January 5, 2019

CurmudgeonleSS 100

There was a slight hitch in the giddy-up for the upcoming Curmudgeon 100 Invitational as the Curmudgeon himself came down with a cold days before the ride. The 'non-event' was officially cancelled, but a few of us had the day free or had already made hotel plans. The weather was looking great and I didn't want to risk getting rained out on a later date. It does happen here in the desert.

The two big differences would be: I'd be driving from home in the wee hours to the start instead of crashing out at the host location and I wasn't planning on dropping anything at the staged cooler. Choosing to ride the full 100+ miles on whatever I started with sans one water refill opportunity near mile 60.

I arrived a little before 6a where Ken & Brent were just about ready to roll out. We exchanged groggy G'mornin's and they were off. I figured I wouldn't see either of those guys all day. There was another small group of riders doing the route, but starting nearly opposite of us about an hour later. I pushed off into the chilly, dark neighborhood streets at 6:15a.
$2 for 100 miles of singletrack. Sure.
This route is very singlespeed friendly, so it was an easy decision to roll out the Voodoo once again. I may have mentioned how much I enjoy riding this bike, it just fits.

I made it through the early miles of darkness without any cacti encounters, which is always a real possibility.
First crack of light on Escondido, sunrise looks promising...

The eastern glow gaining traction.

Still on the contoured climbs & dips of Escondido the sky is ablaze in color.
One of my least favorite sections of the route comes next: the Scenic climb. It's not super steep, although it feels like it on the SS, but rather all the loose chunky rocks make you work for every pedal stroke. I rode until I felt my matches beginning to light, then opted for a bit of hike-a-bike, HAB.

The good news about Scenic? The views. The day's first rays basking the McDowell Mtns.
 The Scenic downhill is fun as it rejoins Pemberton trail for a few fast miles. I passed by a trail crew as they were heading out while I rolled through the main parking area. I found out later, they cleaned up the chunky Scenic climb!!
Pump track lap, jump line lap and a new skills trail. I was surprised to see Ken & Brent heading off on the Long Loop as I arrived.

The Skills trail had some skinnies, teeter-totters, drops & jumps. Cool addition to the area.
It was time to settle in for a few miles of inclined riding. I zigzagged through the park, half expecting to see Ken & Brent at Jackass Junction, but it was empty when I arrived.
The caretaker of Jackass Junction.
 It had been a cool morning with the sun muted behind a thin layer of clouds. I still had my puffy on, some 24 miles into the ride!! I was finally ready to stuff it in my pack.
Slick work station.

New K-Lite system getting a test run.

Back out on Pemberton for the 4th time of the morning.
 I was about to hit another section I wasn't really looking forward to: Dixie Mine climb. I wasn't sure how I'd fare on the SS. To my surprise, I cleaned the climb fairly easily in spite of the rocks along the way. Coachwhip was a different story as I had to push up that a bit.

In the back of my mind I knew if I felt good by the time I reached the junction of Boulder & Gooseneck, I'd finish the route with relative ease. Most of the climbing is done by then, at least the chunkier climbing. Brown's Ranch trails are very SS friendly, so I wasn't concerned about the miles there.
Making my way up Boulder trail.

Found a small hive of poppies on Boulder.

Skirting by the north side of Rock Knob.

A catch basin levee along Gooseneck.

A horseback rider making their rounds.
I rolled up to the horse gate at Rio Verde Blvd. and saw some movement where the coolers were stashed. It was Ken & Brent!! I guess I hadn't been too far behind. I took a short break and dug into my pack. I had noticed it was a few minutes before noon when I arrived at the cooler. Last year I didn't arrive until almost 1:30p!! Couple that with a 45 minute later start compared to last year and I sped things up by well over 2 hours!! Cramps really did me in during that ride.

 The three of us left the coolers as a group, but a couple miles later I had to stop and peel off my wool base layer as it was finally getting a little warm. Ken & Brent rode ahead and I wouldn't see them again.
Heading out with the Early Bird fellas.

In the thick of Brown's Ranch along Stagecoach trail.
 The route zigzagged a bit on its way over to the Brown's Ranch trailhead. It was near mile 58, so I took a nice break, put my feet up and chilled for about 10-15 minutes. It was a tad after 2p when I got moving again. The next few miles flowed mostly downhill towards Pima/Dynamite Rds. A temporary connector linked into the now extended Hawksnest trail as it began to trend upwards on an outer perimeter loop.
Hawksnest trail has some fun routing through the boulders.

If you look closely, you'll see some new dirt among the boulder pile, slightly left of center. There are 3 brand new trails in this area.

Gah! Dirty camera lens as I finished off Stagecoach.
I was keeping an eye on the time, but as it got close to 4p I knew I wouldn't finish before dark. I was hoping to at the very least get back to the cooler area before needing lights. I was still feeling fine and keeping a good pace, but for some reason the trails at Brown's Ranch were starting to drag on.

I was cruising up Cowpoke trail about to link into Granite Mtn. trail, where I figured the route went left and down a fun section of trail towards the 136th St. trailhead. I was a bit miffed at Jeff for having the route turn right and climb towards Cholla Mtn. Surely, we'll take the next left and head down the west side of Granite Mtn...nope. WTH!! As Cholla Mtn. approached, I thought, we better be taking the next left or Jeffro's getting a nastygram!! The route turned and I made my way down the east side of Cholla Mtn. to the Balanced Rock area. I think I was starting to crave the final 10+ mile downhill glide to the finish....
Slipping by Balanced Rock.

I love the desert at Brown's Ranch, so lush.

Light beginning to fade as I make my way around Granite Mtn.

So good to be back on the Voodoo and really enjoying the singlespeed. It will definitely be a priority in 2019.
I passed through the construction zones around 136th St. & Fraesfield trailheads and relented. I flipped on my lights about a mile shy of the coolers. I thought I may find Ken & Brent there, but they were gone.
Back on Gooseneck trail, this time heading south.

The Phoenix glow illuminates the night sky over the McDowell Mtns. Cars leaving the Tom's Thumb trailhead in center.
I re-entered the McDowell Regional park near Jackass Junction, not quite overlapping the route from the morning. One final rip down Pemberton, now my 6th time on a section of it today!! I watched as the odometer crept closer to the century mark...97...98...99...100!! Down on the North Loop I took the south end to complete the loop before exiting into the neighborhood to put a wrap on things. I finished around 7:30p and missed Ken & Brent by 5 minutes!!
Jeff had these sweet stickers designed, great job, Nancy!! Too bad, no one was around to collect them!!
This ride completed my 13th dirty century, crazy. (15 if you count my alternating laps at Old Pueblo, twice) This is such a cool ride, Jeff tweaks the route each year, mostly because new trails keep popping up and it makes sense!! I think this was my favorite C100 iteration yet. Here's hoping to healthy hosts next year and perfect weather like today!!

Thanks again, Jeff, for keeping the idea going.

*Since this is an invitational, the starting/ending points aren't really public access. However, if you want to ride the route, go ahead, just stage out of Pima/Dynamite or park outside of the trailhead area since there's a good chance you'll finish after dark and the gates do close!!


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