Dixie 200 Snowpack Watch

I’ve been getting quite a few inquiries about how the big snowpack might affect the Dixie 200 this year.

Short answer: it will go regardless of snow conditions. If there is significant snow remaining the week prior I will re-route to dryer ground.

Long answer: the Paunsaugunt is snow-free. The real problem area is from the Spruce trail to Navajo, a roughly 30 mile segment. The Virgin River Rim trail is melting out nicely and I think it will be fine.

The Midway Valley SNOTEL site is very close to the route. The snowpack right now up there is the highest on record for this date.

Midway Valley SNOTEL

I’ve added a snow model layer to the maps. It’s a bit of a kluge but you get the idea…the maps on BlueDot are a lot nicer ;) Keep in mind this is a model, not actual…and I’ll tweak the course in the final week based on conditions on the ground.

The course additions I was thinking of earlier? Those are still in the deep purple areas, 100+ inches still there in June!

Click the image to go to the live map. Check out the new route file with waypoints on the Dixie 200 page.

This snow has everyone scrambling! The next one to be scrambling in the area is the Crusher ;)

Tour Divide: a divided tour this year

The conundrum facing the Tour Divide riders this year is quite interesting. As if the event didn’t already have enough drama, ma nature has forced some tough decisions. Snowpack is near record levels from Colorado to Banff.

There is a contingent starting in the south this year.  They are clearly in the minority (90 vs 15?) but that is likely to change.

I’ve put together a KML file that can be viewed in Google Earth.  The file contains the Tour Divide route and snowpack image overlays from Northern NM to Banff.  Got Google Earth?  Download the KML file here (right click ->save as) and check it out for yourself.  The snowpack graphics should refresh automatically on your computer so you have the latest.

The latest as of 5/26 is um, wintry. It looks white as soon as you leave Banff.

From TourDivide

The northern Montana looks a bit better, well sort of:

From TourDivide

Wyoming was the real shocker. That snow is DEEP. No wonder Dave Byers has been talking about snow so much…

From TourDivide

Colorado, not nearly so bad:

From TourDivide

Northern NM, a walk in the park. In terms of snow, anyway. I think they have a bit of drought right now.

From TourDivide

So there ya go. Now you can make a slightly more informed decision. I think JayP has nailed it – it’s a great year for an August start.

Pictographs and wilderness lessons

I love being in the back-country under the great blue dome. Backpacking used to be my prime mode of getting in deep. I saw some really cool places. I gave it up about 12 years ago. Pregnant bellies, babies and toddlers just don’t fit with backpacking. I’m very excited now Emma and Wes are big enough to start backpacking.

We went on our second backpacking trip last weekend. This time we had a more ambitious plan to go further someplace more remote.

I want the kids to learn how to move and be safe in the back-country, not lambs following their mommy ewe. What if I get hurt and they need to rescue me or what if they get lost?

Emma and I (Wes wasn’t interested…) brainstormed about what should be in a survival kit. She was fascinated by it and the concept of survival and self rescue. We spent time with each item talking about what it did and how to use it in different situations. We ended up with a map and compass, an emergency blanket, water purification tabs, waterproof matches, whistle, signal mirror, multi tool and flashlight. Both kids carried their own personal survival kit along with water, food and clothes.

They learned how to use the map and compass

We found a spring and filtered water. The spring was not an easy find so that added to the adventure and a little tension too as we needed water!! The tank where we thought we would get water was dry. We found a second tank also dry. Then we hiked and searched further up a side canyon and found a concrete tank with a beautiful dripping spring above it.

Wesley is already a master of fire making

Then the kids proceeded to ask loads of questions I didn’t have the answer to!!  Hey mom, what if you were dropped out of a helicopter with nothing, what would you ____fill in the blank here___? What plants are edible? How do you build a shelter? What would you drink? Good questions. Guess I am not a survival expert!!

We had the pleasure of DH’s company on this trip.

Whaley and dolphiny made the trip again

We went down Snake Gulch which has one of the largest rock art sites in the area. The pictographs and petroglyphs were amazing!!!

Emma got tired at the end. We hiked about 14 miles in total. Wes does not get tired, ever…EVER… He carried a pack only a little lighter than mine and did not complain once about it (I complained about mine a few times). He is 11 years old and a beast already!

LW’s 2011 Arizona Trail Race 300 Adventure

Last weekend I raced Arizona Trail Race 300. For me it wasn’t as much a race as a personal adventure. No woman had ever finished it before. It was big, tough and intimidating and finishing looked to be a huge personal challenge. Finishing AZT is no gimme.

The short story is I had the race of my life, absolutely loved it and not only achieved my #1 goal of  finishing but was the first racer across the finish line to take the overall win in 3 days, 4 hours and 5 minutes. It was always about me and myself and doing the best I could at any given time on the course to ensure I finished. Every decision I made out there was based on the goal to finish, not the goal to win. This year on AZT the conditions were tougher than ever. We had the highest attrition rate in the history of the event with 22 starters, 4 finishers and 18 DNF’s. Finishing turned out to be a winning strategy this year.

Now for the blow-by-blow long version:

In true Dave and Lynda fashion we were late to the start!! We arrived in time to see everyone else start and wave them off – oops. We got a ride to the start with Kurt and Caroline. Kurt somehow cruised out with the main group on time! Being a 2 time winner and course record holder he clearly had it together. I was feeling super nervous, not all that together and a little crazy before the start. My head was buzzing…did I have everything I needed…did I have too much stuff…all these little bits and pieces…did I really need waterproof pants…should I take my knife…do I have the track on my gps…is my head still attached…will my legs work…are my fingers really broken… I’d crashed hard 11 days prior and thought I might have 2 broken fingers on my right hand. I hadn’t had them x-rayed as I really wanted to do AZT…they didn’t work quite right…

(After the race I went to the Dr, nothing was broken but 2 fingers, right middle and pinkie, were dislocated, which explains why they were not working. They were ok riding for the most part. The hard part was stuffing my sleeping bag in a tight little bag).

Pic is of me checking over everything before we start and leave the “safe” parking lot. My full set up details are on Bikepacking.net

Big thanks to Caroline Soong for these start photos. I didn’t pack a camera.

DH was ready to start before me. He waited for me and humored my pre-race frenetics. He has seen it 100 times and says the success of my race is directly proportional to how wound up I am before the start!! He smiles and pats my shoulder and says I’ll be fine.

We rolled out together 18 mins late. It was perfect for me to start behind the main group so I had space to calm down and get in my ride groove.

I let DH ride on ahead and took about 30 very mellow minutes to get a feel for riding with the weight on my bike, calm my nerves and settle down into my happy place. I passed DH sitting under a tree with Marshall. Marshall looked flushed and hot. Not good so early in… I thought DH was just visiting with Marshall but later found out that was the start of his DNF causing blisters. Marshall pulled out with the start of heat stroke not long after. It was hot!!

Marshall snapped this shot of me as I cruised by his shady spot

I’d pre-ridden the Canello Hills with bigger gears and less fitness in December so they seemed much easier this time around. I started to catch and pass racers. I asked peoples names. I wanted to know who everyone was as I expected to be riding for 3-4 days with them, seeing them again and maybe camping with them. It was fun to check out all the bike set-ups as I went by.

Patagonia seemed to come up in a flash and I filled up my 29oz bottle with coke and ice for the ride in to Sonoita…mmm that was a treat after the heat in the Canello Hills. Before Sonoita at mile 43 my period started…bleh…what timing…stupid girl parts…I had to take extra time at Sonoita to change into my spare shorts, wash my old pair, wash me, buy tampons etc. I was annoyed to have another thing to manage while I was trying to keep it all as simple as possible. It was nice so early in the race to have a clean pair of shorts and a clean me tho!! Eric Foster was taking what looked to be a siesta in the shade outside the store. I was back on the road asap with another 29oz of ice cold coke in my bottle.

Next up was some easy cruising up to the Kentucky Camp mile 60 water refill spot where I visited with Brad Mattingly. The race seemed very social up to this point and I enjoyed meeting and chatting with folks. I filled up my 100 oz bladder, stuffed it in my pack and ripped the tube off the bladder. The water spurted out of the bladder and soaked everything. No tragedy as I was still at the sink to get more water and it was hot enough to dry everything out quickly. It was a big red flag for me. I had better be careful with that. If I spill water away from a water source in this heat it would be a costly mistake. It was a lesson I paid attention to.

I cruised off out of Kentucky Camp with Brad sure I’d be seeing lots more of him on course. I wondered where DH was. I was sure he would have caught and passed me by now. We had both planned to be independent for this race and ride together lots if it worked out and we were really lucky. DH is my favorite person to ride with.

After dark I passed where the 2011 course rejoined the old course above Box Canyon, climbed to the high point and stopped for dinner. Sweet n sour pork n rice…mmm. I sat for a while looking back on the course hoping to see DH’s lights coming but never did so trucked on. Sometime later I started to see a set of lights catching me and was excited it was DH. I didn’t stop but did slow down a little, just a little…The lights never did catch me but disappeared. I looked forward.

Under the I-10 culvert I got chilly enough to put on arm warmers, knee warmers and my jacket. I coasted down towards Three Bridges. There was a car there with lights on and people inside. I looked at my watch 12:26am. That’s weird I thought. It looked like some kids partying late at night and I had to ride right passed them…red alert…As I got nearer someone ran out of the car towards me screaming….WTF…turns out it was Deanna Adams and her mom cheering for racers :-) ha, ha…I scare easy…they took some photos, gave me a couple of bananas and waved me off.

My goal was to ride until 1:30am or stop at La Sevilla picnic area for the night – whichever came first. When I got to La Sevilla it was a party zone! I backtracked up the course a little ways to a nice flat spot I’d seen and camped out there.

Next morning was a refuel in Tucson and haul up Reddington Rd with rallying  jeeps, motos and semi automatic guns firing off – just my scene. I hammered out of the saddle as fast as I could to get out of the redneck zone. The next 7 hours were hot and hard. The hike-a-bike up over Molino was a bitch. I struggled getting my heavy bike up some of the ledges. I was relieved to cross the Catalina Hwy only to be faced with another stretch of hike-a-bike that I had expected to be rideable. I got grumpy and started calling it Arizona hoof race.

Once on the pavement it got much easier and I spun up to Oracle Ridge. I had expected Oracle Ridge to be really hard. Everyone says it is hard and part of it is called the Traverse of Death. It was hard but not as hard as Molino hike-a-bike had been earlier in the day. I reckon it was the heat factor as Molino was late afternoon in full sun and Oracle Ridge was in the dark.

I bivvied up earlier than the night before because I knew the next day was forecast to be the hottest of all and we were headed for the lower Gila desert terrain. I wanted to bank some rest. I bivvied right next to the trail so if DH came down he would see me. I was still wondering where he was. I didn’t carry a cell phone so had no coms. During the night a rider came by. It was Brad Kee. I asked if he had seen DH and was told about some ugly looking blisters. Brad thought DH would have had to quit by now….hmph… Brad motored on and I went back to sleep. That was the last time I saw another racer on course.

The next morning I zoomed down into Oracle, ate so much at the store I was burping it up and headed out to the big hot desert oven for the day with as much water as I could carry. I had Elete Tablytes with me. The label says take up to 12 Tablytes per day as needed – I needed a lot more than that!!! They were great.

Today was all about heat management. I moved slowly so my head didn’t boil, hiked rideable hills, drank lots and chowed on Tablytes. In the heat of the day I had no power. It was like riding in molasses or like a man on the moon in a space suit, or like you see these guys at the top of Mount Everest!! I had all these visuals. I moved in slow motion and sang silly shark songs to my gummy sharks. 30 miles took me a never ending 7 hours!!

I started studying the ground on the gasline and could make out only one set of tracks. No way I thought – there were a bunch of guys in front of me. I knew for sure Brad was in front of me as I had seen him the night before and the gal at the Oracle store said he left an hour before I did. I double checked I was on course – all good.

The gasline road in the heat of the day was a place humans shouldn’t have been that day on bikes – nutty hot. On the way down Bloodsucker wash with a tailwind I started hallucinating there were spiders crawling on the back of my hands…intense…I felt ok and was sure I was hydrated…just a little warped…. Wow this was right on the edge. I’d asked for some intense living and here it was for me.

There was a big tank of green water at Beehive Well with a thousand bees buzzing over it. I dipped my arm coolers in it and threw water over my head and got out of the bee zone asap. I was glad I had enough water and didn’t have to drink from Beehive Well – plentiful but not appealing. My warped head feeling left after I cooled off at Beehive well and the spiders went home. The tracks in front of me were weaving around on the road. I wondered if I was doing that too?? I got off my bike and looked back and my tracks were straight – uh oh I thought…

A little while later I struggle to open and close a tight barbed wire gate on the road and ride on. Then I see I am off course and the gps route drops off the jeep road to the right. I go back bugged I am going to have to fight with the gate again but the gps track drops down before the gate (about mile 214). There is no trail visible and I wonder where to go. I zoom in my GPS and am right on top the gps route. I was aware my head was still too hot and my brain was processing slowly – things were not adding up. A little confused I push off the road into the untracked desert staying on top of the gps line.  A trail slowly appears and improves. As the trail improves I feel confident I am going the right way. Without a gps I would never have found that turn. It was tricky. A short while later I become aware there are no tire tracks on the trail! I look at my watch and it is 4:14pm. Oh no Brad I say, you only had one more hour until it cools off. I was watching and biding my time until 5pm when I thought the intense heat would abate some. Post race I found out these were Joe’s tracks as I passed Brad earlier without knowing while he was riding some bonus miles off route.

I rode what felt like 3/4 of the way around Antelope Peak. It was soft desert trail with no tire tracks…no tire tracks…I felt vulnerable out there with no tire tracks in front of me. I was still moving in molasses…so slow. I kept saying to myself, it doesn’t matter how slow you go you just have to finish. I was moving in slow motion. I was a deep sea diver.

I reach the water cache and notice tire tracks again. They confuse me but I don’t pay them much attention. I rest, eat, water up and roll onto the Boulders section. Finally it had cooled off. The molasses had gone and my legs felt rockstar. I felt like I was flying through the Boulders after the slow motion day of molasses. Big fun. Whoohoo!! There were no tire tracks again.

The sun set and simultaneously the moon rose. I had a moment when there was exactly half a sun on the west horizon and half a moon on the east horizon. The low sun was deep orange and turned the air an orange/pink color and the full moon coming up was pure white and the biggest horizon moon I had ever seen. I stopped and absorbed that magical moment and breathed deep and slow like I could ingest it. The next 30 mins of twilight riding were effortless and fast and I flew.

We (me, my bike and my imagination) flew through the night  Ripsey – Gila River – Hwy 177 – Battle Axe Rd -Artisian Well – Walnut Canyon with the full moon echoing off cliffs and canyons. At 3:30am feeling a bit loopy I decided to lie down and sleep until dawn.

I’d been hoarding my last sweet n’ sour pork n’ rice and it made a delicious breakfast. Fueling up was a good thing as the Martinez canyons were complete ass kickers, one after another steep and bumpy. Box Canyon was kind and mild after the Martinez canyons.

The AZT300 ends with an 8 mile single track descent. I wanted to relish it so I stopped at the top to freshen up, ate some, drank some, relaxed some, lubed my chain and took a long break, about 45 mins I think (which drove my BlueDot watching and waiting DH batty!!). The last 8 miles were a screaming blast…giddy…euphoric…I was finishing AZT!!! Wow! Awesome!!! I was psyched.

DH was there at the end of the trail. My one man cheering squad and the man who is the most important to me in the world was there for me, to share my finish. Having DH cheering at the finish was the icing on a very big cake for me. I was giddy with glee and he laughed at my craziness while I told him all my race stories in a tangled endorphin hazed blurb. I was so amped it took me a while to be able to sit down and at least 3 days to metabolize my endorphins!!

DH took some pics of me finishing but it was so hot out there his camera overheated and lost the pics! It was blazing hot out there. He put his camera in the cooler and got pics later while I was still giddy.

Those arm coolers were white at the start!

I probably ate about 3,ooo calories worth of these sharks. That might have been why my tongue swelled up post race…

I’m tired now. But still thinking what might be next ;-)

AZT record amidst a trail of tears

There is often talk of what it takes to complete a multi-day ultra mountain bike race. Is it fitness? A simple mantra of eat, ride, sleep? Or, something more intangible like mental toughness and the ability to keep going when it gets really tough?

Naturally I have my own ideas. In my experience, the #1 prerequisite to finishing these events is stoke. Passion for a route and the experiences that await precede the start by half a year (or more) for the best rides I have had, and have seen others do. It is not so much about natural ability, it is all about positive projection, preparedness, and having the *finish* as the number one goal. Having stoke for an event well in advance of the start fuels a ton of research into the route, equipment required, conditions expected – consideration of thousands of little details that go into a great ride.

So, off we rolled last week for the AZT 300. Lynda carrying a huge bag of well-aged stoke, myself looking forward to a long ride in new terrain with the primary goal of testing my new BlueDot app. We both got what we went for and in the end it worked out to perfection.

The truth is I stopped racing in 2009. After the 24 hours of Moab I walked away with a “what now??” sort of sensation, and it never went away. So, “racing”, when I partake these days, is some combination of a social outlet, or means to see new terrain, or to enjoy the work that others have done to create some interesting route. The thing that has really lit the passion fire for me this spring is Bluedot – and writing code is not particularly a fitness builder or foot toughening activity, doh!

Getting to the start is always an adventure…and usually involves some help from others. We stayed with Chad at his new place, and then met Kurt & Caroline in Superior for the final shuttle detail. It was a lot of fun driving to the start with the 2-time race winner/record setter. Of course we started talking race strategy…more amusing for me as I had no real race objective, and LW wanted nothing to do with it. Her clear goal was the finish.

LW and I left the start fashionably late at 9:18. LW started as the lanterne rouge, an unfamiliar spot for her but it wouldn’t last long.

LW and DH start ATZ 300, photo by Caroline Soong

LW tells me to go first and says she’ll see me at the finish. She had no intention of going fast and fully expected to be well behind me. “We can come back and race it next year!” Hmmm wonder what that looks like… I never believed that for a second, knowing how my fitness (and stoke!) compared to hers on this day…but I amused her anyway by leading out. A few minutes later I hear a “girl scream”. Oh no, what is going on? Just a bobble on loose terrain…in the rush to get going we had forgot an important pre-race ritual: the HUG. I stop and grab her off her bike and give a good long squeeze. OK, time to get going….

The early riding has a good bit of hike a bike, especially for me on my singlespeed and in the heat. About 20 minutes in I come up to Marshal Bird in the shade of a tree and stop to chat and have a look at a developing hotspot on my left heel. To my huge surprise it was not a hotspot at all, but a blister that had developed, popped, and the skin was blown off. Inside of 20 minutes my ride was doomed….Marshal knew I was in trouble, moreso than I was willing to concede at the time.

Gorilla tape applied to heels, check. Onward. LW was in front of me know, and I eventually caught her – she pulled to the side to let me go by. A few minutes later I caught up with a big train of riders all hiking a section of marginally rideable trail. Walking was my speed here too and I settled in. LW rode it all and passed ~ 10 riders on that hike a bike, just like I’ve seen her do in Trans Rockies. I gave her a good shove as she went by and that’s the last I saw of her until I picked her up at the finish. She had found her flow, settled down, and I knew she was going to have a great ride. I was so stoked for her at that point!

Shortly thereafter, the trail become much more rideable and Canelo hills more fun. I did some bonus miles, but for the most part enjoyed the rest of the ride to Patagonia. Prior to the last bit of hike a bike I started applying super glue to the gorilla tape on the heels to better hold it in place, and that made hiking a bit more bearable. But I had serious doubts about my ability to go beyond Tucson. There was at least 10 hours of hike a bike in that section by most accounts…

In Sonoita I took my first look at BlueDot. I have put more work into BlueDot this spring than I ever have put into riding in the same time period – so to have the first look at it mid-race was oh so cool! I could see that Kurt was off the front as expected, see where LW was, and a few other riders not far up the road towards Kentucky camp. And, it actually motivated me to see if I could catch LW so we could ride together a bit. It took awhile, but nearly worked. The Kentucky camp area was my favorite part of what I rode, and good for my SS gearing. LW came into sight shortly after sunset, but then when we hit a section of rugged terrain with many short hikes my heels did me in. I just couldn’t make any headway with my heel situation.

I caved to the pain and rolled out the bivy for a few hours. Later when I got rolling again I was amused to learn I was right at the end of the hike a bike stuff anyway…and the trail turned instantly into a ripping, nicely carved, SS optimized super fun trail!!! Woohoo! And it stayed that way pretty much all the way to X9 road that led into Tucson.

The gal at the Rincon store said LW left about 30 minutes before I got there, and that briefly gave me some motivation to hustle on up the road. But my heels were screwed by then. Raw to the point I could not walk uphill. A bit of a problem when faced with 10k’ vert in the next 30 miles…what good is a single speeder that can’t walk? Exactly.

Brad Kee and Matt Fusco showed up at the store and Brad shared some moleskin. In return for the moleskin I put my droid in his hand with BlueDot running….and that was my favorite moment of the race. He was amazed at what he held in his hand and was deeply interested in the current state of the race. According to BlueDot only Kurt and LW were up the trail, but of course we knew Joe was also up ahead. Aaron Gulley we also expected was up ahead, thinking there was probably an issue with his SPOT (we later learned his GPS failed before Tucson). In any case, Brad’s excitement over BlueDot in the middle of a race was tall validation for my idea and vision to bring real-time race info into the hands of racers.

The moleskin gave me a touch of confidence I might be able to get’r done, but 30 minutes after being on the bike (and not even doing any hiking yet) and the feet had said no go. So off to Scott Morris’ house I rolled…I can see why it is so hard for a Tucson resident to finish this event.

Have I mentioned the heat yet? It was hot. Stupid hot. I hadn’t really been overly aware of the heat until I rolled off course and through Tucson. What a gawd-awful experience to go from awesome trails to the noisy, diesel belching stench of busy super-heated Tucson roads. From highs to lows in a moment. The coolness of Scott’s carport concrete was wonderful and I layed there for an hour until Paula came to the rescue…

From that time forward it was all about LW and BlueDot. BlueDot glued to my hand, staring at LWs dot. It moved oh so painfully slow all the way to Oracle. Meanwhile, the race was unraveling on all fronts. Kurt crashed and hurt his knee just before Oracle, ending his ride. News of Aaron’s demise surfaced. Then, in a surprising twist of events, news that Joe Meiser (thought to be the current leader but his poorly reporting SPOT left plenty to the imagination) had to backtrack to Oracle due to lack of calories came from Facebook. Holy crap, that put LW in the lead! Although Brad Kee was very close to her, and at one point in front of her – so there was a race for the win. He rode all through the night after leaving Rincon to arrive at Oracle before LW.

I don’t think either rider realized they were first and second…it had to be a confusing set of tracks out there. LW never passed anyone, the tracks just kept getting thinner, until finally disappearing altogether. She “passed” Brad Kee while riding the gasline section of the route while Brad rode a new section of dead end singletrack AZT. He said it was awesome trail but the dead-end was sub optimal ;)

Facebook to the rescue! LW’s car was at the trailhead in Superior while I was stuck in Tucson. This new droid partner of mine, it is well connected. Via FB I learned Slyfox was in town. One quick email and I had a ride lined up to the trailhead with superstar Slyfox Gillie. That night was a beautiful night for riding. Full moon at the trailhead over picketpost really made me wish I was riding instead of waiting.

By the next morning most everyone’s fate was sealed. The 2011 AZT 300 was a trail of tears with only 4 of the 22 starters making it to the finish. This BlueDot snapshot with last reported point for each rider tells the story:

While the 18 of us DNFs were still licking our wounds, the fab 4 soldiered on through yet another warm day in the desert with LW leading the charge. I could see that she had stopped for only ~ 2 hours that last night, and knew she only stopped because she cracked. That is the only thing that stops me on the last night of these things ;) But I also knew she was rolling with about 6 hours of sleep in 3 days. That is a helluva deficit for someone used to a steady 9-10 hours/night. I had all sorts of concerns about the reliability of the Freeman road water cache and nearly went out there to restock it…and then was convinced I should meet riders at the Gila with water. It is hard to be on the sidelines! In the end I didn’t want to mess with anyone’s experience out there and sat tight…

Finally…FINALLY…LW rolled down the trail to the finish. And, she was positively giddy! One of the first things out of her mouth was more a question than statement: “I don’t see any tracks on the ground?!?” “It’s all your’s babe, roll on down to the finish, I’ll meet you at the car”. Ironically, I took some great pictures of her riding the last bit of trail, and shot a video of her giddiness, but they were all lost due to my phone overheating in the midday desert heat…

Smiling, happy, giddy, amazingly untouched by the sun, and probably under 100 lbs – the 2011 AZT 300 winner and first ever female finisher.

Part of the giddiness: fueling on seafood (sharks) in the desert.

We headed to town for a shower then came back out to meet Brad at his finish.

Somewhere on Mt Lemmon Brad’s left shoe exploded.

Post event I could not be more stoked for how it turned out. BlueDot was generally a success, and I learned a few things I need to do to improve it. Racing is the best testbed. But the real story is LW. She has been planning, scheming, dreaming, breathing AZT for months. It has dominated her training since about September or October. When faced with what is undoubtedly the most difficult conditions ever for this event, she embraced the challenge, adapted to the conditions, and rode her own ride, paying little attention to others. A brilliant ride with few mistakes, in my opinion it is the most impressive ride she has put down (and there have been a few!). So good, in fact, that it resulted in the first (to my knowledge, anyway) time a woman has won the overall in a self-supported multi-day. I am so proud of her!


Yep that isn’t a typo in the title! I went backpacking last weekend, no bikes involved! My backpack buddies were Emma and Wesley on their first ever overnight trip.  They were mega excited and lots of hyping got done. We hiked up into Cottonwood Canyon wilderness area.

Wes carried a for real backpack filled with 100 oz water, food, 2 sleeping bags, clothes and a stove! Ems carried an Osprey Talon 22 with 80 oz water, candy, clothes, a whale and a dolphin. Me – I carried what seemed like a lot but only weighed in at 19lbs at the trail-head (yes I took a scale).

There are some old tunnels in Cottonwood Canyon. Emma went down this one into the darkness. She woke up a bat and it flew out but she kept on going!! Clearly she didn’t get my claustrophobia gene.

Headed into the darkness

She popped out on the other side of a cliff. Wes and I walked around the cliff!

Camp was a tent for kinders and a yellow tarp for me. Wes was the fire bender, single handedly collecting all the wood and lighting it with one match – a feat he repeated nicely in the morning.

Whales and dolphins in the desert wilderness

Wesley fulfilled one of his big brother tasks and taught Emma how to light matches. No homes were burned down during the lesson :-)

We ended the trip with kinders begging to go again = success!!

Black Canyon Trail

We’d been hearing about the Black Canyon trail for quite a while from Guy and Chrystal. It is a long single track paralleling I-17 north of Phoenix. How long depends on which sign you read. I saw 79, 78 or 62 miles. We started at Hwy 69 at the very north end of the trail and rode a total of 114 miles out and back and we didn’t reach the end of it.

While we were getting ready I discovered my camera was broken. I was a little sad about this as I was looking forward to taking lots of pics (and it was a gift from DH so had some sentimental value to me). All pics on this blog are from DH’s Droid. FYI: Black Canyon Trail has full 3G service!

The trail is non-stop fun. As I didn’t have a camera we rode non-stop more too. I saw a lot of things I would have had to stop to snap a shot of!

Water was everywhere with multiple creek crossings, Bumblebee Creek, Black Canyon Creek and the Agua Fria which we crossed at least six times. Doe spring, windmills and tanks. Made staying hydrated easy.

Breakfast might look like puke but it tasted good. Dried eggs and some unidentified mush.

Saguaros were the cartoon characters this weekend. So many shapes and sizes and so big! A pair of bald eagles flying overhead side by side and a gila monster sighting made for a real Sonoran experience. DH didn’t get a pic of the Gila monster!!!

The goofy pics from this weekend are of me this time and not DH as he had the camera. I had a batch of super yummy Keps Balls wrapped in gold foil, which made me think I was eating these or these instead of a healthy natural energy food.

This evening I took my camera apart. It sort of detonated and springs popped out and off when I unscrewed the cover. I cleaned it and put all the tiny springs back with tweezers and a lot of patience and it works!! I am pretty impressed with myself and happy I have my camera back too.