Arizona Trail – Day 8 on a Mountain Bike
June 18, 2018
Table of Contents
April 15 – Finish
12:00 am Tortilla Mountain 3249 Feet above sea-level climbing switchbacks.
2:15 flat out near Kelvin Florence Highway Trailhead – Not like I was pushing it flat out, but my back tire had a flat bad enough to break out a tube. A sidewall gash is a perfect reason to stop drop and sleep. 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 the last camp meal I had with me. I heated up my water, mixed it in the bag and placed it between my ribcage and my right elbow. The alarm 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 am 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 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 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 here is what I had
- A few baby food packets
- Some bee pollen,
- Chia seeds
- Dark chocolate.
- 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.
9:30 am – Last waterhole on the Gila – Mud river fill up.
I used the cleanest shirt I had and filtered the water going into my bottles. At a few spots, there were families playing on the other side of the river. It looked like a great spot to play all day. My day was looking up…. up 2,000 feet and then down to picket post.
4 pm Passed on Tally Tank – Biggest mistake I made in the race. By this point I was out of food.
With 10 miles to go, I flatted out and had to put a tube in. This left one last tube in my kit.
A few miles down the trail, the replacement tube 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.
The last water on the mountain bike trail
I picked up a 1/2 jug of water from a very 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. Even though I was taking small sips, in time the water ran out.
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.