The AES Kaibab Monstercross race hadn’t been held for several years until this year when Chad decided to bring it back to life. As you might imagine, it’s difficult for an underground bike race, at the far northern extent of state to have a huge turnout. But c’mon, riding bikes on the Kaibab Plateau? Views of the Grand Canyon? Ribbons of singletrack that thread together one grass covered meadow after another? I’m IN!
As it turns out, there was nine of us that showed up however only Caroline and Mark C opted for the one day KMC125 route, while the rest of us donned the bikepacking gear and planned a longer 150 mile non-race pace route over 2 days.
I arrived at the camp spot around 6pm on Friday where I found Chris (and family) and Mark C. We chatted and eventually turned in for the night. Between then and 4AM the next morning, the others arrived and tried to grab as much sleep as they could. Everyone rolled out at their own pace, mostly between 5 and 6AM. Chad and I left around 5:30AM and made our way out the network of forest roads skirting the west side of the plateau. Fighting some brutal headwinds the entire way was definitely taking it’s toll and we finally arrived at Parissamwampitts Point, the northern terminus of the Rainbow Rim Trail, some 44 miles in.
|Start of the Rainbow Rim Trail|
We cruised along the 18 miles of singletrack that offered stunning views as it contoured along the 5 points of the trail. Finally, we reached the end were Mark C, Caroline, Chad and myself stopped, had a snack before we pressed on.
|Looking to the west from the Rainbow Rim Trail|
By this point, we were about 62 miles in out of the 95 to the north rim…so only 33 more miles of easy forest roads right? Wow, as we later found, those 33 miles were not easy…mass destruction ensued. The route turned south towards Point Sublime however, it’s roughly 90 degrees to all the Plateau drainages…what did that mean? A never-ending climb-descend pattern that tenderized the legs better than a meat hammer.
But hey, we’re riding through beautiful country! Luckily, that helped mask the pain.
All this time, Chad and I were racing the clock; not the “race clock” but closing time for the deli at the north rim where pizza and beer awaited. After arrival, we claimed our prize, pulled up chairs on the patio, and proceeded to annihilate a veggie pizza and hefeweizens.
|This view did not suck|
|The pizza didn't have a chance|
The next morning, the five of us that made it to the north rim the night prior, packed our gear and converged at the camp store, where we grabbed a few supplies and readied for the 50 mile journey north along the Arizona Trail back to the cars. We rolled out of the north rim at about 7:30AM and made our way to the AZT. A good night sleep, plentiful calories, and 50 miles of upcoming singletrack made my legs come alive. Almost as though the prior days damage to them was non-existent, I pressed on at a good pace, like horse going back to the barn. The views….well, utterly incredible…pictures will have to speak.
|I get to ride this?|
|View off east rim|
|I was almost laughing at this point...|
|If you look on that far hill, you'll see the little ribbon of trail|
|Snow on the left|
At 2pm, I arrived back at the truck, still riding an endorphin high having seemingly “shredded” (at least in my own mind!) those last 50 miles. Which by the way is so ironic since the AZT typically shreds people, reducing them to salt-covered piles of flesh and bones. This day would be different for me for I had taken a withdrawal from the Bank of the AZT… and it was about time after all my “deposits” !
Many thanks to everyone who showed; it’s always fun to ride and socialize with such a great group of like-minded people. Also a HUGE thanks to Chris’s family who chased all of us around in their truck cheering us on. They caught Chad and I late in day 1 as we were pushing our bikes up out of a drainage. …you guys rock!
Until next time…