The answer is the Aravaipa Jangover Ride. The question is, what race starts just a few hours after a long work week and goes to the wee hours of the morning?
I registered for the 6-hour solo category of the Jangover Ride after lunch on the day of. That’s right. Nothing like waiting until the last minute. I could’ve also registered for a single 15-mile lap (too short), a 12-hour (too long, but there are also quad categories in addition to the solo), or a duo 6-hour (not for me). There was no separate solo class, though.
I’ve been riding a lot this year thanks go the coronavirus, so I knew I’d be fairly decent compared to previous versions of myself. I hadn’t been on my mountain since June, either.
Anyway, here are a few random thoughts and observations about the 2020 Jangover Ride.
Good Course – No Surprises
The Jangover Ride uses the well-known, 15-mile Pemberton Loop at McDowell Mountain Regional Park.
I consider this perfect for a few reasons: First, 15 miles is a nice chunk of trail. You won’t wind up riding it so many times that it’ll make you stir-crazy with boredom.
It’s also a well-maintained trail that has that elusive quality known as “flow.” It doesn’t feel like you’re constantly fighting the trail. There are tricky bits that require your attention, but it’s far from super-technical.
And there are bits where you can just let it all hang out. It’s a good time on a mountain bike.
Everything is on Fire … Again
The Sears Fire started earlier in the day. Riders could see the flames on every lap, which made an interesting if unfortunate backdrop.
Also, a water main at the park somehow broke. That meant the bathrooms were out of commission. Fortunately, the Aravaipa crew had plenty of drinking water plus Port-a-Johns.
Aravaipa Jangover Ride = Stellar Amenities
This was my second Aravaipa ride, and it was again a clinic in how to provide for riders.
They had a solid selection of food, though I stuck mostly to my own stash of solid foods. But I was grateful for the Heed electrolyte mix (to supplement my Gnarly Hydrate mix and Nuun mix), the cold water and the pickles/pickle juice. I could’ve grabbed cookies, watermelon, oranges and even a cooked-to-order quesadilla had I been so inclined. There were two aid stations – one at the start/finish line and one at the famous Jackass Junction that locals love so much.
It wasn’t quite as marvelous a spread as the Frenzy Hills race, but it exceeded my expectations for a race in the Covid era.
For non-food amenities, I appreciated the ample number of outlets and USB ports for charging lights. That’s invaluable!
Laid-Back and Friendly
Yet again, Aravaipa provided a friendly quality to an event. They ran out of t-shirts my size (no surprise, I was a last-minute entry), But they still offered to send me one. That’s exceptionally gracious.
They also texted me about moving my start time earlier, and even allowed me to grab a time I liked even better than my original start time.
The riders were all very cool, as well. The super-fast dudes passed safely and where appropriate. The slower people made room when needed. Riders chatted before the event and during laps.
It all just adds up to a good experience.
The start/finish area had tunes playing the entire time – though I’d recommend they start making it a tradition to play “Two Minutes to Midnight” starting at 11:58pm!
Desert Night Riding is Awesome
I don’t often ride at night. But desert night riding is something everyone should experience, especially in the summer.
What I like so much are the weird fluctuations in temperature. Sometimes, you’ll climb out of a ravine and the temperature will jump 10 degrees. Other times, you’ll drop a few feet along a wash and the temperature will plunge in seconds.
And you’ll see all sorts of desert critters – I saw jackrabbits and coyotes. I’ve seen plenty of snakes, tarantulas and scorpions on the Pemberton, too.
Plus the stars came out in full force once the moon set.
How I did at the 2020 Jangover Ride
I figured three laps would be a guarantee. I expected that I’d do two laps back to back, with both of those being at about the same speed. I expected my third lap to be considerably slower, and that I wouldn’t even want a fourth lap.
Well, I did those two laps and stopped for a break. I fought off a little cramp in my left hamstring with help from pickle juice, lots of electrolytes and some protein gel I got at Sprout’s.
I did feel the effect of going racing right after a long work week, and I’d been up since 5am. So I stretched out in the back of my RAV for a quick rest. That was probably a smart move, ultimately, because my third lap was remarkably consistent with the other two. My bike handling was slightly sloppier – possibly because I was having a lot of fun and just hammering a bit harder in the downhill bits.
I had more than enough left in my legs for a fourth lap. Taking that lap, though, meant I’d be virtually useless the next day. So I packed it in after three.
A few things I’ll do differently next time: Take a half-day off to get some pre-race sleep, and also set my camp up along the route to make my battery and water bottle switches faster. I also had a problem with my helmet light ejecting itself from its mount just minutes into the first lap, which cost me some time. I’ll need to figure out what’s up with that.
The Lighting Situation
I used the low mode of the Nightrider for the climbing parts of the lap before going to medium for the downhill. The Exposure Race was on some kind of interesting adaptive mode that used a dim setting for climbing, then brightened up as my speed increased. I put each on the charger after every lap.
Pro tip on the Exposure: It charges way faster using a USB3 port. If you have a laptop computer with a USB3 port, bring it for charging just in case. I also mounted it under my handlebar, so I had to cut away a bit of my number plate.
Oh, that other backup light on my helmet that fell off? That was one of my old MagicShine lights from like 2010. That thing sucks.There’s a reason why people who bought then started calling them TragicShine. I don’t know if the new ones are just as bad – but I’d be shocked if you didn’t wind up needing the batteries rebuilt.
Final Thoughts on the 2020 Aravaipa Jangover Ride
12/10, would do again.