The forecast looked mostly promising until mid-afternoon anyway. We figured we could get most, if not all, of the ride completed before the rains picked up. The trails over the back end of the route hold up well in wet weather and if things got really nasty there was always the road bailout.
Jeff & Nancy were kind enough to host the ride once again and a few of us took them up on their offer to crash at the casa since we were starting the ride at 5:30a. (it doesn't get light until around 7a this time of year)
I had debated a bit on which bike to ride for this, but in the end the singlespeed (SS) won out. Shannon twisted my arm a bit and I thought it would be funny for me to ride a SS, while Jeff was on a geared bike since his SS is currently busted. Plus, I knew the 'ol Voodoo could handle any rough weather thrown its way.
The next morning came quickly, more riders appeared and just like that we were rolling through the neighborhood towards 100 miles of singletrack!! I think I counted 15 riders at the start.
|A bit blurry, but the pack heads towards the trail.|
Jason and I started on Escondido trail together, and I asked him to lead it out. I watched as he pulled away into the darkness, occasionally catching a glimpse of his light warning me of any uphills approaching.
A light rain began to fall during this stretch, but we could still see the moon. I figured it would pass over quickly and it did. There are a few short climbs on Escondido, enough to remind me how hard this day was going to be on the SS. We turned north onto Cinch and I was sort of hoping we wouldn't be doing the Scenic climb, but then I saw a few headlights begin to elevate around the mountain. Scenic, here we come.
About halfway up I had to walk a bit and a few others passed by. We hopped on Pemberton for a short bit, then down Shallmo Wash to the Comp loop staging area where a MBAA event was being held later that morning. We knew about the race and our route overlapped the course for a bit. We figured we'd be very close to being off of it by the time the racers came around.
In the meantime, Jeff had asked me if I had any BB7 brake pads with me since he lost one of his rear pads early on. Nope. He ended up riding over 90 miles with only front brakes, nice. To make matters worse, his chain snapped barely a half mile into the Long loop. Gah!! Nancy and I hung out while he got things figured out. We got rolling again and I could feel my legs had tightened up a bit from standing around. I made a conscious effort to keep my breaks short for the rest of the day.
|Trailside chain maintenance.|
|Hints of blue sky & sun in the early morning hours.|
|The clouds stayed thick all day towards Four Peaks.|
Joe caught up to us as we were leaving the comp loop area and the four of us would stay close to each other most of the day. I was feeling good as the miles ticked by and we reached the west end of the Regional park to rejoin Pemberton once more. I took a short snack break as the others rode on.
I started up Coachwhip trail keeping a keen eye out for racers. Sure enought the two frontrunners came flying down the trail. I stepped off the side of the trail as they flew by, ridiculously fast!! Of course I had to be told by a rider that 'there's a race going on today??' Yeah, no kidding. That's why I'm off the trail standing next to my bike. It was cool to see a bunch of friends tearing it up, all of them saying 'hey' as they flew by. I ended up walking most of the Coachwhip climb to the Windmill split, it was just easier to stay out of the racers way by walking. Once on Windmill we were off course for a while as the route climbed to the top of Prospector trail. I pushed a lot of the way over the final 1/2 mile or so.
|Top of Prospector and the hardest part of the day over. Only 60+ miles to go!!|
|Cool rock formations along Gooseneck.|
|Dark clouds hang over Four Peaks.|
|Mesquite tunnel near a stock pond.|
|Caught up to the gang at the cooler!!|
I made quick work of my Los Hermanos bean burrito and left the cooler a few minutes before the others. My legs were feeling good and we were now about to hit the fast groomed dirt of Brown's Ranch.
I stopped to top off water at the trailhead and I had almost gone through 2L. I took off once again just as the others rolled up. The next few miles were a blur, rippin' down Hackamore trail then Jeff had the route peel off onto some of the old Pima/Dynamite 'Legacy' trails. Mostly cut-in by motos, there are plenty of whoop-de-doos. This particular section winds its way through a massive boulder field. I found myself pushing up many of the short steep inclimes. Heck, I had my only fall of the day here when I lost my footing on the pebble covered rocks while in HAB mode.
|P&D Legacy trail.|
I was glad when we rejoined the Brown's Ranch stuff north of Cone Mtn.
|The trusted Voodoo in SS glory.|
I was really hoping to make it to Gooseneck before the rains came, but conditions were deteriorating rapidly as I turned west onto Renegade. This was my first time riding Renegade westbound, the uphill direction. I wasn't exactly looking forward to grunting up the climbs, but it turned out to be pretty good. I was a bit surprised to hear the clap of thunder and a few lightning flashes - it's January!! One particular flash was a bit close as I was up on a short ridgeline, need to get off of this pronto!! The rain began to lightly fall as I wrapped up Renegade and I knew the heavy stuff was imminent. The rain jacket came out when I reached the turn for High Desert trail and not 2 minutes later the skies opened up!!
|Here comes the rain!!|
The route zigzagged around Granite Mtn then made a beeline back towards Gooseneck. I found Jeff & Nancy at the cooler once again and I think Jeff was surprised when I mentioned how awesome I thought it was riding through the downpour.
I chugged a Mountain Dew and the three of us began the mostly downhill final miles.
|The Sun made its presence known for a bit.|
|A double rainbow showed up too on a few instances.|
It was looking like we'd finish under sunny skies, but that wasn't the case. It began raining on & off over the final few miles, nothing too hard though.
My GPS decided to die at mile 98 and the connection had gotten wet therefore I couldn't use my cache battery to top it off for the last 3 miles. Oh well. That's another reason why I run both a GPS and the Strava app. I like to have my ride data, kind of a ride data geek!!
I finished up shortly after 5p, sky still light. 101 miles complete on a singlespeed, my biggest to date. I was pleased with the ride overall, but I still like my gears. There's a place for both bikes in the stable.
There were only a few of us hanging around at the end which was a bit of a bummer. What really hit the spot were the two crockpots of chili that had been cooking all day and a hot shower!!
A huge thank you to Jeff & Nancy for hosting the event once again and thanks to Joe for more chili & cornbread. Perfect ending to a great day on the trails. Until next year, cheers!