Archive for May, 2014

Arizona Trail Race, 300 miles of fun and suffering on 4″ tires
Let me preface this by stating this was my first ever bikepacking race. I have only
Parker Canyon lake, 0700 I awoke from my bivy with the others and slowly started the repacking of the bags. 2 hours prior to go time. Tony, Josh, and I had been dropped off the day prior by Steve Osborn. A cyclist, like many, that delighted in watching the blue dots of the riders on trackleaders.com with the desire to one day compete in the race itself. Bags packed, water loaded we made our way from the campground to the start a few uphill miles away. By the time we arrived, the faster ‘alien class’ 750 mile riders were already rolling through having started earlier from the Mexican border. A few good morning greetings and before long race director Scott Morrison was giving last minute instructions.
The descent down “Gear Check” hill seemed smoother than the first time I rode it and I settled into a good pace. The first 30 miles are a seemingly endless mix of rocky steep hills and washes. Following my belief that you can’t finish if your body and bike break, I practiced good judgment by walking down the nasty stuff. Watching El Freako launch over the bars on one downhill only reinforced that thinking. 4.5 hours in I rolled into Patagonia and grabbed a coke and headed to Sonoita for ‘real’ food and a break. I had to stop a few times on the hwy to stretch my cramping legs. Something I heard quite a few riders had to do. I Grabbed some food at the Sonoita market and put my legs up for a bit and discovered a clean 2.5″ cut in the outer casing of my front Husker Du. Visual inspection showed no cords cut, and tubeless integrity intact. This slight issue would weigh heavily on my mind over the next 270 miles. I was determined to finish and rode more cautiously and slower than I would have had this been a normal trail ride. Onto the Kentucky Camp section. A bunch of gravel roads and up/down singletrack lead to KC and some great tasting water. I didn’t waste much time topping off and shortly after nightfall I passed Elliot, a 750 rider on the trail enjoying a dinner break. It was a good idea because after that the trail got fun and fast. All the way to the I-10 underpass. After crossing under I expected more of the same all the way to the Sevilla picnic area and a water fill-up. Wrong expectations as the trail would be rough, not so flowy, and much slower than hoped. I made it there around 1am and went looking for the spigot in the rock. Having found the spigot, I sat, ate, and contemplated pushing on to an area 10-15 miles further. While I was sitting there trying to decide if it was worth it, the El Freako express with Dan, Josh, and Jen in tow rolled in. Liking the suggestion of sleeping a few hours before pressing on to the Rincon Market, we bedded down. I slept on the edge of a shelter that everyone was under and woke up to rain on my face just in time to see Tony come rolling in. According to him, I shooshed him pretty loudly for making noise and he rolled on and I fell back to sleep encased in my SOL bivy.

I did a little piece for bikepackersmagazine.com prior to my AZT300 attempt. Check it out here
Bikepackers Magazine

I had this crazy idea many months ago that doing a 24 hour race in February would spark the fitness training Tony and I would need to be in shape for the AZT300 in April. With Tony’s SS and my fat bike and an Airstream we headed down south of Tucson the week before our duo 24 hour attempt to scope out a few segments of the AZT to see how bad it was.

We found our way to the Palmer lake trailhead before noon and headed out on what would be a day of riding and hike-a-biking that took longer than we were expecting. And instead of an out and back we settled for a road ride back to camp.

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It was an eye opener for sure.
Next day we tackled the Reddington road section and checked out our off course support options. Reddington and the 4wd rodeo section that followed was not fun in the heat of the day and I was pretty much out of water by the time we got back to the truck

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AZT mini view done we hauled the Airstream to the race venue where we were told it would open up to camping at noon on Thursday. What we found was that people had been parking trailers here since the previous weekend and it was looking pretty full by normal standards. We found a spot and discovered it would be a madhouse the next day when every inch of space would be a battleground for incoming RVs.

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I was content to ride one lap and say hello to a bunch of people. Tony wanted to see the course at night and while I hung out at the Back of the Pack Racing tent eating chips and drinking beer, he took in the night air and all the scary cacti that wanted a piece of his hide.
I had devised a loose game-plan on what it would take to put us on the podium. Logistics of everything available for each other’s downtime between laps to be most efficient with our time. Charging stations and food/gear hung from an over-the-door shoe organizer

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With our nutritional items at the ready.
We both got a good nights sleep on Friday waking up rested for the next +26 hours we would both be awake for.
Oh yeah, I drew the short straw and got the honor of being the rider to start off first. Which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t a half mile run to the bike with everyone else, choking down dust and tripping over each other in cycling shoes.
1200 noon, off running I go. I rode fairly quickly and had one of my fastest laps, that included my run time. Baton handed off I rolled back to camp to the start of what be my routine for the next 24 hours. Shoes off, Hydrate, eat, rest, shoes on, bike back to transition tent to await Tony. The first time he came in I never heard our rider number called out and got the stink eye from Tony when I heard him yelling my name, oops sorry.
We were clicking along nicely after that and had moved up to 8th place before midnight. By 3am we were in 6th hot on the heels of the next team when Tony told me one of the teams had lost a rider and would probably stop and sleep soon, bonus! Everything had been going well for us until my 4:30 lap when I lost all power. I had been clocking 1:10 – 1:15 lap times up till then. This one ended up 1:27. I had no idea what had happened and Tony was worried that I was done. Whatever happened, I bounced back the next lap, much to the relief of my teammate. We were in a virtual tie for 5th place at this point and every second counted. Tony continued to pile on fast laps and come in with an advantage and I’d try to hold it. I had calculated that it would take 19 laps to finish on the podium, and at the current pace I would have the honor of riding the last lap, the 19th. If we could keep the pressure on the other team we’d have our podium. Tony came in @10:49am meaning, unless I turned a lap faster than 1:11, he wouldn’t have to ride another lap. I rode a fast lap, spurred on by keeping up with KRefs as we flew through the first half of the course, 1:13 by my estimation, and arrived at the conga line to the finishing tent officially crossing in 1:17. Tony greeted me with a beer and I was all smiles.

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It was hard to describe how I felt. Jubilant joy. 19 laps, over 300 off-road miles ridden between the 2 of us, 5th place Male Duo team, riding a Fatbike and a Singlespeed just to make it interesting.

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Where did the posts go?

Posted: May 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

It seems that my posts have not been getting uploaded to the blog. And now they might seem irrelevant and outdated but I’ll post them anyway. Stay tuned

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