Charging toward Oracle Ridge, in the uphill direction. The AZT is a monster, and everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses on route. Lael was looking forward to the 4000ft ascent up Oracle Ridge.
Lael left Flagstaff on the morning of her third day on the trail. Slowed by a familiar breathing problem, she camped before town the night before, unable to safely continue due to shortness of breath and wheezing. In the morning, she quickly covered the seven rocky miles on the Schultz Creek, Rocky Ridge, and the Lower Oldham Trails. The AZT Urban Loop passes a few notable resupply points on route, including a Fry’s grocery store which we have frequently visited while riding through the area. She spent some time at the grocery store resupplying and rethinking her ride, over a tall cup of Starbucks drip coffee. If it hand’t already happened the night before, by that morning, she had come to terms with the fact that her breathing may not allow her to continue. Even so, she left town with enough food to get to Pine.
Lael called that afternoon. Her breathing had worsened by noon, and her progress slowed through the afternoon. “Technically, I could keep moving”, she says. “But I am not having fun and it doesn’t feel like I am racing anymore. My legs feel good but my lungs can’t keep up.” Lael got off the route and ended her ride near Mormon Lake. We had both studied the forecast up until the start date and were well aware of the chance of rain on the fourth day of her ride. Today is the fourth day and it is pouring. If she hadn’t gotten off route, I likely would have extracted her from a muddy situation today. How her respiratory condition would have worsened, we cannot know exactly. We’re both certain that she has made the right decision.
Up until breathing issues changed the ride, Lael claims she “was having so much fun!” She went out fast and rode without regrets. If she plans any long-distance racing in the future, we’ll have to look seriously at her breathing condition. For everyday touring and exercise, it has never been an issue. Lael’s passion is to be healthy and active, and happy.
Thanks to everyone who helped put this ride together including Flagstaff Bicycle Revolution and Absolute Bikes; Revelate Designs, Specialized, and K-Lite; Greg Greene in Tucson and James Worden in Flagstaff.
We’re planning to visit Santa Fe and Albuquerque this weekend. Send a message if anyone is in the area and would like to meet.