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, July 21, 2012

Raybum's Tour de Coconino AZT

Phoenix. Summer. Dreadful heat. The mind bake. Sublimation of sweat crystals. Seconds to swamp-ass. It was cooking our psyches down to a gelatinous mess of temperature induced ennui, and biking time to inside a few hours per ride so we weren't turned to ash. It was time to open it up, get out of Satan's kitchen and break free from the nuclear radiation that can eviscerate clouds in seconds as they approach the valley. The legs needed to be run out a bit, get some miles under them. My last 50+ was Sedona AES the beginning of March, and the most since was 23ish on DC, meh. I wanted to get into the pit, and stay there for about 8 hours. Flagstaff would be our destination, some new AZT would be our goal. Who you gonna call? One Gear Raybum, that's who. He dreamed a route, and we collected a few more takers.

The plan was to camp on the south side of Flag, then hit some of the AZT down there around Lakes Mormon and Mary, and any other goodies Ray might have dug up. We ended up at Fort Tuthill with the trailer, but we also had a rendezvous only a few miles down the road. Everyone needs to break free from the valley stir fry at some point during the summer, and no better reason than to ride a bike in the pines. Lucky for a few of these fellas, they get to come up often. For me, its the sweet taste of that prize, cherished then realized only after time saving and working, or cooking and sweating.

Tuthill was kind of empty, and while we had neighbors, none were on top of us. We had plenty of room! The camper made it all pretty easy, which is nice sometimes. I'll hurt enough on the bike, so this is good.

We had the dogs, and they were busy tying knots all weekend. The ropes were better than carrying around chains though, for sure. Although I did wake up one morning to find the yellow rope eaten through at the base of the tree. Probably some old gray squirrel, "NIMBY!". Maybe he has a TOA.

Saw this in town. Dogs. Whatchya gonna do?

J and I even took on the Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course while at Forth Tuthill. This wall climb was about 35ft off the ground.

Zip lines! Ah, Costa Rica!

The Blue and Black courses get even higher. It got a bit hairy up there. Lots of fun.
For our ride, we took of from Mountaineer, and wandered over to the AZT by way of Lake Mary Road. We'd end up taking the AZT north to Flag, riding a bit through the city, then finding the Campbell Mesa trails, which took us back to the AZT by way of Fisher Point. Rather than head back down the AZT, and climb back up onto the mesa, we passed by Fort Tuthill and took some jeep roads back to the cabin. The value of local knowledge is priceless on days like this as we half planned, half wandered around this little piece of our planet. Nice work Ray and NG!

Indeed, all day.

NG has a sweet cabin that leads right to Priest Draw, a nice ribbon of singletrack.

We're not purists, so we'll take some road if it gets us to what we really want, namely the AZT.

We did a few miles heading south on Lake Mary Road, which has nice shoulders for bikes, but then had to head straight up 300ft to the top of Anderson Mesa to catch the AZT as it rolled along the top. It was imperative that the weather was dry, as death mud is known to spring from otherwise nice dirt here.
Back east boy has to show off his back east duds, or suds, as it were. Starting to look like a riding kit now - watch out! Spandex in your future?

And we hit the AZT.

This was the flavor of the trail before we dropped off the mesa. The five of us were keeping pretty good time together, even if Ray would pull ahead easily on the climbs. It just looks effortless. I forgot my O2 tank, on the other hand. Going from 1500ft to riding at 7k+ can have a little effect on oxygen delivery.
"Where do we really feel like going? Where are we headed?" Hmmm....I like figuring it out on the fly. The rough outline got us on the trail, details were then found therein. It's like discovering geocached choose-your-own-adventure waypoints. "We go up and around? Or down then through?" Good times. I liked being towed around. "Just keep giving it to me!"

After around six miles of the AZT, we were obliged to drop down into Walnut Canyon. Cholla B is well in front of me here.

Ah ha! I know this rock! It comes from a Coco 250 scout trip form Mr. Morris and friends. Found it!

We took a little detour to check out Fisher Point. We'd be back here in a few hours.
Its a fast out-and-back.

Our 11 miles of AZT ended as we came into Flagstaff. I always like the feel of riding into a city, getting some supplies then heading back out. "Sorry! No time to read the meter!" I've got to get back to the habit - I'm having latic acid withdrawals.

A short stop at Absolute Bikes to resupply some Gu's and tighten a BB. We then continued on our urban attack.

After cavorting around Flag for a bit and even passing the Scottish games and tubs of hagus, some of us consulted maps and iPhones, to locate Campbell Mesa, which had some smooth, fast ST for us to devour. It's often great to plan a route, get the time, resources, stops and navigation just right, then on the other hand, it's great to just hang on and say, "Whatcya got that's good?" This approach gave us miles of smiles. At mile 30ish, we were feeling good, and the weather was perfecto.

 We skirted to the edge of Campbell Mesa, but only after cutting down and up the other side of an ancillary drainage that leads to Walnut Canyon. It was fast and nicely cut in, and the climb on the other side was doable, but that is where I started feeling it. Time to shift to secondary power, which is just often ignoring the pain of fatigue until peaceful bliss rolls like warm morphine through your body, at least for a spell. I didn't go that far, but crossing the mesa had me at the back of the pack with no closing speed. Ugh, ran over and over in my mind. The views of the canyon allowed me to easily ignore it.

We were soon at the junction we passed through hours earlier, to check out Fisher Point.

The work of a little downhill to Walnut Canyon and some easy ST got us back into the groove and feeling cool. Maybe a bit too cool.

Yes, it was definitely too cool. Some drops turned into a drizzle which started to pour until it was raining. Then we put on jackets and hid under the trees. Luckily we were clear of death mud territory, being closer to Flag.

It lasted maybe 10 minutes, but they were quite calm minutes. It's a steady rain you don't see much in the valley - I was slightly ensconced by the simple nature of it. That quiet pitter-patter is much like the rhythmic rocking of of an overnight train in India from Hampi to Hyderabad. It pulls the waking mind to Delta waves.

And what 56 mile bike ride doesn't end in a hike-a-bike. Sheesh. Small hill, but I was huffing it.

And we finished right at the back porch! Now that is mountain bike spoiled. Thanks NG and family for the hospitality and adult beverages! Sorry for being a shmuck and 40 minutes late! I hate that guy!

56 miles and all kinds of up and down. The first climb is the hill from Lake Mary Road to Anderson Mesa and the AZT. The drop is down into Walnut Canyon. The second big ditch is dropping off of Campbell Mesa, down to Fisher Point. Good stuff out there. Sure want to do some more exploring. Next: AZT down by San Francisco Mountain.

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