Archive for June, 2012
What an amazing trip we had out west this summer … 21 days and just over 4000 miles of visiting family and sightseeing in 8 states. The genesis of the trip was our cousin’s wedding in Phoenix for Memorial Day weekend. But there was also a really cool mountain bike race the next weekend in Flagstaff giving us a chance to visit other cousins who live there. Along the way here are some highlights from our trip:
- Camping for a couple days at the Grand Canyon: Kristine ran to see the sunrise, Josiah and I biked 9 miles to see the sunset, Analise was the girl scout camping expert pretty much single-handedly showing us how to set up the giant tent we borrowed from the Mabry’s
- Phoenix for the wedding and to visit family: Analise absolutely loved the wedding – especially getting to dance with her cousins and the bride and groom during the reception, Analise and Josiah both enjoyed swimming and playing with all four cousins, Josiah and I biked through the canals, and I had a chance to bike with Uncle Bruce in an awesome mountain bike park (Deem Hills). I also drove down to Tucson to do the longest, highest climb I’ve ever done on the bike (Mt Lemmon – 41.8 miles starting at 2300′ and ending at 9000′)
- Flagstaff to visit family and race the Barn Burner: Analise and Josiah enjoyed playing and biking around town with their cousins, Kristine hiked up to the highest point in Arizona (Humphreys Peak – 12,600′), I placed fourth at the Barn Burner 104 mountain bike race, and we all camped at nearly 9’000 feet on the side of the San Francisco peaks. Also, Analise was totally into astronomy with the Lowell Observatory, the transit of Venus, and viewing Saturn through the 100+ year old Clark Telescope
- Los Alamos: Kristine and the kids enjoyed exploring the Indian ruins at Bandeleir national monument while I had the opportunity to climb up and into the Valles Caldera – an ancient massive supervolcano
- Tulsa for the Tulsa Tough bike race: the kids enjoyed biking all over town and doing well in the kids races. I had a chance to race three days including the climb up Cry Baby Hill which was very Tour de France like – check it out:
Some maps and stats – just over 4000 miles of driving … 1242 miles of riding and over 90,000′ of climbing split over 37 rides…
Friday, Blue Dome Criterium, 38th
This was a great kick-off race for the weekend of racing at Tulsa Tough. I didn’t know how my legs would feel after a 750 mile drive on the heels of two days of HC climbing in Los Alamos. But it turns out they felt really great. I didn’t anticipate how early our Pro/1 field would try to line up for the start immediately following the 1/2 race — so I ended up starting near the very back of the field. The figure-eight course was super fast, but not very hard. You could always carry your speed through each corner – and because the race never really slowed down much it was hard to pass anyone since there would always be a corner coming up. Eventually I figured out that the short stretch of road between turns 4 and 5 was the spot to pass – but as I found out on the next to last lap, it put you in a bad spot for turn #6. I was moving up really well from near the back of the field to the top 30 or so when I got cut off on turn #6 having to slam on the brakes to avoid colliding with the rider coming from outside to inside on that corner. I lost 10 spots immediately and a lot of momentum going into the final lap. The last lap was so fast that there wasn’t much passing. I ended up getting 38th. The best part of the race, though, was the fireworks (literally) from a nearby baseball game that started with 15 minutes left in our race lasting until the next to last lap. It was a really psychedelic experience as the fireworks were in plain view in front of us on two stretches of the course. Plus they were so loud that you didn’t hear the normal sounds of a bike race. I was disappointed with my result, but the race was very fast and fun, and I knew my legs felt great for the rest of the weekend.
Saturday, Brady Village Criterium, 25th
Josiah and Analise both raced the kids race with Josiah cruising to a 2nd place finish in the 6 and under category. The video below is of Josiah getting 2nd in the kids race. Analise had a rough start, but finished strong in the 7 and older category.
Our race was an L-shaped course starting out very flat with two quick lefts. Then after a long straightaway, the course had its only righthand turn followed by a long uphill. This hill was lined with tons of people from nearby restaurants and bars. Then we turned left to continue up a frontage road next to an interstate overpass. People climbed way up on the concrete to watch the race and scream/cheer for us. Then we turned left to fly down the hill into the final turn. Even with a very strong headwind, the hill was steep enough that we went screaming through the last turn fast every lap. I started towards the middle of the field and fought hard to stay there eventually moving up to 25th by the end.
Sunday, Cry-baby Hill Criterium, 32nd
This was the marquee event of the weekend and has to rank as one of the coolest criterium experiences ever. The long 10% hill on the course was lined with so many people packed in so tightly that it felt like what I would imagine riding a grand tour climb through throngs of people would be like. On some laps, you could only fit two or three riders at a time together through the people spraying water with garden hoses, super-soakers, and water bottles. I started at the back again after getting lost on my warm-up. I only had a few minutes to find water, find and kiss Kristine, and make it to the start line. Then there was a somewhat lengthy call-up so I actually had a little more time than I anticipated. In any case, I was at the very back.
The course started out flat along the Arkansas River before narrowing from four lanes to a one lane off-ramp at the base of Cry Baby Hill. The average gradient for the climb is about 10% with half the climb on the off-ramp, and the other half once you make the righthand turn onto W 13th St. This is where it got really crowded with so many people yelling and screaming and many of them dressed up in different costumes. Super-soakers, water bottles, garden hoses were all used to douse us with water, which was really important because the race temp was well into the 90s. Imagine an Athens Twilight crowd on a narrow road without any barriers separating the crowd from the racers – it was absolutely awesome.
Once you crested the climb, you went down a short steep hill to a cross steep with a hump across the middle. On the first lap when we were flying, I caught air on the hump accidentally. Then the road kicked back up again for the turn onto S Galveston Ave which took you down a steep hill into a 110 degree turn back onto the start/finish stretch. This is when you were hit with a huge tailwind, which meant that the corner wasn’t too bad because the tailwind made it possible to get back up to speed quickly/easily rather than trying to risk carrying a crazy amount of speed through the corner.
Josiah making the most of a small sand pit next to turn 3 (don’t worry, this was a very slow uphill corner)
Kristine got this video of the downhill corner of the first lap of our race (Pro/1) -
I felt really good on the hill and passed people every lap. I would continue to pass people on the downhill into the 110 degree turn. I would then hold my position well until just before the turn to go up the hill, where I would usually get passed by several people every lap. Rinse and repeat and this meant that I very, very slowly worked my way from the back of the field to the front. Just before two laps to go, I surged one more time and moved into the top 20 – but then on the flat stretch leading into the hill, there was a big swarm of people up either side and I lost a lot of positions. I started passing people again on the climb, but the damage was done as I was maybe 40 riders back by this point. I continued passing riders everywhere I could, but I only ended up 32nd. Still, this was an Athens Twilight style race that you were happy to finish. Next year, I will be more aggressive on the flat stretch going into the hill so that I don’t lose so many positions each lap.
Here is all my power and heartrate data from the three races:
LAP DATA / SPLITS
DAY 1, FRIDAY BLUE DOME CRITERIUM Lap Time Avg Pow Max Pow HR MPH 1 01:37 304 901 155 25.5 2 01:23 255 897 164 28.3 3 01:21 309 923 167 29.5 4 01:20 302 911 171 29.4 5 01:19 311 959 173 30.3 6 01:16 292 888 174 31.1 7 01:20 266 883 171 30.2 8 01:20 266 835 169 29.9 9 01:18 304 914 171 30.7 10 01:21 290 705 172 29.2 11 01:24 263 952 169 28.2 12 01:27 267 857 168 27.6 13 01:24 280 792 168 28.7 14 01:20 286 752 167 30 15 01:27 232 728 161 27.8 16 01:21 283 775 161 29.9 17 01:26 256 898 164 28 18 01:22 274 769 165 29.4 19 01:22 298 919 166 29.5 20 01:20 261 939 165 30 21 01:21 247 675 164 29.8 22 01:22 284 878 163 29.5 23 01:21 280 744 168 29.1 24 01:23 233 708 163 28.9 25 01:19 292 844 164 30.1 26 01:21 248 779 166 29.3 27 01:20 307 880 168 29.6 28 01:22 253 963 167 28.8 29 01:23 275 862 167 29 30 01:19 283 744 169 29.9 31 01:21 275 841 171 29.4 32 01:24 261 936 167 28.2 33 01:20 291 841 170 29.6 34 01:21 276 843 172 29 35 01:21 318 959 177 29.4 36 01:21 293 973 176 29.6 37 01:19 284 981 179 30.7 38 01:18 294 870 180 30.8 39 01:19 304 907 185 30.2 40 01:19 328 940 184 30.1 41 01:18 356 976 187 30.9 42 01:14 363 765 190 32.2
DAY 2, SATURDAY BRADY VILLAGE CRITERIUM Lap Time Avg Pow Max Pow HR MPH 1 01:57 295 880 151 26.1 2 01:42 287 839 166 29.1 3 01:43 270 888 168 28.3 4 01:40 246 958 164 29.4 5 01:44 262 821 165 28.2 6 01:41 279 894 170 28.9 7 01:41 257 913 170 29.5 8 01:37 300 909 170 30.3 9 01:46 262 814 172 27.9 10 01:42 279 990 170 29.3 11 01:38 296 998 178 29.7 12 01:39 263 976 175 30.1 13 01:41 270 949 173 29.4 14 01:41 275 941 173 29.5 15 01:42 242 773 174 29.1 16 01:42 245 768 165 29.3 17 01:42 263 853 170 28.8 18 01:43 275 876 173 28.7 19 01:45 268 796 171 27.9 20 01:44 278 937 171 28.3 21 01:42 235 826 169 29 22 01:43 254 890 170 29 23 01:45 266 735 169 28.5 24 01:43 259 767 171 28.6 25 01:40 260 781 172 29.7 26 01:43 275 805 172 28.8 27 01:43 261 716 170 29 28 01:44 250 729 170 28.5 29 01:47 237 892 173 27.7 30 01:46 263 912 171 27.9 31 01:44 244 737 171 28.6 32 01:46 256 754 172 28.3 33 01:47 278 868 173 27.4 34 01:46 247 773 173 27.9 35 01:42 270 862 172 29.2 36 01:41 266 864 176 29.4 37 01:40 284 888 178 29.8 38 01:46 273 884 175 28.1 39 01:43 263 821 175 28.7 40 01:43 291 882 180 29.2 41 01:44 281 860 181 28.6 42 01:41 287 880 181 29.3 43 01:44 248 901 181 28.2 44 01:43 272 806 181 28.4 45 01:47 274 954 183 27.7 46 01:42 297 927 189 28.9 47 01:37 379 990 193 30.3
DAY 3, SUNDAY CRY BABY HILL CRITERIUM Lap Time Avg Pow Max Pow HR MPH 1 02:09 310 847 152 23.7 2 01:53 279 826 163 26.1 3 01:56 259 909 163 25.5 4 01:52 267 819 165 26.7 5 01:54 280 907 166 25.8 6 01:57 279 928 173 25.3 7 02:06 222 803 165 23.4 8 01:56 262 784 165 25.1 9 01:56 265 960 167 25.4 10 01:50 318 1042 176 26.9 11 01:53 314 928 180 25.7 12 02:05 261 818 170 24 13 01:55 263 879 173 25.3 14 02:03 218 755 170 24 15 02:04 233 891 167 24 16 02:00 249 705 168 24.9 17 01:57 252 926 170 25.5 18 02:01 250 873 171 24.7 19 01:58 227 783 171 25.3 20 02:03 226 805 166 24 21 02:03 223 679 168 24.4 22 02:04 246 758 166 23.8 23 01:57 266 816 173 25 24 02:05 238 877 165 23.8 25 01:56 257 815 173 25.6 26 02:04 225 870 167 23.8 27 02:04 243 729 168 24 28 01:58 264 785 174 24.6 29 02:09 221 760 167 22.8 30 02:01 248 801 169 24.3 31 02:03 237 739 171 24 32 02:04 252 768 170 23.7 33 02:01 247 912 173 24.1 34 01:57 279 855 174 25.4 35 02:00 259 879 174 24.3 36 01:56 273 931 178 25.6 37 01:43 373 1041 188 28.3
Sunday, Day 14 – Flagstaff, AZ
Bike to work week kick-off parade, Garmin search and non-rescue, Lowell observatory Saturn rings
We slept in a bit on Sunday having a leisurely morning before Kip and I took all the kids on a bike ride down to the “bike to work week” kick-off parade and bike swap while Kristine relaxed at the house. We made it just in time to tag onto the back of the parade. Lots of people were dressed up in costumes, and there was a competition for the most creative human powered vehicle — the winner ended up being a bike with trailer adorned with butterfly wings that flapped as the bike was ridden.
One guy did tricks on his BMX bike that Josiah really enjoyed, including standing up on the back pegs of the bike and letting the bike coast downhill no-handed. When he started to pick up a lot of speed he hopped off the bike and started running beside the bike while the bike continued on alone. Then before the bike fell he grabbed it and hopped back on again. My favorite part of the parade was the Alpine Pedaler (see video) with up to eight people lined up in two rows facing each other pedaling hard to move the large vehicle. The driver navigated at the front like a stage coach. After the parade we went to the bike swap where we got two helmets to replace the kids old helmets. Analise got one that exactly matched Eliza’s new helmet.
After lunch at the Beaver Street Brewery, we headed out to look for my Garmin – driving along some of the forest roads that were part of the race course before parking in a shady spot so I could bike the rest of the way to the area where I thought the Garmin had fallen off. After nearly two hours of searching, I couldn’t find it. There was so much loose pine straw and tall grass in the section where it came off that it would have probably taken many people and hours and hours of careful scanning to find it since my search didn’t turn up anything. C’est la vie.
We headed back and had a really nice chicken taco dinner with everyone including Beth who was back from work. Frozen yogurt for dessert, but the real after-dinner treat was heading up to the Lowell Observatory to explore the museum and look through the 100+ year old 24-inch Clark telescope at the rings of Saturn. The kids loved it, although they were a bit tired.
Monday, Day 15 – Flagstaff, AZ
Road bike ride with Kip, Lowell Observatory revisited, primitive camping on the side of 12,356′ Agassiz feet
After Kip’s kids were off to school, Kip and I went on a 3 hour ride that headed out one of the more popular road riding roads – Lake Mary. On the way back in, we saw a HUGE bald eagle fishing in one of the lakes. Then we headed up a popular climb up the Campbell Mesa to the research telescopes for the Lowell Observatory.
Kristine and I took the kids to the Lowell Observatory where we took the observatory tour. Analise got to move the dome on the observatory and look through a telescope at the sun – the sunspots were really cool. Afterwards, it was a stop by Mama Burger and then on up to the Snow Bowl ski area for a real wilderness experience camping. Ironically, we were high enough up on the mountain gto get 2 bars of a 3G connection probably from a tower back down in Flagstaff. On Monday we hiked up to a meadow to watch the sunset and then look at the stars before the full moon came out. Then on Tuesday we hiked to some cool petroglyphs, where Josiah and I did some rock climbing to make it up high on the cliff in search of more petroglyphs.
Tuesday, Day 16 – Flagstaff, AZ to Los Alamos, NM
Meteor crater, transit of Venus, Snow bowl ski resort climb 2x
We started out Tuesday with the hike to the Indian petroglyphs before Kristine and the kids headed back to Flagstaff. I stayed behind to climb the Snow Bowl road a couple times followed by a nice tail-wind ride back to Flagstaff. From there we set out on the first leg of our trip back home to Alabama – driving to Los Alamos, NM where I had spent a little bit of time during high school on a two-week science camp.
On our drive, we swung by Meteor Crater where we used our solar filter glasses to watch part of the transit of Venus. It was hard to see at first, but eventually you could see the tiny dot of Venus making its way across the face of the sun. Every time we stopped for gas or food on our drive, we would pull out the solar glasses and check out the progress of Venus. Analise and I got to see it the best at a Sonic near Houck, AZ where Venus had moved to about the middle right of the sun. We stopped one more time a little before sunset and it was really, really hard to see but we think there was a tiny dot just below the middle. The transit of Venus in front of the sun won’t happen for another 117 years, so we felt really lucky to be able to see it.
Wednesday, Day 17 – Los Alamos, NM
Bandelier National Monument, Valles Caldera, Pizza Timeout Express
Day 17 – Indian ruins at Bandelier National Monument
Kristine took the kids up to the Bandelier National Monument to explore the Indian ruins while I went on the best ride of this trip so far — a long climb from White Rock, NM up and over the side of the Valles Caldera down into the huge caldera from this supervolcano that erupted a long time ago. The climb was awesome consisting of some long gradual sections as well as some really steep sections, but the best part of the ride was being inside the massive caldera which is now a giant valley with mountains in the middle that are actually huge lava domes. On the way back down, I swung through Los Alamos and stumbled upon the Pajarito ski climb. This was a really steep 4 mile climb with amazing views of the Rio Grande river valley far below. The descent down this climb was the fastest of the trip with several 50+mph sections. Back at the hotel, I met Kristine and the kids where we walked down the street to Pizza Timeout Express for a fun pizza dinner and games.
Thursday, Day 18 – Los Alamos, NM to Tulsa, OK
Pajarito Ski Hill revisited, Drive to Tulsa
Before we took off on the long drive to Tulsa, I had a chance to ride up the Pajarito Ski Hill again, but this time I started all the way down at the Rio Grande River. The 18 mile climb went from about 5300′ to 9000′ making it an HC climb. It started out gradual with one steeper stretch, before staying gradual all the way to the base of the Pajarito Ski Hill where the road really kicks up for the last 5 miles of the climb. I was trying to go easy to save up my legs for the first day of Tulsa Tough on Friday, but an 18 mile climb is an 18 mile climb.
After finishing up the ride, we loaded up the car and headed to the Los Alamos science museum where we learned a lot about nuclear research and the history of the nuclear bomb. Very interesting and intriguing. Then we took a scenic drive through Santa Fe on our way to the very cool two-lane US highway that took us over to I-40.
That’s a summary of our trip, but the pictures below tell a much better story:
Great race today at the Barn Burner just outside of Flagstaff, AZ. This was by far the hardest race I have ever done – 104 miles of double track forest roads – some very bumpy, some very sandy, some very crazy, all of it a whole lot of fun! I was happy to finish 4th overall, but sad to lose my Garmin Edge 800 with approx. 25,000 miles on it.
Race Details – the dust bowl
It was a Le Mans start, which means you ran to your bikes mounted on bikestands or being held by your support crew. I opted to have Kristine hold my bike so I wouldn’t have to try and extract it from all the bikes jammed together on the bike racks. I ran kinda slowly because I don’t run well and because the terrain had some lava rocks and there were tons of people jostling together. I met Kristine behind the bikestand area, mounted my Garmin and took off running through the grass to get back to the dirt road. By this point dust was everywhere, and I was easily 100-200 riders back.
The first mile of the race was on some dusty, sandy rutted roads so it was really hard to see a good line and you didn’t want to get caught in the deep sand so I could only pass a few people here and there – but as soon as we turned onto the main forest road, the terrain tilted upwards on a long false flat. I passed probably 100 riders through here. At the beginning it was streams of riders that I was passing, but then it has started to break up into small groups – so I started to catch and pass these groups.
Lost water bottle
Right before the lefthand turn onto the next rutted sandy section, I latched onto the back of a fairly large group of maybe 10 riders. It was here that I realized that mountain bike racing requires a lot of trust/faith in the rider immediately in front of you. You are trusting that they are going to take a good line and not crash. This section of the course really emphasized that trust because there was so much dust you couldn’t see the ground in front of you – you could only barely see the wheel of the rider in front of you. It was at this point that I lost a bottle when the road unexpectedly dropped a good 2-3 feet into a rounded rut/hole. I wasn’t expecting it so my weight was forward and I ended up coming out of the hole doing a front wheelie. Luckily the ground was smooth long enough that I could get the rear wheel back down without flipping over the handlebars. Hitting the hole popped out my water bottle so I did the entire first lap on one bottle.
Not too long after the front wheelie, the group I was in came out onto another stretch of road which was much harder packed. I went to the front and tried to rally the troops, but I ended up dropping that group and catching one or two more groups until I finally latched onto the back of the lead group. I knew I had reached the front group because there was no more dust in front of this group. This was towards the top of the long gradual descent before the first climb. This part of the course was super fast, and we were absolutely flying single file trusting the rider in front of you to take a good line. For about five minutes, this was my favorite part of the race, but then I felt something hit my knee. I thought it was my only water bottle popping out of the cage so as we are motoring along I’m looking down and doing a double-take to see if it’s my water bottle. It wasn’t, so I continued staring hard at the wheel in front of me following his line. Then I glanced at my handlebars and noticed my Garmin was gone!!! I debated for another 10-15 seconds about turning around or keeping on going. I realized the Garmin was worth too much to just abandon – so I turned around and rode backwards on the course. It had been a couple minutes of fast riding since I had felt something hit my knee (which I assume now must have been my Garmin), so I had to ride back a long ways but I never did see it. It is quite an understatement to say that my motivation was completely gone by this point in the race. I was about to attack the Strava KOM challenge segment hard, and now I not only wasn’t going to be able to do that – I had lost my great position at the front of the race and given the leaders a good 5 minute head start.
The Strava climb (1st climb)
Frustrated at not finding my Garmin, I went flying up the climb that started shortly after the stretch of trail where I couldn’t find my Garmin. It was the more technical of the two climbs on the course, but I didn’t care – I just flew past everyone no matter what line I had to take. By the top of the climb, the race was all blown apart and people were by themselves and no longer in groups.
The rocky technical descent
After the top of the climb, there was a short rolling section followed by the longer, rockier, and more technical of the two major descents. It started out super fast on a mostly clean but a few high speed rocky sections that you could roll over, but then there was a hard left turn on loose dirt that required clipping out for balance that immediately led into some nasty rocky sections that you just had to blow threw as there wasn’t much of a clean line. I went really slow through here on the first lap – getting passed by two riders, the second of which came by probably 10 mph faster just riding over all the big rocks I was trying to avoid. So that is when I learned that you can do that – just bomb over rocks at 30mph – the bike and wheels can handle it these days!
Once I reached the bottom, I continued passing riders all the way to the start of the second climb – the longer, steeper, and less technical stair stepper. In fact, I almost ran right into the back of a small group of three because I had been so intent on catching them that I wasn’t looking for turn signs. I caught them right at the turn and had to slam on the brakes skidding for some distance before stopping just shy of ramming into the last rider. I immediately passed them and continued passing riders all the way up the long climb.
The fast descent that gradually became slower
At the top of the long climb was a super fast steep descent. I didn’t have my Garmin, but it felt like I hit 50mph on this descent on the first lap. There was one clear, clean line between loose gravel/dirt and larger rocks on either side of the foot-wide line, but the line was clear, non-washboardy, and had no rocks in it — on the first lap! I almost wrecked here on the second lap because I tried to take it at the same speed as the first lap, but 1100 riders doing that descent on the first lap had loosened up soil on the clean line and created a bit of washboarding so that it no longer felt safe to go really fast. So each lap of the race, this descent got a bit sketchier and slower for me.
After the steep, sketchy part was a harder packed fast double track that went next to some sort of campground before turning onto the original national forest service road leading back up to the two-way Barn Burner entrance road. I flew through this part catching one or two more riders, and I heard someone yell out “ninth” as I made the turn in towards the barn.
The pit crew
At the end of each lap, you have to dismount your bike and run through the barn. Below is a video of me coming through the barn at the end of my second lap. You can see Analise waving the chain lube that I desperately needed because of all the dust/dirt on the course. My pit crew was just like a Nascar pit crew! Josiah would hold my bike, while Analise would hand me bars/gels/chain lub and Kristine would refill my bottles with gatorade. I would stand there eating and drinking whatever I could get down before Kristine finished with the gatorade. It was so awesome – less than 30 seconds to have two new bottles, a lubed chain, more gels/powerbars, and then off again.
The second, third and fourth laps
On the second lap, I was caught by a rider wearing a green Trek kit and the two of us worked together catching another rider to form a group of three. We worked well together all the way until the second climb where I rode away catching and passing a few more people on the climb finishing the lap in 5th place.
I rode the first half of the third lap alone eventually catching Derek Wilkerson who was in 4th place at the time. We worked well together catching and dropping the third place rider. Derek was a far better descender than me and had to wait for me after the descents. At the end of the third lap, I stopped with my pit crew to refill bottles and gels while Derek had enough to keep going.
I was so tired I figured I would never see him again, but a relay rider came flying by on the long gradual false flat leaving the barn. I hopped on his wheel and dug deep to stay there and soon we had caught up to Derek who tagged onto us making a small group of three. I was digging way too deep, so when we turned onto the dusty long descent I decided to back off and do my best to pace myself to hold onto a top 5 finish. I cramped on the Strava climb, stopped, went easier until I got caught by another relay rider towards the top. I was able to stick with him until the descent, but then he dropped me hard on the descent. I was caught by one more team rider on the section leading into the second climb, and he really lifted my pace again – but he flatted shortly before the start of the climb.
I went up the final climb knowing that I would need to go slow to keep from cramping again, but I continued to pass lapped riders many of whom were walking there bikes up the steep sections of the climb. I was able to solider on in a very easy gear to make it up the climb – but there were definitely sections I was wondering if I was going to have to get off and walk. I kept thinking that at any moment whoever was in 5th place would come cruising by. It didn’t happen though, and I made it up to the top, down the sketchy descent, and then turned on the gas one final time to make it to the finish line. It turns out that I was over 12 minutes ahead of 5th place so I could have taken the finish a little bit easier.
At the finish (as you may be able to tell from the picture at the top), I was exhausted. It took a while to be able to get out more than one or two coherent sentences in a row. I sat on the gatorade jug for quite a while drinking chocolate milk and cokes.
Two final videos before all the pictures – the first is of my finish. Look at Josiah cheering me at the top of the video near the far track, Analise near the turn, and then Kristine filming the video. It was awesome to come through there and see my family cheering me on. Also, there was a cool dirt bike track next to the barn so that the kids could spend the hour and a half between laps riding up and down the jumps and around the berms. Analise is tackling one of the jumps in the second video.
Tuesday, Day 9 – Bike shops plus easy canal ride
It turns out that I was really lucky with my Mt Lemmon ride — today when I got ready to go for a ride, I discovered that a front spoke was broken. I had left the bike outside over night so maybe some animal had jumped through – or maybe the tension on one of the spokes just happened to reach the breaking point over night – or then again, maybe it was a gnome. In any case, I biked to two nearby bike shops carrying the wheel, but neither was able to have the wheel repaired by the time we are leaving on Thursday. I dropped off the wheel at the house and then headed out on an easy ride through the canals. By the end of the ride it was over 100 degF – hot!
Playground, shade, and water – I’m pretty sure a sign with those words doesn’t exist in Alabama or perhaps anywhere on the east coast.
Wednesday, Day 10 – Deem Hills revisited
I had so much fun on these trails on Sunday with Uncle Bruce that I wanted to go back at least one more time before we left Phoenix. That opportunity came today on the hottest ride so far of this trip. I got a bit lost missing a turn from one canal to another traveling an additional few miles out of the way. I had already drained three bottles of gatorade by the time I made it to the Deem Hills trailhead. Fortunately, there is a nice restroom / water fountain / shady place so I went ahead and refilled three bottles before hitting the trails. After exploring and climbing to the high point using three different trails, I was out of water again so I refilled one more time before heading back home. By the time I made it back to the house, I had drained all three bottles again – for a total of 9 bottles on a 56 mile ride. That doesn’t even count the water I drank directly from the water fountain when refilling my bottles!
My bike, the desert, lots of mountains, and an irrigation canal with water from the Colorado River all below the Deem Hills high point.
We went to Rubio’s for an awesome fish taco dinner, and then Josiah and I took off on a ride from Rubio’s up the sidewalk to the Thunderbird conservation area where we did some cool trail riding. On the way back we passed a mama roadrunner and her babies running across the road – one of the cutest wildlife encounters imaginable.
Even little guys gotta stay hydrated in the desert.
Thursday, Day 11 – Sedona mountain bike ride to Flagstaff
We left Phoenix today to head up to Flagstaff for the Barn Burner race this weekend. Kristine dropped me off in the canyons of Sedona so I could ride my mountain bike the rest of the way up to Flagstaff. I headed up the Schelby Hill Rd which is a 4-wheeler road over lots of really large rocks. Plus it climbs over 2000 feet so that by the end of the first hour, I had only gone 6.5 miles! At this rate, I wouldn’t reach Flagstaff until midnight. Fortunately, it was relatively flat across the top so that I could pick up speed. Still, it took over four hours to cover the 45 miles, which was a mix of jeep road, 4-wheeler tracks, singletrack, interstate (I-17), paved secondary roads, and lots of gravel national forest roads. The scenery was spectacular and I took a lot of pictures. I’ve included the best three below (the rest are in the gallery at the end of this post) -
View looking down from the Schnelby Hill vista
Super steep gradient on a trail that looks like it is heading to the Schnelby Hill Vista
Singletrack that parallels the Schnelby road
Friday, Day 11 – Flagstaff and the Barn Burner packet pick-up
You know that a race is going to be epic, when your ride to pick up the packet is over 40 miles long! I rode out to pick up my packet while Grandma Sandy looked after the kids and Kristine hiked to the top of the highest point in Arizona – Mt Humphries at over 12,000′ elevation. Earlier in the day, I had biked the kids on the Flagstaff urban trail system. We had lots of fun stopping at a playground along the way.
Josiah on the urban trail at a spot looking up at Mt Humphries where Kristine was hiking at the same time.
Playing on a playground alongside the Flagstaff urban trail
From my bike ride to pick up my registration packet …
Kendrick Peak – one of the tallest peaks in Arizona – the Barn Burner 104 circles the mountain doing 4 laps
Course markings ready to go for the Barn Burner 104 race tomorrow!
Highlight pictures from the previous four days – in reverse chronological order starting from today (Friday, Day 11)