Thursday, February 10, 2011

the Singlespeed Arizona

Continuing from my previous post...

Saturday was THE event; commonly referred to as 'SingleSpeed Arizona'. This is an event that Dejay Birtch has been putting on for a few years now. Seeing as he travels the country throughout the year participating in other people's events, this is his way of giving back. Giving back while also challenging just about every one. The trails he took us on and the combination of how he linked it together makes for quite a difficult ride/race.

Pushing a total of 50 miles in duration and upwards of 6,000ft of climbing. Pretty sporty for an event in early February.

We got up at a reasonable hour, organized all the bikes and gear into the Executor and headed off for some breakfast on our way to the start/finish. In typical Bike29 fashion on this trip, we arrived quite early. Early enough that the campers were just starting to trickle out of their tents. It was quite cool early this morning so most of us opted to stay in the warm Executor and listen to Iron Maiden and kill some time.

In case you were hungry or needed a drink, Dejay had it taken care of:

The whole Bike29 contingent was participating with the exception of George. His knee was acting up again so he opted not to ride (a difficult choice) and helped Dejay with the logistics of the event. We gathered together around 9am to listen to a few words.

Once Dejay was done we all casually rode on a few roads to the base of the first climb and the official start of this year's Singlespeed Arizona.

(Mandy and Dicky are in the foreground)

I ran into Keith from PA who I used to race with a few years ago. He moved out to AZ not too long ago. It was great to both see and ride with him again. He snapped this photo of me.

After re-grouping and some of us shedding clothes (I lost my woolie and my knee warmers) we were requested to remove our front wheel and leave our bike up the road around the bend.

And just like that... We were off up the road to find our bikes, put the wheels back on and start pedaling. I walked a brisk pace to my bike as I had no intentions on 'racing'. More like riding my bike but riding my bike at a not-so-leisurely pace.

First turn I saw George from Darkhorse Cycles (lower left).

And around the next bend I saw Mandy

and saw Dicky around the following bend (no picture). Dicky and I settled into a pace and stuck together for most of the climb. At one point he rode ahead of me as Dejay was chasing him with his dildo.

Up and up and up. This climb went on for quite a while. Word has it we were climbing for 8 miles but I couldn't really tell as I didn't note the mile marker we started at.

One of the things I noticed while out here in the desert is that there really aren't too many rules in regards to guns. On multiple occasions I saw people shooting guns on either side of the road into targets. Their locations were such that there was an earthen backdrop for them to shoot into. Some guns were quite large and the rounds were being shot very rapidly.

A few miles into the climb we crested the steepest part and the dirt road became undulating.


Dejay said that if we made it to mile post 13 we went too far. This was my gauge as to how far we had to go. I think it was about halfway between mile post 12 and 13 we rolled up to the aid station where Dejay and his crew were hanging out. Didn't really stop long enough to see what was available. We filled our bottles back up with water and hit the trail.

Windy and technical singletrack that is. I was stoked. No more road climbing and some technical singletrack that my tires had some grip on. Dicky and I rallied through this section before it dumped us onto some flat sandy ATV trails. A few gated fences later we were in a dried up river bed.

There is a trail in there somewhere.

We rode a bit of the river bed but the later portion of it became too rocky and sandy to ride so we hoofed it.

Onto the side of the creek and eventually onto more ATV trails.

He's got a smile on his face..

We were now about 20miles in from where the neutral roll-out began. We're about an hour and a half since we started climbing... I think.

More ATV trails as we climb up to the top of High Chiva. Then a technical descent and undulating forest service roads back to the main road we climbed in on. Ran into George and Mike from Niner at the intersection with the main road we climbed in on. Stopped to catch our breathe and grab some more food from my bag inside the Executor. I think we were around 2hrs or a tad past 2hrs by this point.

Dicky and I then headed back onto the road and climbed a few miles of what we rode in the beginning of the event. This part sucked. You try to maintain a decent momentum on the road but fatigue is setting in and the road has a few steep sections that just punch you in the gut.

Back at the aid station and Dejay says we've got about 10 miles left. I didn't believe him and kept telling myself we have at least 15 miles or so. We refilled our bottles and snacked on some food. Dicky found a bag of peanut M&Ms at the aid station and went to town.

You could see for what seemed like forever. Dejay kept saying the best part is coming. We hopped across the road and onto some more singletrack, uphill. As if we needed to go up further.. I was starting to feel the effects of not riding much the past few months and therefore was slowing down. Dicky was speeding up. I think it was those damn M&Ms. Both them and mustard are his energy food. Not caring about the 'race' I let him go and decided to ride my bike at my pace.

The views were so amazing that I found myself constantly looking around and not looking at where I had to go on the trail. This resulted in many panic stops coming into turns and lots of speed scrubbed. Not the most efficient way to ride a bicycle offroad.

Killer views. They kept getting better as we kept on riding.

There is a trail in there somewhere.

By now I'm definitely past the 3hr mark of riding from the bottom of the first climb. I've also made it through most of this high tundra region. Over a few cattle guards and through a few gates within fences I was now entering Milagrosa Caynon region. The last section of the race/ride/whatever you call it.

Fatigue was setting in deeper in my body while the terrain was becoming more challenging and technical.

I found myself getting off the bike more to walk down some gnarly sections of the descents. When I did this I also snapped a bunch of photos. Part of me was fooling myself by thinking I had to walk just because I was quite fatigued. The other part of me was thinking I wouldn't ride that last section even if I was 100% fresh. Mind games here and there.

My mind was also stuck on a bunch of Iron Maiden songs and Star Wars themes. I was also out there by myself and could not see another sole anywhere. When I could, my thumb and index finger were making music with my bell on the handlebars. Something I've often done in 100milers when you are out there riding your bike in the woods for upwards of 7hrs and pretty much solo.

I just rode down that. I found myself po-going on the front wheel and my 'lefty' fork quite often.

Where I had to go next:

How awesome is this? Despite the high level of difficulty this trail brings, and the fatigue throughout my body I still found time to take a few seconds and take in what was around me. That brought a smile to my face and made me forget the negatives. This was some cool shit, and to be doing it in early February. Even better.

The trail we were on (Milagrosa trail?) within the Milagrosa Caynon region pretty much followed this ridgeline. It definitely played games with me. I'd think I'm climbing the last ridgeline and then I had a descent down into the valley and on towards the finish. I'd get to the top of that ridgeline and sure enough, another ridge to climb.

Finally getting in near that canyon:

I do remember passing the tequila tree and passing on some tequila. I'm not much of a fan of hard liquor and I wasn't quite sure how much energy I had left in the tank. Kind of a party foul in the grand scheme of the theme for this event but whatevers.

The last descent was brutal. It was a lot of rock and a lot of giant steps at a very steep pitch. I rode into it near the top and got partway down after saying such things as:

'Om Namha Shivaye, Om Namha Shivaye, Om Namha Shivaye...'


'I am going to die...'

I eventually got off the bike and did my best to walk down these rock faces. Then onto some ATV trails and the the road back to where we started (Dejay's friend's house).



5hours from when we started at the base of the first climb. 15minutes behind Dicky to take 18th place overall. About an hour or so from the first guy. Not bad considering the last time I rode over 3hrs in length was quite a few months ago. Guess all the yoga I've been doing is helping me somewhat.

I managed to say out of the cacti but did scratch up both my legs and both my arms on all the shrubbery I rode past. I look like I got attacked by a dozen or so cats. I did step down funny on one dismount and somehow got a bunch of cactus needles in the side of my left foot. The needles hurt but I knew I was close to the finish so I didn't touch them and just dealt with the pain in my foot. Probably not the best of ideas but I managed nonetheless.

We hung out at the finish for a while drinking beer and eating pizza and watching everyone come home. It was a fun time and I was quite surprised with how I recovered. The food took about an hour before my body wanted some but the beer wasn't a problem from the minute I got off the bike.

When all of the Bike29 Contingent were done riding and had enough resting we piled into the Executor and high tailed it back to the hotel to get cleaned up. Saw an awesome sunset on the way. The sunsets out in the rockies and western US are awesome and worth living for.

On our way to the after-party we stopped at a Chipolte for some dinner (I think that's when we stopped for burritos).

The remainder of my photos are here.

The Bike29 Contingent:
George's write-up is here

Mandy's write-up is here

Emily's write-up is here

Dicky's write-up is here

Keller... he's busy doing cool stuff with snowboards.

Thank You Dejay for your hard work and a big thank you to all of your friends to helped make this happen. With all the snowfall we've had in New England this January alone (50+ inches), a trip to the southwest was necessary for me. Having a posse from Bike29 and knowing a lot of people from all over the country helped solidify the decision to make my first trip to Arizona. I look forward to the next one.


Blogger Tim said...

Nice write up. Thanks for sharing.

2/11/2011 11:21 AM  

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