December 31, 2016

2016: Pushing Limits & Going Big

2016. What a year of riding it was. I don't typically set goals other than some arbitrary number of miles I think I'll reach for the year. For 2016 it was 3000 which was about average for me over the past three years. This year was a little different. I had two goals in particular I wanted, no, check that, needed to reach. The AZTR750 self-supported bikepacking race from the Mexico border to Utah state line and the Maah Daah Hey 100 (MDH100) in the Badlands of North Dakota. This was a one day 100+ mile singletrack race that typically has a very high attrition rate.

Registration for the MDH100 opened on January 1st. I wasted no time and signed up on day 1. As for the AZTR750, well, let's just say it was on my mind for over a year and a half. Almost every ride I did from October to April was designed for 750 success.

I'm not going to repost blog recaps from the entire year, just some of the more memorable experiences from 2016. If you'd like to see more, simply scroll down the archive list on the left. It was a most memorable year from the bike.
The annual Curmudgeon 100 got the big rides rolling, even with a busted seat for 60+ miles.
The annual AZT charity event, the Jamboree, had a venue change due to weather. Perfect.
I came up with a route around Lake Pleasant, it had some dicey moments, but went through!!
I finally had a professional bike fit performed, but my seatpost was a 'little' stuck.
Queen's Ransom v3.0 had a fantastic turnout.
Chain of Lakes Loop around Four Peaks was the final confidence builder for the 750.
The Camp Tucson rides should be on everyone's AZT300 prep list.
A little bit of route scouting for the 750 near Rye.
Slate Creek Divide, it's only two climbs.
Made the switch to flat pedals for the 750, did a shakedown ride in Sedona. Pedals worked, cranks did not.
The AZTR750 was a true test of will all the way to the end..
After the 750 I spent some time recovering and tried to wrap my head around the whole ordeal. I needed to keep the big rides rolling as my attention turned to the MDH100 in early August.
I had grand plans for a 100+ miler in Flagstaff, but I found out early on I wasn't quite ready.
Early June found me back on the AZT in bikepacking mode, this time with friends!!
After the Grand Canyon bikepack, I found myself trying to keep pace with Kelly on a bunch of rides.
When it's hot, head south?? Ride Oracle Ridge?? Yes.
The year was half over and I was just shy of 2600 miles, by far my biggest 6 month stretch ever. I re-adjusted my yearly goal from 3000 to 4500 as I knew I wouldn't keep that kind of pace over the back half of the year. The most I had ever ridden in a year was in 2013 at 3,161 miles & 302,000' of elevation gain.
Bikepacking 101 was a success up on the Mogollon Rim.
Kelly's 7th & my first time at the summit of Humphrey's Peak, add in a 60 mile ride and it was an epic day!!
The car was loaded for our two week roadtrip to North Dakota, touring National Parks along the way. I was also able to ride in 7 states: UT - Thunder Mtn, UT - Park City, WY - Grand Targhee, MT - Bangtail Divide, ND (See Below), SD - Storm Mtn, NE - Chadron SP, WY - Curt Gowdy SP, CO - Canyon Creek, CO - Crested Butte & CO - Phil's World
Deep into the Badlands of North Dakota during the MDH100. Half of the field dropped out, I was the last official finisher, crossing the line sometime around 11:30p, 30 minutes prior to the time cut!!
The adventures kept piling up, #locorides was born up on Mt. Graham with these goofballs.
The high country rides kept coming, bikepacking on the Kaibab Plateau with a big group of friends.
Met this badass and did a few other cool short rides around town.
Made a weekend getaway to the ColoRADo high country before the snows began to fly.
I put together a modified Sedona BFL, swapping out the suck for fun.
Did a race up on the Navajo Reservation: Chuska Challenge.
Rented a big bike for a weekend in Moab.
The Tortolitas & Kentucky Camp came calling in November.
Fork experiment FAIL, but I did ride through Picketpost from home!!
N+1 day!!
Oracle Ridge the snow?!? Sure.
Gila Canyons overnighter.
Finally dialed in a mostly dirt 100+ mile loop from home.
Continued to mix in tour guide paced rides.
The Voodoo made the switch over to singlespeed.
Got phat on new-to-me dirt in Tucson & Oracle SP.
Rounded out New Year's Eve with friends on more new-to-me dirt in the West Valley.
The ride year came to a close and wow, what a year it was!! So many amazing places explored, friendships made, stories told and adventures had. I ended up crushing my previous best marks for distance & elevation in a year.

Here are the stats per Garmin Connect:
Count:103 Rides
Distance:4,335.62 mi
Avg Distance:42.09 mi
Max Distance:831.70 mi
Calories:221,949 C
Avg Speed:4.7 mph
Elevation Gain:448,473 ft
Avg Elevation Gain:4,354 ft
Max Elevation Gain:98,778 ft
Time:922:04:04 h:m:s
Avg Time:8:57:08 h:m:s
Max Time:321:44:01 h:m:s
Elevation Loss:458,220 ft

My Strava numbers display a little differently, I still think their elevation algorithm is off a bit.
The 750 kind of sticks out a bit!!
 I have big plans for 2017 including three big bikepacking events: Stagecoach 400, AZT300 and the Colorado Trail Race. We'll see how it goes. Thanks to all my family & friends for the support on these endeavors, it's truly appreciated. Ride on.
2016 was truly #loco thanks to my top training partner!!


It's not often that I have to alter ride plans due to weather. The New Year's Eve forecast was gloomy at best with more coming on New Year's Day. I scoured the local forecasts looking for a hole in the rain. Some buddies from the west side were going to ride the Black Canyon Trail, but had to cancel due to muddy conditions. Instead, they planned a ride around their local Estrella Mountain Ranch (EMR) trails.

At first I thought I may do a big loop over there checking out some more new-to-me dirt, but it was getting late and I hadn't really researched my route like I would've liked. So, I told Josh I'd join in on their ride since they were hoping to ride around 40 miles or so.

I mentioned that I had never been on the trails in Estrella Mtn Regional Park and the other local guys, Henry & Rhino couldn't believe it. I had always heard the trails were rocky & just so-so. Only one way to find out. Ride 'em. Shawn was also joining in on the ride. We had never met, only emailed back & forth over the years about getting me onto one of his custom Ti bikes, Tronix. I was all set to get the ball rolling on that when the Motobecane came along.

There had only been enough rain in the area to pack down the sand & dust. Most of the trails out here are rocky through & through, so they drain very well. We entered into the Regional Park and made a beeline for a normally avoided trail since it's primarily a wash. It was a slight uphill rip on this morning.
The Sun tried to come out on a few occasions.
Top of the Homestead wash trail.
Henry grinding out the climb.
Layers upon layers of mountains back here.
Good crew for a spin: Rhino, Henry, Josh & Shawn.

Henry & Josh on the nicely contoured Rainbow Valley trail.
Rhino & Shawn on Rainbow Valley.
The high peaks of the Estrellas stayed in the clouds all day.
Quartz outcropping on Pedersen trail.

We exited the Regional Park and crossed paths with Derek, he was out on a big solo ride, while the fellas had enough for the day. I still had more exploring to do. I rolled off into the Pirate trails with two goals: ride Up There and check out the gnarly Blackjack trail.
Can I be trusted? No one else around.
Stumbled onto this wicked jump line. Whoa.

I made my lap through Up There and began the climb to Blackjack. There are some ultra tight switchbacks and tech moves with exposure along the way. Fun stuff.
I'd say the warning is accurate.
Ride the spine!! Or walk it.
Some serious effort went into building this trail.

I made it down Blackjack without incident, walking plenty of sketchy sections. It was the easy trail on the bottom that bit me. I dropped into a small wash, caught a rock just right with my front wheel and felt the back end coming up. OTB!! I did my catlike jump over the bars, but clipped my right foot on the handlebars!! Gah!! I landed fairly hard on the rocks, of course on my right hand. Luckily it wasn't too bad, but I could feel a bruise developing almost instantly. Time for some smoother trails to finish out the day.

I ran into Derek once again as I was about to get on the Loop trail system. By now we had both crossed over 40 miles on the day. I was still hoping to at least get a loop through FINS before calling it a day.
Market trail climbs behind the Safeway.
I knocked out some fast miles and made my way over to FINS. I wanted to do the Grunt trail, but somehow missed the turn and simply did an outer loop of the trails.
The Sun finally staying out for a while.
Looking back towards the Regional Park.

I rolled back to Josh's place a tick under 49 miles on the day bringing my 2016 riding to a close. What a year it was. More on that in the next post.

It was a great final weekend of riding for 2016. New dirt, new friends and new areas.