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.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Short-Stack Quasi-Quadruple Bypass Jr

John had ideas about a challenging route through the McDowells, that would take us over three substantial passes of Bell, Windgate, and Tom's Thumbs and the not to be overlooked Gateway saddle - so with a stretch of the imagination, we put this in quadruple territory, barely. Bell and Windgate were known to me but East End and the North End were new to both Freeskier and I. We knew there would be hike-a-bike, but our intel source was quoted as 20-30 minutes. We'll see...

FS had a pretty nice route in mind. From the Golden Eagle we'd take Dixie Mine - Prospector - Bell - Gateway - Windgate - East End - Tom's Thumb - North End - what I've now learned is Avalanche Trail (thx Mtn-Rider) - Pemberton - Coachwhip - and back on Dixie Mine. Lots of climbing. Just what I needed after the flat road ride that was Happy Jack and thinking about and looking at topos of the Vapor Trail all week.

The Dixie Mine-Prospector climb is a good one, and one I can consistently make. There's a little section of Bell that was a push for me, then a short ride on to the top. FS finishing up the first pass here.

Looking happy, looking strong. Lots of work left for today.

Bell Pass gathering. We dropped left, they dropped right.

Going down Bell is a quick way to loose elevation slowly. Its so steep you don't get to open it up, but rather you putz along, slowly rolling switchbacks. A lot of work is undone in ten miutes.

We made our way over the Gateway saddle, our junior pass, then up to the top of Windgate, another strong climb to make. Lots of pedaling, some pushing. At the top, I found Mr. Worker trying to haul this prize up on the rock. He was planning to be the talk of the farm with that meal.
FS got me coming down Windgate heading towards East End. Doing my best, "I'm in control" impersonation, considering I just spilled the bike a few minutes earlier when he happened to be thinking about the rarity for me to take a good wipeout. Well, the thought spilled out, and I went down on a straight piece of trail. I blame it on my fork, which was probably 30 psi below spec, but his mind rays certainly didn't help either.

East End, lets do this.

We dropped east off Windgate and head up East End. 1.8 miles to Tom's Thumb. We pedaled about 0.8 miles before we resorted to pushing. The last mile was steep.

Its a fast way to the top, but the grade makes you pay. Totally exposed as well. Luckily our day was running a bit cool.

He always seems a little happy to be pushing his bike.

We'd come from Way Down There. It was a long 45 minutes or so of pushing up.

Once on top, it kind of opened up a bit and it was really rideable.

The bolderyness was out of touch with the rest of the preserve, which is more jaggedy. 

Two miles down the north face after playing a bit on top.

The rocks were really big, as you got up to them. Amazing how they stood, unmoving for so long.

Tom's Thumb, coming into view.

FS taking in the view of the city. We could see Glendale stadium from there.

Tom's Thumb is to the left.

Watching the clouds roll over the mountains and us all day lent a sense of grandeur to the scenery, as if it were showing off for us. Hey, Nature, I'm pretty impressed.

Some of the stuff on top. Definitely a different character than the rocky looseness about 1000ft below us.

Looking back at Glass Dome and TT.

The view to the north was clear and wide open. I'd like my mind to be like that most days.

The North End drops fast, with loose, tight switchbacks. It is paramount that one control their speed. It would be easy to launch off the side of the descent. Its the type of steep and high that makes your heart pitter-patter as you drop in.

It was nice to have some super smooth trail to roll along, up on top of the valley.

Coming around on the Avalanche Trail, we spotted some rock climbers on this rock face. Pretty impressive.

Thanks to FS for a nice route and the motivation. I needed some good old fashioned MTB climbing in my legs. (And thanks for the snaps!)

A nice healthy stroll through the mountains. When I think climbing in the valley, I think the McDowells.
If you look closely, it looks like a bird of prey, flying towards the bottom right corner.

It was a strong day with 4500ft of vert. Felt good to really pound the legs. Getting strong for the TOWM 60, which is quickly approaching.

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