In the last update I had just pedaled outside for the first time, at the end of March. I spent April and May in Arizona getting my legs back underneath me pedaling on dirt. I eased onto singletrack and started increasing my riding time; I remember an hour and a half spin on trails feeling like the hardest ride ever! And that was the second week in April! Every week I felt like I was twice as strong as I was the week prior, though individual rides felt pretty slow and strenuous. By mid-May I had regained a lot of lost power and was able to ride comfortably for 3-4 hours and starting to feel pretty strong again. Knowing I had a window free of commitments the last week of May, I decided to give bikepacking a go; the experiment would be loose and open ended and was just to celebrate free movement, health, and the end of my time in Arizona for a while.
Kurt Refsnider and I created a loose plan for a bikepacking trip that would be anywhere from 2-4 days, and we created a loose parameter of central Arizona geography that our route would unfold within. We envisioned riding somewhere between the Bradshaw Mountains, the Mogollon Rim, Flagstaff, and the Verde Valley, connecting different sections of routes we both love, like the AZT, the Wild West Route, the Coconino Loop, etc. and checking out a few areas neither of us had been all while deciding mileage and time riding, and ultimately our destinations based on my body.
The first couple hours of the first day pedaling up into the Bradshaws my scarum felt a little sore. I stopped and did some of my PT activation exercises and the soreness dissipated. The next day I felt great, and we rode 9 hours out of the Bradshaws, across Agua Fria National Monument and descended down to Verde Hot Springs on the Verde River. I was soreness free, though definitely tired. From that day on we proceeded up Fossil Creek to Pine, AZ, up onto the Mogollon Rim to greet fresh snow on the ground and rode northwest toward Flagstaff. Up on the rim we camped in 22 degrees and created the following days route to head west avoiding bad mud as snow melted.
Our fifth and final night we camped on the rim northwest of Sedona and the last day we descended down into the Verde Valley, over Mingus Mountain and back to Prescott to wrap up the trip with a 10-hour day to get back to Prescott by evening. The trip ended up being 6 days and we rode a 315-mile loop that spontaneously unfolded each day as my body continued to be strong and happy on the bike and free of soreness.
The bikepacking trip was a pivotal point for me. I now feel like my body has demonstrated it can withstand the demands of hard riding and big volume so for the first time since December I am thinking forward to what next?