Bachelor Bikepacking

First, a few program notes. This weekend, starting tomorrow is Camp Tucson. 3 days, 3 big rides. Come on out! <-- Details here Mike wrapped up the Southern Route to Nome in ~21.5 days. He says his work on the trail is now done. Hell of a run, Mike. I feel very lucky to have been able to spend some time on the trail with you.

If you haven’t read Eszter’s writeups from the Iditarod Trail, start here, and keep going. What a stellar ride. Again, I was very lucky to be a small part of it. Also, she did an interview with Danielle Musto on Mountain Bike Radio. The podcast archive is here. I especially like the part where she commits to racing to Nome (!), and talks about spending time in Tucson — including the AZT 300, this spring! So excite!

Senor Cafe is getting hitched later in March, and it was up to us to put together his bikepacking bachelor party. Going bikepacking for a bachelor party is pretty much the best idea I’ve ever heard. But it couldn’t just be a regular bikepacking trip… it was time to celebrate Chad’s last days of bachelorhood, so there had to be indulgences of every kind. And, of course, things done at his expense.

Originally the Gila area was the plan, but it was a hot weekend, and what’s one of the biggest indulgences for mountain bikers? A big shuttle run! We had SW Trekking take us up as high as we thought reasonable (~5000′ above Tucson!). That turned out to be Green Mountain, which only held a moderate amount of snow. Based on the lack of bike tracks, we were the first crew of the year to hit the trail.

We had several riders new to Lemmon and some new to bikepacking. Let’s see, Green Mountain is perhaps the hardest trail on the mountain. Even I was a little apprehensive about riding it, still scratching off my winter skin.

Green Mountain, in the snow, with bikepacking gear and new Lemmon riders. What could possibly go wrong?

Sometimes bad ideas are just so right. It was brilliant.

photo by Jeff Z

Nailed the scar, heart pounding in my skull and lungs on fire. Conditions were good. Winter skin getting weaker.

photo by Chad Brown

As we approached this rock Chad and I agreed it was best just to ride moves like this “in flow.” Stop and analyze and you may lose your nerve.

Right as we rolled up to it, Chad asked, “there’s no lip on it, right?” I replied, “no, no lip.” Then he went for it.

What he meant was, “does it roll out?” As you can see in the above shot, it’s not really a roller. He had a few precious moments, perched and rolling down the rock to realize rolling was not an option, hate the situation he was in, then be forced to make the move needed to save his bacon. He rode it with style, then…. “you LIIIIAAAAR!” “I asked if it rolled?!”

I swear I wasn’t trying to manipulate him into riding it, but, we’re both stoked it played out that way. Nice one, Chad.

The crew, breaking for lunch at the hoodoos.

If Green Mountain is one of the hardest on Lemmon, Bugs is one of the most fun.

Max and I picked out Chad’s tinkerbell outfit for him, complete with streamers for his handlebars. Little did we know it would give him super powers.

The above ledge is one of the legendary, once-in-a-lifetime type moves. It’s just that awkward, big and hard. He nailed it, to much celebration from us, and the rest of the crew waiting above at the top of the Molino saddle.

Tinkerbell power! Oh, wait. Nobody has yet nailed that section slash rock pile. Love trying, though.

Down the other side of Molino, Collin was killing it, first time and with borrowed bikepacking gear cobbled together in the parking lot before the shuttle. It reminded me that riding a little more fearlessly isn’t always such a bad thing.

Some new, wider lines have been burned in on Molino (and also Prison Camp). It’s fast out there. I was smiling like a fool, loving life.

photo by Jeff Z

Right until I went to pedal and only got “clunk” instead of forward motion. Oops.

I tried to monkey with it, but there wasn’t much I could do. So I just rolled with it.

Pony traffic jam! Heeeeyaw! Heeyah!

Bro support. I ran most of the climbs and flat, but got some pushes after the ranch, too. Luckily the dogs were not out to chase us.

Camp was at Chimney Rock, a mini slickrock playground. Only as I rolled up did I realize the true bummer of killing my wheel — no play time at Chimney! Brian was kind enough to lend me his bike so I could pedal around and ride a few lines.

Go tinkerbell! Wait, no outfit?!

J-bake was on fire out there, riding everything anyone could point him to. I hopped on his bike, and, for the first time in a long while, had bike envy.

We rode until the sun set, savoring the last rays of a perfectly warm evening. What a place.

photo by Jeff Z

Carne asada! The crew really came together to plan out some really tasty food, and get it up to Chimney Rock for our not only shuttled but now supported, bikepacking trip!

The night proceeded in typical boys camping fashion… crude and hilarious humor. At one point we were discussing which decade of life is “the best.” I suggested it was the 30’s, but others maintained it was the 40’s, a bit to my surprise. It’s always a good sign when your answer is the decade that you’re currently in, right? But after asking why 40’s were better, and getting answers about free time, kids grown up, less responsibility, more time and ability to ride, we finally drilled down to it. “So what you guys are saying is that the best decade is the one with the most riding, most time spent outdoors?” “Yep, yep.” Happiness = riding. Or something like that.

Only at camp did Chad discover that Max had snaked his sleeping pad from his pack before we started riding. Lucky for him I carried the Mike Curiak style car sunshade, special for him. We love you Chad!

I did not join the crew for the continuation of bachelor packing — rolling the AZT then descending Milagrosa back to town. Aaron took my place and I packed up with Lee and kept him company on the bumpy drive back down Redington Road.

Two days later my freewheel was fixed and it was time for Techy Tacos!

We went in search of spring flowers and new techy lines. Both were found.

Anthony crushed it out there, on his rigid singlespeed with fat bike front tire. A rare singlespeed appearance on the taco ride.

Techy moves,

colorful flowers,

gorgeous views, and good friends. What more do you need?

photo by Rob B

I can’t say my taco tech skills were in mid-season form, as I struggled in the beginning. But I did manage to get a couple good moves in.

This is a new one to the repertoire. It’s yet to really be rolled clean and completely in control, but we all ‘got’ it.

Stuffing ourselves with tacos, then driving back down Oracle Road with music blasting, the only thing louder was the buzzing in my head. Hello, endorphins! This ride is such a beautiful beatdown. Thanks, Chad.

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