11.05.2011

AES BCT SS

What does it mean? It was time again for the annual Arizona Endurance Series (AES) Black Canyon Trail (BCT) ride! SS? Oh yeah, my bike was in the shop due to neglect on my front suspension. My friend, Jeff, answered my call for a loaner bike and hooked my up with a Single Speed 29er. I've been wanting to try one out, so why not jump right in with both feet and trek it along a 50 mile ride.  A few of my friends expressed some concern and even ribbed me a bit to make sure I brought lights!

I picked up the bike 2 days prior to the race & wanted to get out on it for a quick spin around the East Loops at  SoMo. I had to have an idea of what I may be in for.  Only a few hundred feet onto the dirt, going up the first incline, I was off the bike because I was not ready for the bigger gearing. Hmmm, this could be interesting. After finishing my 4 mile loop I sometimes ride over lunch break, I counted 7 times that I was off the bike! I too began to have some contemplation over what I was getting myself into.

I started playing the mental game of 'There's only 3 substantial climbs on BCT & 2 of them are on dirt road". I just need to get past the first two and I should be good. How much walking will I be doing? I hope I'm still having fun?!?!

Sat. rolled around, I stopped by Seron's place to carpool & we were off to the start in Rock Springs. The weather forecast had everyone a bit on edge, it showered during the night & was raining as we made our way across the northern parts of the Valley.  Temps were cool, but not uncomfortable.  As we were getting ready to go at the staging area the showers ended and the buzz of the ride began to filter throughout the gathering of vehicles.

The BCT is one of the best singletrack trails I've been on, built with mountain biking in mind, with great flow & sweeping views. Our route for the day would take us north from Rock Springs on Maggie Mine Rd. for 21 miles to the high point of the day at Antelope Canyon.  From there it was 95% singletrack back to the start, generally downhill.  The first 5 miles of the ride are fast downhill pavement miles, then the dirt begins and shortly thereafter the first of two big climbs. Here we go.

We pulled over to shed some layers as the pack of riders pulled away up the climb. I jumped back on the SS and began the climb. Almost instantly I was out of the saddle just trying to keep turning the cranks over. I found a bit of a rhythm, stand for about 10 strokes, sit for 4, repeat. I was able to keep it going and the next thing I knew I started to see some of the group ahead of us. Could I really be catching some people?? I don't pass many people in general, I especially don't pass (or even see) other people on long AES rides!! I made it to the top in one go, then waited for a few minutes for Seron, who was chugging right along. I fully expected him to catch & pass me, but I think he settled into a lower gear because I'm not that much of a stronger rider. In fact I think he is a bit ahead of me. Something about that SS just makes it go however. I was stoked to have one climb done, now we had a long rolling 10 miles of dirt road before the next one.

We arrived rather quickly to the base of the biggest climb of the day near Hidden Treasure Mine. From here it's roughly a 2 mile assault up a winding dirt road to Antelope Canyon.  We had a snack & then were off. There's a short level area then the road kicks up. I employed my earlier strategy for this climb too, it worked quite well. I also cleaned this one in one shot albeit crawling almost to a dead stop a couple of times!! At the top of the climb was the end of our dirt road experience, now onto the sweet stuff - singletrack!!

We didn't take too many pictures on this day, we did that the last time we were here. We also wanted to finish well under that time of 10 hours. So we headed down Antelope Canyon, which reminds me of Bryce Canyon in Utah. 5 miles later we were back at Hidden Treasure Mine. The rest of the ride went smoothly, I was riding fast, neither one of us had any mechanical issues and the weather held up beautifully. We finished the ride to an empty parking lot, the blustery conditions left most people not in the mood for a post-ride party! We ended up finishing just under 8 hours, shaving 2 hours off our last time! I love this trail and now I also want a SS 29er of my own!!

Passing by the BCT crossover @Hidden Treasure Mine, take the first right turn & begin climbing!

Met up with a few friends at the top/start of Antelope Canyon

Seron and Mike carving up Antelope Canyon

The SS, near Bumble Bee

Seron making a nice effort on  one tough switchback

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