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.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Little Pan Techiness

If you've got a day to go ride, there aren't many better places to put tire to dirt than the BCT. The Skyline segment south from Rock Springs is a trail to behold, a wondrous, slithering snake of dirt that has a bite that only leaves you wanting more. We heard the Tech Loop, which is on the Little Pan Loop was done, so we had to go check it out.

This little ride down to the river looks easy, by from the bike it looks like you're riding in to bloodthirsty razorblades. Lots of jagedness to keep you worried. I don't think I've ever ridden down the whole thing. Last thing one needs is stitches 10 miles form the trailhead.

We cruised south on the BCT from Rock Springs, and decided to ride all the way to Table Mesa, just to get those few miles between the LPL and the road that have eluded us. On the way back, as you go CCW around LPL, you'll come upon two entrances to the tech loop. We missed the first, and went in on the second. From one ride, I can't say which direction would be better.

The loop starts with a little climb, then you get a nice view of the river bottom.

The trail was new and  a bit loosey-goosey, but no matter. Plenty rideable.

Here's the first, and only real techy part of the tech loop. There are two lines, a high one and a low one. If you play both of them back and forth, you get four challenges out of them. That is about all I remember from the 2.8 mile loop. What made this area cool was that you got to play with a great view of the river. The rest of the loop was good ol' BCT grade.

So we played on the low line one way.

And then gave it a try the other way.

Then we took a look at the high line. MMMMMmmmm.....chunky goodness.
There's a little rock opening at the top you have to kinda squeeze through.

Then it opens up a bit and you have to hang on for the ride down off the rocks. Sketchy, but easy enough.

After the techy tour, back to the BCT it was.

Riding back down to the river before the final ascent is a little piece of MTB bliss.

Phoenix, another great weather day. Go figure.

Below is the Tech loop GPX. The loop isn't too long, and is only really 5% techy, but it's a nice addition to the LPL and a fun way to add on some extra miles. Of course, the loop does have 85% more tech than the rest of the BCT! The whole ride was about 30 miles, but didn't feel like it. A Casual pace and some vista sniffing with rock sessioning kept the mood light. I just like being out there.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

24 Hour Revival in the Old Pueblo

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. This was my second year at the event, and one of my two or three paid races for the year. I've found that the Epic events are pretty well worth it. They're pretty well thought out and organized - which is something you need at 24HTOP. On state trust land a 3000 person town sprouts up, lives, and dies in about a week, with thousands of miles ridden in between.

My first year I was on a four person team, which spread out the work effectively. I managed 3 laps for about 48 miles total. I felt pretty good about that, but did not feel good about huddling in the tent all night waiting out the blistering cold rain and wind that battered the course for the good part of the night. This year would be a bit different. I was now testing my endurance prowess in a two man team with John and we'd have high-class accommodations. Mom was coming down to support with her camper. Heater. Check. Stove. Check. Recliner. Check. An easy time at the 24HTOP.......well, it might have been about as easy as it gets, which at about 3am can still be pretty tough.

Our first night in camp left us with this great sunset providing a great silhouette of Picacho Peak over by the I-10.
We got camp set up with some time to spare so John and I went and did some recon on Painter Boy. John had been on it when he finished the AES APC ride the month before, of which I had to quit do to an imploded derailler,  so he told me of the meandering obscurity and prickly foliage encroaching much of the trail, and I found that it was a bit like that, but still fun. I'm sure after 55 miles, with the sun setting, legs getting on, it's not much fun to lose track of Painter Boy.....Our ride was pretty nice until I broke my chain out towards the Bitches. Sheesh, I just fixed it!

We were set up with pro-style lodgings.

They pack them in like sardines! First come, first served. It's a mobile town. Seems like some apocalyptic nomadic clan, if you're into Mad Max shit.

Some of Mad Max's friends showed up too, I think. The people watching alone could keep you busy.

The race starts. I take the Le Mans start for our duo and am pretty excited to get going. Starting a ride with a few hundred people is pretty cool. At the start, I find some people I know such as Walt and De, and after the start I even run into J-Bake, who gets to witness another chain break of mine. Hmmm......Again? There go all of those crappy links I put back together. Insert Power Link.

By the end of the first lap I wasn't thinking about the broken chain anymore, but just having fun. My time was around 1:25. Not to bad. I'd keep about that pace for all my laps.
Everyone gathers at the rock. There can be lots of drama here, as some riders get carried away, or don't quite have the nerves/focus to get down without incident. Here John makes it just fine. It's not a real technical spot, but if you're lazy or distracted by the crowds that can gather, it can take you down.
These dogs were unimpressed with the action.
Mom was rockin' the camper and loving it.

We had quite the setup.
Yeah, lots of characters to see.

What better way to mark a campsite?

The town spreads out over the desert.

Solo alley sits right on the course.

So, as you can tell, I did six laps for 97 miles.
I rode pretty strong until the end of my fifth lap, at about 2am, and that's when the bottom started to drop out. Mom, the calorie pusher, had been feeding us very reliably, with wedding soup, shepard's pie, spaghetti - we had it all, and I was putting it down steadily. In between laps, by the time I got back to the camper and got some layers off, I had about 30 minutes before I had to start getting geared up again to go meet John down at the tent for my next lap. So I'd be sure to eat a bit of something each lap, have a bottle of Heed, then just relax for a few minutes.

But early in the morning, with temperatures crashing and the mind getting cloudy, my stomach goes belly up and I can't seem to put much down without wanting to let it come back up. Moving was making me a bit nauseous. So the bad decision to lay down to let it it settle was made, but without the effort to get my alarm clock out. John show's back up, but the night has got me, the cold has tied me down, and my belly digests only my motivation. I don't get up until 6am with a trip to the pot. I wanted 7 laps, I knew I could get one more for six, so I rally the belly a bit, get some solid grub, make a Heed and head out.

John does a lap after I get back and we have about 3.5 hours to each get seven laps. I'm still feeling a bit nauseous and some tire rub on my bike won't quit. I'd been tweaking spokes all race thinking the wheel was a bit out of true, but that never worked long. The hub seemed tight. My mechanial gremlins were in my head, after all the busted chains, deraillers, shifters and cogs I'd been going through the last few months so I called it, with an angry stomach hanging on. I wanted to ensure that John hit his goal of seven laps, and if I went out, I felt that would have been jeopardized, either with my stomach revolting mid lap or my wheel suffering a wicked mechanical. Paranoid excuses I realize, as I now look back.

So we ended up with 13 laps total, not bad considering on the four person team the year before we only did nine. I was pretty pleased with myself......to an extent. Every hour brought remorse that I couldn't capitalize on seven laps. The poor middle-of-the-night rest management did me in. Not setting an alarm for a snooze did me in. Not having some Tums or Rolaids did me in. It would even later show that mechanical oversight dragged my psychology into passive acceptance of Good Enough. That will be explained on the Sedona Big Friggin' Loop.

Next year, which as I write this is but a month away, these mistakes should be corrected. Alarm clock and Tums will be with me and accessible, along with some feet warming protection. It gets damn cold out there. The camper will be back, and the least laps we'll do is 14. I'm keeping my head in the game this year.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

AES Tor de Fitty

There was a special treat for us this day - a new AES course put together by Chad, which conveniently for him, leaves from his house. Brilliant work, I'd do the same, if I were in between the Tortolitas and the 50 Year. This was the inaugural Tor de 50, a route which would take us through the Tortolitas and part of the 50 Year system. It promised to deal out some punishment.

I was able to find a hanger for my bike, and fix the derailleur with a sprocket from the previously busted derailleur I had sitting around, so the Voodoo was back in business. I was unsure about the chain, and with good reason. I had to put about four pieces back together to get it whole again. In my experience, chains that are broken and then put back together are total crap. The power links are nice, but $6 a pop, I'm not spending $30 to fix a $45 chain. I mean, come on! The chain was only 10 days old! Frickin' bike bits! Bob Saget!

It seems like all the riding we do is around Tucson now, and that's a good thing. Lots of primo trail down there. We already did a the Jamboree, a 24 Hour course pre-ride, the APC, this ride, and the next week was the Old Pueblo race. The early mornings are getting pretty easy, and the drive can almost be done on autopilot. We gathered at the Basha's of off Catalina Highway.

These AES events are catching on. There were about 50 starters. Only half would finish the course.

Chad giving some last minute instructions."It should take you 5-6 hours, if you take some breaks."
We got started off and as we put tire to dirt, the "trail" had some punishing Chad character to it already. Straight through sandy wash or two or five, I think jumped a fence or two, and was taken through a cholla field, one of which was tossed into my calve by my front tire. Good times, all in all. A lot of it was cow trail, it seemed to me, and I was suspect that we were brought this way to help put tire to a nice shortcut route to the Torts form someone's house.....Well, I'd have done the same! That is maximal usage of your resources! But it was all over fast, after a mechanical anyway. Chain broke. I figured as much was going to happen. Will it break for every fixed link?

Broken chain. Well, I wonder why this happened. Couldn't be due to the snafu chain I'm running, certainly. Thanks to Brian C donating the Powerlink. I didn't make it to the LBS to buy a new one, so he saved me the pain of pinning the chain back together. Thanks man!
After picking up some more singletrack at the windmill, the ride got really good. We climbed a bit then had to drop down this precipitous face down to the valley floor. I made all but two of the switchbacks. My left hand turns were pretty poor, but after chatting with John, I had to adjust my pedal stance - get that left pedal up, rather than down, which is how I thought I was coming up on the turns. Wierd, but the fix worked. After hitting ground level, we were in for a bit of a road jaunt, up to the south face of the Tortolitas.

Crowning Saguaro with the Catalinas in the background.

This trail, Windmill maybe, was super sweet. Rolly and fast, I was digging it. Certainly saw more riders here than up in the Torts. I'd really like to revisit these trails.

Funny story, John just fell into a whole family of Buckhorn cholla, they type framing him here. I was waiting for a few minutes for him, as we had just started off, so something had to have happened. I took this snap through the Buckhorn as he made his way down, and little did I know, he just wrestled one to the ground. Well, funny story for me, he didn't look too pleased.

Climbing up, up, up, and up into the Tortolitas. Nice "consequence" on this switchback. Notice the time. Scott was about a half hour from finishing where we are only halfway through the course. I like to say that we ride fast, and that Scott rides super duper fast.

Lots of this. HaB happy. Once up top, it was a real nice ride, but you had to pay the piper. It was an 1800ft ascent to the top from the valley floor. Oh my.

John finally getting to ride his bike again (I imagine he pushed as much as I did).
Thanks to John for the shot. See? The Torts are easy.

Some more great trail. We were making good time. We had stashed water at a pinch point on the route and were about out by now, so our load was light. I had about 30oz from the top of the climb, and every sip was about 2oz, so I figured I had about 15 sips left, and rationed them over the next hour or two. The strategy worked.

We bombed down from the Torts and felt we were making good time. Just a little Around the Mountain to go in the 50 Year area, and tacos for us! We were looking to the mountain here and were thinking, "We have to go around that? That looks like a lot of riding. Well, we better get going." We didn't go around that, but whatever we did go around, it might as well have been that mountain. It sure felt like it.

Going up the chutes I came upon a roadrunner getting some exercise on the trail.

We soon came upon Around the Mountain. I'd been on the Upper 50 before, but didn't go past the fence. This course did. Nothing more sobering than the sun setting, chill in the air, Habbing silly AND trail finding. I was an angry habber, all dabber and no blabber. Talk would take energy away from my rage! Up it goes. Where, we don't know. Eye the GPS. Profile view - zoom, in, out - scale it up, scale it down - zoom out topo, follow countour, look at surrounding terrain - Where the phruck does this trail turn south?!! Beeep beeep! Off trail? I'm pushing my bike! Grrrr..... downhill, finally. Fork is at about 5psi. Screw it. We didn't beat the dark. Lights on, three miles to go and! leaky tire. Pump. Ride. Leak. Pump. Ride. Leak. RAGE! Two miles out. Put a tube in......and all I could think about was cholocate milk - that alone added 10 minutes. So we pushed on, it all ended, and we peacefully suffered to the parking lot, and rejoiced, task completed, meaning fulfilled, any rage left dissipated by the joy of success. Perseverance is reverence for stubbornness. Not sure if that's a virtue or not.

John was nice enough to catch me in the dark. I was a bit behind working on my tire, so he had some camera play time.
We eventually made it to Chad's for the after ride party, which by 9pm was pretty much done, but they saved a few tacos for us, and had some double wicked IPA. I was my normal stomach sick self after a this big effort, and even laid for a spell on the living room floor. The tacos were tasty, but my stomach was still a mess so I had to relocate them to the Basha's parking lot, along with the beer I borrowed. Sorry Chad, not a commentary on your cooking. I tossed my cookies so hard I actually pulled my esophagus. Amazing I know. But true. My stomach was seriously angry with me, almost PMC-type angry..... Then, choco milk is the only recourse. Blessed, chocolate milk.

It was a real good, tough eleven hour ride. Climbing up into the Torts, that relentless 1800ft.....Feel the numbness chase the pain. Me, caught in the middle. The first 25 miles were cake. After the initial hike up into the Torts, it was a fair effort. Bomb down. Then yeah, just, you know, go around the mountain.