11.04.2017

AES: Kentucky Camp '17

I was less than 24 hours removed from my ride up Montana Mtn. and I was driving south, beyond Tucson for the annual AES Kentucky Camp ride. I signed up for the long course as I normally do, but I had a sneaking feeling my legs weren't up to the task. I decided to let it play out while on route, if I felt good at the Kentucky Camp split, I'd go for the long route, otherwise I'd stick to the short one.

I arrived a whooping 20 minutes early, so unlike me, and was greeted to the sound of gunfire. LOUD gunfire!! Why? There were a few guys target shooting in the same parking lot we were staging our ride. Nice. It's not like we didn't have a few people camped out the night before or anything OR that there was a perfectly fine..and empty shooting lot across the dirt road. Whatevs. Welcome to Arizona. It's not a real mountain bike ride here unless you hear shots fired. #pewpew
Chad shouting last minute tips over the gunfire.
We rode out of the staging area onto Helvetia Rd. for a short spin to link up with the Arizona Trail. Normally, I like to at least be mid-pack when we get to the singletrack since it's a switchbacked climb. Today however, I was dropped like a lead balloon and essentially had the entire climb to myself.

I kept a few riders within eyesight over the early miles and rode with a few late starters for a bit. I knew right away I'd be doing the short course, might as well enjoy the scenery.
The fire damage from last year was hardly noticeable.

Chad came and went after we exited the singletrack.

A smidge beyond the halfway point.
A bit farther up the dirt road the Goold's caught up to me. It was great to see Ryan back out on the bike after a most unfortunate crash last year. He's a super strong rider and great guy. I got ahead of them on the descent from the high point of the short course and kept rolling until taking a break after crossing Box Canyon Rd.

I heard the metal AZT gate open and a rider quickly approached. It was Courtney, leading the long route!! Neil was hot of his heel and I joked with him about taking so long to catch me...I only spotted them 17 miles!!
Neil, all smiles as he mashes his singlespeed.

I must've passed Chad when he took a break. Here's the classic shot of Mt. Wrightson.

Brooding skies and tall grass.

Chad cresting on of the final climbs.

Look closely, Chad is on the ridgeline near center.

Chad slowed down for some photo ops before the finish.
I knew we were getting close #pewpew by the sound of gunfire. The shooters from the morning had been swapped out with another duo. At least they were shooting responsibly, nothing against target shooters if done right.

However, when I went over to my car to change clothes I could hear bullets whizzing overhead. Like really close!! A few other riders noticed it too. It was rather unnerving not knowing where they were coming from. The fellas in our staging area were shooting into an empty hillside in the opposite direction. These bullets were flying overhead from the other side of a hill to the south of us. I heard a few more fly by then I joined the rest of the gang at the other end of the staging area.

A little while later a USFS Ranger pulled up and began asking us what was going on. At first no one really gave a straight answer. He then mentioned that he had recently relocated to AZ from Texas and couldn't find any trail running groups or mountain bikers to ride with. Well, that sort of smoothed things over!! In a matter of 5 minutes we had him signed up for a 50k run and a slew of riding options. He told us where those stray bullets were coming from too. A group of yahoos were randomly firing their guns not aware of anyone on the other side of the hill (us). Thankfully, he got them to stop.

It ended up being a great day for a spin in southern AZ under overcast skies with a light breeze.
Skypainters putting on a show.
Afterwards I met up with Shannon & Beto at their new place for dinner. Their house is in a prime location for accessing the AZT and has great evening views of the city. I'm sure it'll make a great jumping off point for many grand adventures.

Thanks again to Chad for putting on another fun event. Until next year...


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