Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Arizona Trail

AZT map courtesy of Topofusion

By all accounts, my previous attempts to conquer the AZT can be categorized as epic failures. I was launched into the endurance world of riding when I saw the AZT 300 in a Dirt Rag Magazine calendar. I thought to myself 300 miles seemed pretty epic, but hey, I can do that.

And so I did, I had my friend Kacy drop me off at the starting line. Back then, I was unable to really use a GPS and completely new to bikepacking. I had never heard of the word Topofusion or downloaded a GPX track onto a GPS (a friend had to help me download it and I did not have the first half of the track on the GPS unit). I had a small, fleece blanket that I would be using as my sleeping bag. I was about 150 miles into it when I pulled the plug on the top of Mt Lemmon. Cold and disillusioned, I lost sight of my pain purpose: pace yourself, use your head to plan ahead. I choose to climb Lemmon instead of stay down in Tucson. Thoughts of my warm bed echoed in my head, along with the dreaded Oracle Ridge. I bailed that first year.
Last year, I bailed due to a mechanical issue, my saddle broke. I did manage to fix it and continue to ride 130 miles during the first 24 hour. Nevertheless, when I got to Basha's in Tucson, my dreams were lost. Saddle sore, major saddle sore. Not even a huge fleece vest on top of my saddle could get me to ride another mile on that bike. Max Morris, faithful friend and endurance rider, picked me up after I painfully and shamefully rode down from Reddington.

The problem for both of these attempts was my pace; I went out too hard too fast. Looking at this year, my Spring Break starts on April 4, a week before the AZT 300 race begins. Rather than waiting during my Spring Break for the AZT 300, I have decided to start early. This year, the goal is simple: pacing myself to go the distance. I had a friend once comment about my riding, she said "Chad, you always go the same speed when we go riding, never fast, never slow. So boring. The only good thing is that you can go forever at that speed." This is how I ride and I think during the last two AZT 300 races, I have strayed away from this philosophy.

The goal is to finish those first 300 miles (starting at the Mexican border) that I have yet to complete and to continue on North toward the Grand Canyon. I have no expectations on how far I can get, just to have fun. Should the fun be taken out of the ride, you will probably see me pull the plug.

I will be carrying a SPOT Satellite Messenger (see leaderboard below for the link). This will allow those at home to track my progress.

The AZT 300 Forum on

The AZT 300 Leaderboard

AZT 300 Race


ScottM said...

Keeping it 'cool', so to speak, on the 300 is a challenge. Maybe out there by yourself it'll be a bit easier.

Not sure where the 300 tracker will be, but probably not on We'll know before you blast off.

We'll be pulling for ya.

Dave Harris said...

That's brilliant Chad. Solo multi-days are a special beast and a lot easier to pace.

Have a great ride!


Enjoy my friend.
See you in Preskit in a couple of weeks.

PirateGirl said...

Good luck out there Chad! I'll be watching your SPOT and cheering you on! Definitely have fun out there. And partake of food/treats that make you happy when the mind gets a little dark. For me that's Snicker bars. ;) I think yours are usually of the bubbly variety. :D


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