Before you read this post, make sure to check out this previous ride for more pictures.
The Coconino Loop Race 250 could not have been chosen at a better time. Weather was perfect, fall colors were changing, and trail conditions were almost ideal. 10 riders showed up for this year's inaugural self-supported stage race. As far as I know, it is the first race of its kind. The premise is simple: you ride hard to a designated location, stop and rest with everyone in the group. Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, there is about ~250 miles and 32,000 feet of climbing. Although the race might not be for everyone, the loop needs to be added to your must-do list. Plenty of singletrack and views await everyone, even plenty of places to take refuge, get water, add/subtract miles. Here is the run down:
Stage 1: Flagstaff to Hot Loop, Sedona
Here is Yuri on the AZT just before Mormon Lake. Yuri, thanks again for the shots from the flask on the first stage, I think it helped me sleep a little better on my "boogie board."
Just one of many areas that had some vivid fall colors.
Stage 2: Hot Loop, Sedona to Mingus/Trail 105
After the first state stop out side Sedona, the hardest day was to come: Ride from the top of Hot Loop in Sedona to the top of Mingus Mountain via Mingus Ave and Trail 106/105.
I got to ride with Tim for a while. After cleaning a technical section on Broken Arrow, he commented. "Hey Chad, I am in 20x32 just like you!" Errrrr...not funny I thought, as I was walking up in my 32x20. I am not one to ever change my gear ratio, but I needed a 32x19 for most of the race.
In Sedona, we rode Munds-Broken Arrow-Llama-HT-Cathedral-Baldwin-Red Rock State Park
Before connecting on the ever elusive and sandy Lime Kiln trail to Cottonwood and Dead Horse State Park. After a brief stop in Cottonwood, we began the climb up to the top of Mingus. Can you see Scott Morris in this picture?
Scott caught me on the first part of the Trail 106. For those that ride down this trail, it is pretty tough to imagine riding up, especially on a singlespeed. I walked most of it but did have a few moments of good riding.
Trail 105 in all its glory....hike-a-bike in its best form.
Less than 1 mile from the top, Scott made a simple comment that summed up the entire afternoon. "100 feet at a time, then rest."
4 racers bailed before making it to State 2 on Mingus. Understandably so. It was the hardest of any of the 4 stages.
Stage 3: Mingus to the city of Williams (over Bill Williams Mtn)
The next day was going to be the longest section of dirt road, about 25 miles. Again, plenty of things to be inspired by during the long road ride.
Sometimes you have to look smaller to really see the beauty in everything
The reward of the dirt road section...Bill Williams singletrack.
with Mingus Mountain in the background, about 70 miles away (Stage 3 is the longest stage).
Another bailout left 5 racers to eat pizza and beer at a hotel. As someone coined the term last time we pre-rode the route, you are on a Luxury Tour. Hardly. The sleeping/leg recovery was often inadequate for the speed that was required the next day as .
Stage 4: Williams to Flagstaff (via Sycamore Rim, Wing Mountain, Fort Valley Trails)
That morning, Tim and Rob left pretty early as the rest of us headed for some breakfast and coffee.
I was the first of the remaining riders to leave Williams, although I was quickly caught just before the Sycamore Singletrack.
With fall in the air, aspens and oaks are changing. It made the perfect backdrop for some great riding. Although I did not have too much time to capture the colors, I was forced to take a few pictures when my screw cleat broke (yes, it broke not fell out).
Scott zoomed by never to be seen again until Flagstaff. I was spinning out pretty hard to catch him with no avail.
Some more forest roads to connect Wing Mountain ST and some ST on the peaks....
This race is a keeper, one of my favorite multi-day endurance events that I have done. It was great to see such a good group at the start his year. As for the 350-mile version, I think it is safe to say that it needs to be on a different day/month in order to allow for two different races.
This route came about from a simple dream of connecting some of the best singletrack in northern Arizona. Unlike other races that have only dirt roads, this race comes with a hefty amount of singletrack (and I hope to add more next year, or at least more doubletrack at the minimum). Not all singletrack is created equally, as in the case of Mingus Mtn where you have to really, really work to get to the singletrack. Other stuff in Sedona and Sycamore Rim seems to flow if you have some technical skills.
Finally, this race was a collaboration of a handful of people, thank you to all those that helped make the route, especially to Scott and Lee. Also, thank you to Joe from MTBcast for allowing us to do the call-ins.