January 11, 2014

AZT Jamboree '14

It's early January, so it must be time for the annual mountain bike fund raiser for the Arizona Trail. The AZT Jamboree as it's known. It's a shuttled ride from the Pistol Hill trailhead south to either Box Canyon rd or Lakes rd, 38 or 25 miles respectively. I prefer the longer route, more climbing and the grassy hills are a beautiful place to ride.

I met up with Bev for a carpool down to Pistol Hill. I was also hoping this ride would shake loose the onset of sinus congestion. We arrived with some time to spare, it was chilly - upper 30's, but nothing like last year's ride!! The shuttle buses were loaded, once again Southwest Trekking did the honors, and we were heading south.

I was eager to get going and after a few g'mornin's to some of my friends on the other bus I was rolling up Box Canyon rd. It was a perfect morning, cool & crisp, but not cold. At the top of the second climb the layers started to come off. That's the last time I saw Carlos as he bombed down the first big descent.
Carlos, already a spec in this picture, speeding away.
As I was getting set to leave a train of riders approached the gate.
I first 6+ miles went by rather easy, then the fun begins. The next 8 miles lies a series of climbs, drops and hike-a-bikes (HAB) out of drainages. I had to catch my breath on a few of the climbs but otherwise I felt pretty good. I caught up to Max at another gate, he had bikepacked from home a day earlier and was taking it easy. Afterwards, I ended up leap-frogging with Jeff & Nancy for a while. Soon the hills gave way and we were on the fast track to the mid-ride aid station.
Beautiful country down here.
Rincon Mtns. in the distance.
Jeff, Carlos, Nancy & Max at the aid station. Carlos' day was cut short when his rear axle broke. Too much power!!
One of the new AZT gates at Sahaurita rd.
I had visions of these pizzas for 5 miles!!
After some grub and a beer it was back to the AZT. My head was beginning to feel heavy with sinus pressure, but I still felt good otherwise. The trail is fast down through the I-10 underpass and as I approached the Gabe Zimmerman trailhead I saw a bunch of people gathered around a table trailside. What's this? Another aid station?? Why yes it was!! The AZT folks had some leftovers from an earlier event and decided to hang around for the riders to come through. More fresh fruit and bakery fresh empanadas were the fare. Delicious.

Jeff & Nancy took off a few minutes ahead of me. I passed by Max, who was resting next to the train tressel, and continued on. A few minutes down the trail a couple was riding towards me, as I passed the guy says 'I've bikepacked with you'. Huh? He quickly introduced himself before it could register, but Dave had joined in on my Bikepacking 101 ride last summer. We chatted for a bit, then I rode on, at a now slower pace.

My legs were starting to feel tired and my head was stuffed up, bleh. I reached the descent to La Posta Quemada ranch, which is rather fun, and discovered my seat had worked its way loose. A quick stop to fix/adjust it and I was moving once again. Not 5 minutes later the seat adjusted again, I must've tightened it in between ridges, and was loose again. Drat. All of a sudden I couldn't stay in a rhythm and was ready to be at the end.

I passed through Colossal Cave Campground and proceeded to clean every large boulder obstacle on the trail!! If only I could've cleaned all the small ones too. Oh well. One left quad cramp later I finally hit the last 2+ mile stretch of fast smooth rolling trail into Pistol Hill. Give me a beer.
Post-ride scene heating up. Thanks SDMB.
Hanging out with friends. Photo by Krista.
I really hit the wall over the last 6 miles, I'm sure my ailing head didn't help any, but I wasn't about to miss this ride. It's on my calendar every year, it should be on yours too. Bev finished up about 30 minutes later. We hung out for a bit, then made the trek back to the big city, fistful of tissues in hand. See you next year!!

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