Coco 250

 Coco250
I’ve had been contemplating this race, was anxious and nervous since I had never done a multi-day self-supported mountainbike event.  Once my friend Dave Wilson from El Paso completed my custom bikepacking bags, I was totally in, better yet, he was also in and we decided to do it on our singlespeeders. Two trial run overnighters to Parker Canyon lake, and I was dialed in.  My total setup was around 45 pounds. My father hooked me up with an ultra-light downbag for my Bday, which eased much of my anxiety.  We decided to roll out at 6:30 instead of the 7:00 a.m. meeting time at the “The Place, ” a family restuarant in Flagstaff.  We made our way to the FUT’s and began our roll towards Fisher Pt.  The ride along Andersen Mesa was just as you would expect – bumpy…but soon we descended down the swoopy fun section of the AZT across Lake Mary Road and picked up the trail on the other side.Shortly after leaving FR240, we passed on toping off with water at the ADOT yard and road some gnarly singletrack into trail. Dave spoke about the awesomeness Hangover Trail we were bypassing on the route, got to go back for that one.  After fueling up at the local Circle K, we pressed on to enjoy the super fun singletrack of Sedona.  After paying our Red Rock State Park fee, it was on to Lime Kiln Trail.Ah yes…Lime Kiln Trail… Having never rode it before but hearing stories, I was somewhat prepared for what followed…HAB up a steep ridge in the beginning, deep sand in the middle with at times a very faint trail, followed by a fun, ledgy descent into Cottonwood, riding with the last hour with our night lights.  All in all, great fun, but damn, I never knew the Verde Valley was such a WIDE valley…whew.
After we arrived In Cottonwood, we had a time sucker, finally navigating to a local store/grill. It was our last refuel stop before heading up Mingus and the long haul to Williams.  I tanked up on as much water as I had capacity for (about 180 oz) and enough food to get me to Williams. We road 1000 feet above Mingus and took a 3 to 4 hour nap. At approximately 1:30 a.m. we proceeded up the mountain.  Initially, the climb wasn’t bad; sitting turning my 32×22 was easy.Then it got steeper…where standing turning a 32×22 was about perfect.  Then it just got silly steep…no way I was gonna burn my “glycogen matches” trying to muscle up the steep grade.So off it was, walking my way up Mingus Mtn. Occasionally, the grade would lessen and I’d hop back on until finally hitting the single track.
Oh boy….the single track up Mingus…technically, I guess you would call it single track, but holy crap, quickly turned into something only suitable for acrobats and mountain goats.  There were times when it took every bit of effort to heave the bike up and over the next big boulder, then squeezing the brakes while I then heaved my body up.  This “bike-body ratcheting” exercise continued for what seemed like an hour.  During this wicked HAB sufferfest, I swear I saw Jesus three times and maybe even a few of his disciples.Finally, after scratching my way up this rocky, overgrown excuse for a trail, I hit the top where some useless a-hole decided it would be fun to litter the now-level-trail with tons of babyheads.  At this point, my “chunk avoidance system” was shut down for maintenance as I was the ball in a life size pinball game.  FINALLY, it was game-over!
My L&M Stella descent down Mingus was crazy good…big wide, banked switchback turns in between which were smooth sections of bench cut trail begging to be ridden fast.I then made my way north, along a rocky powerline access road which must have been a goathead farm at some point.I kept hearing a “tink-tink-tink” sound as a goat-head stuck in my tire and hit the frame with each tire rotation.  Thankfully, I emerged from that unscathed.
Before the big downhill of the Verde, you slowly climb along the north end of Mingus Mountain on what is actually a very enjoyable dirt road.  It meanders in and out of several drainages until finally, you make a left turn and become a human torpedo due north to the Verde River.  I was could not match Dave’s speed, his momentum (6’5″) and fully loaded rig, I swear he reached 60mph. 
At the Verde, we crossed the bridge and found a nice spot to access the river where we proceeded to filter 3 liters of water.  It was a very serene spot with the river flowing, big shady trees that were just begging to have weary bodies lying beneath them.
 
We then left with about 130 oz of water on board hoping that would get us up the never ending ascent to Williams.  Grinding up that road, it was mostly ride-able with the exception of a section where you pass a layer of flagstone.  The road then became steep and loose, which together equals HAB on the SS.  The climb is nothing short of brutal – false summit after false summit until finally, the presence of Ponderosa pines signals you are nearing 7000ft.  From there, We continued north on the getting an occasional slap in the face with another small climb as the road undulated along the landscape.  Finally, we reached the Benham trail that leads you up the south face of Bill Williams Mountain.  This well built trail would be a treat with some fresh legs and an unloaded bike- two things I did not possess that day.  Finally, down we went, hands death gripping the brakes, down some steep, relentless, never-ending water bars.  I swore there were over 1000 of them suckers. I had to stop twice to get the feeling back in my hands and feet. Rolling into Williams, collecting my thoughts and thanking God I cheated death one more time.  Williams provided some delicious pizza on Route 66, then off to Safeway to refuel after some cross town navigation errors.   The long day (or two) in the saddle was starting to take a toll on both of us, yet knowing that we had approximately 70 miles to go kept those pedals cranking.  We agreed to lay down for the night on a nice peaceful FR one hour from Williams after 19 hours in the saddle.  We discussed the fun factor and how a good nights rest would contribute.  Refreshed and excited we rolled out at 4:30 a.m in an uber chilly roll down to Sycamore Canyon.  I could smell the finish…even though it was 40 miles ahead, I had strong legs and thought of finishing was as though someone had just sold me his spare EPO shots.  We proceeded to have a great time riding the chunk of the Sycamore Rim trail, picking our way at dawn through the lava rock. Finally emerging on the powerline trail, we  then hit the roads that led us to the Texaco, our last refueling spot, a nice cold frappo and cheese danish, yes!! 
We pressed on with the Wing Mountain moto trails, rutted, loose cinder grooves down to hwy 180.  Then up the FR151 climb  and steady rhythm going up FR151 with great anticipation of the upcoming descent down the AZT, funnest descent in Northern AZ, gripping and ripping that single track that I’d ridden a couple of times before.  Even with a weighted bike, I tossed it around those turns as though it was a feather.  We were having so much fun that we missed a couple of turns, little frustrating when you are having so much fun, yet the GPS tracks were not 100% accurate.  Finally, merging with Schultz Creek trail, we continued as fast as we could railing the final turns and eventually hitting Quintana Rd.  My father was waiting for us at the finish with a huge smile (old school cowboy who understands the backcountry adversity).  We were the first finishers and I was more than stoked to have finished my first bikepacking adventure.  Dave was a huge inspiration and his company definitely made this all worth while.

MBAA Race #5 in the State championship series

The race this last weekend was in Globe, and I have to say that we were hearing nothing good about the race course. I Really had no desire to go, but being in the lead for the state championship, combined with the fact that I also represent AGGRESS meant that I needed to go anyhow. After getting up there on Friday, I could tell the course was nothing for than some dry-loose forest service roads (That werent in the forest). On top of that everybody said that there was a half mile of the course that ran in the bottom of a creek bed that had 8 – 10 inches of dry loose sand in it…..OUCH! Well, Saturday was hot and dry, and by the time we started at 11 oclock, it was 90 degrees and blowing wind. I went into this race, fully expecting to win it, but I knew I had my work cut out for me with Mike Haas (Exhale bikes). Nonetheless, I have beaten him twice, and felt I would beat him again, as long as there was enough climbing……….there wasn’t. Mike and I jumped off the front, and were content to ride together for a while. I told Mike we would have a gap after the first two short, steep climbs, and we did. The problem was that after that we were exposed on the top of a ridge for about 4 miles straight into a headwind. I could tell that I was running the wrong gear (20t), and Mike was running the right one (18t). We rode together, and I tried to hide it, but once we hit a long section of semi-downhill on the back side of the course, he could tell that I was spun out, and away he went! I tried like heck to close the gap before we started our second lap, but it was so hot, I was burning up! I could tell part way into the second lap that I just wasn’t going to catch him because of the long flat, so I was content with the gap we had created, and decided to ride for second. Even this wasnt easy, because I just couldn’t ever get recovered, and I ran out of water right after rolling through the venue the second time! Bummer! I knew I was drinking a lot….Welp that meant the last nine miles were DRY. Can you say leg cramps! Nevertheless, I was able to finish in second place, and maintain my lead in the series, but I have to say, I was very dissapointed in my performance. Of course, I had the 4 hour drive home to analyze every aspect of my riding, and what I can do better…….Then I realized that this is my first race season, and I might want to back myself off the intensity scale just a wee bit, and remember that riding and racing bikes is FUN!!!!! – Aaron

Whiskey Off Road

I was torn on racing the Whiskey this year because my heart was set on racing the Gila.  With a little peer pressure and some incentive, I was all in for the one of the best MTBiking events of the year. I had a couple of setbacks prior to the race, overcoming a sinus infection and then a pulled muscle in my back playing mashball with P and G,  less than a week out before go time.  With some Neproxin and visit to the Chiro, I was almost 100%. 
 
A quick look at the field of racers lining up for the Whiskey, I knew a tall order was on hand, with Evan Plews and Dax Massey (National champs)doing the event this year.  Unbenowith to me, my former 24hour SS Championship teammate, Cameron Chambers (former Gary Fisher Pro) showed up for a piece of the pie, I was supper stoked.  A great compadre and someone I have the utmost respect for in the world of cycling, once a 22-year-old who kicked Tinkers ass when Tinker was at  his prime during the 24 Solo at the OP. 
 
 
There was also alot of talk of Dejay riding super strong and my good friend Mike Melley, who was schooling every SS in the state.  Fuzzy, the course record holder was also racing.  Therefore, it set the stage for my hardest race of my life yet.  Running a smaller gear ratio than all of the above, I knew I would hit the pain cave early, hoping I could recover by the time with hit the first major climb.  Those who have raced Whiskey (Rick, IB) know that the first three miles of the race will most likely determine the outcome of the race!  With that in mind I had to do whatever it took to hang on.
 
The field size started somewhere in the vicinity of 350 riders and my biggest challenge was staying in front of the faster gear riders who lack in climbing ability or love their granny gear.
 
Once the race started  I was able to stick with the lead group that consisted of around 15 riders and included 7 SS, the pace was insane and I had already been above my heart rate threshhold when we hit the dirt.  I lost contact with all the SS and only had to gearys in front of me, but I could not recover with no power to pass.  Finally, halfway up the first climb I made my move and passed the two riders and closed in on Mike Hilleman (NV), five time Whiskey champ, I was stoked, because honestly he was the one I was gunning for, there is story behind that.  We rode together when we hit the first technical descent of the day, he let me pass and I said ”goodby to him,” in my mind anyways!  On the final descent after the first climb, I reconnected with Melley, I believe he had stopped because he dropped his chain.  We road out of the canyon together and caught up to Scott Morris right before the 25 mile junction turnoff(50ers turn down Skull Valley Rd).  I took lead down the road and opened up a gap, expecting both of them to catch me right away, but wasn’t the case.  Finally a couple of miles before the turnaround, Morris came flying by me and I jumped on his wheel.  He was cool and let me draft the rest of the way down.  A few minutes before we reached the turnaround at the bottom of Skull Valley, Kenny Wiens (No Tubes from CO) was setting the pace back up the climb with Dejay, Chambers, Massey, and Plew right behind.  Holly crap! I’m in 5th with Melley charging behind.  
 
The climb back up was long and brutal with some good head crosswind, which seemed blow harder on the steepest sections of the climb.   Halfway up the climb, 12 -mile climb I believe. I had Chambers in my sight.  He was laboring and I knew he was done!  I rode up to him, chatted for a sec and was on my way.  I had ran out of water a few minutes later and contemplated on stopping at the next feed station, a homey from SV was supposed to give me a feed at that point, but I wasn’t sure if he would be there on time. 
 
Once I reached the aid station, my friend was nowhere in sight, only faith was on my side because I took the risk of bypassing the aid.  When I road around the next bend on the road, he popped out of nowhere and gave me the best greeting that I have had in long time, perhaps because I was becoming dehydrated and he gave the best medicine of my life.  So far everything was going as planned, except that Melley had made a big surge and caught me.  Yet, not really disappointed because I had surpassed my expectations of even being anywhere close to him in the race and the fact that we had made contact with Dejay Birtch.  Dejay looked back and saw us charging and literally put the hammer down.  Mike and I worked together (it’s actually possible in a MTBike race) and closed the gap.  But, when we got off Skull Valley Road onto the last final downhill section of single track, he was gone.  We thought we were chasing a ghost, that man can descend, but we kept the pressure on.  Miracullously we reconnected wtih Dejay at ”Cramp Hill,” last and final steep-loose-rock climb (sound familiar).  Dejay was pushing his bike and was running scared, while Melley stomping on his pedals and cleaning that section like a man on a  mission.  I dabbed and hiked two or three steps before I jumped on my bike like a kid running away from something. 
 
Dejay and Mike had gapped me at that point and the pressure was on.  Yet, I kept Melley in sight.  Once we got back on the blacktop for the final stretch of the race, I had Melley and Dejay in sight but I knew at that point that I had the smallest gear and hope of catching them was slim.  Thinking of the shootout, I surged and surged until I caught Melley.  We worked together and pacelined until we had Dejay in sight, but it was too late, both of us realizing we could not close the gap with the finish line nearby.  Melley and I rode to the finish line together with neither one of us caring who took the next podium spot.  We actually had the same finish time. Evan Plews, Dax Massey, Dejay Birch, Melley and Mua respectively.  
 
I set a new PR for this course improving my time by 13 minutes and the old course record by 5 minutes. 
 
Meanwhile, Adam and Aaron were also killing out on the course.  Aaron finished 3rd in the 25 mile race which consists of the hardest section of the course and Adam, well, he litteraly destroyed his last years time by more than and hour I believe (he can report on that) and finished sub-four hours which would have put him on the podium all the previous years.  My teammates are very strong cyclist and great human beings, I feel honored to ride with them on our team and call them my friends.  All thought they might know it, they inspire me ride hard and represent AGGRESS!!  – Beto 50 proof
     I had no idea who my competition was in the 25 proof, but HOLY SMOKES, there was a lot of it! Beto made it clear that I needed to go out hard on the paved start so that I would beat the massive group of riders that would clog the singletrack. This meant I needed to be at the front for the start. The problem was that the start line began lining up 30 minutes before the race……so much for a good warm-up!!! I got right on the second row and shivered and twitched for 30 minutes, but when I looked back and saw the mass of close to 700 riders, I was glad I did! I have to say, there was some high dollar singlespeeds near the start and I had no idea who was fast and who wasn’t. Well, we finally started, and the front group started FAST, but I knew I needed to spin like a mad man to stay with the lead group of geared dudes. Thats exactly what I did, and managed to stay with the lead group of about ten until we hit the singletrack. I knew there was one singlespeeder ahead of me, Riley Post (Team OVB), who was with the very front, but I knew I hit the singletrack second. Hot on my heels were several other singlespeeders, including Dan Hight (Cross-fit), and Tobias Walker, both of whom were very strong local riders. They were chasing hard, but I managed to keep a small gap ahead of them for all of the first round of climbing all the way to the first long descent. I was moving really well down the long descent and thought I was ceating an even bigger gap, but much to my dismay, right at the bottom, Dan Hight caught up to me! The dude is one crazy fast descender! We rode for a while up the next round of steep climbing to the second aid station. Dan started to get a gap on me the further we went up. I was focusing on not blowing up, and I truly thought I would reel him in on the climbing after the second aid station. Unfortunately, this is where not having pre-ridden the course proved to be a mistake. the climbing got far less technical after the second aid station, and though I was climbing well, SO WAS DAN! Couldn’t close the gap, so I was now riding in the third place singlespeed spot and the 5th spot overall out of all the 25 proof riders (Geared or SS). The last part of the course was clogged with many of the 50 proof stragglers and slower riders, and I have to say they were a little possessive of their spots on the singletrack. I don’t blame them I suppose after coming so far. This made my chance at running down second place even less possible. It was a total blast bombing the last sections of singletrack to the pavement though. Once I got back to the pavement, it was time to spin like crazy again for the last few miles to the finish. I had three geared fellas pace-line it by me, which meant I was now sitting 8th overall, but I was more worried about the SS cat. anyhow. After a mile or so, I could tell someone was on my wheel, and when I turned around, IT WAS TOBIAS WALKER on his singlespeed! NOOOOOOOOOOO! I knew I had to make a move. Right as we were approaching the brink of a long downhil descent, I spun out as fast as I could, and then jumped way up over the front of my bars, and coasted away, PHEW! I wasnt leaving anything to chance, though, and I had my SS spun out until I crossed the finish line and claimed the Third spot on the podium!!! All in all in was an amazing weekend! I have to say though, I am like Beto, in that it is the friends and hanging out and re-hashing the races and riding experiences, that is the REAL RIDE!  – Aaron – 25 proof

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  • Mission

    Aggress is a Tucson-based statewide / regional cycling team formed in January, 2004.
    As a developmental team for both road and mountain bike racing, Aggress continues to actively – yet carefully – recruit according to a philosophy that emphasizes teamwork in both training and racing tactics.
    Our focus is to race as a team, utilizing team tactics to get our man the win. We ride in support of our designated racer, with each member in turn supported in the key event(s) of his choosing.
    We are aggressive when we race, but we behave in a courteous and sportsmanlike manner at all times. We also have team training rides that we utilize throughout the season.