Sunday, June 29, 2008
I arrived in Flagstaff a little before 2:00 am. Sleeping in the back seat of the car in the parking lot was a horrible idea; I think I slept about 2.5 hours before I had to get up. I knew the race turnout was going to be a little smaller this time with the rescheduled date. Four was a good number. It made the race seem like more of a social group ride than a dirty century.
The four of us (Rob, Randy, Art and I) rolled out a few minutes after 6:00 am down the Flagstaff Urban Path. I was eager to christen the new bike on a endurance ride after the KMC debacle a few weeks ago. The new Leviathan is not only lighter and bigger, I feel more confident riding it. Randy and Art slowly began to escape my vision as we continued to ride on the Old Munds Highway toward Munds. I thought about waiting for Rob, since I had after all ridden this ride solo before and was not too keen on doing it again.
Nevertheless, I pedaled on alone. The night before was a hot ride without AC in my benz. It was obvious that drinking two Nalgenes during the short drive was now taking its toll as I had to pee about 5 times before reaching Munds in what seemed like a very brief time. My goal for the Coconino Dirty Centurty (other than finishing) was to really focus on being able to just ride the entire time, rather than taking long breaks (like at the store during KMC and the Circle K during the Sedona BFL). In other words, to pedal at a rate that I could sustain for 8+ hours without bonking.
As I was entering the Munds area near the highway, I started to notice some construction signs. In front of me about 1/4 mile down the road, there was a water truck spraying the road down. I got a little muddy as I barreled down toward the truck. The driver turned off the sprayers so I could pass, or at least that is what I thought. I dashed by the sprayers only to get soaked (actually stunned me for a second). Classic. The driver probably thought I was a jackass, but I thought he turned them off to let me pass. It felt good though as the cool weather was now beginning to get a little warmer.
On to Schnebly and Sedona. Hot Shot was great. A little before the trail, I passed a pink jeep tour operator. One of the clients yelled out as I passed. "Did you really ride up from Sedona?" I thought for a second about telling them my plans, but I merely commented "No, just out for a fun ride from Flagstaff."
I found a GPS on Munds Wagon TR, assuming it was Randy's or Art's, I tucked it away in my bag. After exiting the trail to the road, I thought I would see them. Time to barrel down to Sedona. I thought maybe I would pass one of them as I was going down. Still no sign of either as I got down to the bridge and turned around to head back up Schnebly in the heat. Somewhere during the climb, I managed to lose my bite valve for my bladder. Bummer. So much for having a lot of water. It was a long, death march back up to the vista point. I saw Rob on the road. He missed one of the turns on Munds Wagon and had jumped on the road. I showed him the trail and continued on the hot climb upward.
Pedal, pedal, pedal. I rested once, very briefly on the entire climb. This is when I realized that I still had a fair amount of water in my bladder. Along with a Powerade, I hoped to make it to Flagstaff without resupplying. That gamble paid off. Toward the vista, I was passed by Randy. It turns out they opted to resupply in Sedona while I had just brought more water. I gave Randy his GPS and he quickly shot ahead. Next, Art passed me. Strong riders, I'd be lucky if I ever saw them again during this race.
They rested up at the highest point on Schnebly, so I passed them again. We were making really good time. The first half of the race was completed in a little under 4 hours. Then, they passed me a little before the highway.
The route to Munds Road and Casner is another difficult, rocky climb. Upon its completion, I was glad to be on forest roads again. An ATV-driver stopped to ask me where I was going. I told them the route and asked him if he had seen 2 more mountain bikers. They were just a few miles ahead of me, it turns out. I pedaled upward toward the pass, before dropping down to Mormon Lake. I rode along toward Mormon Lake and exited on the highway, but not before getting a quick burst of rain. Rain seems to be magnified on the bike. Its cool qualities are a welcome relief after riding in the "heat."
As I was turning left onto the highway, I noticed a tandem approaching. I waiting a few seconds for them and asked if I could join them for their ride. It was nice relief since the wind had started to pick up. Turns out they were from Tucson also. They pulled me until my exit up to Horse Trai/AZT; I passed Randy and later Art on this section of the trail again. This section of the AZT is super rocky, making it tedious and often painful to ride. Taking into account we were riding it after doing 90 miles, it seemed impossible at times. I learned my lesson during the pre-ride... most of the rocky stuff is better done out of the saddle. I'd say that 80% of this section was done hammering out of the saddle in order to avoid in butt problems.
Art seemed like he was ready to go on ahead, which he did a little before the observatory. Randy seemed to be having problems. I slowly slipped away before the fun singletrack after the observatory. I managed to make a wrong turn while coming into Flagstaff, so Randy caught up with me at the last minute. It was nice mistake since he and I sat down for a quick beer at the brewery.
Post-race thoughts: the Leviathan is wonderful. I have already seen a big difference in my riding, more confidence and a faster pace. Look for faster times and more miles in upcoming months. The goal of being able to ride 100+ miles during back-to-back days without a problem recovering is slowly forming. The day after the race, I feel great and am about to do a short recovery ride around Flagstaff.
Results are here for the Coconino Dirty Century. The time for Art is estimated, so that might change a bit. Also, I need to get home before I upload some more pics and stats from the ride. Randy commented that the CDC was more difficult than Sedona, a surprising comment. I felt like the CDC went down without too many problems on my end. The next race on the AES calendar, the Rock y Road, has been touted as the toughest day race in Arizona. This year's new mountain bike course is going to be harder.
Finishing up the day in Flagstaff before returning to Tucson tonight.