Score 1-2 on Mountain Bike events! or… Old guy who gets FAT in Summer!

Old Guys CartoonThis weekend was the “Dirty Mogollon Mormon Madness 205k Permanent”, a ~130 mile mountain bike adventure that started in Clint’s Well, AZ (near Happy Jack) and took fire roads and OHV roads down to the Mogollon Rim before heading back up to AZ87 and crossing over to head up to Mormon Lake.  I’ve never done this route before, but did read Paul Layton’s ride report.  Sounded like a hard ride.  But hey, who can pass up riding in cool weather through the woods!?!  Apparently quite a few people.  There were only three of us at the start.  Paul Layton, Mike Sturgill and myself.

Old guys who get FAT in winter Jersey

Should say "Summer!"

I have to admit Summer has not been good to me from a training perspective.  There’s a cycling team called “Old Guys who get Fat in Winter.”  I don’t have too much trouble staying in some kind of shape through Winter, but summer in Phoenix can be tough.  Too much travel or weekends with non-traning plans and not enough focus on maintaining my base mileage.  And my “big” goals for this year actually aren’t cycling related (weird).  I’m planning a Rim to Rim Grand Canyon trip with my Uncle Robert and I have a series of 30k trail runs planned so when I have made time to exercise, it’s typically been going out for a trail run.  Which means I really wasn’t very well prepared for a ride that is much harder than I thought it would be.

But I kind of knew that going into it so I examined my topo maps to find the places where you could bail out and cut the ride short.  I didn’t realize I’d be doing that MUCH sooner than expected!  I was up at 4:20 am for the drive up to Clint’s Well. Getting up that early is always a kind of shock to the body and I wasn’t able to ummm… go.  Until I got to Payson, then I really had to go, so I stopped at McDonald’s and was surprised by the wait for the men’s restroom.  Apparently lots of guys have to go when they get to Payson!  That put me a bit behind on my travel time, but I was still able to get to the start at about 5 minutes to 7am when the ride was planned to start.

Mike and Paul were pretty close to ready when I pulled up, so I quickly changed my shoes and got myself together and we rolled out a few minutes after 7am.  Not bad.  Paul led us up AZ87 to FR141.  Man FR141 is a scenic road, but it’s mostly a pretty tedious climb.  Mike Sturgill said there weren’t any really hard climbs on the route, but he had just come back from a Colorado high country 1200k (750 mile) event.  His idea of hard climbs and my idea of hard climbs don’t exactly mesh at the moment, especially since we were going up a 5-6% grade at that time!  He said there was about 9,000 feet of climbing over the course.  Ok, that’s not so bad…

Near Clear Creek

Near Clear Creek

The problem is that it’s the kind of climbing that has never suited me well.  Short, steep climbs with moderate descents.  Or long, slow 2% climbs that sap your motivation.  Most of 141 was a gradual climb.  There were a couple times where it leveled out or even dropped, but for the most part it was up.  Not only was it generally up, but there were several shorter 8-12% climbs! Mike and Paul would drop me on the climbs then I’d pull myself back on the descents.  But those climbs were some harder efforts.  I noticed that my heart rate wasn’t dropping on the descents like it should be, not a good sign.

Mike stopped to wait and take photos a couple times along the way, then he would ride away from me.  Right after turning onto FR300, there was a pretty long climb.  All in all, I’m a pretty good ascender (that word is for Sue!), but I could tell I was getting tired already.  I mentioned to Mike that I wasn’t in the best shape and I probably wouldn’t be doing the full 130 miles, so they should just continue without me. We dropped down to General Crook’s cabin, which was the first check point at about mile 18, and I told Paul the same thing.

Wow, only 18 miles into a 130 mile ride and I was already faltering!  But I didn’t dawdle (again, for Sue), just answered the check point question and started the climb back out.  I started to get a few twinges in my legs that generally indicate a cramp is coming on, so I backed off and watched Mike and Paul ride away. Mike was waiting again taking pictures at the turn for the long descent down FR95 to Clear Creek.  When I passed, Mike rode away from me again, but I was able to catch them again once along the descent somewhere. At about mile 26, there are three short steep climbs that just sapped the rest of whatever strength I had in my legs.  On the last of those three climbs my right quad started to seize up in a cramp, so I had to stop and recover a bit.  I ate some food, took some electrolytes, drank, rested.  And felt a bit better and made it to the top of that climb and started the LONG descent.  It was steep and fast!  I liked it!  I tend to back pedal a quarter turn to put my feet horizontal at times.  That’s just a super bad habit!  You should always forward pedal.  When you back pedal on a bouncy descent, your chain may bounce right off the big ring and get jamed up in the derailluer.  Trust me, I know this from personal experience on this descent!  I had to stop and work on unjaming that chain without damaging anything.  It took a few minutes, but I finally got it and finished the descent.  Of course, by then Mike and Paul were long gone.



I didn’t stop at the bottom, just started that next climb. A long 2 mile, 6-8% climb.  And me with no leg strength left!  Yes, I stopped.  Multiple times.  Any time I tried to get out of the saddle, my right quad would complain.  I looked at the time and realized there was no way I’d meet the cut off time for the Blue Ridge Ranger Station checkpoint.  So I texted Mike Sturgill to let him know I was calling it a ride.

Once I got to the top of that climb it didn’t take too long to get back down to 87 and the ranger station.  But I pulled in at 11:40 am, 40 minutes past the checkpoint cut off time.  Ouch. I called Annette to tell her I was done, then sat at a table and re-hydrated.  My legs were pretty much toast at this point, so I decided to take 87 back over to Clints Well.  Only 9 miles back!  Except for that nasty little 2 mile 6-8% climb that started at mile 42.  THAT one hurt.  Yes, my right quad finally decided it had enough and let me know in a painful way.  So I’d ride in my granny gear for a bit, then sit and rest my leg for a bit.  Super slow climb to the top.

Luckily the last few miles were flat or down, so once I was over that it was a relatively easy ride to the finish. All in all a good day out on the Mountain Bike (when isn’t a ride a good ride??).  I’ll need to get a LOT more time on my Mountain Bike before the Tour of the White Mountains 60 mile event in October.  But this ride was a good indicator for me of how much form I’ve lost over the summer, so now I know what I need to do to be ready for my bigger events in the Fall.  To be ready, I’ll need to actually make training a priority and block out some time.  Training is no longer optional!

Who wants to go for a ride??   🙂

Posted my ride data to Garmin Connect.  Some key stats:

Dirty Mogollon Mormon Madness Stats

Stats from Garmin Connect


    Comments are closed.