Friday, June 26, 2015

Loop de Leupp 300km Brevet

Ride Report
June 2015

Tom Baker and RBA John Ingold at the start
Eight riders lined up for the Loop de Leupp 300km Brevet. This is the third brevet of the 2015 Northern Arizona SR series.  7 of the usual suspects (Tom Baker, Mike Sturgill, Roger Peskett, Bob Larson, Michael Mooney, Carlton van Leuven, Steve Atkins) and newcomer Andrew Frehs of Sedona lined up in the cool early morning light at the Flagstaff Mall.
Usual Suspects leaving Flagstaff
The Usual Suspects rolled out together for a series of twists and turns to the first informational control in the Doney Park area. John had driven ahead and waived us through the first control and we made our way back to Townsend-Winona and eventually Leupp Road. With a slight tailwind, and gentle downgrade, the group arrived at the first control a few minutes before it opened. Establishing a pattern of support we would appreciate all day, John was there in his brevet wagon to check us in and provide a wide array of supplies.
Leupp Control Outbound
With the extra time, we were able to strip off a layer or two, apply sunscreen, and generally just hang around until the control officially opened. Groupo Suspecto exited the control just as it officially opened!
Wildflowers on the road to Dilkon
7 leaving Leupp
On the road to Dilkon, we were greeted with wild flowers and wild horses as we continued to enjoy a tailwind heading east to Dilkon. The route gets a little choppy with some rollers. Tom decided to drop off along the way and ride at a more sensible pace. And then there were six.
Dilkon Control
With a little route confusion outside Dilkon (Turn left when you see the Bashas!); we found John in the shade of one of the few trees in the area at the Dilkon Giant C-Store. Again, we arrived before the control opened and were able to take a leisurely break, enjoy the ample supplies, and roll out just as the control officially opened!
6 leaving Dilkon
Rolling out of Dilkon we entered a beautiful valley with interesting clouds, green grass, wildflowers, and hoodoo formations. This was another great route with interesting scenery around every turn!
Hoodoos outside Dilkon
We rejoined the traffic when we turned onto AZ 87 for the run to Winslow. Even with the building headwind, the downgrade helped us maintain our fast pace. Winslow was an open control and we mentioned to John that we wanted to stop at the 'Standn' on the Corner Monument' in downtown Winslow. Pow! As we rolled in, John pulled up and viola, an official control!
Oh my Lord, its a flatbed Ford! Where's the girl?
Roger and Bob in Winslow
We hit Control #5 in Winslow before it opened but decided to take a longer break and left about 30 minutes later. The route winds through Winslow and joins the I-40 Interstate for 6 miles before heading north and back to Leupp for a second time.

The route tilts up and with a building head and cross wind, Carl was the first to drop off the group. Just as we turned off the Interstate, I decided to let the group go, and the fast movers were soon out of sight. I rolled into Leupp while the group was still there. They rolled out and I decided to take a longer break and enjoy some shade.

Carl rolled in a few minutes later with building case of hot foot. John applied some first aid materials and we headed out for the final run to Flagstaff.
Leupp #2 John Ingold with the med kit
It is a long run to Flagstaff, so John established a water control 2/3rds of the way up the hill, so we had that goin' for us, which was nice!

There were several thunderstorms in the area, and while none unleashed rain on us directly, they blocked the direct sun and provided an evaporative cooling effect that made climbing into the wind much more tolerable.
Another 300 in the books!
Carl dropped off and I finished solo arriving in Flagstaff exactly 12 hours after the start. Another great brevet, with outstanding support, thanks John!

Steve Atkins

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Grand Canyon 600km Brevet

Ride Report
May 30-31, 2015

About a dozen riders lined up just before dawn in the public parking lot in downtown Williams Arizona for the 2015 version of the Grand Canyon 600km brevet. After such a great ride on the Mingus Mountain 200, how could any brevet rider resist.
Tom and Carl giving the rider brief
Rolling out of Williams, a group of five formed at the front and we were soon moving fast toward the first control in Valle AZ. Two notable events; just outside of Williams a group of three large Elk decided to cross the road at high speed. They overtook us from the left and the trailing beast just cleared our line as we passed through! Soon after that I fumbled my bottle and dropped it, luckily no one hit it and the group slowed while I dropped back to retrieve it.

Regrouped, I took a long penalty pull for my misdeed and soon the control in Valle AZ came into view. We arrived 10 minutes before the control opened, so we had time to reload and visit with Tom Baker and Carlton Van Leuven. Tom and Carl, would provide fantastic control support for the bulk of the ride. We rolled out together,

AZ-64 to the Grand Canyon
Valle marks the end of the long descent from Flagstaff and the start of the gentle climb to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The group was moving a little too fast for my taste so I let them go and settled into my own pace.
Flight line at the GC Airport
The weather was perfect! The Grand Canyon airport is located in Tusayan AZ, just a few miles from the park entrance. The roads are in great condition and the town thrives from the tourist traffic heading into the park. A number of the tour helicopters were cycling up on the chopper flight line for a day of sight seeing.
Park Entrance
Yes, there is a park fee for cyclists ($12). It was rush hour, and it took 15 minutes to get through the park entrance and pay the fee! Next stop was the Market Plaza Store at the Grand Canyon Village. I rolled in just as the leaders rolled out and found Tom Baker in his kit at the tables outside the store. Tom planned to get some riding in while he waited for the riders to come through the control.
At the South Rim
The next 20 miles follows the south rim toward the east park entrance at Desert View. There are plenty of pull outs and scenic overlooks to take in the stunning vistas of the Grand Canyon! This 23 mile section of forest rollers, canyon views, light traffic went by very quickly as the Desert View Visitor Center and the next control came into view.

This was not a staffed control, so proof of passage was required. Wei Sun of San Diego was enjoying a sandwich at the shaded tables outside the store. Another refugee from the fast movers! After grabbing water, a Sobe, and some hard boiled eggs for a light lunch we rolled out together.
Carlton and Wei Rolling toward Cameron AZ
It is a 32 mile descent to the town of Cameron on the Navajo reservation. Just outside the East Park Entrance we encountered Carlton getting in some miles while he was providing support. He made a U-turn and joined us for the run to Cameron. Just outside of town Carl flatted and we continued on to the control in Cameron.

The next section is 47 miles with minimal services to the control in Doney Park just outside of Flagstaff. Carl established a water stop about 2/3's of the way up the hill to Flagstaff. On past rides, this section was hot with heavy cross/head winds. On this day, the temperatures were moderate and winds were light. We were still happy to see Carl for a mid climb water stop!
Tom Baker at the Flagstaff Control
Wei and I rolled into the control at Flagstaff just a few minutes after the leaders had left. Tom commented that they took a long break. It was no wonder, Tom had camp chairs set up with lots of food supplies and great company. We also took a long break!
On the road to Leupp
The route turns east, down toward Leupp and back onto the Najavo Reservation.
Whole lotta nuthin!
The Ponderosa Pine forest gives way to cedar trees, then grass land, and finally high desert scrub. In any case there is not much between Flagstaff and Leupp! The roads are in great shape and nearly all the motorists were very courteous giving way as we headed toward Leupp.

We arrived at the Pic'N'Run C store, the next control, now 195 miles into the ride. We purchased supplies and were relaxing in the shade when Carlton rolled in with the support wagon. He told us that Micheal Mooney and Bob Larson had missed the turn in Flagstaff and now were about an hour behind us. We rolled out toward Winslow and Carl headed back to check on the other riders.
Sunset on the Navajo Reservation
The route turned south and we made our way to I-40 for a 6 mile run on the interstate to the overnight control in Winslow. The road surface was good with a wide shoulder, albeit unnerving as 18 Wheelers flew by at great rates of speed. The last two miles were torture as the new surface stopped and was replaced with broken pavement and debris everywhere!

We rolled into the Motel 6 about 8 pm. The drop bags had not yet arrived, so I checked into my room, showered, and set the bike up for Day 2. I headed back to the control room, ate some dinner, washed down with a Blue Moon, and told Tom and Carl that I planned to leave the control at 2 am. I grabbed my drop bag and returned to my room to complete the bike reload, slip into the compression gear, and get some sleep. I drifted off about 9:30.

In a blink, the alarm went off at 1:40. Roll out of bed, down a Frappachino, dress, drop off the drop bag and I was ready to go in 15 minutes after the alarm went off. Tom was up and said that Wei had already left, but Bob Larson and Michael Mooney were planning to leave at 0200 also. Fantastic, having some company in the wee hours is always welcome. Not much was happening in Historic Downtown Winslow, but we did top at the Standin' on the Corner monument as we rolled out together!
Michael standin' on a corner in Winslow AZ
The next segment is a 54 mile rolling climb on AZ-87 back into pine forests on the Mogollon Rim. It might have been scenic, but at 0230 and no moon, all we could see was each other and a few meters of road in front of us. We knew it was rolling because Wei's tail light would appear and disappear, each time reappearing closer. We caught him just before finding Carl, asleep in his van, at the impromptu water stop. With our early start, Carl decided to establish a support control half-way to Clint's Well/Happy Jack.
Sunrise on the climb to Happy Jack
The sun cleared the horizon as we left Carl's water stop. The grade decreased and soon we were at speed; shaking from the cold on the short descents, and sweating on the climbs!
Carl at the ready in Happy Jack
The C-Store at Clint's well was not open, so the Control was established at the Happy Jack RV park. Carl and Tom were already there is a spread of drinks and PB&J sandwiches for breakfast. Wei decided to take a longer break so Michael, Bob formed a group of 3 and headed toward Flagstaff.
San Francisco Peaks
We stopped at the scenic overlook at Mormon Lake to peel off layers and slather on the sunblock. The next section of the route is a spectacular run on great pavement, with mountain vistas, and good company.
Heading toward Lake Mary with Bob and Michael
The Flagstaff control was an open control, meaning we could stop at any store as we entered town. We stopped at the Chevron convenience store for the last reload for the run to the finish in Williams.
Gravel Grinding?
The next section included two 3-5 mile sections on gravel forest service roads. It was a nice addition to the route and very fun to mix it up on a totally different road surface.
The first half of each section was a climb followed by a similar descent. The first, well packed and fast, the second was recently graded and covered with loose rocks. I was convinced we would pinch flat somewhere along the way, but we all made it through.
At the finish in Williams
We rolled into Williams and were only 300 meters from the finish, but we still had 6 miles to go. Unfortunately, the RUSA folks insisted on an additional loop to an informational control to cover the requisite mileage to meet the minimum distance requirement. Once we hit the control, it was downhill with the wind to the finish on historic Route 66 in downtown Williams.

John Ingold was waiting for us and cheered us in as we rolled in as a group of 3; 32 hours and 30 minutes after our start. Carlton had dropped off a cooler with left over cold beer and sodas from the overnight control, so we all toasted our success. Wei Sun rolled in a few minutes later and joined the party!

This was another great route with outstanding support. Thanks to John, Tom, and Carl for providing ever-present support and encouragement; and Wei, Michael, and Bob for the great companionship and teamwork along the way.

Steve Atkins

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