November 10, 2018

AES: Kentucky Camp '18

I was batting a perfect 0-for-10 on Arizona Endurance Series (AES) events for 2018. For one reason or another I hadn't made a start the entire year. That was about to change as Kentucky Camp approached. It had also been a few years since I rode the long route and I was feeling good enough that I knew I could finish, more than likely without lights.

I drove down the morning of and actually arrived with plenty of time to spare. It was nice to catch up with a few friends before they all left me in the dust.

Chad, The master of ceremonies, disguised as a break dancer.

Angry Ray & Bret ready to rumble.
9:00 came and we were off down the dirt/sand road in a somewhat neutral start. I say somewhat because if you're a fast rider, you want to be up front for the initial climb up the often rubbly hillside. Also, the pace tends to be brisk and I was immediately dropped on the 1/2 mile approach. No worries, like always, I'll settle in and ride my ride. Aside from finishing, I had some training goals set forth by Kurt. He wanted me to take it easy during the first half of the route, then give a more steady, concerted effort on climbs during the second half. I was curious to see if I could pedal to plan.
Find the riders dotting the amber hillside.

It's a tough route to pedal easy early on. It felt like the first 5 miles were uphill.

There are some super cool singletrack nuggets is these hills. I'd get to ride this section in reverse to finish the day.

The 10 miles or so after the singletrack meander nicely through southern Arizona's ranch lands.
I had a mental goal of sorts: make it to the Kentucky Camp split before getting caught by the fast short course riders. I had a 45 minute head start, but I'd been caught in the past. Today, I was able to hold them off, maybe they started late?? Either way, I was happy to see the split come into view after 15 1/2 miles. Time for a quick snack break.

Mt. Wrightson is the dominating peak most of the day.

Looking south towards the Mexico border. Miller Peak juts over 9,000'.

Making the turn into Kentucky Camp. I'd briefly catch up to another rider here. Two more passed through while I was snacking.

The jeep roads continue their maze through the Santa Rita foothills.

I was surprised to see open camping here, as there were tents all over the place leading here.

A hint of fall color and a water crossing.

The route kicks up towards its high point. Lots of pushing for me.
I took an extended break at the top of Link trail. I was feeling worked over and not exactly ready to put forth a harder effort during the back half of the route. I downed some calories and the ensuing downhill was enough to lift my energy levels.

I love the Flume trail, just wish it were longer.

The vast grasslands of southern Arizona.

The 8 miles or so back to Kentucky Camp went by quickly. I even averted an OTB crash when my handlebars got snagged on a thick tree branch.

I love that more of the informational kiosks are popping up along the trail.

It's a bit of work to get up here, but when you do the payoff is a long downhill through tall grass, but beware of the occasional hidden boulder!!

Some familiar faces in this shot and a few I've never heard of.

Both the long & short courses finish on the same section of trail, most of it angling downward.

Looking southeast.

The shadows were beginning to grow long as I made my way down the final stretch of trail.

There were still a few folks hanging around as I was the last rider on course.
Aside from feeling whooped at the halfway point, it was a great day out in the hills. It definitely wasn't my fastest effort, but wasn't my slowest either. I'll take it. I've said it a million times, if you haven't ridden this route, do yourself a favor and attend the next one.


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