Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cochise County Cycling Classic - 2012 - Douglas, AZ (165 Mile)

The race is complete! The Cochise County Cycling Classic - 2012 - Douglas, AZ (165 Mile) event was probably my favorite event yet.

Here is the output from my Garmin.

Here are the official results.. I was 6th overall.

Sally, Carrie and I headed down to Douglas, AZ (on the Mexico border) on Friday afternoon. We toured a bit of Benson and then we drove the back half of the course. We arrived at the famous Gadsden Hotel at about 6:30pm. Brian Folts was there waiting on us. He and I agreed to team up on the race.

The Gadsden is historically interesting ... but not the best place in which I've rested my head. I guess I had framed a different type of hotel in my brain.

We went over to the race meeting and pasta dinner on Friday night. It turns out this is the 25th Annual Cochise Cycling Classic. They gave out special pins to the riders AND their support crew -- so Sally and Carrie freeloaded a pasta supper and got some swag. Bonus!

We woke around 4am and the usual pre-race whirlwind began. Coffee. Food. Sunblock. Gear. Water. I actually managed to remember EVERYTHING. Folts and I rolled up to the start line just in time to catch the national anthem.

Section 1: 1 to 33 miles to Bisbee. The biggest climb of the day.

Brian and I were out in front of the 25 brave souls that decided to take on this course. We were out there for the first 30 miles. I let him pull because that was the plan. For one of the miles I led the entire crew. I pulled them at 23 to 24 miles per hour on a decent little incline. I broke off soon and let some of the other guys pull. Folts and I got back together and resumed our plan. At mile 22 ... the incline increased and the speed decreased. Brian was pulling the whole crew at 17 mph on a very steep section. I hung with him but my heart rate was surging. It is tough to eat when you are in a pack of cyclists like that ... but I managed to get two gels and two salt tablets during the melee'. Keep going. At mile 31 the incline goes SUPER steep. It is a category 2 climb. The 5 fastest guys dropped me and those guys included Folts. I made a decision. I could have kept with them for those last two miles of intense climbing but I figured that would spend me for the entire day. It would suck to get a DNF just trying to keep a pace that I couldn't manage.

Section 2: 33 to 90 miles to Benson.

Having made the right call in backing off the Bisbee climb I knew I was set for the day. I also knew at this point that I would get a platinum finish (under 9.5 hours) barring any mechanical problems. How did I know this? The pace was so fast coming up the hill (22 mph average for the first 33 miles) that I knew I could just maintain a comfortable 20 mph and still secure the platinum medal. The descent from Mule Pass says I went 70.6 mph. This is not true. My bike spedometer said 56 mph one time. I think the Garmin picked up a car that whooshed by me a little too closely. I was on the course alone after passing a few of the lighter guys on the descent. I caught up to a very fit looking dude and we started swapping leads. This was at about mile 45. He could not stay with me. He told me to go on. I tried to keep him with me because it would have worked better to have both of us working in this section of the course. After I left him this tandem bike comes out of nowhere. They were in the 92 mile race. They were like "hop on". I have NEVER seen a tandem climb like these dudes. Holy Moses! I usually can hop on a Tandem on a downhill for a draft. Now I can say I have used one for a draft on a steep uphill. They actually dropped me before turning off on their route. Somewhere around Tombstone or St. David I found another crew of 4 or 5 cyclists. These would be the guys I would ride with for the rest of the day. We rolled in to Benson way ahead of schedule. My Garmin was still showing a 21.2 mph average even after all the up and mileage to Benson.

Section 3: I-10 to Dragoon. Mile 91 to 105

I saw Carrie and Sally at the time check in Benson. I think they knew I was going to be fine when they saw me there.

Sidebar: Without the logic and love of Carrie and Sally - Brian Folts and I would have struggled. We saw other support vehicles being MUCH less than supportive during the day. Thanks a billion.

Riding along a freeway sucks. This is possibly the worst 14 miles of cycling I've ever experienced. 1) It was scary. 2) Debris everywhere. 3) I saw not one but two different types of knives lying on the shoulder. 4) I had to pee. 5) There were two super annoying hills to climb. 6) It was hotter on the free than it was out in the open. You get the point. I made it. Whining session over.

Section 4: Dragoon to LaFrieda mile 106 to 135

I stopped to pee. I didn't care who or what saw me. It had to be done. I also had a chance to see what had been bothering me in my shoes since about mile 60. Both of my custom insoles had broken in half and the plastic was cutting into my sock / feet. I think they were just worn out. I pulled them out of my shoes and then hopped back on the road. I caught up with my group again at about mile 108. I pulled them down the hill to highway 191. I accidentally dropped them. I looked back once and they were there. I looked again and they were gone. In hindsight I suppose 26 or 27 mph was a bit much considering we were over 100 miles into the race. I saw Carrie and Sally two times during this stretch and it helped a ton. I was chugging water and eating as often as I could. Eat to stay in the race. Drink to stay alive. Dang. I have to pee again. Where is the downhill that the course map promised? There was a border patrol checkpoint that had a 15mph speed limit sign. Let's just say I was following their speed limit due to the hill that was there. I was bummed out for a few miles. Not because it wasn't nice scenery but because I had been tricked into believing that the climbing was over.

Section 5: ElFrida and back to Douglas mile 135 to mile 165.

After my second pee break, my crew members caught up to me again. We were to remain a group of four all the way to the finish. My feet are bruised up today from the lack of padding against the carbon fiber soles of my cycling shoes. I was literally limited to what my feet would bear. You can tell by my heart rate on my Garmin output. I was sort of lying back and just letting things happen at the end of the day.

7 hours 55 minutes total time. Moving time 7:51:38. Average moving speed 20.8 miles per hour. Total climbing - somewhere around 5000 feet. It was not flat. The weather did cooperate. In some years - this course is a DNF travesty.

Definite and unquestionable platinum status for me by over 1.5 hours. No more "special" platinum list from the 2011 Tour de Tucson. I am stoked.

Next up - Sunday October 21st - SOMA 70.3.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the report, it was fun to read and re-live the day! It's so much fun to be a part of the race from the comfort of a support vehicle. I felt so cool, standing there ready to give water and food to guys who were earning platinum status. Your coolness and athleticism were rubbing off on me, and I was so proud of your accomplishment! Still am. Soma, bring it on!