Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cookie Cabin

Reports of downed trees being cleared on Lemmon prompted Scott and I to investigate some the classic out-n-back from Secret to Meadows.

Instead of the loop on Meadows, we stayed on the singletrack. Classic part of the ride was when I guy called us a "chicken" for not going down to Samaniego Ridge.

Back down Aspen to Summerhaven.

to the Cookie Cabin.

before finishing up on Cafe and Secret.

Monday is when I am starting the Dixie 311. Check out the tracker here. 311 miles of backcountry, singletrack awaits.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Finally got around to changing the parts over from Scott's old frame (thank you again Scott) over to my new one. A very similar blue color, but there is a very slight difference when you pair them up. Same parts, just new frame.

The frame bag got a good cleaning too; that is why it is absent in the picture.

Also, I got around to fixing up the gear room...

...which included a peg board that is mobile. ~2 hours and $20 in labor/money respectively to crank this small project out. The "mobile" part is really to allow me to either work in the bike cave or outside. I figure these recent additions, along with some future tool purchases, will increase my motivation to maintain the bikes a bit more.

Next bike build....the Behemoth. It should be arriving in a few days!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Just continue to pedal

After missing an AZT 300 run this year, I was yearning for some form of nutty ride that would really allow me to push myself. More than two months ago, I began tinkering with the idea of trying to take down a record on the boards. What started out as a joke quickly became a serious endeavor. I chose the date, June 8th, and decided that not even weather would deter me. Easier said than done, right? Highs in the 90s were predicted for the race date.

After loading up on two gyros at the Pita Pit in Flagstaff, I set off immediately on classic Arizona singletrack. Some of you might recall that last time we rode this, the Fish and Game Department were putting up fences that blocked the trail. They claimed it was to protect some of the lakes off the trail.

Less than a year later, the Arizona Trail Association has responded by putting in fences. Your donation dollars at work.

The heat seemed mild on paper, but when you are "highly motivated" to pedal fast, the heat slowly began to eek its way into the ride.

A few ATV riders thought it was a good idea to taunt me while descending near Munds Park. They pulled up, honked, and sped off shooting dirt and small rocks on me. Nice, very nice. As I topped off at the next hill, I saw the same ATV and its drivers. Should I escalate the situation? I did have a water bottle. I imagined myself tossing the HEED water on the crew as I sped by only to be hiding in the woods to escape certain punishment. What to do?

I opted for peace. But as I rode by, the continued to taunt me. Moment of truth. Escalate or ignore? I chose to ignore them and do my thing....pedal.

After some more dirt and honking, they left me to ride solo in the woods. At last, alone in the pines. I filled up some water at the ADOT on Schnebly and pressed on to one of my favorite places in northern Arizona....

Schnebly Hill Vista just above Hot Loop Trail. I packed pretty light knowing I could fuel up at Circle K. I spent about 20 minutes fueling up before heading for more singletrack in the form of Broken Arrow and Templeton.

Cathedral Rock, Sedona

Sunsets and sunrises have a special place in my heart, especially when you experience either on the bike.

"Just continue to pedal." That was the advice I got from a friend when I began to complain about the heat. At 9pm, I was still sweating. *Giving up* passed through my head several times. This was clearly a low point in the ride; mentally, I had to push forward. Just continue to pedal he said when I had called to check in. Just continue to pedal sank into my head.

Well, that's what I did. Lime Kiln came and went. At Dead Horse State Park, I stripped down at one of the canals to bathe. Immediate relief from the heat. I got in my bivvy and slept for about an hour.

Just what I needed. I gassed up at the Maverick Station and began the climb up Mingus. About 3am on steep Trail 105a, I came to a complete stop near a step up. Thinking I could clear it, I pulled up haphazardly. As I did, I found myself drifting to the steep, dark edge to my right. I fell about 5 feet down the trail only to be caught by some trees. Not only was the bike on top of me, but my spokes were wrapped around a tree that had been caught. After about 10 minutes, I managed to free the wheel.

It was time for a quick break. I decided to wait for some light before continuing up 105.

At about 7am, I topped out on top of Mingus. Trail 28 was going to be a highlight for the ride (shown above). I felt confident and cleaned nearly every section, even opting for a few new kickers that they had put in.

At the private gate to the telephone line/forest service access, I met the property owner. He was impressed with the route and was content to let us use the road (normally, he charges vehicles to use the road).

The high at the Verde River was supposed to be 95 degrees that day. Getting water and leaving as fast as possible was the only motivation I really needed.

The greatest gas station item ever? Do you have a favorite, click here to add yours.

I rested for less than 20 minutes at the Verde (mile 140), barely sufficient to eat, hydrate, and purify water. I rigged a synthetic device to help shade myself from the heat. Additionally, I had some arm coolers that I would soak in water periodically (I carried some water that was not treated for this simple, effective idea).

At the beginning of the climb out of the Verde, I was pretty motivated. The heat quickly squelched this motivation. Two cars passed me, both offering some assistance. One asked, "are you doing okay?"

It was very slow going. 30 minutes riding, 5 minutes in the shade, wet the arm warmers and hair...repeat. After you veer away from Perkinsville Rd, the chances of seeing anyone is pretty remote. This is the most remote section on the route, in fact. It felt remote and super hot.

I needed to hit 7,000 feet to reach some pines (the Verde is about 3,300). As I climbed during the pines, false summits were prolific. More resting.

As I climbed Benham last year, I ran out of water. This year was no exception. It's a great ride, one of the best in northern Arizona. I was smiling despite my lack of water, counting the switchbacks as I went up. You would have been proud. Despite less than 3 hours of sleep, I was on my A-game. Nonetheless, the trail needs a chainsaw soon. There were about 10-15 downed trees while riding up.

Bill Williams was a different story altogether. It had no downfall, just smooth sailing down to Williams. I stopped at Circle K for the normal groceries and headed out of town to get to Sycamore Rim before it got dark.

One of the few "paved" sections of the route

I managed to get about half of Sycamore Rim completed before complete darkness fell over the rocky, technical singletrack.

The road around Garland Prairie was pretty. Stars were shining and there was very little traffic. I had to change my batteries after passing the closed Texaco on I-40.

Mentally, the singletrack of Wing Mountain and Elden were the hardest and longest. It would have been easy (very easy in fact) to stop and rest for a few hours. But alas, I wanted a strong finish.

A few minutes before 3am, I rolled into Flagstaff to find my car with my pad and sleeping bag. Ahhhhh. I tried to wash off the dirt but opted to just go to bed dirty.

My bike setup

The next morning at 8am, I was awakened by Gnome and treated to breakfast by Troy M. It was simply a beautiful morning, made even more beautiful that I was able to ride such a route like the Coconino Loop.

Truly remarkable country and trails. 39 hours 1 minute, 241 miles with ~21k of climbing, ~40% singletrack. Thank you to anyone that was watching the SPOT and to Scott for support.

A few have asked my setup, so here it is:

Osprey 22 Bag
Pearl Izumi Arm Coolers
Synthetic Head Shade (made, used Velcro to put on helmet)
Pearl Izumi Knee Warmers
REI lightweight long sleeve shirt
Emergency Bivvy Sack
2 HEED and 2 Perpetuam packs
16 Water Purifying Tablets
100 ounce bladder
random food to start out, peanuts, jerky, etc.
Extra lithium batteries
60 ounce platypus
Random bike emergency stuff (bolts, etc.)

Lenz Sport Leviathan 29er
Carousel Design Bag
1 tube, 1 slime tube
patch kit
Topeak pump
Crankbrothers multi-tool
EOS Princeton Light (AAA)
Feenix Bar Light (AA)
Etrex Legend
20 ounce bottle

Join us for the next race date, October 9th, 2010 of the Coconino Loop Race.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Coconino 250 ITT

Summer is finally upon us....drinking sun tea while watering the plants, long commutes in the heat with arm coolers, hanging laundry in shorts and sandals, late-night BBQing, watching Pocket chase lizards around the hot dirt while strategically navigating to certain sections of shade and above all, bikepacking's a special time for us all.

A cousin's wedding in Las Vegas this weekend opened up the perfect time for an ITT Coconino attempt. Here is the trackleader image that Scott has helped put up:

More information about the race here and the route here. I will be starting at noon today, about the time this post comes out.

Lastly, head over to and dream your way onto the Red Rock singletrack, climb Mingus Mountain in the early morning hours, or imagine yourself putting your feet in the Verde River in 100-degree weather, or perhaps you prefer to see yourself attacking each switchback in the aspens of Bill Williams Mountain, only to finish the edge of the Sycamore Rim and cruise into Flagstaff rippin' singletrack on Elden.

If you have never ridden these areas and want to see pictures from the route, check out the following blog entry from last June.

Photo by Scott Morris, taken on Bill Williams Mountain

Monday, June 07, 2010

Around the Mountain

After getting back from my Memorial Day trip to the Kaibab, Scott, Lee and I headed to Mt Graham to do the first epic of the summer. Scott put up his version of Around the Mountain here.

We woke up at 5:15am to Lee making the bacon. I told him if he woke up early to start cooking for me. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm....despite the smell, I just sat in my sleeping bag listening to the many birds singing. It was not until Lee came over with chocolate covered espresso beans that I really perked up. I woke up and finished the taters and eggs (in bacon fat) for our endurance-style breakfast.

The estimated time for the Around the Mountain ride was about 8-10 hours.

We rolled up the highway toward Swift Trail

stopping to enjoy the views. Scott is such a sucker for pointing. I am going to make a picture book with all his pointing pictures The Book of Scott Pointing the Route.

Despite the fire, life seems to be returning to the mountain. But the trail still was difficult at times due to the large number of downed trees, probably in the neighborhood of 250 trees on the trail.

We descended 2,000 feet on 2 miles of trail in over 2 hours. Very slow going at first.

Photo by Scott Morris

The downed trees only allowed us to take more pictures, for a time. I was quickly intent on destroying ever tree.....or at the minimum, moving it off the trail. A 100 yard ride was very uncommon. Most of the time we dodged some trees and then walked to the next section of downed trees.

Would there be any hope to Around the Mountain?

Some beta gave us hope, so we continued on. Eventually, the trail became nearly clear of downed trees.

Despite a sprained ankle, Scott was hitting nearly all of the switchbacks with his 20x36 gearing. I was floundering behind him hoping to keep up. If you look closely at this picture, you'll see an intent concentration. Therein lies the key to nailing a swtichback; and of course the correct gearing.

Methinks it is time to put those 20t and 36t rings on my bike instead of leaving them on my dresser.

The sounds of breaking branches was replaced with grunts as we began to try to ride this super, steep terrain, doubt turned into excitement, and the look of puzzlement....

....well, it turned to smiles :)

The, Scott and Lee (left to right). This may be our first group shot that we have ever taken. Show me your mountain biking friends and I will show you what kind of rider you are...I am blessed to have some pretty nutty mtb friends.

The ride from here on could be summed up like this: descend 2,000 feet on trail (amazingly well built given the terrain), cross a large creek, then begin to ride up the 800 feet of trail....repeat three times.

I have decided that Scott really is the master of switchbacks. There are times, on occasion, that he fails and I prevail. But these are moments are short lived. If you cannot ride, the best thing to do is push and we did that a lot on this 14.5 miles.

Lee probably had the best idea; he simply walked the majority of those steep, technical sections. Lee also blasted by Scott and I as we headed back to camp on the road.

12 hours later, we completed the loop. Mile f0r mile, that 14.5 miles on Around the Mountain Trail was possibly the hardest of my life; harder than climbing singletrack to Lemmon. I look forward to spending another weekend on Mt Graham soon.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Colorado Plateau

The Colorado Plateau is arguably one of the best places on Earth. After graduation on Friday, Kendall and I drove (she slept, I drove) to the Kaibab. The timing could not have been better.

We walked out to the East Rim Mesa during the sunrise

and began to enjoy the sunset from the Arizona Trail.

We headed to camp for about an hour of sleep (having drive all night) and headed down

below the rim.

It really made me think hard about a Rim2Rim2Rim. Tentative date is set for Labor Day. Anyone want in?

As in every Kaibab tradition, we headed to the lodge for views and beer. Thereafter, we drove down to Page to get kayaks and head down to Marble Canyon.

History in the rocks abound in this canyon

left.....right.......left.......right. It takes a little practice on a tandem.

A semi-late start into Marble Canyon meant a nice sunset from the kayak.

The next morning we drove to Lake Powell to kayak some more, this time with the dogs.

then hiked the short jaunt to see Marble Canyon from a different perspective.

Horseshoe Bend

In case you have not heard the flash flood story, remind me to tell it to you later. Lastly, we went canyoneering at Waterholes Canyon. The southern portion is closed to hikers per the Navajo Nation, while the northern section is open to hikers. A great option for those not wanting to pay the $32/person to see the often over-crowded Antelope Canyon.


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