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, January 28, 2012

AES Antelope Peak Challenge - Busted

And the AES season begins with the Antelope Peak Challenge, or APC. There are two flavors, the 115 miler, or the more mundane and human-capable 65 miler. We'd be choosing the latter of the two, and maybe saving the large one for an overnighter.  We'd have a respectable starting time of 8am, compared to the enduro studs, whom started the 115 at 3am, or abouts. I was really happy to finally be getting out on the APC course. It must have been two years  ago when I first started learning of endurance MtB and the AES and bikepacking, etc. and the APC was one that I remember looking at thinking, "Wow, 65 miles. That is a lot of desert, in the middle of nowhere. Sweet." It seemed like it would take a lot to get me there someday, but all it really took was a bit of time filled with lots of riding. Here I found myself, ready and plenty able. I knew I could do it, and without killing myself.

The start is 15 or so miles of road, dirt or otherwise and the pace was steady for gears, but a bit quick for the SSers. It was enough to get the blood going. The fast ones pulled out on the front, and we lagged towards the back, but I was in no particular hurry. Lots of people race these, I really just like to come out and enjoy the day. Longer the better, as long as I'm not pushing my bike out.

After a good hour or so of riding, we hit Tiger Mine Rd off of Rt. 77, and we knew single track was near. We had lots to look forward to, as it was all new to us, and there was new singletrack which bypassed the famed dread of the gasline. I might have been sorry that I wouldn't get to try it out, but not really. I like singletrack. We'd be on Passage #14 of the AZT, Black Hills.  After Freeman Rd, we'd take some more dirt road and some Painter Boy, 24 Hour singletrack back to the start.

Everyone gathers diligently at the start to hear the morning shakedown from Scott. John and I were thinking, "Maybe a hike to the top of Antelope Peak and a bonus lap to make it 70+ miles for the day?".....Maybe. Maybe not. Mornings always start optimistic.

Heading out! ~7 miles of dirt road. Yay. But happy to be rolling.
I got a cool shot of the same sign the week before when we were down for a little 24 Hour course pre-ride.

John was out for the inaugural AES ride upon his new Voodoo. Oh yes. There are two Voodoos now. I hope they don't touch and like matter and anti-matter components explode and rain bike bits all over the trail.

This new bike can cruise!

Been wanting too see this sign for a while. Finally. Now it feels like an adventure after about 1.5 hours of road grinding. Let's get to business!

Like most good things in life, Antelope Peak seems far off. But with some diligent hard work, we'd get there. Like life.
We were just getting to where I like to be - Out There. My breaths seem fresh. My legs feel free. My mind has let go of city crap. Time has dilated. We're four hours in already?! Did we get frickin' abducted somewhere? Slow the day down! This is too good.

Oh, frack off. Bastard bike bits. Hanger. Busted. Tossed derailleur into wheel, sprocket exploded. You piece of sh!t. Well, no place for anger out here. What to do? SS it. Sure. At the top of the drop before Bloodsucker wash. Hmmmm.... I swear the Voodoo's didn't come in contact with each other!

I managed to get it into SS mode, but set up as a 32x16, which is a super stiff gear for AZT riding. Ok, not gonna be pedaling up anything now, definitely not out of Bloodsucker wash. Son of a bitch. "John, I'm flipping it." 25 miles from the start. One tough gear now. End of line. John heads out to finish the loop, and get some more of that AZT. I was able to get only about 10 miles of it, not enough to satiate myself. Not only that, gremlins have invaded my Talon.....and garage too, it will seem.

So, Mom was heading down to the Old Pueblo the same afternoon. Maybe a call is in order.  "Feel like taking a slight detour, and picking me up?" Yes! I didn't have to suffer the road back to base camp. I had two hours to make it back to Rt. 77 and Tiger Mine Rd. No problem.

I had to keep moving, but did take a few seconds to screw around. I was happy that I could manage to ride most of the route back other than having 4 sizable hills to push up. I was further dejected that I couldn't finish the route, the one I had been looking forward too, and also one that would have filled in a big portion of the AZT that I haven't ridden. This would have been valuable info/experience for the upcoming AZT 300 race in April. Crap.

Sadness. Despair. Dejection. I got over them soon enough. Frustration would hang around for a spell though.

Oh, this sign. Screw this! I don't want to see this sign again! Not now! Not from behind! Oh, drat! grumble...grumble...grumble.....cuss....grumble....

My fix. Had to break the chain in about 5 places to get the length right, and I suspect that it won't bode well for the future. The chain was about 10 days old, and the derailleur just as young. Shiny bits eaten by the desert. Monies not easily earned. SSing is tons of fun, when you're in the mood.

That is one tough gear.

The rescue arrives! I got to Tiger Mine Rd probably only a few minutes after Mom passed it up. A little turn around by her, and I might have waited 10 minutes. Great timing! Thanks a million! The road ride was possible, but would have taken a bit. I was ready to hang out with the fast guys, as the first few had already finished.
Nancy put out this nice bread, cheese, and olive (ick) spread out, AND went and bought some pizzas! You rock! Thanks! The early finishers live like kings and queens!  I did minimal work for my DNF, but was still hungry. I got to hang with the fast guys like Scott and Aaron, but also got to see the first finisher of the 115 roll in, such as Kurt and Neil. They pulled times somewhere around 12 hours. Amazing pace for 115 miles. I'll take two days for that, thanks. One day, my appetite may be that big.

Scott caught this great snap of my bike with the setting sun. Just about worth DNFing for.
The day was a bust for me, having to turn around early. I got only 35 miles and 4500ft of vert in. I certainly wanted more. John came rolling in well after dark, with a time around 11 hours. I was jealous, but it was nice to see him stick it out. I'm sure finding yourself riding alone unexpectedly can have motivational effects. Easy for him to figure out though. Tales of Painter Boy made me feel like an outsider. Sheesh, the life of a DNFer F'ing suuuuuucks.  Oh, and I still have to fix my bike.

The AZT starts at mile 15 here, right about where the elevation jumps up and down. It's easy to spot my return trip. Stupid hanger.

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget the AES creed: DFL>DNF>DNS. As long as it's not the latter, it's all good. Heck, I almost had to sleep in the desert!!