Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Supporters of the project

Huge thanks to Champion System for helping us with the new kits. They are top notch. Shoot me an email and i'll get you in touch with their custom rep if you are interested in getting some custom kits (great pricing!)
Also a shout out to GIRO for shoes, helmets, gloves, and LIFEPROOF for the amazing waterproof (bikeproof) iphone cases. Seek and Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

300 miles of ________

"Is this the hardest thing you've ever done?"
"yes it"
"yes....this is harder than i thought it would be"
"I'm so thirsty"

300 miles of riding. Mostly hard singletrack. Tons of hike-a-bike. Arizona sun, cactus, rocks. This is the AZT300 in a few short words, minus the cuss words one feels during this amazingly hard bikepacking race.
It was brutal and as much a mental challenge as a physical one. Finish time was 3day 3hrs. 75hrs total and of that we rode/hiked for 58 hrs!The lows and highs were extreme. Patience and fatigue was tested to the limit. It's pretty amazing what the body can do if you really will it or just believe you can do something. It was a deep and hard experience but something I am glad we did.

Here is my best recap of what happened. Myself (Luke Jay) and Adam Vaughan drove from Colorado on Thursday for the Friday start. We got stranded on a closed 1-25 (near Trinidad) due to ice and snow on the road. 12 hrs later we met up with Casey Hill and Jason Michalak at the finish trail head (picket post, Superior, AZ) We prepped the bikes and drove to Tucson that night. Our buddy Steve Osborne (bikepacking forum) picked us up early in the AM and drove us to the start right near the Mexico Border...THANKS STEVE! Jason, Adam and Myself rolled out with about 40 other racers at 9am. It was pretty warm by 10-11am and me and Jason just forced the early calories down knowing we had a few LONG days of saddle and suffering ahead. Casey's bike had some tire/tubeless issues late the night before so he decided to get brand new tires on Friday morning in Tuscon and meet us in Patagonia...he would miss the start and first 30 miles but Casey is punk rock and was ready to roll when we came into Patagonia. We filled up the bottles and headed out (all 4 of us together)...we knew if probably wouldn't stay this way as there are way too many variables out on the trail to stay together. In Sonoita Adam decided to sit and refuel as he wasnt' feeling great. We later found out his stomach was pretty messed up and he was dehydrated and cramping. He rode all the way to Kentucky camp before making the wise decision to pull the plug and then having to ride all the way back to Patagonia...brutal. So it was Casey, Jason, and Myself cruising along feeling good with the first 60-70 miles under our belts...we didn't know what lay ahead, oh what naive littlet boys we were! At roughly 85 miles in Jason's light was stuck on dim and we were on tech single track...Me and Casey trudged on and left Jason to handle himself. He was fine but just moving slow. We figured we would cross paths soon enough. About 100 miles in me and Casey had almost no food left...we decided to push to Tucson (122 miles) and make sure we had food and water first thing in the AM. It was a serious push and we rolled into Safeway around 3am. We grabbed some warm junk at gas station and found a good spot to camp near school. We slept in a bit and rolled to Starbucks about 7am...we where pretty shelled and tired so we took our sweet time. Casey proceeded to order 2 Venti Coffees and down them both in 10min.
We stocked up with food at Safeway and where back on the trail by 8am...after some serious climbing and missing a turn we where cranking away the slow miles in the was getting brutal. Almost ran out of water and filtered some from a sketchy "stream". After a massive hike-a-bike out of some canyon we made it to the bottom of Mt Lemmon...refill with water...Casey pooped for 10min...We started the long 18mile haul up Mount Lemmon and Casey hammered the climb like the roadie he is...I passed Max Morris and Aussie Ross on the climb and we all rolled into the Summerhaven cafe about 7:50pm (20min behind Casey)...we ate alot! Sweet potato fries, coke, coffee, pie, hummus, chicken wings. We felt good and full and decided to ride as much of Oracle as possible..well 5 min into Oracle we realized it was "hike as much as oracle" as possible..our plan was to hike till 1 or so and then sleep. We saw a light catching us from behind, it was Neil. The dude had to buy a new fork in Tuscon and had made great time and caught back up to us. He was speed hiking like a runner and had his headphones in and was jamming. The three of us passed Dave Wilson in his bivy and he yelled something funny about us missing our campground. The three of us rode/hiked till 1-2 am then found a good bivy spot. Amazing sunrise and then Dave rides by as we are getting ready. Neil took off after a few minutes of riding and me and Casey kept moving along.

We rolled into Oracle (gas station) about 9am and bought a ton of food and ate as much as we could (about 18hrs later we found out we grossly underestimated how much food we needed) a few hrs of pretty fun riding and things are a little less clear after this...i think because i was focused on the GPS, worried about water supply, etc....we just basically went into "tunnel vision survival mode" and do what you need to do to keep moving. We suffered in the heat and my rear tire was getting i had to take it easy on the rocky sections and descents...I hear my tire go psssssss! crap!. Hopped off and turned the leak down and within a couple seconds the Stan's plugged it up...but our stress level was pretty high as we are 60miles from anywhere and its almost 90 degrees, no shade, no water for 20+miles. Pray and hope we make it. We finally hit the Freeman water cache (mile 226 ish) late that afternoon (2nd day) and our bottles where bone dry (after no water antelope) as the sun was going down we stopped for bit (15min) to eat ...we saw two guys behind us and realized it was Jason and Ross...seeing them was a good moral boost and the 4 of us rode together. I was still pretty worried about my tire (geax aka) as it was getting more and more "bald" with each mile. Ross kept hammering leaving Jason, Casey, and myself back together again. The "Bro-muda triangle".

As we started getting later into the night I truly feel this was the time where the real challenge started. It was dark and technical and the miles where barely ticking by. The smallest things seem to aggravate us. It's hard to focus and your mind really "wonders" start "seeing things" and your butt hurts. Knowing we still had 50-60miles left of really hard terrain was extremely hard to digest and accept. We rode late into the night thinking we might be able to push up and over through the night. We had almost no food left. After some debating back and forth we finally just stopped and camped
around 2-3am.
We had about 30 miles left. We woke up at dawn and where back riding by 5:45. The sun and heat came way to soon. We made the decision to filter water from the Gila river. Its gross and metallic but we needed water so be it. We all had spread out to suffer solo at our own slow paces...but making sure we stopped and could at least see each other. I saved one single GU for when/if things got "bad enough"  I took it around 10am. The final 9 miles was downhill and took forever but we made it around noon. Casey finished about 30min in front of me and Jason was a 15-20 minutes behind me. I had zero food left and 10oz of water left. It was 92 degrees. My tire looked like a road tire. Blistered hands. Jason's hub axle broke in the last 1/2 mile. Numb toes. Adam was waiting with some gatorade, coke, snacks with Ross. I think i just sat there for 10-15 minutes was done. Loaded up the car.  "Let's go get some pizza".