a moment” on the side of the road. Seriously, guys? Having a MOMENT? When have I just stopped on the side of a deserted southwestern highway to have a MOMENT? When?
Don't answer that.
Flat changed, we then set off on our way then decide to ride towards Saguaro National Park. Meanwhile I am thinking – where is this damn Gate’s Pass? We are nearly at 50 miles into the ride and there has been nothing but flat flat flat terrain. Where are these “hills”? Honestly, riding flats into the wind is exciting and all but…..that just screams Illinois! I do that all summer! Finally we are in Saguaro and the terrain becomes a bit more “rolling” but really – I WANT HILLS!
And you know what else? I want food. I’m so over eating bars and drinking Accelerade. I need something else. We stop at the visitor center for water and I figure they will sell some type of food. Guess what – NOTHING. Except for a pop machine. I hate pop but I end up drinking it and consider taking a concrete nap. I’m tired and losing steam.
We learn there is only a few more miles until the infamous Gate’s Pass. Finally! So we press on. The road climbs out of the center and then descends. It is now about 3 hours into the ride. Sherpa Thomas points out something up ahead. There rising from the mountain side is a road. And cars are carefully descending. That is Gate's Pass. I actually say to myself oh my god. Just leave me here. I am exhausted and how am I supposed to get up that? I recall that I read it is either 7 miles at a 12 percent grade or 12 miles at a 7 percent grade. Or I could be totally wrong. Either way I am expecting this to be a really long climb. It also looks really steep from a distance but sooner than I can make any other observations the road starts to climb and climb and then I am smack at the bottom of the narrow winding pass thinking to myself…
I have got to get up this thing. My legs hurts and ahead I already see Chris standing out of his saddle. If he is standing what will my option be? Walking my bike? I tell myself then to relax. Just stay in the moment. Don’t look at where it might end, take it one pedal stroke at the time. Pedal, then stand. Take a few more pedal strokes, sit to recover then push again. And it works. I’m making it up and gaining time on the boys. Must be the pop. Still, this REALLY hurts. And just when it starts to hurt a little more, I am at the top.
That took about 5 minutes? Maybe less? Turns out the 7 or 12 miles is on the other side of the pass. The side we were now descending. This was something like 20 minutes of descending. We should have climbed it the other way! Much longer and more difficult. No 50 miles of flat road.
It was time for food. REAL food. None of this 4 days of training where you eat 1 meal a day in bar form or from packages. I’m sick of that. My stomach is a series of gassy knots that are making me feel full when I need to eat and hungry when I need to ride. We did end up feasting tonight at a tasty little place called Oregano’s. During dinner, Chris actually admitted that he man-trapped Dave Scott and sort of regretted it. He also recalled the answer to his question about getting old. Dave said to maintain your muscle mass because even the slightest loss will result in a loss of efficiency. I was impressed at my husband’s ability to recall complex conversations while drunk. That could be his new super hero power (his last one was the ability to drink himself drunk with 1 drink).
Now we are finally relaxing. Many ideas have been tossed around for tomorrow but we are limited by both weather and time. But for now, it is relax and chocolate time. The boys walked to Trader Joe’s to buy more peanut butter cups. Oh no – it wasn’t my fault. Thomas ate the last tub. I gave him a little help but when I wanted them most they were gone.
Tomorrow – who knows. But one thing is always certain with me. The day will start with coffee. And as along as that happens, anywhere else the day goes will be ok.