Friday, October 21, 2016

Crown King and BCT Bikepack coming up!

So I've been bikepacking several times, and this will be Marcus's first. This will double my longest (my previous long was 75ish miles up in the Cabin Loop area on the rim).

What better way to really get a feel for the challenges of the AZTR300 than to do this. I'm not sure if anyone has done it before, but here is an overview.

From my house near 51st ave and Happy Valley, head north through open desert and bypass the loop 303 and then CF Hwy in order to intersect with the Maricopa Trail.

Head west and use the MT to gain access to the newish trail system at Lake Pleasant where we will top off on fluids and then begin the dirt road grind around to the Crown King trail. This isn't a MTB trail, it's more of a 4x4/OHV trail that takes some beautiful country all the way up to Crown King.

I've done it in a vehicle, never on a bike. Strava research shows that people (much stronger than me) have ridden up there. So it's possible. Just gonna be tough with bikepacking gear. But that's exactly the point.

Once we acquire CK, we will refuel at the Saloon and general store. Then bomb down the dirt road all the way to basically I-17 where we will intersect with the BCT and head north to basically its Northern terminus at Mayer (yeah I know it goes beyond that, but we aren't going to do that). The plan is to get anything else necessary in Mayer and then start the trek South on BCT until we feel like we have had enough. Set up camp and crash out.

Next day get up and continue the southbound route and go into BCC/Rock Springs for any supplies/lunch and then continue BCT all the way south until we run into the Maricopa Trail again at which point we follow it back to my place.

A giant lollipop of goodness. At least in theory.

Here is what the route looks like: 154 miles and about 14k elevation...

Monday, October 10, 2016

Prescott "mini" monster 2016

This weekend was my "official" kick-off of training for the AZTR 300 in April. Though I've been focusing on building up miles and climbing recently, there is no getting around needing to get some big, punishing rides in to prepare.

Enter the Prescott "Mini" Monstercross

I had done this route about 18 months ago and this version was way tougher in my opinion.

The day started off decent enough. I went to bed and woke up with a headache, which is rare for me. Apparently Marcus had some stomach weirdness also, but nothing that was going to stop us from riding. We both also didn't really get enough sleep, I think both of us were around the 4 hour mark. Not optimal, but whatever.

Marcus rolled up at 4:30AM and loaded up in my truck and we were off. Had some pretty interesting traffic encounters on the way up. People are stupid!

Made it up to P town and it was downright chilly. Low 40's when we started. We started to climb right away so we warmed up quickly. After the climbing, we promptly lost all of the elevation on a sweet decent. I mentioned to Marcus that this really make the day feel like it would be easy. We both knew it wasn't going to be, but it still felt like it.

We made it to the Granite Dells section at about 1.5 hours in. Just cruising and enjoying the day. Grabbed a picture of both of us and continued on...

Notice the rogue panda bags. They were rock freaking solid. I didn't use all the gear that I purchased from them, but I'm sure I won't be disappointed. 
We made it through the dells and crossed hwy 89 into a weird little custom home area. It's cool, but certain areas of it feel really closed in. I don't know if I could live in there to be honest. Some of the areas are more open, but it just feels "weird" to me. I dunno.

A little more techy/HAB sections after the housing area but then we were back to actual extended riding.

We passed Willow Creek Reservoir and Marcus discovered that he had lost his bluetooth headphones. Bummer. We were both good on fluids so we bypassed the available water here.

More riding on mixed trails until we dumped out onto Williamson Valley Rd. where we had a high speed roll and turn off into a neighborhood. Ground our way up to a trailhead and the beginning of some rubble filled trail. Kind of a pain, but it ended quick enough and then we had some fairly fast and flowy trail for a bit. Hit some legit pine trees for the first time in the ride to, so that was nice.

We stopped at the water source and it was filled with bees. I managed to top off water for Marcus and myself without getting stung and we got moving. We were close to the half way mark, but we both knew that things get really tough for the last 20 miles. Still feeling good though...

From here, it has an overall uphill trend, climb a bit, descend a bit, all while continuing to get higher in elevation. I started to lose Marcus on the climbs a bit. Not by much, but he was waiting for me at the top of the significant sections. The day was starting to wear on me, and even though the temps were nice (high 60's mid 70's at this point) it was starting to feel warm due to no shade.

We finally made it to the wolverton descent and I told Marcus it is nice to be going downhill, but it's just chunky enough to beat you down a bit. It makes you work. We made it to hwy 89 and had a pitstop at the white spar CG. Filled up on water for the final beat down.We debated on how much water to get. On paper, we only had about 15 miles to go. But it was warmish and we knew the shenanigans were coming. I took on a decent amount of water, but then when things started getting weird I totally stopped drinking. Dumb move. It made things more difficult for sure, and I was fighting of some cramps during some of the climbs. I need to remember to stay on top of hydration. Food isn't a problem, but hydration can be. I need to get this dialed if I want to survive the AZT300.

The last 10 miles (and really the last 4 or 5) are really tough. I thought we had a sub nine hour finish in the bag but then the boy scout "trail" HAB followed by Turley trail said no to that. Just a kick in the nuts. That's all there is to it. We finally finished and were cruising pavement back to the start area when we noticed an off leash dog barking in the road. It was fairly large and we contemplated what to do.

Dog on the left

We kinda barked at it and it moved further away. At this point, we went toward it so we took a quick left at the road you see on the left in the picture. The chase was on. Marcus and I were both laughing and sprinting down this road. I turn around just in time to see the dog eat pavement when it tried to stop quickly after realizing he was past the territory of his house. Funniest thing ever. It retreated through the open gate and Marcus and I turned around and made our way to the end. It's always something!

All in all, a good day. I still finished faster than the last time, and like I said with a harder (IMO) route. I'll take it. Having Marcus riding with me probably helped a bit. This route can be a bit depressing solo. More so than the other AES routes I have done solo. I'm not sure why that is.

CK bikepack is next!

Strava Link