November 19, 2011

AES - Kentucky Camp

We are now in prime riding season here in the desert southwest, although I don't really take any time off!! The AES series is winding down for 2011 with the second to last event, Kentucky Camp, located southeast of Tucson on the Arizona Trail & surrounding jeep/forest roads. Last year I opted for the shorter 29 mile course, had a blast & met some cool riders from Tucson. This year I wanted to go for the longer route, the 46 miler, and check out some more of the AZT. Seron and I talked a few more of our riding buddies into getting in on the incredible ride, share the wealth!  We actually made it down to the start/finish area on time for a change. Saw some old friends, got our arm warmers on and were ready to go!  We let everyone go ahead of us and assumed our rightful place at the back of the bus

Kentucky Camp

The extended part of this ride compared to last year afforded us the opportunity to ride some more of the AZT. This is always a good thing. As we made our way southbound over some jeep roads we heard the rumbling of some 4x4 behind us.  We were a bit surprised at how long we kept in front of them, the road was extremely rugged by 4x4 standards, but perfect for some techy mtb climbing! The 4x's finally caught us and we pulled over to watch all 6 of them navigate the obstacle strewn incline.

About halfway through the ride we found ourselves at the high point of the day, fantastic views to the south and into Mexico could be seen.  As we left on the long downhill my bike started making a weird noise on the back end. I stopped a few times to pinpoint the source, but couldn't nail it down. I started back up and it went away. A few miles down the trail after some on and off again noise episodes I finally saw my dilemma. My freewheel was not so free, causing my chain to move back and forth jumping all over the place - hub was shot.  My rear wheel had a significant amount of side to side play, the disc brakes were rubbing a bit, but the bike was still functioning.  It had to. We were still about 18 miles from the finish line out in the middle of nowhere. Don't fail me now!

Mt. Wrightson

We were surprised to see so much color lingering in the canyons

The Link Tr. was the only significant HAB section of the day

Looking south from the high point

We were also scouting water sources along the route for the upcoming AZT300

Another wildlife first, tarantula munching on a grasshopper!

It's hard to fathom sometimes that views like this are in AZ!

We finished the ride in just under 8 hours, very pleased with our effort & pace on the day. My bike made it to  the finish line mostly in one piece. I then proceeded to seek out rear wheel availability from my fellow riders. James came through with an offer I couldn't refuse, bike parts for beer! SOLD! We stayed around a bit for some post ride BS, then made our way back to Tucson for dinner. On to the next AES event, the McDowell 60.

I found these next two shots very interesting, both taken near the same spot only one year apart. Amazing what difference a year makes.



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