Saturday, July 2, 2011

Durango Dirty Century

Perhaps the best way to tell the story of this one is to start from the end.
Quote from Matt Turgeon, DDC Race Promoter and Organizer:
"I just got a note from Aaron Kimble and he finished the full A route at 5:05-AM. That is some crazy, hard core determination and as a result of that, he gets the title of 2011 DDC Winner!  Holy Cow Aaron, tell us about your adventure up there at night when and after you recover!!"
My response and account of what happens during 23 hours straight of mountain biking in one of the most beautiful places on Earth:
That's all it was - pure determination. I was never really in trouble. I didn't have any mechanicals or catastrophes. I felt good the whole route. My plan was to take it easy on the uphills and bomb the downhills. So I never let my heart rate get too high or push it into that red zone. Of course my main goal was to just finish. At every bail out point I didn't look twice and just kept going. I never saw any of the support stations. I guess I was too late and nobody figured there was anyone left out there. I still had plenty of food, water, and clothes though (too much, really). Yeah, at first it started out as just a ride and then after midnight it turned into survival. I thought I had two sets of new batteries for my GPS, but my second set only lasted for about 1 1/2 hours. I did have the Latitude 40 map, but it's hard to tell exactly where you're at on a course that big especially at night. At Kennebec I had made up my mind to bail back on FS 171 to Junction Creek Rd - I really wanted some of that Ska Beer! But once again at that point I said screw it and kept going. At only twenty-something miles left I thought I was home free. Had I known the trail would turn back up and away from Junction Creek I would have bailed. It was only here where my legs began to tighten up. At that point I was cursing the trail and pretty much walked the whole climb. I was really questioning if I had missed a turn and if I was still on the CT. I was not seeing any more blazes, any kind of tracks were scarce and the trail was really overgrown. I have a good sense of direction and even at night I knew I was not on a direct heading towards town. I finally pulled out my map and it appeared I was still on course, actually I was at the top of the climb. As soon as I turned the corner I saw the city lights again, thanked Jesus and ripped back into town. Needless to say this is definitely an epic adventure and was even way beyond my expectations. For the previous five years living in Phoenix, this old Arizona boy is still not used to the snow or high altitude. I had one quote I kept in mind while preparing and riding this event: "Pain is temporary; Pride is forever." See y'all next year!

The story in pictures:

An easy roll out in the peleton of about 40.

Hermosa Creek from Hermosa Creek Trail.

Headed towards the peaks.

Celebration Lake.
Indeed a celebration point; the top of Bolam Pass Rd and the beginning of the Colorado Trail section.

This is the sighting of probably the most surreal experience I've ever had in my life. My closest and first encounter to such a mountain. Built up emotion came pouring out uncontrollably. The spirit of the Lord was upon me.

This snow pile was way taller than me, at an almost a sheer vertical wall.

Countless remaining snow fields to navigate, many like this one.

Top of the first 12000 ft ascent. (The next two photos show a 360 view).

Whoops! I slid down this one. My footing gave out and I slid down to the tundra with bike in hand. The others did as well. You can see multiple butt slides.

An elk in the middle of a meadow. A perfect place and time to spot an elk nearing sunset.

The last picture as darkness takes over at the top of the second 12000' peak.
Still one more to climb at an even higher and more treacherous 12280' in total dark... Survival mode begins.
(See below).

(Photo courtesy of Sonya Looney)

2011 Durango Dirty Century
And over.
Yeah, this is the trail, and I got to do it in the dark!
(Photo courtesy of Jeff Kerkove)

1 comment:

  1. I slid down that same snow did about 5 others. Could have been a BAD outcome should it have been longer and steeper. Awesome job on finishing this beast! By far one of the harder routes I have ridden/hiked/pushed.