Tuesday, February 9, 2010

SSUSA 2010, a desert odyssey

Single speed USA 2010 was a single speed mountain bike gathering in the Tucson dessert. Dejay Birtch (Niner bikes) ran the show.

Me posing with the porta potties hoping to get a sponsorship from United toilets. Photo by Thom's helmet.

The week before the "race" I flew out to AZ to stay with my sister and visited some old friends.
Living in Tucson for most of my childhood I was brought back to the sites and smells of the dessert in winter.

Monte introduced me to Fantasy Island which was super fast single track through cacti. Monte had this one jump out at him.

Then it got stuck in his hand! Ouch!

Fast and flowy. FI was super fun! Banked corners and super fast chutes with little jumps at the top. With the F-16's flying overhead I felt like I was the pilot flying through the turns and pushing the edge of traction to go faster and faster. The first 10 minutes Monte was hammering through all of these twists and turns and ups and downs I felt like I was going to be sick trying to keep up. It was easy to loose track of time there. You just want to keep going because it's so much fun. When I look outside now I get kinda depressed thinking about how nice it would be to go riding there just one more time.

Wednesday before the race I scoped out part of the course I started this climb that lasted forever. I climbed for 50 minutes. I got lost 100 times and wound up being out there for 5 hours. I also wound up at the same quicksand monte went into. And yes I had to walk all the way back up the hill. Took forever. A dumb and dumber moment.

Looking out to Chiva falls.
Water crossing below Chiva.

After the race
Belt. There were like 6 of these there.
This guy is so cool.
Thom and Monte "stoned"

It's hard to put it into writing what happened out there. But I will try. We all rolled out on the pavement. Our humming tires and passing of beer in the cool dessert air was quite an experience. The kind of thing you (we) live for. We got to the base of the climb and Dejay had us take our front wheels of and walk down the hill. We sang happy birthday to him and he thanked us and said "have fun." That was the start. I walked fast to my bike while others ran and people were saying "why are they running?" The first 6 miles was all hill. I knew I had to pace myself or I would be cooked the rest of the race. As some of you know I tend to blow it all on the holeshot, but not this time. I had to keep telling myself to hold back. It was a long ride to the finish and I had no idea what the last half was all about.
Everything was working perfectly. All of the climbs I thought were huge on Wednesday were not really that huge anymore. Having a 33x20 helped also. The course was either up or down. Not much flat.
The experience of riding with other singlespeeders from all over the country was really cool. Everyone was proud to say where they came from and asked me where I'm from too. Being able to talk was a good meter to judge if you were going too hard.
We made a right turn at the top of Redington rd onto some sick single track. Sharp rocks and sharper cactus all over. I kept praying that I didn't bite my sidewall on my new karma. Went by the first of many tire failures. "Sorry dude!" was the only thing I could say.
Then the single track ended at a fence. Uh? the yellow tape is on the other side of the fence. Sweet! Throw the bike over and hop the fence. Nice! Super fun!
Enter the rock garden. I've never ridden anything like this before. Thank god for 29" wheels was all I could think. There was water too. This was too much fun!
Got lost for a second and had to back track. Someone followed me too and was kinda pissed. But thankfully we were not too far from the trail.
Once I got to the top of High Chiva I knew I could start pushing the pace a little bit more. We climbed back up to Redington Rd and I saw a Niner jersey. It was Fuzzy! He finished 1st last year here so I thought I must be doing really well. I passed him on the road and was pushing kinda hard now. I knew that most of the climbing would end at the top of Redington. I was taking full advantage of the road by cutting all of the corners and tucking on all of the slight down hills to make up time.
Left onto the AZ trail. Some more climbing and beautiful views of the high desert. All single track now. Totally kicking it now and caught up to some guys. One guy was taking a leak and was just finishing up when I passed him. Nick and I would finish together and since he was taking a leak when I caught him I gave him 4th place so I wouldn't have to sprint for it. It wasn't a race after all.
La Milagrosa was the final push home. Miles of super techy down hill sketch town stuff. If you click on the link you will see what I mean. Just multiply the speed by 2, lock out the suspension, and change the music to Master of Puppets and you might get the feel for it. I walked some sections it was so steep. But again thank god for 29" wheels!
And thank God for Dejay Birtch and all the other people to make SSUSA happen. Boulder CO next year.
It was really good to see Thom and Mike out there. I'm hopeing next year we will see guys like Stine, Cavenaugh, Dougyfresh, and CB2 out there. We could all rent a cabin and ride all week long!
In the mean time we can look forward to Single Speed a Palooza! So sign up bitches!


  1. Nice write up. I'm going to have to start a special SSUSA account like the old X-mass accounts. I've got a box of empties at the shop for my first deposit.

  2. I purposely ran into that catcus so James could have some blog fodder, Didnt hurt at all.
    Also ran into catcus during the race, for a second I thought I could ride it off. NOT!
    I need to come home, put some arm and leg warmers on so I can heal.
    Desert riding HURTS....

  3. 量力而為,別勉強了,Cut your coat according to your cloth..........................