This is a story about fun, and pain. First the fun (photo taken by TheBarqsMan)
A number of us had recently read a post on MTBR regarding the San Tan's. Previously thought to be flat, sandy (as in wash sand) and full of horse poo and rude horse people who think they own the trail and that there is nothing wrong with the trail being 10 feet wide....that's why it's been overlooked......that is, until we all saw this(click on the video below to play).
First of all....props to ruppguts for composing such a beautiful video that deviates from the plethora of helmet cam gnar videos....this one actually makes me want to ride just to ride. Something I do anyways....but always find a way to mess it up by setting "goals". More on that "goals" part in a bit. Anyways.....riding just to ride is as simplistic as it is peaceful, beautiful, transcendental, and rejuvenating. This video captures it all from the music....and how about that scenery and the sunset! To this point....we had to try it. I'll state up front...it is sandy...but not all course grained....mostly finer grained sand which when wet will allow bikes to rail the corners. We went on a weeknight....and there were no horses. HUMINT tells us that if you want to enjoy the bike...don't go on the weekend unless you enjoy swimming with the flies swarming the freshly deposited horse shite and rude looks from horse people. Lastly...it's a great place to do some high speed runs in the middle and large chain ring....lets face it....most of us only use that large chain ring when we're descending the chute of rocky death just to avoid chain-slap. This time...I actually used it to pedal...and not on the road!
Now....for the pain part
I chose to do a Quadruple Bypass. For those not familiar with the Quad...it is simple. The McDowell Mountains located between North Scottsdale and Fountain Hills have a couple of major passes which are traversed by trails. The Quad is....you guessed it....a ride that passes over 4 of those passes. Windgate, Bell and Sunrise...and then back to Windgate. The overall mileage is not bad at all...only 33 miles....something I do regularly. However.....the elevation gained is a little more interesting. At 6,900ft gained on the day....over Hike-A-Bike conditions and some rough terrain.....you'd better be packing a lunch (3 cold tacos from Del Taco). As you can see from my GPS track overlaid on Google Imagery above (follow my path by starting on the left and travel to the right).....I did not complete the loop. I did 3 out of 4 passes....and then a few miles onwards to the 4th pass....my IT band started stabbing me with those tiny ice picks of pain. It was at this point I had one last bail option before committing myself to the last 11 or so miles. The pain was such that it was increasing fast...but I knew that I could make it despite the pain...however this would cost me in lost time on the bike in the coming weeks due to a tougher and slower recovery. The "Pain dilemma" I've faced myself with dozens of times before was here again. This time, I came to grips with my body and did the right thing....I regretfully informed the group that I would bail and find alternative transportation back to my car (my neighbor Steve....Thank You!). I essentially rolled downhill into a random subdivision....found an address and started dialing.....I am such a weenie.
I am pissed at my knees for forcing this indignity upon myself...but I also know that the alternative would have left me proud tonight drinking Arrogant Bastard...but dealing with a crappy knee for the next 3 weeks. Furthermore....I would have been very grumpy the next 3 weeks because I would have to scale back my riding....this makes me very grumpy...I throw fits like a child kind of grumpy. In the end....I was able to roll 23 miles with 5,199 ft of vertical gained. I would have been happier with 33 miles and 6,900ft....but my decision has...hopefully...enabled me to have a shorter and easier recovery and get back on the bike again soonest. Unfortunately....it means I did not reach my goal. Like Yoda, I'm a goal oriented person...."Try not.....do....or do not....there is no try". Today, I came to grips with not doing this......
......but looking forward to recovery rides in the San Tans and elsewhere......enjoying the ride with the goal of.....enjoying the ride.