Tuesday, March 10, 2015

From Freezer to Frying Pan: AZT 50 Miler

Hit one of my favorite sections of the Arizona Trail (AZT) today, roughly from Mt Wrightson to where it crosses Rt 183. Isaac and I started out on pavement, heading south on Rt 183. Pavement gave way to dirt, jeep road initially, at the 17 mile mark. There was a fair amount of climbing to get over the pass at around 5200ft elevation. Isaac pulled my sorry butt all the way up there.

Not even a mile from the car, I was futzing with my GPS. It was not working. I was on the negligible shoulder of the road not looking forward. Without warning I crashed through a thorny bush (there are no other kinds in the desert) that was overhanging the shoulder. Just like that, I had bloody streamers running down my right leg. Glad I could provide entertainment for Isaac.

Garmin's are notoriously temperamental. I've had good luck with my 510 until now. Worked perfectly Sunday. Monday morning, FUBAR. The GPS function itself would work, meaning it could show me where on Earth I was, but none of the cycling/computer/data recording functions worked. First full day of a trip where GPS navigation is crucial. SOB! It's bad enough when you lose data for an epic ride, but it looked like I was screwed for the whole trip.

But that was only the beginning of the climbing. Once on the AZT, there are innumerable drops into washes with steep climbs back out. This took a huge toll on me, with so few cycling hours in my legs. I'm sure Isaac was loving it. There are a lot of sketchy switchbacks too, several of which I dared not attempt. Why are right-hand switchbacks so much more challenging to me than left-hand?

I extended the loop this year from all my previous rides on this section of the AZT by picking it up much further south. The added content is a keeper. Climb to a higher elevation, about 5800ft closer to the Mt Wrightson Wilderness, before a ruckus singletrack descent we both liked. (Strava track)

The prized part of this ride is the last 10 miles which steadily lose elevation on buff, rollercoaster singletrack.  Isaac said his cheeks were hurting from smiling so much. Yeah, it's that good.

After a couple hours surfing forums, I regained some functionality of my Garmin 510. Had to reformat, as in storage device FAT formatting. It still behaves bizarrely when Windows attempts to mount it, but I was able to capture a track and upload it to Strava. We shall see if it works for a 6-7hr ride planned for Tuesday.  Anyway, it is late, so I'll leave you with a few photos.

High point of the ride, looking towards, maybe into Mexico.

Isaac at high point with Mt Wrightson Wilderness in background.

Nothing but cooler temps and grasslands up here above 5200ft.

Many miles of steep, gnarly terrain.

Approaching switchback none of us can clean.

The ripping smooth last 10 miles.

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