I would like to start off this travel log with an apology to the people in hike-in site 1. Don’t know who you are, but I know we caused more havoc after 9:45 than you deserved. The little folding camp chairs sitting next to your fire ring were a cute reminder that your crew would be paying us back around 6:30 am.
And so we ran back to the parking lot twice trying to be as quiet as possible.
We set camp and were down by 11:30. Must have been 2 am when we had our first visitor, a raccoon. They would come to visit each morning between 1 and 2. They do throw a bit of a fit when you tie down the trashcan lid.
Day 2 at Dinosaur Valley State Park
I needed to go to the car and grab a few things to get breakfast going but wasn’t willing to do the walk of shame past campsite 1. So we waited till they packed up before we showed our face. We ate a big camp scramble using out turkey fryer and big castiron skillet.
Recent rain had brought the river level up a bit and provided the day’s entertainment.
We could not keep people from walking through our camp. This was really annoying. By day 3 we blocked off the makeshift trail from the river to our site. That night I had to be in Stephenville, Texas to shoot video for work.
Day 3 at Dinosaur Valley State Park
After a big breakfast, we packed up and hiked while it was cool. The first half of the hike was pleasant. Most of the hiking trails at the park are located on the other side of the river. So coming or going you have a chance to cool off. We hiked up a way and had lunch on the trail.
Once back at the tent we found a baby squirrel inside.
The afternoon was a repeat of the previous day.
Kids in water, then napping, then I head off to work on a video production.
I made it back to cook tacos for dinner and then hang out by the campfire till bedtime.
Once again the raccoons made a visit, but this time it was while Kendra and I were sitting by the fire.
This trip provided some of the best camping sleep I have ever had. It does help that we used the big camp cots. Grason chooses to be tough and sleep on the floor of the tent.
As people passed by the tracks close to our campsite we would overhear discussions. The best quote all week was,
“There is no way these are millions of years old, they would be washed away long before now.”
Camping at Dinosaur Valley State Park is Awesome.
This is not meant to be the worlds best travel log but a reminder to me and the family about the fun few days we spent on the bank of the Paluxy River in Glen Rose, Texas. The State Park was great and we will be back again to play in the dino tracks, hike and bike the trails.
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,
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.
The Gila section was a big surprise. I’m not sure why more people are not riding out here. It hugged the side of the hill curving back and forth.
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.
In the end, I did get a trophy.
My mother had picked up rocks along the way. She had all members of my family glue them up and now I have a trophy for my efforts.
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.
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.
Included in this listing are a few videos associated with my gear carried during the 2017 AZT300 mountain bike race in southern Arizona. To see more AZT videos from Derrick Perrin please visit https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnIAlMPx0_ZNiRzyvsITyut4IoDTBDUOE
Thanks for watching. If you have questions of comments please jump over to YouTube and comment on each individual video. I would love to hear from you and any suggestions you have to make bike packing better for everyone.
Still working on the trail report from this year’s run at the AZT-300 mountain bike race.
Just wanted to share a clip and a few photos from this year’s race. Me and my 2015 Specialized Camber had a slow and successful run.
It was 10 miles to Picket Post and I was given the opportunity to sit down and pull my tubeless setup. In its place, I dropped in one of my 2 tubes left. Watch as I fuss in agony. Feel free to laugh, I know I do when I look back at this moment.
A note from Scott:
Strong work out there, Derrin. You are welcome. I am glad you
enjoyed the challenge and stuck with it.
I believe you own the 'slowest known time' (SKT) for the 300, which,
in my opinion is a feat more admirable than the fastest known time, in
many ways. Well done.
Cheers and thanks for the note,
The title of this article is a quote from my friend James Ragan. With his sister Mecklin, James headed up the Triumph Over Kid Cancer Origination and encouraged folks to go out and find that one thing they can do to help end childhood cancer. I love the concept of going out there and doing your 1 Thing. Mecklin and the team of TOKC have been working hard to make sure everyone knows that one thing they can do to help end childhood cancer is there and ready to be discovered. Seriously, look for it… it is there waiting to be put into motion and help squash out childhood cancer.
Broken Bones - Not Spirits
Shortly after James passed from cancer I was diagnosed with a cancer by the name of Diffused Large B-Cell Lymphoma. Cancer has a way of changing the way you see the world, and it does it in the blink of an eye. The oncologist found a tumor in my right hip that happened to fracture. To remedy this problem I spent 4 months coming and going to MD Anderson in Houston Texas. I tested into a potent new chemo cocktail by the acronym ePOCH-R.
While at MD Anderson I thought about James a lot. I was walking in the halls he walked in. I was meeting doctors like Valerae O. Lewis who cared for James for so many years.
I do a lot of video editing for the Triumph Over Kids Cancer organization. During my 2nd round of chemotherapy, I edited video for the TOKC Big Easy event. Emotionally it was rough editing because I was sitting there looking at a very live young man talking about doing that one thing, knowing he had passed and this was going to be the first New Orleans event without him. I was lame and didn’t have my one thing yet.
Finding my ONE THING
After chemotherapy, the bone in my hip slowly mended and I rode my bicycle to strengthen my joint. It is still at a deficit, but I’m working hard riding and strength training so I can fix it. As I continued to train and get better I remember a speech from James Ragan. In his speech, James mentions his passion for playing tennis. He was really good and put in a lot of time making himself better. When cancer took away his ability to kick butt in tennis he switched to golf. He didn’t sit down and quit, he found something to believe in and went all in.
That “all in” attitude is contagious. It defiantly got to me. 10 years ago I was a runner, today I’m a rider. James had to hang up one sport he was really good and then shift to something his body would allow him to do. His positive outlook on switching sports gave me the confidence to drop running and start riding.
Last year I started to ride competitively. The type of race I like are ultra endurance self-supported mountain bike events. Training for these events is long and give you a chance to reflect on things happening around you. I keep thinking about James and his fight when I’m out there training. I soon figured out this is my one thing. I can get out and spread the word for TOKC. I jumped on the awareness train and rode it to Arizona. April 2016 was my first time to race, and my first time to ride in the memory of Jame Ragan.
It was an honor to be out there on the trail sporting the TOKC orange.
Last Race - San Angelo State Park
My last race was in October. I rode the 6-hour dinosaur race held at the San Angelo State Park.
Races like these give you the opportunity to ride with your competitors. Sure, you want to beat them, but then again you also want to finish in one piece. During the first 3 hours of racing, I was blessed to meet my new riding friend, Mat Day. The once Marine turned into a Buddhist bike rider now knows all about James, TOKC, and how devastating childhood cancer can be. Every 9 miles you make a lap. You talk, sweat and endure together. I love having the captive audience an endurance race provides.
You really had to meet and spent time with James to know how big a heart he had. I hope my discussions with Mat conveyed a fraction of what James had to offer.
6-hour dinosaur race – San Angelo, TX
Overall I placed 6th in the male solo class. Since this was my first race to finish I was really happy. Next October I will be training and be participating in the 6 hours of the dinosaur race.
Next Race- AZT 300
My first race was April 2016. I made an attempt at the Arizona Trail 300 mile mountain bike race. This is a multi-day event where all riders must support them-self from start to the finish. During ultra-endurance race many riders will pair up and ride together. This is a great opportunity to talk and let folks know about why I ride and who I ride for. That would be James Ragan.
You can read about my last AZT300 ride with a click of the button below.
April 7th 2017 will be the next start of the Arizona Trail 300 mile mountain bike race. I plan to be there on my bike ready to take the abuse. I still have some sponsorship items coming in that will enable my family to make the trip with me.
Sure, I’m still trying to figure out why I like this race so much.
If you supported my 2016 AZT efforts, thank you. Please know your efforts didn’t go away. This year I will be running with all my bike and gear from last years ride. Add that with the knowledge I picked up on the trail and things are looking really positive for a finish in 2017.
I’m looking forward to going out there and doing my one thing to spread awareness on ways people can help TOKC end childhood cancer.
Would you like one thing to do? You can jump on over to http://triumphoverkidcancer.org/donate/ and make something happen today. They are accepting donations 24 hours a day. Just slap my name in the box so they know where the donation is coming from.
The AZT-300 starts in 9 days. There is a lot of moving parts that need to be put into motion before I get to Arizona. Yesterday I was able to cross off one big item from the to-do list. That would be my bike bags. One is pictured to the right. It was custom built for my bicycle by a seamstress here in Corpus Christi. My other bags were a sponsorship item that I can’t wait to load up and test ride. There are a few more sponsorship items coming in before my family hits the road for Arizona.
Here are a few things on the to-do list:
Activate SPOT GPS tracking device
Pay yearly dues to the Arizona Trail Association
Clear race registration
Load the Garmin GPS with the new trail map
Rebuild bicycle medical kit.
Convert to tubeless using my Orange Seal sponsored supplies.
Mount new GoPro mount on the new bicycle helmet
Send thank you cards to my 2016 sponsors
Send thank you to new 2017 sponsors
Secure hotel stays along the way
Clean hydration packs
Pick trail food
Learn how to best pack the new bicycle bags
Print paper maps
Study on trail water locations
And many more
Thanks for taking the time to hear about my one thing. I hope you can find a way to do your one thing to help out. If you need help give TOKC a call and they can point you in the right direction.
Thanks again, and I will keep you posted on how things went after the race is over.
What makes your heart race? Why do you get up every morning? How would you react in the face of tragedy? Who would you give everything for? Life has a way of stopping you in your tracks and making you question everything you think you knew about yourself. It questions your career, your routines, your priorities and everything you previously treasured. There are many experiences too great for one man to bear, and this is mine. Luckily, I did not have to bear it alone, I had the trail and the memory of James Ragan. The trail opened up an outlet for my pain, an opportunity to harness it into strength. In these times we find a deeper self, a new self-reborn from the ashes of tragedy. This is my phoenix song.
Riding a bike on a road is hard. A rider has a long stretch of pavement and has to choose the right gears and the right time to spend their energy on. If they have trained hard and chosen wisely, they will come out on top of the competition. In the world of ultra, mountain bike racing it is far more complicated.
For me ,racing the Arizona Trail was never about one person on a bike racing other mountain bike riders. It was never about being stronger than folks who never went out to ride. It was always about the opportunity to learn and grown in life. Join me on my adventure.
I cry every day. How is that for a manly statement? But seriously, over the last few years there has been something on my mind that makes me emotional. It was never something I asked for, but it is something I’m trying to accept. CANCER.
It never really went away. Sure, my cat scans show clean now but the way I think will forever be changed. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Cancer. On most days you can probably say that not an hour goes by without Cancer coming to mind. There is one thing that helps push it out of mind. That one thing is riding a bike down the side of a mountain. When you are trying to find the right line and make it to the bottom without killing yourself, the mind has nowhere to wander. On those brief stretches of trail the thought of cancer vanishes.
Fight Club on wheels
Males often watch the film “Fight Club” and think for a second that such an event would be a lot of fun. Others think they want to start up a club in their basement. I, for one, think the rush would be fantastic, but the threat of death would be too great.
In mid-April I rode a race that felt like I was in a fight club.
It is open to all, with no gender or transgender issues. The trail really doesn’t care what is in your Lycra, it just wants you.
It will beat you up, spit you out and after your wounds heal, it will have you begging for more. In a majority of the trail reports many riders have a “losing it” moment. I think it’s losing something while finding it all at the same time. I wanted to go out and find that thing.
Derrick Perrin on Chemotherapy outpatient MD Anderson, Houston, Texas.
August, 2 years ago, I was thirty-six, and a married father of three little ones under the age of five. This is the year I was handed a MRI report. I was looking for a torn hip cup or Bursitis, but what I found was cancer and a fracture in my right hip. The fracture came from falling off my bike while having a tumor. The tumor was due to Lymphoma Cancer. I went from seeing one doctor in five years to seeing five doctors in one day. I chose MD Anderson as my cancer care center because they were well known for getting the job done. My friends over at Triumph Over Kids Cancer made my choice easy. Their son James had received care there and the world knows them as the top in cancer research and care.
Cancer has a way of jacking up your entire life. You can’t just have hardships like waking up super early to make a four-hour drive to a doctor’s appointment, oh no, you have to have a flat tire on the way. Or you complete your last round of chemotherapy, you ring the celebration bell, you drive home and find your toilet valve has been leaking for the last few days and you have to rip out your hardwood floors at 2am. It’s a snowball effect. It sucks but you work to get passed it. You are not prepared for things to multiply into worse problems. All you want to do is take care of your health, but life keeps throwing it at you. But once again you learn to live like that. You learn to anticipate problems and fix them as they come up. God teaches you to be patient and to work harder. He has given you the ability to see and fix the things around you.
4 months and 6 rounds of chemotherapy later my scans all showed negative for cancer. I still had the bike that tried to kill me and I had a crazy idea. (Read more about that story here) That idea was to ride in ultra, off-road mountain bike races. The top of my list were:
Tour Divide Ride from Canada to Mexico on the Continental Divide
I don’t know how cancer affects other people, their brain, their faith, their body, or their soul. I know that my fight with cancer has worked to strengthen all. It woke me up. In the back of the mind there will always be a why me? Why so young? The year I was diagnosed, two of my friends younger than I had died from cancer.
First it was James Ragan. He passed after battling osteosarcoma and left a legacy behind. So proud to ride for him and for his organization, Triumph Over Kid Cancer.
The most recent was a previous client of mine, Christina, who passed from Lymphoma in her hip. Well, guess what? I had Lymphoma in my hip. Death was coming soon. I looked at the mortality charts studying them as if I had control. Five years is considered a survivor in the cancer world. 56% of folks with my cancer don’t make their year anniversary. I set out to make these five years amazing.
The balance game begins
Why sit through round after round of chemotherapy? Why sit and sign medical waivers to take drugs for your cancer that are all known to cause cancer? What will life be like with Leukemia? Who, What, Where, Why, When? The cloud of questions circles your head like a cartoon character that just got hit in the head with a frying pan. You balance opportunity to live longer with the possibility of getting a secondary cancer.
Wednesday April 13
I packed the last bit of goods I thought I was going to need for the race. I ran into Roger Brittain at “The Pedal” bike shop when I was picking up my bike. He had heard about my story and wished me luck. At the shop I had a last minute bike tune-up and hit the road. Day 1 – Drive from Corpus Christi to Sierra Blanca’s only lodge, Americana Inn Motel.
Thursday April 14, 2016
The hotel had a nice sloped parking lot and Benjamin had his balance bike. This was a good combination. Grason played army men in the parking lot while Kendra begged for two extra towels from the angry man at the front desk. Our 1am arrival time might have had something to do with his grumpiness. We headed west for Sonoita, Arizona. El Paso and Deming were our last two major stops for camping gear. I had a feeling that my recently purchased pannier bags were not going to be a good fit for my bike rack. On the drive I purchased another Sea to Summit bag at Dicks Sporting Goods in El Paso. Walmart in Deming, New Mexico provided the last day packing jitters. You sit there looking at a million items and think, in a day I will not have access to any of this. What, if any, of this crap do I need to pack on the bike? Opportunities, right?
Later in the day we arrived in the village of Sonoita and the Xanadu ranch in time for check-in.
Time to load the bike for the first official test drive. A half mile trek proved the panniers were sketchy and the last minute Dicks trip would pay off. We ran for dinner and then to scope out the turn off where the pavement ends and the 4×4 trial begins north of town. Back at the guest ranch I packed my gear and went for another test ride. Successful pack and time to sleep.
Trail Day 1 - Friday April 15, 2016
Game day. Load the bike, load the kids and head south to Parker Lake. The drive was fast and beautiful. One day I would like to go back and do it without racing to get to a race. I was happy to pull in behind the Broadway Bicycle Team so they could lead the way to the trail head. The area was buzzing with bikes, dogs and pre-race jitters. Scott was kind enough to hop up on a truck bed and give everyone a welcome and a few housekeeping items. By 8am the AZT750 races were passing the trail head. They started at 7am and had already booked ten miles of trail. I knew I was not a race contender so when everyone jetted out I was still hugging my children and trying not to cry. We shared an emotional prayer and I hopped up on my ride and headed north. I must have gotten excited by the race because I hopped on the bike and hit the trail before Kendra had a chance to snap a shot of me. Who am I kidding, with each minute there I had more and more tears welling up. I didn’t want her to see me cry. I just wanted to start this journey.
Within the first few miles I laid it over, lost a cell phone and was having a genuine blast on the trail. When I found my cell phone was missing I turned around and headed back past the gate I just closed. There it was glass side up covered in a layer of dirt. Phone back in bag, I headed north again. Winded, I chose to hike the bike up the next big climb. I jumped back on the bike, made a few pedal revolutions and hisssssss! The rear tire kissed a rock and got a gash.
Insert rookie mistake #1 here: I had packed line, thread, and needles to sew up my tire. It still had a good bead on the time when it was spewing out Stan’s NoTubes. I was trying to think how to get back on the bike fast. After pumping up a bit of pressure and watching more Stan’s fall out what did I go for? Nope, not the needle and line, not the superglue, but a tube. The tube held fine and my side gash problem disappeared. While fixing the tire I was able to visit with a lot of the seven hundred and fifty riders as they hiked along. My five-minute fix was dragged out by my choice to video the situation. It took longer than thirty minutes and that was too long even for the best of video demonstrations. I then had to hike off trail and be with nature.
Somewhere I ran into Grace. She was a through hiker looking to make eight hundred miles from there to her destination. I would pass her on the downhills and she would kick my ass on the up hills. She made me think hiking the first fifteen with a bike on your back might be a good idea.
Enter the Jack. Jack is from Eugene Oregon and somewhere down the path he lost a bicycle wheel. See Jack rides a mountain unicycle by Kris Holm Unicycles. Yes, you read that right. A one wheeled machine set to travel seven hundred and fifty miles from Mexico to Utah. Jack is a very determined twenty-three-year-old setting off to do something that has never been done. The AZT750 is listed as the world’s hardest mountain bike race and Jack decided to make it more difficult. Jack had a jack up his sleeve. See, Jack knows one of the most difficult parts of the 750 is packing your bike in and out of the Grand Canyon. The nation park does not allow any wheels to touch the ground. So when others are nearing the end of the 750 and working extra hard to hike a bike on their back, Jack will simply mount up his one wheel and move on. Smart move Jack. Glad he is out there making opportunities happen for himself. At this point in the race we played follow the leader until my 2nd mechanical error.
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.
Derrick Perrin calls in from the trail. Audio provided by MTBCast
I then pedaled two miles off course to bed down at the Xanadu Guest Ranch. I plugged in all my rechargeable gear. I took in some water and a morphine bomb oil capsule. The warm shower was nice but when I got out I had trouble controlling my body temp. I had a fit of shivering and shaking before warming up to sleep. I crawled into bed thinking this is the first time I have ever done one thing for 16 hours. It was tough and that is what I came to Arizona for.
I sleep hard and woke up in damp sheets. Argh, sweated it out. Night sweats are always a system asked by my oncologist. It was not the sweat but coughing that woke me. It seemed like every hour on the hour I had a persistent urge to cough hard deep. From five to nine, sleep was good.
Start of day on the Arizona Trail – Call to MTB Cast
Packed up and headed out of Xanadu Guest Ranch so I called in before stopping for a burger and supplies at the local market.
Trail Day 2 - Saturday April 16, 2016
I woke up with the plan to inspect my front axle, pack the bike and be rolling by eleven. I would ride till sunset and try to bed down for some solid rest before hitting the trail before sunup. “Two Days To Tucson” was the theme I started with. Sure it sounded like a cheep B-list spaghetti western, but for me it was a huge adventure in the making. I would get there no matter what, get the bike fixed, and lay up in a hotel for a solid day before moving on to tackle the climb up Mt. Lemmon.
The AZT quickly reminds you that it’s not just about riding a bike from point A to point B. Kendra and the kids were set to leave for Tombstone at the same time if it hadn’t been for the flat tire on the Durango. Lucky for us, the innkeepers had a plug and were nice enough to fix the flat. They headed out at 11am and I was back on the bike a little after noon. I stopped for a few snacks at the market. I packed a fresh local brownie and a Perrier water for the road. Next stop was a burger for now and one for the road. The burger for now had all the fixings and the one for the road was plain with cheese. They hold better in the pack if you leave off the tomatoes and condiments. By 1PM I called my grandparents and MTBcast and was ready to set sail.
The winds from Friday had spilled over to Saturday and I was pedaling right into them. With the wind also comes dirt and allergens. The trail takes you from Sonoita north. Once off the pavement you head west on 4×4 trails until you meet up with the AZT300. I passed two dirt tanks and topped off at the first one. When I arrived I rushed to down two liters of water, leaving me with one left that was red from my beet juice powder mix. I topped it off and dropped in some tablets. For some reason I checked the label on the tablets and read “neutralizing tablets”. I had dropped in the wrong ones. Now I had to empty the entire mix and start over. So here we go again with new pond water and new tablets. Thirty minutes down the jeep trail it was time to put some food in and let some food out.
I packed up lunch while talking to my brother James. I kept on pushing into the wind. Somewhere I came to a fork in the road and stooped to post up my bike and take a scenic photo. Looks like Hog Canyon was 3 miles ahead.
Out of the blue a rider appeared. His name was Steve and for the next two hours we talked and played follow the leader back and forth into the Santa Rita Mountains. Steve rode a Specialized Camber mountain bike just like me. By the time we reach Kentucky camp (7:52pm) Steve was the lead dog and I happily followed. We fielded a few questions by the campers and then jumped back on the bikes. On our way out of camp one guy lined up his kids and they clapped and cheered us on. We hit the top of the road north of the camp and I made another call in to MTB Cast.
Left – Steven Barnard right – Derrick Perrin at Kentucky Camp
Phone call to MTBCast from the top of Kentucky Camp
MTBCast: Arizona Trail Race ’16 – Derrick Perrin called in from Kentucky Camp – Riding with Steven Barnard, 750 racer.
At sunset we stop for dinner and to update our attire. I quickly learned I put on too many layers. I didn’t want to sweat out my clothing and then really get cold.
I found a nice balance between clothing and gloves. My body could endure a lot more if I had my ears and hands covered. My ski gloves with vent zippers open worked great. These were for riding and also part of cold weather sleeping gear. We set a game plan for the one-hundred mile mark. I’m still not sure if that was one-hundred miles into the race, or one-hundred miles for the day, and whose race? Steve’s 750 or my 300? Well at the time it sounded like a hell of a plan so I signed up. We hit the trail as Steve hit the music. Boy, oh boy, did he have a collection. I made a game of name that tune or artist. I think I did a fair job of getting all the 70’s and 80’s right. Kenny Rodgers threw me for a loop. Somewhere along the trail I discovered I should have carried more water. Steve seemed to have bottles mounted everywhere. We made a good push and found a water well. I didn’t want to wait the thirty min for water so during that time I cracked my sparkling water and drank it. Why didn’t I fill it back up? Rookie mistakes.
Water well on the Arizona Trail
We headed on and by 3:30am Steve was starting to push, but by 4:30 it was me pushing. We had passed two game cameras by then. I’m wondering if the person manning those cameras could send me a night time photo? Two times we stopped and grabbed a bite to eat. I was dead set on sleeping by water. I was going to fill up before bed and have it there for breakfast. So we pushed on passing one possible water hole with a report of “floating fish” somewhere. We found decent downhill single track just outside of the forest boundaries. Steve yelled “Stop right there, put your hands up, and yell,” so I did. “What was that for?” his reply, “You just passed the one hundred-mile mark!” I was happy because anything beyond this was pushing beyond the previously set goal. In this stretch I accidentally donated my ski gloves to the trail.
We pressed on to Twin Tanks. Just a fourth of a mile off trail there was another racer that we never saw. We set camp while the sun was coming up. It was beautiful. I called my parents since they had been watching my dot all night long. I filled up my water system and dropped more iodine tablets into the mix. I don’t think either one of us caught any sleep. Getting warm was a challenge. I put on all layers of clothing including my sock gloves. I had cracked a few hand warmers for my feet and hands. Everything was good except for my legs. They were cold and my arms were getting hot. I soon pulled my puffer jacket off my arms and placed my legs in the arm holes. Bingo perfect body temp. I was glad I was tucked in my bivy and the rest of the world couldn’t see this bike riding fool with a puffer coat on his legs.
I crawled into bed thinking this is the first time I have ever done one thing for 18 hours straight.
Sunrise over Twin Tanks
Trail Day 3 - Sunday April 17, 2016
It was unclear if I stayed up too late or got up too early.
Call in from start of day 3
MTBCast: Arizona Trail Race ’16 – Derrick Perrin called in Twin Lakes
Camping on the Arizona Trail.
Once I laid down and got warm I began to cough hard. I then had labored breathing. I felt like my airway was closing up and I had to work hard to pump air in and out of my lungs. I was a wheezer. I got rest but no sleep before the trucks rolled in. Who knew that Twin Tanks was such a good fishing hole? Five families were hanging out, catching fish. I stuck my head out of my sack to see a pack of runners on the trail. Seems like Sunday morning was a great day to run a half marathon on the Arizona Trail. Later, I would be thankful for these runners and the infrastructure they required. We packed up. I called my Mom and let her know the plan was to ride to Tucson and get my wheel fixed and lay up for a night in a hotel. I waited to get to a hot shower and sit there to breath in the humid air. I also called MTB Cast to let them know it was a short, crappy night but I was on the trail following Steve. A few more miles down the trail I called again after being energized by some really nice single tracks. My energy was up but I still knew this could be my last day of riding. I broke out the camera and shoot video as I moved along. I was moving to slow and Steve hustled on.
At the lake I didn’t pack my rear rack well. Somewhere I lost my extra tire. I figured this would be an important thing to go back for. I ditched the bike off trail and hiked back a fourth mile to pick up my spare tire. I ran into a few local riders. One couple ask if I was the sick one riding the AZT300. I’m guessing they had run into Steve ahead. Yep, that is me. I hit a gate and then a port-a-potty before crossing over the road. Thank you runners and your necessities. It was nice having a potty to poop in. I will call that trail magic. I know there was at least one racer who called this potty home early Saturday morning.
I then kept moving up the trail. It was heating up and I had to remove clothing and apply sun block. I must have fought with myself for fifteen minutes before stopping and taking care of the issue. I knew it was going to be a hot day. I knew my long johns were not for day riding. I knew my ninja hood needed to come off, but I didn’t want to stop. I had to work hard to convince myself that switching would be beneficial to me and the race.
Once I found shade, the clothing came off and the sunblock went on. This was also a good time for a mid-morning snack. Proud of my ability to take care of simple things, I rode on.
AZT crossing under US 83
For some reason making it under 83 and I-10 were big for me. Maybe I have read too many bicycle trail reports. These locations were the noted objects that won’t poke or sting you. My next scheduled stop was the watering hole next to the train bridge/crossing. The report said “Watch out of hobos”. After riding for three days in the dirt, I didn’t think a hobo was going to want anything I have to offer.
Trail angel time
The trail passed by a parking lot and I wasn’t sure if there was water at that trailhead or not. I asked a lady and she pointed me up to the staging area where the half marathon had started. I asked where the bib was and she said use the cooler. I was only going to grab a liter and head for the hobo place. Come to find out they were closing up shop for the day and offered me food and fruit. So I topped off my three letters knowing they were about to dump the water in the desert. Why I didn’t grab a banana I don’t know. I pushed north. I found myself on single track surround by ocotillo and then turned the corner and was surrounded by creosote bush. I really enjoyed this part of the trail. It was getting hot when I hit the rail road crossing and saw the first bunch of Socorro cactus.
You made the 100 mile mark – Popsy
“Thanks, I needed that” – Derrick
This section had evil rocks, but some of it was a rideable. Once around, I could see the little ranch caller La Posta Quemada. I came across several day hikers and dog walkers in this section. I had no Idea I was fourteen paved miles from the bike shop at this point. Rookie mistake #3: Know your maps and your GPS. In hindsight, I should have dropped down to the cave for a water refill before hitting the pavement for Broadway Bicycle. Laid up for a day, rode back out to the cave and hit the trail. This is what I actually did. I kept hitting the pedals until the La Selvilla camp site. I knew there would be water there but I didn’t know there would be a Steve there. When I rolled up I didn’t know it was him. All I knew is there was a bike packer on a picnic table. He yelled out, “It’s you! I thought you were a goner.” I rolled up and spouted out, “Donde este la agua”. His reply, “I don’t understand”, “where the hell is the water”, “right over there, it doesn’t turn off and there are hornets all around”. I didn’t care. I had ridden the last forty-five minutes without water and I wanted some. The hornets turned out to bees and I turned into wet. I wasn’t the first person to bath in the faucet that day and I have a feeling I wasn’t the last. I set camp on a picnic table, I got some rest, while coughing up a lung. Had to find a spot in the tree shade that had part sun and part shade.
Tapping Out - The Scratch
Food & Water
I was at the end of a long day with less that three hours of sleep in the last thirty hours. This was not in the plans. Giving up on the front half was not a good effort. My windpipe was closing, my lungs were full of crap and I could only think of my last blood work at MD Anderson. My white blood cell counts were on the rise, but still lower than the any Arizona Trail bike racer. Sure, there were things I was willing to face over the week. Cuts, bruises, mental fatigue, and muscle pains were the expected fighters. My rising partner for the previous day had been so positive. Everything was achievable when riding with Steve. He had been there. He heard me try to sleep. He saw the pile of lung contaminants on the park bench. He knew it was time for me to call, but that I didn’t want to accept it. This was the first time he was not positive. When asked how it was to ride with Derrick, Steve said,
“Good ride, Its been fun. Helped me get me over the top of the hill. Its just too deep in the lungs. You just need to just back out. It hurts, it really hurts. I know how you feel. I love you and be safe.”
For my rookie run I don’t think I could have had a better riding buddy. Thank you Steve for babysitting me on the ride. After re-watching the race playback on http://trackleaders.com/ I was really surprised I didn’t meet Steve on day one. Each time I had a mechanical, he would get within thirty minutes of me.
Call in from end of day 3
MTBCast: Arizona Trail Race ’16 – Derrick Perrin calls the race due to breathing problems.
Post Trail Days
I was riding for me and my fight over Cancer.
I was riding for James Ragan who is not with us because of Cancer.
I was riding to show folks you can go do monumental things after fighting Cancer.
I failed after one hundred miles of trail. The hardest part of the trail was hitting the help button on my spot GPS. It hurt. I had to call my supporters and tell them I was done. I had to call James’ Parents and let them know I was not able to make it to the end.
For the past three days I had let everyone know how I was doing by pressing the “ok” or “not so okay” buttons on my spot GPS. The device was setup to send a text to my supporters who were watching the race back home and to make a post on Facebook. Not once had I thought about hitting the “I’m done, please come pick me up from the trail” button.
I knew that hitting that button would post to the world that I had scratched. During the ride I was wondering how I could do it better next time. Did my flat and broken front tire hold me back from being where I wanted to be on day 2? As I sat there ready to push the end button the thought of not having another chance to ride the Arizona Trail again came to mind. What if this, what if that, what if I keep riding and my week immune system fails me completely. What if the Cancer comes back before I get to pedal another stoke on my bike.
If Cancer only taught me one thing, it is that plans and what you think the future holds will not be what you can expect. Friends that you thought were going to be there can vanish into memories and opportunities are there for the taking, but there is never going back for them.
Kendra came and picked me up next to the sign that read “Tucson 14 miles” How painful is that? We saw Steve on our way into town and cheered him on. We hoped him well and were happy to see he made town that night.
There are always trade offs when you choose one opportunity over another. I passed up the opportunity to complete the Arizona Trail 300 Mountain Bike Race. I opened up the opportunity to eat breakfast for dinner at Waffle House in Tucson, Arizona with my family. I was really out of it and the food helped a lot. A hot shower at the hotel helped me clear out my lungs. We got up the day after and looked at the opportunities we had now as a family I knew once I called it there was no going back. Kendra offered and I had to say no with tears in my eyes. I had come off the trail and that was that. The Arizona Trail ride was dead. But I was alive. And I needed to move on.
I was glad to have my family at my side as I recovered from trail life.
Balmorhea State park was on the short list of things we must do on the way back home. We made it there by way of White Sands, New Mexico and visiting family in Kermit, Texas. Balmorhea did not disappoint. We loved day one so much we booked a second day and really enjoyed the time together. Recovering in a 74 degree pool was amazing.
Doubt set in a few days later. I was so close to Tucson when I called the race. I was so close to having a bike that was 100% again. I was, I was stabbing at the way things could have and should have happened. My old basketball coach, Casy Jones, had a saying that fit this moment. That saying was, “Coulda, shoulda, ain’t shit!?” He is right, if I could have continued I should have continued, and I would have completed the race. Life went down the way it was meant to be.
I often ponder the trail I chose not to take, the moment I knew I was done, if I could have changed my fate. But in these moments I realize I was in control the whole time. I could have given up at the diagnosis. I could have given up at the month of chemotherapy. I could have given up when I felt myself changing. But I continued. Now I know you can’t live your life for the marker. You have to live through the journey of getting the marker. My experience was amazing, but it would have been nothing without my family waiting to comfort me and my friends waiting to cheer me on. We did this. I did this. And so can you.
I thank God for the safe ride and the adventure of a lifetime. I thank my family for supporting me on my “crazy trip into the wilderness” and I thank James Ragan for showing me how to go out and find that one thing.
Things I would do different if given the chance to ride the trail again.
Use an inline filter for my hydration pack. This would save time on each water refill.
Plan a mail drop in Oracle, AZ – This would let me carry less of a load over the trail.
I will leave you with the video that started this adventure. Thanks for reading.
Arizona Trail 300 Mountain Bike Race – Report by Derrick Perrin
Bike packing gear for the Arizona Trail 300 mile mountain bike race
Bike packing gear Arizona Trail 300 – Take this list for what it is worth. On my April 2016 run of the Arizona Trail Race I rode 112 miles before tapping out due to a respiratory issue. My gear never failed me and I was happy with the bikepacking gear I took with me.
This post is setup as an inventory. I tell little about the trail or my time on the bike. This is just a list with some photos of the items I thought important enough to carry down the Arizona Trail.
There is always a fine line between an objects usefulness and its weight. Choose wisely. This is my list of gear I took on the Arizona Trail this year. Please comment below on any gear you would have left behind, or any bike packing gear you can’t live without.
I upgraded my pedals to “Bennies Platform Pedal” MXGRN ANO. These pedals have an unbelievable amount of traction. Just a warning to wear soccer shin guards, and upgrade your shoes before stepping up to the Bennies.
Beenies is French for jab you in the shins and make you bleed.
Took an assortment of goods and packed them into a Pelican 1050 Micro Case Series water tight locking container. We made a run to Walgreen’s and grabbed items that would be useful on the trail. My oldest son Grason was very involved with my first aid kit. Thanks for helping out son. Glad you are on my team.
I switched from my Specialized Hardrock to a new Camber a week before the race. This changed up a lot of my luggage and bags. I had planned on a rear rack, handlebar, triangle, and back bag. The new bike frame nixed the center bike triangle bag. So with loss of space I grabbed a pair 2 sea to summit bags from my local Dick’s Sporting Goods.
The bike that got replaced – My 2013 Specialized Hardrock Comp 29er – with kid bucket on the back.
Packing gear for the Arizona Trail 300 mountain bike race
My back pack was a Kelty Basin 15 Hydration Pack. Its max space is 15L. The reservoir held 3 letters of liquid leaving me with 12L of space. I tried not to pack clothing and light weight gear in my back pack. I did this so there would be less of a load on my back and shoulders. I packed my water tablets and some food on my back.
After washing by pack I filled it up with water and it tasted like a backyard water hose. No one wants that. Sure it will jog a childhood memory, but nothing else good comes of it. I switched out my bladder with a Camelback Antidote 70oz / 3L reservoir. This did the trick. The removal straw was great for refilling the pack and getting me back on the trail.
Keeping it clean
Purification was done with Potable Aqua tablets. I also packed a 16oz bag with a Sawyer filter on it. The tablets take 30 minutes to bake the water and another 5 to neutralize the first tabs you dropped in the water. I broke out the Sawyer filter late in day 1 just to test it out and to bypass the 35 minute tablet wait time.
Next ride I will be connecting my Sawyer as on inline filter. I till tap in into my straw. I will still have to figure out how to get my electrolyte since the filter will knock them out.
Kelty – Basin 15L
On my frame I carried a standard water bottle. I bought it at my local bike shop called, The Pedal. This was full of nuts the entire race. I had planned on using it as dry food storage and as a backup for my camelback.
Some spots were green while others were brown, but I never passed up a chance to top off my water supply.
Yea I know slapping a compression bag on your front bar and wrapping it up with a bungee might not be the best way to pack your gear when riding but it worked good for me. The stuff sack on my back bike rack carried the gear the same way. The bottom end of the bag was tied to my seat post and the rest was tied with niteize tie downs. The open end was secured down and topped off with a bungee cord.
MY HANDLEBAR BAG WAS A SMALL COMPRESSION BAG FROM SEA TO SUMMIT:
Size Variation S
Length 7 in/
Height/Depth 16 in/
Weight 4.5 oz/128g
Volume 10 liter to 3.3 liter
On my back rack I could carry a bit more and went with a large compression bag from Sea to Summit:
Size Variation L
Length 9 in /
Height/Depth 20 in/
Weight 6.2 oz/175g
Volume 20 liter to 6.5 liter
Here is what I packed at the start of the race
Nuts & Seeds
Chocolate – 5 bars of 90% dark organic chocolate – 1200 calories per bar
Pop Tarts – 3 packs of berry goodness
A gluten free chocolate chip cookie
You can’t exactly pull over and pick up a power aid. I relied on Nuun electorate tablets. These tablets are great for hydration and keeping salt in your system. I also packed pink Himalayan salt.
I like my daily coffee, well lets say I like coffee daily. Its good stuff and caffeine is great for keeping you going. On road trips I travel with HEB’s Central Market Organics instant coffee. This give me the option to run in, buy a hot cup of water and make organic coffee on the run. It didn’t work so well on the trail. It seems that all the water is cold out there. I got in the habit or taking a pinch and holding in my mouth. Next, add a mouth full of water and make a mouth full of espresso. Thank you Mathew Lee for that tip.
Bearings after the crash
Parts to keep going
I packed a lot of goodies for the ride. Figuring I was not a contender for a sub 5 day finish, I wanted to be safe and not sorry. I had been working on upgrading my hard tail Specialized Hardrock before the race. Some of the items set for the HR were:
SRAM x5 rear shiftier
Spair shift cable
SRAM x7 derailleur
Power link chain connector
Since I had the new Camber I just packed these goodies as spare parts for this years run. A mini took kit was also part of the pack.
I packed one spare tire, 3 spare tubes and one bottle of Stan’s NoTubes. My sewing kid also had a few feet of fishing line in it. I was planning to use this on any side gashes.
GoPro has made a name for itself in the video world, but have not been able to perfect audio. Thankfully they made cameras with mic inputs. I modified my GoPro case to accept an external lapel microphone. I packed 2 batteries made by Wasabi Power. The GoPro can be externally powered so when I was taping a hole for the mic I also tapped one for the USB connection. This allows the GoPro to be powered by one of my USB lithium ion battery packs.
GoPro up on top
I packed a lapel microphone to hook into the GoPro. I also packed a small Olympus audio recorder in my rucksack. WS-822 is the model. It uses one AAA battery that is rechargeable via usb. The lapel works great with this unit. I plan on recording long stretches of tail some with and some without video.
Cracked Garmin GPSMAP64
The Garmin was my heavy hitter for the trail. I also had my Samsung S4 loaded up with the trail notes, water reports and PDF copies of all my gear. The Arizona Trail site has an app for purchase that is very useful. http://www.aztrail.org/apps.html
Make sure you download all the information in the app before heading out on the trail. Some spots have great reception but don’t plan on having any.
Old school mapping
I carried paper ques for the entire AZT300. This would list trail descriptions and where to turn. The Arizona Trail is different for hikers and mountain bikers.
Since water is a big concern I pack a hard copy of all the watering holes. This was up to the week accurate when printed. http://www.aztrail.org/watersources.php
For years I have been a subscriber to Spot GPS. For this race I upgraded to the Spot Gen3. This added one more outgoing message capacity. If you are ever going out in the world and need some safety you might want to look at getting one of these.
I tried to keep it simple. There is few options to plug in while on the trail. All of my bike lights take AA or AAA batteries. This included my head lamp mounted to my bicycle helmet.
I bought Anker 8 watt foldable solar charger. It has one usb connection and the capabilities to mount to your back pack and charge while you hike or ride.
My main charger pack was the Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger, The Smallest and Lightest 10000mAh External Battery, 10000mAh – Model: A1263 X000X6WKNR Ultra-Compact Fast-Charging-Technology Power Bank for iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and More
I had two other lithium ion battery packs rated at 1000 mAh.
It was important to have charging capabilities because my life support devices depend upon it. GPS, SPOT Gps, and my phone all have micro USB connections and can be externally powered. My Sony pocket camera can also be powered and charged by usb.
It is true, you must wear clothing on the Arizona Trail. A rider must be prepared for hot days and cold desert nights. Once again a rider must balance between light and right.
Triumph Over Kids Cancer helped with clothing in a big way. Each year they host a lot of fund raising events. Each event is sport driven in some way. May is the golf scramble, then in September the Giddy Up race, and November a volleyball tournament. I was able to have a run at any left over attire from the TOKC head office.
Rain was not in the forecast, but I wanted to be prepared. I bought a set of frogg toggs from Academy Sports in Corpus Christi.
A down puffer coat was also a must have. They pack extremely small and are light weight. The one I ordered last minute from Amazon came in in true knock off no name fashion, with the zipper on the wrong side. So I’m set to ride in a woman’s coat.
Layering up is the way to go. My base setup is a pair of Specialized mountain bike shorts on top of boxer brief undies. I ride in a white long sleeve shirt so I don’t have to coat my arms in sun block.
For this race I purchased a Field & Stream hooded long sleeve shirt with thumb holes at the end of the sleeve.
The hood is a ninja variety. I can close up the mask and cover my entire face except for my eyes. This makes for a great wind break and keeps warmth where it needs to be.
When it gets cold I will toss on my long johns and keep the shorts on. My smart wool socks will also come out for cold weather riding. There will be a balance between riding and cooling. If you ride hard when its cold you will sweat and then it will start to evaporate and chill your body. My friends at TOKC gave me a few extra shirts to leave behind. This will lighten my load as I ride and have a desire for clean clothing. On warm days I will be riding in swift wick socks. In the past few years I have relied on Swift Wick socks for my running activities.
My bike was 5 days old 3 days before the race. Those 5 days I was completing my final training workouts and trying to break in the new Camber bike. Wednesday morning I dropped it by The Pedal bike shop for a last second tweak before hitting the road. A man approached me in the parking lot and wished me good luck. At the time I didn’t know who he was but was glad to learn it was Roger Brittain and it was great to have a fan before we left Corpus Christi.
Travel stop. Took us 16 hours of drive time to get there.
Bike packing gear Arizona Trail 300
Thanks for reading. Once again, I only made the 112 mile mark. To me my bike packing gear seemed solid. The one thing I wish I had packed was a camp stove and a coffee cup. Hot morning oatmeal would have been an awesome way to start the day. If I was to go out and run it again on the same budget I had, I would do it exactly the same. If you have any questions please reach out. Derrick @ bigboxpro dot com
This scrap of note was found in my draft bin. Just sticking it out there as a reminder of how I felt coming off the AZT.
Day 3, my last day on the Arizona Trail.
I unpacked my bags off the bike and was able to get my bike on my rack. I had to have help using my tie down straps. My hands were not functioning well. Hand strength was something of a sore subject. I didn’t have much in the ring and pinky department. Kendra had to thread the come-a-long strap so I could ratchet my bike in place. The previous night I had dumped my regular glasses on the trail so I was left with only sunglasses.
My fingernails were dinged up and needed cut. I didn’t have the strength to trim them. I had to put the trimmers on the counter and then insert a nail before pressing down with my palm. This got the job done but made for ugly nails. I had issues controlling my body temp at night. This might have something to do with the abundance of iodine I was taking. This was all in the name of pure water. Well, water that was good enough to keep me hydrated.
Bikepacking the AZT300
In 2017 I was able to make it to Parker Canyon and start the Arizona Trail Race again. If you care to read about it, please move on over to the page. Thanks for reading about my adventures.