Sunday, August 06, 2006

Wed & Thu, May 24-25 – Days 5-6 – North of Gila Nat’l Forest

I’m writing by flashlight and I’m tired, so this is going to be short. These were my first two days on gravel. Yesterday we made it only 25 miles or so, with one steep climb after another. Today we made it about 35 – half on those steep climbs and half on some broad plains that remind me of Kansas, only browner.

The campsites for both nights were absolutely superb. Last night we camped up on this high draw under big pines and next to an old broken down cattle pen. I got a bunch of pics of the camp just as the sun was coming up. Today we’re on a high (7500 ft or so) plateau sort of thing, but down next to this big rock formation. There will be pics of that as well I’m sure.

There has been lots of wildlife around. This morning we were cruising down a long downhill and turn a corner and here’s this bear out in the middle of the road. He turned and breezed right away, before Tim got there. He was a big fellow – a big blackie. I swear he was up to my waist at the back, but Tim says no bears are that tall. Maybe he just looked bigger because the adrenaline was pumping so hard. Later on we ran into a big herd of elk, and there was another herd about 500 yards from our camp on the other side of this little depression. Very cool.

There has been some conflict about riding style and pace between Tim and I. Tim really likes to smell the roses, and he takes long breaks with naps in the middle of the day. He also is sort of a start late/ride late sort of guy. I would prefer to start early and either push to get done by early afternoon or take one long break with food and a nap in the middle of the day. Riding late is a good idea because the weather is so much more favorable, so we agree on that. But the rest is difficult for me.

Pace has also been an issue. Tim is as strong as I am on the big tough climbs, but he can’t seem to put out a sustained effort on flats or the uphill grades. I’ve been really lollygagging on the flats, to the point where I can’t really go any slower and still pedal, and I still put time on him between all the corners. If I put out any effort at all I end up way ahead in a matter of minutes.

Hopefully he’ll get stronger as things go on, and it’s actually good for me with my knee the way it is to have to moderate my pace. But we have a lot of flats ahead so hopefully the pace will pick up. It hurts my bum to go so slow.

Day 5 stats:

27 miles
4500 feet of climbing
all day (with long noon break)

Day 6 stats:

37 miles (plus 7 going back to look for Tim’s camera)
3500 feet of climbing
all day

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