Craig Fowler - Arizona Trail Race - Arizona Trail Wrap Up - AZT Update - BIKEPACKING LESSONS

AZT Update

Ego | ‘ēgō |

noun (plural egos)

A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance: a boost to my ego

Ego was one of a few factors that has me sitting resting in Tucson for the second day in a row now. The others being the 97 degree temperatures and general toughness of the first 300 miles of the AZT.

The first two days of the AZT were extremely hot and the terrain was insanely hard. I heard the stories but thought I would be fine after almost 5000 miles in on the bike this year. I didn’t think a bunch of down time from the bike in September would be that bad. I traveled, fished and relaxed. If this was a different trail maybe that would have been okay but this is the AZT.

Everything in the desert has spins and thorns. The trail is almost never flat, it’s usually loose decomposing granite which has the consistency of kitty litter. If the trail isn’t loose it’s covered with fist size rocks or so over grown with grass you can barely see it. Slow going for sure. Oh, and shade is very limited.

The heat and terrain have been unrelenting. Once l got behind on hydration, next I was behind on calories from a loss of appetite, and finally my mental capacity was last to go. I was in so much discomfort from stomach cramps that I couldn’t focus on anything for more than a minute before all I could do is think about wanting the discomfort to be gone.

Craig Fowler - Arizona Trail Race - Arizona Trail Wrap Up - AZT Update - BIKEPACKING LESSONS

Craig Fowler – Arizona Trail Race

It wasn’t a good place. Food was unappealing to me, the idea of water as warm as bath water didn’t sit well, and a mind that wasn’t making good choices all put me behind the Eight Ball as the saying goes.

Deciding to drop off Mt. Lemmon and go back to Tucson was still tough. Why, because my EGO said so. It almost felt like quitting, giving up.  Now after two days I can clearly see just how bad off I was and that my EGO can go to hell.

My goal was to complete the bikepacking and hiking triple crowns. I never told myself I had to race or do any of them fast. Yes, I started the AZT as an ITT and set a goal to finish by but in the end all that matters is finishing, not how fast. Once my head was clear and I remembered this, I felt much better.

Arizona Trail - Saguaro National Park - Sonoita, AZ -AZT Update

Arizona Trail – Saguaro National Park – Sonoita, AZ

I still want to finish and WILL. It’s just different from how I planned. Flexibility is key to any adventure and I’ve learned once we set goals that flexibility is challenged and you also lose some of that flexibility.

The key in my opinion is to have all the data you can so you can make changes when needed.  Know your bail outs, hours of operations, water sources, terrain, and other key trail data. If you can do this and can keep your head about you your success rate will always be high.

Phillip and I will be back on trail tomorrow at 6 am once again. I have about two days of difficult terrain before I finish the first 300. After that the trail gets significantly “easier” and things won’t be so tough and I’ll be getting to higher altitudes so the temperature will drop.

I hope you continue to follow along and send your support. We’re not done yet.


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