Greetings SOULCRAFT kin. This blog entry is long overdue, and the recent emails sent to the SOULCRAFT team have given me a guilt-trip to say the least…and for good reason i might add: I’ve been slacking. My guilt has also produced some pretty disturbing dreams. In the last one, Sean comes to my door in Tucson, AZ and flogs me with a SOULCRAFT beanie all the while repeating that I’m a no-good, free loading schmuck, and that my team privileges are being revoked. So, here is my first blog attempt. It’s going to be rather long, but I’ll try to keep the babbling short and instead show images of some recent adventures both in Arizona and in southern California. Names and places have mostly been excluded to protect the innocent. However, my name is Jason Pilarski and I currently reside in Tucson, AZ. having recently (grudgingly) relocated from Flagstaff. I just prefer melting snow to melting pavement. I have known Sean for almost ten years, and recently Sean asked if I would like to join the SOULCRAFT team. He didn’t have to ask twice. I met Sean (and Matt) when I first moved to Arizona and landed a job at Absolute Bikes.
I was the “Sunday Guy” for about 6 years, while studying at Northern Arizona University. Sometime in 2001, I bought a SOULCRAFT 29’er on the advice of our service manager (Anthony Quintile), and the rest is history. Matt and Sean impressed me immediately, and I am still riding and racing on that beauty. The following blog is designed to be a basic “hello, team SOULCRAFT”, and it is also my attempt at getting more involved. I aim to share a few notable bike rides and one unusual SoCal desert adventure. In case I forget at the end, please contact me if you are ever in the Tucson/Flagstaff area and would like to ride, hike or explore in some way. I hope to meet some/all of you sometime soon.
Saturday morning I went for a stellar morning ride. In fact, this is my usual ride here in the Old Pueblo, Tucson Mountain Park, which is a large protected area southwest of town and close to Saguaro National Park. Not bad.
….as you can see I also spied the only venomous reptile in the US. The past few days produced some rain, pretty unusual for this time of year, and the trails were wet and the critters were out for some much needed hydration. If any of you racers think you have hydration figured out, imagine not drinking for 5 months…Nothing. Zip.
Serious bike riding began this year at the 24 Hours of the Old Pueblo, which doesn’t mean that I’d been sitting on my ass for all of Jan. Check out the Arizona fun below.
This year at The Old Pueblo we were striving for the duo win having finished 2nd and 3rd in previous years, but, alas, we came up a bit short despite 18 laps and 254 miles, which was good enough for a solid 4th place finish. All in all it was a great time. We had an absolute blast, sans the dry heaving and diarrhea, and Art, as usual, was the anchor. Every year he is so steady, usually rippin’-off nearly identical lap times for 150 miles miles. He is the most complete bicyclist I’ve even known. I also want to thank BGR, who took care of us to the point that I felt guilty lounging around camp drinking tea.
The next big ride-day was Hump2Hole 2009, which consisted of riding from Flagstaff to the local ski area (the first two pictures are the snowy 7:00 am start)
and then hiking up to the top of Arizona (Humphrey’s Peak ~12400 ft)
...hiking down mounting the bikes again and riding to the Grand Canyon…
…not done yet…and then hike down to the Colorado River and out for the finish at the south rim.
Unfortunately (for me), I was done before the river finish, i.e., I stopped on the south rim at 7:30 pm. There was only one finisher (out of three) this year, Randini. I cracked mentally. I admit it. However, Randy finished strong reaching the bottom at 11:30 pm, stopping to clock near 16.5 hours (moving time). It can be done faster, especially without me imitating an anchor. Good job my friend.
The next adventure for me did not involve riding bikes (unfortunatly), but I would like to share it anyway. I had a unique opportunity to work in the Mojave Desert studying Desert Tortoises for the months of April/May. I lived out of my pickup truck
and had a grand adventure. Although often treated like a wasteland, the Mojave Desert includes some incredibly unique flora and fauna:
Why you ask? Well, I was working with a crew of biologist
to study these cuties:
The Desert Tortoises are amazing (notice eggs in the image above), especially from a physiological standpoint. (Turtle trivia: these turtles are capable of reabsorbing stored water from their bladder). In addition to their resistant to hot, dry environments, they also resist a lot of abuse from humans and other animals that follow humans around, i.e., ravens and coyotes. They are very long lived (reported to be up to 80 years) and do not reproduce until more that a decade of maturation. They are listed as a "threatened" species in CA, although not AZ.
It’s a long story, but their hanging on
Please stay on trails!!!
Well, that’s it for now. Cycling adventures over the next few months are going to be local http://rockyroad5050.wordpress.com/ and I’ll post some more about these and others in the near future…then SSWC09 in Durango in September. Maybe I will see some of you there. JQP