Wednesday, April 12, 2017

AZT300 Dotstalking: The Ultimate Fanboy Experience

Dotstalker: Dot-Stock-er, noun; a person that seeks thrills by watching tiny flags move about a computer screen.  Also see: Dotwatcher

Dotsalkers are commonly the stressed out next-of-kin for the very people they are watching.  Others are just curious fans of the sport that watch in awe the sheer will and determination some athletes can display; and even some are a product of the very event they are following/previously participating in.  Frantically, updating their web browser hoping to catch the latest pin point for their favorite rider(s).  Secretly keeping open behind other screens at work, or sitting on the couch ignoring children and significant others while checking the latest standings.  We've all been there.  Okay maybe some of use are a little bit more into it than others.  This year for me it took a different form.
As the riders in this years Arizona Trail Race lined up near the border on April 7th,  I was headed to work.  This year, following their journey across the state would be slightly more personal than years past. I was originally planning to be a dot on the map this year, but poor planning and other factors took me out of it this year. But, over the last year of planning and preparation several of my friends were also planning to attempt the AZT 300.  So I did the next best thing, cheer for all of them and watch their progress along the way.  I still felt like watching the screen wasn't enough though.  So, I talked with Mallory and convinced her we should spend our day off watching some of the 300 finishers cross the line at Picketpost.We planned to make carne asada tacos and hand out beer. Who wouldn't want that after eating gas station burritos and meal bars for about 3 days? 

We set up at Picketpost trailhead Sunday evening and awaited the riders.  I figured some would be in that night, but wasn't exactly sure.  We were unable to look at Trackleaders due to lack of cell service.  Luckily, Mallory and I were not alone we ran into Hunter Knox, who was there waiting for his friend Adam Marcinkiewicz, after scratching his own race on day two.  We spent the evening sharing stories and enjoying some libations eagerly waiting for the first set of lights to break the ridge.  A little after 9pm we saw a rider coming in.  It was Pete Basinger looking a bit relieved to finish. 
As he was enjoying some food and drink another rider approached. Max Morris came in just shy of 10pm and was surprisingly energetic for just finishing 3 days of solid riding.  About 30-45 minutes later Mark Caminiti finished up his (ITT). In just two hours some true legends were in our camp and sharing their trail stories; discussing the past three days and events past.  It was quite an experience.  I took the time to scope out some setups to see what kind of gear they are running and pick up "Pro" tips.  I was geeking out I'll admit it.  Another hour passed as Sol Manion finished up his (ITT) around midnight and was greeted by his wife.  After Sol came in I decided to call it a night and get some rest in hopes that not many riders would come in before dawn.  I woke up around 6am and found a couple other riders had rolled in recently they were quickly packing up to leave for the airport so I didn't have time to get tacos ready. But, Adam had stayed a bit longer to see other riders finish so we got him taken care of.  Max had slept next to our car since he had to wait for pick up so we chatted over coffee as Mallory and I prepped for a hike. 

We started our hike hoping that we would see some riders rolling through, but were surprised when we only saw two through hikers.  Mallory was surprised when I told her they were likely headed to Utah.  She liked seeing the wild flowers even though only a few were in bloom. After hiking about two miles in we turned around since it was getting warm and had to head home that afternoon.  Luckily, halfway back to the trailhead we heard a rider approaching. It was the "mad" Rhino himself as he was taking on the 750(ITT) on a singlespeed. We chatted briefly and he was on his way. We finished up our hike and broke camp so we could head home.
Mad Rhino in the wild

It was great seeing some of the AZT300 finishers, however, I didn't get to see any of my friends finish. Ian Wilkey pulled out at Molino on day 2,  Joe Paluch finished later Monday night, and Mike Symons and Marcus Ontiveros finished just afternoon on Tuesday.  Even still I learned a lot about the ultra endurance athletes I met and hope to take notes for a possible attempt in 2017. Also the whole experience was reassuring for Mallory in a way now that she understands some of the ins and outs of the event. Thanks to Max Morris for your insight to Ultra racing and letting me check out your set up.  Hopefully I'll be toeing the line next April.  Until then, GO RIDE YOUR BIKE!!!

Hedgehogs a bloom

Friday, March 24, 2017

BCT Over Night RIde Report: Catastrophic Doesn't Mean Failure.

So it's been awhile since my last blog-worthy adventure. Well, really I just haven't had the time for anything since the holidays.  Ya know the usual suspects: work, other work, family life, and just trying to get rides in when I can.   All of those things have kind of put racing on the back burner this year so far; besides, racing costs money and we are looking to buy a house this year.  Anyway!  I had planned to do a two day bike pack trip early this year to prep for the AZT 300, but as many of you know that plan was squashed in November.  But, this shouldn't rule out an overnight trip, right?

Top cap Mantra.

I began planning for this trip about a month ago (February).  I had a general idea of where I wanted to go and how to get there, but wanted to do it right (complete GPX track to follow).  So naturally I started with gear instead of the digital bits.  I ordered up a Revelate Designs Pika seat bag  and the Bedrock Bags Vishnu handlebar bag.  These were the last two pieces to the gear puzzle in my eyes, besides a Tyvek bivy pocket, which I needed to make.  I had plans for both bags, but soon realized that the bar bag wasn't going to hold quite as much as I wanted.  So I was forced to put my clothes and small personal items in the bar bag and my sleep system in the seat bag, that way those bags wouldn't need to be accessed until I reached camp.  As for my bivy pocket, I tracked down an E-how file and it seemed easy enough.  Instead of stitching two sheets together I just used heavy duty packing tape and doubled up the seams.

Some of my nutritional items
After figuring out the mechanical details I turned to the logistical aspect. I decided to ride from home to Bumble Bee via the Maricopa Trail and Black Canyon Trail, most of which I had ridden, except for the BCT North of Rock Springs.  I also think having the complete GPX just made navigating less stressful even over familiar terrain.  Until this trip I had only use Topofusion software to read and analyze GPX files for other trips I was going on.  I had never used it to create one, boy did I hit the learning curve HARD!  I'm not super tech savy, so I just fumbled my way through it just like most other things and eventually; over three nights, I figured it all out.  I wont lie I was pretty proud of myself.  All that was left to figure out was nutrition and loading the bike.

The time had come, three weeks of planning for two days of riding.  I left home at 0630 to take advantage of the cool morning as much as possible.  On the ride through the Sonoran Preserve I came across quite a few hikers and some cyclists, I guess they got the memo about warm weather coming in. After reaching Carefree Hwy I chose to follow 7th Ave North through Desert Hills to the MCT.
Busy Intersection
While in the bike lane I passed a number of runners participating in the Ragnar Relay which had a checkpoint nearby.Some of the runners were definitely in the pain cave, others were a bit more cheerful as I greeted them.  After pulling off on the MCT at the fire station I stopped to take off my knee warmers and put on my glasses and sun sleeves.  My next stop was the Fry's in Anthem to top off water since my next source would be the Aqua Fria past Table Mesa.  I continues on the MCT until it intersects with the BCT near the federal prison and started north. That lower section of BCT is pretty awful, luckily I ticked by pretty quick and I hit Emery Henderson by 0845.  I was warned that the BCT from EH to the first jeep road was really rutted from rain and bikes, it most definitely was.  After trudging through ruts the trail smoothed out after the first jeep road and remained constant the rest of the way.

I started to notice the heat after passing Table Mesa Rd and started to focus on hydration since I didn't want to fall behind.  I quickly scaled the dead cow segment on the East leg of the Little Pan and found my way to the river.  I found the recently cut path to the river which was nice.
Some wildlife on the trail
 I made my first water crossing and decided to eat lunch and filter water to top off my supply.  I made sure to soak my feet in the water to cool down and kept my bandana and sleeves wet.  I was stopped for about 45mins and started of around 1200.  I came across a heard of cattle just up the road climb, so I stopped and slowly wrangled them out of the road and I was on my way.  I came across four more cyclists at the top of the Little Pan as I started the segment to Rock Springs, I think they did an EH-RS out and back.  This is where the heat got real and I stopped twice to catch my breath and force hydration.  The section between the last jeep road and the RS over look turns into an oven at high noon, reminiscent of the AZT climb out of the Gila towards Picketpost. I finally crested over and cooled down on my descent to the next river crossing.
It's too hot for this!
After crossing at Rock Springs I took my time to finish up some of my water since my next stop was just over the hill.  I then began climbing out and over to the Trailhead.  I rounded one of the corners to see the AZDPS helicopter landing just off the trail.  It turns out someone was being evacuated from the trail. Just another reminder to stay hydrated.  After reaching the gas station near the Rock Springs Cafe; I decided to finish what remaining water I had before going in to buy more.  I also determined I only had about 3-4 hours before making camp which would put me there around sunset.  I spent about an hour in the shade drinking water and eating snacks before topping off and heading out. I mainly did this because I wanted to ensure I was well hydrated since there wouldn't be any water at my camp area.

First of four water crossings
When planning my trip I knew I had the option of back tracking to the river and doing the complete BCC section or accessing the trail elsewhere after passing through town, that idea sounded better.  I figured it would be one less water crossing and would save some time.  I gradually found my way to Maggie Mine Rd and started riding/hiking my way up.  Everything from here to my camp would be new to me and It started out really fun and twisty.  It was demanding since it was tight and not much trail in spots, but it was nice to be back on the dirt as the sun started to fall over the hills.  To my surprise there was one more water crossing and this was the swiftest yet.  I quickly crossed at mounted up eager to find camp.  Then, I hit the crappy two track climb; I tried my best to keep pedaling over the loose rocks but it was just too slick and I wanted to conserve energy so I started hiking.  After meeting with a jeep road I was greeted with more twisty single track and luckily it didn't feel like much climbing.  I was getting close to camp as the buzz of the high way got louder.  And then I was there!
Looking South towards Anthem on Maggie Mine Rd.

I rounded one last turn to see the trail head in the distance.  I didn't want to camp at the trail head because it was close to a road and there were flat areas off the trail.  So I picked a spot and started to set up.  I got my bivy and fleece bag all situated and then started boiling water for my dehydrated meal (red beans and rice with jerk chicken).

Camp for the night
I got changed into some dry clothes and left my others to air out.  I sat down next to my gear and saw bugs flying around, than realized they were mosquitoes, then noticed they were swarming around me I had to keep moving around so they couldn't land and bite me.  It was still to warm to put on more layers.  After riding all day I really just wanted to sit and relax, but now walked up and down the trail eating my dinner and drinking my scotch.  Luckily there was no one there to see it, they would have thought I was a mental case.  My only hope was that it would cool down and the mosquitoes would go away.  I finally had enough and sought shelter in my bivy while trying to keep as much of my body covered from mosquitoes.  But, they were relentless.  I could hear them with my ear plugs in as they buzzed around my head and neck.  Finally, I just covered my face with my hoodie and fell asleep for about 2 hours, only to wake up for a while then drift off again.  This cycle went on all night.  I began to get cold and started putting more layers on, first my knee warmers, then another pair of socks, then a beanie and my hoodie.  The condensation began to build on the inside of the bivy which made my fleece bag wet and colder as the breeze picked up.  After never ending restlessness and being pestered by insects the moon began to set and the sunlight began to show; I got up and wrapped myself in the fleece bag so that I could sit and drink my coffee and eat my Kates bar for breakfast, without being eaten alive.
What a view for morning coffee

I was excited this morning, because today my good friend Scott was coming up to meet me and ride back to Table Mesa, he had arranged a shuttle for himself.  So I slowly got changed and packed up my gear.  As I begin to strap my bar bag on the bike I notice a crack in my frame about 3" from the head tube, It went almost around the entire top tube  I knew right then my day was over before it began.  I called Scott to let him know and arrange a pick up. I was pretty bummed, but I was more bummed for Scott since we hadn't ridden together in about 6 months and had been planning on this rendezvous for the last week.  Alas, Scott picked me up for the short drive of shame back home. I spent the rest of the day cycling through all of my supplies and cleaning up.

Uh oh! :(

Like the title says, Catastrophic doesn't always mean failure.  Yeah I DNF'ed my own ride due to mechanical problems, but I learned a lot on this ride.  I know I need to rethink my bivy/sleep situation for 50* weather  and bring bug spray if you are ever planning to camp on the BCT in March.  Otherwise, this trip was semi successful.  I woke up ready for another complete day on the bike,  I felt "refreshed" considering how I slept and I didn't run into any major mental/emotional issues at all.  I followed my fueling plan and never ran out of food or felt overly hungry.  Not sure I'm fat adapted like I would like to be, but I never got any real Keto symptoms.  All things considered it went well, except for the mosquitoes, I'll never forget that.  I am glad I experienced more of the wondrous Black Canyon Trail, maybe a full meal deal in the fall as a day trip.  For now I've disassembled my bike to have it repaired and am riding a loaner from the bike shop.  Its good to have connections I guess.

Until next time,  Happy trails!

Don't forget the bug spray!!!!!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

AES: Picketpost, Getting Pulverized

As mid November drew near, the time came to prepare my mind, body and bike for the next challenge in my pursuit of an AZT300 attempt in 2017.  The Picketpost Punisher event is nothing new to me, as I had ridden the short 36 mile course last year, and had some experience bike packing in the area also.  But, this year I was to tackle the 77 mile long course, known as the PULVERIZER in one day!  The name itself can dissuade even the most avid of cyclists, let alone the ride profile.  It consists of 77miles of remote single track and jeep roads in and around the Gila River Valley; gaining nearly 10,000 feet of elevation in total.  This route is no picnic, nor was it unfamiliar to me, since I had the opportunity to bikepack the route in March 2015 with Mr. Schilling himself.  That being said I was confident I would be able to complete the route.

I started prepping myself a week prior to the event, limited riding and what riding I did was at a casual pace.  No need to break out the sprints or hill repeats for an event like this.  I started by loading my bike, since I prefer to take a frame bag for these events.  I loaded my bladder and began to configure the odds and ends I would need.  I wanted to put as much of my nutritional's in my frame bag as possible, for easy access.  I decided also to take my Osprey as well since I knew not all of my stuff was going to fit in the framebag. Below is a list of things I took and where they were stored.  Admittedly, I take a lot of things when I go out on a ride, but this was a true backcountry adventure and I knew the price for failure was high. 

Frame Bag:
100oz Bladder
3 Enduro bite bars
2 Kates Grizzly bars
2 shot blocks

Osprey Pack:
Small first aide kit
Tool roll
Sawyer Filter w/ Bag
Spot GPS
2 bags Half Evil (2 scoops each)
24oz bottle.

After I felt comfortable with my bike set up and "fitness" for the ride, I wanted to give myself some piece of mind. Truth be told, the week leading up to PP was a blur between work and some testing for a job application I've been working on.  I kind of forgot to look at the ride detail (waypoints, elevation, bailout opportunities, etc.) to refresh my memory since it had been a while from the last time I was out there.  Actually, I almost forgot to upload the GPX file to my garmin.  Some would say those are major oversights for an event like this, but I always have my mental checklist on hand the night before for that reason.  I also think that not having time to dwell on the task helped me avoid some potential mental anxieties I often get before a ride/race.  I really can overthink things the week before a race, to the point of having panic attacks.  I tell myself that's normal, but who knows, I'm human after all

The night before I decided to camp at the PP trailhead (which I'm not sure is allowed based on signage), I pulled in around 6:30pm and found Hunter was there for the night as he'd rode his bike from home.  We chatted as I set up my tent and got things situated for the morning.  Meanwhile Mike and his wife showed up with their lightweight camp trailer.  We all sat around and swapped stories as is customary at these events.  I had a clean dinner of seasoned rice, chicken breast, banana, and jerky with some herbal tea to warm me up.  I turned in around 8:30pm since I had an early start in the morning. 

I slept decent since it was a cool night, I woke up with my alarm at 4am.  I got suited up and started some water to warm up my eggs and make coffee.  Normally, I avoid coffee on ride days for a number of reasons, but I figured today was going to be such a long day it would be best to just start with something warm and familiar.  Two hard boiled eggs, some rice, a banana, and coffee would be it for breakfast.  As I stood around I noticed there wasn't anyone else in the parking lot.  I thought to myself, if no one shows up for the big ride maybe I'll just do the B ride (55 miles).  But, luckily Jeff and Nancy rolled in about 10 mins before the scheduled start time.  Now there were no excuses, I put on the last of my gear and headed over to the start. Jason pulled up moments later and scrambled to get ready to go.  Soon the time would come to ride.

Five O'clock came and we were off; all four of us, for this epic adventure into the darkness.  We spread out rather quickly; Jason pulled ahead and set into his pace, Jeff wasn't far behind, Nancy and I were nearest, but I was noticing some brake rub and stopped twice to re-align my rotor with little success.  We were in the heart of Alamo Canyon now, I was running my light on low since I figured I'd need some light for the return trip.  I passed Nancy about half way through at a steep wallowed out incline.  Next I saw Jeff as we were exiting Alamo and heading toward a steady climb.  I was comfortable now that I had warmed up, and just kept moving.  I rarely thought about the animals that might be lurking in the shadows. I was either not quite awake or just focused on riding, but knew there was a chance I might see something...  It seemed like a made great distance in the pre-dawn hours I had made it to Telegraph Pass before sunrise.  I kept moving, knowing that if I made it to the overlook in two hours I was on target for time.  As the sun crept up it was hidden behind the valleys, but I was rewarded just after the first cattle gate with a tremendous view. I stopped for a moment to take a picture and have a nibble.  Next was a brief decent and a climb to the overlook and the next gate. 
Riding by candlelight

Morning Glow with a Planet
As I neared the saddle the wind picked up drastically and I decided not to stop until I was sheltered from the wind.  One more quick stop before dropping into Martinez Canyon, I could hear the wind echoing through the trees and rocky ledges around me. The trek through Martinez was quicker that I expected, possibly a tail wind which is not really what you want on some of those switchbacks.   As I passed the final section out of Martinez I decided to stop for a photo and another bite.  The wind was fierce now, even with the rocks as shelter.  As I gazed back across the canyon I could not help but to be in awe like never before.  I even got choked up a bit as I realized what a feat it is just go get to were I was. After putting the emotions back in check, I prepared for the decent to the Gila.  I knew it would be demanding since I'd been here before, but the wind was a whole new element.  At one point I slowed up for a technical feature and almost got blown over as a gust came through.  As I finished the top portion the trail became easier to follow and the wind was less of an issue as I left some of the exposure behind.  As I continued in to the Gila basin I caught glimpses of Jason and even crossed the river right behind him. The water was lower than expected; calf high at its deepest, but plenty cold.  I had another bite of my meal bar and dried off so I could move on to the next challenge.  The rolling hills through Cochran toward Florence-Kelvin Hwy.
Gila Sunrise

It was nine O'clock when I reached Cochran and crossed the railroad tracks, I saw the Coke Ovens in the distance and reminded myself that this is a place to explore not just pass through.  I said to myself, "an adventure for another day".  I recalled many of these hills through this section were not overly fun on a singlespeed, so I opted to walk most of them as needed so I could conserve energy for the return trip.  This desiccation was made easier by the relentless headwinds from the East.  I would come to a stand still as I crested over some of the hills, cursing mother nature and her cruel sense of humor.  As I continued fatigue was slowly starting to creep in on me and I knew my next recovery would be F-K Hwy.  I trudged along riding when I could, hiking when I couldn't. Meanwhile I wanted to check my distance and run calculations to distract my self from the suffering, this is when I realized I forgot to clear the current track on the garmin.  It read that I'd traveled 91 miles.  Doh!  Well I just estimated my trail mileage, I knew Florence-Kelvin Highway couldn't be far.

Martinez Canyon in all its Grace
Finally!  I had made it to F-K Hwy. amidst the headwinds and aggravation.  Now to relax and just let gravity do the rest...   Wrong!!!  The winds were still an issue.  I eventually made it to the Kelvin TH for the AZT after a freezing decent and a brisk HAB.  It was around noon and I was happy to see the river at the bottom of the hill, since I knew I at least needed to top off my bladder for the mid day traverse of the Gila River Canyons during.  I was hoping to filter under the bridge, but had problems with flow from my filter, so I opted for the trailer court. After finding a woman willing to let me use her hose and a quick Q and A from her kids, I was back underway.  This section is very loose in spot with lots of rutted areas. I kept it together and walked as I needed and luckily found my way in the washes quite well.  It was made easier by Jason's fresh tracks in the sand. At this point my right knee was feeling a bit swollen from HAB'ing and constant dismount/mount,I also kept checking the mileage to the next way point (Gila Ascent), and couldn't wait to see the climb since I knew my body needed a solid break.  The trail started to get repetitive as I crossed each wash, but there wasn't much shelter from sun or wind; which had subsided a little, so I pushed on and eventually reached the turn off.  I wanted to top off my water again before heading up, as I remembered the canyon climbs are brutally hot, so I rode to the river.   When I got there I found a family relaxing on the other side, kids driving ATV's around.  I just relaxed and took some Naproxen for my headache and downed as much water as possible.  At this point I knew I hadn't drank enough since my last stop so I took my time and gathered myself, I knew the toughest part was yet to come.  I ate some enduro-bites and had some Half Evil, I knew there would be a lot of walking ahead. After dunking my sun-sleeves and putting my knee warmers back on I  headed off.

The climb from the Gila had plenty of HAB and some riding.  I would hike until a muscle got tight, then I'd ride, and vice-versa.  I did that until the top portion than it was solid hiking as the sun began to set.  As I reached the top I called out in victory, as I began to get hysterical. I stood there and cried for a brief moment as I reflected on how far I had come.  I then started to laugh at myself in an attempt to regain composure.  I now focused on my last real challenge, Martinez Canyon.  It was dusk as I entered and quickly got dark as clouds rolled in. I turned my lights on since I knew this area was known for mountain lion sightings.  I scanned the rocks and ledges above for eyes and kept moving.  Martinez went by fast even with some periodic HAB.  As I rounded the corner to the over look I could see a silhouette, it was a person.  Some day hikers had set up camp at the water cache.  We talked briefly, and they mentioned Jason had passed through about twenty minutes prior.  This was shocking since I hadn't seen him after we crossed the Gila that morning.  I thanked them as they opened the gate for me and I started off again into the darkness.  I knew now that there were eleven or so miles between me and the car, it was reassuring, but I knew I wasn't out of the woods yet.  As I entered Alamo Canyon again I was quickly reminded that the end is never easy. It is very rocky in parts and the trail constantly twists to the contours of the canyon.  I was ready to be finished, as I got closer my garmin died so I guessed I had two miles left. It seemed like eternity, as I hoped maybe someone would still be there to see me finish.  Nope!  As I rolled in to the parking lot 14hr 50mins after the start, not a cyclist to be found. 

That was good actually, since I just wanted to got some food cooking.  I got cooled off and changed while i boiled hot dogs in the Jet Boil.  They tasted so good after eating meal bars a shot blocks all day.  I enjoyed a stiff gin and tonic and reveled in the events of the day.  I had finished.  I had finished my longest day on the bike (time and distance).  I learned a lot from this trip.  I got to be in the backcountry by myself which is a huge mental hurdle for me as I've become accustomed to group rides.  I got to experience real emotions and deal with them.  I think I kept it together pretty well.  I've had some great teachers over the past few months specifically that prepared me for what I might run into on a ride like this. Thank you to those that have shared their experiences and have helped me grow as a cyclist this year.

Now For The Bad News:  I began these AES events to prepare for the 2017 AZT 300. Well I found out the week of this event that I will not be attempting the 300 next year.  Sadly, due to a misappropriation of PTO days  I will have to wait until 2018 to take a shot at the 300.  I'm looking at the positives though. I will have more time and less pressure to prepare and might benefit from the added experience I will gain this coming year.  I intend to continue participating in AES events as they fit my schedule. 


Saturday, November 26, 2016

AES: Kentucky Camp

So all year I have had my eye on making an attempt at the AZT300 (AZTR).  I have been slowly preparing a set up for the multi day, point-to-point, self supported trip; and really needed to start getting bigger miles in  more remote locations. Luckily there is a larger group of riders in the state that enjoy long self supported rides and the Arizona Endurance Series had the goods.  It was suggested to me that in order to preview a majority of the course; all while testing mind, body, and setup, that I attend a few key events in the coming months.  Kentucky Camp was the next event for the series that was recommended and it would cover all new sections of the Arizona Trail that I would encounter during the AZT300.
Waiting for the sun to come up.

I headed out toward Patagonia, AZ the night before the event since it was quite a drive from Phoenix.  I met up with a friend of mine Joe in the camping area and we discussed our goals for the next day.  I had some leftovers and tea to settle my stomach and other attendees gathered around a small fire pit exchange stories of rides and other happenings.  It was a bit chilly that night, 50 degrees when i pulled into camp, but it made for perfect sleeping weather.  I opted for a tent for this outing since i have yet to buy a bivy or any Tyvek wrap to keep the moisture off me and my sleeping bag.  I woke up around 6am since that my usual time and slowly got things together for the day.  A light breakfast with out coffee kept my stomach in line and it was time to start loading my bike for the ride.  For this route (46 miles) I decided to just use my frame bag and jersey pockets to keep things light, I was planning for about 7 hours on the bike including stops for water and food.  All the pre-ride checks were complete, now we all gathered for a brief "riders meeting" before we all rolled out.  One rider was even imbibing a frosty beverage during the meeting in preparation for the day.  Hey any time is Miller time!

Nine O'clock rolled around and all of the long route participants took the jeep road toward the single track turn off.  I was surprised at how many people started off strong and hard considering the remoteness of these events.  I guess this is the shortest distance offered during the series, so it draws a large "racer" crowd.  After making the turn onto the single track we began to climb over the rolling hills toward the south and were quickly greeted by stunning vistas with breathtaking views.  I let most people around me pass so that I could ride my own pace with out any hindrance or pressure.  The miles seemed to go by quickly in the  beginning, I made it to the Kentucky Camp cabins and decided to roll through since I had plenty of water.  I then began the journey up the base of the Santa Rita Mountains, mean while I came across a number of hunters on 4x4's.  Along here I ran into Joe, who'd run into a slight tire problem and was finishing a trail side fix.  I decided to ride with him for a bit since my mind was wandering all morning and it was nice to have someone to talk to that I knew.   I hung with Joe most of the way back to the Kentucky Camp trail head where he left me a bit.  One thing about deep single track on a rigid bike you don't want to fall off-line,  the bumps caused me to have a small off. Luckily the grass along the trail is quite tall and made for a nice landing on my side as the front wheel washed out.  I caught up to Joe just south of the KC trailhead where he was taking a break for some calories.  I pressed on the cabins to top off my water for the rest of the trip.

I walked among giants.

Rolling hills

Here I ran into Arturo and his friends that were taking a break at the picnic table.  We talked briefly about how our rides were going and the fact that Arturo was actually getting a chance to ride his bike, and then I was off to catch up to Joe on the jeep road up to Melendrez Pass.  This was one heck of a climb for me at this point in the ride.  I was feeling a little bit fatigued now from the previous HAB, so while Joe clicked around his cassette, I hopped of and started walking.  I walked until the grade eased up a bit and I saddled up to chase Joe a bit more.  He and I stayed pretty close to rest of the ride, which was nice since we were opening and closing gates here and there.  We began our next descent; which was a real challenge, it was the most technical section of trail that I've ridden on the rigid bike/semi loaded. Saying to myself, "I really didn't want to slice a tire out here." As I had flashbacks to a previous ride.  We finished out the rolling descent to the gate leading us to traverse northeast back toward camp.  As the sun began to fall the handle bar length grasses tickled my legs as we climbed our way across rolling hills.  The breeze made the sight even more enjoyable as I walked some sections that were to steep for me.  One last descent back to the road and we were home free. With one minor navigation snafu, we turned on to the jeep road and finished strong.  I was surprised to see that I had finished in under 7 hours as I had predicted.
Santa Rita's in the background.

It was time for food and libations as we cheered on the other finishers as they rolled in. As the sun went down those of us that stayed to camp another night gathered around our fire, sharing more stories, snacks, and the occasional beverage before settling in for the night.  It was a great day on the bike.

Time to relax and reflect on a great day on the bike.
 The next day Joe and I rode the section of AZT to the south of where we stayed and found some hike-a-bike, catclaw, and scenic views.  Here are a couple photos from day two. 
There is a trail in there somewhere. (Joe is standing on it and it cuts right in front of the barrel)

Las Cienegas looking East

Friday, November 25, 2016

Hello all,

After years of reading other cyclist blogs and ride reports, I have decided to join the club.  I'm a learn by doing kind of person so I will be working out the bugs as I go and refining my skills.  Tips and pointers are welcomed, this is something very new to me so be gracious.

 So, Ill be writing ride reports about my cycling adventures around Arizona and other fun outdoor adventures with friends, family, and my fellow cyclists.  I remember when I first started riding mountain bikes over six years ago when I first discovered blogs like onegear-ray and shillingsworth on  I thought to myself, "how on earth do they do it!"  To this day I'm still in awe at some of the rides these guy put together and the places their sense of adventure takes them.  To experience a small fraction of these places on rides with the likes of schillingsworth is a real treat.  Now that I've began creating my own adventures and exploring the remote wonders of Arizona on my own, I thought sharing my adventures might inspire new generations of adventure cyclists to break free from the rat race of competitive cycling and take the trail much less traveled.

 I hope my readers find this blog fulfilling and inspiring as I have found other riders blogs over the years.

 I'll hopefully have a ride report from the Picketpost Pulverizer event I recently completed.

Thanks for the read.