My coach had assigned an 80-90 mile hilly ride for today. I convinced her that part of that should be a group ride with a local LBS club, starting in East Mesa, Arizona, which is East of Phoenix. I planned to do 80 miles, with about 5K of climbing, on this route:
The ride started at 6:00, and I had to leave the house about 5:00. I did the 31 mile group ride, with 1.5K of climbing, then split from them and headed even further East, up North Apache Trail, towards "Tortilla Flat", a popular distination for those who want to climb. I had not been there before, newbie that I am. If you keep going past Tortilla Flat, you reach "End of Pavement", or "EOP" as it is known. I ended up turning around here, at Canyon Lake:
I was only carrying 2 bottles, and one was empty. It's dangerous in Arizona to have to conserve your water supply, so after riding through the picnic areas and not finding a water spigot or fountain, I turned around. It was only when I was well on my way back that I suddenly said to myself; "City Boy, it was a LAKE!" Never ocurred to me to just dip my bottle in the water. Doh!
Here is a view of the lake from a distance, on the way back:
Lots of cacti, but the flat I got on the way out of town was from glass that had gradually worked its way through my rear tire. I had just cleaned and inspected the night before, so it was picked up on the ride. I did have to conserve my water a bit, until I got to a little store near the mining ghost town of Goldfield:
Conserving water in these conditions, at all, can quickly get you behind the hydration curve. I was starting to feel it, but the elctrolytes tablets I was inhaling, and constant small sips, helped keep me in the safe zone until I reached the store, which I knew was there.
All in all it was a great ride, long and hard, and an introduction to the Arizona summer season. By the end, my computer was showing a temp of 105, and I felt like a roast in the oven for Mothers Day dinner. The computer gave an "in the sun, on blacktop" temp about 10 degrees higher than the offical temp of "only 95" when I finished well before Noon. Summer is here. Leaving for Tortilla that late, after the group ride, was not the brightest plan. It's the sort of thing you want to do first, before it starts to heat up. But I was drawn by the allure of the group ride, like a snake to blacktop. And of course I tried to hang with the A riders, finally backing off on the main climb when my HR was staying in high Zone 5, getting to the regroup about 10 seconds after the leaders. It was my first ride with that group, so I had to HTFU as much as I could and still do the rest of my ride. Hopefully the miles I missed won't hurt me when I do the San Diego Century in a couple of weeks, which has (gulp) almost 9K of climbing.
This ride is an example of Arizona summer riding, where hydration and water supply weigh heavily into every decision you make. 6:00am start times now, until things cool off in the fall.