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  1. #1
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    Training for the Picket Post Punisher 50

    So this AES race has sparked some interst but I have never riden that far before. The farthest I have riden was on the BCT from Antelope Canyon to Rock Springs. I didnt feel too bad at the end of that but I was completely out of water at the parking lot and doubt I could have made another ten miles.

    So I have a few questions.

    1) Beside the obvious of riding more how do you train for this? Should I be adding a bunch of road miles or just stick to the dirt? Is one long ride a week (starting at 20 miles and building up to 40 miles) sufficent in preperation?

    2) I read on the AES page that in the spirit of AES to not stash water and to keep it self reliant. Is stashing water that bad of a thing? Honestly running out of water is my biggest concern. I can carry a 100 oz bladder + 1 bottle but Im not sure that will be enough for me on a 50 mile ride. I ran out after only 28 miles on BCT. I dont have any filtration equipment either. Is this something that will hash itself out during the longer training rides?
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  2. #2
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    Here is my take on doing endurance race. I don't have too many under belt, but I frequently do big miles.

    Road miles should be only used if you can't MTB.
    I would work my way up to a point just beyond 50 mi/ 8K elevation - this way you know how to plan out your water, food, gear and pace. This way you are comfortable doing big miles.

    There are water sources along the way that you don't have to filter - read the descriptions and discussion on the AES website. Personal stashing/support teams give you unfair advantage. This goes for all underground MTB races. What is available to you along the way should be available to everyone else. What you carry is up to you but you pay for it with extra weight. Kapish?

    You should be able to carry at least 2 more water bottles - even on a FS. Research it.

  3. #3
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    I'd regularly carry 200 oz of water on many AES rides (two bladders), plus a bottle for making some special drink. I didn't train for the rides, but I did often do big rides every or every other weekend of AES caliber to get and stay in shape. Smaller rides through the week keep the legs fresh, then plan a 20-30 mile ride on the weekends. When that gets easy, bump up the mileage. You need to be consistent though. Big mile fitness can easily fade. Get out at least three times a week. Roady riding is good for cardio, but you need to include lots of climbing or the AES will eat you up. Practice pushing your bike up steep hills. There is great skill in not bashing your shin on the pedal. There is also great patience pushing your bike as the light fades and the 200oz of water evaporates and that slow leak in your tire just won't seal at hour 11. Harden your will, either by self flagellation or yelling insults at yourself in the mirror. Punch yourself in the face once or twice a day and then you'll be ready.
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  4. #4
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    do the Hawes\PassMtn ride as training - you are familiar with it so will be a good simulation, albeit shorter. If you think this will take you say 8 hrs, be sure to get some 5-6rs in, like how marathoners do a couple 20s for prep.

    I think road biking is fine if you climb. Esp in summer in Phx, and saving yourself from extra time wrenching. I trained for the Crazy 88 each summer by doing Hawes Walgreen's to Tortilla Flat and back each weekend.

    stash water if you choose - its about having fun and challenging yourself at this level.

  5. #5
    Ahhh the pain....
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    I have to agree with all of what was said...all very sound advice. Let me perhaps put my spin on it having done the last two years of these.
    Endurance rides are really 5 pieces
    1) Physical Fitness (duh)
    2) Mental Fitness
    3) Logistics/Planning
    4) Mechanical prep/skills
    5) Navigation and route finding

    For #1, I'd say ride at least 3-4x a week and get a long ride in 1x per week that starts to push 6 hours. You need to know what your body feels like as it gets tired and become good at dealing with that kind of fatigue. Although I agree MTB miles are best, road riding 4 hours in phx summers is doable whereas 4 hours of MTB can be brutally hot... higher speeds, more convective cooling!
    For #2, I'm not sure how to train for it other than tell yourself to never panic. Slicing a sidewall in the dark 30 miles from the car, or some other mechanical coupled with fatigue, etc can make you break down.
    For #3, you need to understand your hydration and fueling needs for long rides. No other way to sort this out other than go do long rides. Trust me, leaving the truck for a 6 hour ride with 9 Cliff bars IS NOT A FUELING PLAN. After the fourth cliff bar, you'll gag on the next one worst than a .... (you get the picture). Also, not a bad idea to bring a light, a light jacket, and have a good first aide kit.
    For #4, be sure to have the necessary fix-it stuff and skills to fix torn sidewalls, broken chains, bent derailler hangers, etc. And be sure to do preventative maintenance on your bike beforehand. Don't be like some of the MBAA douchebags that show up to these with nothing but a few bars, a bottle, and no tools. Although most AES racers will not leave a guy or gal stranded, I will tell unprepared racer boys "sorry" when they ask me for an allen wrench or tire levers. It's an endurance race dammit, lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine. (kind of a sore spot of mine)
    For #5, if you don't have a gps or do and not sure of how to follow a track on it, please figure it out. Getting lost sucks and hoping you can just follow someone else with one will get you in trouble...especially if you have to stop and they don't.

    Anyway, hope my thoughts help and don't seem too a-hole-ish. These races are great fun and the more people get involved, the better these things become!
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  6. #6
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    Thanks everyone for the tips. For the record my question about stashing water is in no way to cheat. My concern is finishing alive and not in anyway to win or take positions away from others. If the rules are no stashing then no stashing it is. I need to figure it out. I guess I will need to make the decision if I feel I can make it or not when the time comes.

    200oz of water sounds brutally heavy on your back. Is it common for people to ride with that much? What packs are people using to carry that much? Do people use bike packing bags to offload some of the weight?

    And at Dag Nabbit no need for me to punch myself in the face. I bang my head on the table every morning when I sit down in front of my computer for work.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  7. #7
    Ahhh the pain....
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    Douger, for the 50 mile route, there is a circle k just a bit off route around mile 37 I think. Check out the AES site for details. Freeskier did a preride and scoped out all the possible resupply stops.
    Yeah, 200oz is about 12lbs...most I ever carry on a AES ride is 100oz on back, and 2-24 oz bottles in the frame. I would think you could ride 37 miles on 144oz as long as it's not summer in AZ...history has shown Nov 2nd to be anywhere from freezing to quite nice.
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  8. #8
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    Not a-hole-ish at all. I prefer the brutal honesty. Lets face it if you don't come prepared there is a chance you might not make it back. And honestly I think that's part of what intrigues me.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  9. #9
    Give it a crank
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    One thing that helps a great deal is getting to know as much of the route as possible. Breaking down the long route into several smaller training rides lets you get to know the whole route, all the climbs, the bad sections, and everything else about the trail so you don't have to go exploring on the day of the big ride. It's a lot easier when you know the whole route, especially if things don't go as planned. Make that *when* things don't go as planned.

    That's my 2 cents for Ray's #3 & #5.

  10. #10
    Ahhh the pain....
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    I think it's fair to also point out that some of the AES routes aren't really backcountry stuff; ie, McDowell. You can take a few more risks regarding gear and such since a walk out usually isnt more than 5 miles or so. Picket Post however is damn remote...and if you decide to do the Gila100...you can be a LONG ways from civilization.
    I'm always thinking contingencies on those type of rides and carry things like matches/fire starter, light, puffy jacket, spot, etc. Just a good idea to give yourself options!
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    Speaking of contingencies, what's the preferred sidewall slice repair method. Ive seen pics of Krefs stitching but not sure what with. Assuming only other method is a piece of plastic for a boot?

  12. #12
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    there is also a lot to be said for doing less remote or even formal events, as you are trying to push your mental and mechanical ability. Fire on the Rim is coming up, and is a good event for low-overhead.

  13. #13
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    I've done some of the AES rides and I've been lucky enough to finish quite a few of them. Everyone has their own approach to tackling a big ride. Some folks are systematic and some folks go by feel. I take a very simple approach to a big ride; what I lack in fitness, I must make up in mental tenacity to grunt through the suffering incurred due to lack of fitness.

    I'm not a huge fan of pre-riding stuff because it sort of ruins the anticipation of the adventure for me. Pre-riding stuff familiarizes you with the route and gives you a sneak preview of what lies ahead. However, if pre-riding puts your mind at ease, by all means, do it.

    To prep for my first go at an AES gig, I sought out a few of the bigger known routes fairly close to home that were unfamiliar to me. I did one big ride a weekend and commuted to work by bicycle here and there. Prescott would definitely be a good place to get a few big rides in this time of year. Sedona would also be a good option come October. Another nice thing about riding unfamiliar routes is that they encourage you to use and become familiarized with a GPS unit.

    Don't over think it dude. Start racking up some big rides, become more familiarized with the art of suffering, and most importantly, have fun doing so.

  14. #14
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    To add to what everyone has been saying. I pre-rode the northern part of the 50 with John back in June and I carried 152 oz of water with me (a 100oz bladder and two 26oz bottles). We didn't think we were going to be out there too long considering the entire main climb of the course was on a very well graded forest road. However, it took us longer than we expected and I just about ran out of water a few miles from the car. We had to bail out off the AZT back to the forest road because it was brutally hot and the low water situation didn't help. Reavis Canyon was a damn oven and we hit temps of at least 106-108 with full on sun and radiant heat from the canyon walls.

    That being said, I have NO worries about doing this trail with the same amount of water in November. The weather will be perfect and it might even be pretty cold at the top of Montana Mountain (~5,800 feet!). Once you do the loop north of the 60 (about 36 miles or so), you will be right in Superior and you can refill your water before doing the lower half so there shouldn't be any worry.

    As for training, I can't comment on that at all. John always tells me saddle time is the best way to train. I'm usually a weekend warrior kind of mountain biker because I don't have time otherwise. This will be my first attempt at an AES ride and it will blow my longest single-day ride to date away (~35 mile during the ToWM). I know a lot of it will be mental!! You just have to focus and put your head down and just spin. When I did the AZT Jamboree last year, the cold and the mental part eventually wore me down and I bailed out because that voice in your head just gets louder and louder until you quit. Just get those thoughts out of your head immediately and keep chugging. You'd be surprised what your body can achieve when your mind lets it happen.

  15. #15
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    There is some terrific advice here from AES vets. But, I'd like to highlight a couple of things.

    80 VERSUS 50
    If you are not experienced with long rides in the back country, I don't recommend starting with the 80 miler (which I am calling the Pulverizer). It is too tough and too remote for someone who isn't familiar with this sort of ride. In my opinion, you will be much better off starting off with something less intense so that you can gauge your abilities.

    WATER
    For the folks doing 50 - you should be OK with a water bladder and a couple of bottles - given the refill options near Superior. For those doing 80 - I highly recommend bringing a filter. As far as we know, the only water from Superior to the end is the Gila. And that's a really long, tough stretch.

    PREPAREDNESS
    There has been some good advice on nutrition. Make sure you have the tools, and know how to use them to: fix a flat, fix a slash in a tire, fix a broken chain. And, for the gearies, purchase an extra derailleur hanger and bring the wrenches needed to replace it. Costs little, weighs nothing, easy to replace, and can save your ride. These are the minimum skills/tools you need - cause they will all eventually be needed.

    GPS
    Ray said it, I'll repeat it. Bring a GPS and know how to use it. The part of this course that goes along the Legends of Superior trail is really easy to get lost on. Pay attention to your track. And, really, your cell phone is not a great replacement for a GPS. I've seen this attempted and I've seen it fail miserably.

    MENTAL ATTITUDE
    Mental attitude is key to endurance riding. Try to keep a positive, can do attitude and focus on finishing - not quitting. Yeah, you are going to suffer. But that will make finishing feel much sweeter. And crazy stuff that happens on the trail makes great stories for later. Endurance riding is hard - but that is what makes it so rewarding. You may find the feeling to be addictive.

    LOOK AROUND
    You will be riding through some amazingly scenic country. Don't forget to look around once in a while to marvel at this place that you are lucky enough to get to ride through.


    Look forward to seeing some new faces out there.

    P.S.
    If anyone wants AES stickers, bring a dollar. I'm planning on bringing a bunch of stickers and they are two for a buck. Can't beat it.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by floxy View Post
    Speaking of contingencies, what's the preferred sidewall slice repair method. Ive seen pics of Krefs stitching but not sure what with. Assuming only other method is a piece of plastic for a boot?
    A tube and some sort of boot is simplest. I used a Park boot with a slice that was nearly 2 inches long and did like 30 miles on it - despite the bulging. If you don't want to spring a couple of bucks for the Park boot - a piece of milk bottle or some other similar plastic should work.

    I've never tried the sewing thing, but I do have a needle and dental floss in my kit. Need to add some glue as well.

  17. #17
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    Im not too concerned with the remoteness. Ive riden a fair way out on Picket Post south and have riden BCT on a few occations. My largest concern was with water but it sounds like it shouldnt be a problem. Couple that with my plan to train a fair amount and my concerns are diminishing.

    I do plan to pre-ride the route. I tend to have a very good memory when it comes to landmarks and Id like to not have to worry about route finding as much. I will look into a GPS on Craigslist. Any recommendations?

    When I rode from Antelope to Rock Springs I did the poor mans equivalant of a GPS and mapped out the entire route in Google Earth and printed out every intersection along with route queues. Never had an issue.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raybum View Post

    For #2, I'm not sure how to train for it other than tell yourself to never panic. Slicing a sidewall in the dark 30 miles from the car, or some other mechanical coupled with fatigue, etc can make you break down.
    I think the key to this one is knowing you have the stuff/skill to fix problems when they occur. Then there is no need to panic. If you feel like you don't have that, work on in before the race, at home. That practice can be the difference between handling a situation and mentally breaking down.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtownmtb View Post
    A tube and some sort of boot is simplest. I used a Park boot with a slice that was nearly 2 inches long and did like 30 miles on it - despite the bulging. If you don't want to spring a couple of bucks for the Park boot - a piece of milk bottle or some other similar plastic should work.

    I've never tried the sewing thing, but I do have a needle and dental floss in my kit. Need to add some glue as well.
    what types of needle, and where to buy? Do you have a thimble or something to push the needle through the rubber? the extent of my sewing experience is fixing a button.


    @Douger - get a gps, there is no substitute. A good one will be between $200-$500. My wife got us a Garmin Edge 800, and at first i balked at the price esp. since we had a working etrex Vista (which I might be willing to sell for under $200 hcx, let me think on it). The Edge's touchscreen is great even with gloves, its fast, and we bought mounts so it goes on 6 different bikes - being able to use it amongst 2 people and as a cadence meter took a lot of sting off the price.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Douger-1 View Post
    I will look into a GPS on Craigslist. Any recommendations?
    I have a hard time going for devices on CL, I'd recommend looking on ebay for gps receivers. For long rides, you'll need to be able to swap the batteries when they run out. I think most serious bikepackers prefer devices powered by AA cells for that.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Douger-1 View Post
    I do plan to pre-ride the route. I tend to have a very good memory when it comes to landmarks and Id like to not have to worry about route finding as much. I will look into a GPS on Craigslist. Any recommendations?
    .
    Lots of E-trexs on AES rides. I've been happy with my 60csx. A few guys will use the cycling-specific Garmins with mapping capabilities. All are good options.

  22. #22
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    I've acually looked at the Etrex 20 before just never pulled the trigger. AA batteries, WAAS, GLONASS, color screen, $200. Seemed tough to beat but what do I know.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  23. #23
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    One thing that has helped me increase my distances of rides is weight training. I have a whole cycle of certain workouts I do during the week and it has helped me a ton. A few years back, I could ride every day and night, as I hadn't reproduced yet. With our opposite job schedules and lack of baby sitter, riding gets tough. But my job has a full gym and I take advantage of it. The few times I ride now, I can do much faster and further than ever before, and I ride a ton less unfortunately.
    “Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.”
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Douger-1 View Post
    I've acually looked at the Etrex 20 before just never pulled the trigger. AA batteries, WAAS, GLONASS, color screen, $200. Seemed tough to beat but what do I know.
    lots of better info in the GPS forum, but there is a noticeable difference in tracking for me between the etrex and the edge. The etrex also sometimes shuts off since its mount\battery case doesnt seem to absorb vibrations. I think it might be due to less-fresh batteries, but still...pita. Its is definitely useful, but also old technology on several levels.

  25. #25
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    back to the training piece

    Hit the endurance or XC training forums too, I'm sure lots of people have asked about gearing up for 50 mile races there. Like Ray mentioned, learn to fuel.

    As you're increasing saddle time you can find some local 30-40mi loops that will test you along the way. The Hawes-Pass Mtn that CB mentioned is a good one. 4 peaks might be worth the effort in terms of climbing. The now defunct AES BCT ride is 50 miles and would be a good one to do along the way.

  26. #26
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    Douger --

    Join me on my weekly climb every weekend (not this weekend). Its a ride out of Mayer up to Mount Union... 3000 feet of climbing, about 24 miles round trip.... that should help your training... There are some springs up there so you can even try out some water purification too... Ill be doing it 8/17 or 8/18.

  27. #27
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    Really great advice here. One other tidbit that I sometimes get sucked into is this: Ride YOUR ride, not the ride of the group or someone else nearby. It's easy to get pulled into the group pace at the start and if it's a bit too high (as is usually the case for me) you'll blow up too early.

    If you haven't seen the ride reports, here are all three that make up the entire 50 mile course.

    Montana Mountain (upper section)

    Whitford Canyon (middle section)

    LOST/Telegraph Canyon/AZT (lower section)

    I really like the mix of dirt road / singletrack on this entire route, has a bit of everything.
    I ride the crappy trails so you don't have to
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  28. #28
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    Super good advice here, my two cents:

    Train like you ride - carry the same gear, eat the same food and drink the same stuff...don't change it up. Do all your experimenting right now and dial it in.

    Stashing water - I have no problem with this, but if you do it....then you ride the ride and have a really fun time, but it's a DNF in my book. Learning to ride with the minimal weight of a water filter, dealing with the mental anguish pre-ride over where you will find water, dealing with the mental anguish during ride about if you will have enough water....it's all part of the competitive landscape that each rider needs to navigate. Mental anguish is perhaps, the biggest obstacle on a ride - bigger than the physical barriers. The successful endurance rider learns to manage this.

  29. #29
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    AES is about zen mastery of pain.

    I practice by b*tchslapping a cholla plant.


  30. #30
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    Perhaps ^^ should be added to the list of things to build mental toughness. Dag Nabbits earlier suggestion of punching yourself in the face was a good start. B*tch slapping a cholla seems like another great therapy for toughness. I might suggest getting nut punched by your saddle as another way to build that intestinal fortitude.
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  31. #31
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    Bart, I took your practice & put it into action during the 2011 AES McDowell 46:

    I ride the crappy trails so you don't have to
    My Two Schillingsworth

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raybum View Post
    I might suggest getting nut punched by your saddle as another way to build that intestinal fortitude.
    You might be mistaking that for cryptorchidism

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    Quote Originally Posted by freeskier46 View Post
    Bart, I took your practice & put it into action during the 2011 AES McDowell 46:

    the knuckle involvement indicates that you punched the cholla, that works too

    slap, punch, kick the cacti
    punch yourself in the face and hit yourself in the nuts
    watch TBS family programming and eat at Arby's

    you will then achieve the mental and physical toughness to survive the the grueling AES races

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    Quote Originally Posted by metalaficionado View Post
    eat at Arby's
    Hey now. Lets not insult the king of roast beef sandwiches, curly fries, and potato cakes! Ever had a Beef n' Cheddar out on the trail?

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by markphx View Post
    Hey now. Lets not insult the king of roast beef sandwiches, curly fries, and potato cakes! Ever had a Beef n' Cheddar out on the trail?
    a true AES racer, he embraced the pain to the point of joy

  36. #36
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    You want a curved needle. I found a little kit with a couple of them in different sizes at a fabric store. The thimble thing is something I didn't consider. Probably would improvise with whatever is on hand. Maybe someone who has actually done it can weigh in.

    I used to have a Vista Hcx - it worked just fine. Have the Etrex 30 now. It has way more features than I need, but has gotten me through many big adventures. My wife has the Dakota 20 because she wanted touch screen. Downside to that one is that it is hard to see the screen in direct sunlight.
    If you do this stuff alot, a few hundred dollars is money well spent on a GPS.

  37. #37
    My other ride is your mom
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    Quote Originally Posted by markphx View Post
    Hey now. Lets not insult the king of roast beef sandwiches, curly fries, and potato cakes! Ever had a Beef n' Cheddar out on the trail?
    Actually, I have.....had one on the AES McDowell after the climb up Sunrise before the drop into the NIMBY neighborhood....true story.

  38. #38
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    You can even upload routes into an Edge 500 if you have one. You have to convert the .gpx to a .fit or .tcx (I forget which, I can check on my laptop when I get home if you're interested) I use a freeware called gpxConvert (or something like that, I can check that too). The display is basic, just a route line and it auto-zooms in and out to show you what's coming up, but the nice thing is it beeps if you get off-course, so you don't go too far the wrong way. You can see yourself on an elevation profile as well to see if there are climbs or descents coming up. I guess the only downside, besides not seeing any actual map/names information is switching screens to see your HR, speed, time, vertical gain info if you feel like looking at any of that during the ride. I'd think the bigger screen on an Edge 800 would let you see both?
    Fall is here. Woo-hoo!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maadjurguer View Post
    Actually, I have.....had one on the AES McDowell after the climb up Sunrise before the drop into the NIMBY neighborhood....true story.
    Heck yeah man. I ate a most delicious Taco Bell Grilled Stuffed Burrito and some Pizza Hut Stuffed Crust Pizza on the AES Gila 100, but I've yet to pay homage to Arby's on an AES ride. I think I see a trailside Beef n' Cheddar in my future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by markphx View Post
    Heck yeah man. I ate a most delicious Taco Bell Grilled Stuffed Burrito and some Pizza Hut Stuffed Crust Pizza on the AES Gila 100, but I've yet to pay homage to Arby's on an AES ride. I think I see a trailside Beef n' Cheddar in my future.
    Maybe they'll have the 5 for $5 going on!
    Fall is here. Woo-hoo!

  41. #41
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    Here's an idea about training for endurance. You've probably heard about trail runners doing the rim-to-rim and back at the grand canyon in one day. Many valley locals train right here in the valley at Squaw Peak. They'll go up it nearly 10 times in one day to simulate a R2R2R hike/run across the grand canyon.

    You could apply the same kind of training for a big endurance ride near home. Make a loop out of local trails with bits similar to the longer ride you're training for and repeat the loop several times. It could even be group training for some friendly competition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chollaball View Post
    lots of better info in the GPS forum, but there is a noticeable difference in tracking for me between the etrex and the edge. The etrex also sometimes shuts off since its mount\battery case doesnt seem to absorb vibrations. I think it might be due to less-fresh batteries, but still...pita. Its is definitely useful, but also old technology on several levels.
    I'd highly recommend the Garmin Dakota 20.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chollaball View Post
    lots of better info in the GPS forum, but there is a noticeable difference in tracking for me between the etrex and the edge. The etrex also sometimes shuts off since its mount\battery case doesnt seem to absorb vibrations. I think it might be due to less-fresh batteries, but still...pita. Its is definitely useful, but also old technology on several levels.
    Im assuming the "old technollogy" you are talking about applies to the Etrex Vista? When I look on the Garmin site the Etrex 20 and 30 both have the same WAAS HotFix technology as the other higher end models (i.e. Montana). Im assuming the Etrex series now falls into the "latest technology" ?!?! Anyway there is a big difference in price from the Etrex 20 to 30 and all you seem to get is a barometric altimeter. Is that really needed? Anyway I will continue my research on the GPS forum. Im torn if I really want any of the bike specific stuff that comes on the Edge series. Not sure I care about heart rate, cadence, calories, training features etc. Makes more sense to me for road cycling than mountain biking. I know when Im sucking wind. Dont need a computer beeping at me.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Douger-1 View Post
    Im assuming the "old technollogy" you are talking about applies to the Etrex Vista? When I look on the Garmin site the Etrex 20 and 30 both have the same WAAS HotFix technology as the other higher end models (i.e. Montana). Im assuming the Etrex series now falls into the "latest technology" ?!?! Anyway there is a big difference in price from the Etrex 20 to 30 and all you seem to get is a barometric altimeter. Is that really needed? Anyway I will continue my research on the GPS forum. Im torn if I really want any of the bike specific stuff that comes on the Edge series. Not sure I care about heart rate, cadence, calories, training features etc. Makes more sense to me for road cycling than mountain biking. I know when Im sucking wind. Dont need a computer beeping at me.
    i havent reviewed their latest catalog, so only speak from personal experience - my etrex ~3 yrs old just isnt as accurate, and the hardware itself is not as good for bikes. I dont do heartrate, i like the cadence meter but only for the road bike. the touchscreen and mounts on the edge are much much better for bikes. fwiw, I also had a forerunner which was my bike computer along with the etrex for nav - both were made obsolete by the Edge. When you look at it that way, the Edge was not that much more expensive.

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    I have the etrex 30 which seems to be sort of the bikepackers standard these days due to replaceable AA's, and compatibility w free basemaps (off gpsfiledepot). I use this on my MTB all the time and have it setup to read my chest strap for HR. I don't have any experience with older versions so I can't speak to them.
    I also have an old edge 305 that i keep mounted on the roadbike...it never misses a beat unless I get rained on. I used it for lots of AES races...works fine.
    I'd have to say, if your goal is one day endurance races, the new edge series is pretty slick. Obviously gotta get the 800 series to get basemaps, but even the 500 is a capable unit. One nice thing about having basemaps is that should trouble occur on a remote ride, the basemaps show jeep roads and such.
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    Garmin edge 500 works for me although it took me a while to learn how to use it.
    I like because of how small it is. I study the course map before hand too.
    My back is motion x or google maps on my phone, gotta carry phone anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raybum View Post
    I have the etrex 30 which seems to be sort of the bikepackers standard these days due to replaceable AA's, and compatibility w free basemaps (off gpsfiledepot). I use this on my MTB all the time and have it setup to read my chest strap for HR. I don't have any experience with older versions so I can't speak to them.
    I also have an old edge 305 that i keep mounted on the roadbike...it never misses a beat unless I get rained on. I used it for lots of AES races...works fine.
    I'd have to say, if your goal is one day endurance races, the new edge series is pretty slick. Obviously gotta get the 800 series to get basemaps, but even the 500 is a capable unit. One nice thing about having basemaps is that should trouble occur on a remote ride, the basemaps show jeep roads and such.
    Just got back from REI and checked out the Garmins. How do you like the little toggle button thingy on your Etrex? My first impressions werent very good of the user interface. Honestly Im not really that impressed by the entire line. Seems they are all priced about 50% too high for what you get since you need to buy the topo maps on top of it. I guess Im just not a big fan of bells and whistles and know I wont use 70% of the functionality after the first month and the other useful 30% is too watered down. Im mean WTF is geocaching? Sounds so stupid Im not even intersted in googling it. I think Id rather spend some time studying google earth and go pre-ride the route with some maps in hand. Call me old school I guess.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  48. #48
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    Doug,
    You don't have to buy the maps, GPSfiledepot will get you there, for free.

    I hear ya re: bells & whistles, I have the Edge 705, but never use the HR or Cadence sensor. Luckily for me, I was able to snag the 705 from a co-worker dirt cheap. Arturo just bought an Edge 800 off of CL for just under $300.

    For me, I love the ability to upload tracks onto a basemap when venturing out into the unknown. Take this coming weekend for example, 2 day bikepack on a route that is 100% new-to-me. While the route 'shouldn't' be complicated, you never know if signage is missing or trails are overgrown, etc. FWIW, if you plan on doing more of the AES rides, having a GPS is extremely helpful if not mandatory. I don't think I would've stayed on course for the Tor de 50 without one!!

    You may get lucky on eBay or CL on an older model like the Edge 305, 605, 705, 500, 800, etc. Take the sting out of paying for features that you may not use all that much.
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    Quote Originally Posted by freeskier46 View Post
    Doug,
    You don't have to buy the maps, GPSfiledepot will get you there, for free.

    I hear ya re: bells & whistles, I have the Edge 705, but never use the HR or Cadence sensor. Luckily for me, I was able to snag the 705 from a co-worker dirt cheap. Arturo just bought an Edge 800 off of CL for just under $300.

    For me, I love the ability to upload tracks onto a basemap when venturing out into the unknown. Take this coming weekend for example, 2 day bikepack on a route that is 100% new-to-me. While the route 'shouldn't' be complicated, you never know if signage is missing or trails are overgrown, etc. FWIW, if you plan on doing more of the AES rides, having a GPS is extremely helpful if not mandatory. I don't think I would've stayed on course for the Tor de 50 without one!!

    You may get lucky on eBay or CL on an older model like the Edge 305, 605, 705, 500, 800, etc. Take the sting out of paying for features that you may not use all that much.
    Doug, you can borrow my etrex sometime if you and I ever sync up. Like John said, most of the units support the free basemaps. I upload tracks all the time, for day rides or also since i do a lot of Urban CX its great to know the best routes aorund the city. Trust me - if you have it, you will start to use it.

    Your comment about the toggle etc is where I feel the older etrex are very dated in the physical design. I had a very old etrex -- 10 yrs? -- that I sold ~3 yrs ago and other than the color screen the physical unit was hardly updated by the newer (nee, 3 yrs old now) one I bought. The fact that it and the forerunner could rattle themselves off on your handlebars is just bad physical design. I've had no problems like this with the Edge 800.

    I would caution a bit on a CL purchase for jsut this sort of thing. I don't buy electronics used. My units wouldnt just shut off on smooth stuff. Also with built in batteries etc. you might be dealing with other types of degradation that is not going to reveal itself initially.

  50. #50
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    As John said, I purchased an Edge 800 brand new in the box for $280! Sometimes you just get lucky with certain listings. I get chollaball's apprehension about buying used electronics off CL but it can work out sometimes (especially in this case!).

  51. #51
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    I think the little toggle on the etrex 30 is just fine. Never messes up for me and is gloved hand friendly. Just checked amazon, you can get the etrex 30 with free shipping for $250. Add to that the topomaps for $0, and you have a great unit for $250. Obviously, there's a lot of functionality I don't use, but the more I mess with it, the more stuff I seem to use. (except geocaching!). I run rechargable AA's in mine for everyday use, then put in lithiums for bikepacking. I will say, the etrex's and the edge units are definitely different in their interface. For the edge units, you hit a "start" button to begin recording, whereas on the etrex's, once it's on, it's recording. At first this seemed odd, now I really like it...especially for multiday trips.
    Anyway, I think the edges are a bit like a sand wedge in golf...they do good to get you out of the sand. The etrex 30 is more of a utility club...does a lot of stuff pretty darn well.
    I've never been a big REI fan since I think they are way overpriced. The return policy is nice, but you're definitely paying for it.
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  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raybum View Post
    I think the little toggle on the etrex 30 is just fine. Never messes up for me and is gloved hand friendly. Just checked amazon, you can get the etrex 30 with free shipping for $250. Add to that the topomaps for $0, and you have a great unit for $250. Obviously, there's a lot of functionality I don't use, but the more I mess with it, the more stuff I seem to use. (except geocaching!). I run rechargable AA's in mine for everyday use, then put in lithiums for bikepacking. I will say, the etrex's and the edge units are definitely different in their interface. For the edge units, you hit a "start" button to begin recording, whereas on the etrex's, once it's on, it's recording. At first this seemed odd, now I really like it...especially for multiday trips.
    Anyway, I think the edges are a bit like a sand wedge in golf...they do good to get you out of the sand. The etrex 30 is more of a utility club...does a lot of stuff pretty darn well.
    I've never been a big REI fan since I think they are way overpriced. The return policy is nice, but you're definitely paying for it.
    in any case, you wont go wrong with most of these units as a first purchase. Maybe you trade up later...but at least now you can follow a track, and upload tracks and basemaps. My first couple underground races i followed maps and cue sheets - night and day difference, I always got lost and that adds mileage and mental anguish.

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by chollaball View Post
    in any case, you wont go wrong with most of these units as a first purchase. Maybe you trade up later...but at least now you can follow a track, and upload tracks and basemaps. My first couple underground races i followed maps and cue sheets - night and day difference, I always got lost and that adds mileage and mental anguish.
    Well I appreciate all the info and I will take everyone's opinions into serious consideration. You all have done it before and what better resource to get input from. Thanks again.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  54. #54
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    Lots of great advice from people who really know what they are talking about. My $.02 that made the biggest difference for me was to ride slower than you can. Don't redline yourself. Just because you can crank up some steep hill doesn't mean you should. Those efforts past your aerobic threshold are making withdrawals on your glycogen that will cost you in the end. To paraphrase the great Kurt Refsnider, You will be surprised how far you can ride if you just keep eating and drinking and pace yourself. He said that to me as we headed off for my first bikepacking trip this summer. 100 miles and 13 hours later I proved him right.

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    I will add a little to this discussion. I haven't done any of the AES rides but I have done a couple mini epics with Raybum. I have become more of a MBAA type racer due to family and time constraints. But I do race with a Camelbak still.

    I usually try to buy from my LBS as much as possible but with a GPS I went with REI and had a great experience with their return policy when my 705 stopped tracking mileage accurately.

    Try to do some type of mini epic close by to you for the mileage and saddle time. Pack everything with you plus some. And ride and ride ride some more.

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    Just picked up a Garmin Oregon 400t off of Craigslist for $120. Not a single scratch. Its way back on SW version 3.2 so I doubt its really ever been used. I didnt care for the little toggle button ont he Etrex and even though the touchscreen on the 400 leaves a little to be desired I figured the price was right to get my foot into the GPS door. Thanks everyone again.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  57. #57
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    Hey Douger,

    Ironic that your tagline is "I wish I could ride more." isn't it. While I've not done any AES rides to date, I went from a guy who rode once on the weekend (Dreamy Draw Parking Lot to Tatum on T100, and back) to a guy who puts in about 7 hours a week on average, does the occasional 4 to 6 hour rides including FreeSkiers full BCT N2S last year which was 60 miles, and the Whiskey 50 a couple of times.

    It's of course important to ramp up your miles for a tough 50 mile ride, but I find a lot of it is in your head, what I mean is that when you commit to doing a big ride you somehow just manage to do it. Prep yes, but know that you are going to do it. Of course nutrition and hydration including electrolytes etc etc are all important, but get some longer rides under your belt and you'll get that figured out before race day.

    The 60 mile BCT ride, by far that was my longest MTB ride before and since. As somebody else in this thread mentioned - do your ride not somebody else's. When Jeff, Ray, and some others took off at their pace I replied that I have to go a pace that I could sustain all day, have fun maybe I'll see you at the end. I would have blown up if I tried to keep up with faster people, this ain't a roadie ride where you can suck a wheel and save energy - it's all up to you.

    I'll be at this race, pending spousal approval, so if you see me on a white Kona Unit SS come say hi.

    btw I've carried an additional 50oz of water on my back, unlike some camel-like MTB'ers I suck down the water when I ride. REI had a 50 ounce water 'bladder' that I can fit into my Osprey. Of course it adds a lot of weight but if needed I can carry 150oz in my Osprey and 52oz on the frame.
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  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by freeskier46 View Post
    Doug,
    You don't have to buy the maps, GPSfiledepot will get you there, for free.

    I hear ya re: bells & whistles, I have the Edge 705, but never use the HR or Cadence sensor. Luckily for me, I was able to snag the 705 from a co-worker dirt cheap. Arturo just bought an Edge 800 off of CL for just under $300.

    For me, I love the ability to upload tracks onto a basemap when venturing out into the unknown. Take this coming weekend for example, 2 day bikepack on a route that is 100% new-to-me. While the route 'shouldn't' be complicated, you never know if signage is missing or trails are overgrown, etc. FWIW, if you plan on doing more of the AES rides, having a GPS is extremely helpful if not mandatory. I don't think I would've stayed on course for the Tor de 50 without one!!

    You may get lucky on eBay or CL on an older model like the Edge 305, 605, 705, 500, 800, etc. Take the sting out of paying for features that you may not use all that much.
    So I downloaded the editors choice Azrizona Topo map from GPSFileDepot and I find it odd that the latest 202 segment in NE Mesa isnt there yet. That was completed back in 2009. I realize Im not mountain biking on the 202 but is that normal to have certain things so out of date?
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  59. #59
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    Training for the Picket Post Punisher 50

    For me personally, just a little bit makes a big difference in prep. 1-3 days a week of even just 15,20 or 30 minutes of spinning around close to home is noticed compared just being a big weekend warrior. I definitely have years/miles in the bank of off/on riding.

    Then as everybody else has said, it's a mental game. I got to a deep dark place late in the Antelope Peak Challenge. Wondering how much more was left, is there a worthwhile bailout, etc.

    Ryan

  60. #60
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    Once you get down to the Gila River, the $hit will get truly real.

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    It will get real before that...trust me. If you haven't seen Jesus by then, you will as soon as you hit the 20% grade double track.
    Quote Originally Posted by metalaficionado View Post
    Once you get down to the Gila River, the $hit will get truly real.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raybum View Post
    It will get real before that...trust me. If you haven't seen Jesus by then, you will as soon as you hit the 20% grade double track.
    What gearing are you planning to run if you had to decide tonight?

    Without knowing the route I guess I'd personally think about 32x20 without knowing the course.
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  63. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Douger-1 View Post
    So I downloaded the editors choice Azrizona Topo map from GPSFileDepot and I find it odd that the latest 202 segment in NE Mesa isnt there yet. That was completed back in 2009. I realize Im not mountain biking on the 202 but is that normal to have certain things so out of date?
    Hmmm, I forget which one I downloaded. I'll take a look & see if it's the same one. I would assume it's not uncommon for the topo's to be a bit dated. So far I haven't had an issue while out & about.
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  64. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raybum View Post
    It will get real before that...trust me. If you haven't seen Jesus by then, you will as soon as you hit the 20% grade double track.
    No doubt, I suspect a few riders may consider jumping onto the AZT in Telegraph Canyon, that's the point of no return for the 81 milers. To be honest I'm more concerned with the Martinez Canyon section after the push up from the Gila. I was in utter shambles there during the 300, so close to the finish yet seriously doubting my ability to move forward.
    Last edited by schillingsworth; 08-14-2013 at 07:07 AM.
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    I just found this review on the Etrex 20, seems to be enough for me?

    Garmin eTrex 20 Review - OutdoorGearLab

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    Quote Originally Posted by Douger-1 View Post
    So I downloaded the editors choice Azrizona Topo map from GPSFileDepot and I find it odd that the latest 202 segment in NE Mesa isnt there yet. That was completed back in 2009. I realize Im not mountain biking on the 202 but is that normal to have certain things so out of date?
    Yah. Their topo is a little behind on some roads. There is an area by Deems in the NW Valley that doesn't have any of the roads yet. It has not been an issue off road though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seizure66 View Post
    I just found this review on the Etrex 20, seems to be enough for me?

    Garmin eTrex 20 Review - OutdoorGearLab
    I would just recommend going to REI or some place that carries them and hold one in your hand. Power it up and play around a little. I was seriously considering the Etrex 20 until I did just that. I didnt care for the user interface at all and went with an older touch screen model.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  68. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by randyharris View Post
    What gearing are you planning to run if you had to decide tonight?

    Without knowing the route I guess I'd personally think about 32x20 without knowing the course.
    I've been mulling that over myself. Last time I did an ONB I was 34x20. I'm thinking 32x21 might be the ticket.
    Since you'll be pointed up or down anyways, no sense in worrying about being spun out on the flats.

  69. #69
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    yeah, 32x21 or if I'm feeling really good, 33x21.... Rolled the 33x21 for the Gila100 and wished I'd have gone 32x21 with all the typical steep AZT climbs. This one is gonna be the same it appears. I've done a run to the river and back with 32x20 and it was tough. This one is double the distance and climb.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raybum View Post
    yeah, 32x21 or if I'm feeling really good, 33x21.... Rolled the 33x21 for the Gila100 and wished I'd have gone 32x21 with all the typical steep AZT climbs. This one is gonna be the same it appears. I've done a run to the river and back with 32x20 and it was tough. This one is double the distance and climb.
    all of these conjectures, assumptions and presumptions solved with a click of a shifter

  71. #71
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    Hope it's OK I revive this thread...

    PP is coming up and I'll be doing at least the C ride... If high temperatures are forecasted to be 72 or below (forecast is 68 now) in Superior, I don't see why I can't do the B ride.... Ill never be able to do the A ride.

    The distance and elevation don't really scare me, it's the course/terrain that scare me.

  72. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtbAZ44 View Post
    The distance and elevation don't really scare me, it's the course/terrain that scare me.
    As it should. A new thread for 2014 needs to be started....
    I ride the crappy trails so you don't have to
    My Two Schillingsworth

  73. #73
    Ahhh the pain....
    Reputation: Raybum's Avatar
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    Apr 2009
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    Bart, John, Jeff, Nancy and myself rode the north loop today (or variants of it) and trimmed the AZT down from Montana mountain of catclaw and other thorny stuff. The trail is in pretty rough condition in many spots from the summer rain and route finding will be a bit of a challenge in spots since the trail criss-crosses the creek a few times. USE your GPS and look for cairns. It's pretty sketchy in spots and the amount of tech will keep you on your toes.
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