PAC Tour, Southern Trancontinental 2006

Day 10, Tuesday, September 19
To: Clovis, New Mexico; 110 miles

Shallow grades, big tailwind, stage win
Riding Time: 4:39:05; Avg Speed: 23.1 mph; Max Speed: 35.3 mph

I was on a mission today. Get a descent start, ride a fast pace, and be one of the first finishers. The skies were sunny again that slowly warmed us to the low 80's.

Today's profile had gentle climb of 1000 ft in the first 57 miles, followed by a shallow descent then a shallow climb to the finish

 

 

The 50°F start required a little more than the light jacket I wore, so I set a fast tempo from the start to warm up. I passed about ten riders and was clear of the field at 4 miles. A few miles later I was happy to see Eamonn join me and the two of us set a nice 22 mph tempo in calm winds, alternating the pace setting every time we passed a milepost. We were first to the first SAG and while there we were joined by another strong rider, Dennis from Anchorage Alaska.

The three of us gradually increased the pace to 26 mph in the building tailwind. Then Eamonn got a flat tire caused by a small wire. It took about 10 minutes to fix as it was difficult to work the wire out of the tread. I was a little surprised that we were far enough ahead that no other riders caught up to us at that point.

Eamonn changing his tire at 30 miles.

 

Unlike all the previous days, today the terrain didn't change much. As you can see in the above photo, relatively flat treeless grassland was the order for today. The grass was in seed and looked like it could be harvested or eaten by grazing animals like cattle. However, I didn't see any large animals today either wild or domestic.

After the second SAG, Dennis wanted to take it easy so Eamonn and I pressed on to the lunch stop together. In one 9 mile stretch just before lunch the miles started ticking by quickly as our speeds hovered between 32 and 34 mph.

At these speeds we were outpacing our support and I was concerned that we would have to wait for lunch. However, crew member Steve Bowman passed us in the van and warned the lunch crew that we were arriving early. The lunch team did an outstanding job and finished preparations just as we arrived. I had a ham and cheese sandwich, cauliflower and pea salad, chips, hot macaroni and cheese, and a slice of apple pie cheesecake for desert. I washed it all down with two cups of V-8.

We chatted with Steve who would later take the support van to the day's last SAG stop 21 miles up the road from lunch. I said to Steve that we intended to continue pushing the pace after lunch and that he need not hurry just to support us. If he made it there - great, if not that would be OK too.

While eating Dennis arrived, ate a quick lunch and left with us.

Eamonn doing his 1-mile turn for Dennis and I.

 

We continued moving along briskly with us rotating the pace making every mile. The mileposts served as our signal for the lead rider to drop back to the last position as the second rider took over the lead position to block the wind for the others.

Sure enough about 5 miles before the last SAG stop, Steve passed us and was setting up the SAG stop as we arrived. This was just one example of the many above-and-beyond things that the PAC Tour crew does for their riders.

Success! Winners of today's stage (me, Eamonn, and Dennis) in front of our Holiday Inn hotel in Clovis, NM

 

We beat the motel truck to the Holiday Inn, so the three of us had our picture taken by the hotel staff then went to the neighboring McDonalds for milkshakes.

Tomorrow should be another relatively quick day to Amarillo Texas, if the forecasted 20-30 mph SW winds holds.

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