March 5, 2018

Queen's Ransom '18 - DNF

The weather forecast was looking primo for the 6th annual Queen's Ransom bikepack, I had the Chuparosa all decked out in bikepacking gear for a solid 'training' ride and there were riders coming in from all over the place: Ohio, Denver & Durango, CO and Flagstaff. How cool is that?

In a nutshell this route was an idea I concocted a few years back. I wanted a multi-day bikepacking loop right out of my front door with as much dirt as possible. The final route is now 215 miles over 4 days with somewhere around 13k of climbing.

This year there would be riders coming & going at different stages. Some would ride with the group for the first day, some would spend the first night out, others would join later on. This route lends nicely to that if someone only has a day or two to join, but doesn't want to miss the fun. Since this isn't a race, outside support from friends/family is highly encouraged!!
We left my house with 7 riders (L-R: Brett, Steve B, Todd, Me, Justin, Paul & Steve E) then picked up Mike a few blocks away at Safeway. Photo by George
Much to K's surprise, we departed ON TIME, 7a. The first 20 miles or so are a nice warmup on flat bikepath & canals as we head over to the Hawes trail system for the first batch of singletrack.
Bikepath cruisin'

I've never seen cattle roaming in this suburban wash before. Strange.

The housing development is nearing completion. The first year this area was nothing but open dirt.

Todd & Justin, look here!!

Our posse swelled to 10 riders with the additions of Sam & David.
We almost had a route snafu when a new fence popped up along the canal. Not sure what the reason is, as this canal is a multi-use path, but we had to slide around the inside of the fence careful not to slip into the murky canal.
Still rolling north on the canals.
We reached the bikepark in Mesa, shed some layers and made our way towards the singletrack. Curtis joined us here. I also noticed that the Di2 shifting wasn't working on my bike. I futzed with the cables a bit and was able to get it to shift a few times. It appeared my handlebar bag was putting undue pressure on the mounting bracket.

 By the end of the TRW section, Chad had joined the fun. We now counted a dirty dozen as we made our way towards Shawn's generous pitstop.
What a crew!! (L-R: Chad, Paul, Steve B, Me, Sam, Justin, David, Curtis, Mike, Steve E, Todd & Brett) Photo by Shawn.
Bottoms up!! Photo by Shawn
Shawn broke out the tequila shots and fruit while I opened up a bag of peppered bacon - it didn't last long!!

No sooner did we hit pavement and we ran into Walt & Deanna who came out to say Hi!!
Heading towards Diamond Point. Photo by Walt.

One last regrouping before each rode their own pace towards Gold Canyon. Photo by Walt.
Mike had a crew doing concrete work up the street and he had given $20 to those guys to hand out Cokes....nada!! I'm betting Mike didn't get his $20 back either!! Ha!
Where are the Cokes??
The gang's all here!! Photo by Curtis
The group began to split up once on the Hawes singletrack. I was still struggling to get the shifting to work. I angled the display so the cables weren't getting crimped, but couldn't seem to get the cable to stay seated. I thought I was applying enough pressure, but at the same time didn't want to break anything. I tried swapping out cables, but that didn't work. At least I was in an easy gear, 3rd lowest, for most of the uphills.

Let the spinning commence.

Paul hung back with me for a few miles.

Steve E begins the Twisted Sister climb. Photo by Justin

Chad on his maiden bikepacking ride!! Woohoo!! Photo by Justin

Justin showing off his selfie prowess. Photo by duh, Justin

Paul & I checked out the new trail, High Horse, that roughly parallels Wild Horse, good stuff!!

I slowly made the slog up to the Pass Mtn. trail.
I met up with most of the group at the Pass Mtn. trailhead. It's a great place for lunch and cold water. I informed the others that I was stuck in low gear and would more than likely be the last one to De La Cruz Mexican Grille in Gold Canyon. I was looking forward to the flat easy miles around Usery Park, but couldn't spin fast enough to make up time.

Down on the flats of Usery Park, I couldn't take advantage topping out at 10mph.

I love this section of the route as it cuts through the Goldfield Mtns. on jeep road & primitive singletrack.

Popping out at AZ88 to begin the Jacob Crosscut trail.

The shadows grow long on the Superstition Mtns.

What?!? How did Sam get behind me?? Aha, ice cream break at the Lost Dutchman State Park. Sam pulled out all the tricks for his first bikepacking ride!! So pro.

Flat Iron dominates.

Nearing Gold Canyon my knees were beginning to ache a bit and my right Achilles had tightened up from all the spinning.
I hatched a plan to call K and have her pick me up at De La Cruz, take me home so I could swap out bikes and then rejoin the group either later that night or the next day out at Picketpost.

K wasn't too thrilled about the extra drive after a long work day, but margaritas helped smooth things over!!
Route for day 1:

It took a while to get home & I opted to stay there for the night as K was fairly whooped from her long day. Instead, I'd rejoin the crew the next day over at Picketpost and planned to finish the ride out from there. George was also waiting there to greet riders with refreshments so I loaded both bikes in hopes of finding out what the issue was with the Di2 shifting.
Chad's burrito selfie under US60.
We arrived sometime around noon just as the fellas started arriving. George took about 10 seconds to fix the Di2 glitch, D'oh!! Come to find out, I simply needed to give the cable a bit more force into the connector. Rookie mistake. Oh well, lesson learned.

We had also picked up another rider, Danny, the night before and he'd join in for days 2 & 3.
George & Jalene's welcome wagon at Picketpost. So awesome.
One by one, we departed the trailhead and began the tough 18 miles south towards camp #2. It was just after 1pm when I hit the trail, leaving over 5 hours of daylight to play with.
A dwarfed Weaver's Needle on the horizon.

Mike climbing south of Picketpost Mtn.

Now 10 miles south of the trailhead, this is the last view of Picketpost Mtn.

An AZT hiker with a huge pack this time of year typically means one thing - thru-hiker!! Headed to Utah.
Do you believe in jinxes? I think Justin, Mike and I are firm believers now if we weren't before. It may have been back at Picketpost trailhead or a snack break a few miles earlier, but the topic of stitching a sidewall came up and none of us had actually ever done it. We've seen videos and heard about other riders successfully repairing a torn sidewall by stitching, but no first-hand experience.

That brings us back to that thru-hiker photo above. You see, I snapped that picture while we were stopped and Justin was learning how to stitch his sidewall after a good one inch gash opened up coming down the hill pictured above. Hmmm. Jinx.
Justin digging in.

At first, thread was used, but it broke a few times.

Time to break out the dental floss. Meanwhile Mike sent a pic to his wife, 'Don't worry, it's not mine'. Jinx #2??
Curved sewing needle, dental floss, topped with Gorilla Glue, add fresh sealant and pump up with a normal hand held bike pump all without breaking the bead. It worked!!

45 minutes later, golden hour was upon us in Martinez Canyon.

Psssshhh. Gah!! Mike slices a sidewall!! 'Go chase down Justin!!' Jinx? Yep.

A similar one inch sidewall gash, might as well use it to add sealant directly.

Mike gets to work after watching Justin's tutorial.

A visual reminder to myself to pickup a thimble to help push the needle through the sidewall.
Upon further inspection we realized both Justin & Mike were running really high psi, 40-45, in their tires. The tires were rock hard, no wonder they sliced open so easily. I typically run down near 20. Now, that doesn't mean I'll never slice a tire, but it seems to lower my odds. In the end all three of us learned a ton and were very pleased to see both stitch jobs not only keep them tubeless down to camp, but both held for the remainder of the ride - some 90+ rugged miles.

The second stitch job went a bit quicker, but another 30 minute delay meant we'd be arriving at camp in the dark. No worries, we all had lights. The payoff for the delays was immediately cashed in:
As soon as the sky began to ignite, we knew we were in for a treat.

The near hillsides began to glow.

The towering spires felt like they were on fire.

Glowing HAB.

I've heard this formation called many things, looks like a squirrel to me.

We truly are insignificant out here.

Just your average ride along a canyon wall.

The light show continued.

It stopped all of us in our tracks on numerous occasions.

Almost to the far canyon wall.

The sky painters were working overtime this evening.

We began the traverse to the Gila descent in the waning daylight.

Soon our field of view would be limited to our individual sphere of light.

One final hurrah as we begin the 5 mile descent to camp #2.

I think this guy agrees, two thumbs up for Martinez Canyon!!
Chad arrived in Martinez Canyon a couple hours ahead of us. Photo by Chad

Chad was on a 3 day mission for the ride, bypassing camp #2 in favor of a river spot. Photo by Chad.
We arrived in camp sometime around 8p. Not too late and the others were glad to see us arrive safely.
Packing up camp.

Looking down trail to the first climb of the day. Mt. Lemmon is on the far right horizon.

Dale's Butte.
The morning was cool enough for the jacket. Photo by Justin

Justin exiting the singletrack.

This marks the bottom of the singletrack leading to the Gila River.

Time to stock up on water.

I was really looking forward to checking out Rob Bauer's monster trailwork project along the river. This particular section was always super tough. I'm glad he kept the switchback, it's still a challenge, but much more rideable.

Looking north towards the White Canyon Wilderness.

Justin catching up to me relatively easily!! 
More views into White Canyon Wilderness.

Land of giants.

Great to see the trees trimmed back, no grabby branches.

There's one in every crowd. This large boulder broke free from the upslope side of the trail.

Mike cruising high above the Gila River.

The 10 mile stretch of singletrack to Kelvin has its share of climbing.

So happy to see the old barbed wire ranch gate replaced with one of Rob's AZT super gates.
As the morning wore on, my right Achilles began to flare up again. It was noticeable on the climbs, but after a few miles I could feel it during the flats as well.

I would catch glimpses of the Florence-Kelvin climb and began dreading it.

One grunt climb to go before Kelvin.

Golden spike of the AZT.

This is the spot where I tend to see a ton of wildflowers during this ride. Absolutely nothing this year.

The long downhill into Kelvin is a blast.

Bike was riding great, engine?? Not so much.
K was already planning to meet the group for a SAG stop near the top of the Florence-Kelvin climb. I sent her a text to come down to Kelvin and pick me up. My ride was over. I needed to get off the bike and rest my Achilles. I was bummed to not finish the ride with the others, but it was the right call.

New bridge in Kelvin is coming along.

Rare train sighting.

Random photo caught Mike and thru-hiker, Stone, waiting for a pizza/sandwich delivery from Kearney.
Route for days 2.5 - 3.5:

Todd getting set to roll out from the SAG stop.
Once again, K came to my rescue. I can't say enough how awesome she is. Aside from bailing my ass out TWICE on this ride, she had an amazing SAG station set up: Bosa donuts, margaritas, chips/salsa, gatorades, Cokes, fruit, water, ice and chairs!! Thanks babe!!

Justin, Mike & Paul along with Steve E. would be the only 4 to finish the entire route.

The fellas heading out to Camp #3 near Area 52.

Ran into Danny over in Florence where his ride home was waiting. Join us again next year!!

I returned to the route the next morning to roll with the guys over to Old Ellsworth Brewing Co. Here, on the Queen Creek Wash Trail.
Route for Old Ellsworth Brewing Co.:
I'd like to thank everyone who came out for all or a portion of the Queen's Ransom ride. It's riders like you that make it all worth it!! Hopefully, some of the partial route riders got enough of a taste to go for the full meal deal next year.

A huge thank you to Shawn, George, Jalene and K for provided support, treats and general stoke for the group. It was so appreciated by everyone. Thank you!!

See you all next year!!

Dates for 2019: Thursday Feb. 28th - Sunday March 3rd. *Note the shift to a Thursday start*

Going forward, all Queen's Ransom finishers will receive one of these fine patches!! *All past year's finishers have theirs in hand!!

Stickers are available at the Storefront.
Route profile can purchased as a poster, stickers or mug via Redbubble.
Screensavers of the route profile may be found on my Payhip store.

No comments:

Post a Comment