Friday, April 27, 2007

Day 5 Cottonwood, AZ to Winslow, AZ 107 Miles

I should have taken a clue from the start of the day. At 5:30 AM Dave & I showed up for breakfast. The restaurant (Randall’s) had a closed sign in the window and no riders in sight. There were a few folks in the restaurant and the door was open, so we went in. It was the right place, but the wrong time. Breakfast wasn’t till 6:00. It had been at 5:30 each prior day and being creatures of habit, we showed up then … having failed to read the notice saying breakfast wasn’t till 6:00. oh well.

After breakfast, I quickly loaded my luggage in the trailer and got my bike ready. All set to go, right? Wrong. Left the Camelback and water bottles in the fridge. Had to go get a room key … had left mine in the room, since I had thought I had everything.

Now all set and on my bike ready to pull out. Jerry says he’s ready to go, but I point out he’s missing his helmet. A couple of minutes later we hit the road, still among the first to leave.

Today’s ride is amazing in terms of the contrasts. Cottonwood is basically dry and brown. Pretty red rock around, which becomes more pronounced as we ride to and through Sedona. Past Sedona, we ride through a gorgeous canyon … red rock walls, green floor, and a creek running through it. We climb and climb … pay back for yesterday’s fantastic descent. We make it to the top and look back at the road winding up the canyon wall. We see a few cyclists way, way down there. We head on to Flagstaff and lunch.

After lunch we ride on a bike path next to the famous Route 66, then onto I-40. We had joined a fast group of riders … basically faster than I’m up to riding. Initially I do fine, then when it is my turn to lead the pack I ride too fast, opening a 50 foot gap between me and the pack. I slow down to have them catch up, then Jud passes me and soon stops the line. We climb over the rail and there are 6 or 7 well watered bushes. We start up again and Jerry takes the lead. Someone tells him to slow down, then a few minutes later someone else says it is too slow and zooms out to the front. We go at a very fast pace. I struggle to keep up, basically lagging 50 – 100 feet behind. After a while Jerry drops back to try and pull me in by letting me draft behind him. I close the gap, but not all the way. Finally one of the faster riders gets a flat and I take the opportunity to catch up. The three fastest riders wait a bit, then take off. Jerry, Jeff, and I stay with him as he changes his tire. Eventually we take off again and eventually pull in to the rest stop for the final SAG of the day. The fast riders are still there, but leave shortly after we arrive. We pull out a few minutes later, and go at a more reasonable pace {19-22 mph). A few miles later we pass the fast riders, who had been stopped by another flat. Eventually we pull into Winslow … the first ones in, but it had been a struggle. It is apparent to me that my training was great in terms of getting me set to ride distances and good for climbing, but did not prepare me for speed.

After helping unload the luggage, taking a shower, and washing two pairs of shorts in the sink, Jeff, Jerry, and I head over to Safeway. I get my gallon of water and a pint of ice cream. The air conditioning in the hotel isn’t working and the refrigerator in my room doesn’t seem to be either. Good thing I ate the ice cream all up. The hotel wireless isn’t working and my Verizon connection is barely there … not fast enough to do any checking on tomorrow’s route or weather. Ken, Jeff, Jerry, and I head over to Subway and Safeway, coming back to the hotel indoor pool area to eat dinner … and my second pint of ice cream. Since it is actually frozen yogurt and only 670 calories per pint there’s nothing wrong with two!

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