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The 2009 Whiskey Off Road April 27, 2009

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Events, extreme sports, Just Stuff, Mountain Biking, trails.
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The 50 milers had gone off an hour before the 300 of us stacked up behind the starting line for the 25 Proof.  There we were, facing into a strong headwind, ready to tackle the 28 miles and nearly 4000′ of climbing that lay ahead.

The Start

The Start

I spent the first mile or so working my way through the huge group of riders, until there were probably only 50 or 60 ahead of me.  On the way up Copper Basin Rd. there was probably an equal number of those I passed and those who passed me, all battling the headwind and the hill. When we got to the steeps toward the end of the pavement, I worked hard to get up them and passed about 10 or 15 while I only had a group of 5 single speeders and a couple of others go by me.

I caught up to a big group in Camp Perlstein, and then promptly threw my chain of the inside of my front derailleur and watched 10 riders go by as I put the chain back on the ring.  At the start of the 393 singletrack, there was a line of about 30 all bottlenecked up.  While most waited patiently, knowing that there was no place to go, a couple were yelling and trying to ride by everyone else.  Like the one guy behind me said, “That guy is worried that he might only get 200th place instead of 195th!”

First singletrack above Camp Perlstein

First singletrack above Camp Perlstein

Once we were all actually on the 393, it worked itself out and we were all riding along at a good pace, until slannnng!..there went my chain onto bottom bracket again!  Dang!  Another 5 or 6 riders passed while I got my chain back on.  At the Aspen Creek trailhead there was an awesome group of spectators and volunteers yelling and cheering us all onward and upward.

I climbed the new section of trail 48 “Rob’s hill”, and I have to admit that though it adds half a mile to the length of the course, it is much nicer than doing the hike-a-bike from hell that we used to do.  I had a couple of guys go past me on the wide track section at the top, and then caught up with some more riders at the first set of water bars.  No point in trying to pass them, as they were riding about the same speed that I was, and there were 6 or 7 in the group.  After the first section of downhill water bars (there are about 8 of the 1 or 2 ‘ drops in a row), I noticed we were spread out again, and that there was no one close behind me.  The traverse across the backside of Mt. Francis was smooth sailing, but we bunched up again on the last climb.  Many people walked the majority of this section, as passing one rider really accomplished nothing.

As I pushed my bike to the top, I unclamped the seat post and lowered it for the upcoming descent.  I passed 2 riders right away, and then came up on another and told him I would come by on the next available wider section.  I started by and said, “On the left!”, but he moved to the left, and I had to swerve to avoid a collision, and went off trail into and through a bush, but managed to keep moving.  We came to the first steep downhill and I stayed right behind him, not wanting another miscommunication mishap.  On the last big drop at the bottom, he almost went over the bars, and I took that opportunity to go by him.

The 260 was a wicked combination of trail that had been powdered by all the 50 milers and sharp jagged rocks strewn haphazardly, this all on a super fast descent down a steep jeep trail.  There were people all over the place, some with flat tires, some climbing back up onto the trail with their bikes after who knows what sent them over the edge, and one poor guy trying to figure out what to do with a rear derailleur hanging only by its cable.  At one point, I had a guy pass me, and then watched as he bounced off the rocks and right onto the brink of a steep exposure, his feet off the pedals, front wheel swerving all over the place, and somehow he managed to veer back onto the trail instead of sailing off the cliff.  I yelled, “Nice save!”, and he replied, “Holy #$%@, that was close!”

At the bottom, I stopped long enough to raise my seat back up and take a shot of Hammer Gel, then started the climb up the bottom of the canyon toward Aid Station 1.  Part way up, I once again threw a chain…arrgh! Other than the frustration of that, I was feeling pretty good, and kept an even pace until just about 400 yards short of the Aid Station.  I got off and pushed up the nastiest and steepest part, then got back on and rode the last 200 yards.

In my opinion, the toughest part of this entire ride is this next seemingly unending climb up to Thumb Butte Rd.  Halfway up, I started to feel the beginnings of a cramp in my left quad, so I slowed down tried to spin it out…no go.  So I got off and walked for a few minutes until it went away.  Then back on the bike and up, up and up all the way to the Sierra Prieta overlook.  Wow!, the group of spectators and volunteers here was fantastic, it was a great feeling to have just suffered through all that climbing, and have people there helping you celebrate and cheering you on.

I turned onto the singletrack and headed for town.

Looking Down the Rock Garden

Looking Down the Rock Garden

I had one guy go past me early on, but then passed 2 riders before the first steep at turkey track, where there was a guy stopped right in the middle of the hill, in the middle of the trail, changing a tire!  In the next mile of bombing down the ridgeline over lots of loose and jagged rocks, I saw 3 or 4 more people stopped with tire problems, and yet another stopped right in the middle of trail, his bike upside down, working on a flat!!  I had to go around him into a pile of babyheads at breakneck speed, and was lucky to stay on my bike.  At the rock garden, I caught up to 3 riders who were picking their way

Part of the Rock Garden

Part of the Rock Garden

down it with their rear brakes locked up, just skidding down it…..so I just picked a line that allowed me to roll off the steep having just passed all 3 of them.

On the 51, I was big ringing it…just flying past people.  I went past one guy, just before that off camber turn to the left, and soon discovered that the pass had taken me outside of my intended line and that I was carrying too much speed to hold the corner….and there in my way was a big downed tree!  I hammered on the brakes and laid the bike down, scraping up my knee, and breaking my bike computer, but probably saving a taco-ed wheel and an over-the-bars excursion.  I hopped up and was on my way again, pushing hard in the big ring.  Toward the end of the 51, I could feel cramps creeping back into not only both quads now, but my hamstrings as well.  I have been drinking lots of water, and electrolytes….what the heck???

On the 321 singletrack, I had 2 riders pass me, and I passed 4 who were stopped at various points along the short exposed trail.  Then came the dreaded climb up the 323.  I call it “Hell’s Hollow”, because it is tough, and climbs up and out of a little meadow.  It is less than half a mile, but it is loose rock on a steep climb in full sunshine, 20 miles into the ride…..the perfect recipe for big-time suffering.  I rode part, walked part, cramping here and there along the way.  Right after the hill, I got back on and started riding only to have both my legs absolutely lock up.  Both legs had hamstring and quad cramps at the same time!!  All I could do was sit at the side of the trail in agony, while a whole stream of passing riders kindly asked if I was okay.  After 5 or 6 minutes, they subsided enough for me to try again.  I managed to limp along at about 5 mph to the top of the 392 Garden Grove trail.

One of the switchbacks at Garden Grove

One of the switchbacks at Garden Grove

This is one of my favorite sections of trail, so somehow I left my cramps behind and flew down the switchbacks, passing several riders who had slowed way down or stopped to negotiate the 4 hairpin corners.  Out on the wider part the follows the canyon floor, I saw a guy 2 riders ahead of me go down hard, and his bike cartwheeled down the trail.  The guy ahead of me stopped to help, and I asked him if he was okay when I got there.  He said, “I think so,”  so I continued on down.  I caught up to some more riders and someone caught me from behind soon after we were on the section that parallels Thumb Butte Rd.  There were a number of small bottlenecks at some of the more technical sections of this rocky trail, but nothing that was much of a delay at all.

I popped out onto Thumb Butte Road, and shifted into the big ring again.  Two riders came out behind me and one shouted, “Let’s go guys!” as they went by, I tried to jump onto their wheel, but my hamstrings said “Nuh-uh!!” and I soft pedaled as I watched them dissapear ahead of me.  I finally got up to speed, and held a good pace down the hill, despite the fact that there now seemed to be a headwind in this direction too!  How could that be?? .  Near the bottom, where it takes a big sweeping left hand turn, I saw my granddaughter and her mom standing my the side of the road looking for me…I waved and yelled to them as Haley yelled, “Go Grampy!!”  This gave me a boost, and I caught another rider just before the light at Gail Gardner.  I sat in behind him for a few seconds, knowing that the race director had switched part of the course back to one last climb up Park Ave. instead of taking Summit like last year.  After coasting behind for a little rest, I went around thinking I could pull for a minute, but he dropped off and I was alone as I turned onto Park.  When I made the turn onto Glenwood, I shifted into my tallest gear and accelerated.  I was going 30+ mph as I swung wide onto Goodwin, and kept grinding toward the finish line.

Finishing the 2009 Whiskey Off Road

Finishing the 2009 Whiskey Off Road

I could hear the voices of people I know cheering as I entered the chute, and finally rolled across the line 3 hours and 31 minutes after the start.

This year’s course was longer than those of previous years, so I couldn’t really compare times.  That being said, I was still 19 minutes faster than last year, and came within 1 minute of my goal of 3:30.  I finished 18th out of 61 finishers in my age division.

It was a great day, and top it off, I didn’t even throw up afterward this year!

12 Hours At Night Mountain Bike Ride! April 21, 2009

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Events, extreme sports, Mountain Biking.
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It’s official, the 12 Hours At Night is now up and open for registration.

12hanlogo1

This is a perfect time too.  The Whiskey Off Road mountain bike race is this weekend, so hopefully plenty of you are finding this blog and reading it.

This is a great way for all you desert dwellers to get up here in July and escape the 120° temps, and spend one cool night riding your bike.

12 Hour Mtb Relay Coming to Prescott, AZ April 18, 2009

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Events, extreme sports, Mountain Biking.
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Ok gang, you heard it here first!

Announcing the 12 Hours At Night mountain bike ride!

12hanlogo1 This is next event that we here at GO Adventure Recreation are hosting.  AND…we are doing it in association with Rick Eastman at SierraAdventureSports.com so it is going to rock!

This is an ALL NIGHT mountain bike ride to be held here in Prescott in July.

Yep, you heard me right…..Ride from 8pm to 8am!

This will be for Solo, Duo and 3-Person Teams.  I will announce the official opening of the event for entry VERY SOON!

Riding not Writing April 18, 2009

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Events, Mountain Biking, trails.
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I have been doing quite a bit of mountain biking this week, and conversly have not been doing much writing on this blog.

Short recap, with some photos to be posted soon:

Thursday evening, Kent and I braved the super cold and windy weather to ride out behind Thumb Butte.  It was snowing on us at one point!  My front tire threw a rock that went into my rear spokes, and broke yet another of them.  Another trip the the bike shop for repairs.

Whiskey Off Road Newbie Jennifer and I rode two loops of the Camp Perlstein/393 /Copper Basin Rd. from the Aspen Creek trail head on Friday afternoon.  She did much better on the switchbacks the second time, and will do just fine in the Whiskey 15.

Saturday morning, I met up with Jonea who was up here from Phoenix to pre-ride the Whiskey 15.  We rode the 19.5 miles and 2500′ of climbing that is called the 15 mile “fun” ride.  The trails are in pretty good shape, with lots of water crossings because of the spring storms we have had.  I am sure she will do fine on the 15 next week too.

Saturday night, Jonea and I went and did some night riding on the single track trails out at Pioneer Park / Brownlow Trail.  Man, it is a whole different world riding at night, talk about tunnel vision!

Wednesday Night and Whiskey April 9, 2009

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Events, Mountain Biking.
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Wednesday evening, Kent and I rode from Thumb Butte up the road (5.7 miles of UP!) to the Skull Valley overlook, then followed the last part of the Whiskey Off Road course back down to the truck.

The ride up was tough.  My legs were already feeling a bit sore (could be a combination of so much riding lately and volleyball on Monday night), and on top of that, we were riding right into a very stiff and cold wind.  We saw a group of 5 mule deer cross in front of us about 4 miles in. We made it to the overlook in 45 minutes, and then took the single track to the east.

The single track still has lots of loose sand and big rocks in it.  Maybe it had a tough winter, or horses have been on it or something, because it is rough.  I kicked some rocks and branches out of the way on the way down in an effort to make it a little more friendly.

When the single track opens up along a ridge into a two track, there is a big pine tree leaning over across the trail.  It is not down on it yet, but it looks like it could come down at any time.  This is on the trail I recently dubbed Turkey Track, because of wild turkeys roosting nearby.

At the bottom of Turkey Track, the Rock Garden Trail starts.  The upper part of this is a two track, and is currently pretty rough.  Lots of loose and sharp rock that takes your front wheel wherever it wants too.  There will be some bloodletting in this section on race day, I guarantee it!

When you actually get to the Rock Garden, it has been cleaned up pretty nicely now. It is nowhere near as bad as it was even on Sunday.  After the Rock Garden, the rest of the trails are in pretty nice shape.  We saw another group of deer right next to the 321, they acted like they didn’t even care that we were there. Someone has even come in and cut the huge tree out of the way that was down on the bottom of the Garden Grove trail.  There are still 4 wet crossings on that trail however.

The Miller Creek trail was in good shape. That is, as good a shape as it probably can be, with all the unmovable rocks that are in the middle of the trail as it snakes along the creek toward Thumb Butte Park. 3 wet crossings here.

We finished up just before dark, both hot from the ride, and cold from the evap cooling supplied by the strong winds.  12.4 miles, and my hamstrings feel like they are about to pop…

Solo on the Whiskey; I Drink Alone April 6, 2009

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Events, Mountain Biking.
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What started out as a group pre-ride of the Whiskey Off Road, ended as a solo trip through the beautiful pines.

Patrick and Jennifer were going to pre-ride the Whiskey 15 on Sunday, and asked if I would come along to show them the course.  Dore’ , Steve and Rob where also along for the ride.  We started in downtown Prescott just like the race does, and headed through town and up Copper Basin Road.  By the time we got to the steeps on Copper Basin, Rob, Dore’ and Steve were long gone.  I hung back with Jennifer and Patrick.  When we hit the end of the pavement, we saw Toby and Katrina getting out of their cars and preparing to ride too.  About halfway up the switchbacks just outside of Camp Perlstein, Jennifer had had enough.  She was feeling sick, so she and Patrick decided to go back.  Toby and Katrina had just gone by us, and now along came Steve and Michelle.  I followed Michelle up the trail, and went by her on the way up and caught up with Steve in the saddle.  I bombed down to Copper Basin just in time to see all the others that were ahead up on the new section of trail that Rob had designed and built.  That means they had decided to ride the 25 instead of the 15.

I rode up it as quickly as I could, meeting Katrina on her way back down with a broken derailleur hanger.  She said she was going to limp back to her car.  Below, I saw Steve and Michelle headed up.  I rode as fast as I could to try and catch the others and after the downhill with the big drops over water bars, I found Toby with a flat tire.  The others were nowhere in sight.  I stopped and visited with Toby while he changed his tire.  Steve and Michelle didn’t appear, and I decided to go back to Copper Basin and just finish the 15, because I knew Toby would be bored to tears waiting for me on the climb out of Copper Creek (either that or he would leave me in the dust!)

I headed back up the trail and cleaned it up as I went, and then when I got out to Copper Basin Road, turned west and made the climb up to the Skull Valley overlook.  I rarely ride by myself, because I just don’t think it is a smart thing to do, but this was actually very peaceful and I was enjoying the solitude.

I stopped at the overlook long enough to start to get cold in the wind, and then headed up the single track that was the back half of the 15.  I had the Whiskey all to myself.

Side note:  The Whiskey 15 is really 19 miles long, and the 25 is really 27+, and the 50 is only 44 miles long!!

I tried to just take it easy on the way down because there are some pretty hairy sections, and in fact I almost ate it just before the turn onto the Rock Garden Trail.  It is rutted and filled with loose rock, and my front wheel had a mind of its own!

When i got to the pavement at Thumb Butte Park, I pushed pretty hard through town and back to the courthouse square.  It took me 50 minutes from the overlook to the square, so in order to meet my goal of 3:30 or faster for the 25, I will have to be at the overlook in no longer than 2:40.  That could be a tough number for me, given my previous problems with the climb out from Copper Creek.  I never did see any of the others that I had started out with…..in fact, I didn’t see any other mountain bikers at all after I left Toby on Trail 48.

Overall, it was a good afternoon on the bike.  I covered 22.6 miles and did a lot of climbing.

Afternoon Delight April 2, 2009

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Mountain Biking, trails.
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Well, not THAT kind!  But still pretty good!

Tracie and I took an afternoon mountain bike ride today out at Brownlow Trails.  There are lots of neat little single tracks snaking among hills.  We rode about 5.5 miles and then went to pick up our youngest granddaughter from school.

Riding until Dusk April 2, 2009

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Events, Mountain Biking, trails.
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On Wednesday evening after work, Jack, Kent Toby and I rode the long grind (5.7 miles) up Thumb Butte Rd. to the overlook.  My legs were still sore from the Adventure Race on Saturday, but I didn’t know it until I started to climb….ow! We got to the Skull Valley overlook just in time to enjoy an awesome sunset.

From there we rode the descent that the Wiskey Off Road mtb race takes.  The trail 368 single track heads west up the hill from the overlook, then goes NE.  There was a dead tree down across it right at the one pretty wicked drop that is on it, so now the trail goes around and avoids the drop.  This trail is pretty chewed up and in worse condition than I remember from last year’s race. There was another tree down across it just before it becomes a wider track, and Toby and I managed to pull the tree aside while we waited for Jack.  Just before turn onto the 9401J (Rock Garden Trail), there is a pretty knarly section of downhill ruts and loose rock and gravel.  I followed Toby’s line down, and we stopped just past the bottom to wait for Kent and Jack.  We could hear Kent giving some direction to Jack near the top, and then we saw Kent coming down it.  Right at the bottom, there is a deep sandy area, and when Kent hit it, he must have been just a little on his front brake, because his front tire slid out to the left, and he couldn’t stay on top of it.  He fell off to the right, landing on his right upper chest and his head and rolling over once from there.  His bike cartwheeled over the top of him, and he ended up in a sitting position beneath a cloud of dust.  We went back to make sure he was okay, and saw that his helmet had done it’s job incredibly well.  He had left a furrow in the ground about a foot wide and 2 feet long that had been dug with his front right side of his helmet!  His face was dirty, and his eyes were full of dust, but he was okay.

We continued down the Rock Garden Trail (which is named after the last pitch on it), fast and furious.  This part of the trail is a two-track that goes down a ridge, and is filled with lots of loose and sharp rock the size of golf balls and racquetballs.  We stopped at the top of the aforementioned Rock Garden to tell Jack about it a little bit, and for Kent to re0tell the story of  “the fat guy” who literally flew past him in the race on this section a couple of years ago.  The Rock Garden was a mess!  It has been chewed to pieces by ATVs or Jeeps or something…..There is no real line down it now, it is just filled with babyheads and boulders with a few truckloads of loose, sharp rock thrown in.  It is steep and full of obsticles that try to stop your front wheel.  Jack found this out, as at one point he was actually riding a nose wheelie, but somehow saved it.

The next turn is onto the 51 and you can usually just bomb it, but we were a little more tentative this time because we weren’t sure what we would find.  Sure enough, coming around an off camber corner, suddenly there was a giant pine tree down and sticking halfway into the track!  The 51 is also in worse shape than I recall.

At the bottom of the 51 we realized we were running out of daylight, so we circumvented part of the Whiskey route to save time.  We rejoined the Whiskey route at the top of the Garden Grove Trail (392).  This section of the trail was in really good shape and was fast and a ton of fun.  There was water in the creek, so we got a little wet at the several crossings.  At one of the crossings, there is a huge dead tree blocking the trail completely.

We popped out onto Thumb Butte Road instead of taking the Miller Creek Trail (362) because it was getting very dark.  We cruise back down to the cars, and left in total darkness.

It was a great ride, and one that we will be doing many times before the Whiskey to get used to the trail, and to condition for the climbing.