Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Testing, testing

The Sunday before last, it was decided we should head out to Mt. Lemmond and do some trail maintenance on the newly dubbed "Lemonhead Super Loop." Once completed, this loop would turn out to be a 60-70 mile ride, beginning with a road climb up Mt. Lemmond, Tucson's 30 mile, 9,300 ft. peak. It would then descend off the back side of the mountain on some of the sweetest singletrack in the Tucson area. Next the trail would climb and descend numerous times through Oro Valley before finishing up on Oracle road, requiring a mostly flat 15-20 mile spin back into Tucson. It would make for quite a day in the saddle, and one that would be made much less painful with some serious catclaw removal. Camping plans commenced, gear was packed, and the crew was rounded up. The plan was to hit the Red Ridge Trail near the top of Mt. Lemmond, and hike 4 miles in to a sweet camping spot, descending approximately 3,200 ft. in the process. The four.two of us (myself, Cy, Bike Polo Dave, DJ, and the two dawgs) planned to leave Tucson at about 1:00 on Friday to get up there with plenty of daylight to spare. I had gotten up early to get my "training ride" in, and made it back in time to pack up the Ergon BC3 with my gear and get ready to roll. I and the doggies were only in for one night, as I had to work the following morning, but we figured it would be great for us all to get even one night out under the stars. Plus a hike in and out would be a good change of pace from the riding I've been doing. The BC3 packed up like a champ- I was able to fit everything I needed and more by strapping my sleeping bag to the outside like so:

I think if I had used a more streamlined compression sack, I could have fit the-bag-in-the-bag but for this short trip, the strapped on approach was fine. I love the waist belt design Ergon is using with this and the "BD" collection. It makes me feel all light and silly when I'm epicing and running around the desert/woods/wherever I happen to be at the time. I had a little issue with belt rub on my sensitive, un-calloused hip/upper bum area, but the fine folks at Ergon sent me a few *tips* to help with my fit issue...I will play around with it this week and see if I can get it dialed in for the next adventures. Otherwise, the pack was great. The BC3 and BD2 have become my MO as of late...light, versatile, and protective of my back and bum when I forget I'm surrounded by hostile vegetation and do dumb fall down and roll over in the shrubbery.

With bags packed and coffee in hand, we were off. I was mildly surprised by what some of our crew deemed 'important' to take with us on a trail-work-camping-trip (but should I really have been?? no). Among the items were 4 mexican tall candles, 6 poblano peppers for roasting (great idea Cy!), and perhaps more brown party liquor than I would imagine necessary for trail work. I guess I need to get more imaginative, though, because the bois cleared out all but ~1/2 mile of the very end of the trail in the 2 full days they spent drinking, I mean working down there. From my end of things, the hikes in and out were a beautiful change of pace. We dropped the four miles in about an hour and fourty five (with a stop or two :) and, surprisingly, when I hiked back out at 6:00 am, I rounded the top of the mountain at an hour and a half. Hmmm, had I run up the trail?? I didn't think I pushed it that hard, but my legs belied my story. Two hours later, while beginning my rounds at work, they started talking.....and they said 'owwww'!! I was surprised by how sore and tight my legs felt from the "minimal" effort I had put forth over the past 24 hours. In fact, I'm pretty sure I felt more sore from this hike in/hike out+ training ride than from the entire 24 hour solo race I completed a couple-few weeks ago. After work, I tried to get on my bike to do my Saturday training ride, and I could barely move. How silly, I "4-5" hour planned ride quickly became a 2 hour spin on the river path. Every slight uphill made me cringe and laugh at myself for cringing. If you've ever been on the Tucson river path, you know that the elevation change never exceeds 8-9 vertical feet at one time. Ha!!!

You can therefore guess that Sunday's ride didn't turn out much better. It wasn't quite as bad as Saturday, but it was work to keep myself from turning around and heading home most of the time out.

Fast forward a week.....It dawned bright with the prospect of completing most, if not all of the still-alleged "Lemonhead Super Loop." My Boone housemate "Scott" had caught a last minute flight in to Tucson for his Spring Break 09, whoo-whoo. I kindly requested that we shorten the Super Loop in an effort to keep my day under 14 hours and leave me with enough energy to be able to have a semi-normal conversation. The crew from Genuine Innovations acquiesced,

and we agreed to get a ride (eh-emm, shuttle) to the top of Lemmond, cutting out approximately 3-4 hours of the ride.
The descent off the back of the mountain was amazingly fast and sweet....steep and loose with switchbacks and enough features to keep me maneuvering and talking to god pretty frequently. I got to know a new desert creature, known as the "century plant," NOT to be confused with its' milder cousin "aloe." Aloe makes you feel good when you get burned or hurt. Century, when you come into close contact, has the opposite effect of making you hurt real bad. I was surprised by how quickly these piercing needles penetrate deep into the flesh and muscle of my leg....and by how sharp the pain was. It looks like I am getting to know the other desert cacti now that my fascination with cholla has minimally abated.....

more later...

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