After riding for more than four hours and getting lost for two miles on a 34-mile course, Mick Wolf said the Kentucky Camp Trail lived up to its epic title this past weekend.
Wolf, owner of Hike, Bike and Run, along with six other local mountain bike riders, competed in the 34-mile race near Patagonia, part of the Arizona Endurance Series.
The trail is designated by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) as an “epic,” the only one of its kind in Arizona.
According to the IMBA Web site the criteria for epic trails are quality: quality trails, a quality experience — something worth celebrating.
“It lived up to the expectations,” Wolf said. “The race was great and hard.”
Wolf, along with Matt Sopeland, Brent Lee, Brandon Labonte, Chris Smith and Nick Payne tackled the loop trail, which included 5,300 feet of climbing.
Each of the riders had mixed results with the trail, two finished in the top 10, one finished 11th, two got lost and one was disqualified.
Wolf rode with Lee most of the ride and followed detailed directions on lamented cards.
“We were top 10 the whole race, until we got lost,” Wolf said.
Wolf and Lee tried to get ahead of other racers but ended up making a wrong turn and pedaling two miles off course, costing them several positions.
“We lost 40 minutes doing that,” he said. “But tons of people got lost.”
Wolf and Lee finished in 13th and 14th place with a 4-hour, 30-minute ride time. Sopeland did the best of the group, finishing in 5th place out of 70 riders.
“Matt rode with a guy who had a GPS device on his handlebars,” Wolf said, “it had like 200 waypoints programmed into it.”
Labonte and Smith finished in 10th and 11th place. Payne, who rode with no directions, only finished half of the race and was disqualified after skipping over half of the course.
Although the trail proved challenging, even for six experienced riders, Wolf said the Payson area has three trails as good or better.
Wolf is trying to get the Cabin Loop Trail, north of Washington Park, east of Pine, certified as an epic trail by IMBA.
“I am trying to get a similar race up here,” he said.
IMBA and its trail care crew are scheduled to make a stopover in Payson sometime in February or March.
Wolf said he hopes IMBA will meet with the Forest Service and Payson Area Trails to develop new single-track, non-motorized trails in the area. Wolf said anyone interested in trails could come out and help maintain existing trails when the trail crew comes.