Going to the Well

I don’t live in the FlagPole anymore. The literal term when I lived there was going to the “Well” really meant going there. If you look on a map just south of Flagstaff there is a gas station called Clint’s Well. 54 miles out 54 miles back and not one stoplight. Just and endless road rolling out in front of your wheel. Perfect for training, no stops, no rest, no coasting, just pedal and get your head straight.

Fast forward to now. Now I’m down in the Dirty T. Swayed by the love of a woman and the lure of the dollar. One was a good choice, the other not so much. But now going to the well means something different. There are too many stop lights and not enough ribbon of road to match Clint’s Well. But in the Dirty T we have something different; we have speed, and a metric shit ton of it.

Yesterday a friend and I went to the well. Now its different. Its still getting my head straight but now I look at the license plate of a moto.


105 miles in 3 hours and 37 minutes. Wolf would be happy. He used to say go till your legs hurt to the touch. Then take a few “Billy Rides” and then go back to the Well.

When you get a chance go to the Well.


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About Snake

Tucson, Arizona, USA

30 thoughts on “Going to the Well

  1. I still don’t understand the appeal of sucking on motorcycle exhaust. Did Lance do a lot of that? Is that what gave him cancer? Beware.

  2. LJ – If done right there’s no better training in the whole wide world that motorpacing with a good driver. Best done with a scooter or small motorcycle, too many CCs mean that it’s going to accelerate too fast and you’ll fall out of the draft easily. You can do 100% full on race simulations, intervals (e.g., ride up near your threshold for a few mins, try to outsprint the scooter, then recover), etc., etc. Along with base miles, there’s no effin’ way to get to stomping form as quick as possible than a couple of motorpace sessions a week.

    As far as the exhaust issue: The scooter’s exhaust about 10 inches from the ground, the air your breathing is 6 feet in the air. Its really not an issue.


  3. I think there is no better training than riding with people, especially a faster bunch. There’s always someone faster, someone with more ability to pull… there just isn’t a ‘need’ to burn gasoline to train in cycling. It’s idiotic, when you think about it. I’m all for having a heavier bike for training and a lighter one for racing. Where did that concept go?

  4. Group work is still important, and my man Snake will still do plenty of it. This is another part of the training.

    I’ll tell you this, motorpacing is where it’s at. After you build up several months of good, solid base, throw that on top – forget about it. Icing on the cake. Good on ya, Snake. You’re going to break fools in half come August.

    That’s my word.

  5. @littlejar: motorpacing is the only way to get race type fitness without racing. I would even venture to say that motorpacing is better than racing for intense, structured and leg speed training. No where can you get 30mph averages for hours on end except behind a scooter. Personally, my fitness and race results were always better after about 2 weeks of serious motorpacing. As far as the gas burning aspect…its a scooter and gets 40-60mpg. 2 gallons of gas versus what it would take to drive to a weekend race. Green warriors don’t always think about the bigger picture.

  6. Group rides are also a good thing but in just about any one I have ever done there is a contingent that drove their 14 mpg SUVs to get there, so while a good thing in some respects, still not exactly totally green.
    Definitely agree that a good group ride can be as good as anything for some training.

  7. I’ve been to the well, the edn of the ride. Up over the peaks, around the back, whatever, down to the highway. Had to call for rescue at the well, strong winds, lots of mountain miles, won’t forget that one.

    Actually, I did until now, thanks for the painful memeories ;)

  8. So who’s pacing off snake? I mean this photo didn’t take itself…if a scooter exhaust is 10″ off the ground and snake’s breathing at six feet, then this camera man is one big mutha eff’r. Kinda of a reverse draft equation if you ask me.
    They should all be pacing off that ice cream truck ahead. That’s training!

  9. The excuses why someone ‘needs’ motor-pacing are based on some subjective perception. You can get racing speeds chasing down cars, if you need something motorized to have in front of you. You can wear chains out and get wicked speed and power trying to make all the green lights. Or, you can enjoy the quiet of the desert for about 6 hours, not burn that two gallons of gas, passing other riders shaking their heads and having to breath your stink, and you instead mind-fuck yourself into that 30mph average, with your little battery sucking cyclo-o-meter.
    If everyone who races needs a motorcycle to ride behind, then we are a fucked up species of two-wheeler, indeed, and maybe worthy of ridicule!
    I disagree, wholeheartedly, that this is ‘the way’ to train. I see it as a bad example, and an arrogant act. There’s no way that you’re clear of fumes the entire time, your feet and legs breath that petrol-shit, too, and it’s just a silly European concept that is based in Good old Euro-arrogance and a disregard for wanton waste. Just another cheat, really.

    And I do know the feeling of disgust of club-mates driving to the ride. And then there is poser fucks driving to the cafe with cleats on, cap on, bike on roof and at the tiny-est hints of rain, decide skip riding to just hang out and look like a cyclist instead. You know who I’m talking about! I know the serious exhaustion and pain of holding myself up on the bike the extra 10 miles home after the 70 + extra 10 miles of climb, warming out to meet the folks unloading their cars. (Think DMAFB to Swan/Sunrise (Oracle, out and back) Couldn’t criticize them much, I think I made my point by NOT driving! HUMAN POWER is what it is about, not the filthy pollution pumps!
    (whenever possible)

  10. littlejar,

    “Good old Euro-arrogance and a disregard for wanton waste”

    I’m from Europe and have to disagree. Huge SUVs and pick-ups with 12-19mpg fuel consumption, 95 cars out of 100 with only the driver sitting in it, 40-60 mile commutes one-way and 12 roll packages of toilet paper where every roll is separately packaged within the bulk plastic bag – this is what I call wasteful and wanton waste.

    For the rest I agree. You can max yourself out without drafting, you just won’t have the impressive average mph.

  11. DMAFB to Swan/Sunrise – thats a nice warmup before a group ride!
    I am with you on this philosophy. A while ago I decided if I couldn’t ride to a group ride then I didn’t need to do it. I stick to this, for the most part.

    As for motorpacing, I am not sure it is without some merit, strictly in respect to benefits for bike racing.
    Is grinding out a 53/23 into the wind the same as drafting with 53/11? Does it provide a different type of stimulus to the muscles/mind or is power output simply power output? I am not sure, but having drafted off of different things, there is certainly a different feeling. Certainly a difference between a 10 mile climb vs. a fast flat effort even if intensities are the same. Maybe it is just a placebo…I don’t know.

    If we are going to critique the sport, motorpacing is really a small issue overall when compared with the fuel spent on racing in general. And if we go down that avenue then we might as well ditch pro cycling completely as a giant waste of money and and natural resources, no?

    I say let he who wastes nothing cast the first stone. We can all certainly do better but perfection is impossible, as by simply living we are creating waste. Hell, I just wasted a few minutes typing this message when I could have been doing something more worthwhile, like plucking my back hair.

  12. …the original form of “motorpacing” was done behind tandems, triples & even higher placement bicycles…& there’s no denying that the smooth & consistent high leg speed of “pacing” leaves you stronger when you’re solo in the wind…

    …as a fit athletic young man, author henry miller used to ride the long bikes to help train 6 day riders on the roads in central park in nyc…

    …i’m betting scooters eventually just made for an easier format, what with less people to depend on & secondly, the scooter driver doesn’t even have to be an athlete…

    …so there ya go, ‘jar…high speed training can still be done “organically”…it just takes a few more friends & the “right” machinery…

  13. and why are you doing this? to relive your life as a mediocre racer and beating up on old guys on the Tuesday ride? I thought you were just talking about “Changing”? Seems like you can’t change.

  14. I like the part about no stoplights, I think I’m gonna talk BGR into riding to the well this week…

  15. Snake Poo – Wow, that was harsh…..Seems to me that Snake has a goal in mind and I have a feeling its a bit more than just another Tuesday night ride. I have a feeling its about more than racing bikes, too. Lighten up, and live and let live.

  16. Snake Poo, my reaction is ‘Fuck you, you wanker’.

    We’ve all being there, albeit not behind a motor cycle, I think that Snake rocks, & good on him, to use a down under expression, ‘Good on him”..

  17. I’m sure some cyclists here in arrogant Europe use this method, but I haven’t seen it from my humble vantage point in Limburg.

    The only scooters I see getting drafted have some cutie riding it that had unfortunate timing to come past our group.

    And I can tell you from experience that the exhaust is palpable, unless it was just really bad perfume that I smelt.

    Wind is your friend. Pijn is fijn.

  18. Hot dam, I leave for a couple of days and you guys blow this up!!! hahah this is great! Anytime I can actually post some shit and either some people get or or not or whatever, as long as it spurs some sort of conversation here on the comments then all is right/wrong with the world.

    Whats the saying that goes with all of this, if we can spur a discussion out of something and people actually come forward to talk and to discuss it then we are all better for it.

    Keep riding, its good for your head.


  19. I hope you bought the scooter driver a case of beer for 3 and a half hours of boredom for him/her.

  20. Littlejar – Motor pacing makes for better racers. It’s one of those things that, unless you’re pushing the envelope of your fitness already, you don’t really get the benefit. It comes from not only ‘speedwork’, but the consistency. You may think you can get a solid two hour workout at a consistent speed on your own, but unless you’re some sort of genetic freak with an uncanny ability to gauge your effort over 2+ hours of riding near AT, you need the pacer as a guide. No, computers don’t work here, you need a _real_ pacing agent. A scooter riding at a consistent speed doesn’t let you cheat. It isn’t for the squeamish, lazy, slacker, or rabid environmentalist. It’s for the racer, and it works.

  21. nothing wrong with spinnin-out “the meat”. Huge benefits to be had both physically and psychologically. My bike-racing-little-league-father used to spend countless hours behind the wheel of the family Bicentennial Edition 1976 Ford Pinto with full-glass-open-raised-rear-hatch (which eventually became my first car after he pulled the rear bumper off in a failed attempt at removing a tree stump) trying to hone my skills. In college, we simply took turns behind or on whatever motorcycles we’re at hand. Huge gains to be had.

  22. too funny… what direction(s) the discussion takes.

    its a bike
    and a scoooter

    do the math.

    once it was and will be again.