Thursday, April 24, 2008

A-Z

The planets aligned in such a way last weekend that I was waiting on parts for every build in the queue, and until those parts arrived I had zero wheels to build. So I snuck out for a roadtrip with a few friends, destination Southern AZ.

I've known about and drooled over Scott Morris' AZT 300 race route since its' inception, but could never figure out a way to make the drive plus car shuttle (it's a point to point route) happen. It's a long way to Tucson and that doesn't include getting to the start, leaving a car at the finish, then getting everyone involved back home without a huge amount of finagling. Like I said above--the planets aligned this time around and I doubt it could have been arranged or executed much smoother even with months to plan it.

The roadtrip was fun, smooth, and soothing, as traveling at ~60mph for a few days in an '84 Vanagon will cure any 'hurry up' issues you may be having.


But it was the riding that we were there for, and the riding did not disappoint.


Scott spends most of his waking/working hours with maps and GPS software as well as being heavily involved in trail design and building. And in his 'off hours' he does more of the same plus he rides a ton. So it shouldn't have been a surprise at all that he devised and mapped such a brilliant route. But still--it was. 'Twas supremely easy to follow (via GPS) with as much singletrack as he could find between A and B, often going out of the way to link more trails and avoid roads, and even more often paralleling roads on first-class trail. Anyone interested in putting together a ride/race/route needs to ride this one first--as far as I'm concerned it sets the standard for this type of event.

"Hey Guys! I think this'd be a good place to camp. Guys?"


Afternoon heat fades into the Golden Hour, and you'd have to be pretty sunbaked to not notice.


This is southern Arizona?


Corporate America take note: Tubeless flat as team-building experience.


Pete bonds with the new bike.


The Arizona I expected to see.


One of the highlights of the trip was this Star-Wars-esque slalom through the saguaro and ocotillo, shooting through washes and playing cat and mouse with the guys. Seemed like it lasted 30+ minutes, and the permagrin lasted days.


Alien life forms?


Reupping on vittles as the sun sets over Tucson.


I don't recommend licking the thistle. But riding Redington and Molino is a pretty good idea.






Although the event is billed as a race I had zero interest in anything other than hedonistic pleasure. Pete and I agreed on a plan to ride fast, sleep well and long, take lots of pics, and beyond that we'd just take it as it came. We stuck to that plan and had a glorious time out there, made even better by the addition of Fred and Scott as company for the bulk of the ride.






Micro-hucking on tour.


No way to avoid assuming the position on summa these trails. Good time to check out the scenery.




Mix several days of dust and sweat with a Fresca chilled to 42.6877* F, then suck it up through a February 2008 vintage Twizzlers Pull and Peel and you too could sport this lid.


Hmmm... something tells me that it could get windy here.


Strange though it seems (and is...), Scott seems to *prefer* hiking with his bike.


The sun beats down on what the fire burnt up.


The forest recovers but we're not that lucky--much more up to come.




Finally descending toward Oracle.






After a gorge-a-thon, a shower, and sleep indoors (<-yes, I felt dirty for having done so on such a perfect moonlit night) in Oracle, our 4-man-party-pack restocked at the Circle K then pointed the bikes back onto dirt.

The local flora had been good every day thus far, but this day it seemed to demand my attention.












Not that I minded.




Pete broiling his way up a steep one.


The King of hike-a-bike.


I'd seen ocotillo before but never when it was leafed out *and* flowering.






~Halfway through the longest waterless stretch we came upon ~15 gallons of fresh agua cached under a tree. A quick glance at the GPS showed that even in a vehicle this was not an easy spot to access, meaning (to me) that someone out there has earned some huge karma.


Thank you--from all of us.


A stinkin' hot afternoon as we headed for the Boulders.




High speed and cruisy descending on the way down to the Gila crossing.


Climbing over the shoulder of Picketpost Mtn.


Pete in the zone, arcing desert singletrack like he's been doing it his whole life.


Some good old fashioned wash bashing.


Don't forget to look around.






With the gang at the end.


Homeward.


Thanks to Fred, Pete, Chad, Carl, and Marshal--glad it worked out so well and really looking forward to the next one. Double extra secret special thanks to Scott for laboriously piecing together such a brilliant route.

Cheers,

MC