Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sutherland

The weekly 50-year trail ride is back up again. I started it with the goal of bringing out some more north side riders. Honestly, it is not really very organized since I periodically change the day, either Wednesday or Thursday. Nevertheless, I hope it may blossom into a small group of blokes, 2-5 people would be good.

Today, Max and I met at my school to ride over to Catalina State Park and over to the 50-year trail before hitting up Sandy Sutherland.

Max had never ridden this section of the trail; his excitement to ride the trail was apparent by his frequent stops to pump up his bike. Notice the grin on his face. I think I mentioned how he is always pumping up his tires, to which he responded that he was the one that was prepared. Very true, I only had an extra tube that had flatted on my way to work this morning.


More words and insults (in a joking manner of course) were exchanged during the rest of the ride. The trail goes from sandy to some great technical sections. Good times. The jokes and insults really began to fly during this part of the trail as each of us tried to clean something that the other had failed on...

It was then that I realized how unfortunate it was that I had to ride the AZT 300 alone. To which I now make the following conclusion: Endurance races/rides are best when done in groups. Without getting too sentimental, I figured I would take some time to say thank you to everyone that I have done a 8+ hour ride with (Dave, Scott,

My last comment as we entered into Catalina State Park, "A picture of Max behind me, just like he always is" got a good reaction.

Welcome back Max, I look forward to chasing you on many more endurance rides/races.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Back

After 3 weeks of doing commuting and one short race, I finally felt like my legs were ready to ride again. I realized a little to late at the Prescott Monstercross that my legs were probably not quite ready for action. The culprit, the AZT 300, really did a number on my legs, not quite sure if I have ever used my legs that hard ever. Thank you to Scott for designing said race that allowed me to experience a new type of pain.

I met up with Max on the Rillito Bike Path and headed out on dirt to Sweetwater. Well, almost on all dirt...

...there was a section that we had to cross the roaring Santa Cruz. Who said that Arizona never had streams? Check out the flow on that thing!

We rode the Sunset singletrack over to the gasline. It is a good connector for those that do not want to drive out to Sweetwater; that and Sunset Road has some pretty good hills.

We did the classic Sweetwater loops

before heading back to the gasline and then to Sunset again. I am not sure if I have ever posted some pictures of this short singletrack, but there is probably about 2-3 miles of great singletrack in this area.
Great 2.5 hour ride, pretty good pace, and some darn good weather.

Next up: 50-year via Catalina State Park this Thursday, lights required. Anyone want in?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

50-year trail


Those of us that are still in Tucson this weekend headed out to 50-year trail. The trailhead was empty (only Nate and Louis were on the trail during the first half of the ride; they were doing their usual jumps and lines). I never did a Prescott Monstercross write-up, but the summary of the first 30 miles was pain. My legs were hurting on every climb last weekend. A week of the bike was the perfect prescription. I hit the pool and hills with the swim gear and running shoes. Mix it up, right?

The crew (Aaron, Andrea, Kendall, Alex and I) headed out from 50-year trail early this morning for a great ride.

The weather was perfect, cool temperatures with a slight breeze.


Headed to the pool right now for some more laps. Enjoy your weekend, especially those that are in Prescott.

Some exciting rides/races coming up:
Coconino DC scouting trip down Casner Mountain
Coconino Dirty Century
Kaibab Monstercross 125 or 200

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Prescott Monstercross!

Click on picture to enlarge the course map

This is the first race I have been anxious to ride in a long time, check out all that singletrack that loops around Prescott! 50 miles with 8500 feet of climbing is what the GPX track is saying in Topofusion.

Monday, April 13, 2009

AZT 300 Day 4

That morning I woke up at 5:00am, eat some yogurt and banana bread that I had bought at the general store, and started rolling at around 5:30am toward Tiger Mine Road. I had spoke with Scott the day before about my plans. He mentioned something that stayed in my head during this entire section of the race, "if you are really motivated, you should be able to finish before dark." I kept saying that to myself, "stay motivated, stay motivated."

I know the first section to Antelope Peak very well, each switchback and turn. I passed some of the sections, recalling flats I have had or seen other people have during the Antelope Peak Challenge. "Please don't flat, I only have two tubes left" echoed in my head during these moments. I stopped for just a few minutes to take some pictures, otherwise I kept riding at my steady pace.




I passed some Grand Enchantment Trail thru-hikers after Bloodsucker Wash. We chatted for a bit about the water cache. According to them, there was plenty of water available up ahead. I had been conserving my 250 ounces of water up to that point, so I decided to drink a little bit more than I had previously been doing.

I filled up some water and kept on moving. Many thanks to those that have brought out water to this remote area; it made me feel more comfortable as I pressed on into the Boulder Section in the 90 degree weather.

I came across another rancher after the Ripsey Segment. He had his diesel pump roaring, shooting out water into a huge tank (must have been 3,000 gallons). More diesel pumps going on at the next gate, this time into a small trough. The cows had come from all over (likely because of the noise) to the area, I had to round them up and out of the way as I sped down the hill into the corral. I think I have mastered the cowboy "haaayahhhh" that gets the cows moving after all these times riding in this area. I had a flat a huge stan's leak after the corral; I managed to plug it with a stick and continue to roll.

The Florence-Kelvin Highway was a hard section for me, mentally and physically. Since this section is relatively flat, I was spinning out on the singlespeed. Oh and they heat, I craved a good head soaking about then or at least to stop in sit under a palo verde tree. I kept saying to myself, highly motivated and kept spinning.

The road down to the Gila River seemed a little better, but not much. I was so delighted to finally get some hills when I turned onto the powerline road. This excitement quickly faded when my rear Stan's began to shoot out. Another sidewall tear, really? I tried to seal it several times and ride on it withough luck. I was close to the finish line, finally I just figured it would be faster to put a tube in it. Another flat in the books and one spare left, I cruised down the sandy road to the Gila River.

I had read about the 'tree groves' in the cue sheets along with 'ahhhh shade!' Scott had written these as a source of hope for riders like me that were crossing this section with 90 degree weather. I was looking forward to seeing them since the Florence-Kelvin dirt highway.

I was coming up over a hill, when the first trees appeared. There were clusters of trees on each side, providing the perfect rest stop for a weary mountain biker like myself. The only thing was that a car was blocking the route. It appeared that there was a man in the back of the truck also. I thought to myself, they must be stuck or since it seemed like their truck was too small to fit between the trees. Or maybe they are cutting firewood. In fact, my conclusion became more reinforced when I saw a guy in the tree nearby.

As I rode up to the car, I heard the following exchange in Spanish:
Guy in truck: "Hey, there is a guy on a bike, what do I tell him to do?
Guy in tree: "What? where?"
The response from the guy in the truck: "In front of the truck."
Guy in tree yelled back: "Tell him to go away, it is too dangerous here"
This is where I chimed in (since I speak Spanish): "What happened? What is going on?"

The guy in the back of the truck motioned me over to the south side of the truck and told me to get in the back of the truck, to which I willingly agreed since it seemed smarter than being on the ground at that point. Here is why: About 10 feet away from me, there was a bull charging at the guy in the tree. The black bull was bleading all over his head, which appeared to be a result of the bull hitting the tree. Well that and the fact that the man in the tree would perodically come down low enough to kick the bull in the head. Additionally, the man behind me would perodically get out of the truck, bend down to pick up a rock, and get back in the truck before the bull charged over to us. Then, he proceeded to toss the rock at the bull. There was also a cattle dog that added to the tense situation, running and barking the entire time.

My first thought was I just want to ride my bike, why me? The highly motivated sense of mind does not work in these situations. After a few minutes, I started thinking about the situation. I asked the guy, es su toro, esta enojado? He politely replied that it was in fact his and that he had just branded it, hence the bull being mad. Hmmmmm. Interesting, right? Well, I just wanted to ride my bike and I was in the middle of nowhere. I decided not to press the issue rather just ignore any inclining to ask more questions about the situation.

After a few minutes of guy dropping down to kick the charging bull and man gets down to grab rock/stick to toss at bull, I think the bull finally got tired and charged out into the thick trees. The cattle dog followed behind, barking and shuffling of the trees. Both the noise of the bull running and the loud bark of the cattle dog grew fainter, a sign for me to get down from the truck and continue on my bike.

I got down from the truck, grabbed my bike, said goodbye (they were putting dirt on the fire and putting the branding iron in the back of the truck) to the ranchers. After riding about 200 yards down the road, the faint bark of the dog reappeared. I looked back and the bull jumped out of the grove area 150 yards back and started to run toward my direction. Pedal, pedal was all I could think of. My mind flashed to those home videos of the running of the bulls in Spain, you know which ones I am talking about, right? The ones that the guy gets proded by the bull. The dog barking was getting slower for a few seconds. I turned around to see the last half of the bull as it exited the road and ran south. Highly motivated was back on my mind as I sped away, I crossed the diversion dam


and continued on Box Canyon Rd. The Box Canyon was a nice relief, the tall walls on either side blocked the sun.

Two larger groups of off-road enthusiast wanted to pass, a perfect excuse for me to take a quick break. The exit of Box-Martinez is a bit steep, it takes a bit of strength to get out. I was muscling out of Martinez Canyon, when my chain just snapped off. Bummer, but I knew I could fix it. I fixed it with a link and continued on up and up. Upon reaching the windmill, I checked for water in the tank. No such luck for any AZT racers this year, it was nearly dry.

The same situation as before occured. I was pushing the pedals to get up a uber steep section when my chain broke. Panic mode. I only brought one link. Who would have thought to bring so many links!? I thought of breaking the chain and moving my sliders, no luck. The links were to far away from the break to make that possible. I found both broken pins on the ground and desperately tried to put them together. I had flat rock on the ground, then the chain with each pin in its slot, another rock was used to beat the pins end. Ah it worked.

I started to pedal and it seemed to finally be holding. I went for about 3/4 mile like that and the pin broke again. I put it all the pieces in my pocket and began to hike up to the top of that long, last mountain before the AZT. When I got to the top, I saw the following


along with the cue sheet, 12 miles left. It was already about 6pm, another hour of daylight. I did the same setup as before, rock, chain with pins in their correct spot, hammer rock. This time I was desperate, so hitting the chain as hard as I could was an option. It worked again and this time it held! Notwithstanding, I was not home free yet. I had a flat on the last few miles of the singletrack as the sun was setting. I pumped it up with changing it, hoping it would seal. No luck, I had to change it.

I finished without using my lights since the moon gave me plenty of light once it rose over Picketpost Mountain.


I rolled in at 7:40pm on Tuesday, 3 days 10 hours after starting with Scott from Parker. 3rd time is a charm, and on a rigid singlespeed nonetheless. I rolled into Superior to eat at Los Hermanos, found a nice RV that let me sleep on the front lawn, showered, and fell asleep.

The next morning I woke up at 6am and rode to Florence Junction to hitchhike back to Tucson (~100 miles). I waited for about 10 minutes before a fellow road cyclist and retired superintedent picked me up. High schools and bikes was a common theme of the conversation on the way home.

See my bike/gear setup on bikepacking.net along with other multi-day bike setups.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bike Fest 2009

Is upon us. Ride this week for Bike 2 Work here in Tucson. I plan on making a few of the stops on my side of town during the week.

Taken from the website:
Bike 2 Work Week will be held April 13-17th. Bike 2 Work Week is our chance to thank existing bike commuters and encourage first-time riders to leave their car behind and celebrate biking to work. The week will feature free breakfast stations, free bike tune-ups, raffles, giveaways, and much more scattered around Tucson and the Metro Area.

This weekend will feature some excitement in the world of biking, the Prescott Monstercross on Saturday, Bike Swap and Urban Assault Race on Sunday.

AZT 300 Day 3

I camped low in the valley on the Chiva Falls loop that 2nd night. The wind was unbearable to the point that it rocked my hammock during the night. I was hoping the wind would die a little bit at six when the sun came up, so I went back to sleep until about 730ish. It did not die rather it keep blowing. Blah, this is what happens when you complain about the weather, now it was even more annoying since it became a headwind for me.

I ended up having a front flat on the Arizona Trail, bummer. I had to use one of the new tubes that I bought at Performance the day before. With the tailwind now, I cruised down the singletrack and the waterbars of this section of the AZT.

Highlight of this section...this little flowers that seemed to prick my hands as I was riding down the singletrack. I should have put on the winter gloves, I thought to myself as I was riding down.

Two hikers passed me as I was hiking up Molino Basin. "Wow, can you actually ride some of this trail?" I chuckled and responded, "yes, on a good day." Today was not a good day, I had one gear and was forced to push my bike most of the way up Molino.

Prison Camp was a delight, the new trail work made it easier for AZT 300 riders to clean most of the trail. I knew that when people began to complain about all the new trail work; I kept silent thinking about how it would feel to have to climb up this section of singletrack after so many miles. No mountain bikers passed me, in fact, I never saw another mountain biker after Scott turned around in the Canelos.

The road was here. A checked my water and time, no Bug Springs for me today. I needed to get to Oracle Ridge as soon as possible. Later, I will go that route, possibly when I have gears.

I had brought 200 ounces up the mountain, but after drinking, brushing the teeth, and washing my face, I was down to just about 30 ounces when I hit the road. Just after General Hitchcock, I noticed a half-gallon of water on the guardrail. I stopped to look at the jug and to my amazement, there were 3 more on the ground, completely unopened. I refilled my water bottles and pushed on to Palisades.

At Palisades, I rode over to the spigot. No water. I just exited and kept climbing up to Summerhaven and the General Store. This is the farthest I have ever made it, I thought. But that thought was quickly changed to the thought of home-made fudge. Mmmmmmm!

As is the tradition with climbing Lemmon in some circle (ok, ok it is only my circle, but it should be everyone's tradition), I bought some much needed refreshments
and calories before going to Oracle Ridge. I was surprised to see that the trail is in some of the best shape I have ever seen it. In fact, I think the traverse of death has been slightly downgraded to just a traverse. I only had to hop over one tree during the first 2 miles of the trail, a vast improvement from last year.

Here is a picture looking back up Oracle Ridge.

After finishing most of the hike-a-bike section, there is just some fun singletrack to Dan's Saddle.

While descending, I took a few moments to look at a possible new route for the Antelope Peak Challenge for next year. I scouted out a new route into Oracle last year, but noticed the possibly of making the race 115+ miles by connecting it to this section of the AZT. Doable but it would involve some long, hard hike-a-bike. Hike-a-bike with a great payoff....sweet singletrack on this section of the AZT.

I passed a thru-hiker that was short on water on Dan's Saddle; she was hiking alone. I asked here if she wanted some of mine, to which she politely refused. I consider any thru-hiker on the AZT to be hard core at least, especially this one. I continued on down Cody Trail and beyond the Control Road to Peppersauce.

Many hikers (like the one I passed up near Dan's Saddle) have passed under this sign, few mountain bikers have had the pleasure of passing under it after 200 miles. I was finally glad to ride under it after 3 years.

The route into Oracle is fast and fun, perhaps my favorite part of the AZT 300. Possibly just because it is before one of the parts I had been dreaded, the next section of Antelope-Gila-Picketpost. Water is always scarce, moreover the weather was predicted to be 88 degrees that Tuesday.

I decided to get a place at the Chalet in Oracle after stopping at the Oracle Market for snacks. I talked to Scott about the possibility of resting one day (afterall, my ride was supposed to pick me up on Wednesday not Tuesday). The forecast proved to be my final motivator. More wind gusts up to 35 mph were predicted for Wednesday.

After showering, I ate some pizza and promplty went to bed at 930am. The alarm clock was set. My legs felt great, no sore mussles since I began on Saturday morning.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

AZT 300 Day 2

That first night, I found a great location for the hammock between a gate and a tree. I had decided to retire early knowing that Madera Canyon in the dark can be frustrating sometimes.


I woke up the next morning at 730 am, ready for another long day in the saddle. I started to ride at around 8am in the morning, quite surprised at how quickly my legs had recovered from the day before.


I was surprised to see the water spigot at Madera Canyon parking lot was working, great news. I downed quite a bit of water before refilling my bladder. On to Box Canyon Rd, there were a few cars taking in the views, then a Park Ranger past me with his window down. Up, up, up he commented to me as I waved. Good to see some people are taking notice of my suffering. It was pretty slow going until the turn-off to the the AZT.

The next 20 miles of the trail were blissful....sweet, fun singletrack in what appeared to be ideal riding conditions


The newest singletrack in this section (from last year's route) is superb.


I eventually got to Old Spanish Trail, had to detour to Performance Bikes for 2 more slime tubes, and headed to Taco Bell. The order was $12; seven tacos and 2 burritos. Mmmmmmmm, I managed to eat almost all of it before embarking up to Reddington to stay the night.

Friday, April 10, 2009

AZT 300 Race Day 1

Scott offered up to drop me off at Parker Lake last Saturday to start the Arizona Trail 300 last week. If there was every a person to start a 300-mile ride with, Scott would be on the top of my list. We got to the trailhead at about 9am, starting rolling at 9:41am.



Photo courtesy of Scott Morris (and other 3 photos below)

Scott and I chatted during the first descent into the Canelo Hills. The first few hundred yards of this race are rocky; if you have not secured all your gear, you will know in the first few minutes of the race. As Scott mentioned earlier in his posting, these first few miles are not without the occassional hike-a-bike....


but there are plenty of sections of fun singletrack. The light bike setup was a good move, its lightness was proving to be a great asset during these first few miles.



Nevertheless, the first few miles were not without incident, I had my first sidewall gash in my brand new, Saguaro Geax front tire. Epic failure in the first 5 miles. This meant a few things for me. First, it meant that I would be running a higher pressure on my rigid singlespeed. Each bump and rock would now be a little bit more noticeable on my hands and wrists. Also, it meant that I might need to make a detour into a bike shop in Tucson.





I bid Scott farewell and continued on solo toward Patagonia. The wind was cooling me down, but at times it was a headwind. Despite this, I was making pretty good time during this first 30 miles of Canelo Hills. I remember the fast touring crew (MC, Scott, and Pete and I) arriving in Patagonia at 245pm last year. I was aiming for a similar time.

I rolled into Patagonia at 230pm and went straight to the general store for some resupplying. As I was walking in, I noticed a couple out on the patio of Velvet Elvis Pizza. This is where I went from racing to what I call fast touring. The couple was enjoying a slice of pizza and a calzone. I stopped before I walked into the general store, thought about eating snickers, doritos, and a 2-day old tuna sandwich, and turned around and went into Velvet Elvis for two of the best calzones. Fast touring was the new goal, sleeping in late and enjoying some of the best singletrack in Arizona.




I left after finishing most of the calzones, wrapped up what I had left, tipped the waiter, and left to ride Salero Ranch Road. I headed to the observatory restroom stop about 1 mile of course to fill up water. I also took a few minutes to wash up and brush my teeth. I did the last section of Elephant Head as the sun was setting, then opted to camp at the first gate I came across.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

One final ride


There is something about being able to pedal from sunrise to sunset. There should be plenty of these views during the next week on the Arizona Trail. Bags are packed, the bike is ready, I just need to do a little food and battery shopping before I start on Saturday.

Scott has sent me the link for the tracking for the SPOT satellite messenger. Here is the link to the AZT 300 race, you will see a picture of me at the bottom. Click on it.

Thanks to Scott Morris and the Matt Lee for making the tracking possible.

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