December 31, 2018

2018: Peaks & Valleys

2018. What a year. As I look back, what will I take from it? I sure hope I learned a lot from the experience. Like most years, I set a few cycling goals. Some are measured by stats, others the journey and memories. Going by stats alone, I came up way short setting a mileage goal of 3,500 & 300,000' of gain. I ended the year with 2,437 miles & 181,500' gained. Am I disappointed? No chance. I had a few health setbacks this year that kept my longer rides at a minimum - mostly because I played it smart for a change and backed off. As the year wound down, I felt like my old self and have huge plans for 2019.

So, instead of my normal 'Year in Review' type of post, I'd like to point out a few of the highs and lows during the year. The blog can fill in the rest if you'd like. *Spoiler alert: It ended up being mostly a Year in Review posting!! Ha!*

Early in the year I had to good fortune to demo a Binary Bicycles Chuparosa for an extended time. My friend, George, started this company recently and I couldn't be happier for him to succeed. His custom Titanium frames are phenomenal and I heard nothing but complements from other riders when on the Chuparosa.
The Chuparosa: 27.5+ Ti Hardtail.
I found out the long planned Copper Mtn. Loop of the Black Canyon Trail had finally opened. It's a great addition to a spectacular trail. Needs more tires!!
Bench cut singletrack.
A few weeks later I finally took Evan up on his constant invites to ride over in SoCal. He put together three days of solid rides: Hopalong Cassidy/Art Smith, Fanita Ranch and the IMBA Epic - Palm Canyon Epic. The Chuparosa was called on again and delivered.
Near the bottom, yet still so far to go.
On my way home from SoCal I made a quick stop to check out the trails in Yuma. It was like riding on the moon, but the trail system was a hoot.
Sugarloaf trails in Yuma.
Spring was in the air and that meant it was time for the annual Queen's Ransom bikepack. It was here, where my plans for the year were altered. Sometime during the first day my left Achilles began to rear its ugly head. I went home for the night determined to rejoin the group the next day. By mid-day on day3 I was in agony and knew my ride was over. I didn't realize just yet how long it would take to fully recover.
One of the highlights of the ride.
I took some time off the bike to rest the Achilles. K and I went over to Palm Springs to watch Roger Federer play in the Paribas Open. K is a huge fan of his and it was a bucket list of hers to see him play live, mission accomplished.
Great seats too!!
One of my riding highlights of the year came next. George had told me the Chuparosa would accept 3.0 tires, but the light bulb in my head hadn't gone off yet. Then, one day it hit me: Camino del Diablo!! Yes!! I lobbed a softball invitation to my buddy, Mark, and we hatched a plan. It was awesome and we both would love to get back out there again.
Tule Well along the border.
By the end of the Diablo my Achilles was screaming at me. I needed to back off the miles and get it right. My hopes of riding the AZT300 were dashed, but I hosted Neil B. & Beth S. before their rides. It was a lot of fun watching the race unfold and following friends trek north across AZ.

I was slowly on the mend, still riding locally, but short rides. I made a jaunt over to the far west valley one day to explore some trails near Buckeye. It was a nice surprise.
Dog Bone trails in Buckeye.
I had an idea one afternoon to create a patch for the Queen's Ransom. I sketched out a rough draft and had the talented Shannon Villegas convert it to digital artwork. I submitted the file to Stadri Emblems and was blown away by the final product. I kept it under wraps while I gathered all the past QR finishers mailing addresses, then off they went (stickers too). I'm a bit of a patch collector, so I had to create one for my own ride.
Patch final.

Sticker stash. (FYI: 2/ = Two Schillingsworth logo)
The summer heat ramped up and I found myself constantly leaving the state for cooler weather. The Burrito Brothers were back in action after a long hiatus, although it was short lived during the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde.
3 Days, 4 States
Shannon & Beto gave me a fantastic introduction to the area around Pinos Altos, NM. Once again, the rides were loaded with new-to-me miles.
Fun group for the weekend.
K & I escaped the heat once again, heading for the mountains of North Carolina.
One of the many overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The desert typically sees triple digit temps in June, yet a rare storm blew through creating an unexpected pleasant day. I took advantage and went for a ride out at Picketpost Mtn. along the AZT. Sure glad I did!!
Picketpost Mtn.
I was finally starting to feel back to normal re: Achilles. It took almost 3 1/2 months with therapy. While it didn't keep me entirely off the bike, I had scaled the mileage way back.

Over the July 4th holiday I made a trip back home to PA, first time in 4 years!! I was able to rent bikes a couple of times to ride trails over in New York at Port Jervis and finally made my way to Rothrock State Forest near State College, PA.
Port Jervis, NY.
Cooper's Gap, PA.
Shortly after the Rothrock ride, my right leg started feeling funny. I was scheduled to fly back home and didn't think much of it. By the time I made it back to AZ, my ankle had swelled and I had some knee pressure. I went to the Dr. and they sent me for an ultrasound. That same day I was scheduled for minor surgery to remove a blood clot in my lower leg!! The surgery was successful, but I was put on blood thinners for the next 90 days. I scrapped any ride plans involving overly technical trails, sorry National.

The next couple of months didn't see a lot of riding, but I did receive an email from Scott inquiring me about taking over the AZTR!! I had time to mull it over...oh, and I also declared myself for the 2019 Tour Divide...

I then managed a long weekend in Colorado to ride with friends. I stayed with Beth in Crested Butte and rode with her and Neil on a locals tour that was super fun. I moved on to Breckenridge where Nancy was getting set for the Breck Epic. Jeff, Nancy & I did a nice Tour de HAB in Breck. Then I was on to Winter Park to track down the ever elusive Scott & Eszter. On my way back to the desert I had to do a quick spin on the Crest before hitting Telluride. It was a ride weekend I needed and I felt it would be a springboard to getting me back on track.
Back to the scene of the CTR.
K and I took a week long vacation to Hawai'i in August, too bad we arrived a couple of days if front of Hurricane Lane. The storm altered our plans a bit, but it was one in a series of odd weather events we experienced. As we left AZ for the islands, the remnants of a Pacific Hurricane came through Phoenix. Then, upon our arrival home from Hawai'i, another one passed through the desert. Didn't think either place had to worry about such things.
The calm before the storm.
The calendar flipped to September and I met some friends for an easy ride in Prescott. The problem? It wasn't all and it really should've been. While I was being smart about not pushing my body too hard after discovering the blood clot, I became soft. I put on a few extra pounds and lost most of my riding fitness. I was struggling to complete tame 20 mile rides. The Prescott ride was a real eye-opener. A few days later I was over at Hawes doing my standard go-to route and I had to get off and walk a bunch of inclines. Something had to change.
Ride to the light.

I began by cutting way back on my sugar intake. I began to actually read product labels. I invested in my riding by hiring my friend and endurance badass, Kurt Refsnider, of Ultra MTB for endurance training for a successful run down the spine of the Rocky Mountains next June during the Tour Divide.

Once again, George stepped up and provided a Binary Bicycles Havok for my Tour Divide effort. He's letting me train on it too with the added incentive that if I complete the Divide, I can keep the frame!! Sorry, George, you're not getting that one back. I then built up a wheel for a stationary trainer I purchased. My work schedule doesn't allow ride time typically Monday - Thursday, so this was necessary to get some bike work in.
The Havok in trainer mode.
I needed to find some endurance legs quick because I signed up to ride the Tally Tango 160 bikepacking race in northern Florida in early October!!
Crossing the Pinhook River.
Our trip home from Florida ended up being a grand adventure all on its own. A few days after completing the Tango, Hurricane Michael bore down on the panhandle. We couldn't get out flying stand-by, so we ended up renting a car and driving home!!

A few exploratory rides helped get me ready to Tango: Willow Springs & Mt. Lemmon: Butterfly Trail

I had the opportunity to give back a little bit of sweat equity to my beloved Arizona Trail during a Happy Jack trail building event.
Scratching out new singletrack!!
In September I lost a long time friend to cancer. We were the same age and he was responsible for introducing me to mountain biking way back in 1994. I returned the favor and taught him how to ski and we had many a grand roadtrip adventures back in the day. Adam, you will be missed, but not forgotten. Peace, brother.
Adam & I at the MTB mecca of Moab back in 1995.
By mid-October I was starting to get back in the groove. I finished the year strong by finally making it to a few Arizona Endurance Series events: Kentucky Camp, Picketpost Pulverizer & Pleasantville.

There were plenty of adventure rides too. The Tonto Basin ride really tipped the #locorides scales.
Sam trying wrap his head around what we 'rode'.
The Four Peaks bikepack had grand plans to add a new route to the AZTR750. Instead, it bit back, but will be an option for riders in April.
Mike and I were given a treat for our efforts.
I finally ticked a trail off the long time 'must ride' list. A shuttle drop down CDO on Mt. Lemmon.
Huge views up top.
Beto put together a fabulous route down south. The Empirita Lite Loop brought a new perspective to a familiar area.
Expansive views of Southern Arizona's Sky Islands.
A couple of old classics were wedged in between including an AZT shuttle from Tiger Mine TH to Kelvin with Evan.
Night riding on Ripsey was quite memorable.
I was overdue for an old classic: The AES BCT route.
Huge views of the Bradshaw Mtns. near Bumble Bee.
There were plenty of social rides in December as well. The annual Christmas ride with the Estrella crew was as advertised...until my rear wheel imploded.
Good thing I ride with a large pack, makes bike portaging a bit easier.
I'm guessing the Hawes Bike Pub Crawl will become a staple. So much fun!!
Huge turnout!!
The new dirt kept coming with the addition of trails in the Hawes network. Let's keep the momentum going in 2019!!
Super D!!
When my rear wheel turned to shambles on the Christmas ride, my hand was forced a bit. I finally got around to sprucing up the 'ol Voodoo. Hello, old friend. The bike still rides great and fits like a glove!! I really love that bike. What better way than to reunite it with the trails than a long shuttle ride on the Black Canyon Trail.
That finished off the year. I feel I'm headed in the right direction after a couple of strong months of pedaling. I crunched some numbers and found it interesting how the middle six months of the year, when I was nursing injuries, totaled a little over 600 miles. The other six months I tallied around 1800, a bit more on pace to what I was expecting. In the end, the number of miles doesn't matter one iota to me. It's all about the experience, the relationships, memories and journey each ride takes me on. By that measure 2018 was a smashing success!!
Strava numbers crunched by VeloViewer.
Thanks for the memories 2018, time to steamroll into 2019...

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