A place to share words and pics. Mostly bikes, but my photog eye does wander.

Bikes let the good times roll. In solitude or with friends. For a half hour or 8 hours. Pedals become the gears that turn the earth as the sun seems to track their motion, day after day. Miles become food, and you're hungry. The bike stops being a vehicle, or toy, or transportation and becomes an extension of will, allowing you to journey beyond the pain of self into the realm of almighty, joyous nature, she that feeds our souls. Pedal yourself into the maw of creation. Pedal yourself silly.

Monday, May 2, 2011

PMC Can't Break Me

The grassroots Arizona Endurance Series really has a grip on long, great rides and the Prescott Monstercross was no exception. The course follows numerous trails that circle the perimeter of Prescott, starting at the Costco on Rt 69 then heading to the moonscape that is the Dells. It then cruises through Pioneer Park on its way to Granite Basin, then heads south over Iron Springs Road. From there it'll head back east on various numbered trails (with 9415 being a screaming downhill) and then land in White Spar campgound for a last water stop. From there, it takes the wonderful 396 to Senator Highway and then the lug a bike (I was too tired to really call it a hike) up Spruce Mountain Road to Smith Ravine, and finally 305 back to Costco.

A mere sixty miles with just over 10,000 ft of climbing. My longest and biggest ride to date. I was ready. I'd be riding with Freeskier as is the norm. Its actually a race, but we only ride at "picture pace", even if we don't take that many pics, which was the plan this day. We've never done 50 miles under 10 hours, and that was with about half as much climbing so we knew it was going to be a long day.  If we only knew.....

The group was about 30 strong and roughly 25 finished, with Freeskier and I happily finishing dead last. Finishing the important word here! ......good thing we brought lights.

We all scooted down the Peavine trail, and the race doesn't technically start until we entered the Dells since this area is well visited. We didn't want to blast past anyone on a nice Saturday morning stroll.

Then we entered a worm hole and were transported to the moon. I was surprised to find a blue sky there, and unfortunately, gravity was still Earth strong. What gives. Well, we got HAB, so we got adventure.

Can you spot the riders? Or should I say, HABers? We hiked the vast majority of the Dells. What a brutal way to start a 60 mile romp around town - with a 3 mile hike-a-bike. Ugh. I was halfway through my water after a mere 7 miles! And already miles behind the leaders. Well, miles behind anyone, I'm sure.

Freeskier is trying to make it happen. Here, about 15 miles in, he said he was feeling the elevation and heat already, questioning another 45 miles that still lay ahead of us. I had the same sentiment as the sun hung high, clear skies, thin oxygen (compared to my usual 1200ft living conditions) and stangnant air. It was tough for about 2-3 hours, no doubt.

I've ridden Granite Basin before and I was looking forward to it. After entering we were treated to a sweet swoopy downhill that was a nice reward for a bit of climbing. The whole course was this way. Some climbing then downhill, climbing downhill. Sustained elevation, but not too much. Funny, as we entered Granite Basin, we saw riders coming out already, probably about 2 hours ahead of us.  I gave a holler....and that was the last we'd see of anyone the rest of the day.

Grades were never much worse than this.

Freeskier still hanging on. We're both pretty well matched for pace and climbing ability. Neither of us never felt the need to pull away from the other, then again, we don't have the racing mentality. Just a survive and enjoy mentality.
I've seen birds do it in the wild, so I spread my wings to cool off. With the breeze a that moment, and the sun sleeves in effect, it was a cooling miracle. Magnificent!

Not much shade through an old burn section of the forest. Thanks to Freeskier for the snaps.

Our bikes have gotten to know each other pretty well over the last few months of riding. Even they needed a rest today. And amazingly, we had no mechanicals, or even flat tires.

After dropping down 9415. We were happy to be approaching White Spar, even though we still had about 20 miles to go. I could taste the end, but it was still about 5 hours away.

Milestones. We must celebrate milestones!

Here's how two tired fellas tackle the unending up that is Spruce Mountain Road. I hit the loose stuff at the start of the road and immediately started walking. I had no power to even try. Survive. About 45 miles in here. Sun is fading fast. Moon rising too. Stomach not happy with space food. Push on...must....push on.
Helmet off and pushing. That's when you know you're going slow. At this point, the leader has been done for about four hours already. We still had about three hours to go!

We were treated to a great sunset on one side....
....and moon rise on the other. Great moment for along day. Nature always delivers, even in celestial majesty, just for me sometimes it seems....

 Here is what I like to call my Cycle of Destruction

hour 2.5ish

Hour 4ish

Hour 6ish

Hour 8ish.
Spruce Mountain. Hour 10ish

End is near. Redemption. Hour 12ish.

It was a lot of work, but well worth every second. We knocked out all 60 miles in a staggering 13.5 hours. My previouis longest day on the bike was when I did some bikepacking from Parker Canyon Lake to Patagonia on the AZT last year, which was about 11 hours - and that was only for 15 miles! (It was a staggering 96 degrees that day.) And the closest I'd come to 10,000ft before was probably some 6500 on BCT or maybe the Ripsey AZT. We were determined to finish, and finish we did, even if it was DFL, but I don't care! It was tough enough for a quarter of the field to drop out, whether for mechanical or bodily issues, so I'm pretty happy about it. Best to post a slow time so there's room for improvement. Not sure how Scott is going to improve on an impressive 6:01...!!!!!!! My god, man! Well, he did spend 7 minutes fixing a flat....

I never really felt busted out there, other than when my stomach started refusing the space goo and solid food. It took me a good 25 minutes to put down a PB&J at White Spar. And I had to put it down - I was really hungry.  Not the first time this has happened. On the AZT I also had stomach issues.  I'll need to carry some antacids with me next time - well, I probably had some in my first aid kit - oh well....

We were mostly concerned about finishing the ride, and not making a blazing time, which probably saved us from a DNF. We knew we were slow, and brought lights in anticipation of spending some time out there, but 13.5 hours was beyond our estimation. When we finished, we finally made our way to In-n-Out for some grub that I had been dreaming of, only to stare at it. I got some fries down, but the burger had to wait until the next morning. I literally curled up into a ball and fell asleep. The body had enough. It was done. I couldn't even have the celebratory beer with Freeskier - I was pretty disappointed, but the body knows what it needs. Didn't even get a shower that night, slept dirty and gross.  Nasty really, but its the price you pay for trying to attain awesomeness. I think I've a long way to go!

Thanks again to Freeskier for the pics of me on trail, it really adds to the documentation! Big Thanks!

The Dells are at about 5 miles in. Granite Basin is at about 15-25 miles. 9415 is the big drop at 37ish and White Spar is at about 42. The big climb starts with 396 then it gets into Spruce Mt. Road. Coming down the back side is the big drop off Smith Ravine, then is smooths out to the finish on 305. Great course. Ass kicking course. Lots of improvement on my part to be had.
Topo of the course around Prescott. It was wild getting to one far end and then seeing some other landmark that we'd ridden through hours earlier far, far away. A bike - it can take you places. Get one! Get out!

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