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Square Wheels Cycling

2014 ABC Desert Classic

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ok, a few days behind here.


Saturday was the ABC Desert Classic, with routes of 35, 50, 65, and 101. All last week the weather guys were calling for a storm to hit on Saturday. It was sure to be windy; just a matter of how windy and if we got any rain.

The Desert Classic has been an interesting ride for me. I have now ridden it 4 times, and the weather was a factor in 3 of them. In 2011 I was wanting to ride a century as training for the first California double century that June. On the day of the ride there was a roaring wind out of the north (the direction we were going to be heading for the first 40 miles). As a result the other two I was riding with didnt want to ride a full century, and I settled for 75 miles. In 2012 the weather was nicer, but 40 or so miles in a plastic bag blew into my rear wheel. After a few minutes of getting that cleaned our of my cassette, I had to ride catch-up (I didnt call out to the group to slow up.. my bad). At the end of the ride I was getting close to bonk. One of the gals fell when she rode into an expansion crack about 10 miles from the finish. While we were waiting for rescue, the heat got to me, and I didnt finish ( I waited with her bike while one of the other guys came back with his truck). Last year I was not to be denied.... I finished in spite of twisting my knee 1 mile into the ride ( I could ride but it hurt to walk), breaking a spoke 40 miles in, and temps that hit 95-100.

soo.... I was looking to finish this ride again. At registration we found they changed the route this year... I preferred the old route but it was ok. It was cloudy and windy when we started at 7 am. The wind was out of the west, so except for one 5 mile stretch it was either going to be a tail wind or cross wind the first 50 miles. About 10 of us started out together; all Bull Shifters or Moon Valley riders. We were riding at a pretty good clip. I had committed to 2 Moon Valley riders that I would ride with them. At the 40 mile sag stop the route would begin to climb for 10 miles, and they wanted to ease up a bit, so we did. 4 other riders went ahead, and 3 other riders who were going to ride 65 rode with us.

A few miles later we caught the lead group as one of the guys touched wheels with another rider and went down. He had some road rash, but he and his bike were ok. At 50 miles we were nearing the top of the climbing, and it started raining. Two of us stopped to put on our jackets, then caught up with the other 2 a bit later. The wind and rain were cold, and it was not long before my fingers were numb. We rode in the rain for 10 miles.. not sure how long but at least 30 minutes, until the next sag stop. The wind was strong enough that the rain was sting my face. By the time we got to the 60 mile sag it didnt look as if the rain was going to let up anytime soon. At the sag we started to discuss cutting the ride short. The route was where I ride a lot, so I knew the shortest way to get to my home, which was near the last sag stop. After a few minutes we, and the other guys I was with as well as two other riders began shivering, and the gals at the sag suggested we go over to the nearby fire station. I had never gotten so cold on a bike ride that I shivered before, and I have ridden in rain in the spring, and in the winter of 2013 when the temps were below 32.

The firemen were great. They gave us blankets (in plastic bags, like they would take on a call) and coffee. One of the guys with us called his wife, who was working with 2 other of our friends at the last sag stop, to ask that one of our friends bring his truck up to get us. As we waited more cyclists came into the station. Most of them were much worse than me. I actually warmed up fairly quickly.

By the time our friend got there with his truck, and we started to load up, it was sunny again. After a few minutes I made the decision to ride on and complete the ride. the guys I was riding with and our friend tried to talk me into getting into the truck, but I felt good.

After I left the fire station I realized I didnt eat much at the sag. About 5 miles later at the next turn I stopped to take off my jacket and eat half of a Hammer bar. I had not seen another rider either in front or behind me (but there were some at the sag when I left). Riding west over stretches of open desert were a challenge, because I was fighting the headwind,and it was blowing me around. One of the sag drivers who passed me thought at first "does that guy know how to ride?", then realized what the wind was doing to me. At times I was down to 11 mph. I am guessing the wind was 15-20 (at least), with gusts to 30. I spent a little time at the last sag, to finish my Hammer bar and a Honey Stinger, and to talk to 3 of my cycling friends staffing that sag. I had 20 miles to go, and about 7 miles of headwind.

That 7 miles as a struggle at times, but it let up some as I got back in around houses. There was not much to report other than I followed the route the entire way, and rolled back to the start (Oggi's Pizza) just before 3. The other guys were there (except for the one who had fallen). You got 2 pieces of pizza and a soda (with refills) as part of the ride. Because I had continued the ride, the two guys who had been riding with me rode from the last sag to Oggi's. They told me "if you can finish the ride, we could at least ride in from the last sag."

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