Monday, March 15, 2010

Sedona Big Friggin Loop Endurance Race

Wow, what a weekend. Our (Laura, myself and the 4 dogs) initial plans were to go out to Moab and camp out by the Sovereign TH and to ride with Fred on Saturday and ride with Laura on Sunday in the immediate area of our planned camping area. Well, as I was starting to gather the gear and ready the trailer for camping I took a peek at the weather forecast for Moab and it had turned to chances of snow/rain Saturday night and into Sunday. After conferring with Laura we decided to bail on the camping idea. My next option I thought was to go down to Sedona to race the Big Friggin Loop. Mitch reminded me of this event in an email on Thursday. I checked the forecast and it looked perfect. High of 60 low of 37. So, I was packed and ready and hit the road. I knew Shawn Gregory was in Phoenix and called him to see if he was interested in coming over for the race. The weather in Sedona was looking great for an epic ride through red rock country.
26 people lined up at 7am and we all rolled out for a neutral start from The IGA in Oak Creek toward Bell Rock Pathway. Turned out there were quite a few folks from Durango and Colorado as a whole. The raced started at Bell Rock Pathway and stayed together for the most part until Chicken Point and over to Morgan RD. At this juncture it was broken up into small packs. I was with a couple Durango single speeders and a fellow from Flagstaff named Jerrad. We made our way over to Mystic and Chapel Trail and on over to Templeton/Cathedral Rock Trails and had to cross the river at Red Rock Crossing. This was just the start of a dozen river crossings. We made it across the river without much drama; except for a Durango fellow who took a swim but he was okay and caught back up to us. Shawn Gregory was at the river as well at this point but was taking his sweet time crossing the river. We headed up to Ridge Trail and up Bandit and around the Airport Loop Trail. The Airport Loop Trail is a bit techy with lots of baby head boulders scattered on the trial. One guy in front of me took a spill and I took a spill a bit further down going into a pear cactus head first and had some trouble getting up with the bike on top of me. I eventually got the bike kicked off of me and was able to get up and regroup. I had plenty of cacti needles in me and finally got going and headed down to 179 and over to Schnebly Rd and to the trail head where the next section of fun was to begin; Munds Trail. Now a few of us regrouped together and we all headed up the trail. We caught up to the 3 leaders one being Aaron Johnson from Flagstaff; as they were fumbling about looking for the proper direction to Damnifino Trail. They were way to low so they joined with us and we all continued up the trail to find the wonderful Damifino Trail. We found it and it wasn't what I expected as far as a trail is concerned. There was some deathly rock scrambles to negotiate cliff drop offs all while holding the bike and holding on for dear life to the trees and shrubs. At this point Jerrard had gone ahead of us and Shawn, Aaron and I were together. The other fellows including the Durango fellows were behind us somewhere fumbling about. After a lot of hike a bike and negotiating cliff drops we made it down to Oak Creek where it was running high. We three hiked further North to find a safer crossing as not to get swept away in the fast current. We finally found a spot and go across with water up to our waist. Crazy………… We finally made it up to Jim Thompson Trail and continued on our route via Jordan, Tea Cup, Thunder Mtn, and Chimney Rock, up the pavement to the Girdner Trail. We had seen Jerrad on the Thunder Mtn. Trail and he had to bail due to breaking his chain 3 times and was done. If he would have continued he would have had an advantage with the gears on the next sections. But oh well he didn't finish. Not having mechanicals are all about these type of races. This now put us three up front to fight/survive for a win; let alone to finish. The next section included Dry Creek which wasn't so dry, many creek crossings, over and over. After all of the creek crossings we continued on to Cockscomb, Rupp and back to Girdner and across highway 89 to Herkham/Old Post before going back to the Red Rock Crossing where we crossed earlier in the race. After crossing the 30 foot river we headed to Baldwin Trail and the final push up Valle Verde School Road and to the finish. Shawn and I ended up finishing together in 1st place. He almost dropped me on the final push up the road which included a nice headwind, but I dug in to catch back on. Aaron dropped off the pace on Baldwin and came in about 15 minutes behind for a great effort for 3rd. In 4th place was Randy Mason from Flagstaff 1.5 hours behind us and 2 others finished shortly after with a total of 6 finishers out of 26 who started. Apparently a lot of folks who got lost/tired did their own ride and I heard the Durango folks bailed after trying to negotiate Damnifino Trail.
9 hours 4 minutes to cover 58 miles and 8500 feet of climbing. Give or take time/mileage if you did any extra bonus miles getting lost. Another epic in the books. I love Sedona.
The top 4 were all on single speeds. Just saying........

Shawn and I looking like happy campers with a slice of pizza and a beer after a long day.


ScottM said...

Good job man. Strong work on the pedaling and the crossings.

Jeff Hemperley said...

Thanks!!! Those river crossing, esp; Oak Creek was crazy.I know it's a long winded summary.