Sand Storm Race Report March 12, 2008Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Racing.
Tags: adventure race, AR, Dave Sewell, Gilmore Adventure Race, Mountain Biking, Sand Storm, trekking
Team Gilmore AR was made up of Kent Keegan, Jonea Mounsey, and me Dave Sewell. Not sure, but I think we might have been the 3 oldest racers that day. We started out with an uphill run of about 600 yards to pickup our passport, then out into the hills to pick up 4 other CPs in any order. We jogged down part of the Arizona trail past Kentucky Camp’s old adobe buildings and out into Kentucky Gulch. There was a point high up on a ridge, and we chose to go up the ridge-line to it. Once we had the point, we bailed straight off into the gulch and then followed it about a half mile to the next point. By now, my knees couldn’t run anymore, so we fast hiked. From that point we went over the shoulder of a hill into a narrow gully that we followed uphill to the 3rd point. We climbed out onto a road and followed it for a few minutes then descended into yet another draw to get the 4th and final point. From there it was half a mile up the road to the TA.
We transitioned to bikes, remembering to pack our trail shoes for the trek we had been told would be somewhere on the bike section. We headed out down the same section of Arizona trail that we ran down before. No sooner had we turned up a rocky forest road than my back tire felt mushy. It was going flat. We stopped and began our best pit crew impression and got it changed is just a few minutes. Then back on the bikes and up into the hills. The we arrived at the next CP at the same time as 3 other teams, it was on an old piece of equipment in a field by the road. The other teams out-climbed us to the next checkpoint, but the blew right by it and we got it before they figured it out and came back to get it. Shortly after that, there was a big nasty rocky section that we had to hike-a-bike. At the top, we stopped to make a route choice decision and while we were doing that 2 teams went by us on up the forest road. 2 other teams were also looking at their maps and we all decided to to take a single track down to some hairy-steep switchbacks that went down into Gardner Canyon. We got onto Gardner Canyon Road and followed it up to the third biking checkpoint which was also our bike drop. While we were changing our shoes, the teams that had chosen to continue on the forest road arrived.
The first trekking point was back down the road we had just ridden up about a mile then up a canyon to the mouth of a cave. Only one team member was required to go into the cave to punch the passport, but all three of us wanted to see the cave! So we probably gave up about 5 minutes so we could enjoy the experience. After that, the next point was back on the other side of the bike drop at the very peak of a mountain. We decided to to go to the drop and get rid of our helmets (they were required in the cave). From the bike drop it was about a mile and a half of up hill, and more up hill on a seemingly never ending rocky forest road. We encountered teams coming back down as we were going up, and vice versa. One the way up, Kent said he saw something in the road ahead of us, and then it was gone. A minute later he saw it again (hallucinations?), nope he did see something, it was a grey fox trotting a few yards ahead of us up the road. It had a huge bottle brush tail. We got several good looks at it until it left the roadway on a bend and disappeared into the tall dry grass. Coming down was hard work, it was steep, and hard on the knees and feet.
We got back on our bikes and had to ride another 3 miles up Gardner Canyon Rd. At the 4th bike CP we had to take a hike-a-bike trail up a creek-bed then switchback up through a fairly recent burn area to a junction with another forest road on the spine of ridge. We road down the forest road and crossed the creek several times, getting another CP along the creek. Then we followed the road back around the mountain to the Gardner Canyon Rd again. Here we followed it back down to the base of the same hairy-steep switchbacks we had descended earlier in the day. Now, we pushed our bikes up them. We got to ride about 5 miles of the Arizona Trail on our way back to the TA, and it wound through some beautiful country. The final hill up to the finish was enough to put me over the top, as my legs had turned to silly putty. We finished in 6 hours and 12 minutes though, not bad for a team whose combined age is 136 years!