A place to share words and pics. Mostly bikes, but my photog eye does wander.

Bikes let the good times roll. In solitude or with friends. For a half hour or 8 hours. Pedals become the gears that turn the earth as the sun seems to track their motion, day after day. Miles become food, and you're hungry. The bike stops being a vehicle, or toy, or transportation and becomes an extension of will, allowing you to journey beyond the pain of self into the realm of almighty, joyous nature, she that feeds our souls. Pedal yourself into the maw of creation. Pedal yourself silly.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Half a Century at BCT

I've done a few big rides out at the BCT. Emery Henderson to Table Mesa and back, my first one, about 25 miles. Hit the Rock Springs Little Pan Loop which is about 24. Did the AES BCT route which is a strong 42. But since that ride, some new trail has been cut in above Hidden Treasure Mine, and we were determined to get a taste of it. We would ride Maggie Mine Road the 18 miles out to HTM as before, but then add another 3 miles of road to get 5 miles of new trail. But not any 5 miles, but sweet rolling, hootin' and hollerin', looking and awing BCT singletrack. Those extra 8 miles gave us 50 total, my first half century. Sure, 21 was on a dirt road, but 29 were some of the best singletrack you can ride near the Valley of the Sun.

We started early, at 7am, because we knew it was going to be a long day. Eight plus hours for sure. Probably more. Freeskier and I headed north on the 101 about 6:30am, catching the sun rising over Red Mountain. The sun was behind some clouds and it remained that way the whole day. Its getting to the season where the sun has some wicked bite, even in late March. We were lucky and the teeth never came out. This great ball of fire remained all day behind a merciful sheet of puffy white. Glorious.

Driving on the 17, it looked like the town was being invaded by hot air balloons. I've seen them lots up north, but so close to civilization they seemed out of place. The chase vehicles must have had to pick up some Starbucks or something. 

Probably not the fastest way to get to work. 
We eventually got to Rock Springs, got geared up, and proceeded to slay the road climb out of Black Canyon City. Maggie Mine goes to dirt in about 4 miles and up it goes. About 550ft in 1.5 miles. It was definitely easier with gears. Of course last time, on the SS, I was fighting about a 15 mph headwind as well.

Looking back at Black Canyon City
I'm working hard for my elevation. Just about to the top.

Rolling past Bumble Bee at about mile 12, we passed an AZ Spring Fling group that was going to shuttle up to the really new stuff off of Rt. 69. The ride back down would be 20 miles for them. Nice indeed. We picked up dgangi, who was on a time crunch as decided our route would be a bit shorter. We rode together and chatted, until he proceeded to drop both of us on his SS. Dropped us hard, too! I swear winged unicorns came down from the sky and flew him to the top. 

On tip of the ridge behind the sign is Sunset Point, the rest stop on the 17.

Here's almost the last part of the climb past Hidden Treasure Mine, up to wher the BCT crosses Crown King Road. Roughly 900ft in 2.5 miles. Gotta work for that downhill!

At this elevation, 4000ft, Saguaro don't grow. It was wild to think that we rode so far, we'd changed ecological zones. But that's Arizona. About as changing and diverse as it can get. Here I'm looking south at the turn around point. Singletrack ahead!

Such new singletrack. Its a treat to ride.

Here's where you can really see the effort and workmanship that went into trail construction. Its impossible to ride this and not smile. 
This trail taunts with its seductive curves.
Getting some of that new trail myself. I enjoyed it immensely.
We were lucky enough to run into foldsinhalf. I'm sure you can see where he gets his name. Freeskier had just ridden with him at K-trail a few days before, so we got to chatting a bit. Hit bike is the polar opposite of the 29er I was riding. His wheels: 20 inches. But look a that front chainring! Huge. He does lots of travelling, so this is the best way to always have the bike with him. Brilliant, and it seems to work just fine.

I bet you can do some sweet jumps with that bike. 

And to think they both do essentially the same thing. I have a feeling that he might have an advantage on the switchbacks though.

South of Hidden Treasure, the trail meanders and pleases. Down it goes with ease.

The rock work out there, I always praise. I'm curious to see how it holds up after some strong downpours. I could imagine a lot of run-off coming through some of these buttressed areas.

Even the panorama doesn't do it justice. You should get out there!

This is the look of a fella enjoying himself. 30 miles in, smiling. It has to be good!
From HTM to BB is a great section. Smooth, rolly, big views, and generally pointed down. 

I'm sure dyno-mite has been used to carve out some of these areas. Be sure to check out rock support under the trail.
This trail makes me look good. 

Its hard to not take pictures there. You can see we've dropped back into Saguaro country.

Oh yes, it does fold in half.  We ran into their group again as we took some grub in at Arrastre Creek.

Freeskier entering the old stagecoach section of the BCT. It is a hardly defined doubletrack that drops down between two impending hills. 

I wouldn't want to take a stagecoach down this. It is pretty fun on a bike, however. Its hard to believe what some people endured, living in the west.
Rocking out the Stagecoach myself.

The climb out of Rock Creek in Black Canyon. All graded to be rideable.
The run up to the switchback gives one a good feeling ot the rock work done there. Solid.

Its a tight turn, and he's got a good line on it.

Which he pulls out, after some hopping the bike around and a little elbow on the rock wall - but no feet on the ground. I'd count that!

Looking back back at the switchback.

This is how we found the sun all day. Behind the clouds. Perfect.

The last river crossing, this time its the Aqua Fria. It was low enough to ride through. After this, was the climb out, up the switchbacks and into the lot. 
I'm working hard on some of these climbs!
 The only real trouble we had was a sidewall tear I got on my rear tire, just a a bit after HTM. I sure don't remember any rocks, but I got it pretty good. I called to John, but he didn't hear and kept heading down. I walked the bike to the other side of ridge so he's see me if he came back, and not have to ride all the way back up. The tear was pretty big, the goo certainly wouldn't heal it. A tube had to go in, but not before I put a nice Gorilla Tape patch on the inside so that the tube wouldn't goose egg out the side. Still 20 miles to go, I was curious to see if the repair would make it. And it did! It sure made a mess though. My tire spit goo for quite a few miles.

What a mess.
It was a pretty decent tear too. A good inch or so. 

It was true. 50 miles. Yes. And a big 10 hours! Raybum and his crew did the whole 61 miles from Mayer to Emery Henderson in only 9 hours! I guess we take too many pictures. Then again, what's the hurry? When I rolled in, I was still ready for some more! 

This route had 6300ft of climbing within the 50 miles. What a great route, even with the big road climb. I figure its just singletrack that lets you take in the sights. So, does this mean that a century may be in the works?
Is it an out-n-back? A loop? Crazy lollipop? I'm not sure, but it was good. 

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