Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Recap

Seems most of my posts are about great epic rides I've done so I thought being Dec 31st, it was time to look back on 2011.  As usual for this time of year, I'm sure we're going to see posts where people list their miles ridden which is great...however, these threads really don't prompt any meaningful comments other than, "wow, that's a lot" or "gee, I need to ride more...".   I mean sure, I rode a TON of miles this year, more than any year in the past.  But the miles are but one byproduct of riding; almost a surrogate variable for the other things gained as a result of sitting atop our bikes.  So, I'd like to mention the other things gained this year as a result of that time investment.
1. New friends:  I've met some really great people this year through riding that are not only fantastic riders and athletes, but really good, honest people.  The kind that would give you the shirt off their back (or a tube out of their pack).  I am truly thankful that our common interests have resulted in friendships that will last a long time.  I look forward to sharing more miles with them.
2. Sense of Accomplishment:  We all have our ways of getting that sense of accomplishment be it through our careers, family, etc.  I certainly benefit in those two areas however, riding has given me something with seemingly no ceiling for improvement.  When I think back a few years ago when I started back into riding, my goals at that point seemed unattainable... I marveled at people that could ride single speeds up mountains.   Little by little, I was able to accomplish those goals.  This year, I rode more 40+ mile rides than ever before and now feel cheated if a ride is < 20 miles.  I did my first bikepacking trip during which I covered almost 110 miles in 2 days.  My goal in 2012 is to do the AZT300 and do it in a respectable time.
3. Better family life: This may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, but having time to explore your interests truly makes us better the rest of the time. 
4. Skills:  One of the things I recognized as a weakness in my riding, was my bike handling skills.  Although I still have a ways to go, I am descending faster with more confidence than before. 
5. Endurance:  I have to say, that I'm probably in the best endurance shape in my life...too bad it took me 46 years to get there!  There is something very satisfying about suffering up a climb and feeling your legs recover very quickly.  For me, this is probably only the second time in the past 3 years, where I've been at a point where it feels like the "pieces come together".  I can ride hard, hour after hour, and my legs continue to respond.  Truly a great feeling....

Finally, for those that read my ramblings, I appreciate it and look forward to sharing more of my adventures in 2012.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

BCT C2C2C - First Bikepacking Trip

For months, I'd been acquiring gear, pouring over gear lists and weights, and trying to decide where to do my first real 2 day outing.

I'd thought about heading into Reach 11 and sleeping the night to test out that part of the gear but I figured I may as well go big...well, maybe not huge, but big enough.  My main goals were to
1) test out the gear and decide what works and what doesn't and
2) Get 2 good solid back to back days of miles in.  BCT was the obvious choice for this since it's fairly easy to access if you had to have someone come get you at 2AM when you're shivering.  Plus, the proximity to water made it easy to stash some water to preclude having to filter/purify.

Day 1: I parked my car at a friends house in Anthem who was nice enough to offer up some driveway space.  They also were going to ride south with me on day 2.  They(Jeff and Tim) rode with me up to Emery Hendersen via some bits of Maricopa trail, dirt roads, and the BCT.  At Hendersen, my friend Darren met me to ride north up to Bumble Bee where he had a car parked.  We set off from Hendersen at about 9AM and proceeded up the BCT.  I immediately noticed the additional weight I was carrying slowed my ascent of the hills.  I had thought about gearing down prior to the trip but decided to stick with the 32x20.
photo courtesy of Steve Wolf (

Just north of Table Mesa, my chain derailed sending me into a thorny bush and a rock pile.  Luckily the extent of my injuries were just a bruised elbow.  Near Rock Springs, we continued up the trail (I'd never traveled north on this section, only south).  I knew the ascent up the stagecoach section would be tough...sure enough, it sucked pretty bad.  I managed to ride about 1/2 of it but figured it was time to save some matches for later as well as day 2.  At Bumble Bee, Darren had a huge jug of water where I filled up.  Said my thanks and goodbye to Darren, then I continued north with my destination Hidden Treasure Mine, 11 more miles.  I arrived there in good time still with daylight and decided to find a camp spot. I'd thought about continuing up to Mayer and camping just south of there, but the colder temps and wind were a concern and in hindsight, was probably a good move.   There, I built a fire, relaxed and settled in for a quiet evening.

Day 2:  I woke up several times through the night but managed to get back to sleep without too much problem.  Finally, I got up at about 7:30 figuring that Jeff and Tim were going to be meeting me around 8:30.  Cooked some oatmeal, drank some coffee, and loaded up.  I headed up the trail a ways figuring I'd run into them.  Sure enough, just before Antelope Canyon, I spotted them ahead. We started heading back south, stopping at Bumble Bee where we had water stashed.  Tanked up again, we pressed on.  I could tell my legs had been pretty beat up the day before and was hoping they'd eventually come alive.  I knew there were really 3 big climbs left and just started thinking about what it'd feel like to be done with the last one.  Climbing the trail up from the river at Rock Springs was brutal.  A normally enjoyable climb, after 80+ miles in my legs and all the gear, it was all I could do to keep the pedals spinning.  I just kept setting short term hill.  Finally crossing Table Mesa Rd, I knew we had the next challenge.  Luckily my legs came back alive and I stood on the pedals.  The prior fatigue I'd felt had subsided and it seemed I could stay in a good groove.
Finally at the top, I knew we had several miles of rolling trail before the next small climb.  At the next climb, my legs felt even better and I was able to ride without worry of deep fatigue.  Rolling back into Hendersen, we knew the home stretch was left...5 miles of so-so trail but this time, it was the final 5 miles of an epic adventure.
2 more things...
First, I want to thank Darren, Jeff, and Tim.  Darren, not only a superb mtn biker and athlete, but a great guy.  I sincerely appreciate his encouragement and kindness.  Having a jug of cold water at BB was great and much appreciated.  And his future in-laws make awesome beef jerky.  It's a welcome change from a steady diet of Cliff bars.  Jeff and I have talked about a big N-to-S ride for a number of months.  Thanks to him for keeping it in his sights and involving me.  Biggest ride to date for him today and not only did he do really well, but kept a positive attitude all day.  And thanks for a spot to park my truck and shuttling water up to BB.  Great to have his Father-in-law Tim along too...great rider
Second, this was intentionally a ride to learn from...A few things I learned...
1. Not gearing down with 15 extra pounds is tough...really tough.  But hopefully, it'll make me stronger.
2. Trim every bit of weight out of your kit as you extra 2 lbs has slow, wearing impact on you.
3. Your legs will feel like crap, but keep the food and water going in, and they'll come around...caffeine laced gels are awesome late in the day when you need an extra push to get over the next hill.
4.  Keep the goals small when your mind is in a bad hill, etc.
5.  My gear list was pretty close to being right-on.  I'll make a few tweaks, and some deletions for the AZT300 in the interest of weight, but pretty darn close.
6.  Manage the water...I under-hydrated on day one and drank a bunch the first evening.  Luckily I knew there was going to be water at BB and worst case, I could have filtered&Purified at HTM.

Ride stats

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Kelvinator

Monday¸despite the daunting clouds and threat of rain, 4 of us headed out to ride some of the new AZT south of Picket Post.  However, we decided to approach it from the Kelvin side since the plan was to do an out and back north of the gila exploring some of the new trail, then do a loop around Ripsey…well…the second part didn’t happen but none-the-less, it was still an epic day albeit covering only 42 miles of trail.
Jeff had found on the AZ trail site ( that just a few days prior, the last bit of trail was finished.  So, it seemed appropriate that we had to ride this last section and see the ceremonial spike they had placed by the trail.  Heading across the bridge and left on the dirt road, the mudfest started.  The first section of trail north of the river actually follows a road recently constructed by the mine as an access road.  It climbs almost right away and we could see that eventually, all that elevation would be given up.  However, we were stopped short by a foreman that claimed the trail wasn’t open and it would be dangerous given the heavy machinery operating to build the trail.  What?  That seemed odd…wasn’t it finished?  We speculated that the mine had paid to build that last section since it gave them access to some areas (there was a drill rig up the hill from the road…certainly not part of any trail building activity). 

OK, change of plans…we headed back the way we came and decided to follow Freeskiers GPS track from earlier this year and rode the railroad tracks to bypass  the “unopened” section.  We rattled along the tracks making “choo choo” sounds the best we could.    
Finally just before the bridge back over the Gila, we found the little connector segment that put us on the trail.  From there, the trail meanders just north of the Gila, crossing a number of drainages.  It varies from superbly constructed trail cut into the side of steep, boulder fields to low lying, silty sections that skirt the riparian areas.   There are certainly a few short sections that need some feet and tires to compact, but all in all, it’s a great 15 mile or so stretch until you turn north up Alamo Canyon.

Darren...happy to be out of cold, snowy Canada!

Me concentrating and climbing

 And that’s where the climbing begins…up a steep jeep road for about 0.25 miles, then turning to singletrack that continues to climb the east side of Alamo Canyon.
Heading up the jeep road...
The soft tread made the progress slow but we continued to press on, continually amazed at the views ahead.  After several miles, the trail crosses back through the wash and continues to climb the west side of the canyon.  The trail here was a bit easier to climb due to a rockier surface, but also a more gradual grade. 

Looking back south
 Looking back south again...
Stopping to regroup with a fair bit of climbing ahead, Nancy’s voice of reason convinced us to turn around.  It was just past noon and although we hadn’t reached the point where we saw earlier this year from the Picket Post side, it seemed the sensible thing to do a 180.  Minutes later on the descent, Jeff found the sharpest rock on the planet  and decided to ride over it putting a “mother of all sidewall gashes” into it.  Sh*t.   Ok...I'm not the most experienced rider, but the engineer in me says that's a bit of a problem.
We’re easily 20 miles from cars, sweaty from climbing, and getting colder by the minute.  Park boot to the rescue… Damn, I would NEVER have figured a Park boot could mend that…I mean, it barely covered the extent of the slice.  Amazingly, he got the thing inflated with no major tube bulge and we continued on.  (Note to self: buy a few park boots and some needle and thread)!

Arriving back at the car with tired legs and muddy bikes, we loaded up and headed home.  Thanks to Jeff, Nancy and Darren for a great day.  A truly epic adventure.
And thanks to Jeff for capturing the photos...

Ride stats...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Two T-Squared

After the AES McDowell60 (which was really 44.5 miles) last weekend, I was needing something shorter but still a good solid effort. I had a crazy idea of doing several of the time trials in the valley all in one day. The original plan was as follows: 1. WaltAZ TT in the McDowells 2. Trail 100 TT in PMP 3. Shaw Butte TT 4. Desert Classic TT Then the plan sort of fell apart...had late start and a conference call at 2:30 that I could not miss. So I dropped off #4 headed out... 1. WaltAZ TT - this is a great little 13 mile TT in the foothills of the McDowells that has a bit of everything. My SS is geared at 32x20 which was probably too spinny but this morning was super windy and I'm kinda glad I had that gear. Completed it in 1:11:21 (1st place...for now) but I felt really slow going up Taliesin with a monster headwind...I kept looking at the clock thinking that I was headed for a 1:40 finish. Flying down the last 0.25 mile which is not steep but zig zags down a cholla field that would be more than happy to leave you with some thorny twinkies covering your body if you crashed. 2. Trail 100 TT : fail...after pounding out #1 above, I didn't have another 1 hour at my anaerobic threshold in my legs. 3. Shaw Butte TT: this is a short one and one that I've been meaning to go ride...1.4 miles, 800 ft climb. Started at the electrical boxes at the gate and jumped on it...after the first big left turn, the trail gets super steep and I managed to keep the 32x20 turning...finally the next steep section did me in...hopped off and ran up that section. Back on near when it flattened a bit, I mashed the pedals more, my heart nearly jumping out of my chest...finally hitting the towers. Finished in 13:49...ufff...that frickin' hurt.