Over the bars and down the hill I go
While riding down a rocky jeep trail I found the biggest rock and tried to hit it with all I had. Sounds good right? Well, somehow it hit something, freezing my front wheel in place, as I rocketed over my handlebars. Somehow I landed on my feet but the propulsion carried my body downhill another 100 feet before stopping. At that point I hiked back up to my bike. Two things were not like they were a minute ago.
My front tire had found the ability to stretch and touch the front fork, and my GPS had a new gash in the screen protector. You can live without the GPS but you can’t ride without a front tire. 11:53am I met two guys coming back from riding the first section with the AZT750 riders. Why in the world you would want to ride out and back on the first twenty-five miles I’m not sure, but these two guys were doing it. They saw my situation and offered to pick me up at the Comelo trail head if I needed it. At this point Jack rolled by as we talked. They were as blown away as I was. The two men verbalized what I had thought about doing, which was a manual fix in the field. Sure, sure, sure, I would be flexing the integrity of my front wheel but I had to do something. Hiking the bike would have been thought-less to do in its taco-ed state. The men suggested finding a fence post or a tree to flex it in, or jumping on it. I didn’t find a tree worthy of fixing it so I went with the jumping fix plan. As the guys put it, “it could fix it, or it could make it a lot worse”. I was already in the worst mood, so I went for the step and flex method. It seemed to work. I was moving again and I was happy. I had spent a lot of time documenting my flat by video early on and opted for a few photos before getting back in the saddle. Insert headphone in ears here. I had enough solitude and it was time for some music. I had packed an ipod something or other in my race gear. People who know me know I don’t buy Apple products. This little gem was found on a hiking/biking trail in Corpus Christi. I reached out to the registered owner and got nothing back so I sacked it away. Thank you, Steve Jobs for this little piece of technology. The battery life was awesome.
To ride up to water tanks that are empty is like finally arriving at a mirage. Rookie mistake #2: Carry more water. Sure three liters is a lot if you are sitting at your desk, but for a 6’4″ bike rider it’s never enough. Next year I want bottle bars on my front forks. The next water stop was not far ahead. A dirt tank with plenty of water. It also had plenty of cow patties, plenty of algae, and plenty of character. This was the first place where water choices of hikers and bikers were completely different. I filled up my tank with water and the appropriate tablets and headed thirty minutes down trail. At that point I needed to eat, so I dropped in the tablets that are there to kill the crap in the water. Once the neutralizing is done, it’s time to drop in the Nuun tablets so my water would be full of electrolytes. Lunch was a tuna packet, nuts and part of a dark chocolate bar. Coffee was served by a pinch of the Ziploc baggie and a sloshing of water into the mouth. Ah, instant espresso goodness. Okay, to be honest it takes a few times to get use to drinking coffee like this. I think this will be a good camping thing in the future.
I made it to the trailhead about fifteen miles into the race. I was half way to Patagonia and I had caught up with Jack. He didn’t seem to be having the time of his life but then again he was at mile twenty-five of a seven hundred and fifty-mile journey. I trekked along only to be caught by thirty mile an hour winds, and Jack.
Sometime I climbed to the summit. I had been working for a while looking at one side of the mountain and climbing. All of a sudden the right side came up and my view of the mountain went away. I would be able to see for miles and miles in all directions if I didn’t have tears in my eyes. Could I be having my epiphany race moment on day one not even thirty miles into the race? Yes, yes I was. I was so emotional and thankful for the folks who had put me on top of the world. Sure it was around 5,000 feet in elevation but it was the top of the trail world that day.
4:50pm trail time – 3 Text from Mom but the first 2 are not meant for me “12:29: He hasn’t moved since then. He was last for the three hundred’s. The next three hundred is going on mile twelve, he is on five. This is going to be rough. ”
“He has to get forty-six miles in today. Maybe at midnight he will get in. Three hours and forty minutes and the lead has done over twenty miles”.
“You knew the first twenty something miles were going to be tough. Keep your calories going and you will catch up”.
The damage was done and the fifteen super motivational quotes after that could not make up for the wake-up call in the text. Only problem was that mom was too optimistic with her concept of midnight. I completed the forty-six miles a little past 1am on Saturday morning.
Sometime before Friday’s sunset I passed Jack for the last time of the race. I then met up with Grace who was heading for water where she would make camp for the night. There was a fork in the trail, and bikes and horses were led to the right and hikers to the left. Some good laughs came to mind when I was reflecting on one riders trail log. He wrote that a good rider could make the entire Arizona Trail 300 without having to hike the bike that much. I’m not sure what drugs were in his water bottle but I hope to find out before I go race the AZT again. I found a spring, a pack of wild turkey and a way off the trail. Yep, right at sunset I found myself going downhill back and forth, in and out of a dry wash, as it descended toward Patagonia. You ride along the hill, whip back and over along the hill, only lower than you did on your previous pass. At one point I rode off the trail and was riding where the cows hiked. It was not far, just enough to be annoying. One hundred feet back and I was back on the trail. I found a windmill and got excited. I thought of climbing it for a photo (I’m semi-famous) for that. I have also been known to shimmy up a telephone pole to snag glass insulators.
The windmill was disconnected and so was the large array of solar panels. The AZT Trail App said there would be a trough in the corral, and there was. I pushed down the float and water flowed into my camel-pak. Yes, fresh water without algae. Enter the water tablet sequence here.
A few minutes later my lighting kit was mounted up and ready for its first test. Helmet lamp on, check, handlebar lamp, check, and let’s ride. I was surprised with my setup. A 170 lumens Princeton Tec lamp on my head and a Blackburn lamp on my bars. I had this light in addition to the light provided by the almost full moon. I made it into Patagonia, Arizona at 9:55pm. No services at that hour. I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie and hit the pavement for Sadonia some twelve miles away. I called Kendra and the kids and let them know I would be there around midnight. Ha-ha, I wish. Once I got up to speed on the pavement I realized going over 8mph was a huge strain. I pushed, but my bike kept pushing back. I know the pavement runs uphill the entire way, but this was ridiculous. I would ride some, and hike a bike a little. This was not my ideal situation, but I would take it. I knew I had a hotel room waiting for me. For my first day with two mechanical issues it would take it. At 2:09am I rolled into Sedonia and placed my first call in to MTB Cast.