The famous Shootout ride that originates on University Avenue in downtown Tucson and draws as many as 200 in the winter. The winter rides draw lots of pros who winter in the area but they are mostly gone now, leaving behind lots of Cat 1, 2, etc...types, shelps like me, some older guys who ride everyday and look like they are 25 until you see their face and realize they are 70ish, a couple of fat outoftowners that you know have no idea what they are getting themselves into, assorted junior up-n-comers and Ralph, the owner of Fairwheel Bikes and the guy who started the ride back in the 70's I think.
So, now that I have mastered the art of riding up steep mountains very slowly, I figured the intensity of this ride would be a cold splash of water on the face but still, I figured I had gained some fitness. Then I heard people talking about this race and that race and the second splash of cold reality was, sure, I had one-and-a-half of good hard rides but these people had 2 months of it and then one guy said he had been using the Saturday Shootout ride and combining it with a Sunday Mount Lemmon climb to get "race shape".
Ralph came by and yelled, "Let's Roll" and so we rolled out of town with 60+, gained a few more along the way and then into the country we softly pedaled. Upon crossing Valencia, the pace immediately picked up as we hit a series of low rollers. It was kind of neat that as I dipped into a roller, above me would be a peloton 5 wide emerging from it. People began shooting out the back as the climbing began and it would do so all the way to the ceremonial end of the sprint at a bridge, although the road continues to climb beyond that point. The climb is several miles long and never steep, probably 3-4% until the approach to the bridge when it gets 8-10%. It's not the climbing that gets to you, it's the intensity. A couple of guys shot out directly in front of me and I pedal furiously to climb back on and did so. I heard one guy ask, "How much farther to the bridge?" Another guy replied, "About 2.5 miles", my sprit took a huge hit cause there was no way I could maintain this pace for that long. Plus, I was riding my winter beater bike and had screwed around with the seat level and screwed it up so my body was always being pushed toward the handlebars. It was about then that I had an epiphany. I suddenly realized why the ride is called the "Shootout" because guys like me get shot out the back and so I did, probably still a mile to go to the bridge. I took some comfort in seeing about 20-25 still in front of me.
I reached the bridge and kept going until a group of 10 came by me and I hopped on. All this story about the "Shootout" may have led you to believe I was riding in the Pro/Cat1/Cat2 group but no, I was in the "Senior Shootout" while the real Shootout ride starts 15 minutes after our group. I heard them coming so stopped to take a pic. They even have a chase vehicle. Probably around 40-50 in this group, counting what you see here and those that dropped. Upon reaching Nogales Highway, some people hang a left there for what I consider a very boring ride back into town while others return via the same route that got us to the highway. I joined this group and finished with 60 miles.
It's a very fun experience and they are used to a heavy influx of out-of-towners so all are welcome, every Saturday morning with a start time that varies depending on sunrise. Today the start time was 6:30.
I've got a golf game lined up in a few days so I headed to a driving range after the sun had set. It was a gorgeous day with highs in the mid 80's. I whacked out a few balls, noted that my golf muscles have atrophied so badly that my #5 iron shots start off on a parabolic curve similar to most people's sand wedge and goes about as far too. Then I pulled out the driver. I used to hit the driver very straight but kind of short. Now I hit it very crooked and very short. Often it is referred to as "Army Golf", left, right, left, right..... Then I walked to the putting green and threw down a couple of balls. I drew the putter head back, launched it forward, it impacted the ground behind the ball and the ball rolled left and 20' short of the intended hole. Someone asked, "Hey Sally, does your husband play golf also?" I thought shooting out the back of a group is humiliating but nothing beats the humiliation of playing bad golf. Well, tomorrow is Mount Lemmon climb day.