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.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Picket Post: The End of an Endless Trail

Freeskier had previously gone out to Picket Post to check out the status of the trail construction going on and made it to trails end at mile 15. Before this new construction, the route went through Wilderness, and bikes had to detour around using Box Canyon and the HAB hell I've only heard of, Orphan Boy. That would take you to the Gila River. Now, the new reroute, which was to skirt around a mining claim, was almost done, and we wanted to scope it out. We'd be in for at least 30 miles on this out-n-back, and if they connected to the southern section, we might never see the end of the new trail. I'd be fine with that. This is a trail in some of the most stunning scenery in Arizona, with big views and big hills. Perfect for a mountain bike adventure.

Morning came along with a chill, but the skies promised to play along today. Temps might have gotten to the low 70's. Perfect. The little bit of moisture from the week had the trails well packed and grippy.

The AZT at Picket Post can put a smile on your face real fast. The trail is wonderfully built, flowy and very scenic. It climbs steadily from the parking lot heading south, eventually peaking out at about mile 11. The first six miles are really pretty steady. Plenty of extended climbs to get your chest-heaving on.

DeTurkleton exhibiting the flow inherent within the trail.

Picket Post mountain has a great hike to the top....that I still need to do. Its full on rock climbing towards the top.

Riding south, we climb higher and higher. The first turnaround point is Telegraph Canyon Rd, about 7 miles out which does see some Jeep action. Next good turnaround after that is at 11 miles.
Photo by John
U2 hamming it up. Strong rider and great cameraman. He makes that little GoPro camera work with a Boom!

Round and round they go on the switchback carousel. Just before Telegraph Canyon, there are about 5 or so tight switchbacks. Tough to ride up and down.

Something had a snake lunch out here not too long ago. Was the Honey Badger around?

Ride into the light my son. Here you were find peace and meaning. Pedal to your summit. Breath this air. Cherish the day, the challenge.The changing views are your successes. The pain is your freedom.
Freeskier is present for scaling purposes. Big country out there. Wonderful to get lost in. Spend enough time out there, and you can really start to feel the character of the land and biodiversity. Each region has its own personality, and treats visitors just a bit differently. Compared to city life, its easy to see that present here is a stillness that is necessary for peace of mind. There's certainly a revitalizing quality to the Sonoran Desert, spiritually speaking, if even only for a few hours jaunt.

There is more than enough cactus out there to break your fall. Photo by John.

The mile 11 overlook. I turned around here last time, but not today. We had about another 4 miles to head out. New trail for me. I was giddy as a school girl!

We made a second big climb before cresting ad seeing this magnificence before us. The trail cut high into the ridge to our left, it seemed to wave and sing a siren song, urging us on. I never would have made it with Odysseus, I followed whence beckoned.

The trail was practically still newborn, maybe a year old. The tread already looked unused. No horse, hiker or mtb tracks to be seen. We were but a few that had venture out this far recently.

The miles along side the steep slope went by fast, my grin taking most of my energy. The big views lightened my spirits. I wanted to continue on endlessly through the majesty of canyon.

RJ held captive by the view. Yeah, it'll do that to you.
They managed to keep the trail up high, and wove it behind this towering rock too.

The trail construction doesn't leave anything to be desired. It was Godilocks for bikes - just right. It had the BCT feel, but with bigger views.

There was a mean set of switchbacks that held out attention for a few miles as we pedaled up to them.
If you could see my face, I'd be smiling really big right about here. Trail like this, far from anywhere is just dreamy. Photo by John

The work to cut this in is well appreciated.

As we kept heading south, we would pass across and over the mesa to the left. Check out that jeep road in the center.
A spill to the right wouldn't be deadly, but you could manage a few cartwheels I'm sure.

We finally break through and the Gila River Valley opens before us. "Should we go on?" Sure, just a bit more. FS wanted to see if the trail had been connected from his last outing here.

The trail hugs tight to some valley walls. From here on out, the trail drops down to the river, probably another 10 miles out. Daylight was becoming an issue, and we didn't want to drop too far, because it would be double-time back out, and not the fast military double-time either.
I look like I know what I'm doing here....... ( Photo by John)

There were some nice switchbacks out there such as this one, which I should have had. I jumped and bailed, only noticing late the cholla that I was headed towards. Got a little lucky.

The trail was connected. It continues around the mountain to the right and keeps truckin' for the Gila. Once there, it will turn east and makes it way to Ripsey.

We stop at an overlook to feed the bellies, collect our legs, then turn back towards the trailhead. Picket Post is no small ride, and here is where its starts to feel big. Less chatter is always a good sign that riders are starting to collect and ration energy, focusing on maintaining motivation necessary to make it home.U2 and FS are working into the zone here. Long way to go to get out.

RJ is hitting the second switchback from the top.

King of the Mountain!

RJ had taken off ahead since he was moving lots faster than we were. He left his strange message with an arrow on the trail: "NORES". What does it mean?

Many pedals later, we arrived at the lot at just about Golden hour. I took stock of my worst injury for the day, three catclaw that had grabbed my exposed fingers just right at the same time to slice all three open. Ouch.

Picket Post, don't worry. I'll be back.
Just a hair under 30 miles and 6k ft by DEM with topofusion and 5k from Garmin. Whatever. It felt good.

It looks like a short 15 miles, but there is significant effort in there for this out-n-back.
Here's a great ride recap by U2metoo:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

AES Kentucky Fried Camp

There comes a time every November when a group of mountain bikers converge on a lonesome dirt road just north of a border checkpoint to ride some AZT, and that time is Kentucky Camp, the second to last AES event for 2011.  North of Sonoita down near Rosemont Junction we parked and planned to ride a double lollipop out-n-back with a mix of road and AZT. I've been on the first 5 miles of this route when I rode the AZT Jamboree in January, but the trail further to the south would be new to me. I'm always a fan of getting more AZT miles. I've ridden just about 120 miles of the 300 miles between Parker Canyon Lake and Superior by now. When I do the Antelope Peak Challenge next January, I'll get even more AZT miles. Then They'll finish the last few miles on the Gila section and we'll check that out, getting probably another 15. Its a good time to be following the evolution of the AZT.

Good group for this race too. Certainly a bit more than the BCT event. Probably more Tucsonian folk present.

The terrain here has rolling hills that run off the flank of Mr Wrightson in the Santa Rita Range. The undulating ridges make for great MTB trail.

At Kentucky Camp, which is an old mining camp, there's a bunch of old stuff, that has character.

I think it needs an oil change.

Kentucky Camp's first singlespeed.

Part of the mining camp built it he early 1900's.
If you can find your way there from the Rt. 83, there is a little B&B you can stay at.

There was quite a bit of jeep road on this route, but I don't fuss about it like some people can.  I prefer singletrack, and it should be maximized, but I won't diminish a ride if it uses some road to get it done.

Mt. Wrightson gets larger and larger the more we pedal north.

Wildlife was here. I'm sure of it.
Lots of the road was pretty groomed.

We took the road up to Gardner Canyon where we caught the AZT and headed south.

First tarantula I've seen on the trail after a decade of riding in the desert. He was busy eating lunch when we came upon him.

"Whatchoo looking at?"

He eventually hid in the grass. He was really docile and didn't seem too worried about us.
He really wasn't all that big though. Photo by John

Freeskier enjoying some of the primo AZT from Gardner Canyon. All the way back to Kentucky Camp it was really nice.
There was good flow on this section. Freeskier's flow got a bit wobbly as he discovered that his rear hub had imploded and was seemingly hanging on by a thread. would it survive another 20 miles? It sure did, amazingly. I was waiting for it to seize any time, but it never did. I'm sure he appreciated the associated brake drag.
It was a bit chilly so I wore big socks. Photo by John

Zoom! Photo by John

Kentucky Camp was at the center of the double lollipop so it made for a great rest stop. Water, bathroom, and adirondack chairs. And comfy the were.  We took a nice break to fuel up for the final 15 miles. We'd get in just before light faded quickly beyond the mountains.

AZT. It'll be complete soon. Very soon.
Double lollipop brilliance. Nice route, but too bad just a bit further south from here it runs through a small bit of Wilderness, forcing bikes to take a detour.

Kentucky Camp is certainly tougher than BCT, for me anyway. Lots of ups and downs. The first six miles has 1300ft of climbing. I was pretty toast after that and was thinking about the 29 miler option, but then I got my senses back and recovered on a fast stretch of road. We were the last two to come in, and were happy to declare the trail empty of the days participants. It was a great way to spend eight hours.

In 3D stereoscopic vision. Stare long enough, and it'll pop out of your screen.