The true start of the race was a few miles from where I had parked, had to do a little route finding to get to the true point of beginning ( I get turned around easily even though I am a surveyor!). Luckily the clock does not start until you get to the designated spot!
This was the first time I have ridden in Arizona and the singletrack certainly did not disappoint. We would be on the AZT for the next 30 miles. Before long I had arrived at the Marshall Lake. I made the mistake of not filling up my water bottles and paid for it a little later with some cramping ( I never learn)! Just outside of Horse Lake we hit some double track for a short period then we were onto an old railroad grade. I could image the old logging trains running through the woods. Then back onto some great flowing singletrack and was really enjoying the smooth rhythm and speed. I hated to see the singletrack end but eventually we hit Schnebly Hill Road and the climb to the first nights camp overlooking Sedona, Az. The first stage total miles: 54 miles (including some extra riding because of missing some key turns!) Stage one complete and feeling really good, other than not quit drinking enough fluids. That evening it was nice to socialize with fellow racers and admire some intriguing bikepacking set ups. The racers were from all over the country, one of the guys, Jeff, came from all the way from Florida. We talked about races we have done before, what gear we liked and why, we shared how we prepared for the race and what food we packed. It was nice to connect with others who shared the love of bike packing…
That night I did not sleep well again, I think it was due to the excitement of the race and that the stars were just so amazing and the sky crystal clear; I just couldn’t stop admiring them and wait for the next day! Sedona was only 6.5 miles downhill the following day. So should be easy I thought but it did not turn out that way! Stay tuned for the Stage two story.