The inaugural Frenzy Hills mountain bike race put on by Aravaipa Rides was one very cool event. Some of this was by design, and some was luck of the draw from Mother Nature.
In a weekend extravaganza of off-road activity, I raced my singlespeed in the 50-mile category. I think I may have been the only 50-mile SS rider to finish, albeit at the back of the entire pack for that distance. My wife did the 25k run the day before.
We both think Aravaipa did a great job with the events. I can’t speak to the running side of it, but I’m going to fill you in what I liked so much about the Frenzy Hills race. After that, I’ll share some thoughts about my day out that on some slippery, sloggy (is that a word?) trails.
Frenzy Hills, Not a Frenzied Vibe
This wasn’t a busy race. I drove up an hour before start and found a parking spot close to the start/finish. Everything was a laid-back affair.
I’d estimate there were only 20 people in the 50-mile ride. That spread us all out pretty well. I’m sure this made everyone more willing to banter when passing or getting passed.
Awesome Aid Stations
Most aid stations in most races are kind of crappy. I never count on them. I bring my own stuff.
But if Aravaipa keeps this up, I won’t have to do so for their races. The Frenzy Hills aid stations rocked. I only stopped at two of the three. But check this out: The best one, at Jackass Junction, had a spread that boggled my mind. My favorite items were the watermelon (for magnesium), the dates (for potassium), the energy gel package recycling box, and the delicious Gnarly pineapple electrolyte drink.
The station also had pickles, peanut M & Ms, cookies, bananas, and many other things that actually help in events like this. As I told the emcee at the finish line, it was almost like someone knew what they were doing. Love it!
Race Necessities Were Perfect
After a long race, pizza doesn’t just nourish the body. It nourishes the soul. Freak Brothers rejuvenated me with a sausage and pepperoni pie for the ages.
The venue also has bathrooms with showers, and Aravaipa provided a row of portable toilets.
Another nice touch: There was also a bike stand with a floor pump. I may have seen a few tools, too. This is just nice. It reflects a staff that knows what riders need during a tough event, and the mental lapses that sometimes occur when packing up the gear.
My Day on the Bike
So, we’ve probably established that I’m not super-fast. This was only my third race on a singlespeed. It was also my longest SS ride.
Frenzy Hills was on trails I know well: Escondido, Pemberton, and Long Loop, primarily. I do pretty well on Escondido, generally. My bike rips up the back side of Pemberton because I can settle into a nice climbing groove. The Long Loop is pretty rocky, so my hardtail gives up some speed to the squishy bikes. But I like riding it, anyway. And it’s the perfect bike for sloppy conditions thanks to its belt drive.
Most of the trails were wet thanks to off-and-on rain. The clouds made the McDowell Mountains look a bit like The Remarkables in New Zealand (which you may have seen in Lord of the Rings). The rain would soak me, then stop and let me dry off. By the time I got comfortable, I’d get hosed again.
My times up Pemberton Climb were far slower than usual thanks to soggy ground sucking at my tires. Some of the downhill portions were perfect hero dirt. Portions of the Long Loop were a bit scary for me. There was enough mud in places to make my rear tire sink in a few times.
An Interesting Lesson
I definitely drink a lot less in cool weather. I was down to a single bottle about every hour and 45 minutes. And I still peed three times during the Frenzy Hills race!
So I wasn’t dehydrated. Still, a cramp tried to take hold of me about 45 miles in. The watermelon I ate must’ve kicked in: I rode through it, and it was completely gone not 5 minutes later. My lesson is that I needed a higher concentration of electrolytes to ride my best. The cooler weather means I need to drink less, maybe, but I still need my magnesium!
Frenzy Hills Finale
This was a fun day to be racing, even if the rain made things a bit more difficult. It also added to the fun in a weird way.