May 26, 2012

SoMo Monstercross: FAIL

My growing interest in AES events led me to ponder a route through South Mountain Park (SoMo) deemed worthy to be mentioned the likes of Kentucky Camp, Antelope Peak, etc. What I came up with was daunting and would require cooler temps. The weeks and months went by as I piled up miles doing other long rides and before I knew it we were hitting 108º. Welcome summer riding season.

Luckily for us here in the Valley of the Sun and cold front blew in on Friday just in time for the Memorial Day weekend. Projected high for Saturday: 82º! With no difinitive ride plans, I made a last minute call to give the SoMo Monstercross a GO. Steve decided to join in the fun, on a single speed, and we met at the trailhead shortly after 5am.

Our task for the day would be roughly the following route: Start at the Pima Canyon TH, East Loop, Javelina, Mormon Loop, National, Bajada, Alta, National, jeep road connector, Bursera, Pyramid, National, Ranger, Los Lomitas, Kiwanis, summit road, Upper Holbert, National, Geronimo, Mormon (24th St.), National, Desert Classic out to the Helipad, back on DC adding in the optional loops: Corona de Loma, Warpaint, Secret and the Tour de Backyard, FINISH.
This map can be purchased at Global Bikes on two pages for $2 ea.

This route would take you up & over S.Mtn. 6 times & be approx. +/-65 miles. My hope was to complete this ride before sunset or 14 hours.

Right from the start I didn't feel right, cruising around the East Loop I was waiting for my legs to wake up! We started climbing Javelina and it was a real effort even in my lowest middle ring gear. I stopped at one of the tech moves and my hands were shaking a bit, kind of had the hunger chills and knew this was not good. I made my way to the top of the climb and sat down for 5-10 minutes, not even 5 miles in and I was bonking!! I ate my normal pre-ride breakfast, had a decent nights sleep, what gives?

I started to feel a bit better, so we pushed on. Up Mormon Loop, up National - watched a few guys busting some nice tech moves above the waterfall.
Kelstr cleaning a tough move.

Looking down the Waterfall. Phoenix waterfalls have rocks, not water!
We crested National, made our way towards the TV towers to the fun descent. I had my best run on that stretch of trail thanks to my big ol 29er wheels, cleaned everything down to the first super tight switchback above Telegraph Pass. I was feeling better, but still no real power in my legs. We were near the top of the HAB section following Telegraph when Bob met up with us. He lives close, wanted to do the ride with us but time constraints kept him to a shorter route. We tried to keep up with him to no avail. Each time I looked up Bob & Steve were getting smaller and smaller as they pulled away from me. We left Bob at the Bursera turnoff as we continued on down National towards Bajada.
View of west National from the Bursera split, Estrella Mtns. in the background.

This was my view of Bob for the miles we tried to keep up, he's FAST!
Steve sprung a Stan's leak on the final descent of National, tube time!!
This pitstop gave me a chance to snack!
We arrived at the Bajada junction and immediately the trail deteriorated into a loose 5" layer of rocks. It had the sensation of riding on 3 layers of golf balls!! The only tracks on this trail were hoof prints from the horses that frequent the park. Add in a lack of rainfall and this was going to be ugly. Bajada on a good day is a challenge as it is technical and drops in/out of washes on not-so bike friendly contours. Now, add in the loose conditions and the onset of round two of bonking and I was having serious doubts about completing this ride. I plodded on, walking a ton, and getting more frustrated at my lack of bike skills on this day. Alta trail was looming large in front of us and I was having issues just trying to HAB.

I caught up with Steve at the Alta split and called my day done. 19 miles of dirt, weak. Off to the road we went, threw in a slight detour on the Max Delta Trail on our way out of the park. Then it was a mix of neighborhood roads to a canal path that eventually brought us back to Pima Canyon.

Ended up with 30 miles total, but felt like it was almost a wasted effort.  I'll be back to try this beast again, probably in November & with lights.


  1. Didn't know Strava would kick you while you're down. It's a doable route, you'll get it next time.

  2. Apparently Strava doesn't care what you're trying to do, it just piles on when you eject!!

  3. Happens to the best of us. I'd say two bonks in one ride is an achievement though, stupid strava.