Sunday, February 4, 2007

Good Long Day

Saturday was a wonderful day. Cool but not too cool. Sunny, and almost no W-I-N-D.

It was time for me to get back on the training horse with a vengeance. It was one of the very few days I’ve been here so far when it was not difficult to get going by 9:00 AM. Well, almost nine anyway. I was all ready to go at a bit after nine, the POD was locked, the bike was loaded, and I pulled on my pack and got ready to mount up. I put my hand on the Fisher’s handlebar and noticed that I was wearing no gloves. Gaah! It’s always that way this winter with me! I need an assistant to get me all rigged up. Invariably I have to get into the trailer one more time--or two, or three more. Every time I put my keys in the pack I laugh at myself. Sure, I’m done in the trailer. Right. Peel the pack back off, get out the keys, grab the gloves, lock back up (laughing about how I’ll probably need in two more times) and put everything back on again.

At 9:15 I roll. Even with the silly dance I did getting outfitted, I was leaving relatively early. And I didn’t need to stop immediately to put on a jacket! Nice!

My plan was to first go ride an unofficial loop of singletrack that my neighbors have named Painter Boy. It was created last winter covertly right under their noses. They were aware that someone was making a trail out there, a builder that they call Stick Man because he doesn’t use any tools, and just marks turns by laying sticks down. The approach is minimalist; just ride it, never move any soil, never cut vegetation. The routing is inconsistent, sometimes really nice and rideable, other times just plain dumb--straight up and down the fall line. It reminds me quite a bit of the “secret” trails constructed around Salida.

It was called “Painter Boy” because the builder(s) marked many turns by building cairns then painting the rocks bright white, and by painting huge white arrows on larger rocks. A local bike club claimed the honor of having built it last year and put a map and glowing commentary on their web site. The State of Arizona, who owns the land here, was shown this web site and the trail. They were furious, and they ordered the web site to remove the map, and they told the painters to do something about the defaced rock. The solution was to paint the white stuff over with beige. One of my neighbors is from Crested Butte, and he named the trail “Painter Boy” in honor of the mine in CB, and the fact that these “kids” got their hands slapped for painting.

My neighbor the JuneBug had shown me and a group from Tucson the trail a week or so ago. I wanted to GPS it, just for the heck of it. It goes through some pretty country, but the routing makes it annoying and it’s difficult to follow at times. And there are several barbed wire fences to crawl under or climb over. But I wanted to record it for posterity. So I rode the sucker pretty quickly. I made a less-than-6-mph pace even though I was not loafing. It GPS’d at almost exactly 6 miles.

The famous Jerry Q, former Mayor of 24 Hour town, riding Painter Boy

After I did that I made my way through the venue to the Willow Springs Road. I did not want to spend my whole day out here since there are a ton of people around now that it’s a weekend only 14 days from the race. So I rode south out of the venue on the Fisher, then hit the pavement and rode to Catalina. From there I climbed up the Golder Ranch Road to intersect the Fifty Year Trail. My plan was to climb up to the end of Fifty Year and then maybe ride the Deer Camp trail I’d heard about.

It was perhaps 12:30 when I got to Fifty Year. I’d been on the bike for 3 hours, but lots of it had been relatively easy. The trip down Willow Springs Road and the highway had been mostly downhill and down wind. The climb up Golder Ranch was not very hard by Colorado standards.

Fifty Year is really a great trail. I had several miles of the fun, swoopy part before I came to the Chutes and started climbing. It was a surprise that there weren’t more riders up there. I ran into quite a few mountain bikers, then a group of 15 relaxed and friendly horse people from Missouri (their horses were wet with sweat).

There are a number of brief anaerobic efforts in and above the Chutes. I started feeling overdressed and underfed. I peeled off my arm warmers and continued. As the trail wound up into a Saguaro forest, I stopped again and took off my leg warmers. Riding with short sleeves and shorts felt great. But I was definitely starting to feel that the bottom was within reach. It was around 2:00 PM. I had a minimum 2-hour ride home. A good hard training ride was definitely in order, but bonking is never a good idea. When I ran into a gate that formed with upper end of the Fifty Year Trail, it was pretty clear that I should just turn around and go home. I want to see the Deer Camp Trail, but not at the cost of a bad bonk.

The northern end of Fifty Year, snowy Mt Lemmon in background

I took the fun descent down through the Chutes, then the fast section of Fifty Year back to the trailhead at the end of the Golder Ranch Road. Good fun. Then I rolled down into and back up out of the deep and wide Cañada del Oro wash, then down to the highway. I turned north into a cool headwind. Ah yes I thought, good thing I turned around.

I started home around 3 and actually arrived at the POD at 5:15. I wasn’t bonking, but I was really tired. I warmed up some leftovers. I sat down at the table and using a spatula to load my plate I immediately dropped a warm hamburger onto my lap. It was as if I was drunk.

Pretty danged good day, in spite of the stain on my pantleg.

No comments: