Sunday, October 31, 2010

Milagrosa II

Nearly 4 years ago to the date, my friend and I began the idea of offering free, grassroots endurance racing. We started this first race, the Rock y Road 50/50 at this time. Is was this past weekend here in Tucson.




We started riding up the road to Reddington with predicted temperatures in the mid-80s. The night before when I checked the weather, I was tempted to only do the mountain biking portion. When more people (that I assumed) had arrived to the parking lot, I decided to do both sections of the route, the Rock and the Road portions.




I was slow on the start having done plenty of technical rides this week. I normally take the day off before a race, even drive into work that day. Seems like a good idea, no? I chose to not only commute, but I did a quick 1-hour technical climb on Friday.

Veryyyyyyyy bad idea. I barely caught Chris C. at Italian Trap (shown above).



Chris, Dave and I rode as a group for most of the first ~30 miles. Chris had to eat some food, ergo he dropped behind us for a little bit.



Dave and I continued on to Milagrosa, although toward the bottom near the first gate, I noticed that Dave was no longer with me. For those that are not familiar with Milagrosa, it is one of the hardest trails in Arizona.

I pulled into the transition zone about 20 minutes before Dave. The thought of riding my mountain bike to Palisades (I had done it twice on a road bike, once on a ss mtb) was very unappealing. I had already made up my mind not to ride the road portion since I did not have a working road bike.

Despite this, Dave rallied me to head up Lemmon. He was prepared with a road bike and immediately left me.

As I rode up (I even passed a tandem heading up Lemmon?!), I even stopped to take a picture of Milagrosa.



This got me thinking about the possibility of doing Milagrosa twice in one day, not shuttling of course.

Which is dumber: riding your mountain bike to Palisades only to head back down or doing Milagrosa twice in one day?



The real question was...which would be more enjoyable? I rode to Prison and jammed down, climbed Molino and enjoyed the view at the top.

The weather was perfect and, well, Milagrosa was going to be re-visited by me.



It's safe to say I could look at this view for hours. Something about this rugged, off-the-map trail screams out to my wild side. I can't explain it. I consider Tuesday a training day of sorts, Milagrosa is where I put that training to action.



I have passed this tree many rides and kept going...not today. Celebration comes in many forms, even a nice little drink and a simple thought..."Today has been a good day on the bike, a first for me....two times on Milagrosa."

Friday, October 29, 2010

Technical

A few thoughts on cleaning technical trails that I have noticed in the past few weeks of riding.

First, I have noticed that sessioning these trails is key (an obvious statement for most of us). During the do-overs, I found it really necessary to be honest with myself. Sometimes I try to say to myself, "Oh, I missed it this ride, but yesterday I nailed it" and simply move on. Be honest with yourself. If you have the time, make sure to get it right. Starting down the trail might even put the trail in perspective, instead of "cheating" and starting closer to the difficult section. This is often the case for trails loaded with switchbacks.




Photo by Scott Morris


Next, it might be helpful to leave yourself a reminder on some sections that you have not cleaned. I have a trail close to my work that is loaded with technical moves, switchbacks and waterbars. So much, in fact, that I start to even question what I have/haven't cleaned. I started to leave a few reminders in the form of rocks (they even taunt me at times) near the uncleanable sections.

Finally, I have found rocking to music really helps. It's hard to get pumped while riding in granny gear sometimes at .5 mph. The added music does wonders for me, especially if I go semi-exhausted after a long day at work.

And about the shouts and screams that you impulsively do after you clean that impossible section, well, don't you love doing it?

Do you have any other suggestions, things you do to help you improve? Improving...that really is the key.

Hidden Canyon

Scott suggested we move the Tuesday Techy Taco Ride over to Starr Pass.

Scott explains Hidden Canyon on his most recent post:

"My good friend Master Flint designed Hidden Canyon to be so hard that I wouldn’t want to ride it. He failed in that regard, because when something is too hard, that just makes me want to learn to ride it even more."





A nice shot from Hooligan, Scott is pointing over at the infamous Hidden Canyon switchbacks (he is a sucker for pointing).




Plenty of cholla on this skinny trail. If you are not careful, you might end up with some in the knucle.




Let the technical switchbacks begin!







Topping out at Hidden Canyon, we started trying to move faster as the sun was setting.



As we were descending, Scott warned me about this next switchback that was "impossible." He did stop to take a picture (see above). Some how, I am not really sure, I managed to keep my front wheel on the trail and clean it.....wooo hoooooooo!




Photo by Scott Morris

I love these pictures that Scott puts on his blog. I think they accurately show some of the difficulty of these rides.

My final comment: Wouldn't it be cool if we set up some "challenges" that had us riding up a certain section of "impossible" trail? I was thinking about how fun it would be to see who cleans/doesn't what and count. This is something Scott and I already do together, but it would be fun to do it with a group of people. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tortolita Skills Clinic*

This past weekend, we had a great showing for a "ride" out at the Tortolitas. The theme of the ride was "rocks and sessioning." We did out-n-backs on every trail/spur that is connected with Wild Mustang.

The stats for the ride explain the technical aspect of the course....13 miles in 5.5 hours.

The route: Upper Javelina (west)-Cochie-Spur-Wild Mustang-Upper Wild Burro-Lower Javelina-Wild Burro



Upper Javelina





Upper Javelina Spur





Wild Mustang



Upper Wild Burro



Lower Javelina



The post-ride BBQ was....



delicious. Add in some IPA and some good conversations, and you have the perfect way to spend a cool Saturday afternoon.

*name used by Scott on his blog also, check out some more pictures there.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Milagrosa



Up the road



Then up Prison












and on to Milagrosa by way of Prison/Molino. I had to ride ahead of the gang in order to make it to work. There is something to be said for riding some trails solo, Milagrosa is one of those trails.

Oh, how I miss this trail. It has been about 8 months since I have been on this trail. In said time period, my skills (thanks in large part to the Tuesday Techy rides) have improved immensely.

It's reasonable to say that I will be seeing a lot more of this trail in the next few months.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wild Mustang II

The crew is out doing the Coconino Loop Race right now. Some 10+ riders showed up for this year's stage race. Matthew Lee is knocking on the my record at the moment. He has been and is a little under 2 hours below the current record. Check out his setup he is racing with here. I also got a call from Scott. Seems as though Mr. Lee only got about 3-4 hours of sleep before starting the Coconino. I'd love to see him turn on the burners right now (he is currently in Williams at the time of this post).

I am enjoying some technical rides all this week instead of doing the Coconino. I convinced Chris C. to take a tour of the Tortolitas with me. Having just ridden here on Friday, some of the lines were still fresh in my head.



Wild Mustang is sort of like riding up Bug Springs, only longer and more technical. It's probably a 95:5 ride:hike ratio.




Photo by Chris C








As with any ride I lead, a few mandatory hike-a-bikes. Chris was thoroughly impressed with the trail.



A second later and you would have been able to see Chris a little better.







You can see why...the views are amazing as you begin to climb to ~1500 feet above Tucson.



Toward the end, I pulled a do-over on a technical section. I nailed my sidewall and stan's began squirting out. No dirt or duct tape would helps this one. I was surprised how long it stayed on. After putting a regular tube in the tire, it quickly had a small leak.

I limped back down some of the trail, unable to really ride most of the Upper Wild Burro (near the overlook). This is the section that screams technical!

I am hoping to maybe do a monthly ride out here, should timing permit in the next few months. Anyone interested? This could be your tour guide....



Photo by Chris C

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Agua Caliente

The Agua Caliente Hill is a beast. At a mere 4.5 miles, you scale a little less than 3,000 feet. Its path is littered with rocks and overgrowth. It is a nightmare for any mountain biker. For those that know Tucson, it's pretty safe to say that it would be easier to go up Milagrosa and Molino than to climb up Agua Caliente.

Those kind odds make it ideal for a person that is looking for solitude and very hard saddle time.

Granny gear..... check
120 ounces of water....check
Two chicken legs when you reach the top....check

Beware though, if you are not ready for this ride, you could end up walking a lot.



The first mile of the trail is everything you ever wanted in a trail. Technical water bar riding at a decent grade, even a few switchbacks that to keep you on your feet.




But then, woooooaaaahhhhh. The trail takes a turn (for the worst?) It seemed to get really hotter right about here.

Once again, the solitude. The kind of silence one dreams of. You could be down there in the city, but why would you? The pattern to ride this trail is simple. Do what you can, rest....then repeat. Talking to yourself even helps..."I can do this." Then draw a line mentally in your head. Then attack it!




Victory! I savored every bite of the chicken and the view.



Just a little section of the 360 view at the top.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Neglected

A sure sign that fall is officially here in Tucson is when you can begin to start riding late in the morning. Today, I woke up at around 8:30, enjoyed some coffee and began to get my bike gear ready. For the past few weeks, I have been curious to see how the trails over in the Tortolitas have held up to the recent rains.

Why the Tortolitas? Well, I consider myself an expert on neglected trails. Silly as it may sound, I get delight in solitude. Also by definition, these neglected trails are inherently harder. A good day is when you ride a rugged trail, sessioning those hard sections, sweat is dripping down faster that your pedal stroke and (above all) you have the trail to yourself.

Not a soul in sight for today's 2-hour spin...

\


I went up Wild Mustang to Upper Javelina. Any golfers recognize that green down there?



I took the snap a picture as you ride trick from JennyJo. She seems to be the master of doing this on her technical rides.



Yeah, to be honest, I am not very good at this. Maybe I should have brought a tripod.



This is one of the hardest sections of the climb. I tried it several times without success. Perhaps another day.



Here is the same climb taken in the previous picture, only opposite view. Do you see a rideable line in there somehwere?









The legendary Alamo Trail and the Catalinas in the background.






And, of course, some B-lines that help you in some tight sections.










It appears I may need to work on my solo, technical picture taking skills. They seem less than perfect.

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