April 21, 2012

AES - Prescott Monstercross

One week removed from our early departure of the AZT300 brought me back to what was previously my hardest ride - The Prescott Monstercross (PMC). Last year this ride was the first time I topped 60 miles on a ride and it showed as Seron and I took 13 1/2 hours to complete the loop.

The course this year had two minor changes, but great changes: more singletrack! My main goals of this ride were to finish before dark & hopefully under 10 hours. At least this year I had the wisdom of trail knowledge & where the water stops were. There was a good showing at the starting area, some 40+ riders.
Jeff taking over the time keeper duties.
The ride starts out with a quick 5 mile pavement neutral rollout. Then we pile up & separate in the HAB abundant Dells. By the time most riders are through scrambling over the boulders, the field is stretched out enough to have some solo ride time.
Some really cool sections are ride-able.

Narrow water crossing.
 I made it through the Dells mostly unscathed, I did slip and fall once due to my soleless left shoe!! After I exited the Dells I was ready for the 'riding' to commence, my legs felt otherwise. I just felt sluggish, perhaps some lingering effects from our 300 try? Either way, I made my way over towards Granite Basin and was really surprised when a large group of strong riders caught me, I thought I was behind them the whole way! The rolling whoop-de-do downhill into Granite Basin is a blast and thankfully there was no horse traffic today! I stopped at the campground for some snacks & a water refill, chatted with a few other riders then moved on. I figured I was going at a fairly decent pace since I was still seeing other riders, usually well before the 20 mile mark I'm riding at the back of the pack in my typical DFL position.
Granite Mountain.
Finally around mile 30 my legs started to feel ready to ride! We dumped on to one of the new singletrack sections around this point and what a hoot! I know this route has a ton of climbing, but thankfully most of it comes in doses. The only real extended climb is near the end of the loop going up Spruce Mountain Rd. I caught back up to & passed a bunch of riders that made a wrong turn, then was able to put some distance between us on the long undulating climb up Wolverton Mtn. This brought us to the second dose of new singletrack: Wolverton Trail, which leads to a super long fun downhill into White Spar Campground. Now at mile 42, I needed to eat & re-fill the water. I made a tuna wrap, which was tasty, but next time I'll skip the burrito as it made everything too dry.

The San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff in the distance.

On the downhill into White Spar.
I ended up relaxing at White Spar for a good 40 minutes, perhaps dreading the long slog up Spruce Mountain Rd. Last year we HAB'd about 90% of it! The initial climbs out of White Spar are really nice, relaxed grades through the pine trees. One short respite on the paved Senator Hwy then a hard left onto Spruce Mountain Rd for the 2 mile ascent to trail 297 (Smith Ravine). I was surprised to see that all the loose gravel had been removed from the road, it was now compacted dirt! I granny geared my way up the steep incline fairly satisfied with riding about 60% of the climb. I met up with a couple of riders at the top of 297, looked at the time and I had just under an hour to get though the final 10 mostly downhill miles to meet my 10 hour goal. I took off down Smith Ravine catching a few riders along the way. I hurried my way up and over the two short HAB sections and onto the last trail, 305. Trail 305 has a bunch of downhill, but it does have its ups too - which I didn't really recall from last year! In addition, 305 just seems to keep going and going, crossing a multitude of campground access roads. As the minutes counted down I still thought I had a chance and put everything I had into it. I admit I was starting to bonk a bit, but kept pushing. Finally the clock struck 10:00:00 I was still on 305 and right at mile 60. I kept thinking, when does the trail end?!?! I finally dumped out to pavement and a short spin later I was into the Costco parking lot with a finishing time of 10:15. I was really pleased with that finish, shaved 3 hours and 15 minutes off my time from last year. I didn't need my lights, people were still enjoying the post-ride festivites and I was no longer DFL - in short: all was good.

Prescott Monstercross Standings

This is the last AES ride for a few months, time to start planning high country rides, early wakeup rides in the desert and a bit of r&r after the past 7 weeks or so.


  1. That sure looks like a really good time. Nice work taking 3 hours off our time. And what's with all this passing people? It's like I don't know you anymore. ;)

  2. Haha! To be fair, most of my 'passing' was done b/c of others wrong turns! More like swapping race positions. You'll really like the two new sections of singletrack, sweet stuff. I was especially pleased to see the 2-track chunky downhill from Wolverton Mtn. go away, but sheesh that downhill is loooong!!

  3. Well done, sounds like a great day in the saddle.

    DFL, lol I love that.