Our congratulations to 73-year-old Mike Ingram, who just finished the 620-mile Ride Across Arizona route in 9 days, 10 hours, and 50 minutes. We reached out to Mike to hear more about his inspiring accomplishment. Find his post-ride thoughts here…
Ride Across Arizona is a 620-mile self-supported bikepacking event following the AZ Gravel Highway developed by AZ Gravel Rides. The route is made up of non-technical dirt, gravel, and forest service roads with less than 20% of the route being pavement. This year’s grand depart event, which is still underway, saw 22 riders line up for what the organizers describe as “the worst conditions we’ve had to date.” There was constant wind, above average heat in the deserts, freezing temperatures in the mountains, and miles of melting snow. From what we’ve heard, it sounds like an incredibly challenging event.
Among those the finish so far include 73-year-old Mike Ingram, who completed the route in 9 days, 10 hours, 50 minutes. Not only does this make Mike the oldest person to finish the Ride Across Arizona, but he also snagged seventh place overall (sixth for non-supported). Not too far ahead was 65-year-old Paul Kuzdas, who took third place, averaging 116 miles per day. Ashley Carelock also competed in the event, but fell ill and collapsed at mile 28, left the route, and still returned to finish second overall, finishing within 16 miles of winner Bryan Reid. A huge congrats goes out to Mike, all the other finishers, and everyone still out on the route. Scroll down for a post-ride reflection from Mike.
Words by Mike Ingram
I was pretty nervous about starting Ride Across Arizona. Might have been a little dehydrated at the start because I spent too much time camped out in the heat near the Colorado River on Sunday before a Monday start. But, I lined up with a whole bunch of younger folks, some looking pretty pro, and off we went on Interstate 40!
I didn’t finish Stagecoach 400 this year. By the time I got to Borrego, the weather in Idyllwild had tanked, so I got a ride back up there to my car. I sure didn’t want to have to quit this ride also, and I tried to remember some stuff that I was taught a long time ago about being able to “do a lot more than you think you can.” So, there we were at the Colorado.
This is a cool route. Craig and Minnie have put a lot of work into it, scouting these backcountry forest roads. From hearing a bullfrog croak at Toprock to lying on the ground at night hearing the elk “bark” (they sound just like a dog!), there was a lot to see. Wild horses in the forest, turkeys crossing the road, quite a few deer, and then a couple of elk just standing in the middle of the road until one looked over his shoulder and was totally startled. They run fast!
My most memorable moment is when I was really low on food and was down to a Nestle energy bar, some Carbo Rocket powder, a backpacking meal, and a couple of liters of water, and I dropped the nine miles and few thousand feet into the Blue. That was kind of an all-or-nothing experience, and it was beautiful and scary going down and down. Later, I kept looking at my Garmin showing the track, and then it ran out and I turned around and the sign said something like, “Welcome to Greenlee County,” and I was done. I didn’t take a photo, I just rode around the bend and saw the beginning of the climb up out of there back to civilization. About five minutes later a truck came by, and I flagged the guy down and he gave me a ride up the hill to Alpine.
I have heard that I’m the oldest finisher to complete this course. That’s pretty cool, but I believe the third-place finisher is 65, and that’s not too far away from my age, so yeah, there are a few of us oldsters still getting out there and having some fun! My next adventure? Right now, I haven’t a clue, but we’ll do something.
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