Finished – How one man lied, cheated, and stole his was to completing the Arizona Trail Race
November 22, 2017
Things didn’t work out as planned this year, they never do. Never! In 2016 everyone around me was healthy and I taped out of the (Arizona Trail Race) AZT300 due to an illness. Jump to 2017, I’m healthy and everyone around me is sick.
On one hand, planning, workouts, sponsorships came together perfectly, and then there was chaos falling apart in the opposite direction.
It takes me back to my chemotherapy treatment days. For every victory out there, there was something kicking you in the nuts trying to break you.
Every decision had a bad effect on someone.
I had a mission to go and complete this race and dedicate it to the memory of James A. Ragan.
My family was not going to make the trip to Arizona so I offered up a seat to my aunt Tish. She jumped onboard and me, my mom and my aunt took off west.
As a small business owner, you have to complete all the to-dos before getting on a bike and riding off into the wilderness. My last to-do was a big law video production. To get this one completed I found myself in a parking lot 35miles west of my cozy bed at 3:30 am. Not having internet sucked. By 4:30 the edit was complete and uploaded, everything had been checked off the list and it was time for rest.
Prep day Thursday
The first day to have all the bags loaded up. A small amount of anxiety knowing that day 1 and the Canelos are calling. At the Xanadu guest ranch, I had a great talk with Don, a road tour rider from Nebraska. Don spent the last part of March traveling Arizona by bicycle. He and his riding buddy were quite the inspiration.
Packing bike bags is a problem without a perfect answer. You must keep heavy stuff down low, items needed quick need to be close, and bedding gear tends to be fluffy and bulky. So if you pack for weight alone you will not have quick access to the things you need. If you pack for quick items you might have a lopsided bike. If you pack your pack… blah blah blah, I will figure it out as I go was the plan.
There were fires causing a detour in the route up Mt Lemmon. I was bummed hearing this because I wanted to trudge through the suck that came with taking off to Redington Road and climbing the mountain.
April 7 – Start of the Arizona Trail Race
Friday – Race day Goal – No rest till Kentucky Camp
My mom had brought Cinnamon Rice Chex as a special breakfast treat. Thanks, mom!
We packed up and made the drive from Sonoita, AZ to Parker Canyon Lake. I wasn’t the last person to show up, but I was cutting it really close. Aunt Tish didn’t make it out of the truck to wish me off. My mom, Becky, took a few photos and wished me well. After the standard prep talk from Scott, the pack is off.
I give my last goodbyes and head off into the Canelo Hills. This year starting on time afforded me the opportunity to ride with a lot of different riders. A lot of riders complimented me on the Triumph Over Kid Cancer frame bag. This was a prime opportunity to let folks know why I was out on the trail.
Casper from Denmark and I seemed to play tag all through the east hills. Good news, I didn’t seem to have weak lungs like I did in this section of the ride last year.
A few miles in I learn that my bag test the day before was not thorough enough. I was questioned with a group of riders about a missing orange bag. Yes, I was the owner of the lost orange bag. I really didn’t believe the rider when they said someone had it and was bringing it up the trail. I had just put my bike down and was ready to head back down the trail when I saw Jeff Hanson and his wife Jennifer coming up to greet me with my handlebar bag. I was grateful.
Riding in a group had its benefits and drawbacks. I had plenty of water and knew a waterhole was getting close. I wanted to be sure to always keep 1 liter of water until I made it to the next refuel stop. So I missed a water spot I used last year.
In the next mile, I found a small pool of suspect water. This water was not flowing so I used my tabs to treat it before loading it into my hydration pack and sending it through my Sawyer mini. I chose to put the Sawyer inline this year so I had immediate access to water. On my 2016 ride, there were too many times where the 35 min tablet wait was a pain to deal with. The Sawyer allowed me to scoop my bladder into a pool of water, hook up my water line and start to drink. This would also work as a gravity filter. I could just hang my bag in a tree and let it drop into my bottles.
By mid-day, I kept passing riders hiding in bushes. I couldn’t blame them. It was hot on the trail. Last year I hit Patagonia 5 minutes after the stores closed. This could not happen this year. The Canelo west trailhead hosted 4 or 5 resting riders. one rider asked me something like “How’s it feel to kick the Canelos in the ass?” I let him know it was the other way around.
Canelos west meant fewer riders yet an easier ride despite the gusty winds. You get out on the trail and feel all alone. There might be riders out there but you don’t see or hear anything. Around 5 I hopped off trail to take care of some bush business.
If you are ever feeling lonely or need to see someone just stop off trail for a #2 … someone will show up.
The need for water
Down Under Tank 03-035a (Mile 18) was my next water stop. I had a mission this year. I missed the cement damn with the pipe that feed off the bottom Trap Tank. It was a minor victory, but I was glad I found it. Very nice and cold water off the bottom of the stock tank. As I was topping off I met a fellow Texas rider named Don Schwieters (750). He quickly earned my respect for being a Tour Divide 2016 finisher with the time of 29:07:58. Congrats on that achievement Sir. Don’s AZTR750 time was 13:08:25. Congratulation on that achievement also.
Evaporative Cooling – My best friend in the desert
If I was stopping for water I would fill up to capacity and then work on cooling off my body. My hometown is so humid I never get to take advantage of the body’s natural ability to cool itself. On the trail I got into a routine of taking off my long sleeve shirt, soaking it in water and putting it back on. I would also wet my hair to enjoy the cooling effect. This helped me lower my body temp so I could push on in the heat of the afternoon.
The Canellos – Translation – what bicycle tire nightmares are made of.
Mile 20.5 – sidewall gash – Orange Seal to the rescue. This was larger than my cut from last year. Stan’s couldn’t seal that one, so I knew a tube was in my near future. Orange Seal, do your thing to my front tire, please. I really didn’t want to use up a spare tube and lose my sealant setup. I pulled my front wheel and placed it where the cut was face down in the dirt. I was hoping the dirt from the outside and the sealant from the inside would make a bond. It did and I was back on the trail. I strolled off the trail to a mine opening and waited for the fix to work.
It worked! After pumping a bit more air in I was back on the trail. It wasn’t long before my slacker riding got me in trouble. It was just a little sidewall rub but it was at the perfect spot to rub off my dirt seal. Once again, off the bike yanking a front wheel out of the forks while pulling for a superglue pack. Waiting for the glue to set I kept placing bets in my head of how long this might last.
Getting back to civilization
The ride to Patagonia was pleasant. I was a bit surprised when the trail ran out and I was on the blacktop. All this happening when the sun was still up. Wow.
The women with the white dress on?
As I was on the blacktop heading into town I saw a greenhouse farm and then looked up to see an angelic woman walking in my direction. This same scene was repeated a 1/2 mile later. So if someone knows where the ladies in all white are going please let me know. It was intriguing to me.
In Patagonia, mom and aunt were ringing a bell and cheering me on. Well, my mom was, my aunt didn’t seem herself. Not at all.
Once in town, hit up the Velvet Elvis for a large hot plate of spicy spaghetti.
Next door, the Mercantile had a few rides hanging out cursing the Conelos, but today it was not the Conelos that was the problem but the heat.`As riders would come to the store I would hop up from the restaurant and go trade war stories. I was hoping my 2016 riding buddy Steve would show up. He never showed up.
After night fall
My sidewall gash was letting air out of my tire but I chose to air it up and ride to Sonoita, Arizona. Becky and Tish were staying another night at the Xanadu Guest Ranch and I knew it was an option for good rest. During my 12 mile ride to Sonoita, I had made a change of plans. Sleep 3 hours at the ranch and then head out to Kentucky Camp. I made the ranch 3 hours earlier than I did the year before.
I walk into the room and quickly notice it feels like an inferno. Tish was shivering and could not get warm. Mom pulled me to the side and said she had booked Tish on the first flight to Texas the next morning. They tried to get into a clinic but couldn’t get an appointment.
Overall I was feeling good at this point. I grabbed a shower and put on my camp clothes. It was bedtime. Around 2 am someone is waking me up. What the hell? This is a bed for one. It was Tish. She wasn’t talking to clear and when I asked if she was climbing into my bed she just mumbled and made herself at home. Long story short Becky was alarmed and a few moments later we called 911 thinking Tish was having dying on us. It freaked me out so it was back in the truck and we headed off to the hospital in Sierra Vista.
I was taxed with the job of calling loved ones sharing the bad news.
Well, what about your race? They all asked.
To hell with the race, that old trail will always be there. I can come and ride it another time. I was seriously shaken by the shape my aunt was in.
We trailed the ambulance and fire crew to the hospital. The doctors ran some test, rehydrated and boosted up her potassium levels.
After a few hours, she started to make complete sentences and could walk again. They ran a culture but would not have results for a few days so they let her go. She didn’t seem perfect, but she didn’t stroke out so I felt like continuing my effort on the AZT.
Day 1’s sidewall gash had grown a stalactite overnight. I noticed when I started riding and something was ticking the fork on every rotation.
We traveled back to Xanadu so I could get back on the bike. A quick stop for a food order at The Chuck-wagon and I was off into the wind at 10:30 am. Despite the stroke scare, the trip to the hospital, and really slow food service, I was still ahead of the game by 3 hours.
It was a repeat of last year. I was on the road to Santa Rosa Mountains driving right into the wind. I had a good feeling knowing there was a great stretch of singletrack coming up. Not tail, but honest to goodness track you can ride your bike on. From Sonoita to Kentucky Camp there is a lot of water. I stopped off at the same tank I visited last year. Good news is I was 3+ hours ahead of last year’s schedule.
I made it to Kentucky Camp and was hot. I went ahead and made camp behind the old building. I got some food and bedded down to get a little rest. It wasn’t long and a couple who was through riding the Arizona Trail wanted to chat. So we talked for awhile and I let them know about the microwave in the building. Yes, there is a microwave to heat water in the Kentucky Camp building. This was a blessing. So after a few Camp meals and some coffee, I headed off into the sunset. 3 hours spent relaxing in camp. When I left the camp a text came in from Steve saying he was 3 hours away.
And then it was dark again
Sometime after 8 p.m. I tore the plug out of my sidewall. I knew it was going to be a long night so I put in a tube. Every mile I Road got me closer to the bike shops in Tucson. It was a long night with a beautiful moon. Oftentimes I could turn off all lamps and just hike the bike with no light other than the moon. There were sometimes I thought I was going to be run over by deer that I would startle out of the bush.
This was the section that Steve and I tackled last year overnight. I kept on hearing him say in the back of my head there are only three little humps and we are over this big hill. Well, I counted three humps all night long. Somewhere around 2 I finally hit some single track. This cooled me down quite a bit. I kept on with my meal plan of eating something every 15 minutes. At some point, it began to be a struggle. Just the mental capacity and discipline of stopping and eating was not fun.
I missed the exit for twin lakes and had to backtrack to the road and make my way there. It was 3ish if I remember it correctly. I showed up with at least a 1L of water so I went thru the process of putting on all my layers but my 2nd pair of long johns, ripping open a pair of hot hands, blowing up an air mattress, slipping it into the bivy and then slipping me into my sleeping bag liner. I stopped moving and the cool of the night hit at the same time.
Note to future riders: Hot air rises, cold air drops. This is good to know because if you are sleeping in a valley or close to the water the cold air is coming for you. Twin Lakes has been a great goal the last two years, but I will not sleep there again.
All zipped up I started to hyperventilate. 2nd year, same spot, same symptom… what they hey! Once I realized the Kelty classic bivouac sack will not breathe I had to unzip and let some cold fresh air in. I didn’t know saving my life could be so easy.
I figured by the time I got packed and rolling there would be a rider pulling into Picketpost. Congrats to Pete Basinger for the 2 days 13-hour win. You are a beast.
April 9 – Day Goal – Tucson Hotel
I’m not sure if I set an alarm or not. I do know that if I had not prepared my camp stove right outside my bivy, I’m not sure if I would have made it out before 10 am. The Colossal Cave was my next item to check off the map. I wanted to get there before the heat of the day. The plan was to rest in the heat of the day and buzz into Tucson around sunset.
I knew there was a lot of fun riding ahead and was very optimistic for the day. I had no idea of the magic that lies ahead. The trail takes a few detours to run underground. The first is 83 and the 2nd is interstate 10. At 83 I stopped for a breakfast of Pink Salmon. There were clouds in the air that had me checking the weather radar often.
At Gabe Zimmerman, some sweet soul had a poster and two styrofoam coolers sitting trailside. You could see empty glass coke bottles sitting next to one. As I walked over to open these white treasure chest I could not hold back tears. You read trail reports and hear about trail angels and their magic, but this was my first experience. Thank you, whoever you are.
After the angel refuels stop, I was soon battling horse traffic on the Arizona Trail. Thou shall not spook the horses, but come on with the horse shit people. I ran into a pair of riders and they let me know the clouds were connected with the fires on Mt Lemmon. But no worries because the trails were open.
I took a nap at the group campsite near the cave. I quit here a year before. I spent 6 hours resting and cooling down. I knew I was going on and didn’t know how hard it was going to be making Tucson. It was not that bad after all.
Came off the trail and hit up IHOP and then crashed hard. Overnight I had laid out baby food packets and made sure to inhale one or two each time I got up for a bathroom break.
April 10 – Day Goal – Reset
Rest – Fix Bike – Eat – Sleep – Eat
When I came off the trail I found Aunt Tish had been checked into a hospital in Tucson. She was not doing well and they were still working to figure out why her fever would jump off the charts and then come back to normal. The lab culture came back as E-coli and they started pumping her with different antibiotics. After visiting the hospital it was off to the bike shop.
Broadway bikes – put on bigole tire on the front end and new shorts due to sunburn arse crack. If I lived in Tucson, Broadway Bicycles would be my local bike shop. Thanks to the team over there for getting me fixed up. They also referred me to a Mexican food place close by. It was close to the Sprouts and that was a great place for a resupply.
Napping and washing clothes completed the afternoon fun. One last IHOP trip and nightly rest were next. The plan is to hit the trail at 5:30am.
APRIL 11 – Post 32 hour break
Get up before 4am and have the bike packed and loaded and did my last checks in the McDonald’s parking lot. The morning coffee did its job and when the mickey-ds lights came on I was the first in line to use their facilities.
The morning was cold and I really didn’t know what or how the day was a going to turn out. I had a good idea I would be running into rider Steve today.
5:30 am – With a fresh body, I marched through the sand pits at the end of Broadway and onto Rredington Road. A few motorbikes came buy and I wished my mountain bike had a motor. I trucked it up and down this craphole of a road. I found the ride enjoyable as I moved on at a good pace. My friend Robert text me and told me to slow down because it would be a long day. Not an hour went by and I met Steve getting ready to close a gate.
No hug, no handshake, just work. It was as if the past year had not With little more than a head nod we were on the trail. We started to motor on down the trail. We hit a waterhole around 2pm. At this time I noticed I was missing one of my fork bottles.
We rested longer than expected before we started packing. In an attempt to know some sense into himself, Steve headbutted a tree branch. He was fussing a bit before I broke out my nurse kit, and then he was fussing a lot.
The Woundseal worked like a champ and we were off to find this Canyon named Mediera. As the sun set the blood moon was rising. Nature must have known about it. Right before we made the saddle a pair of deer showed us how easy it was to climb mountains. As we dropped into a national park campground we scared the piss out of some campers who didn’t expect nighttime riders.
The blood moon was absolutely amazing.
Must have been about 9:30 pm when we took a break for dinner. Hot camp meal for me, power mix pemican non-food for Steve. We had some coffee and were off to find pavement. This would be the pavement (Catalina Highway) to the top of the mountain. It kept getting cooler it got later and we were ascending Mt. Lemmon. We had a cabin waiting for us in Summer Haven and were determined to get there.
As we stopped to put on another layer of clothing we heard running water. There was a creek below and we topped off with ice cold water. This problem was fixed in the making of coffee. Found this toad on the water run.
We rode some and hiked the pavement a lot. The road had very few travelers that time of night. I found myself waking up on my bike. It was just like nodding off while reading a book at home, but I was on a mountain in the middle of the night climbing. There were times when a quarter mile or more would separate me and Steve. His clip in pedals were killing his feet. By 4 am he deemed it necessary to pull the cleats and improve his hiking comfort. As he pulled out his toolkit I curled up in the road’s gutter and took a nap.
By sunrise, we were near the top of the trail. I had been texting with my dad about progress as he was preparing to go to work for the day. I was spinning cranks going up a 9,000-foot mountain at 4 miles per hour talking on the phone and getting ready to put an end to a 24-hour push on the bike. Yea, I was feeling good about my accomplishment.
From the top of the mountain to the village of Summerhaven is downhill.
There are no free miles
Climbing up the mountain works your muscles good and creates warmth and sweat. Riding downhill will chill you to the bones as the wind helps your sweat a subzero nightmare. Well, it is not that bad, but it is not as enjoyable as you wanted it to be.
I reached the cabin 25 hours after taking off from Tucson. The mission of the day was a success. There were 2 riders behind us at this point and it would be nice to run into them, but we were going to take a full 24 hours off.
April 12 – Day Goal – Rest
Rest on the mountain was awesome. The store had a good supply of everything we needed including a polethera of organic goods.
Steve and I had time to sit and worry about what lies ahead. I read water reports and kept going back to mountain view tank. The report read, “Watch out for the killer minnows, but the water tastes great.”
Food, nap, food, repeat was the agenda for the rest of the day. We found time to clean clothing and water filters. We went to bed knowing the morning would be early and there might not be much rest until the end of this AZT party.
April 13 – Day Goal – Get off the Mountain
Steve and I hit the trail and it happened to be the wrong one.
Oracle Ridge would be a pain in the tail at night. Since we were rested up it was not near as bad as I thought it would be. Here is some raw video from the ridge. Passage 12: Oracle Ridge
There were several downed trees on the ridge trail. About an hour in I was tired of them and thought if you remove one then that is one less hurdle for someone to cross when they are on this difficult passage. I put down the bike and with all my force chunked a tree truck down the mountain. I think it sort of shocked Steve.
Somewhere along the trail we found people working on the Arizona Trail Passage 13 and we’re very thankful and let them know how much we appreciated the work they put in on the trail.
4:30 High Jinks Ranch Stop
An afternoon ride. are next to the main destination would be the watering hole at the high Jinks Ranch. Ever since reading about this ranch I was really looking forward to seeing it and making it a little water stop oasis.
After arriving at the High Jinks Ranch I heard Steve talking about ditching the race. I really did not like this idea. You understand people are on the trail and pushing their bodily limits but you really want to see your fellow riders make it across the finish line. Sure you’re in competition and you want to be first place and you want to be the fastest and you want to be the most badass guy around but you also want the other people who are on the race to accomplish their goals as well.
The folks at the ranch were nice to offer hot water, coffee and a room to stay, or a place to tent. We probably hung out there for about 30 minutes cooking up a coffee and a warm camp meal. We used their facilities and then placed a small donation in the donation box and headed back out on the trail.
Steve boosted his energy level and got back on the bike. The American Flag Trail was nice to us. We seemed to make good time as the sun was coming down.
It was 100% night as we approached 77. We heard my mom cheering for us as we came down the hill and under the highway.
At the trail’s intersection with Highway 77 I had a decision to make. The choice was to ride to picket-post with what I had on my bike, or ride into Oracle for a Circle-K resupply. I chose to punch on and pass on getting food and batteries. Steve did the same.
Finding a campsite when sleep deprived is a pain. Sure you have been on a bike for 15 hours, but the term tired is relative when you are on the Arizona Trail.
We left Tiger Mine Trailhead and said goodbye to my mom who was there to cheer us on. Steve was about ready to quit and I kept prodding him on and on sometime around 9 we stopped for a hot meal and some coffee in hopes that we would ride all night.
By 11 Steve was looking to crash anywhere and I mean anywhere. Everything was looking really good to him. So we went ahead and found a spot right off of the trail. It seems that my camping spot was really close to a new cactus friend of mine. I backed into it and found a piece the size of a fist mounted on the back of my calf muscle. Steve yelled at me not to move anywhere and he came with his Leatherman tool and began to rip the spines out of my leg.
11:30 North Tiger Mine Campsite
April 14 – Day Goal – Don’t Stop
I need to hit it till I quit it.
7 am hit the trail.
In the morning we packed up camp, had a little breakfast including coffee and hit the road North. Not far from taking off we found an entire forest of the same cactus that decided to attack me the night before. I decided to walk through this section. the trail throughout the morning was not bad. Not really enjoyable but did not have tons of hike-and-bike. There seem like there were sections to where Steve and I would get some distance between the two of us. At the next gate I would stop and hold the gate for him and he would catch up the same thing would happen throughout the day.
When we hit the watering hole who is a good spot to really cool off. This was Mountain View tank where we had read reports of the killer sized minnows. The water was nice and cool and we saw a lot of people out on their ATVs. it’s really interesting you seem like you are all alone with no one else around but then all the sudden people to show up out of the middle of nowhere and cruise on by.
11:15 Mountain View Tank – Killer Minnows
We topped off all of our water tanks at Mountain View waterhole. I was really hot so I soak my body over with water and then I would get the chills. It was an odd thing if you were in the shade or wet you were very cold if you were in the sun you were burning up. So I would try to catch the shade of a Mesquite tree that would let just enough to keep you the right temperature. We grew up a little bit and then hit the trail
3:30 Bloodsucker Wash
The afternoon was hot when we cruised through Passage 14 on the AZT – Bloodsucker wash or it might have been Grant wash either wash it was hot. I knew I was about to lose Steve in the heat so we found some brush on the side of the road and hid for a short afternoon nap. At this point, my give-a-s*** was really really low I found myself waking up laying on a down Mesquite Branch with thorns in my leg and just not really caring just appreciating sleep. We motored on and search of our next Watering Hole named be well.
4:30 Bee Hive
I don’t recall the ride being that strenuous. I do recall showing up and having 1 or 2 thru-hikers at the watering hole. The big tank was full of water and full of thick green stuff. And there were bees. One poor hiker and hike to head and found that there was a tank North that was empty and height to back to fill up his water. We felt bad for him but really Information. at that point, we talked off and headed north. Steve could not feel his feet at this point of the race.
It wasn’t but a mile up the trail when Steve let me know that’ll be the last mile we would ride together. I was crying as I told Steve goodby and let him know that my mom would probably be cheering us on at the next Trailhead and if he needed to tap out that would be a great spot to tap out. It has been amazing riding with him for another year and I would have to do it again soon.
7:00 Freeman Trail Head
I put down the pedal and worked to make the next trailhead by sundown. it was a good ride. I was hoping there will be water in the storage tanks or the storage boxes. So far all the reports had shown that there would be. There was water and also my mother. She had been out there all afternoon waiting for me to come on by.
8:00 pm hitting for the last push
I took off from the trailhead leaving Steve and my mom behind. Steve at that point was talking big game about finishing the race and I was really impressed with his new attitude. But I left knowing there’s a 50-50 chance he might be completely done. I think him for pushing me on and riding with me as long as he rode in the race. I was really happy to have a friend out on the trail.
We were still really close to a full moon and I was trying to book it as hard as I could knowing that the cool night would afford me to run with less water consumption and not have to worry about my body overheating. I had Red Trail notes about passing under power lines or high transmission lines and I was surprised at one point when I stopped in the power lines were buzzing so loud. There were two times where I spilled off of the bike and into the dirt. no or no harm done to me or the bike just pick myself up dust myself off and got back on the trail. There were some good sections on this area and I felt like I was making good time.
April 15 – Finish
12:00 am Tortilla Mountain 3249 Feet above sea-level climbing switchbacks.
2:15 flat out near Kelvin Florence Highway Trailhead
A sidewall gash is a perfect reason to stop drop and sleep. This time it was the rear. But before sleep, I needed to do some work. After a new tube was dropped into the rear tire it was time to cook. Oats, apple, cinnamon, quinoa was on the menu. This was my last camp meal I had in my pack. I heated up my water, mixed it in the bag and placed it between my ribcage and my right elbow. The clock was set for 2 sleep cycles. I fluffed my hydration pack, placed my head on it as the warmth of camp meal bag added comfort as I nodded off.
3:30 ate a few bites of my camp meal and then was on the bike Rolling to the trailhead. I had a hope of something magical being in the lock boxes at the trailhead. It was full of empty bottles of water, empty bags of chips, empty this empty that. It wasn’t that I needed anything at that point in time. I just knew from now until the end of the race there was one faucet and one dirty river water opportunity and no food. I closed the boxes back up and moved out. Next destination, water at the public works fence faucet.
The morning was crisp and chilly. I looked for a way to cherish it the best way I could. You want to cuss the cold while being thankful it is not blazing hot like it will be in a few hours. By 7:15 the sun had broken over the mountains and it was time to bask in the sunlight and brew a cup of Coffee. I mad soup out of what was left in my camp meal packet. That was the best Quinoa colored water a boy could ask for.
I inventoried and had a few baby food packets left, some bee pollen, chia seeds, and dark chocolate. For my water, I was saving my nun tablets and my beat elite powder for the muddy water of the Gila River. It looked like I might have a thousand calories for today’s efforts. My food every 15 minutes was not going to happen today. For the math folks out there I’m 6’4 and require a base of 3200 calories a day if I’m sitting at a desk resting. Today is not going to be one of those resting days.
4:pm Passed on Tally Tank – Biggest mistake I made in the race
With 10 miles to go, I flatted out and had to put a tube in. The replacement tub went out with a bang and left me down in the dirt where my Coast flashlight jumped off my bike and dedicated itself to the AZT. After 2 tubes I ran out of options and just started to push a flat bike to the end. I was running low on water but thought I could get to the end of the race ok. I picked up a 1/2 jug of water from a suspect pool. The thinking was to have it if I need it. A wee bit longer and I treated it and started to drink it.
Along the trail, I would pray and thank God for the opportunity I had to be where I was. Three short years before I was flushing chemotherapy out of my system and growing a new head of hair. This year I was hacking at completing the goal of making it to the end of the Arizona Trail 300 mile mountain bike race. There were people God had blessed me with that helped me get to that very spot. I gave him thanks daily for them.
He was looking out for me at the end of the race. I had a small nap before jumping into the Gila section. With little rest came slow reactions. I wasn’t sure why I sliced a tire and then proceeded to run out of extra tubes, but when I came walking around a corner to see a rattlesnake across the trail I knew exactly why I needed to be pushing and not riding a bike.
6:56 – Done
There is no band, no cheerleaders, and no trophy for completing the AZT. In fact, if you get there before the 750 folks get there I would imagine they might heckle you for not riding “A real distance” I wouldn’t blame them. Ahead lies more miles for them than they have just ridden and you are on your way to Waffle House while they keep trucking.
I owe a huge thank you to my wife, Kendra, for staying back and taking it in the face. Litteral puke in the face. Our 3 little ones were very unhealthy while I was on the trail. She is a rock-star mom and wife. I don’t expect for her to understand why anyone would want to get on a bike and ride off into the wilderness, but she gives me support to do it.
From fighting cancer to raising children, to working a business together there is no one I would rather have at my side. She is amazing day in, day out.
My final thank you goes out to the Ragan Family. They have been there for me and my family for years. Their son James opened doors for me that I never thought I would need to walk through.
I just saw my aunt Tish a few days ago. She is still recovering from her illness in Arizona. Her Texas doctor was truly surprised to see her walk into his clinic. As he put it to her, “By reading your bloodwork I just knew you were going to die in Arizona”
Well my crazy aunt is still with us and we are happy.