Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Answer to the Challenge #3

You know the saying "it just keeps getting better" - I really believe it can be applied to just about everything.  This was my third experience with the Answer to the Challenge and in so many ways, it was the best.  While I won't ever forget each year (as much as I'd like to forget year #1 when I almost
died), the memories from last weekend are definitely on the top of my favorites list!

The day started off at 6 am when we dropped our bags off - The picture below shows what we had to look forward to (with the exception of day 3 when we get picked up after 60 miles).

Unfortunately (and fortunately) ony 15miles into the ride my partner in crime Theresa hit some rumble strips on the highway and crashed.  I was in the way way back still trying to get comfortable with the big group we had going so I ended up not seeing any of the accident.  I darted out and around the bikes as they slammed on their brakes and avoided everything.  As soon as I saw what had happened my stomach sank.  In the impressive group of cyclist we had an EMT, Bone Doc & PA.  They did a quick examination on T, and for the most part she seemed ok.  However, her head was buzzing (multi-cracked helmet and bouncing across the road will do that) so we had one of our wonderful SAG drivers take her to the hospital to get checked out…

The next hour or so we were all a little tense, but eventually everyone settled into a groove and we continued on with our journey.  The weather was perfect.  Warm, sunny & very little wind.  At mile 65 we got word from T, that everything was OK!  The mood lightened even more and we were back on the road for a good 15mile climb into Payson.

The Answer Girls!  What a great group of gals to do this adventure with!

We had an extended stop in Payson for sandwiches and Bitty's - Can you say impressive self supported SAG?  This crew really knows what they are doing!

The last part of the day is a ~20 mile climb up to Strawberry with the most difficult part in the last 3 miles.  Fortunately it is STUNNING scenery.  Fun, winding roads and again, perfect weather.  I tend to feel my best at this part of the day.  Good pacing, and fueling didn't disappoint and I finished day 1 ~94 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing feeling STRONG.

It didn't hurt having this fantastic "Bitty Train" of strong boys pulling us for a good portion of the ride!  The entertainment was just as impressive.

The majority of the group (Bitty crew) rented a house in Pine, so we headed down there for a big catered dinner.  Last year we found a great restaurant in Payson that caters and that has been a savior for our starving tummies!  There may or may not have been more cocktails, but at least we had lots of carbs to soak it up…..  just sayin'

Day 2 is always epic.  You start with a ~10mile climb out of Strawberry.  It's usually pretty cold so I was completely over dressed, but I'd rather be safe than miserable like last year.  After the climb you have a few rollers then a 25+ mile descend down into Camp Verde.  My legs were feeling pretty good (THANK YOU e21), and I got lucky and caught the boys draft as they hauled ass through the rollers.  I managed to dig deep and stay with them the entire way down and avg'd 20mph for the first 60 miles.  I did my best to refuel before the epic climb (~13 miles) up Mingus Mtn.  

My climbing has definitely come a long way in the past year and I'm pretty sure I had my best climb ever up this  mountain getting to the top in 1:33.  

Saturday night was another adventure, dinner, drinks, and a little tour around the infamous Whiskey Row.  Some stories are better left where they took place.  Again, just sayin'

Day 3 was a little harder getting back into the saddle, but the weather (again) was perfect and I knew the first part of the ride is the most gorgeous.  An hour or so climb up and out of Prescott - Here's our group at the top of the last climb…..  Picture PERFECT.

We left late that morning, and since the rest of the event had twice as much road to cover as we had planned the SAG was long gone before we got to the stops.  The Bitty Crew has the best support everywhere they go, and I just feel lucky to get to tag along with them.  We had our own SAG support with everything we could possibly need and want.  

We finished the ride all feeling strong.  Those bad ass boys pulled us all the way into Wickenburg, 60 miles in just over 3 hours.  It was a Bitty Train for sure.

It was another epic weekend with some of the most fun, nice and generous people I've ever met.  I'm ecstatic at where my fitness level is with 4 months left before my Ironman.  I feel like my cycling is reaching a new level and I still have time to build.  

Until next year…...


mtanner said...

I wanna come next year!

Michelle Simmons said...

Yay! sounds awesome. Glad you felt so great (though I am not surprised). :)