TR - 2017 AZT300

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by evdog, Apr 24, 2017.

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  1. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    I could have stuck this in the Desert riding thread, but figured it warrants its own!

    AZT 300….

    AZT 300 is a bikepacking race on the first 300 miles of the Arizona Trail, from Parker Canyon Lake to Picketpost trailhead east of Phoenix.

    I can’t recall when I became aware of this event, but it’s been on my radar for a few years. The desire to ride it grew the more trip reports I saw and the more friends I saw riding it. April is always a busy time of year at work though and I’ve never been able to get enough time off to ride it. This year I was finally able to make it happen!

    The 300 is known as a tough route requiring long days riding to finish in a typical 4-5 day period. I’ve ridden quite a bit of the route, but had yet to set tires to some notorious sections like the Canelo’s and Oracle Ridge. The gist of the route is ride 150 miles to Tucson, then climb up and over Mt Lemmon, then ride another 100 miles through the desert on the Gila 100 route. Riding the Gila 100 a couple years ago took me 2 full days, and some of the other segments near Tucson are respectable full day rides on their own, nevermind Mt Lemmon.

    I non-committingly set 4.5 days as my goal for the 300, hoping to get to Box Canyon Rd (about mile 70) on Day 1 and past Redington Rd on day 2. Beyond that I wanted to set myself up to do the climb out of the Gila river early morning or in the evening rather than the heat of the day. If I could ride into Picketpost Monday morning I was thinking that would be my ideal 4.5 day finish. By bikepacking race math though, a noon finish on the 5th day would actually be a 4-day finish, since time is tracked based on 24 hour days from your start time, not calendar days. I didn’t realize this til a day or so into the race, that I actually had til midnight Monday to finish in 4.5 days!

    With a hard deadline to return to work on Wednesday I decided to start Thursday morning rather than join the main group on Friday. Catching a shuttle down would have required me to take Thursday off work anyways, at least this way I would have an extra day to make the finish in case things didn’t go as planned. I have the means to self shuttle now, so may as well make use of it!

    I hit the road Wednesday afternoon hoping to get to Picketpost and make it most of the way to the start line before crashing for the night. I asked around if I could hop in with anyone driving down early Thursday but no luck with the odd timing. Instead I was able to offer a ride to Mark Caminiti who was near Superior and looking for a lift down to the start. I got to Picketpost around 11pm, dropped of my moto and met Mark who was hanging out at the TH.

    Mark is a bit of a bikepacking legend having done AZTR, CTR and Great Divide multiple times including Triple crown (all three of those) in one year twice, so it was a fun ride down chatting about bikepacking and racing. The weakness in my plan was we needed to do some shopping in Tucson before continuing on, so we ended up grabbing a motel so we could shop and get a good breakfast in the morning. I wanted to get to the start line early as possible, but even getting up at 630 we didn’t make it down there til well after 11. So much for cool morning ride temps!

    Day 1

    Noon – after getting bikes and gear ready and visiting with Scott and Eszter for a few minutes we got the obligatory start line photo and were ready to roll.

    AZTR is Scott’s baby, and he and Eszter were hanging out at the start line to see the group off the next morning. I’ve rode with Eszter on a Death Valley bikepack a few years back, and have been on rides with Scott but never really got to meet him before. So that was cool – thanks for all the work you put into this Scott!


    Ready to roll


    At the stroke of noon we were off!

    Scott mentioned to look out for Wendy who had slashed a tire and was hiking back. We ran into her a short distance down Gear Check Hill from the start after her 5 mile hike back!

    Mark C. was quickly out of sight and I settled in for a hot afternoon haul through the Canelo’s. I wasn’t sure what to expect aside from some steep loose climbs and descents.

    This stream was not something I was expecting. I followed what I thought was an obvious trail along it and even went through a legit looking gate before realizing I’d missed a turn when the trail got a little too raw and narrow. The stream was nice though.


    A bit of fresh trailwork lulled me into thinking maybe the riding would be easier than expected. But a couple short HABs followed shortly by a couple longer ones put that thought to rest.

    Steep climb with a view


    There were a few sections of jeep road mixed in, some fast some were tough climbing.
    I could spot the flowers on this cactus half a mile away, the only distinct color in sight


    Looking NE, there is some wide open country out there for sure


    Why we’re here!


    I thought I was moving fairly well through the first half to Canelo Pass Rd, but it still took me about 2 hours to cover 8 miles. The second half had some much longer HABs and I slowed on those as the temperature climbed. Lots of short breaks for snacks and hydration. It wasn’t too windy but was hot and dry, so I had a bit of cottonmouth going on. I tried to keep moving though and eventually made it to Canelo Pass Rd at mile 15 in another 2.5 hours, and was on to the easier second half of the ride to Patagonia.

    A short climb up to a saddle led to some fun singletrack and then some scenic jeep road


    It was getting on towards golden hour and I still had some miles to go to Patagonia


    You don’t often see a functional windmill these days, but this one was spinning


    There was some tough riding through here with the low sun in my eyes and plenty of sniper rocks lurking in the grass overgrowing the trail.


    There was more jeep trail to come, a ton of wash crossings some requiring a downclimb to get into, and then some fun singletrack with a few short ass-kicking climbs before I hit pavement. I ran out of water 2-3 miles before the pavement, around the same time I ran out of daylight. So I pedaled the last few miles into Patagonia in the dark.
    I got into town just after 8. Almost everything there closed at 8, so my only choice was Velvet Elvis pizza, which was open for another ½ hour.

    All I had been craving the last couple hours was a huge fountain pepsi. I had to settle for the bottled variety, which was fine by me. I ate half my pizza and had the rest wrapped to go. They were nice enough to fill my reservoir and water bottle too. I had plenty of food, so I was good to go.

    I finally got rolling just after 9pm. The highway pedal to Sonoita was uneventful, lots of semi’s but everyone was cool except for one guy in an suv who had to lay on the horn as he sped past. I rode slow but steady, only stopping once for a short break at the rest stop. Sonoita was deserted aside from the cop hidden behind a construction sign to catch speeders.

    I could have gone for another pepsi but nothing was open, so I made the turn onto Hwy 83 and kept going. Temps had stayed fairly warm up until that point but I hit a cold patch of air that was frigid with the faster pace. I was happy to turn onto slower dirt road again and warm up. I kept up the slow and steady pace as I climbed.

    After the route turned left onto a smaller dirt road I started noticing some chafing and discomfort. I tried a couple adjustments but it didn’t help, so I tried removing shorts in favor of just the chamois. That didn’t help either, so I changed into a dry chamois. Finally that made a bit of difference, though the damage was already done. I was concerned as the spot that was chafing isn’t a spot I’ve ever had an issue before. Alternating seat and foot positions helped just enough that I could keep moving, but all this really slowed me down.

    I had been hoping to get to Box Canyon Rd that night at around mile 70 on the route, but it was past 2am and I was still about 3 miles before Kentucky Camp when I finally decided to stop and sleep. I found a good spot at the top of the “ascent of death,” really just a short but distinct HAB. Considering the late start on the day, getting close to Kentucky Camp was nothing to complain about.

    Stats for Day 1 – 58mi, +6,100/-6,500, 14.5 hours
    Faust29, PATKOUG, Maddog and 10 others like this.
  2. MattB

    MattB Member

    Matt B
    Wow! I've never heard of this before. Way to go, I can't even imagine doing something like this! Can't wait to read the rest of it!
    PATKOUG likes this.
  3. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 2

    I woke up not long after sunrise but took a while to get going. This always seems to happen at the start of a trip, I repacked most of my stuff so I could get to what I’d need easier during the day’s ride. After a bit of food I got rolling just before 8am.

    Not a bad view to wake up to.


    Looking back in the direction I’d ridden the night before


    I made my way over to Kentucky Camp where I filled up with water and used the facilities. Lots of staff around, looked like they were going to spend the day replacing the roof on the main building.

    Some sweet singletrack on the ride over


    And plenty of sweet singletrack after.


    I’d forgotten some of the fire road climbs after Kentucky Camp but those went by quickly enough. A few of the singletrack climbs kicked my butt too. I had a full load of water though and made sure to keep up on hydration and food intake.

    Just out of sight up ahead I caught up to 3 horseback riders.


    I had to back off as they were traversing a steep slope, then caught up to them. Like everyone on the AZT they were friendly and stopped to chat for a few minutes. I mentioned there may be a “few more” riders coming through by early afternoon but they figured they’d be done their ride before that.

    Shortly after crossing Helvetia Rd I came across Jerry heading back down the trail. He’d been dealing with cramps and said he knew exactly what was coming up. I didn’t…. AZT Jamboree was the first ride I ever did in Tucson but I couldn’t recall any hard parts before the highway crossings. Selective memory strikes again!

    I suffered for the next couple hours as the trail dropped into and climbed out of a never ending series of ravines. My nose was kinda stuffed up so I was mostly breathing through my mouth. With the hot dry air drying me out I was gulping down water constantly to fend off cottonmouth.

    I was still dealing with chafing as well. The only way to manage it was to change the chamois every time it got sweaty. In the heat this was fairly often. Thankfully there weren’t many people around to comment on the spare pair hanging off the back of my pack to dry.


    I think it was around here somewhere the trail got faster and easier, a welcome change for sure.


    I caught up to a few day riders and played leap frog with them all the way to I-10. Shortly after crossing I-10 I poked my head into the Gabe Zimmerman TH which had a fire truck and a couple ambulances parked up. They asked me to hang out for a few mins as they were assisting an equestrian nearby on the trail. Must have been something serious as they flew the rider straight out to hospital rather than to the waiting ambulance. It was close to an hour before I was cleared to keep going. I was able to fuel up some dinner in the meantime so I was ready to go.



    I made pretty good time through Collossal Cave and Saguaro National Park. Just a quick stop to replenish water at the ranch just before sunset and I was back on the route.

    Nice to see Saguaro National Park getting into the bikeable gate movement!


    The pavement ride from the park into Tucson was a drag, seemed to go on forever.

    As happened the prior night I just missed closing time for a bunch of places, rolling in a few mins after 11pm. Safeway and Subway had just closed. In fact the only thing that was still open was McDonalds, and just the drive thru at that. Don’t mind if I do!


    Not much on the menu looked appetizing but some nuggets, hashbrowns and mcmuffins saved the day. That and the large fountain coke I’d been craving all day! And don’t forget extra mcmuffins for breakfast and lunch tomorrow. Then it was an additional mile off route to the only gas station still open for the rest of my supplies.


    With all that it was around 1am as I pedaled back to the route to start the slog up Redington Rd. One of my goals was to get past Redington before it turns into a circus on the weekend.

    Around half way up the climb I got a shock as I was pedaling along when what looked like a tarp suddenly rustled and sat up on the side of the road. It was 300 race leader Ian Wilkey, who had passed me during my resupply and stopped to rest roadside tucked into his bivy. Turned out he had mistakenly deleted the track off his GPS and was watching dots waiting for one of us nearby to ride past so he could ride along as there were a few turns coming up.

    I rode with Ian the rest of the night. We had been watching a headlight in the dark below and behind us for quite some time. But it seemed to barely be gaining on us. Redington was as expected but the jeep trail after it was a whole different ball game. I had expected a steady climb the whole way but this was a series of steep rutted, loose, chunky blown out 4x4 climbs and descents that were sketchy on a loaded bike with seat up. Pick your poison, there were often 3-4 lines to choose from like any typical blown out jeep trail and often it took some guesswork to figure out which was the best one to ride. We plodded along slow and steady, and eventually the road leveled out somewhat and we picked up speed.

    Approaching first light on the heinous jeep trail after Redington


    Around first light we reached a gate, and heard a whoop behind us. Finally caught! It was Max Morris, at the time in 2nd place. It was kind of comical for me to be riding with these guys since they had made up 60 miles on me in about 20 hours. Once Max caught us Ian had someone his speed to ride with and they took off.

    First light and back on the AZT


    I stopped for breakfast once the sun was up. Got passed by eventual 300 winner Pete Basinger.


    I wasn’t sure what to expect on the ride toward Molino Basin. I know from many Milagrosa rides there is a tough HAB at the end, but the ride to get there turned out to be no picnic either.


    It wasn’t bad but like the upper jeep road it still took longer than I expected. Next thing you know it’s getting rather hot out. I had just passed Milagrosa turnoff and was starting up the first of the HABs when I was caught by Kaitlyn Boyle. I was about to accuse her of trying to make me look bad by climbing up this thing, but she was nice enough to get off and HAB it like me. She was on a mission though and was soon out of sight. I was starting to suffer by this point in the heat and stopping anywhere there was shade.


    This stuff looks way gnarlier from below than it does riding down it


    Looking back down the valley


    I finally crested the pass and made my way down to Molino Basin campground. I had been hoping that the full load of water I’d carried from Tucson would get me up to Summerhaven. But with the hot temps I was getting concerned about that. There is no water at any of the campgrounds on Mt Lemmon for some reason, and I was hoping streams would still be running to filter from.

    The stream through Molino Basin was flowing just enough to be filterable, so I was able to get some extra. Not much though. The threads on the Platypus reservoir I’ve used for 3 years don’t match the Sawyer exactly, but until today it has always worked with just a bit of leakage. But it decided today was the day to give up, and water was gushing out the threads so much there was no pressure to push any water through the filter. Fortunately I had a juice bottle whose threads matched so I was able to filter a bit from it. Slow going from the bottle though.

    I finally got my bladder full and carried on up the trail. It was a hot couple miles to Gordon Hirobiyashi campground. I wore my bandana under my helmet soaked in water to keep me cool. It would dry in about 10 mins before needing another soaking.

    I stopped for lunch at the campground. The wind really picked up during that time and things were getting blown around. Including me once I started up the 17 miles of pavement to Summerhaven. Even with water topped off I was worried about making it in the heat. It was slow going on the climb up as I was worn out. The chafing seemed ok but my butt could only take a short distance between breaks. I stooped so low as to pick up a couple half full water bottles discarded on the side of the road to douse my sun sleeves and bandana. Warm water chilled quickly in the breeze and was saving me a few hundred yards at a time.

    I made it up past the Bug Springs trailhead and campgrounds slowly and steadily, but I was starting to get really sleepy. A bit of tailwind was nice through there, but once I passed the next 180 turn to the second long switchback it became a headwind strong enough I could barely pedal. I was fully dozing off on the bike by that point and caught myself swerving into the traffic lane a couple times when I decided it wasn’t safe to continue.

    Even if I could hike up the shoulder of the highway I would only get high up on Lemmon in time for nightfall, and I didn’t have enough warm clothing or sleeping gear to be up there at night. Nor was I enthusiastic about hitting Oracle Ridge in the dark.
    So I backtracked ¼ mi down the highway to the General Hitchcock campground and checked into one of the only remaining sites which was mercifully shaded. It was 3:30pm at this point. I set alarm for 3:30am which seemed like the right time to get me up Lemmon for a sunrise start at Oracle Ridge. The kids in the adjacent campsite were partying it up but I never heard them once I crashed out. Aside from getting up once to pee I slept right through til morning.

    Stats for the ride… 117mi, +13,500 / - 12,900, 31.5 hours
    Faust29, Fijirob, PATKOUG and 8 others like this.
  4. mike

    mike iMTB Hooligan

    Western US
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    GG Smash
    Nice work, evdog!

    You have a knack for trips of a lifetime... Thanks for showing how it's done :thumbsup::thumbsup:
    PATKOUG and evdog like this.
  5. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 3… or do I now call this day 4?

    My alarm went off and I was soon up and getting ready to roll. Minimal unpacking required minimal re-packing and it wasn’t long til I was pedaling upward in the dark.

    I was making ok, but not great time. Maybe 3-4 mph. But steadily climbed as dawn and first light approached. Most importantly I was feeling really good after my long rest.


    I caught the sunrise at one of the lookouts and was able to replenish more water with a couple more found water bottles. I carried them separate from my supply so I could filter them in case they were needed. Turned out they weren’t as the spigot at Bigelow Trailhead was actually on. We’d been told it was off, but when I checked anyways it worked, so I ditched the scavenged water and refilled all my reservoirs with good water to a full load. That was a relief being re-supplied. I had plenty of food so no need to stop in Summerhaven. I was a bit early for that anyways, on a Sunday.

    I got up top to the Oracle TH around 730am and it was buzzing with activity. A fire had started on the west slope of Lemmon the prior afternoon and they were getting set to hit it with water drops. I had to wait a few mins as the helo was about to take off. It would refill out of the orange tank set up at the landing, which would be refilled from tanker trucks. It was cool to see all this and talk to the fire crews. Sounds like they got it under control quickly which was great to hear later.


    For me, it was on to Oracle Ridge. This stretch down to Oracle was the last part of the route I had yet to ride. I was stoked to be here even though it meant some hard work ahead, because at least I had made it past the top of Lemmon, which was a huge mental barrier for me.


    Staring down the ridge. Although reports said the first few miles was rideable there were a few trees down and other spots that required dismounting.


    Looking back up. It reminded me of Los Pinos or Bell Ridge here in Socal, though with HABs that were shorter and less steep/sustained but much more f. Guess our local rides are good training!


    Some grade “A” HAB was had


    I was caught on one of the road segments by Curtis, and Mike D who I know as Springsproject on TGR. We rode/ HAB’d much of the ridge together. It was great to meet Mike finally, he has some cool TRs that I've been following for a few years.

    Party on Oracle Ridge!


    Finally we get to some sustained rideable trail


    I fell behind Mike and Curtis on a steep fireroad descent when my seatbag started contacting the rear tire. They seemed to get way ahead, but turns out they missed a turn onto singletrack at a sharp bend in the road. I may well have missed it myself had I not had to stop right there again to re-tighten my seat bag.

    I got down all the way onto Cody trail where I stopped at a junction for a snack, when the two of them caught up to me. Cody Trail was a nice break from the fall line chunder of Oracle Ridge but it had its own surprises in the form of steep water bar drops, often in the middle of tight corners. Flagging on the side of the trail seemed to indicate most of these water bars would be removed. I walked a bunch of those drops.


    Soon enough I was at the American Flag TH.


    There was still a lot of work to go to get to Oracle, although it was pretty fast riding. There were a few asskicker climbs thrown at us just when you thought you should be getting to the highway. My brakes were squealing by this point too. I thought I had cooked them coming down off the mountain, and figured I’d take a look at them in Oracle and swap pads if need be.


    Mike and Curtis had diverted to a water source off Cody trail so I got ahead of them through Oracle State Park and into town. They caught up to me just as I was pulling into the café for lunch. I passed a couple other riders leaving town on the ride in, and Garret Alexander was there having lunch as we pulled up.

    Ordering a cold coke was the first order of business, and then we dug into the menu, ordering food, then more food, then more food to go. It wasn’t just the waitress laughing at us over the ridiculous amount of food we ordered, but the customers inside were getting a chuckle as well. The food was great and really hit the spot. Then we cruised over to the Circle K to pick up more supplies. We’d have to carry enough food to make it to Superior since this was the last food source on the 300 route.

    The others had just taken off when Joe P rolled up. Mr. “I’m not sure I’m ready for the 300” had made up a full days ride on me in 1.5 days. It was good to see a familiar face though. I took off to get back to the route and saw a few other riders heading for one of the food establishments on the way out of town.

    Tiger Mine Trailhead


    While I’d ridden the rest of the route I can’t exactly call it all familiar territory. The next 10 miles coming up I'd only ridden once, in the opposite direction, and with only the "intimate” light of my camping headlamp. I’d finally get to ride this in daylight today. While there was some tough climbing it seemed like what I’d heard is true, the riding is better heading north than it is heading south.

    Looking back at Mt Lemmon


    And looking ahead… I have a bit more climbing before I get to the high point where the trail starts to drop into Bloodsucker Wash. That high point is as far as I got in daylight previously. I would almost make it back there in daylight tonite.


    But not quite… I was able to hold off Joe P to that point though. He is a strong climber and caught me right at the gate at the top of that climb.


    I am a strong descender though, so after my break I was able to catch up and pass him on the descent. I made up enough time that it took him an hour or so to catch me a couple wash crossings later. I was caught by another rider around that time too, Keith Tomei. The goal for each of us was to make it to Freeman Rd but there was still a couple hours to make it there yet this night. After a few frigid ravine crossings Antelope Peak finally rose above me in the moonlight and I got to my campsite around 1am. I was sound asleep by about 1:10am!

    This was a much better day for me for sure. Temps were great, chafing wasn’t an issue anymore, and most importantly I was feeling strong. I guess 12 hours of sleep helped a lot!

    Stats for the day – 68mi, +9,950 / -11,950, 20 hours
    Fijirob, MattB, PATKOUG and 2 others like this.
  6. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 4, or 5ish...

    Unlike the previous night no one passed by in the night or early morning. I had been passed by a ton of riders during my long nap the day/night before. I rode the mile or so over to Freeman Rd passing both Joe and Keith on the way. Joe needed to replace brake pads and was going to head over to the water cache to do so. I stopped there to eat breakfast. I was interested to see if any water needed to be refilled, as I thought I could stop back when I retrieved shuttle to fill any empties. It was stocked completely full however, nothing at all to refill at this point. I didn’t need any either, I had plenty to get myself to Kelvin.

    Joe P using the shade structure as a bike stand


    I set off ahead of Joe and Keith and had the trails all to myself until Ripsey.
    About to drop into Ripsey Wash, the switchbacks just barely visible on the peak ahead.


    Some nice flowers out


    HABing up one of the steep pitches up Ripsey


    Joe caught me on the climb up but I got ahead again once it turned into mostly HAB


    Cresting the top of the ridgeline. On to some sweet ridge top riding!


    Looking back at the switchbacks. I missed the first two but made the last 3. Usually it is the opposite...


    Can you spot Joe? Just a speck in the distance at the highest point of the ridge


    I love how these chollas come in different colors…lots in both red and yellow out there.


    I passed Joe on the switchbacks and kept going all the way to Kelvin. Some trail magic greeted us at the trailhead. I’ll take a cold coke and an orange, thanks!


    Some nice work has been done on the segment between Kelvin trailhead and the Kelvin bridge.


    I re-convened with Joe at the A-dot spigot in Kelvin. A thru-hiker named Waker was waiting out afternoon heat in the shade. We visited for awhile and cooled off. Waker was fun to talk to. After hiking the AT last summer he is killing time before a southbound PCT hike in July by doing the AZT then hiking north into Utah to Zion and Bryce, then onto SLC on the Great Western Trail. One of the trails he plans to hike is Grandview Trail near Thunder Mtn / Bryce. He actually found my trip report from 2012 Trip Report - Grandview Trail on Utah's Paunsaugunt Plateau when researching it which gave him the info needed to go ahead with that part of his trip. Very cool that someone is able to make use of it, definitely makes it worth the time putting these reports together!

    After a break I headed over to the Mineral Creek crossing near Kelvin Bridge. Cool clear water was still deep enough for a quick swim to wash off a few days of grime. It was well worth it! Keith was there cooling off as well, debating whether he had the time to finish. He had to be back in Tucson the next morning and wasn’t sure he could pull it off. Looks like he bailed there unfortunately.


    I headed off shortly after Joe for the ~3 hour pedal to the Gila. At least, I hoped that’s all it would take. But it was hottest part of the day, around 3pm as I left Kelvin. I took full load of water including a bit extra to douse sleeves and bandana to help keep me cool. The first big climb was real easy headed this direction and soon I was up top at the high point with a fun descent ahead.

    Shortly after that I came across a fuel laden bike.


    And a couple turns later, Rob and crew digging away. Thanks for all the hard work guys!


    Stopped to chat for a few minutes. They are going all the way to the Gila with the machine, though they only have a couple weeks left this season before it gets too hot.

    Continuing on into the golden hour


    I caught up with Joe at the turnoff to start up canyon. Neither of us needed to filter, and after a quick break I took off. Joe soon passed me and was quickly out of sight.


    Last light, and a cool view of Dale’s Butte


    I was happy not to do this climb in the heat of the day, but at the same time a little bummed not to see the upper stretches in daylight because it is so scenic. Seeing it in its almost full moonlight glory was good consolation, however.


    Not sure if that is Venus or just a speck of dirt on the lens


    I made good time up the hill chasing Joe. He is a fast climber so I didn’t expect to catch him. It was nice having him ahead and it seemed we were going similar speed. I’d see him up above at a certain spot, then it would take me 20min to get there. It really helped knowing that each time I’d see him above it was only 20 min to get to that spot. I finally caught him after things turned to HAB, at the first overlook. I kept going, I think he took a break as I didn’t see him for a long time after that. I was feeling really strong at this point and rode a lot more than I thought I’d be able to.

    I'd been hoping to get to that first overlook by 830pm, and then to the top of Martinez Canyon by 930pm. That would give me time to ride the final 12miles into Picketpost by midnight, which would put me right at 4.5 days.

    Some nice flowers in the dark


    I hit both of those time goals. I was a bit concerned I hadn’t seen Joe below anywhere, but his light finally appeared at the saddle as I hit the top of Martinez. I kept trucking along. There are three main climbs on the way out that I could recall, and I seemed to hit them pretty quickly. For what is mostly downhill all the way to Picketpost it sure seemed to be mostly uphill!

    There were some really cold drainages to ride through and I stopped to put on a couple layers. Shorts went back on as well to help keep me warm. I was doing pretty well. Brakes were still holding up. I had to walk a few of the rocky sections I might normally try to ride but at this stage I didn’t care.

    The miles clicked away slowly, and soon enough I was rolling into the trailhead at Picketpost. Time was 11:53, which meant I beat my goal of 4.5 days by all of 7 minutes!


    Stats for the final day: 65mi, +8,800 / - 10,300, 17 hours

    Stoked as I was to be done, I was also relieved that my ride out was still here.


    And someone was so awesome as to leave a couple beverages for me – thanks John & Arturo!

    Those both disappeared rather quickly and I also made quick work of some noodles as I set up my gear to get some sleep.


    Joe rolled in less than an hour later. Apparently a crash on Hwy 60 had the road closed and his ride couldn’t get through, so he crashed out in the parking lot as well. I slept pretty well that night. Another rider finished in the middle of the night but I didn’t hear a thing.

    I got up around 7 and started to sort out my gear. I had carried my stove and a bit of dehydrated food the whole way. I was glad to have it just in case. It turns out I also had a small sack of trail food which I had forgotten deep in my seat bag. Oh well, better to have too much than to run out.


    I had to re-pack my stuff since I’d be leaving some of it behind along with my locked up bike to go retrieve my truck at the starting line. I was ready to roll around 830 and said bye to Joe who was still waiting for his ride out.

    The ride back to the start was uneventful aside from witnessing a hit and run in Tucson while stopped to get gas. It was chilly riding the first hour then blazing hot by the time I rode through Tucson. Relief #2 was my truck still being there at the start line. I loaded up and headed back to Picketpost, getting there not long after sunset. Relief #3 was my MTB still being there at PP locked up. A couple minutes to load up and I was on the way home.

    Through the last couple days of the ride and the retrieval/drive home I had plenty of time to go over the race in my head. I was pretty stoked how it turned out, and I know I could do it faster next time now that I know the full route. The late start on day one made for difficult timing for me up on Mt Lemmon. Starting 4 hours earlier like the group start would have put me at Molina basin around 8am, or at the same time as I arrived, but rested. This would have allowed me to get to Summerhaven and then partway down Oracle ridge before dark. OK, at my speed definitely not all the way down, but it would have helped. I don’t think I needed 12 hours sleep, but that put me back on the best schedule to get over the mountain given my situation. It doesn’t really matter in the end, I had a great time out there and felt pretty good for most of the ride. Lemmon definitely kicked my ass, but the fact I rode strong after that had me wishing I could blow off work for another 10 days and keep going to Utah. I’ll be back next year for more!
    Fijirob, MattB, PATKOUG and 2 others like this.
  7. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Haha, Thanks! Yeah I wouldn't have ever imagined myself doing rides like this either. But you can ride a lot more than your mind would ever let you believe you can, if you try it. The beauty of bikepacking is you have all your gear with you so you can keep riding until you don't want to anymore. If you keep up on food and hydration you can ride for a surprisingly long time. I've done 20, 30, 40 mile day rides that have crushed me that were no where near as hard as this. For some reason with bikepacking I can get into this crazy zone where I don't notice my tired legs anymore and can just keep cranking. Even when I finished the 300 I felt like I could keep going. Which is good, because I want to do the full 750 next year!
    PATKOUG and MattB like this.

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