Sunday, February 3, 2013

Holy Heela!

Take 93 miles of rubly, sketchy AZT singletrack and decide to make a point to point race on it.  Call it the Gila100 and put the invite out to as many mentally unbalanced endurance junkies you know.  Then scare people with estimated finish times of 20+ hours.  Yes, that was Chad Browns wonderful idea and holy sh*t…was that a tough race.  Easily the hardest day I’ve ever spent on a bike.

The fun started at the Picket Post trailhead yesterday morning at 5AM.  About 12 of us rolled out of the lot with lights and made our way south on the AZT.  I got into a good rythmn and my eyes adjusted well to the single helmet light.  Then, about 6 or miles in, I put a foot down to get around an uphill switchback and my foot gave way causing me to knee-plant into a prickly pear…ouch.  Didn’t hurt too bad until I looked down and saw hundreds of thorns in my shin and knee.  Crap…way too early in this race for that.  I pulled as many out as I could then figured I get the rest later. 
My favorite drink, a Gila Sunrise....   (pic from Mark A.)

Make that a double.... (pic from Mark A)

As I approached Martinez Canyon, I caught Chad and then he, myself and Neil began to descend to the Gila.  We passed Aaron who was having tire troubles and then shortly after that , I sliced a sidewall on my rear tire.  Crap#2...  Luckily the slice although nearly tread to bead, wasn’t completely through the sidewall.  A little superglue and gorilla tape and I was off again.
You get this cool view of the Gila shortly after the big descent and head east...very cool!  (pic from Mark A)

Railroad bridge as you approach Kelvin...Ripsey was next big hurdle! (pic from Mark A)

I made it to Kelvin at about 10:20 where I caught Tom at the water cache.  He took off as I filled my bottles.  I proceeded up the painful climb from there and up the north switchbacks of Ripsey.  Cresting the ridgeline, I remembered from 2 weeks ago that there is still a lot of work to be done once up there…lots of ups and downs then finally the switchbacks off the south side.  As I climbed out of Ripsey wash, I saw Tom again, just ahead then caught Chad again.  I was feeling good and was able to put a little distance on both of them and reached Freeman Rd. where both Aaron and Max were resting. 

My stomach had started to turn on me so I popped a few anti-nausea pills then left to proceed towards Antelope peak.  Across the cholla fields and finally down into the wash at Beehive well where Chad flew by me.  I was thinking, holy crap, he sure got his second wind.  I stayed with him and both of us made the long, grueling, mind f*ck of a climb out of Bloodsucker wash.  A few miles before the gasline bypass ended, we put on our lights.  As the sun went down, my eyes took way too long to adapt and my speed slowed significantly.  I lost Chad and Tom soon passed me.  Finally, I hit the “6 wash” section which is a brutal game of climb, descent, repeat… I imploded…stomach was a mess, I was feeling the effect of a calorie deficite.  I found myself walking nearly every uphill grade and coasting every downhill.  I just wanted to be done by this point…

Finally, I saw the lights at the Tiger Mine trailhead where Kurt and Caroline were standing.  She took a few pictures then I made a beeline for the truck where I stumbled around to get my sleeping bag out and crawl in it…

This is what "Death warmed over" looks like...  (thanks for the pic Caroline!)