BikePacking… The Coco Loco. Just having FUN and riding bikes

It seems like every year we think about racing (racing?) the Coconino 250. Then we don’t. The official Coconino route provides ‘drop down’ points to some pretty cool towns and bars. And therefore, the motivation to stick to the race route is… lacking.


Anyway, this year we kept an open mind about the race and the route. Then a big storm hit the day before our departure. The storm, combined with the wicked cold temperatures, made it an easy decision. We ditched the race and committed to the Coco Loco route. Because it’s all about having fun, as usual. Yeah, big surprise. Huh.


So, what is the Coco Loco? You may ask. Well, it isn’t the 2011 Coco Macho, although the Coco Macho was a bit Coco Loco. And clearly it isn’t the Coconino 250.  So, let’s just say the Coco Loco was three long days of bikepacking fun, in Arizona. Yep, that’s it.


Ok. Enough lingo. Read below for the basics: the lessons learned and random observations and random comments.

A view into Sedona… 2000 ft down
that’s 2000*0.3048 = 609.6 meters for you ‘metric’ people





Lessons Learned… the hard way:

  • Camping Spots, How not to Poach camping spots
    • We roll into the campground near Cottonwood (Dead Horse Ranch?) around 9PM. We wanted to get close to the Mingus climb and refueling spot / gas station. So why not cruise into the campground and the luxuries of porcelain  and running water. 
    • Anyway there were no available camp spots and we couldn’t locate our fellow bikepacker, Barry. So we poached a spot right outside the campground, in the campgrounds BMX pump track / bike obstacle course. 
    • This was all cool, except for the damn FENIX lights that I was roll’n with. A dude can’t exactly go the stealth route when the FEXIX lights are blasting 875 lumens on low. Seriously. 
    • But Mad Rhino was in stealth mode. His lights put out about 22 lumens. So I calculated.
    • The Rattle Snake
      • During the descent into Jerome Mad Rhino was yelling something at me. I couldn’t hear what the hell he was saying. AND I was daydreaming. Then I started thinking ‘What the HELL are those damn Cicadas doing way up here.”
      • Then I looked down, a Rattle Snake was coiled up on the side of the trail and ready to strike.
      • Yep. Mad Rhino was yelling “SNAKE”. I need to pay attention, one of these days.
    • The Ghetto Mechanic.

      • Don’t leave home without a Ghetto Mechanic
      • Believe it or not. The screw securing my rear Formula R1 brake lever vibrated out on Day 1. Probably loosened up on the wicked fast & rough descent into Sedona. 
      • And EVERYONE knows that the rear brake is the most important… at the back of the pack. NO MATTER what your mountain bike instructor told you during your last trail side lesson.
      • So, I was screwed. But, in the dark, with creepy desert wanderers staring us down, Ghetto Mechanic Mad Rhino asked for my multitool. He jammed the #3 down the hole and secured my brake level. Nice fix. Nice Look.
    • Your GPS is wrong… and if you still want to cruise up our private street… our pitbull will eat you.  

      • No Joke.
      • Mad Rhino and I cruised down a wicked rough trail into the Jerome city limits. There is a 500 yard section of city road that we clearly were not welcome on. But what the hell, the sign doesn’t say “Private Property” or “Violators will be SHOT”. So we cruised up the road.
      • About 1/2 way to the asphalt a big a$$ pitbull (well, the blood thirsty varmit looked like a pitbull.) pursued Mad Rhino and I.
      • We bolted down the hill and did the 1.5 mile ‘loop around’. 
      • That’s right. We were about 200 yards from the bars and we had to back track, cruise down to the main road and put in another 1.5 miles of climbing. All because of a pit bull.
      • I keep looking at the sign. No where do I see the lingo “Your GPS is Wrong, Our PitBull will eat you.” But that’s just the way it is.
    More Bikepacking Lessons, We NEVER stop Learning:
    • 32 x …
      • The only option for SS bikepacking is 32 x 23. Seriously. I’ve made the mistake a hundred times over by over thinking the ratios and mph averages, etc. In the end, pick the 23T. Even super freaks roll with the 23T, at times. I think.
    • The cycles of exhaustion
      • As I get older and wiser I realize that ‘nutrition’ plays a big role in performance, even at the back of the pack.
      • I’m a food hoarder when I bikepack. I don’t want to run out of food. I don’t want to run out of water. Therefore I don’t eat and I don’t drink. I’m always in survival mode, not race mode. (We don’t race at the back of the pack, BTW.) And that’s the problem.
      • Anyway, I’m starting to figure out the Cycles of Exhuastion. I may just start eating that CRAP that I carry for all those miles.
    • A years supply of batteries
      • I rolled out with an entire years supply of batteries. (Is that poor grammar, or what.) And I finished the ride with a years supply of batteries. Someday, I’ll figure this crap out. I’ll either use the batteries or go without. DUMB!
    • THE LIST.
      • The Bikepacking List is years in the making. I always print it out. BUT I Still don’t use it. That’s a big mental problem, I think. 
      • This time I forgot… Chapstick. Damn
    • Time to grow up. Or get tough(r) 
      • Since Day 1 we’ve been living on pizza while cruising at the Back of the Pack. This time the Meat Lovers selection almost killed me. I was HURTING on Friday night while trying to keep up with the relentless pace that Mad Rhino was throwing down. AND if anyone says a Meat Lovers pizza is just as good the second time down. They’re lying. There is nothing good about regurgitated Meat Lovers. Nothing. But it does give you something to chew on. Just Say’n.
    • Queue Sheets or Cue Sheets
      • Mad Rhino prepares all the GPS data. But neither of us EVER think about building queue (cue) sheets. Hell, if you wanna know how far it is to the next town or the next water supply, don’t ask us. But we can show you the route. 
    • The Dead Phone issue
      • So I was thinking. On day 3 we were in the middle of nowhere, I had some issues with my bike. My phone was almost dead. Then I realized… if I had to call someone, from like a pay phone, ‘d  be screwed. Because I don’t know anyone’s phone number. Seriously. I don’t Am I a Victim of Modern Day technology. OR am I just so smart, like Einstein smart, that I can’t be expected to remember these trivial things, like phone numbers. Just Philosofizing. 
        • BTW, do you know my phone number? Doubt it.
    • No over night parking
      • Where the Hell does one park a car during a multi day bikepacking trip? We park at Walmart. Right under the sign that says “No Overnight Parking”. Haven’t had a problem yet.
      Random Observations:
      • There are two climbing styles at the Back of the Pack 
        • The Brother Rohwer style:  it’s better to save energy for those things yet to come. Like racing away from blood thirsty pit bulls or monstrous grizzly bears. or even crazy(ier) stuff like the mosh pit or bar fight in the next town. 
        • Mad Rhino and Lt Col Style: The Hammer.  Keep the cranks turning. Even if it’s at The Lt Col patented 1 rev per minute. Because “I ain’t backing down from this bitch of a climb, even if I rip the cranks off my bike or keel over from a cardiac blowout.”
        • In the end, a decent walking average is 2.5 mph, maybe a bit lower. The painful hammer style produces an average of 2.75 mph – including mandatory recovery time for heart rate to fall below 190. So, suffer as you wish.
      • If you think you can find a trail that’s 12 inches wide, sandy, and covered with 3 ft weeds, in the dark… just because you have GPS. Think again. And while you’re at it. Prove it. Go ride Sedona to Cottonwood or the last 10 miles of that stretch, if you’re limited on time. And in the dark. Let us know how it goes

      Random Comments:

      • Sycamore Canyon. Take your honey. Not your single speed. 
        • That’s my opinion after two pushing my bike through the rock gardens, twice.
      • The drugged out twerk. (Not the twerk.) This crap freaked me out.
        • Go to the Green Room in Flagstaff and get freaked out while watching the drugged out twerk.
        • Holy Hell! Kids these days. 
      What’s next?
      • Total Chaos. That’s whats next. That’s how we operate.
      • In about 1 1/2 weeks we’ll be head to 25 in Hours Frog Hollow. 
        • This will be The Morale Chairman’s coming out party. 
        • I’m thinking I’ll lay down a cool 200 miles. Just because.
      • Arrowhead 135. Because two Minnesota born brothers (Minnesota born but Colorado raised) gotta go back to the homeland and the northern lifestyle from time to time.
      • Old Pueblo, v2014. We’re planning a big a$$ wicked party for Thursday night. Kegs. Probably bring in a band. A couple of stages with stripper poles. You know. The usual. Show up and hang…at the back of the pack.
      The Map & Elevation Profile:
      Just some graphical data for the geeks in all of us.
      Red is the BPR Coco Loco Route. Black is the Coconino 250 Route. 
      The Coco Loco v2013 was ~ 160 miles with a few major hike-a-bikes. 
      Ok, maybe not extreme ‘hike-a-bikes‘. We’ll settle for ‘push-a-bikes‘.





      just some pics:

      ghetto graffiti… Flagstaff style



      We are really good at pushing bikes through snow and mud
      And we are really really good at pushing bikes downhill… in snow and mud


      if I only had the picture when my bike was really muddy
      this ain’t nothing, dude



      poaching a camping spot on the BMX track


      looking down into Cottonwood, somewhere near Mingus


      a bridge on the trail to Jerome.
      and by the way, Linda gets around. 
      on the bridge we found 
      a) Jim + Linda ’77
      b) Eric + Linda 
      c) Jeremy + Linda 
      d) John + Linda
      No Joke, Jokester. 


      crossing the Verde River
      Camp #2 near the Verde River


      the swamp on the NE side of Sycamore Canyon


      not much water here

      much more water in the spring of 2011, Coco Macho style

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