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  • Alain

What is a Butte?

May 1st, 2019, bikes are packed, spandex and gels ready to go, Arizona awaits. All winter, I've been preparing for this weekend. Ok, many days, I chose to stop preparing, especially around February, when the trainer wasn't calling my name, work had me travelling everywhere, and overall, I was starting to get sick of staring at power charts and my pink Tron bike on the computer monitor. Regardless, I put in some good efforts, increased my fitness and made my legs look less skinny. Siavash (#TekneCC) and I (#nine2fivepro) are flying out at 6am from #YOW on May 2nd, which, if I leave my house, pick him up, show to the airport for 4am, I'm waking up at 2:30am. That seems ludicrous so I actually booked a hotel room at one of the airport hotels. Sounds like a good idea, yes, but in terms of quality of sleep, not a well executed plan. Regarless, we left the hotel room at 3:45am and were at the check-in counter at 4am. Bike bags on the scale, they meet the max weight of 50lbs (as per the attendant...she was mistaken, it's 72lbs with #AA).

We cross customs and our flight is delayed by almost 2 hours. The voice over the intercom says that the plane is broken and a mechanic will be there a 7am. Great, our connection in Philly is 1.5 hours after we get there...oh well, we'll deal when we get there. By 7:30am, the voice comes back on and the plane is fixed. The pilot's O2 mask was broken. As we walk to the plane, we hear the mechanic tell one of the AA attendants that he fixed it with #DuctTape. Really.....I guess if it's good enough for Red Green, it's good enough for American Airlines. We hop on the plane, head to Philly. I'm sitting next to this girl. She looks like she's never flown before but one thing she has lots of experience with is taking selfies and posing. One thing I'm good at (not cycling) is taking pictures of people :)

After we land, to our content, the next plane is also more than 2 hours delayed. Great, we'll get to Phoenix with all our stuff. We don't really care how late we get there as it's our final destination. For the rest of the 200 passengers, well, let's say that most weren't so fortunate. The flight is 5 hours long...not too bad considering we're going across the country but since we woke up at 2:30am, some of us are more tired than others....guess who?

Finally, we land in Phoenix...right, we're in the middle of the desert, and it's hot. Dressed in pants, shirt and sweater, we get our car and head for a grocery store, but not before the mandatory Chipotle stop. Our house is a 120 miles away so we hit the road. The views and vistas on the way there were incredible. It's hard to describe in a blog how awesome it was driving to Williamson, but one thing for sure, the car did climb approximately 1000m, which rendered its under-powered engine even more useless.

2 hours later, we pull up at our air-BNB. A super sweet little apartment on a 5 acre lot, surrounded by ranches and a super cool view. Our host Lori is pretty amazing too...making sure we feel at home.

We put away the groceries, re-assembled our bikes, had some food and headed to bed. Tomorrow is going to be a coffee and warm-up ride.

May 3rd, we're both up at 4am (MST), so why not get ready ready, go find a coffee shop and go ride. We head towards Prescott, pretty much the only civilization around here. It's a warm 9C but the forecast high will be 24C. It dawns on me that I should get some sunblock....after coffee of course. The rising sun provides really nice lighting for rocky rollers.

As we ride in, Siavash's front brake is rubbing...that's what he says as he can't keep up :) , so we headed to recommended bike shop, IronClad Cycles. The guys there are awesome. After a quick inspection, Siavash's front pads are completely worn. I guess he braked a lot at last weekend's Rasputitsa. Zack was the man.

$30 and 5 minutes later, we're back on the road towards Wild Iris. This place is really nice, and offers every coffee a cyclist could want. There is one that draws my attention....and it's marketed towards cyclists...the "cyclist coffee".

My curiosity gets the best of me and I inquire. Apparently, every cyclist wants a coffee that contains coconut oil, vanilla syrup, sugar and a top of whipped cream...WTF, every cyclist wants this...boring Americano for me please...oh, can chocolate cream pie...I'm getting ready for my never ending Alice Cafe morning cake rides. After the coffee, we head towards Thumb Butte, with a quick pitstop at CVS to get a razor (shaved legs for Saturday) and sunblock. My pasty white skin never reacts well to the first sun exposure of the year.

In geomorphology, a butte (/bjuːt/) is an isolated hill with steep, often vertical sides and a small, relatively flat top; buttes are smaller landforms than mesas, plateaus, and tablelands. (Wikipedia)

Thumb Butte

After riding by the Butte, we headed towards the Prescott National Forest, which has a mix of exquisite paved roads and gravel roads. Lucky for us, we used both. We made our way across the park until we started climbing and climbing, where we rolled up a section of 25% and reached an altitude of ~6300 feet.

After the climb, we enjoyed a really nice and long paved descent that brought us all the way down the the valley floor. The rest of the way back consisted of riding a tail wind all the way back to our home, where we refueled and rested.

One last thing. We had to register for the next day's race so we headed to the Prescott Community Center, picked up and number and then pre-drove a part of the course. The views for the first 15 km's were awesome. We start off on a few km's of pavement that then transitions to Arizona gravel. This gravel is nothing like we have at home. No additional gravel is added to these roads. They are made by simply turning the soil and rolling it, making for some interesting driving. I can just imagine the ride tomorrow.

The Chino Valley really is a valley between two mountain ranges

As we drive down the road, we stop next to another butte and hike up it. From there, we got a great view of the valley...and the cacti. On top of that, Siavash stepped on some thorns the easily pierced his shoe while i got bitten by some giant ants. Regardless, this short escapade was totally worth it.

The Chino Valley in all it's grandeur

Back at the house, we have dinner, start prepping the bikes and I realize that my rear tire is flat....FML. It's tubeless, what gives? Last weekend, I hit a massive pothole and lost air. I thought I had just un-seated the tire bead but it turns out, I damaged the tire in between the bead and the side wall. A hole that didn't show up when I re-installed the tire with new sealant etc... but is now a perpetual slow leak. Luckily, I had brought another tire but no sealant (duh). There's a tube in there now, let's see what happens tomorrow. Not feeling it anymore. Last thing I want is to sit in the broom wagon for 180km.

Wish us luck Saturday.

This was a definite Living Gravel ride

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