Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pines to the Mines 2012

This is a ride I'd heard about for a few years now, and had wanted to do for just as long. Problem was, I almost always heard about it after the fact from other folks ride reports, and I didn't think I'd stand a chance of finishing it.

But then during my ride to the Inner Basin, Derek mentioned it and gave me some details. More than that, I was pretty confident that I'd be able to finish it.

Pines to the Mines is much more of a big fun ride than it is a race. It starts in Flagstaff, (In years past, it started at Pay n' Take, a convenience store/bar downtown, also the host of the ride) and ends in Jerome, taking dirt roads and a bit of singletrack. It winds around the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness area, down to the Verde River at Perkinsville, then up the mountain to the Gold King Mine in Jerome. There are three aid stations along the way, and a party at the mine when you finish. It is all low key and underground, so, no signups, no registration, just a bunch of folks having fun riding their bikes. I'm in.

So yesterday, the day of the ride, I woke up late and with a headache. What better way to start a ride like that?

Fortunately, I had gotten most everything ready the night before, and the headache faded quickly, and I made it to the start, at the beginning of Woody Mountain road, 10 minutes before the roll out.
Some of the people in front of me.

Some of the people behind me.
Me being me, I found people I knew, and hung out with them, shooting the breeze and waiting for the start. After a while, someone at the front shouts "What the f*** are you all still doing here?! Pedal your asses to Jerome, that's where the beer is!"

And so the ride began.

The roll down Woody Mountain Road was pretty quick and uneventful, save for the cow that almost took me out at Rogers Lake. To his credit, he gave me more room than most cars, and crossed the road five feet in front of me.

Before long we turned off Woody Mountain Road on to some logging roads, where things got fun, fast and scenic.

I ended up chasing these guys for quite a while.


Near the very top of Sycamore Canyon, just after we hit the singletrack.

The first of many "Woah" views.


It got a little smoky for a bit. Fortunately the route turned away from it after I took this picture.

After the rocky hiking trail that was the singletrack, this is the interstate!

It was around this point that I was starting to feel the miles behind me, all 40 of them. Fortunately, there was a big downhill coming up.

The Verde River Valley.
 Somewhere on this descent, I learned an important lesson, and that is that I can indeed pinch flat on a full suspension bike.,
Rolling down the road to Perkinsville.

The red(dish) rocks of Sedona. I'm a little ways south of them now.
At the river was the second aid station. The river is also the end of the easy riding. The river is also only about 15 miles from Jerome. The river also had hotdogs.
 That hotdog was so good, I had to have another.

After some good resting, chatting, water refilling, and general procrastinating due to the fact I had 15 miles of uphill ahead of me, Pretty, my two hotdogs and myself rolled back out.
The old bridge across the Verde. I never imagined I'd be riding to it on my bike, let alone across it.

Shortly afterwards, the road turned up, and I hit the granny gear.

Somewhere on this climb, I learned an important lesson, and that is that banana  flavored energy gels are disgusting. I ended up munching on my supply of twizzlers for a good part of the climb.
The first 6 or so miles of climbing are the worst. But then the road joins up with an old railroad right of way, with a much mellower grade, that takes you all the way in to Jerome. This is known as Margarita Junction. I learned an important lesson here, too, and that is that I do not like margaritas. I also had my second flat of the day here, induced by thorns. I refilled on water, changed my tube, picked thorns out of the tire, and rolled out.

Suddenly, I realize I've ridden a long way from home.

Nice and mellow climbing. I'll take it!
I like riding railroad beds. Especially uphill. It's just steep enough to make you feel like you're working, but not so steep that you're mashing at the gear shifter, mumbling about the fact that "There's gotta be another gear here somewhere!"

Also, it's perfect air guitar practice, which helps the miles melt away.
It's like a snake, winding around the mountain.

Almost there!


Those are the Peaks, off to the left.


Nice view from the party spot.
I made it to the mine around 4:00, about 8.25 hours after I started, sooner than my soft goal. Mainly, I just wanted to finish.  At the mine, there was beer, soda, BBQ, and t-shirts. I hung out, and everyone there shared their experiences for the day. The post ride vibe was not like anything I've ever experienced. No one was competing against anyone else, it felt like. We were all tired, dirty, and worn, but we all had fun riding through one of the prettiest and hardest rides I've done. I'm glad I went, and I'll be doing it again next year.

After a while, I headed out and met up with Exe in Jerome for a ride home.

Now the day after? I'm feeling it, but not as much as I had expected. I'm a little sore, but other than that, I feel ok. I might have been able to ride home from Jerome today, if I had a change of shorts and enough time to mosey.

Maybe next year.
Mileage for yesterday: 76 miles, plus 3.5 miles to the start.

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