7 February 2012 - 10:56SSAZ2012
Feb 4th was the day of the race, and what a day it was. 48 miles, 9000ft of climbing, 6.5 hours, 6 beers, 2 shots of tequila, 4 crashes, a little walking, and a ton of fun. I didn’t try and beat any land speed records or anything, instead I focused on one goal. Finishing. I haven’t ridden the entire ride since my first ride in 2009. Last year my knee was messed up, the year before my calamity on the Plinko section of the Upper Chiva Loop ended my ride rather abruptly. This year was somewhat of a personal victory.
About 80 or so singlespeeders gathered at Aqua Caliente Park for the neutral roll out. Seemed like a good time to have beer #1. Dough, Mandy and Emily were out there from Team 29. Michele was going to ride the roll out and then head back and hike up to the Tequila Tree, and Ginger was going to drive the truck up and ride part of the course. It was a cool start, but the sun was out, and we were headed towards a big hill. I left my Camelbak in the truck, figuring I could grab it at the top and have an unfettered climb.
I took the main climb at my own pace, not in any hurry to blow myself up. One of the benefits of knowing what I was getting myself into I guess. Still, it went by amazingly fast. There were the usual suspects on the sides of the canyon shooting at things, dust, and lots of sun. I had forgotten to put on sunscreen, so I was going to cook. Meh.
At the top, I loaded up on snacks, refilled my bottles and grabbed my Camelbak. It was turning unto a gorgeous day, I knew Dough had probably finished the race already, so I didn’t try and catch up. I did swap places with Mandy a few times, but as I said before, I was in no hurry. I really just wanted to finish. I walked a lot of the steeper climbs, my legs were le tired from the main climb so I opted for a consistent pace. I had also stuffed a beer into my pack, and I was on the lookout for a place to enjoy it, I found a lone tree at the bottom of the elbow shredding portion of this loop, so I hopped off the bike and cracked open a Dales to celebrate my safe passage through it (I walked this time).
The course had changed a bit over the previous one, we ended up climbing out a different way, mostly jeep roads, and mostly up, but it put us right back at the comfort station at the top, instead of having to re-climb the last 4 miles of the main climb. I like it.
Then it was time to refuel, and take off down Milagrosa. This was where my head battle was taking place. I had a long standing debt to deal with, and this trail can be a real bear. The first 5 or so miles are quite amazing, awesome singltrack ripping through t he hight desert, lulling you into a comfort zone that is almost immediately shattered when you reach the turn off to La Milagrosa. Then it becomes evil. The trail demands blood. It’s like that part in Indiana Jones, when they open the Ark and the ghosts start flying around, captivating you before turing into demons and melting your face.
The it sure is spectacular out there though, holy cow. Once again, knowing what was ahead made it easy to keep going, and perseverance was to be rewarded at the Tequila Tree. I got the last shot! Then it was more rubble strewn descending through cactus, clunky rocks, cliff edges and burning sun. After a few more miles, I reached the finish. YAY! I had done it. I got my patch, and proceeded directly to shade and pizza. I’d done it.
After about an hour of hanging out, it was time to go back to the hotel and get cleaned up for an evening’s worth of debauchery at the Surly Wench. I brought my A game to that.