April 1, 2017

AES: Sedona BFL '17

Last year I decided to try something different for the Arizona Endurance Series event in Sedona. It's called the Big Friggin' Loop, but there were a bunch of trails that I thought could be routed to be more fun. So, I did a scouting ride, then my cranks broke. DNF. (Did Not Finish). I tried a second time to fine tune the route, but ran out of daylight when I hit Chapel rd. DNF. Then, last month Jeff, Nancy and I tried to pre-ride the final edition and my tires decided they no longer wanted to roll. DNF. Hmmm.

Enter race day. 4th time's the charm?? Or something like that. In typical SBFL fashion I started a few minutes late. I thought this would help eliminate the logjam going up Hiline, but I quickly caught up to 10 or so riders. I was able to get by most of them before the downhill onto the slickrock section.
Fellow rider dropping down the ultra steep, soft. chute on Hiline. I walked.
A few of us were rapidly approaching the Oak Creek crossing where, one month earlier was unpassable. The water level on this day was closer to historic averages for flow. I took off my shoes since it was a chilly day and my buddy, Guy, was right behind me. He was following my lead, but I slipped and almost got dunked!! He chose a different path, slipped and dropped one of his shoes into the current!! Gah!! He scrambled, but the shoe was heading downstream. He took off after it, barefoot over sticks, slippery rock and swift water. Not ideal. That was the last time I saw Guy. I heard later that he did recover his shoe, but lost a sock. Then, another rider came by and just so happened to have an extra pair of socks!! What were the odds?? Anyway, I was happy to hear his ride continued until his feet hurt too bad and he had to cut it short.
Almost knee deep, but those rocks are slippery!!
I continued onto one of the rerouted sections and made good time getting up to the Hwy 89A crossing. By now I was riding alone. I had my SPOT tracker going as the Red Rock Chica, RRC, was in town for a change and hoped to find me somewhere on route.
Cockscomb in the distant left.
I thought she may turn up at the Aerie Trailhead. Nope. I got word she was running late so I kept cruising, feeling good as I wrapped around Mescal Mtn. trail. I then dropped onto Chuckwagon and wondered if Dry Creek was still flowing. It was, but looked very rideable. I thought I made it safely across, but got hung up exiting the creekbed, bloop went my left foot. So much for dry feet.

I was now over 30 miles into the loop and starting to feel a bit tired. I needed a snack break and Thunder Mtn. trailhead was only minutes away. I took a good ten minutes stuffing calories into my face then proceeded to work my way to the newly rerouted Andante trail. This rode rather well, much better than Thunder Mtn. trail, which happens to be on deck for a reroute as well.

There had also been a reroute freshly completed on the east end of Teacup trail. I found it and wasn't particularly thrilled with it. It had only been officially open for a day, so of course it was very loose. That'll change over time, but the routing was a bit curious. It seemed to go on forever, tossing in what seemed like unnecessary uphills on the way down the slope. I eventually dumped out onto a jeep road and began a short HAB up Jordan trail. That's when the RRC spotted me, of course in HAB mode.
The Grand Central descent was way more fun than either of us had remembered.

The dude abides. Photo by RRC.
Million dollar smile!! Photo by RRC.
Here, I'm grinding along....Photo by RRC.
While she's in her happy place!!

Such an awesome shot, doesn't look real. Photo by RRC.
Winding our way up Hogwash. Photo by RRC.

Is there a trail in Sedona that doesn't have killer views?
Game face or just getting tired? Photo by RRC.
HAB train!! :) Photo by RRC.
Thunder Mtn. at its best...a backdrop. Photo by RRC.
'Get some air!!' Forks were dead.

I bid farewell to the RRC at the bottom of Pigtail. I was surprised to hear she had never been on that trail. Now, I just needed to climb up Mystic and get to Chapel trail before the 5 pm closure. I took a peek at the time and it was barely 4 O'Clock. Perfect.
Chapel of the Holy Cross.
I'll admit, I added in Chapel trail merely as a connector. I didn't realize it was half HAB. Oh well, gotta have some of that too, right? Nah. It'll get axed next year. It didn't take too long to get off that trail and onto the fun stuff leading back under SR179.

Somehow, I missed a turn on Eazy Breezy. I went back & forth a few times, started bushwhacking, then opted to take the longer way up and around to Templeton. Up top I came across four mountain unicyclists shredding the gnar. These guys had some serious skills.
360ยบ rock drop!!
They're so good, they float.

The shadows grew long as I made my way across Templeton to Slim Shady. Just one climb to go. Yet somehow I followed my front wheel up a ravine into more HAB. My GPS had unknowingly locked up while it showed me on route, but I was also running a spare GPS as a test and I was off course there. As I climbed, the trail grew worse. I toggled my GPS and sure enough I was off route. Back down the chute I go. I found my missed turn a few minutes later and rolled into the finish right at 6 pm with plenty of daylight to spare. What a great, cool day to do a lap around Sedona.
Late afternoon on Templeton trail.
Afterwards, I met back up with the RRC for a Mexican calorie binge. So good. Before I made my way back down to the Valley, I had a present to give K courtesy of the RRC. She was letting go of her longtime Voodoo Sobo. It's found a perfect match on Team Voodoo. What a generous gift by an amazing friend. I can't say 'thank you' enough.
Just a bit different in size.
Route flyover:


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