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:

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