Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dirty Mogollon Flats, Heat, and Pain.

Roger and I riding along while the morning is still pleasant
 So,  for some crazy reason, I thought I would try the Dirty Mogollon Mormon Madness route again, but this time on my commuter bike with Cyclocross tires on it.    This route is my attempt at a mountain bike 200k  through the rim country of Northern Arizona.  At this point I think this ride is doable on 35c tires and no suspension,  but I don't think it is as enjoyable an experience without some suspension.   It may just be the fact we were riding in extreme heat (at least for the forest which rarely gets over 90 but it was over 95 most of the day) that I developed the saddle sores I did or perhaps it was the fact I forgot to shower before I left in the morning, but I am growing suspicious that suspension on rough roads may help ease saddle discomfort.

Roger at Jones Crossing

Roger hadn't done much gravel riding he told me shortly into the ride.   He would get a lot of that in the next 30-40 miles.   The dry conditions made for a dusty ride on loose surface.   I think I prefer a surface that has been rained on within a week or so at this point,  it's much more stable.

Typically Roger is a much faster rider than I am but the gravel slowed him down a lot.  We would get into a pattern of me pulling ahead on the descents and him catching up on the climbs. 

Roger climbing up onto the rim
I think the cyclocross bikes are faster than the mountain bikes marginally,  but they sure do jump around a lot more when the road gets loose or rough.  The mountain bikes are a much more comfortable ride which over the long term can amount to success or failure.

On the rim road with um, friends?
There were a few times when it seemed like herds of people would pass us  the closer we got to the more popular parts of the rim country and then there would be really long periods of nobody at all on the road.  Cough Cough Sputter.

View from the Rim Road

 We had to walk portions of the 1/2 mile road to the General Springs Cabin due to deep sand and the fact it has gotten really rough in recent years.  I got a flat between there and Clear Creek,  it was a defective tube.   Clear Creek was as pretty as ever, a true oasis in the bottom of a pretty canyon.  The climb out was hot and grueling.  The cold water at the Blue Ridge Ranger station was very refreshing and I made a point to soak my jersey before I left to keep my body temperature down and conserve water.

Roger near General Springs Cabin
I got my second flat on the dirt section following the ranger station.  This time a thorn was the culprit and Roger would catch up to me while I was changing it.   When I caught him again he notified me he was abandoning since he determined he was unable to keep up a qualifying speed on the roads under current conditions.  I bid him adieu and headed off to try and keep enough speed so that I would be able to make the cutoff,  I would cut it close.   In retrospect I probably should have put on sunscreen,  or maybe listened to the pain that was growing in my posterior,  but I am stubborn that way.

Clear Creek
Upon arriving at the Happy Jack Ranger station I saw I had a chance of making the cutoff.   I doused my jersey again,  drank as much water as I could stomache, and topped off all my bottles.   I had a brief episode of questioning down the road as I almost turned on the wrong road thinking it was Stoneman lake road but I ended up going a bit further and found the right one.   I made good time down Stoneman lake road and took some nice pictures of the homesteads and the lake.

Homesteads near Stoneman Lake
After the lake I entered the tough section of the ride and admit that without suspension there is a lot more hike a bike through here.   It slowed me but I think had I not had my further flats I probably would have made the time cutoff.   This section was scorching hot.   So much so that I stopped at a cattle tank that was fairly clean as far as cow tanks go and splashed water over myself almost falling in twice and accidentally stepping into the ankle deep mud once.

Old tree at Stoneman Lake Overlook
After the tank I pinch flatted on a sharp rock while descending and the patch I put on to cover the 2 holes did not hold leading to my second flat.    After repairing the second flat I was out of tubes and glue and my butt felt like I had sat on a flaming hill of fire ants for an hour.   I determined that since I didn't have anymore materials to fix flats it was not prudent to continue since getting stranded in the back country for days on end was not an option.   The posterior heartily agreed and so I rerouted myself to take the most direct route I could back to the Happy Jack Ranger station to get enough water to get back to the car.

The long road of abandonment, and a very appreciated sun blocking thundercloud
The posterior, did not stop complaining with the minds resolution to turn back though.  I could barely stand to sit and the pain was excruciating.   After much pain I managed to get back out on to Lake Mary road again and heading back to Happy Jack.   After a lot of walking to easy my discomfort I eventually got to Happy Jack and downed some ibuprofen and filled up on water.

Dusty, not rusty.
There's not much to write about the last 15 miles.  They were long and painful.  The car was a very welcome site.   I ended up with 6350 feet of climbing and 102 miles done in a little over 11 hours.  75 of those miles was on dirt and rocks.  Some of it extremely rough.

Someone needs a bath.

Not a tan.  Completely washed off in the shower.

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