Life without GPS-
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  1. #1
    My other ride is your mom
    Reputation: Maadjurguer's Avatar
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    Mar 2008

    Life without GPS

    Last week I took some time off from work with the plan to set out on a bikepack from Flagstaff to the Canyon and back. Unfortunately, my plan never survived the first engagement....leaving home with all my crap. I left my backpack with camera, gps, iPod, rain jacket, tools and tubes at home. Determined to forge on with my ride in spite of these modern conveniences, I bummed some tools and a pack from Dara, a camera from my dad and a trashbag instead of a rain jacket. This decision came with many consequences, some negative and some positive. The experience was nevertheless, rich in lessons as they often are.

    I have to don't really know how much you rely upon a GPS until you suddenly find yourself without one....but I quickly became more aware of my surroundings as I made mental notes of landmarks as I progressed north through the rain squalls; comparing my experienced memories against how long I thought I should be taking. I surprised myself at how fast it felt when I completed the climb up Schultz against a grey, menacing sky.

    Progressing up the new sections of AZT, I climbed into a world recently forgotten by summer; bracken browning in the coming coolness of fall......

    Being forced to seek shelter under trees when squalls would wash over me, rather than pushing forward in a protective shell of GORE-TEX, forced me into an interrupted tempo. These irregular, yet enjoyable, intervals forced me to stop and look around a little more than I normally do. Here, I witnessed the sun move shadows of cloud across the shining prairie surrounding Bismarck Lake. Each passing line of clouds would bring a fast moving line of shadow projected upon the shimmering expanse of fall grass......

    The decision to take water at Bismarck was welcomed because a detour to Little Spring would have put me a bit out of the way. The Elk of fall had firmly trampled this water hole into a milky and muddy mess....perfect for filtering....

    Waiting for some electrolyte tabs to dissolve, I found a lone flower looking out of place in this grey and browning landscape......

    As I crested the hump along the AZT, I made quick work of the descent down to FR418 and beyond. I reveled in the rapidly warming temperatures as I descended down into mixed Pinon and Juniper forests. Feeling good in the sun for the first time that day, I stripped my arms of their warmers and left the coldness of the subalpine behind riding was in front of me.....or so I thought......

    Cresting Missouri Bill Hill, I got my first glimpse of the raised lip of the Grand Canyon to my north on the skyline...and was humbled by a fast moving thunderstorm which was sending sparks just a few miles to my west. Feeling exposed on this pass, I made my way down and to the north to find the smallest, lowest tree to seek cover from the storm.......

    Rolling up as the rain began to pummel me, I broke out my bivy for the first time that day and sheltered for 30 minutes as the tempest washed over, snacking on food and hydrating. Peering out of my bivy, I snapped some shots of the mud which was starting to slow my progress in the short section of doubletrack prior to the storm......not a lot of mud clearance between that tire and the suspension box right now.....

    There's still some mud clearance up front....but not much......

    Post storm: I continued on to the north in death mud conditions. Attempts to ride in the field off the double track were as useless as riding on the too was inundated from the prior storms the past 5 days......this marked my turn around point. To continue from here meant carrying my bike across an unknown expanse of death mud, with more storms to come. I resolved to turn around and modify my route......perhaps I'd ride around Kendrick....

    Just 10 minutes later after riding back up Missouri Bill Hill, I heard and felt a snap with the sickening limp pedal feel that can only mean one thing........a snapped deraileur hanger.

    Realizing that my spare hanger was in my pack....which was at home...with my rain jacket and tools....I used Dara's tools to break my chain, remove the deraileur and convert my full squishy to a Single Speed. As I was doing this, an elk hunter came by and offered me a ride to the highway....I turned it down. I was determined to self rescue this rapidly deteriorating ride of mine....plan be damned.

    Riding back up into the Ponderosa forest to the south, I realized that a Bomb had just gone off and destroyed every single one of my goals for the trip....except have a good time. As I tore into my Bomb of a burrito, contemplating how liquid cheese can still be liquid at 45 degrees.......I came to my senses as I consumed this monstrosity and called for a ride from Flagstaff.....I would meet them at the intersection of FR151 and Hwy 180.....Riding back to Flagstaff at 5 mph was doable, but would have sucked as thoughts of my drivetrain exploding with every pedal stroke consumed me.

    Coming to the end of my ride which had been defined by forgotten gear, weather and major mechanicals....I stopped to watch the sky light the horizon on fire.......

    Realizing that for me to be in this place, at this time seeing this beautiful sunset against Kendrick Park; I HAD to go through all I did. Otherwise, with a rain jacket, my gear, spare deraileur hanger and no weather....I would have missed this moment and would have been somewhere else entirely. This ride took me places I never expected or planed.....which is what I've learned most about life in the past 3's up to you to keep riding through it.
    Last edited by Maadjurguer; 09-19-2011 at 10:42 PM.

  2. #2
    No mames guey
    Reputation: tpvet73's Avatar
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    Apr 2009
    Beautiful pictures and words.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
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    Aug 2010
    Rugged individualism.

  4. #4
    Huffy Rider
    Reputation: motochick's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    I read your stuff and look at your pictures, I enjoy it. Thanks.

  5. #5
    Break it, Fix it, Ride it
    Reputation: Dag Nabbit's Avatar
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    May 2009
    Dude, your luck is total *****. Your outlook and resilience, however, much better. I've always felt that stubborness is good for the soul, at least within sight of the borders of reason. Way to stick it out, and know when to fold'm.
    Today's the day I eat bikes.

  6. #6
    Reputation: schillingsworth's Avatar
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    Oct 2009
    Well done again Maad!! There's a silver lining to every ride. Thanks for the inspiration.
    My Two Schillingsworth

    Ultra Endurance Posters & More: Posters/T-shirts & Stuff

  7. #7
    mtbr member
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    Apr 2011
    Outstanding post brother. Your positive spirit is inspiring. Thanks.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation: brianc's Avatar
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    Jan 2004

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: cstem's Avatar
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    Jan 2006
    That was super cool Maad! Thanks for putting that together
    Vassago Cycles, Shadetree Bikes, Flat Tire Bikes, Galfer Brakes USA

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: chongoman's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    I don't know about you, but I take comfort in this. The Maad abides.

  11. #11
    Eroding into the trail
    Reputation: DustyBones's Avatar
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    Jun 2010

    Nice pics man!
    "The Bomb" looks scary, but hey, whatever fuels your ride ...

  12. #12
    mtbr member
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    Nov 2010
    Kick a$$ recap and the reason you couldn't ride in the mud was because the weight of your huge balls would have made your bike sink. A lesser adventurer would have accepted the ride. My hat is off to you.

    I'm doing that route in October and I'm praying to the anti-rain gods!

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Just beautiful shots, and a powerful will to drive onward in the experience of living.

    Keep the shots coming Maad !

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation: supermoto's Avatar
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    Jan 2004
    Good stuff.

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