January 2, 2015

McBrown 100

Here's what happens when you lob a softball at Jeff asking for a 100 mile route on his backyard trails: a day later (minus some minor tweaking) the McBrown100, CraZie100, Curmudgeon100, etc was born. Call it what you want, I'll call it awesome.

How does a 100 mile mountain bike ride with 99% of it being on trail sound to you? The only pavement involved was getting from the driveway to the trailhead all within the same neighborhood!! That's one helluva design. A few other perks on the route: The toughest part was over by mile 42, we rolled through two official trailheads with water available, one at mile 31 & one at mile 62. Perfect. We also dropped a cooler full of cold drinks and lunch at mile 54, then passed through the same area at mile 86. Did I mention the route finished with a mostly downhill final 25 miles?? Winner indeed.

This is how 2015 got started. Go big. We rounded up a hearty half dozen and left the warm confines at 6am with temps hovering around freezing.
First light on Escondido trail.
There were a few sections of new-to-me trail, including a bunch over the first 10 miles. We ditched the lights while finishing up Escondido trail. Jeff and I did a quick detour down the McPump jumpline & pumptrack, it was right there - had to do it!!
Ahh, sunrise and hopefully warmer temps!!
We regrouped briefly in the comp parking area before Ray & Yuri took off ahead on a more angry pace. Jeff, Nancy, Joe and I followed suit a few minutes later. We caught a glimpse of the other two one more time as the route doubled back near itself between the Tech & Long loops.
McDowell Mtns. cast in golden morning rays.
These trails were built for speed.
I was anxious to put miles 20-40 behind us as they would take the most effort and longest time. We exited McDowell Mtn Regional Park and connected over to the notoriously rugged Sonoran trail. This was my second, and recent, time riding Sonoran in this particular direction. This day, my legs were fresh and I almost cleaned the initial climb - two dabs kept it imperfect, but there was no HAB!! The next highlight for me, yes, a highlight on Sonoran, was making a clean descent through all the tight switchbacks. A few were a bit sketchy, but no dabs, no hopping, no balance checks. It's really too bad my hardtail 29er doesn't corner better!! :p
Jeff descending on Sonoran.
We finished off Sonoran without a hitch and connected up to the Andrews-Kinsey trail via the lower, more rideable, entrance to the Western Loop. I started to feel a bit sluggish going up Andrews-Kinsey. I was ready for a break, but we were still a few miles away from the Lost Dog TH.

I found Jeff & Joe at the top and we started our long rocky bomb down the Sunrise trail. Down at the Lost Dog TH we found out the other two fellas were only 30 minutes ahead of us. We chowed down on some snacks and at the time it felt great, but as soon as we hit the dirt my legs simply felt like concrete.
Nice view from the Andrews-Kinsey trail.
Well contoured dirt sidewalk, the rocks are coming!!
Snack time at Lost Dog TH.
View from the frontside of the McDowell Mtn's
It was still chilly and now past 11a. I hadn't shed my down jacket yet, but could finally feel my toes. The others quickly left me in the dust while I plodded along trying to work through a mild bonk. I reached Paradise trail and finally got comfortable with my layers. I caught up to the others and we made our way over to the big effort of the day: Windgate.

It's been years since I last went up Windgate Pass and for good reason. This trail blows. Some claim it used to be rideable; perhaps, but now it's a glorified scree field. I didn't have much desire to even attempt to ride the steep bits, just assume the HAB position and get to the top.
Up Windgate we go. Joe gave it his all!!
Gateway area.
Sunrays kinda wash it out, but there's snow still clinging to the shady side of the McDowell's.
We reached Windgate Pass around 1:15p, a little over 7 hours in and 42 miles down. We were staring at another 60 miles to go, but I knew they'd be faster miles, much easier too. The thought of cruising through the crushed granite over hardpack trails of the Regional Park had my mind & stomach craving my lunchtime burrito.
Heading down the backside of Windgate we were treated to this jaw dropping vista.
What's that? Snow?!? Sure is. Rare sight for these parts.
I was following Jeff down Windmill, caught a soft shoulder, and in one fell swoop unclipped from my pedals and leaped over the handlebars for a safe landing. Whoa. Perhaps it was the adrenaline rush from that, but I felt back to normal on our cruise down Coachwhip, Pemberton, Rock Knob and out Gooseneck to the lunch cooler.
Making the turn onto Rock Knob.
Finally, burrito time!!
Jeff & Nancy still bundled up, it's rare to be this chilly all day in Phoenix.
We were now 54 miles in, it was sometime around 2:30p and I'm certain the others were questioning our ability to complete such an ambitious ride in a reasonable amount of time. I mentioned I thought we'd finish around 15 hours, the others didn't think it would take that long. We all knew it would be getting cold once again after sunset, but how far along would we be? I was hoping to be through most of the Brown's Ranch stuff and on our way towards or at the final 25 mile downhill section.

After lunch we rode a steady pace over to the Brown's Ranch trailhead, this time I remembered to check my water as I neglected to do so at Lost Dog TH. We all topped off a bit and got back after it, now 62 miles down.
Somewhere on the northern end of the Brown's Ranch trails.
Our route bypassed the Brown's Mtn. climb, so it was a very fun fast bunch of miles. Jeff did a nice job routing through the network, hitting all the familiar trails, but sometimes approaching them from a direction I wasn't anticipating. We finally exited the trail system in favor of some remnants of years past on the Pima/Dynamite moto trails. There are still a bunch of older trails/routes out there on the northern fringes.
Was this a new(er) trail? Not sure, but it sure was fun!
The sun was now getting low on the horizon and we happened to meet back up with Joe, who had skipped the cooler stop. The four of us kept our pedals cranking to the northern terminus of the day, where we switched over to night riding mode. It was also the perfect time to break out the additional layers from the morning.
We also had a large moon for night riding assistance.
Grantie Mtn. still a few miles to the south.
All set for some cold night riding.
We made quick work heading south towards Granite Mtn. We were now past the 75 mile mark which meant a whole lot of downhill was coming our way!! One long gradual climb remained and I began to feel sluggish again. By now, my lunch burrito had long been gone and I was ready for another. By the time I met up with the others at the top, I told them to go on without me. There was no sense in me holding everyone up at this point.
Light, legs & warmth fading.
We made a light train around the south side of Granite Mtn. and as I approached a small set of switchbacks it hit me...a full-on bonk. I had to stop and grab a quick snack to tide me over until I reached the cooler a second time. Twenty minutes later as I cruised down 136th St. Express I felt fine.

I was now fully on my own to finish this thing. Back at the cooler I downed my second burrito and a Mountain Dew left by Ray. Thanks dude, that really did the job. Back on Gooseneck, then over to Redbird where I overshot turn after turn on the seldom ridden trail. My nighttime riding vision isn't the greatest, but sheesh, I was off in the desert way too often!
One final energy boost.
Back inside the Regional park I knew I could really let things fly. These trails are fast and well maintained, practically racing trails. I never did see the others lights ahead of me. A few turns onto some random inner park trails to up the mileage: Lariat, Granite, Bluff and Pemberton once more. I was approaching the 15 hour mark and was set on finishing ahead of it. I turned onto Chuparosa which signaled my exit of the park a few miles away. Time was ticking down, 20, 15, 10 minutes until 15 hours and I was still on singletrack!! I kept thinking when the hell is this trail going to end?!? I didn't recall our entrance being so long, plus my mileage was now up to 103. I dumped onto the neighborhood streets at 14:59 and finished up a few minutes later.

Jeff, Nancy & Joe were already chowing down on some slow cooked chili that had been simmering all day waiting for our arrival. A quick change of clothes to warm up my now frozen feet, a piping hot bowl of chili and a brew among friends really brought a nice close to a tremendous day.

In hindsight, I should've lugged three burritos with me and eaten one early on at the Lost Dog TH. I think only having snacks there put me in a caloric deficit I had a hard time digging out of.We also learned that both Ray & Yuri cut the ride short for various reasons, better luck next time fellas.

I look forward to doing this one again, perhaps when it's a few degrees warmer and maybe a bit more daylight to play with.

I can't thank Jeff enough for this gem, well done amigo. Until the next one. Cheers!

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