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, December 10, 2011

AES McDowell 46er

On this great day, we took part in the last AES event of the year, The McDowell 46 up in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and McDowell Mountain Park. It was to be the McDowell 60, but there turned out to be a foot race on the comp loops in MMP, so we were nice enough to cut those miles out to minimize the impact on their event. Not to worry, there were plenty of miles left for us, and 46 seemed about right for me. This ride was all business since the easy rolly stuff on the comp loops was cut. Sunrise, Sonoran, Prospector, Tom's Thumb, with just a bit of Pemby to lets the legs rest a short spell was the dujour of the day.

The looniness of the day started with a lunar eclipse which followed me all the way to the start, from darkness to dawn. Strange, seeing the Earth's shadow. Makes you feel like you are really floating in space, rather than tethered to terra firma, the Earth's crust, our painter's canvas, as mountain bikers. Then I was glad I was tied down, because I need dirt and friction to get this mountain bike thing working! And as I was working on it in the parking lot, 30 seconds before take-off, "Let me add that water bottle cage...."' I smashed by trigger shifter in the hatchback of my car and a little plastic bit plinks onto the ground. Hmmm.....Looks like the downshifter......it is. Damn. Snapped clean off. Check the upshift - works - sacrificed one gear to learn that, but it works. Looks like three left out of nine. I head out after, ashamedly, thinking, "I might be out." Silly talk. One gear is all you need. Besides, I have a few here to spare. That lasted about 20 minutes until I was headed up Quartz. Click, click! No gears left, and so it was for the next 5 hours. 32x34. Good thing MSP is full of climbs.

The morning's lunar eclipse. It's not every ride you get to start your day with a galactic phenomenon.

Up and over the top of Sunrise, the first big climb of the day. I like it. The Santans show up in the far south.

The fountain of Fountain Hills.

I came around the corner and John was smiling. It certainly couldn't be because he has a cholla in his hand, but it was.

It doesn't take much for one to tag along. "I've got some needle nose, but I need to take a snap first, you know." "Of course." What is glory without proof?!
The culprit, looking guilty and everything.
Showing off my mad tech skillz. This was my first time on Sonoran, and it wasn't too bad, but I hadn't heard much good about it, so that made it better, since it was supposed to be so bad. Some HAB, but the downhill was sweet. Photo by John.

I'm totally spun out on my 32x34 gearing as we hit the flats of Pemberton. John was getting bored as I led at a stiff 8mph pace. I decided something had to be done, so I investigated my trigger situation. Turns out I can push in with my finger the little metal bit that is left inside the shifting chamber. Click, click! Sweet, I was back in business after 5 hours of SSing it.

The low-lying trail is mostly uneventful, and only adds miles. Its a nice change of pace, but I prefer the meat of the McDowells. Well, enough of that ahead. We still had to hike up the north face of Tom's Thumb.

Pemberton took us far from the McDowells. We'd have to ride back up to them to find Tom's Thumb.

America, F#%K yeah! Even with all the stupid crap that goes on here, its still one bitchin' country.

And we reach Tom's Thumb. 30 minutes of HAB. Joy. Unending joy.

Nothing like a good ol' HAB sesh in the early evening. Photo by John

And we reach the almost the top. The terrain is pretty slick up here, with a geology that seems distinct from the rest of the McDowells.

Freeskier rocking this singletrack out. One more little HAB, then we go down!

Jonathan coming down a bit of the fun stuff on top of TT.

It's time to head to the valley floor, and drop this mountain like a bad habit. About 20 switchbacks later, and a stroll on Desert Park Trail, I was at the finish, about 8.5 hours after starting. Sweetness.

It looks like a Quadruple Bypass, but only Sunrise is a pass and TT is just climbing the whole damn mountain. Sonoran doesn't take you much of anywhere, and Prospector only hits Bell, but doesn't make the pass. It sure looks good though! About 7k ft of climbing. Good stuff, there.

Color map of the route. We rode CCW from the stem in the west.

Sunrise is at the bottom.

The red is Tom's Thumb up and over, left to right.

The Sonoran and Prospector climbs. They all add up.

Great day, and thanks again to John for the pics.

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