All I'm going to say for now is that the event requires monster training for me. I came up with my own little training plan to get ready for it. Hey, I've been doing the swim-bike-run thing for years now, I can figure out a plan. And it's one of those plans where if I can survive the plan, I can survive the event. But I'll unveil what the heck I'm talking about in a future blog post. Oooh a clif hanger! I gotcha there don't I.
Anyways, back to the training rides. My first psycho training ride I did alone the weekend after the last Lemmon Squeezy ride. I figured I would just keep building off of the climbing fitness from those rides.
The second ride, Johnny and Zac came along. With the Lemmon Squeezy rides over, Johnny was worried about what he was going to do with his time. Ha! Not to worry, I've got a plan. So we rolled out from The Round House at 6 AM and started the climb up Redington Road. Redington Road is key to these training rides, and let's just say I'm going to know that road like I know Catalina Hwy. I'll be riding it every week. To avoid the gun crowd, most of the rides are on Sundays, or off-Fridays. The shooters hang out right around Mile 6 on the road, and I'm paranoid about getting hit by a stray bullet. I never ride up there on Saturdays. Early Sunday mornings people are either hung over, or in church, or hungover in church, or asleep. So there is much less traffic on the roads, and shooters on the sides of the road.
We climbed up to Mile 12.6 and hit the AZ Trail singletrack. This portion is Bellota Trail #15 (link to map here). There are some nice rollers, then a hike-a-bike up a hill, and then a really fun downhill section. There is a ton of catclaw out there on the AZ trail, so I wear long socks that I can pull up while on the singletrack and then push back down once we get back on the dirt roads. It keeps me from looking like I got in a fight with 20 cats. We only had one mechanical on the trial, with Johnny having a horrible chain issue where it was wedged between the spokes and the large rear cog. I had to get on his bike and straddle it to keep the frame from twisting while he yanked to get it out. With the chain finally freed we were able to move on. Zac got the worst injury with a front tire burn on the inside of his knee. I don't know how it happened, all I know is he mentioned his foot getting wedged somewhere in between the frame and a wheel, the wheel running over the inside of his knee, and him proclaiming he didn't crash during the whole ordeal.
We finished up the singletrack and took FR 36 (a.k.a. The Climb of Death) back to Redington Rd. I hate FR 36 with a passion. It's only 2 miles long but the climb kills me. But it's the only way to shortcut the ride back to Redington without having to turn around and go back up the AZT, or continue forward down Milagrosa, or up over the Molino saddle. Then it was smooth sailing back down Redington to The Round House.
Some pics from that ride:
Johnny and I climbing Redington Rd.
Resting in the small amount of shade at the start of the AZT.
Consulting the AZT map.
Johnny rolling over the cattleguard.
Zac on the trail.
Johnny rockin' it.
Me rockin' the socks.
Now I'm finally caught up to the ride this past weekend. The previous weekend it was toasty warm, so I knew we would need to start earlier. I set a goal start time of 5:30 AM. I was surprised when Liane showed up in the driveway, since she has to drive down from her mountain and probably left her house at 3 AM to be at my house by a little after 5. We were all moving a bit slow, so we left The Round House at 5:45 AM. The sun hadn't even come over the mountain yet.
It had rained the day before, so this morning it was 1000% humidity. Liane, Zac, and I made frequent stops along the way, mostly because sweat was running into our eyes. I did make a quick turnaround to pick up an object lying in Redington Rd. It was a little skeleton hand giving the finger. It cracked me up and made me laugh and I decided to keep it as a bike mojo totem. I will have to install it on the Blur for future rides.
The route was a repeat of the previous week except we would continue on the AZT to where it intersected FR 36A, and would take that to FR 36 (The Climb of Death) back down to Redington. The singletrack on the first part of the AZT was great, and I got into an awesome groove on the dowhill. Familiarity with the trail definitely helps. I still had to hike the bike, but I don't think it was as bad as the last week. We hit the intersection at FR 36 and took a break. I considered going up FR 36 to make it a repeat of last week's ride, but decided that no, I needed to stick to the plan. We crossed the wash and started the fun of finding the AZT. Cow trails were easier to find than the actual trail in some spots. I stopped after a few downhills to do some trail maintenance. A few ocotillos had fallen into the trail, and I certainly wasn't going to run over them. Since we would be back on this section of trail again, I removed the offending brush so that we wouldn't have to deal with it on future rides. Some of the brush was burned from the Guthrie fire earlier this year, but it was pretty sparse in this area of the trail.
We hit the intersection of FR 36A and made a beeline for a shade tree. I was getting bored with eating Cliff bars, but I did try the new Powerbar gel block thingys. A bit strange texture-wise but they seemed to work pretty well in the stomach. We rolled down FR 36A, which I had never ridden, and rode past Bellota Ranch. We finally hit the intersection with FR 36 and stopped back under the same shade tree where I had considered turning around early. Now that seemed like a good idea but it was too late. It was freakishly hot out and all of us were steaming. It was also time to review the water situation. Liane had about 10 oz left, so I gave her some of the water in my contingency bottle. I started conserving some of mine so that I would be able to make it back to the house. Clouds were rolling in over Mt. Lemmon, and I was trying to coax them to come over and cover the sun so that we'd have some shade for the Climb of Death. No dice. We had to do the climb in full sun.
I got off and hiked some areas of the Climb of Death. I was too tired and overheated to even try some of the steep spots that I had ridden last week. Liane and I made it to the OHV parking area on Redington Rd and found Zac sitting under the shade of the parking area. Liane and I both dismounted, removed our packs and helmets, and laid down on the concrete slab under the shade where Zac was sitting. We wanted to just take a nap, but it was too hot. I'm sure it was quite a scene with all of us splayed out on the slab. After a short rest we decided it was time to move on. It was about another hour to the house. Zac was already out of water, so I gave him the rest of my last bottle. Liane still had some fluid left in her last bottle, and I had about 10 oz in my Camelbak. This was also the point in the ride Zac's fork completely obliterated itself. He had about 1 inch of travel to work with, so it was slow going for him on the descents down Redington Rd.
I hit the vacuum of nothingness in my Camelbak on Wentworth Rd, about a mile from the house. We were moving slowly, but still moving forward. As soon as we hit the driveway of the house we dumped the bikes and immediately went inside to grab ice water. Liane and Zac collapsed in chairs and I collapsed on the cold tile floor. Over 5 hours of riding time (7.5 hours out on the trail) and 38 miles covered. A map of the route from my Garmin is here.
Next week's ride is gonna be ugly.
Pics from this week's ride:
Liane and I on Redington Rd.
Zac got a pretty cool angle here on the AZT.
Resting in a little bit of shade. We're still smiling at this point.
Cruisin' the AZT.
Resting in the campfire on FR 36A.
Zac chillin' out at our rest stop.
Collapsing in the OHV parking lot after the Climb of Death.
My new bike mojo totem! Found it lying in the dirt of Redington Rd. I've decided to name it "Digit," and will attach it to the Blur.