Tuesday, February 10, 2015
SSAZ Family Reunion
SSAZ is a crazy cult-like gathering, something like “Burning Man”, or that was how it was explained to me. Single-speeders gather for a few days and what happens is a creation all unto itself. Art was on the unofficial roster, and while I had been invited, I declined due to a healing hamstring.
We rolled into the touristy town of Cave Creek and made ourselves at home at the Tumbleweed Hotel under the "Jesus Saves" sign. Eventually we strolled down to the bike shop for Art to pick up his packet and meet some of the family. I bought a beer and before my beer was finished, a few suckers were already out for the count … on the ground, literally. I’m sure it was a crazy night, but we decided to go to bed early and save our efforts for the next day.
Up early, we headed back down to the bike shop and the large family loaded their bikes into a Uhaul and climbed aboard buses, all to be delivered to the start. Those that did not fit into a bus, climbed into our van, sitting on top of viga beams that we purchased the day before. Eventually, 80 or so bikers with only their favorite gear were released into the desert. They were instructed to follow the blue and pink tape, some of which were tied to bottles of liquid refreshments and told to “have fun and don't be a dick!".
I took the van back to the finish and got on my bike at about the time the latter half of the riders were passing through the aid station. I jumped on course at that point and rode some fun trails, but lost my markers and tried to turn back. This happened quite a few times and eventually I did not really remember where I came from. I only had one beer the night before and now I was feeling a little concern for my partying family members that would be trying to find their way.
Luckily I spotted some riders and tried to follow them. They eventually dropped me, but at least I was back on course. If I followed the course, I would find my way back, or so I thought. So I latched on to another group and got dropped again, but they eventually got lost and I caught up. We did some figuring and managed to get back on course with only adding 5 miles and a giant climb. I was impressed with how the single-speeders did the climb, but I was very glad to have my gears at that point. We split up again and 21 miles later, I rolled in to the finish site to find out that Art had won as the first finisher. ....crazy awesome!
It was quite an epic adventure and I got to ride some new trails, many which were really fun. There were some great views, numerous water crossings and new friends along the way. It was a great day!