PAC Tour, Southern Trancontinental 2006

Day 5, Thursday, September 14
To: Winslow, AZ; 111 miles

Climbing first half, yee-ha descending second half; morning showers then clear
Riding Time: 7:11:09; Avg Speed: 15.4 mph

We departed Cottonwood in a mild shower that lasted for about an hour. Then it cleared as we descended into a shallow valley, before starting day's heavy climbing today which was all concentrated between the 22 and 63 mile points.

Progressive climbing from 21 to 50 miles, then a shallow descent from 64 miles all the way to Winslow AZ.

 

 
Just out of Cottonwood at about 15 miles; descending into a shallow valley

 

The first SAG stop at 28 miles and 5000 ft.  

 

Eamonn coming out of the 28 mile SAG stop. I didn't see Eamonn again until the lunch stop at 66 miles and 6900 ft. elevation.

 

I rode almost all of the first 63 miles on my own except for brief moments chatting with some other riders that either passed me, or I passed.

I am learning some Australian from the Auzzie riders, so I'll say, "Me bum was a bit sore ta-day". While climbing my bottom explored every square millimeter of the saddle attempting to get some relief. None came until the SAG stop when I reapplied "Chamois Butt'r"... so soothing. Overall the sores were about the same as yesterday, but I am encouraged that at least they did not get worse.

Rolling though pine forests at 50 miles and 7400 ft elevation near Baker Butte.

 

Again the scenery changes are remarkable as we visited four unique environments as the photos on this page show.

Taken at 1:18 PM MST. We are back grasslands and scrubbrush Taken at 2:11 PM MST. In less than an hour, or about 32 miles down the road, its now desert!

 

After lunch, just we began a long and gradual descent into Winslow, I hooked up with Eamonn from UK and and Walter from Switzerland again today.

It went poof
At one point I heard Walter say with his heavy Swiss accent, "The wind! ... my route sheet!" Looking at his handlebars there was, in fact, no route sheet where it once was. That would be serious if he got separated from us since he would have no way of finding tonight's hotel. So I said, "Do you want to go back and get it?" Walter's replied, "It went poof!"

Hmmm..., "It went poof?" I wondered what that meant. Did he know where it was or not? Looking over and seeing his befuttled expression gave me the answer - it was gone for good.

While I don't often use the word "poof" in conversation, if I ever do in the future I'll surely think of this moment and it will mean "gone for good".

The catch
As we descended out of the forest the strong tailwinds became increasingly less obstructed and helped us ratchet up the speed to 28, 32, 36 then 40 mph. At around 39 mph we could no longer pedal fast enough to push it any faster as our biggest gear was only 50x12.

Up ahead, I could see were gaining on the lead group of about five, so when the slope leveled off a bit we pushed hard to make further gains. When Eamonn's pull was finished, it was my turn just as the slope dropped again and our speed approached 40 mph. All I could do was pedal furiously for about 10 seconds then coast in an aerodynamic tuck briefly, then repeat. Since the other group was doing no better or worse we hovered about 100 yards back in a virtual stalemate. Then as the slope leveled off a bit they lagged slightly as we surged and as we rocketed past I heard one of them say, "Woh!". At the next SAG stop they expressed surprise to see us pass as they all thought they were going fast enough to put distance between themselves and everyone else.

That descent was one of my best moments on a bicycle, a 50-mile long E-ticket ride due to a super-long and shallow descent with a strong tailwind - a rare conjunction to be savored like a fine wine.

The "Three Amigos" - Me (Tom Jordan), Walther Lustenberger, and Eamonn Quinn

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