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 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.

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