$80 a tank!
Ryder got a new hat at the Saguaro National Park Visitor Center. He'll have to grow into it.
Some of the park's Cholla Cactus brought back painful memories of Laughlin Hare Scrambles.
Ryder continues to be an awesome traveler. He just goes with the flow. Wherever Denise & I take him, he doesn't seem to care. Six-plus hours in the van on the way out there didn't phase him a bit. He even sat through a 15-minute slide show at the Saguaro Nat'l Park Visitor's Center without causing a fuss. In 3 days, the only time he came undone was during Saturday night's dinner at Bennigan's, which leads me to this observation: Where are all the Tex Mex Restaurants in Tucson? I thought we'd be eatting good when we were there, but fine food was slim pickin's. We even went looking around U of A & only found a little Italian place called Magpie's. It turned out to be good food, but Denise & I couldn't help but think we were definately missing part of Tucson. We left unimpressed.
Quote: “Don’t sit there. There are ants.” – A girl to her friends at the Waffle House in Tucson. Upon hearing that, I looked down to check our booth for ants. To my horror, I saw a cockroach instead of ants. We immediately got up & left without eating, thus ending Denise’s first Waffle House experience.
Stage 1: 4-mile Time Trial
At the San Diego Omnium TT, earlier this year, I went out way too hard & blew apart toward the end, so in Tucson, I decided to start conservative. Bad idea, especially in a short 4-mile TT. My obvious lack of TT'ing practice & experience lent itself to a 50-second deficit on General Classification when it was all over. "Okay," I thought. I still have two days of racing to make that up.
Stage 2: 84-mile Road Race
Confidence that I could make up 50 seconds on the race leader dwindled a bit when I hit a massive Tucson pot hole & punctured my rear tubular just 4 miles into the road race. Luckily we had a follow vehicle & I got a quick wheel change thanks to race personel. The decisive climb of the race was in Saguaro Nat'l Park through Gate's Pass. The road tilted up to 12% near the summit & we were to complete the climb four times. On the first 21 mile lap we blew the field apart on the climb, so I knew the race would be decided at Gate's Pass even though there was still about a 4 mile rolling decsent to the finish.
I got in a 9-man break on the third trip up Gate's Pass. The only problem, the race leader was also in the break, so the chances of gaining time on him began to look slim. Suprisingly, the break worked well together & we quickly gained about a 4-minute gap on the rest of the field. Just as we were heading toward the climb on the final lap, someone in the break clipped one of a handful of cones on the course & I ran over its base giving me yet another rear flat. I couldn't believe my bad luck; 5 miles from the finish. I got another wheel from the support vehicle, but the damage was already done. In the 30 seconds that it took me to get a wheel change, I had taken myself out of a possible stage win. I tried like hell to catch back on, but because we were nearing the finsih, the pace was high. It's amazing how much time you can loose & how much slower you travel when you're out on your own. I ended up loosing over 2 minutes in just 5 miles. I still finished the stage in 9th & kept the rest of the field about 2 minutes behind me, but it was apparent that gaining the time time I needed to move higher than 8th in GC was going to be tough.
Stage 3: 39-mile Circuit Race
This will be quick. On Sunday it was hot & windy, so we did 7 laps around the 5.5-mile course as a small group. A lot of dudes had dropped out on Saturday so we were down to about 20 riders. There was nothing inside me that wanted or could try & move higher than 8th in GC. Due to Saturday's puncture, I was over 2 minutes out of 7th, so I just swallowed my pride & kept it together for the final sprint (which I didn't contest).
I'm pretty disappointed in how the weekend played out & even though the flat tire ruined my chances of a higher GC finish, the bad TT was probably a bigger blow. My body is tired. The highlight of the weekend was spending time with Ryder & Denise, who were troopers. Sitting around the heat of the Arizona desert for 3 days isn't my idea of a swinging time.
Fall Classic this weekend...