I was running late and frenetic when everyone gathered at the intersection of hwy 77 and the Willow Springs Road. I was able to roll with the group at 7:15 AM, but without any time to spare.
The first 8 miles or so were neutral, so the group was all together until we reached Oracle at around 8 AM.
The first singletrack was the piece of Arizona Trail that goes from the Tiger Mine Road to the beginning of the dreaded gasline section. It's rarely used, and often challenging to follow. But it's a sweet, technical bit of trail.
One of these riders is Rob Brinkeroff--he and I played leapfrog all day until he rode past me while I was removing a hedgehog cactus thorn from my foot near the base of Antelope Peak.
The gasline was tough, but it just did not feel as long as it did the time I rode this loop solo and the other direction two years ago. The gasline bit ends in bloodsucker wash, where we rode devilish beach sand for what seemed like quite a while. Probably only 15 minutes or so. Then there was a brief bit of doubletrack over from Bloodsucker to Putnam Wash, where we rode through this old abandoned ranch site:
Then it was a short trip upstream in Putnam Wash.
This is a view south across Putnam Wash, where the AZ Trail again becomes singletrack.
This was the beginning of a section of singletrack that was fiercely overgrown because of its remoteness. The white-spine acacia, cat's claw, palo verde and other various mean and spiny flora drew plenty o' blood on my shins. Oddly, my left leg got ripped really good, but the right was mostly OK. Go figger.
Antelope Peak, seeming close but still nearly an hour away.
Just before reaching the doubletrack at the northern foot of Antelope Peak, I lost the trail completely. Tire tracks were radiating away from the small wash where the trail disappeared. I was wandering through the cactus and brush, looking at my GPS and trying to figure out which direction to go when my foot bumped a hedgehog cactus. Of course, a spine went into the side of my foot. The end was barely protruding from the shoe, so I had to sit down and take off the shoe to yank it. It's always a nice relief to get those little guys out--you really notice it when they're shoved up into your flesh.
After that little ordeal I was just feeling a bit negative about tramping through the brush, so I eliminated the idea of climbing Antelope Peak to get the 75 minute preem and the photo op. I had been planning to go up there. Kind of wish I had done it now.
Instead I got out to the Freeman Road, facing a bit of a headwind as I headed west to the intersection with the Willow Springs Road. Lee Blackwell and another dude,
When we got the the venue, he wanted to go straight to the finish, but I was intent on doing the bonus lap. So I showed him to "His" and told him how to complete the course. Then I turned back west to ride the lap. I stopped by at June and Phil's camp to see if Phil knew how things were going for June. He had not heard from her, so I went on and promised to call when I finished.
The worst part of the bonus was "the Bitches". It's another bit of gasline, the least enjoyable part of the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo course. I started riding the course at about 4:10, and rolled off the course under the Willow Springs Arch at 4:59.
Back to the finish at 5:30 on the mark. Of the 11 men who finished, I was #11 (woo hoo!)
Official results are here: http://rockyroad5050.wordpress.com/aes-results/
Good day. Thanks Scott and Chad!