Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Wednesday!

The Wednesday Weekly ride is back on now that it is getting colder. Todd and Krista moved to Tucson a few days ago from Santa Fe. Their commitment seemed to have even convinced Scott to come out for this week's ride. Here is the gang on 50-year Trail

We left my school, went around the back way to Catalina to 50-year Trail. You gotta look close to see the crew in this next shot.

Krista had strict orders "to keep the wattage under 200." Can you tell she was riding about 150 watts most of the ride?

A quick loop at 50-year trail before heading back to Catalina State Park

Best reason to ride this late...watching the sun go down behind the Tortolitas, Tucson, Silverbell, and Roskruge Mtns.

A post-ride burrito at Rubio's was the perfect ending to a 3 hour spin. Glad you got to join us Todd and Krista, hope to see you both more during the next few months.

The freeze warning is on tonight, although it should be warming up for another weekend epic!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Do you want to bikepack in the winter?

I got the call from Scott a few days ago about another bikepacking route idea. I was flattered when he choose me. Without too much hesitation, I joyfully and emphatically said yes!

Only later he described the route. The majority of the route he described was dirt roads, although he lured me in with a promise of a small section of singletrack... migrant singletrack. Our first sighting of the migrant trail seemed promising....several fresh footprints, with an occasional overgrown section.

As things continued past the last section of double track, the singletrack only improved. I think it was Scott who commented how well the singletrack was built. Besides the few overgrown sections, this migrant trail looked like it belonged in the Tucson Mountain Park.

See any peaks or mountain ranges that look familiar?

As usual, Scott seemed to be riding his bike more than both Lee and I combined.

After talking with a few local ranchers, we continued in toward Roskruge (whoa whoa, pump the brakes! Make sure you say Roskruge with your best Irish accent).

to more singletrack. Here is Scott looking inquisitively when asked about the name of the new route. His name sounds pretty legit, although I will let him disclose more of the beta on the route. My hint: think Guero Canelo/Sonoran Hot Dogs meets southern Arizona migrant trails/AZ Trail.

What would a route be without a few barbed wire fences standing in the way?

Items left behind by the migrants were everywhere. The amount of backpacks, phone cards, clothes, toiletries, and bottles was staggering. While riding, it was tought not to think of the people that have walked this singletrack, migrants and drug runners alike. The former are in search of money for their family back home. Pretty noble given the harsh environment out there.

The well-built singletrack continued for ~3 miles toward Roskruge and the Land of Many Cacti.

In about 7 hours, we only saw 2 cars. Desolate. Parched. Perfect for winter riding.

..but pretty area.

I compare exploring new routes (ST or DT) to buying a new bike....gitty is how I would describe it. I anxiously await completing the loop.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009


It is hard to quantify how hard the Rock y Road 50/50 is on a normal October day in Tucson; add some 99-degree weather into the mix and you have a good recipe for pain and possible dehydration.

Picture courtesy of Scott

We had 9 starters this year head out at 6am up Reddington. We were quickly met with a pleasant surprise, Scott Morris. He had decided to venture up early to take some pictures of the race as we slowly worked our way up Reddington. What a nice guy!

Chuck and I played leap frog for most of the mtb portion of the race. He was faster on some of the hilly sections, while I was faster on the technical section. It worked out pretty well as we were chatting a bit when the riding would allow. We continued this for much of the AZT, before reaching Scott again (he had zoomed up the road while we rode out near Chiva). His photo wizardry was at work again:

Picture courtesy of Scott

In fact, I encourage you to look over at the other pictures he took of the race. Milagrosa and the AZ Trail in this area is a special place, as conveyed in these remarkable pictures. Thank you again Scott for the support and pictures.

At La Milagrosa, we ran across a Nimbus rider. At first I mistook him for a 50/50 racer and friend Jim Kirk, who also races for Nimbus. It was Russ Scott, who opted for the mountain bike portion and late start option. Chuck, Russ and I rode down Milagrosa. Mr. Dave Harris can I appreciate what happened next. At the tequila tree, we stopped for a shot of Jose.

Chad: "Alright, who is going to have some [Jose Cuervo]
Russ: "Not me, no thanks,"
Chad: "Chuck, it is mandatory to take a shot if you are going to ride with me."
Chuck: "Okay, alright."

Good move. That tequila tree has helped many a person to complete the technical riding required to complete La Milagrosa. Today was not without exception. We zoomed along to the end of Milagrosa. Amazing trail, quite possibly the best trail in Arizona.

As Chuck and I hit Snyder Rd on the mountain bikes, he kindly waited around as I was spinning my brains out on the SS. "It's sometimes better to ride in company," he commented. Well said. It probably should be said that Mr. (Chuck) Hess was my 7th grade P.E. teacher. Pretty funny, eh? He made me run miles, now I am putting on a century ride that is, as he put it when he finished "the hardest thing I have ever done."

As Chuck and I were readying our gear for some the 50 miles of road bike, Ryan came into the transition area. Chuck was first to leave, although I was not too far behind him. I had decided to complete the "SS Finish" by riding my mountain bike up to Palisades instead of my geared road bike. I had to question this numerous times during the mtb portion, but alas I decided to just go for it.

I lost a lot of ground between Chuck/Ryan on the flat section to the base of Lemmon. That lasted until the Mt Lemmon pay station, where I slowly crept on Ryan. I reckon it was probably 95 degrees as we were heading up Molino on the road. Painfully hot. I started getting into a rhythm and later passed Chuck, although that did not last very long. We played leap from again for most of the rest of the ride up to Palisades.

After reaching Palisades, I hydrated for a few minutes, I wet my shirt and head, before beginning the fast descent to the finish. Both Chuck and Ryan sped past during the descent, leaving me to a glorious 3rd place finish. Congratulation to all the finishers this year.

Results are available here from the 50/50
Scott's Pictures are here

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rock y Road 50/50 V.3

Historically, this has always been the hottest race for the AES. I remember the first year when Mike F. and I started this race, each pedal stroke on the road bike seemed like it was going to be the last. I was prepared mentally to finish this race; physically, well, not really sure back then. I barely managed to finish that first year but not without having to rest about a dozen times as I was descending Mt. Lemmon. It's hard to think of another time in my life when my mouth has been so dry.

Last year, a similar situation emerged while riding the road bike. Again, the heat duplicated a similar road ride. The profile of Lemmon (seen below) is such that riding this loop (after getting beat up on the mountain bike) without stopping to rest is impossible.

That first part looks pretty easy, right? The colors (in Topofusion) is speed. Notice how the blue gets lighter and lighter? That means I am slowwwwwwing dowwwwwwwn.

The third annual Rock y Road 50/50 in all its "glory"...

The mountain bike course has been changed, but the premise still remains the same...ride ~50 brutal, technical miles on the mountain bike followed by riding ~50 miles on the road bike. Without getting too sentimental, I should probably add that this was my first "race" that I (and of course my friend, Mike F) ever put on.

I am looking forward to more starters this year! Anyone on the fence about the race, please come on out.

The forecast this weekend is not on our side again, 99 degree temperature. I think we are going to move this race back another week for 2010.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

CLR 250

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.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Coconino Loop Race Updates

No road is long with good company. ~Turkish Proverb

Chris Plesko had planned to come down to race the 350-mile version of the CLR. A recent accident seems to have forced him not only out of the race but off the bike for quite some time. I hope you heal up soon, "battling" it together would have been a ride to remember.

That changes a few things since I would be the only racer doing the 350-mile option. The edge of the Grand Canyon with a bike is sure tempting, peering into its abyss after riding more than 300 miles. Nonetheless, I still have some problems with my lungs (I was able to get a new inhaler this week from my doctor). That said, I might have to decide on route if I will be doing the 250 or 350-miler to see how the lungs perform. That also may leave you, the reader/bike enthusiast/family member, more interested in watching my SPOT as I near the I-40 crossing.

Either way, you can watch the race unfold here...

Race updates and discussion
My setup, same as the AZT 300 and Grand Loop Race
MTBcast that will have call-ins

Check back as the race begins at 730am, Friday, October 9th.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Riding in the Tortolitas

After a quick stint up at the Tour of the White Mountains yesterday, we came back early to find the weather seemed to be superb. I tried my normal means of persuading people to join (Tucson forum and prank calling), nonetheless I was met with a uniform no, not today.

Hmmmmm.... solo ride it is then.

Scott, Eric and I had ridden a section of the Tortolitas last year and I was curious to try to connect both sides of the Tortolitas via Wild Burro Wash (left side trail is Wild Burros, right side trails are the Como Trail/Rail X). As Scott mentioned, nobody really ever talks about riding in the Tortolitas.

I spent the early afternoon scanning some aerial views before starting down Tortolita Preserve. At the first windmill/mine area, I headed on my exploratory "road" that would head toward Wild Burro Wash.

The "road" ends at a now solar windmill and trough, where this was scribbled into the side

The rest of the wash (I concluded from aerial views) would be a combination of wash and cow singletrack. At first, the cow singletrack was very, very rideable. I was praising cows in the southwest.

Nice eh? This lasted for about 1 mile, too short lived. I passed some great slickrock sections. After riding a little under 3 miles, I could see the Wild Burro ST come into view onto my GPS. Success, some may say but I doubt anyone would ever want to ride this wash and cow singletrack.

After reaching the Wild Burro Trail system, I turned around and started riding back to the first windmill to ride what I call Como Trail. I saw this little critter before the big descent

Como Trail is everything that a trail needs, views and technical rock sections. A few rider might dislike the trail b/c of the overgrowth, but on the whole it is pretty darn good singletrack.

It's a shame nobody ventures out here. I only saw tracks on the first few miles of the powerline road, no tracks on any of the singletrack sections.

A true sign of a legit trail, a gate.

Sad to see one of these critters in this state...

At the top of the trail, before the you drop into some pretty fast, technical shoots, you have a great view into Oro Valley and the La Cholla Airfield.

I enjoyed an easy ride east on Moore Rd to my car, I periodically would glance around my shoulder to see the car-less stretch of road and this

Pretty amazing. It's quite different than a race with 60+ people, isolated on singletrack that few people ride. If I had to choose between a race and a solo ride, I would go for the later. There is a time and place for the former, although I find that once/year is perfect. Now back to the smaller-participant races, like the Coconino Loop Race.

As it starts to get cool here in Arizona, I hope to see more people riding around Tucson and in the Tortolitas. If you want the GPX file, you can get it here.


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