Just some thoughts and experiences from a mountain bike endurance racer who likes to ride and race his single speed mountain bike a long long way on remote single track in the mountains and desert.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

La Ruta de Los Conquistadores 2012, Finished 4th overall on a singlespeed in the 40-49 geared category

La Ruta de Los Conquistadores 2012, Finished 4th overall on a singlespeed in the 40-49 geared category.   http://larutadelosconquistadores.com/ruta2011/

Finished 3rd on the first day.  It was extremely hot!  Probably the hottest weather I have ever ridden in.  There was a long muddy section that was very muggy but some sections were ridable.  The mud was not deep, just extremely slick.  I typically have not used the optional spikes bolted onto the front of my shoes but they would have been really handy.  A large part of the climb was on pavement and the temperature was much more tolerable at the higher elevations.   This was the toughest day.  They had showers, food and the finish was very festive!  Check out the day 1 stats here http://connect.garmin.com/activity/248054107

Day 2 I finished 4th. There was a bunch of climbing but a majority of it was on pavement.  The downhill was pretty rocky and slick because of the constant rain.  I found myself wanting a little uphill so I could get a break from standing on this section.  Visibility was minimal as well toward the top.  After the initial drop off the volcano the last section was a fast fun downhill on pavement.  At times I was spun out with my climbing gearing on the descent.  There was a flat section toward the very end where I ended up getting passed by numerous geared racers and that’s where I think I got bumped out of 3rd place.  They had great amenities again at the finish which included some hard earned grub.
Day 3 was much shorter and very flat.  It started out with rafting in the morning which was a blast and totally worth doing!  I got completely blown away on the flats with my gearing.  I should have put on a tiny rear cog geared for flat to slightly descending pavement.  This gearing would have been tougher on the railroad track section but you can’t pass there anyway.  There were also racers who put in a huge effort on the beginning road sections and were blown by the railroad track section.  They were holding traffic up.  There were significant waits to cross the rickety old bridges as well.  Would have been nice to be ahead of that scenario.  Apparently the end could be sandy but due to the downpour it was fast as well on race day.  It was great to ride straight onto the sandy beach and drink some cervezas on the beach.
In the end it looks like day 3 only possibly cost me one spot (a podium spot) since I had such a lead from day 1 and 2.  I’m happy with the way the race went.  It would have been handy to speak Spanish but they were accommodating to English speaking racers.  Great experience and I met some super people! 

Prerace meeting
View from the first climb
Day 1 finish
Day 2 section
Finish on the beach
Finish on day 3
Jeff in the food line at the finish of day 3
Finish line venue

Jeff on a preride of day 2

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Crested Butte 100, CB100, 1st singlespeeder, 13th overall.

Crested Butte 100, CB100.  Fastest singlespeed time and 13th fastest overall with geared racers at 9:20.  Awesome race on some of the best and most scenic singletrack anywhere.  Tough race!  http://coloradoes.wordpress.com/swes-event-list/cb-100/  Check out the stats at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/226333204 

Chilly start but I warmed up fast on the climbs.  The aspen trees were changing and were peaking.  The scenery was epic.  Lots of fun, fast singletrack.  Weather was perfect!
Great finish at the Brick Oven for beer, pizza and hinging out with friends!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

The 2012 Leadville 100 mountain bike race. Finished 3rd place in the singlespeed category

The 2012 Leadville 100 mountain bike race.  Finished 3rd place in the singlespeed category.  103 miles and 12,170' elevation gain in 9 hours.  This race was huge!  Lifetime Fitness did an excellent job organizing such a big event.  The course is an in-n-out that is mostly dirt roads with a little bit of singletrack and some pavement sections.  The route takes you through some awesome Colorado scenery.  I can see why road bikers tend to like it, there is not a lot of technical riding ability required but you defiantly need to be super strong just to finish the race.  There are some long big climbs on this course with some steep and chunky hike-a-bike sections.

With around 2000 racers I was happy to have been assigned a spot lining up in the first few rows at the start.  Once the race started is seemed like almost everyone passed me while I was completely spun out on the road section.  When we got to the first climb I start passing a ton of people back.  It was very crowded and hard to pass but I was happy everyone was still riding.  About ten miles into the race things spread out just enough to make the passing easier.  I was doing a ton of passing on all the climbs and felt good at that point.  At about ¼ of the way through the race we got on a flatter road section that was long.  Huge groups of racers were passing me drafting each other.  This section was a giant disadvantage for a singlespeed.  I’m not into drafting in a race anyway, but even if I could have jumped into a group I didn’t have the gearing for it.  On that road section I think I moved into 1st place for a while then dropped to 2nd.

We dropped into twin lakes which was beautiful!  That’s where Dan Durland was waiting with my first resupply.  There was a pretty cool section of singletrack just before the pit stop that was nice.

This was the start of the big climb.  It’s long and grueling with some false summits and steep rocky sections towards the top that most racers were hiking.  There really wasn’t any breaks, just up up up.  I was able to pass a significant amount of racers on this climb. Towards the top the fastest geared riders passed us coming back down.  Since the race route is an in-n-out this section of the course had a particularly dangerous element that you don’t have in looped routes.  There are racers bombing down the mountain and tired racers climbing up the same road weaving and trying to pass.  I only had to deal with the downhill traffic towards the top but a majority of the racers behind me had constant traffic coming downhill which had to make passing difficult since it meant moving into oncoming traffic.

The downhill was a nice break but when I got back to the road section we had a strong headwind and the geared racers were flying by me again in large groups.  At the end of the road section there is a mean climb that a lot of people were hiking.   My stomach started killing me on this section which was about ¾ of the way through the race.  I was defiantly suffering and about half way up I got passed so I moved into 3rd.  I tried to keep up his pace but my stomach was really hurting.  Even when we crested the top of the climb the downhill I didn’t feel any better.

On the last bigger climb I was starting to feel a little better.  When we crested the top of that climb I was able to ride harder and continued to feel better.  Climbing back into Leadville I thought I saw another singlespeeder behind me.  I felt pretty strong again and hammered the last five miles out without getting passed.  It turns out there were four singlespeeders within five minutes behind me.

It was great rolling into the finish line and getting my belt buckle.  They had a sweet setup with a beer garden and free food at the finish.  There was a grand awards ceremony which was probably the biggest I have ever been to.  Great to see all the other racers get their awards and I was happy to be up on the podium myself as well.  Good times!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Rico 100 mountain bike race. 1st place overall on a singlespeed.

The 2012 Rico 100 mountain bike race.  1st place overall on a singlespeed.  96 miles and 14,000’ elevation gain in 12:07 hours.  Super tough race based out of Rico Colorado!  Epic singletrack and some serious hike-a-bike above timberline.  Awesome views! 

The racers rolled out of Rico early in the morning and climbed up to the Colorado Trail where we got on some sweet singletrack that took us over Blackhawk.  We rode it all the way to the Grindstone trail.  Grindstone is a ridable, but technically challenging, steep downhill into the Bear Creek basin.  Then the route took us down the Bear Creek trail which is a bit rocky and technical but almost all ridable.  At the bottom there was an aid station.  Took me about 8 hours to get to the aid station.  I knew I was in first there but they were not far back. 

From the aid station another monster climb started.  I rode up the Taylor Mesa graded road then had some serious hike-a-bike on the Calico trail with some amazing views.  This is when the rain really started coming down on me.  After riding/hiking on a long section of Calico the route drops down West Fall Creek trail.  This trail is usually a fun fast downhill but the wet condition made it treacherous.  Just before getting to Dunton the route turned onto the Winter trail which was a mucky mess.  Normally a mostly ridable climb.  Today is was so greasy it was hard to get traction and even ride much. 

At the top of the Winter trail I got on a dirt road that was mostly downhill to the highway then took that back down to Rico with the rain dumping on me.  The finish was at the Enterprise bar and grill in Rico.  A beer and burger was waiting for me.  Nice job to the other podium finishers: Doug Byerly 2nd and Jeff Hemperley (SS) 3rd.  Great race!

The Rico 100 podium

Monday, June 18, 2012

Epic 2012 Bailey Hundo race!

It was another epic race at the 2012 Bailey Hundo with some tough competition in the singlespeed category.  I beat my previous years’ time at 100 miles in 7:47.  After starting back in fifth, then moving to 2nd with 1st in my sites for quite some time I ended up finished 4th.  This year I chose to use a front suspension fork which made the awesome singletrack exponentially more enjoyable.  I ran 32x19 gearing on a 29r with Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires front and rear.  This course is awesome!  Epic singletrack!

Bailey Hundo website: http://www.bailey100.com/

Race day started with a 4:45 alarm, quick breakfast, suiting up then riding about 15 minutes to the race staging area in downtown Bailey from the new riverside camping area by the finish line.  Everyone lined up, talked a little about past races and then with the sound of a shotgun blast we all took off immediately climbing up pavement.   The start has some pretty good climbs with a few descents and overall is not too bad on the singlespeed. 

When I got on the Colorado Trail singletrack I thought I was probably in 4th place after trying to keep track of all my competitors during the road section.  I felt good and the singletrack was really fast and fun.  I caught up and passed 3rd and 2nd about 20 miles into the race.  Shortly after I got a glimpse of Jeffrey Carter who was in 1st.  Last year I passed him which started a dueling match for the following 80 miles so this time I thought I would just hang back and keep him in my sites.  I was feeling really good at that point and thought I could have passed him but I ended up stalking him for the next 30 miles.  On a few climbs he started to pull away but I could still see glimpses of him by the time we got to road section at about 60 miles.
The road section is brutal on a singlespeed.  When racers with gears passed me they were flying and out of site in no time.

On the road section I must have slowed down, or everyone around me sped up.  At the start of the Stony Pass climb Jeffrey was nowhere in sight and another singlepeeder Jason Hilgers passed me toward the bottom of the climb which moved me to 3rd.  My stomach started bothering me around the bottom of the climb as well and progressively got worse as I climbed.  I suspected that I might be slowing down a bit. 

Stony pass is kind of a weird climb.  After two years riding it now I’m still not sure of where the actual top of the official pass is.  The first climb resembles more like what I’m used to seeing where you obviously top out then start descending but that is just a small portion of the climb.  It’s a little deceiving because there are no trees as a result of the fire but it gives a feel like your above timberline and you definitely go over what feels like a pass and not a false summit.  But after dropping I made a turn on another road where there was an aid station and started another significant climb.  When looking ahead on this climb there is nothing but a big mountain in front of me.  After climbing for quite a while I turned right on another road and shortly after started descending again but it was not an obvious pass I had gone over.  At this point it still looked like there was a mountain in front of me and another climb started but it was a much easier grade.  At this point it’s like slowly having your teeth pulled.  After climbing for a significant amount of time the road topped out and there was an aid station there.  Finally there was a big downhill and it felt great.
I could see the clouds moving in and was hoping to miss a storm since it was less than 10 miles to the finish.  It kept getting darker and darker and after passing Wellington Lake with less than 5 miles left it started to sprinkle.  Then is started to dump rain.  Then I was getting soaked by the dumping rain and the water all over the road.

Suddenly Jody Elovitz showed up on a singlespeed and passed me.  I kept him in my sites but just could catch him.  I was soaked, cold and riding as fast as I could suspecting Jody had just bumped me off the podium.  I rolled into the finish about a minute behind Jody to end up 4th place.  Great race!
I congratulated Jeffrey and Jody on their ride at the finish and we swapped some race stories then I went and got a full dish of free food and a beer.  It’s a great setup at the finish with a band right next to the scenic river adjacent to the designated camping area.
Great job on the win Jeffrey Carter 1st, Jason Hilgers 2nd, Jody Elovitz 3rd and Andrew Carney 5th!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

12 Hours of Mesa Verde 2012 1st place overall solo finish on a singlespeed

This year at the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde in Cortez Colorado I was able to get the overall solo win on my singlespeed.  This is my hometown trail which I helped build so I guess there is probably some advantage but that didn’t seem to make the climbs any easier.  I wasn’t the first to get the overall.  Dave Harris crushed it in 2009 beating the geared rider by just a few minutes.  www.12hoursofmesaverde.com

This is a great course and race venue.  Phil's World is a true mountain biker course with technical riding.  It would be difficult for a mountain biker impersonator to make it on the podium here relying only on fitness although fitness is obviously a huge factor.  The course is so much fun and has a ton of ups and downs without any huge sustained climbs.  This is one of the reasons that fatigue sneaks up on you and then just kicks you in the teeth at some point during the race and you just need to power through it or your done.  Most podium solo efforts end up with over 11,700' of elevation gain!

The event is based at the fairgrounds in Cortez Colorado which is conveniently connected to the Phil’s World mountain bike trail system.  100% of the proceeds go to local non-profits that serve our youth.  The entire race committee are unpaid volunteers.  This year the race sold out in 36 hours last winter.  There were over 800 racers that were either solo, duo or 3-4 person team members.  There was 2000-3000 people at the event overall this year!
I rode a total of 8 laps (131 miles) and ran 32x19 gearing on my 29r singlespeed with Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires front and rear.  Setup worked great!

The race started with a short run to where a mess of bikes were laying everywhere.  From past mistakes I knew that bike placement was important.  I saw one guy just looking around confused unable to find his bike after a huge effort in the run.

The course is almost entirely single track but the first lap utilizes roads around the fairgrounds and some 4wd roads bypassing the typical singletrack start in an effort to spread racers out.  Once on the single track, passing is difficult for the first half of the first lap.  I made an effort to get a good spot in line with a strong effort (for me) on the road sections.  For a solo attempt the congestion isn’t terrible and I think it helps me not to go to hard initially.  Half way through the lap the congestion seemed to dissipate and passing was easier.

After the second lap I was in second place and shortly after caught up to Mike Scott and passed him to move into 1st place on the stinking springs loop.  I thought I’d established a decent lead on him when I was in the rib cage section but he showed back up on my tail at the end of the lap and passed me at the check in.  I caught back up to him not far into the 4th lap and stayed a short distance behind.  When I was comfortable that I could get by him again and go faster than the pace he had been setting I made the pass.

On the fifth lap I had a teenager I had just passed give me a cheer when I caught some pretty good air and whipped a pancake off a jump.  Not too often a 41 year old can impress a teenager.  That was pretty cool!

I had been going back and forth with the guy who eventually ended up 2nd in the geared category.  On the 6th lap just after I passed him I flipped straight over the bars on a tricky rock drop and hit my knee hard.  It really hurt and I felt like throwing up.  After getting back on my bike my knee was in pain, my stomach was queasy and for some reason my legs really cramped up.  I just rode through it and over the following ten minutes it gradually felt better until I was able to hammer it again.  I passed him back up and that was the last time I saw him.

On the 7th lap I passed the 1st place geared solo Yuki Ikeda who was alongside the trail.  He had put in a phenomenal effort up to that point and then apparently never finished that lap.

This same lap I was taking my typical route down the center of the big rock drop after “Bead Tree” when something made my rear wheel fly sideways.  While I was inevitably going down I somehow grabbed a large tree limb at the bottom of the drop just before hitting the ground which prevented a potentially bad crash.  I had a difficult time actually getting back upright because of the precarious position I ended up in but managed to do it and rode away luckily unscathed.

I really had to give myself a little talk at this point to ride conservatively for the final 8th lap.  I had ridden around 115 miles by that point and was starting to make some mistakes.

By the 8th lap I was pretty sure I could win the race as long as I didn’t make a mistake and put in a strong effort.  I wasn’t sure how far back Mike was but I rode the lap like he was on my tail.

It was great to roll across the finish getting first place in my hometown.  Hat’s off the guys I was racing against.  Nice job to everyone on the podium Jody Elovitz, Mike Scott, Steve Reiter and Matt Turgeon!  Strong effort and tough competition!!!  

Congratulations to my Kokopelli Bike & Board teammates:  Cat Morrison 1st singlespeed female with 7 laps http://www.girls4dirt.blogspot.com/, Jeff Fox & Terry Gorsuch 3rd in Duo singlespeed, Tr Larson 6th in singlespeed solo, Jeff Hemperley 10th in singlespeed solo, Paul Adams 14th in singlespeed solo, Jess Arie 20th in singlespeed solo.

Nice press at http://www.cortezjournal.com/article/20120515/SPORTS07/705159949/Bikers-endure-12-Hours-of-Mesa-Verde-race and http://www.mountainflyermagazine.com/view.php/12-hours-of-mesa-verde-2.html

My wife Dani (The race director) and everyone else who generously volunteered their time did an excellent job on the race which continues to be one of the best organized and fun events I have done!!! Good times!

The singlespeed podium: (left to right) Dani Gregory (Race director), Shawn Gregory 1st, Matt Turgeon 5th, Steve Reiter 4th, Mike Scott 3rd, Jody Elovitz 2nd.  Thanks for the pic Simon Zmyslinski
Part of the venue, Phil's World trail is in the background.  Thanks Linda Robinson
Great pic by Stacy Smith from Wildcat studios

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2012 Sedona Big Friggin Loop Mountain Bike Race, Arizona

The 2012 Sedona Big Friggin loop was awesome.  This was my third time doing this underground race and it was one of the best courses yet!  http://rockyroad5050.wordpress.com/3-sedona-big-friggin-loop/

As usual the ability to navigate the route is key.  Having a gps with the route uploaded is a must.  There should be a special trophy for any rider that was able to complete the course without navigation but I don’t think that happened.   The route had a bunch of newly built singletrack that was spectacular,

They don’t typically track singlespeeds separately but I think I had the fastest finishing SS time and 10th overall although there were some people in front of me that didn’t complete the correct race route.

The field was stacked with super-fast riders!

I ran a 32x19 but I would run a 32x20 for this exact course next time.  I have the same Schwalbe Racing Ralphs front and rear that I used for the 24 hours in the old pueblo and the Fat Tire 40 and they still have a lot of life left.

The race started out at the Bike-N-Bean in Oak Creek and immediately entered sweet singletrack that contoured the hillside then climbed over the crest into a knarly descent.  A ranger was on hand to collect the $3 fee to enter the Red Rock park.  After spinning out a pavement the route took us on a mean rocky climb that was rideable.  We crossed the main road in Sedona by the school and entered some new singletrack that paralleled the road and it took us on some great new well-built singletrack.  The route twisted and turned through washes and along canyons in the northwest end of Sedona.  Great views!  About four hours into the ride we hit some classic trails on the north side of Sedona and took the route all the way into town.  We his some pavement then joined some singletrack on the south east side of the town and grunted up the last significant climb.  After the saddle we took a killer descent followed by some ups and down ending up at the Bike-N-Bean for the finish.  There a keg and pizza was waiting for everyone.  Fun post-race party with plenty of bench racing! 

Thanks Chad for organizing such a great event!  I’ll be back next year!  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

3rd place in the singlespeed category at the 2012 Fat Tire 40 mountain bike race at McDowell Park in AZ

Finished 3rd in the singlespeed category at the Swiss American Bikes 2012 Fat Tire 40 held at McDowell Park in Arizona.  http://swissamericanracing.com/fat-tire-40  Saturday there was a time trial on the sport and tech loop to determine your starting position in the main race which was on Sunday.  This turned out to be key!  The main race was approximately 40 miles and the route was all the perimeter trails in the park plus some additional trails on the competitive tracks.  Route was: Sport>Tech>Long>Service Road>Pemberton>Scenic Loop>Pemberton>Coachwhip>Dixie Mine>Pemberton>Service Road>Long Loop>Sport Loop backwards>Finish.

I chose to run 32x18 gearing.  I may have preferred a 17 in hind sight but with the 24 hours in the old pueblo effort two weeks ago that may have been too much.  I ran Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires front and rear which hooked up great.

Friday in Dolores I loaded up the mountain bike and the family into the truck during a cold and windy snow storm and Headed down to Arizona.  The weather was looking great in AZ for the race.  Maybe a little hot for racing but after wearing snow boots while leaving that didn’t sound bad at all.  When we arrived in AZ the sun was out and I went for a 30 minute spin just to see how the legs felt.  I hadn’t ridden the mountain bike for the last two weeks since the 24hitop race.  I did get some exercise during that time (one road bike ride, a hockey game, etc.) but not much since it was snowy and I was trying to recover still.

Saturday I met up with Art Macfarland for a pre-ride going backwards on the sport loop.  It’s always a little weird riding a primarily one direction trail backwards so I had to check it out since it wasn’t normally allowed.  Around noon Nick Gould showed up.  He came down from snowy Colorado as well for the race.  After he pre-rode the time trial course we went out and picked up some power food before the race start.  Taco’s!!! (Vitamin M…)   

My time trial started at 3:02 and 12 minutes into it I rode up to a helicopter on the trail evacuating an injured racer off the course and I was diverted back to the start.  Haven’t had that every happen during a race, I guess the racer ended up okay.  They restarted the time trail an hour later and I ended up with the 11th fastest time of the day out of all racers geared and singlespeed so I would end up with a desirable position at the starting line the following day.

On Sunday everyone lined up at 8am in their prearranged position based on the time trail finish.  There was a ton of racers.  If you were up front at the start things went smoothly but if you were back in the pack there were definitely some bottlenecks which created traffic jams.

After the first mile I stayed in the same position through the competitive loops but when we got to the Pemberton trail I was spun out on the singlespeed and began getting passed by a few geared riders.  I knew that Mike Melley was in front of me but I didn’t know where Hunter was.  They both had a faster time in the time trial so it was possible he was in front of me as well.  I felt pretty good and didn’t get passed by very many geared racers on the flatter Pemberton trail.  When we got back on the Long loop I was able to gain some of those spots back.  When I came back though the pit before doing the sport loop backwards I saw my wife and daughter cheering me on which is always pretty cool.  After crossing the finish line they had wet towels, snacks, drinks and beer waiting.  I ended up about 5 minutes faster than my previous years time but that wasn’t enough to get the win again.  I was about nine minutes behind Hunter and 6 minutes behind Mike.  Nice job, you guys crushed it!

Great event the promoters really did an awesome job.  This was my second year and it was noticeably larger than the first.  I think it will just keep growing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

3rd place Singlespeed solo category at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo (24hitop), 2012, 280 miles

Finished 3rd in the Singlespeed solo category at the 2012, 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo.  It took almost exactly 25 hours without resting to get 280 miles (17 laps) and around 20,000 feet of elevation gain.  Ouch!  I was hoping to repeat my win from 2011 but the competition tough this year!  At one point in the morning 1st place through 5th place appeared to be within a lap of each other.  The weather was relatively nice compared to last year which led to some record breaking efforts.  This is a great event held just outside Tucson Arizona by Oracle.  Around 3,500 participants this year in a variety of different categories.

Race results   

I ran 32x19 gearing which was the same as the last two years.  For this course I chose to run Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires (snakeskin version) on the front and rear with the “new and improved” tread pattern.  They stuck to the trail like glue and performed flawlessly.  What I really noticed after the race was how well they wore during the race compared to the previous version.  They have lots of miles left in them!

The race started out with the usual carnage that comes with stuffing 700+ racers onto a small rough trail.  There was a multi bike pile up that I somehow avoided on the first decent.  Just a short distance after that the two riders next to me had a collision, ran into my leg, and they both crashed while somehow I stayed upright. 

During the first few laps the top solo singlespeed riders were all frequently within sight of each other.  I went back and forth with Mike Melley (Eventual race winner) several times over the first couple laps and we discussed the possibility that we all may be going to hard initially for a 24 hour effort and if that was a good idea.  Obviously Mike thought it was because he suddenly put down the hammer and in a few minutes I couldn’t even see him anymore.  (A tactic??? LOL)  There were two other guys who seemed to be working together drafting off each other every time I saw them.  Not sure how they ended up placing.  I also went back and forth with Neil Becwar (Eventual 2nd place finisher) throughout the night.  After the race he admitted followed me a good portion of a lap talking to me and sizing me up then snuck by when I pitted.  I remembered it but must have never turned around to see who was behind me.

In the middle of the night I had a Bobcat run directly in front of me and stop up on some rocks on my right to check me out.  Very cool!!!!  During the night I also had a guy taco his rim on a rock right in front of me (He was okay).  It sounded like a gunshot!  Also, somewhere out on the trail someone shot off fireworks right over my head.  That woke me up!

Sometime during the night a “Red Solo Cup” appeared on the trail and was there until the end of the race.  For the rest of the race I couldn’t get that song by Toby Keith out of my head and I really don’t like it.  Just an additional level of torture during the race!!

I slowed during the early morning laps but when the sun came out I consistently kept improving my lap times until I had a 1:18 time on the last lap.  The wind definitely kicked up during the morning which kept it cool and required more effort.  

It was great to have friends on the course giving me encouragement throughout the race!  I was very happy to be done when I crossed the finish line at 1:00!!!!

Thanks to my wonderful wife and Daughter (who was my biggest fan, super cool!!) for help during the race and teammate Tr Larson for staying up all night helping in the pit!

Mike Melley really crushed it and ended up with a record setting 18 laps (He also set the last record at 17 laps),  Neil Becwar ended up 2nd with 17 laps, I ended up 3rd with 17 laps, Eddie Urcadez finished 4th with 16 laps and Simon Zmyslinski ended up on the podium with 16 laps.  16 laps would have won in some previous years.  Great job everyone!!!
The podium

A couple laps in the race, Photo by Shawn Bolduc
The pre-race setup, Jeff Hemperley's pit is to the right

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Arizona Black Canyon Trail mountain bike ride in one day, on a singlespeed

The Black Canyon Trail is one of my favorite Arizona desert rides.  Typically it’s done as an in-n-out, a shuttle or a loop utilizing a nearby road.  The trail is well built and perfect for a singlespeed.  The access is easy and trail access is plentiful not far from I-17.  If you have driven this route before don’t think that you have already seen all the scenery around there.  It is spectacular along the trail and the builders planned the route well to take advantage of the canyons and vistas.  More information is available at http://www.bctaz.com/

We chose to shuttle the entire route north to south (hwy 69 to hwy 74) and mountain bike it in one day.  Don’t let the word shuttle fool you.  You will definitely end up lower than you started but there is still a lot of climbing in between and you may want to take a bike light.

The trail is well marked but there are a couple of sections where the route crosses or gets on 4wd roads that could be confusing.

My favorite sections were Antelope Creek and south of Black Canyon City but the rest is all great riding as well.  The section south of New River Road is not that fun unless you just want to do the entire thing.  There is some more singletrack north of highway 69 and there are plans to eventually go all the way to Prescott but at this time the best northern start is at 69.

Jeff Hemperley and I started at highway 69 and Old Sycamore Road.  There is a fire station there.  We rode up Old Sycamore Road and caught the trail on the north side of hwy 69.  We passed the singletrack the first time and had to backtrack.  It wasn’t marked well there.  When the Trail crosses Antelope Creek Road it is a bit confusing.  Just continue straight across the road onto a 4wd road that veers to the right and look for the trail just past that.  Eventually you cross the mesa and then descend on the Antelope creek section which is sweeeeeeet. 

There is a fair amount of ups and down as you are heading south through the Bumble Bee area on this section of the trail.  The trail is easy to navigate until north of Black Canyon City where it gets on and off of 4wd roads.  Just watch for the trail like a hawk so you don’t miss it and end up in Black Canyon City.

You will cross the Agua Fria River wash multiple times.  At certain times of the year there may be a lot of water to ford or it may even be impassable.  West of Black Canyon city there is a spur to the left going to a trailhead but you want to go right.  If you need to resupply this is the place to the left.  It is a relatively short ride to a store in Black Canyon City. 

The next section that heads west away from Black Canyon City then veering south is one of my favorites.  This also has the biggest climb on the route.   

Follow the trail signs and you eventually get to the Agua Fria River crossing.  This can be kind of confusing.  On the other side of the sandy crossing go left on the old road and watch for the trail on the right.  Two trails climb out of the wash and then join again at the top.  Take either one but I like the right better.

After crossing the Table Mesa road you will start the last significant climb.  After that there are still ups and downs but not as big.  There is a very cool section with gigantic saguaros with arms point in all kinds of crazy directions.  North of the New River road there is a “Y” left is better, going right puts you on an old 4wd road.

The last section before reaching the New River Road is fun and is well marked but does require some navigating where it goes on and off of 4wd roads.

The section south between New River Road and the Carefree Hwy 74 is kind of flat and boring.  If you were going to cut anything off of this ride it would be that section.  We ended up riding most of this section in the dark and it made it harder to navigate the mess of old roads.  Starting just a half hour sooner would have avoided any night riding but it made it fun.

Great trail and a great ride!