Pines to Mines

This is the latest installment in big jonny’s TGIF posts. Yeah, someone needed to bat clean-up on the workweek. And I’m your boy. One in from my man Tom F today. A bit dated, truth be told, as he sent this to me in October (!). I know, I know, things get lost from time to time in the draft pile. Better late than never, right? I’m swinging yard, folks. Yard.

Form Cycles.

It seems there is a strong contingency of racers & riders that love to wait until the last minute to get their gear together before a big ride or event. Some are warranted in that they truly have very busy lives or they really did just get all the needed supplies. Others have simply procrastinated. I’m a blend of the two…a lot of emphasis on the later trait.

The night-before-scramble is a common theme that every one of us has experienced. It’s become part of the culture of bike racing for me. I watched this complicated, unavoidable, well choreographed stumble unfold before the 2011 Pines to The Mines event in Flagstaff AZ. My teammate built a top-drawer bike for the event, a ground up total build. It’s a big part of his employment, and not his first one by any means. Depart times were stalled, urgency & stress embraced, favors were asked. There we were @ Revolution bikes after hours the night before the event (THANKS CJ & crew for hanging). Slap that wheel on & call it good!!!!………..” Uh, did you feel how soft that front break feels?”….” Where is the bleed kit at?” And so it goes.

Build-ups & tech stuff aside, rolling out to the event on time is also a common challenge amongst riders. My crew was unloading the car @ 6:56am, the event is supposed to depart 7am. I confess, I was moving at the speed of smell. Luckily the event also likes to roll slow….7:10-ish start. Sometimes I think I could never do it any other way. This time was really pushing it. An appropriate saying “Poor planning on your behalf is not an urgency on mine.” I truly empathize with the punctual friends, family, victim volunteers & organizers of the events we crash with our slack.

After the “neutral” wander through neighborhoods & intersections we eventually hit the dirt road that signifies the start of whatever pace you wanna be a part of. Local favorite Brad Johnson lead out an increasingly fast pace. I tucked up on his wheel & listened to the respirations of my chest climb to an unsustainable rate……hmmmm I should have warmed up from 6:58am to 7am. Just one more little hill and we’ll settle in…..POP!! Time to regroup, shit shouldn’t hurt this bad this early…got 80miles to go. Amateur. My mate & I settled into a rhythm and we let Brad, Adam Cornette and others get outa sight. We scooped up a few more riders & set a brisk pace line that felt appropriate. A few hills were crested quickly, kept that momentum pouring on the downhill….sweet. Had two close calls w/ 18-wheeler cattle trucks coming at us fast. Fuckers shoved us into the gutters. Swear they smiled, waved, and centered their bumpers midroad, & increased speed as they nuked us w/ ¾ mile rooster tails of dust. Cattle urine/ fecal odor compliments of the cargo bitches!!!!

Just as my legs and head felt optimistic about the day I started to question the length of our dirt road stint. My teammate took a peel down the line & shot the dreaded observation as he slipped by…..”I haven’t seen any other bike tires in a while”. The I-phone confirmed our status. We took a dead end road to a postcard view of Sedona & it was cliffs and 2000ft drops all round. “Oh well, we’ll get some long miles in”….I’m very grateful that my companions were cool with it. We eventually jumped onto 89a north of the switchbacks & rode that all the way to Jerome Gold king mine. 95 mile day with already prepped food & cold beer @ the end of the rainbow. Not bad. We still hit the climb into Jerome hard & I was pretty worked over.

After cleaning up & eating we enjoyed the company of Flagstaff’s bike culture. Good people. Congrats to Brad for taking the overall. Thank you Scott Miller & everyone else who helped with this awesome ride.

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

9 thoughts on “Pines to Mines

  1. It’s been my experience that there are only two types of racers, those that leave everything to the last minute and those that are over prepared.

  2. Ha. I’m getting this exact same thing getting ready for SOC. I was supposed to have my gear queued last night for throwing on the car this morning, drive to work, drive 150 miles to Laguna Seca after work, pitch tent and eat dinner before sundown at 8:00 or so.

    Well, that ain’t gonna happen.

    The only thing that happened last night was getting the HBC cog back after 3 weeks at HBC being repaired, getting it back on the SSwift (with dead on ballz chainline, I might add), and some falling asleep in front of the teevee.

    Now, I gotta work out my day, go grocery shopping, stock the cooler, head home THEN pack the car with bike and camping gear. I expect I’ll roll into the campground around 10:00 tonight, forgetting some vital piece of gear, I’m sure.

  3. BTW, sweet bike! I love my Lefty forks. I got one on my Singular Swift, one on my Titus RX29er. Gonna save up some more cash and get one on my 29er hardtail, too.

  4. Selling used 29er Form Cycles titanium “prevail” MTB. On Craigslist Flagstaff Arizona. Its PURTY.

  5. Pines to the Mines 2011

    My response after reading Tom’s draft post that he sent you last October, from last October…

    And, here’s the other side of the story, from the back of the pack. Instead of “racer” status, I’ll take “rider” status. My occupation listed on Goldmembers’ waiver this year was…”not worthy”.

    However long it took me to ride the Pines to the Mines, at least I made it there, followed the course…intact, a good day on the bike, and fucking happy. I didn’t miss the turn. I did my 86 miles after leaving downtown Flagstaff at 7am, or whatever, in a snails pace of 9 hours. I got my tee shirt. The abilities of the group that ride Pines to the Mines are strong and varied. There’s a huge gap in what people are actually trying to accomplish with riding Pines to the Mines. It’s a dirty endurance race for some at the end of a long competitive season, and for others it’s a test of how to get from point A to point B without dying because you’ve been sitting on the couch too long and then there’s the in between…the young, the old, the infirmed! All for a flower blown by George Averback! So, my slow and leisurely 9 hours compared to some was way slow (good job Brad Johnson on taking it AND after the 35 other races you competed in this year), compared to others a bit faster, and compared to some others, I finished, they didn’t. There’s a lot of needed alone time out there and I was relieved to be greeted by the mirage in the distance that shoved ice cubes down my sports bra to get me up the last mile before it turns to the gold paved last 6 miles of dirt road to the end to food and friends. I love that part because you can haul ass after the long day is behind you and feel like a superhero. And, the view, you gotta look left during those last 6 miles and enjoy the view!

    As Tom listed in his blow by blow, yes, schedules were derailed days prior to the event, car shuttles delayed, wheels to be trued the night before and brakes to be bled, but there were also employers to be attended to, food to be eaten, bikes to be tuned and cleaned….sleep to be had? How much sleep does anyone really get the night before a race? That’s a serious question. I don’t hear from many that anyone gets much. Too much excitement, too much to do, too much squirming around. I never get any sleep the night before. Probably an issue with my performance.

    So, my take on the morning was that I was late, and I was at the start 15 minutes early. Guess I was on time. On time enough to take a swig of coffee at Pay and Take, wait in long slow line for the loo which I eventually left and gave up on, realizing I’d just have to go later, and people asking me where the boys were….they were late. Hadn’t seen them. People needed them for some logistics. Figures. This is typical. Getting Tom somewhere on time is usually a feat of great proportions. He had three other people to organize before 7am that morning. That’s comedy!

    As far as the race goes, we did leave Pay and Take a little late as a group in what turned out to be a warmer than imagined gorgeous morning. I was hoping for the weather we were having a week prior. We didn’t get it and it warmed up and cleared up. I’m thinking about the clouds we’ve had in years past that save you from the Verde heat on the incline at the end. Not in our future this year. So, there it was…the mountain goats out front, the center of the pack warming up & huddled up too close for comfort, and the back of the pack talking about coffee and a pumpkin pie that was baked the night before and eaten for breakfast that morning. Talked with Nathan Friedman about the accessibility of his banana sticking out of his Camelback for a minute at about Flagstaff Athletic Club and he was outta there. Nathan Cain was out front downtown and I never saw him again until the end. His new Coconino single speed is beautiful work Steve! Tom and Daryl of FORM looked good that morning and had no idea what was in their future just down the road. I was really, really sure Tom was gonna take it this year. Adam Cornette looked strong. Goldmember hung back this year ridin’ his single speed as he corralled everyone and brought them in to the Mine.

    The traditional PTTM start is warm up loop through historic downtown, over through Old Town and out Route 66. I think I’m mainly writing this for this upcoming reason right here. This is by far no criticism on the ride, the day, the riders, the organizer and the lawyers involved, but this year had to have been best Pines to the Mines for many reasons, and the worst Pines to the Mines for this reason. Does anyone else remember the OTR assholes? I can’t emphasize enough how much the OTR truckers that overtook the Woody Mountain Rd section of the race with their cattle are FUCKING ASSHOLES. Ask anyone on the race. It was great to complain about later, but at the time it was really bad. They took over the road, were hauling ass riding in the center of the narrow road with no concern for our large group. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anyone not even giving a complimentary tap of the brakes just to at least “look” like they cared. This didn’t happen. For all I know, they seemed to have sped up. It was like a scene from Mad Max. I’m still getting the dust out of my lungs from it. The only thing that could have redeemed them for their lack of professional driver safety would’ve been being hit by a Gatorade bottle filled with their piss. No one got hurt as far as I know, but WOW! It was bad. I couldn’t wait to take that right on the backside of Garland Prairie to get away from ‘em, and get onto to the Sycamore Canyon Trail.

    It needs to be said at this point in this recap that Goldmember rides his bike in style. His pink board shorts and his starched and pressed baby blue oxford were still in perfect condition by Sycamore Canyon Trail. And this became even more clear 10 hours later, still pressed. A true professional.

    The Sycamore Canyon Trail is a hiking trail and not so friendly in sections for me on my bike, however, my 29′r I was riding can just about go over anything. Thank you, Tom. Mostly biking, some hiking. Baby heads everywhere. Four miles of that and I was out and done with it. Found out I was about four fifths back at that point in the day, which was kind of a bummer because I felt so good and thought I was doing better than that, so I made a point to haul ass through the next section of dirt roads that take you past the lakes on the back side of Williams to Sycamore Point to drop you into the Verde, after I paid my penance to the rock garden to Perkinsville. And, there she was….the Verde aid station. The Verde aid station can be a nemesis if you let it be. It isn’t as friendly as it seems. It’s a shape shifter. Mark my words, it is put there to distract you from what you’ve gotta accomplish. Notice, there are friendly people there giving you sugar and salt and ice. A shot of bourbon and a greasy hot dog could keep you there way longer than you need to be. The creek wanders quietly by and looms “just over there”. I’m thinking, if you go “just over there” you might not get back “over here” and get up the hill. Getting comfortable and social at the Verde aid station is a bad thing for me. So, I keep on. I do my brief time there with a scowl. I have my small talk. People wonder what my problem is at the Verde aid station. I eat a hot dog, forgo the bourbon and say “no” to the creek! “No!” What is it at this point….19 more miles….up….in the 115 degree heat and sun of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly? That’s where I was in my mind anyway….the heat as intense as a good Western. That’s what Pines to the Mines is, a good Western. The antagonist is the incline up to Jerome and I wasn’t gonna let it kill me off. I went up the hill in my granny gear. I did it better and more efficiently and without as much pain as I ever had. I’m improving. I actually enjoyed it. I’ve paid my dues on that thing on a single speed in years past….I was a happy camper with gears on my VooDoo Aizan this year. Not ONE THING to complain about.

    And, yeah, to wrap it up…I’ll agree with the other post from Tom. The shenanigans of the after party with the Flagstaff community is always a good time and I’m thankful for all that the organizers and volunteers do to set the party up. Drew has a kick ass bus. The shower was much needed. The beer was good and cold and overflowing. “I love you El Jimador”. Familiar friends and family in a faraway land after a big day on the bike is what makes me a happy person.

    To finish, I see Pines to the Mines is a litmus test of sorts. It inspires not only the continued competitiveness to conquer in the elite of our group, but it always acts as an end of the season scorecard for riders who are consistent, strong endurance riders, but not super competitive in sanctioned State races. If you ride it once a year, you really get a sense of where you’re at and what you can accomplish on it for the next. All of those other organized rides prepare you for partying at Pines to the Mines year after year. It’s the end of a good season. It’s funny, I’ll say that I did it 9 hours and some friends look at me with a “oh, sorry” and a sigh, but I don’t care, it’s faster than any year prior and I’m improving. Can’t wait for next year. I’ll clear it in 8 hours next time. On to the Whiskey!

  6. @Amateur, yes, thanks! We have way too much going on to actually be timely with out content. Lucky for all that writing such as yours is timeless!

    Have fun at the Whiskey. I’m going to miss it this year.