Stage three started out with a 6.5 mile downhill singletrack into Sedona. I thought well all downhill could not be too bad but I was mistaken. Don't get me wrong it was a lot of fun but certainly not easy. It started off with a rather exposed portion of trail clinging to the mountain side and all I could think was do not look left!
After finally arriving in Sedona I topped of my water and belly at the nearest convenient station. Then it would be a little bit of pavement before we hit the next long run of singletrack that would take us through Devil's dining room and along the bottom of Cathedral Rock. Most of the singletrack was ridable and was a real blast and would eventually drop me out into the town of Cottonwood, AZ.
I stopped at a BBQ joint and ate a way to big pork sandwich, took me a while to recover from that! It took me entirely to long to find water to fill up my bottles. Needed it badly because the next section was Mingus Mountain and it was a long, long, long slog up! The climb started as a nice gradual paved climb then switched to a somewhat manageable fire road climb then a 3 mile death march up singletrack! By the time I made it to the summit both big toes were in a lot of pain. ( I lost one of the toenails), but it sure was an exhilarating hike up and one of the most difficult hike a bikes I have done.
After finally reaching the top the final bit of daylight disappeared. I rode down the hill looking for the other riders but not see them. I stop to ask a family that was having a nice fireside cookout if they had seen any of the other cyclist. They had not but they were very interested in the race and had been on a lot of the trails that I had rode to get to this point. Tom, Paul, Dave and Mary could not have been nicer and fed me hot dogs and potato salad. They also gave me enough water to fill all my bottles. It really made me realize that there are some really good people out there. And Tom will be mentioned again soon.
Tom and the gang left and I tried to sleep but once again did not sleep well at all. Next morning I rolled out and my legs felt fine but I just felt a little disconnected. Things that I should have handled easily were just giving me trouble. I thought I just needed to get into a rhythm and all would be good. I descended on some really smooth and fun singletrack until I crossed 89 and hit some gravel for a bit. Then we turned onto a road that followed a powerline, nothing to crazy but some babyheads. And there is were it happened WHAM, I went down hard after falling asleep at the handlebars. Luckily it was minor damage to the body but it did some damage to the bike.
I awoke from the fall 3 miles from the road I just crossed (89) and a long way from my car in Flagstaff. And here is where Tom really came to the rescue. He had given me his number the night before to let him know how the race went. I sent him a message and in about 15 minutes he showed up to give me a ride to Flagstaff! I can not tell you how appreciative I was. This guy who I had just met came and picked me up and drove me a good 70 miles one way to my car! The race did not end the way I wanted but I was so fortunate to meet such a great family and hope to get out and go for a ride with Tom and his boys in November!