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 18, 2011

Hawes Whole Enchilada

Freeskier and I had another big ride we wanted to get under our belts in the valley before the oven cranked up, which involved a roll around Hawes and Pass Mountain, in the east valley. This was getting towards the end of our short list for the spring season, as we had already taken down the Somo Epic and the BCT AES plus route. For the future we still had some Ripsey AZT planned and the crushing Prescott Monstercross.

Freeskier had a route in mind for us this day, as he did for SoMo as well, which did not take the Sunday stroll attitude. His legs like to climb, and mine like to follow. We would roll first some new-ish stuff out at TRW, as we started at Red Rock Park, and then head to Hawes by way of the canal to Cardiac Hill, or Mudflaps, or the Widowmaker, or whatever other name can invite gravity inducing, lung searing, leg burning pain. Then we'd meander to the end of Ridgeline to only climb up, what has always been for me a sweet downhill run.

At the top, after taking in some Secret, we'd head to the bottom of Mine, to really find out how bad it is to go up. I had visions of walking, pushing, hacking, baking in the sun, but alas, the climb was over before I knew it, and we started to roll the north side of the range, by way of Twisted Sister and Wild Horse. From there, we'd have to make a decision about Pass Mountain.

The beginning of April brings omen of the impending summer. The sun roars large, but not quite with the fully fanged bite that it will have in two more months. It is still wise to bring lots of water and sunscreen.
Sure, he's smiling here, but the tire would be the goblin that followed him all day long. Remember, take a flat out, check the tire for thorns! It will certainly dampen the mood when, as you pump up the new tube, it is immediately punctured. Air it up. Ride. Air it up. Ride. We made a few stops, and with the heat, the frustration grew.

But a friends trail side repair is my time to capture nature. I'm in no hurry. I've got no worries. The cactus pose and I might even wait for the clouds to get set just right. Time is different. I'm different. Out here, sacred space abounds.

One doesn't ride through the desert. One rides into it. I pull it over me like a blanket, keeping me from my civilized self. And to think, this is about 25 minutes from my house.

The Salt River flows to the north past Red Mountain. Bush Highway meanders along its banks. I used to hike with an old friend of mine, Wyatt, down there many moons ago.

The real treat of the day was this old fella. We were coming up Mine and he was trotting along, heading up across the trail to some spot I'm sure he's been to many times. He hardly noticed us as he found the shade and slid between two rocks, hardly a space and inch wider than he was.

I've been riding in the desert for 13 years, and this was the first desert tortoise I've seen.

He didn't seem to shy to strike a pose. His "lips" were green and wet from a recent snack. It reminds me to Gu up myself.

Four Peaks looms in the east. I've always imagined it as one large peak, under the massive ocean that covered this land many millions of years ago. Now I'm a submarine mountain biker. Cool blue sky. Cool blue air. Crap its getting hot out.
After topping off at Mine, I got to sample some new-to-me trail. Twisted Sister and Wild Horse. We even had plans to scope out the Tequila Tree, where Patron grows from the wild palo verde, giving its nectar to all those that could crack the riddle, as Freeskier had a pretty good bead on where it was. We came to the turnoff, but I had forgotten, and edged us to push on, to have a nice PB&J in the shady wash at Wild Horse. I guess it was Freeskier's adventure to be had some other day. It turned out to be a good non-decision, as we got back pretty late, and the hike and subsequent shots would have surely taken a respectfully lazy bit of time.

I found Twisted Sister and Wild Horse to be great fun. TS winds close to the mountain with some slow, techy climbing moves that I like more and more and my legs get stronger, and are able to push hard and with balance. Then we rode the Wild Horse, which is a 3.5 mile uphill lurch to the NRA pit, where the dirt jumpers make their home. The desert rolls in a special way there, and lulls your power into low RPMs, steady, constant. Would it end? I didn't care, and tried not to think of it. Its like the dream that goes exactly how you want it to.

We were lucky enough to run into a few fellas that were out hitting the jumps. Their bikes were impressive. More like motos, than bicycles. Eight inches of travel. Full faced helmets. Armor. 45 lbs of steel. Its quite a difference from my aluminum 4" travel XC machine and soft synthetic layers.

We rode up the jumps a bit just to see what the fuss was about and found these groomed berms. We looked only. No time to test untested skills when you've still got 20 miles to go. Notice the jump to the left, between Freeskier and the bush. Its a very large line.

Here's the take-off. The landing is beyon where he's standing.

I'm standing on the lip, and still the landing is beyond Freeskier. It rolls down into the wash and into a step-up across a secondary wash. I wished I was 16 again, and daring enough to hit it. But age begets carefulness begets wisdom begets another day to ride.
 From the pit, we rode up Usery Pass Rd towards the Pass Mountain turn-off. We'd been out already about 6 hours, and I had a deadline. I knew the route and also knew that, even thought it was a short 8 miles, they were slow miles, and we would have added no less than 3 hours to our time. Even riding up to the saddle and back would have taken an hour at the least. So it was that we passed on Pass Mountain. Another epic for another day....
For all the planes whose gps has failed.

Phoenix is far off into the Valley, just behind Papago Park. Another friend of mine, Hickerbilly, was singlespeeding through there at about the same time. Its good to be on a bike. 

Its easy to get a shot of Red Mountain as it has its own contrapposto, molded by Time, arhitect of random, unplanned, natural beauty. God of Gods. Bender of wills. How does it shape us? Is anything immune?

Random cactus freak of the day. I wonder what environmental cues may have influences such a garbled mess of spine and thick green skin.

And finally, on the homeward stretch, the seepy tire tires out. Another tube sacraficed. Frustration beads on the brow. Fury as the bike is flipped in the shade. Just a few more miles is all we needed from you.....

But I'm not minding. I look. I see. Contemplate. Wonder. The little winged creatures inside are probably more content than I am, and they don't even notice me.

I'm getting towards summer riding gear. Bandana off the neck, sun sleeves on the arms, 200oz of water in the Talon. Delerium held back, just at arms length. That's how I like it.

We almost got it all. Just a few connecter left on the west side of the mountain, which would have covered about every trail in the system.

3D for good measure.

It was a good 36.8 miles with a mere 4800ft of climbing. A good days work. I'll put in that 7 hours any day.

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