Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Grand Loop Race Part 2

The next morning we woke up after a nice 8 hour sleep, headed to the infamous Bedrock Store. Scott and I had argued a little bit about the opening time of the store, it was either 8 or 9am. We opted to just hope that it was at 8am and just head down from the mesa in order to make it to the store on time. 8am it was

We stocked up on some much needed food before heading out toward Carpenter Ridge. It was going to take a descent amount of effort to get on top of the ridge.

We were making good time on this section of the trail. It was nice to be back up high again.

Scott had mentioned that we had to climb to 9800 feet and we were tottering at 7500 for awhile before making the slow, gradual climb up to the high point of the entire route. Rain clouds were all around us.

The drops came first. Then there was the sound of the onslaught behind us. We thought we could out run the storm. Big, big mistake. The hail came down as we were trying to out bike the storm. After about 1/2 mile, we took cover again. Our hands were cold, we were cold. In a matter of 5 minutes, it went from clear, blue sky to hail.

We pushed on in the storm. The roads became one big stream. The front tire began to swerve on its own. A glimmer of hope appeared in the distance, a house! Shelter! Wooo hoooo!

As the trail turned, I realized that the house we saw was pretty far off course. I looked back, Scott was not in sight. We were in a big meadow, rain was falling down with the occasional hail moment. I kept riding/pushing my bike up the hills to get to the top of the meadow. Success at last, it seemed flat for awhile. Then the rain stopped.

We had to push our bike across the meadow or in what stream that there was, otherwise our bikes would instantly get peanut butter-like clay on the tires and would be completely stop.

After a few minutes of slogging, we saw a mountain biker on the other side of the meadow and he was RIDING. It turned out it was Marshall. We chatted for a bit before parting ways. About 10 minutes had passed, when we saw another cyclist on the meadow. Dumbfounded, I thought it was my imagination. I think it was Scott who recognized Dave first, crying out "It is Dave Harris!" Amazing. Soggy, wet, and tired, Dave and I instantly went for a big hug, laughing uncontrollably at the fact that we were suffering together. Epic indeed. We exchanged beta before continuing on toward Kokopelli.

More pushing in the mud, carrying the bike, cleaning the bike continued for about 2 hours before we finally were able to ride. It was a welcome relief, but our goal in finishing in other 3 days seemed unattainable. I think it was here that I began to slow down to a crawl on some sections of the course. The camera stayed in the bag for most of this section of the trail, for obvious reasons. I was tired and cold.

We kept riding though the night, dragging on. Scott pulled for most of the night Kokopelli riding. I just tried to ride what I could. At Dewey Bridge, we pulled out our camping gear and finally went to bed at 3am.

At 5am, we started packing our gear when Jefe pulled up. We completed packing our gear, exchanging beta, and made our way toward the Yellowjacket.

The sleep was good and it propelled us for about half the day. At Westwater, a fellow mountain biker asked us if we needed some food or beer. I think we managed to score about 50 calories in food and one of these....

Scott even had a sip. "It is cold, give it to me," he replied when I asked if he wanted a drink. Thadda boy Scottie.

The last 3-4 hours was hard, probably the hardest of the entire trip. With not a cloud in the sky, it had turned to a bake fest. Two guys from Arizona complaining about the heat, really?! Yes, it was very hot. At one point, we had to hid under an overhang just to continue moving.

Things got a little more peachier as we continued toward the end of the trail or maybe that was just in my mind. Without a working GPS, I was often clueless on exactly how far we had until the finish line. The best sign that you are on your third day of an endurance ride, Scott commenting "I am not getting down on the ground to take a picture of the flowers." I guess it was my turn.

We finally made it to the trailhead, 3 days and 11 hours after we had started. With 48,000 feet of climbing, it is a beast of a ride. Endurance riding is best done with friends...thanks Scott. Well done senior.


ScottM said...

Good stuff, Chad. Always good to read some from the other perspective.

I forgot about the flower comment. Can't stop laughing about it now.

I had also forgotten at some point along the way that you didn't have a GPS and that you had never ridden any of the route before. I think it was somewhat a curse knowing what was coming, especially with all the hike-a-bike at Salt Creek. But who knows, maybe ignorance isn't bliss either.

Looking forward to the next one.

Unknown said...

bike + friends = fun! Nice job boys!

YuriB said...

Nicely done gents. A nice adventure to follow along.

chollaball said...

fantastic - and all without a GPS, the flower moment is the funniest part of your story.


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