High Altitude Training Days

While I had planned to go on RAGBRAI for vacation this year, I just couldn’t make it happen.  Since I had already scheduled my vacation time and wanted to get some good miles on the bike, my friend Len and I headed up to Flagstaff.   It’s a great place to go for some riding in nice weather and the altitude.

We headed out Wednesday morning, the drive wasn’t too bad just a little rain on the way up.  We made the turn out Lake Mary Road and settled on the Dairy Springs Campground.  It’s a few miles in on the Mormon Lake Rd.  After choosing a campsite towards the back we got the trucks unloaded and started to move in!

Here’s a pic of the campsite all set-up:

Knowing that we would get rained on during our stay, we set ourselves up pretty well.  We had a tarp over the picnic table and an easy-up to give us a dry area for the bikes.  The first few days the campground was completely empty, it was great to have the whole area!  One great bonus, as I was looking around for a suitable fire poking stick I found the Arizona Trail not but 100 ft from our campsite.  Trail  running all taken care of!

Around 2:30 we were all moved in and it was time to ride!  We just rode a quick loop around Mormon Lake and a little more, about 18 miles.  I really felt the altitude on the hills climbs, it was nice to do a short ride to help with the acclimatization.  After that we got in a nice 4 miles on the Arizona Trail, some really nice single track running.  While there were a few places that were kind of rocky, most of it was nice soft dirt in a beautiful ponderosa pine forest!

That night we built a nice fire cooked up some food and had a few beers.  When car camping I’m a fan of living well, after we entertained ourselves with the fire for a bit we busted out Len’s laptop and watched a movie.  Better Off Dead was the night’s movie, a classic with the best skiing advice ever: “Go that way really fast, if something gets in your way – TURN!”

The next morning we woke up to clear skies, but they wouldn’t last all day.  We started the day with another 4 miles on the Arizona Trail, cooked breakfast and chilled for a bit.  After some nice campsite relaxing we headed out for a ride down Lake Mary Rd.

Lake Mary Rd is a great ride rolling hills and an excellent bike lane.  Especially headed back towards camp there are some quality climbs!  That night we went to the Mormon Lake Saloon for a couple of drinks then back to the campsite.

Friday we woke up to a pretty good thunderstorm and just hunkered down in the tents until it passed.  After that is was back out on Lake Mary road for another 50 or so miles, got rained on pretty good but it didn’t bother me at all!  Later that afternoon we headed in to Flag, met up with some friends of Len’s for a drink.  It was nice to cruise around the town, I really like Flagstaff!

Saturday was our last day, after cooking some breakfast we tore down camp and loaded up the trucks.  The last ride of the trip was a fun one, the climb up to Arizona Snowbowl Ski Area!
We drove into town, parked the trucks at Len’s friends house and hopped on the bikes.  It was 5 miles of rolling hills out to the ski area road and then 7 miles and over 2400 ft of climbing to the ski area.  The road isn’t that steep, it just doesn’t let up the whole way!  I was feeling the past few days of riding and my heart rate was pretty high but I just kept on pedaling until I finally saw the Snowbowl sign.  Unfortunately, Len popped a spoke on his back wheel half way up, so he chilled by the side of the road while i finished the climb.  After I got to the top and caught my breath, it was back down the hill to the truck and back out to pick Len up.  It ended up being a great trip, I had hoped to get a few more miles in but all in all it worked out well and I had fun!

Had to take a bike pic up there:

And a nice pic of the road we got to ride:

After grabbing a bite to eat in Flag, it was back down the hill to spend my last few vacation days with Amy!

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