With the AZT300 2 weeks out, I had been planning 1 more overnight to do two things; get some big miles in for training, and do some gear refinement/checkout. I acquired a Revelate seat bag as well as a Camelbak Octane 24 that I wanted to try since both things lightened my load, gave me better weight balance, and enabled me to carry water a bit easier. So, I headed out Saturday morning to get in a 2 day BCT overnight similar to my first outing back in December, but going further north and getting more overall miles.
As I rode north, I adjusted to the feeling of riding a loaded bike. Wow, felt like I was driving a bus even though my dry weight (w/o water and food) was only 13 lbs more than an unloaded bike…Then I came to a little 2 foot step down…crap, seat bag won’t let me get my weight back….OTB at about mile 12….hit my head hard, but my helmet did it’s job and the only other two issues were my gps mount broke (cheap zip ties) as well as my handlebar sling attachment broke. No worries…any well prepared bikepacker carries extra Velcro and zip ties…on my way I went.
Saturday in central AZ was unseasonably hot…As I rode north on BCT, I exited the trail at Rock Springs to get some ice at the store in Black Canyon City to load up my bottles and camelback to keep me cool for the upcoming climb. The nice woman at the gas station insisted on charging only a dollar for ½ a bag of ice…a whole bag was only $1.99..lol. So nice to encounter people like this while out on an epic adventure…
After climbing up Maggie Mine Road(which was a beat down) I jumped back on the trail at Arastre Creek. I had stashed water at Bumble Bee so I stopped there and topped off my 3 water bottles as well as 100oz bladder. I had also left a Mtn Dew there which was a nice jolt of sugar and caffeine. Continued north and enjoyed the tail wind as I climbed up toward the plateau at 4k ft.
|Trail looking North|
|Hidden Treasure Mine Spring|
The climb up antelope canyon was tough…wow, I stopped once, looked down and wondered why am I doing this. It’s probably the hardest thing about these long rides…the mental low points you hit can make or break you…but I just kept thinking how I’d feel better soon…just keep eating and drinking and the legs will come around..
As I neared Hwy 69, I started scouting campsites but after assessing my water situation, I figured I needed some and since it was still 2 or so hours till dark, I had time to head into Mayer about 4 miles or so up the highway. Arrived at the Circle K in Mayer and bought a gallon of water and soda….topped up my bottles, and off I went back to the trail. Found my camp spot, set up and built a nice fire.
Super nice evening, hardly a puff of wind and the stars were the entertainment…It’s just so peaceful laying there, comfy warm in my bag, music in my ears from the ipod, fire burning, stars overhead…just does the soul some good….
The next morning, I met a group of friends including RandyHarris, his friend Matt (the Swiss Hammer) , Jeff and Nancy, as well as some others I hadn’t met(including Dave who did a great job hanging with us). They were got a shuttle from Latedropbob and after some travel debacles, they arrived at just before 8AM. Off we went battling a big headwind as we made our way across the plateau then dropped down into Antelope Canyon. On down the trail we went making good time as we traveled south. I was encouraged as my legs felt really good and had plenty of power and endurance in them. The group splintered at Bumble Bee and then Jeff, Nancy, Dave and I continued on ahead. Nancy had a few tire issues, some of which we tried to fix then at the last river crossing, Dave and I continued on figuring they would be OK. I lost Dave just south of Table Mesa but knew he had ridden the trail before and new the route. I rolled back into Emery Hendersen at 4:30pm, tired, but really happy about how I felt and my readiness for the AZT300.
Total distance for the weekend…68 miles on Saturday, 58 miles on Sunday… 126 miles total…good ride!
Thanks to Jeff, Nancy, Dave, Randy, Matt and the other guys who's names escape me now...good riding with you guys today!