Sunday, February 11, 2018

Tick Tock

Week 5. 


That makes it Week 6 tomorrow!

That makes it almost half way through the training for the Arizona Trail Race.......

Normally I would be sweating bullets about how much I still have to do. But this time around I am (somewhat) calmly working my way through a long list of things to organise/buy/beg/borrow or steal. 

What did Week 5 look like? Well, from a training point of view it consisted of some reasonable demanding rides, some gym work and a little relaxation.

It didn't go exactly to plan as life always gets in the way but I am pretty happy with how little red there is in that list. With the "Optional Recovery Ride" on Friday, I took the option of resting as I am an old fart and need more recovery time than someone half my age. The red on Sunday wasn't too bad as I still got a few hours on the bike, just not the 6 hours requested.

Speaking of time on the bike, I finally loaded the bike up with most of the gear I will be taking with me. I have had a Revelate Sweet Roll in the cupboard since late 2015 and it finally made an appearance. I must say, it is a much sturdier fit on the handlebars than the Revelate Harness that I have used previously. To be fair to the Harness, they have slightly different applications but I was impressed, none the less.

So, while I couldn't do my planned overnight trip I was able to get out for 6 hours on Saturday with an almost fully loaded bike. I had been slightly dreading hitting the singletrack with a ponderous bikepacking rig as my previous experiences on singletrack with my Tour Divide bike, the Muru BNT, were anything but pleasant.

I needn't have worried though! While the Cannondale "Beast Of The East" wouldn't rate on anyone's radar for a bikepacking rig, I am very pleased to say that it handled exceptionally well on the singletrack! Whew!! This is extremely important as the AZTR is billed as the World's Longest Singletrack Race. To have a pig of a bike just wouldn't do.

In part, I think the bike still handled well because I am trying to keep the weight right down. I will do this by taking the bare minimum equipment that I think I can get away with.

Here is a run down on what I loaded onto it (watch for a full gear list just prior to the race).
The seat bag
My Kathmandu down sleeping bag, silk bag liner and Sol Escape bivy.

The frame bag
Top Compartment - 3 litre(100 oz) water bladder(full), shock pump (as this was a setup ride-might not take this to the US)
Bottom Compartment - various tools, tubes and spares ala my Tour Divide spares kit.

The Gas Tank
an Anker 13 000 m/Ah cache battery, Lezyne Superdrive light and several energy bars. (I will swap this bag for my larger Boulder Bikepacking bag once my dyno hub front wheel is built up)

One contained a drink bottle, the other my old GoPro 2 on a small Gorilla Pod .

North Face down jacket, merino undershirt and long-johns, Mountainsmith Strapettes, Louis Garneau lightweight rain jacket.

2 litre(66oz) bladder, Sawyer water filter, pump, tube, CO2 cannisters, Leatherman and some cash.

I will be deliberately keeping the handlebar bag light so as to aid in the handling of the bike in singletrack. I am hoping this will lower my upper body fatigue levels during the race, as it will be easier to lift the front over trail obstacles and make the bike easier to steer in general. 

The bike felt so good early on that I tackled one of the more technical trails here in Daisy Hill, Nirvana, straight up! While I did miss not being able to use the dropper post due to the seat bag and had to readjust my "style", the rig felt good!
As I said above, I was very pleasantly surprised at how well the bike handles in the single track. So much so that I feel that I was near my normal unladen pace by the end of the ride(on downhill sections of course!)

I looped around the trails in our area. With 6 hours to rack up there was no point avoiding the tough stuff so I added the ever unpopular Eastern Escarpment into my ride. The cunning plan here was to get some Hike A Bike (HAB) time in my legs and with it's steep grades, the Eastern Escarpment is the place to go.

I did notice some tightness in my calves as I pushed up the hill so I really need to incorporate much more pushing and hiking uphill....soon.

I mentioned the GoPro earlier. While I haven't really used the thing in a few years (like most owners I would hazard a guess?) I took it along today to test how much of a time suck it might be. You see, when I did the Tour Divide I wanted to have a red hot crack at a personal best time as I figured I wasn't going back to try again. This meant that while I took about 14 000 photos, I missed the opportunity to get some good video of the experience. While I am in two minds about how I will ride the AZTR - race it all out or just fast tour it - I am thinking I wouldn't mind getting some quality video and action photos either way, not just a whole bunch of selfies. This of course will involve carrying a GoPro and all the paraphernalia that goes with it, charging batteries and setting it up/picking it up. Once in a sleep deprived, fatigued state this little "extra" chore can become a real pain in the arse so I thought I would do a little testing on how fast I can set up and recover the camera.

It actually isn't too much of a hassle in the slower terrain but I imagine it will be hard to stop for a shot if I am hauling arse (if that ever really happens on the AZT). I will practice some more and if all goes well, a newer model GoPro might be on the shopping list.

By mid afternoon it was time for a drinks break. I get a craving for chocolate or coffee milk when I am hot and tired. I remember chugging several choccy milks in Silver City on the second last day of the TD. I am not sure this is the best use of my stomach volume from a maximum energy intake perspective but damn, they taste good!

Entering Bayview Conservation park I met up with a mate, Jon and his son Gus who were out for a pedal. 


I followed them around and trying to stick to my training schedule, didn't let them rest much at each trailhead......I might not be welcome back in future as a result!

Our only stop!

We rode a good portion of the trails and were pleasantly surprised to see some old favourites had been given some love by Brad's trailcare group.

iO Trail

The best was to come last, with a whole new 3.3km(2mi) long singletrack called Whispering Woods just opened, opposite the exit of IO trail. This was not only fun but functional, as it provided a missing loop that got us close to our regular bail out point from Bayview. Nice work Redlands City Council!

It began to rain lightly as I said goodbye to Jon and Gus. This was a good thing as it had been in the low 30's all day and the cool down, while it didn't last long, was appreciated. Arriving at home I had completed 70km(44mi) with 1100m(3600ft) climbing.
Importantly, I didn't feel too flogged!
Dirty, yes. Flogged, no!

I managed to back this up with 2 hours of HAB training the next day and the legs felt pretty good. I would say the physical training is progressing as well as can be expected. I just need to concentrate on my weakness, the logistical and route planning. This is also being chipped away at with help from the excellent Arizona Trail Association website, various blogs and good 'ol Google maps.

So, as Week 6 rolls around I find myself with a LOT of preparation still to go but it feels well in hand. The dyno hub is being laced into the front wheel by Troy as I type (I hope!) and I have a fork to hold that wheel, once it is built. My power needs will soon be met!

I even booked my flights to the US last night.

I still have 6 weeks to go...........

Cheers and thanks for reading.


  1. Wow, good for you! How much do you figure your bike is going to weight when fully loaded?

    Sounds like you are almost race ready.

    1. No idea on the weight Brandy! Jon picked it up and we both concurred on “20kg” but I will be happy if I can keep the final weight to about 22-23kg fully loaded with water and food.

  2. Planned with military precision Dave! That's what actually interests me as critical path planning was part of my job in a previous life. Your schedule looks punishing mate. Are you fitting it around your day job or taking leave?? Super impressed.....

    1. Military precision? Lol. You wouldn’t want me organising your defence!
      This time around I know the knowns and am calm about the known unknows. The unknown unknowns that will arise? Well, I will just deal with those as they arise. The Tour Divide taught me a lot about what to look for and how to expect to be feeling when I pass through towns. This time around I have been on Google Maps looking at shops, their hours and noting all of these things in waypoints on my gps file, including phone numbers.
      Luckily, I have been on call at work the last 3 weeks and for the first time in about 3 years, the phone hasn’t been ringing every day. That has given me good chunks of time to train and plan. Very fortuitous!


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