Willcox, AZ and the location for the 7th annual Willcox Flyer, a cycling event that is not officially a race but like all events of this kind, if there is someone in front of you, it's a race. I stayed at a near by hotel so ride the 2 miles to "Railroad Ave." and down town Willcox for the 7am start time.
Wow. A working theater that plays recent releases.
Willcox is an agricultural area and one of the top producers of tomatoes. We were offered free samples. The area is also home to several wineries and with packet pickup for the event being at one the day before, well, I had to sample the wine if not the tomatoes.
The event added 100 more cyclists compared to last year so the quantity of cyclists was 600, including some outdoor elliptical riders. The fee to attend the event was a very reasonable $55 and all the money raised stays local.
The drone guy was ready to go as.....
….we lined up for the start.
Following an inspirational "Star-Spangled Banner" we were led out by a police cruiser. The start was not chaotic like some can be and the 600 cyclists quickly stretched into a line. A tandem couple, Cliff & Jan, who I know from Tucson rides came by, shouted my name so I jumped on for a glorious few miles of drafting. We caught what I think....
...was the 2nd or 3rd large group and settled in. At about mile 5, the road bends and we head toward Chiricahua National Monument. The next 10 miles is all climbing, gradually at first but steeper later. I hang onto the above group until mile 10 where, with an average speed of 24mph, I sadly spit the bit and drift back. The average speed plummets of course. I reach the high point of the route at roughly mile 16, enjoy a rolling descent and then a final ascent to.....
...the turnaround point at mile 31.5 where we are filled with a delightful variety of snacks and drinks. Having ridden no ride longer than 40ish miles for quite awhile, my expectations were low and.....
…...Strava confirmed it, lol. Actually, my legs felt pretty good but the return was a different story. I reached the aforementioned high point and while beginning the long descent, a cramp began in my right leg.....damn!! Meantime, a Cat 1, Stephen Pedone, broke from his group on a climb and soloed for approximately 20 miles, finishing first with an average speed of 25mph! I, on the other hand,......
….limped back into Willcox with an 18mph average, Then, 20 yards from the finish, a long freight train stops me and the slowing and restarting dropped my average to 17.9. Dang it, that 0.1 is important, ha, ha. Finished with 63 miles and 2050' of climbing. Good event and well organized. Probably do it next year but come a bit better prepared.