PAC Tour, Southern Trancontinental 2006

Day 4, Wednesday, September 13
To: Cottonwood, AZ; 105 miles

Perfect weather, 3 huge climbs.
Riding Time: 7:47:55; Avg Speed: 13.2 mph

The big story today was climbing, climbing, climbing. Yes, three big climbs of 7 miles to Yarnell, 15 miles to Prescott, 11.5 miles up Mingus Mountain as shown in the profile below. The steep physical challenge of it was greatly lessened by the awesome beauty of these mountain vistas. The wonder of what might be around the next turn, or over the next rise pulled me up the steepest pitches as effectively as a tow rope.

Profile of today's ride from Wickenburg to Cottonwood AZ



In the morning I rode gingerly to nurse a tight hamstring, a twitchy knee, and some saddle sores that I developed in the last few days. The hamstring and the knee issues disappeared after warming up, but the saddle sores just got more painful. Saddle sores can be debilitating, so last night I bought a special gel. It reduces friction so the skin can heal. About 4 hours into the ride I had maximum pain and could find no comfortable place on the saddle. At a SAG stop I applied more gel and gradually the pain lessened.

I'm not sure I would visit this medical office!


The high country in this region is in full-flower now at the tail end of monsoon season.

The rolling descent just after Yarnell.


Yarnell Climb is 6 miles with a 5.5% average grade


As usual, today I spent the minimum time in the SAG stops while most others linger there. As a result, those I ride with before the stop are not usually the ones I ride with after. Often I ride out alone and either catch up to a few riders or a few riders pass me. Then we may ride together for a while then separate with differing paces. This is especially true on a mountainous day like today, as there is no practical benefit to drafting while going 9 mph or less on a steep climb.

However, towards the end of the day I prefer the companionship of another rider or small group as it seems to bring a nice closure to a hard day. For the first three days I rode in with Gary Michalek, but today I found myself with Walter from Switzerland. Our paces were perfectly matched as we climbed out of the Prescott valley and up Mingus Mountain. After reaching the summit we picked up Eamonn Quinn from the UK. The three of us riding down the fast and furious 17-mile descent into Cottonwood was the perfect end to a great day.


Upper half of the Mingus Mountain climb from 80 miles to summit at 84 miles. Total climb is 7.5 miles at 4.3% average grade, but progressively steepens during the ascent.


On Mingus Mountain after summit looking toward Cottonwood


Scenic overlook just above Jerome, AZ during 17- mile descent down Mingus Mountain to Cottonwood AZ


Tomorrow should be another good day - a little longer than today, but with less climbing.

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