December 31, 2017

2017: Highs & Lows

Another year in the books. It sure seems like each one flies by faster than the previous year. I tend to relate that to how busy I am. If I plan a lot of activities, there's always something going on. I honestly can't recall the last time I was bored.

2017 had some big shoes to fill in regards to mountain biking. I wasn't trying to outdo 2016, rather keep the momentum going. The year got going with the now annual Curmudgeon 100...but was promptly delayed due to rain. (That would be an overriding theme in 2017)

The year kicked off with a series of big rides leading into the Spring bikepacking season in the desert.
It was pure Madness in the McDowell's to kick start 2017.
The annual AZT Jamboree fundraiser is always a hoot!!
Team Loco was at it again too, breaking in a new Ripsey route.
The Voodoo lives on as a singlespeed!! The Curmudgeon 100 finally went off and was still soggy.
Shannon & I braved a cold morning to help open gates for the Oracle Rumble runners. Even cheered on a few friends.
Watch out, Team Loco led a group ride on the AZT!!
Evan popped over from San Diego and we rode the BCT from Orme Rd to Emery Henderson in a day.
Third time was NOT the charm as I attempted another Sedona BFL modified ride.
The annual Queen's Ransom bikepack went off with another great group of riders.
The following week, Team Loco headed west to Tour the Stagecoach 400 route. Oh my.
Spring was in full force, many rides with friends ensued.

After many years of talking about it, I finally convinced the RRC to a full Picketpost to Kelvin ride. We're still friends!!
Finally! AES Sedona BFL modified loop complete after four tries. Photo by RRC.
I was humbled on the AZT300 in April.
After the AZT fiasco, I went in search of new trails and new-to-me dirt. Some local, some across state lines as I began to narrow my focus on the Colorado Trail Race in July.
Hoo Doo trail in Gold Canyon is a fantastic new double black addition.
The Goldfield Mtns. kept slipping under the radar, but some friends wanted to explore. Some trail gold was found.
I headed north to Prescott to sample the newly minted Ranch trail extension.
I couldn't get any takers, so I solo'd it all around SW Utah over Memorial weekend.
I had a tough go of it up in Rim country on a failed loop attempt.
K & I headed east to North Carolina and I squeezed in a ride at W. Kerr Scott
The Burrito Brothers were back at it on a new trail at Hawes.
Team Loco has a new member, Beto!! Let's go ride Oracle Ridge.
Summer was finding its desert stride and I needed to head north, not just for cool weather, but elevation. Colorado bound!!
Rounded up some friends for a train ride, with bikes, followed by a 3-day bikepack from Silverton to Durango.
I tried to keep my rides elevated back home, checking out new trail near Flagstaff.
July 23rd, 2017. The shit hit the fan. The Colorado Trail Race kicked off and I was pushed to my limits on a few occasions. Yet, somehow through all the rain, mud and frustration at times I found myself completing my toughest event to date. I arrived at Waterton Canyon near Denver all the way from Durango, some 551 miles & 71,000' of gain in 12 days 16 hours & 24 minutes.
I needed both a mental & physical break after the CTR. The Great American Eclipse provided a perfect getaway opportunity! Photo by Mountain Flyer Magazine.
Back in AZ, I did one warm, dry ride before forgetting my rain gear heading to Rim country. I forgot AZ was still in monsoon season.
A month and a half after the CTR, Colorado came calling again. I couldn't stay away. This time I drug my bike to the summit of Mt. Elbert, CO's highest peak at 14,433'
Took my new riding bud on an ATOM Loop in Flagstaff
Things slowly began to cool off in the desert and a steady dose of solid rides followed to round out the year.
Tried my luck at a Sedona Triple H ride, but settled for a double H.
In October, I had the opportunity to give back to the AZT via my full-time job. Fun day killing catclaw out on Ripsey.
I met up with a long time digital friend from Canada for some Sedona & Flagstaff riding. 
Sam and I took a long weekend up to Moab.

AES season kicked off with Kentucky Camp.
Took another roadtrip to SW Utah, this time with friends.
The AES Picketpost Punisher was waiting back in AZ.
Evan was back in town, ready for some Goldfield Mtns. exploration.
Fun day shredding the trails with an All-Star crew.
December ushered in a new AES event: Pleasantville.

The final big ride of the year: Curmudgeon 100 brought the year to a close, but my legs weren't up to it.
Here are a few other yearly snapshots I like to see:
MY #bestnine2017 from Instagram.
Strava year in review video

Strava ride stats via VeloViewer.
That's a wrap for 2017, on to 2018!! I've had many people ask me what big ride plans I have for the new year. I have a few, but nothing quite on par with the AZTR750 or CTR. Another run at the AZT300 for sure, perhaps finishing off the back half of the Stagecoach400 in tour mode and a tour of the new Bones to Blue route up near Lake Tahoe are a few things I'd like to do in 2018. We'll see. Either way, I'm sure there will be plenty of adventuring and perhaps I'll see you out on the trail.

December 30, 2017


The new year was fast approaching and that meant the now annual Curmudgeon 100 Invitational was as well. We typically like to plan it for the first free day in the new year, but this year had a scheduling conflict with the AZT Jamboree charity ride. Don't want to rain on that parade for fears of bad trail juju. We opted to bookend 2017 with a second Curmudgeon on Dec. 30th.

I prodded Jeff to knock out the loop up & over Prospector trail this year. Let's keep this thing as easy as possible for 100 miles of singletrack. Sounded good to us. We tend to get our punishment on most other rides anyway.

It seemed like there was going to be a huge turnout for this year, but there was sickness in the air and a bunch of people had to cancel due to feeling ill.

Jeff & Nancy were kind enough to not only host the event again, but also open their home for seven of us to crash out the night before.

Nancy whipped up a killer breakfast as the riders filed in. I think we had somewhere around 15 people depart for the trails in the wee hours of darkness.

This isn't a race, rather a self-paced route, but a few of the fast guys just couldn't help themselves. it's what they do and more power to them. I settled into a nice pace early on, stopping for a brief moment to adjust some gear at the Pemberton link up. Jeff & Nancy passed by me here as Evan, Curtis and I rolled together along Escondido trail.
Evan & Curtis during the wee hours.
The three of us reached Cinch trail and Curtis asked to get by, he wasn't feeling well at the start and needed to get to the next trailhead!! He zipped by and was gone in a matter of minutes. The look on Evan's face was hilarious, 'Where'd that come from?' he said. I told him Curtis was being nice and sandbagging with us slower riders!!

Up ahead I could see Jeff & Nancy's lights high on Scenic trail, it would be the last time I'd catch a glimpse of those two. A few minutes later I too began climbing Scenic. It's not my favorite climb, not steep, but plenty of loose fist-sized rock on the tread. It was here that I felt a slight twinge in my left quad. Hmmm, that's not good. I opted to walk a bit as Evan rode by. The eastern glow of daybreak was now upon us. Such a beautiful sight out in the desert. There's something special about riding from pitch black into full sunshine and vice versa..
Evan and the eastern glow on top of Scenic trail.
Evan and I made our way down Scenic and along the fast sections of Pemberton & Shallmo Wash. We did our obligatory lap through the pump track then made our way onto the Long Loop of the Competitive Loops. I was about a mile into the Long Loop when I felt another twinge coming on, time for a short break.
First rays of light over the McDowell Mountains.
I caught sight of Evan once or twice on the gentle grind up to Jackass Junction. I would eventually catch him there as we rolled in together for a nice snack break. A few minutes later Shannon & Beto pulled in on their singlespeeds. We hung out for a few more minutes before heading out as a group towards the Dixie Mine loop.
Greeted by the gatekeeper at Jackass Junction.
Nicely built and a cozy decor. Now I'm thirsty...
Peace out. Go ride.

The Dixie Mine climb is another one of those bumpy grinds. Again, my quad threw a fit, so I walked a short bit trying to get the cramp to pass.

I saw Shannon & Beto continue straight on Dixie Mine towards Prospector and shouted their way a few times. They didn't hear me and I wouldn't be able to catch them, so I dropped down Coachwhip. They soon saw their error and caught me on the climb while I pushed. Keep in mind this route is easily 100% rideable!!
Shannon mashing the singlespeed up Coachwhip.
100% rideable, except when you feel like pushing. Photo by Shannon.

The four of us reached Pemberton once again and made our way back to Boulder trail. This would lead us to Gooseneck and then connect over to the back half of the ride in Brown's Ranch. I was ready for more calories, but figured I could wait until I reached the cooler.
Evan taking off on Pemberton.
Beto & Shannon back on route!!

The others got ahead of me for good when I pulled over for yet another cramping episode. I wasn't happy.

I'm not a chronic cramper, but every so often I get bit. Today was one of those days. I tried everything to stave it off: water, CarboRocket, Sodium Shot Blocs, SaltStick capsules, Gatorade, Bacon, Beef sticks, Pepperoni... Each time I felt a twinge, I stopped before it fully locked up. It seemed like I took a cramp break about 10 times before reaching the cooler drop near the halfway point. As much as I tried, I wasn't exactly enjoying my time out on the trail as I was now well behind Shannon, Beto & Evan.

As I neared the cooler I began to feel a bit wonky, I had to get some calories down. I took another short break and finally caught up to the others at the cooler. 45 miles down and I wasn't feeling too confident about slogging through another 55 or so.

The cooler drop is in a nicely shaded wash area, even has a backrest!! I made myself comfortable and began downing the calories. While I was sitting there my quad would begin to lock up, getting steadily worse. WTH?!? Then my right quad decided to join in the fun as well. Evan was now getting ready to head back out and I wanted to go with him. I stood up to gather my stuff and that was it, both quads had enough and I couldn't straighten out my stance. It was quite painful and uncomfortable for a few minutes. Evan took off while Shannon & Beto decided they'd head back to the house and fire up the lasagna that Nancy made and keep an eye on Joe's chili. That was sounding more appealing by the minute.
Chilling at the cooler...then chilling some more. Photo by Shannon.
A few mintues later Ben & Kimberly joined us on their mountain tandem!! They were done for the day and about to head back to the house, notching around 50 miles when all said and done. Nice work!!
Grape catcher!!
I tried standing up a second time, but had similar results. I knew my day was done at that point. Beto offered to bring the car around to pick me up. I told him I'd hang out for a bit longer and try again, I really wanted to finish under my own power on the trail if I was going to bail early. They all took off and I waited another 15 minutes before trying to stand again. This time: SUCCESS!! Hooray for small victories. I sent Shannon a text saying I was back on trail. Let's see how this goes.
Easy, fast trail back into the park.
Four Peaks towering overhead at 7700'.

Lucky for me, those miles from the cooler back to the house are 90% downhill. Easy. My legs held up fine, in fact, I now felt great. Go figure. It only took 1 hour 45 minutes of downtime at the cooler for that to happen. Jeez. I arrived back at the house sometime around 2p. About 40 minutes later, that angry mofo, Ray, rolled in looking a bit trashed. El Freako, Jeff H, wasn't too far behind.

My car was parked in, so I wasn't going anywhere for a while. Not an issue I might add, as the food was plentiful and I was in good company. We were all waiting to see who was going to arrive next. I think it was sometime around 4p when Mike & Joe came in. By 5p everyone else had arrived except Andy and Evan. I thought it was a bit funny, since those were the two vehicles blocking me in!! Ha!

Andy made it in before dark and Evan sent me a text around 6:15p saying he was at the cooler.

While my day didn't go as planned, it was still good to get out there. Always is, always worth it even if part of the ride was crappy due to the pilot. A huge thanks to Jeff & Nancy for hosting all us dirtbags once again. Keep the tradition alive!! Thanks too to Joe & Andy for bringing chili. Hard to believe the next one will be our 5th Curmudgeon all stemming from a little challenge I tossed Jeff's way. I like how the route has evolved over the years too. Brown's Ranch keeps adding new trails to play on! Until the next one, ride on.


My Route: