Sedona Big Friggin Loop report
The day before
With much anticipation the day before was here. I kinda feel like a kid at christmas. I spend the morning getting the bike ready, washing my clothes, and putting all my food together. Amy finally sends a text at about 10am that she wants to go, cool. I call and bug Tony again see if my new back tire and frame bag have arrived yet. My back tire is literally down to cord and i did not want to attack wet slickrock on that tire, but i would. Good news Tony said they expect it in later that day, cool. It all works out, as soon as amy gets home we were off to the shop to pick up the tire, bag and about 80 bucks worth of other stuff. Tony was nice enough to let me change the tire in the shop, and i promptly spilled stans all over the place. Nick gave me that look and asked why i was changing my tire the night before the race, i giggled because he had not seen the one that came off and i described my old tire to him. He laughed then got out the air compressor for me when he saw me struggling with the floor pump. We said goodbye to the gang at the shop got some gas and some arbys and we were off. we pulled into sedona around 9.30 or so. The manager of the hotel reminded me of andy dick in road trip. We were both tired and fell right asleep.
the morning of
I got up about 15 min before the alarm and was anxious to get the day started. I ran myself through the shower and picked out my layers for the day. the news said it would be in the high 20’s in the early hours. I got myself together, woke amy, adjusted my new frame bag one more time added endrolites to my drinks and we set off to find a hot breakfast. Turns out not much is open at 5.30am. We found a NY bagel store with a bright open sign, so we went in to find a neat little bagel shop. Fresh bagels are the best. We finished up and took off for the IGA parking lot where the event was to start from.
The parking lot
We pulled into the parking lot to find about 20 folks already there getting ready. From the street you could tell this was going to be a different scene of people. There was no shortage of folks pulling well sorted 6 thousand dollar rigs from $500 dollar cars that were also well sorted for hauling bikes and equipment. As soon as we pulled into a spot everyone was looking to see if i was perhaps an old friend. Once they figured out i was someone they had not met they would wave, say hi and went back to what they were doing. I got myself together and amy took the truck and went back to get some more shut eye. Even though i was a stranger to these folks it somehow felt like old home week. Everyone was eager to meet me and find out where i was from. Cursing around the lot checking out everyones rigs was a cool experience. This was a very different scene for sure. The bikes were high end utilitarian. Very well sorted and thought out parts for the amount of miles that these folks intended on doing. Most everybody's handelbars looked like a jet cockpit with maps, GPS, computers, Bags, bells, and cup holders. The biggest surprise to me is when 7 am came on and there was nobody thrashing to fix there bike. The leader Scott came and gave a small talk before the start. Basically, the river is high and dangerous, you are on your own, have fun!
Without any ceremony the group of 28 took off together to the trailhead. On the way i rode next to a guy from Colorado that travels all winter riding his bike all over, he had just come from Moab, i was jealous. Once we hit the trail the group started to sort itself into a pecking order as all rides and races do. I fell into the middle of the pack with much respect for the mileage ahead. There were a couple guys that took off like it was a 10 mile event, someone made the comment, “ do they know this is a 60 mile event” we al laughed about it and went on. Everyone was very friendly, this was not like a typical XC race. It was neat to meet new folks and hear there story’s. I rode for a while with a guy from New Mexico, after riding with a guy from Queen Creek. Most of the talk was about the excitement of the event and of events past. We would taunt each-other through technical sections, everyone had a great humor about the whole thing and you could tell that they were all extremely seasoned and experienced riders.
About 2 hours into the ride a pack of about 10 had formed as we came upon the first big river crossing that seemed to be on everybody's mind. We pulled up on a hill overlooking the cross just in time to see the lead group crossing. We all watched as one guy with his bike above his head ( a 6 thousand dollar bike ) and water up to his chest slipped on a rock and in he went. He latched onto his bike and drifted about 10 feet downstream and started looking for his cell phone he had just lost. The rest of us shook our heads and got the maps out to find a way around. Someone figured out that there was a bridge a few miles down. The group had picked up a couple more people during this episode. We all decided to ride the extra 3 miles to go over the bridge.
When we rejoined the trail on the other side of the river we somehow took off counter-clockwise on a section that was supposed to be clockwise. We would not figure this out for some time. The trail took us up a fun hike a bike trail with about 500 foot of climbing. Some rode but most walked. Near the top myself and a guy they called Walt took off just cause it was so friggin fun. some of the most technical climbing i had ever done. Before i knew it walt and the pack were gone and i decided to press on thinking they would all catch up some time.
I had ridden the next few miles by myself. I came back onto pavement for a segment to cross 89a and hop on a new trail. At the trailhead was a guy working on a power bar. I stopped to take in more gummy bears and chat. I forget his name but he is from chandler riding a new spot 1x9 29er. We decided to press on together. The next 10 miles or so were a blast, then we hit the creek.
The trail took us to a creek that was about 20 foot wide and 1-2 foot deep. we could see the trail on the other side. We were like, cool lets do it. We took or shoes and sox off and crossed, put shoes on and rode on. 300 foot later, another crossing. The same thing with the shoes, and the same thing with the river x12 more times. An adventure for sure. By the 6th crossing we were just laughing at ourselves. It took us about 1 hour to go about a mile, but we finally made it out onto some cool singletrack and were making time again.
A meeting with Scott
Myself and my new friend rode another 10-15 miles of the best of sedona. We decided to stop and eat some food, we were about 7 hours into the day. As we were stopped the leader of the group Scott came from the other direction on the trail and told us about the next crossing that was just ahead of us. Then he told us we were going the wrong way...... bummer. He said the next crossing was much worse than the first. He told us we would be wise to bail out soon and head back. We talked about it and figured he was right so we bailed out and headed back to oak creek about 12 miles away by road.
bike and bean
we had hammered the ride home. we turned into the bike and bean to find about 100 other folks drinking beer and eating pizza. it was like a night at harvs. turns out there was a group doing what they called a spring fling. The spring fling is a yearly 4 stop camping and riding experience where they camp and ride in 4 locations in 4 days. Sounds like fun to me. I gave amy a call to pick me up, said my goodbyes and i was gone.
All said and done it was a great experience! Everyone was friendly, and despite the river, it was a total blast. I was surprised that nobody spoke an ill word about the problems of the day, and how everyone embraced them as a challenge in witch to test themselves against. I think that 6 people finished the course, crossings and all in over 11 hours. My hat is off to them. Not quite the 7 hours of the previous year. Myself i got 50 miles in 8.5 hours. I will be back next year for sure!
For your entertainment, The Ramona gang at the amasa back trail in Moab, UT 2009