Coconino Loop ITT

Straight from the "just one more" category...

Moab was fun and I was certainly excited for it.  But, at the same time I was missing out on some bikepacking action in AZ.  Not only was there a new singletrack-heavy bikepacking route to sample, there was a new racing format:  self-supported stage racing.  This is something I've been thinkering on for a couple years now.  Scott & I discussed it while on CTR earlier this summer and he really liked the concept for the Coconino route he was working on with Chad and Lee.  As both events shared the same weekend there was only one option remaining, and that was to go give it a whirl ITT style.

Fortunately I went into Moab very fresh and came out injury free.  Recovery was fast, within a few days I was getting hungry for some CocoBob.  For this one I took an entirely different approach from the usual of planning it to death.  I had a GPX file, knew the spacing between towns - what more do you need to know?  I intentionally avoided post-race blogs and went into it blind, so to speak.  Let the surprises come where they may.

Gears got the nod.  Looking at the Mingus climb and a fair bit of mostly flat road riding, I built up the Leviathon.  It had been laying pathetically forlorn on my garage floor for some time, but it's day had come.  To add to the novelty of the ride, I ponied up for the Oregon 550 GPS.  I have a ton to say about this device - it is 90% friggin awesome - but the 10% that isn't played heavily into the ride.  For one, it's got a built in camera meaning no more need to haul a camera on route.  I like double duty devices :)

I carried a SPOT.  It's true.  Those damn things change everything.  But now that the technology exists to keep loved ones informed how can I justify not carrying it?  It was odd to have it.  Each time I saw it blinking in my pack it was a big reminder that I was not alone.  Those watching the tracking page were enjoying the route vicariously, something I do myself watching others!  It does change the experience in that it becomes more clouded.  But, to not carry it when you could have, that too alters things.  It's a struggle.

I left Flagstaff right around sunrise.  It was chilly, and got cooler as I got on to the Arizona trail.  It wasn't long before the first mechanical happened:  the rear SRAM twisty shifter locked up.  Looking closer at what was happening yielded an explosion of plastic, thank you Oakley eye protection!  So, suddenly I am without shifting on a geared bike at mile 5.5 of 250.  How ironic...what to do?  In years past it was a no-brainer, I'd head back to town and start over.  But I'm a SSer these days.  I rigged it up to the 20 tooth cog and kept it rolling.  It was a 3 speed as the front still shifted.  In practice, the granny didn't get any use.  The 32.20 was perfect.

It didn't take long to figure out I had navigational issues.  The Oregon has a huge *shiny* screen.  It is visible just fine in direct sunlight, but if there's any angle to the light all I'd get was an eyefull of glare.  In late October the sun is low in the sky and never gets basically if the sun was shining and I was headed anything other than N or S, I couldn't see the damn thing!  I've got an idea for a mount to help this issue, we'll see how it works.  But for this ride, it was a big deal.  Oh well.  On the way to Sedona I got quite a few bonus climbs and miles.

The early AZT section contours alongside Mormon mountain.  It is one sweet section of trail!  Deep woods, bits of fir and aspen mixing in with the ponderosa heavy forest, swoopy buff trail.  Yea, I could get used to this :)  Schnebly hill road takes a dive into Sedona red rock country.  I was certain that's where the course went, but a ways down the descent I finally could see the GPS and I was way off route.

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