It's been a bit of recovery to ditch the pneumonia, but Road Pixie is back to scheming to do more rides. She has also become philosophical about how she managed to finish the Cascades.
As a result of these deliberations, it is time to honor one of the great minds in randonneuring today, Arizona RBA Susan Plonsky.
Why should Susan be honored as such? The reason is simple, she has a sacred gift for picking dates for her rides in which the conditions are so incredibly difficult as to defy reason. All this in a state where, during the cycling season, the weather is nearly always perfect.
Her Arivaca 400k which sure has only about 4,000 ft of climbing, has all of it continuously in one long 125 mile starting stretch. Sure it ain't Colorado, but in 2011 when a real 50 mph headwind got added to that 125 mile gradual climb and a sleet storm topped off the finish, it was the single greatest challenge I have ever had on a bike; it was tougher than that 200k in the snowstorm here in Minnesota. And she manages to pick a date like this almost every year - this year's Tombstone literally was my Tombstone.
Many have asked how I managed to finish the Cascades 1200k with pneumonia in the rain at 36 degrees on the summit of Washington pass. The answer is simple, I was ready for it. As I was riding up, I knew I had gotten through worse before and survived and I would this time as well. I had already been strung out on asthma, no sleep, bad weather, heavy wind, etc. I had the clothes, the bike, and most importantly, my thoughts focused.
So if you really want to finish a 1200k (or any long ride), the best thing to do to prepare is already experience the worst of conditions. And you can count on Susan to pick a date 1 year out that will undoubtedly challenge you. Horrible wind, driving rain, blowing sand, hail, sleet, burning heat and endless irritating, yet invisible, hills plus Mt Lemmon with a nice 25 mile ascent are the keys to success come the day of your 1200k, when you will look back fondly on those rides and know that whatever the mountain dishes out, you can take it.
So Road Pixie tips her hat to her favorite RBA, Susan Plonsky. Some may call it a curse, but I say it's a gift. Everyone should ride in Arizona.