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.