I'm Back! The trip to AZ to ride was a good one on many levels.
As I'm immersed in a lot of work, I'm gonna hit the highlights for ya this morning and then give you some shop postings tonight.
We arrived last Sunday after a quick trip in the plane...as I had not really slept for the two days prior, I grabbed my share of the bulkhead wall and quickly slipped into dreamland for the duration. Upon hitting the jetway, the stark reality of where I was hit me square in the face with warm breezes and sunlight; I put the down jacket away for the balance of the trip :)
Each year, we try to hit an area of the state we've not played in yet, with the wise intention of taking a rest day in the midst of the week to recharge. Each year, we totally blow the plan. This year, we rode some new stuff, but faced with beautiful weather and much enthusiasm since I had not ridden since October, the rest day died a quick death. Seven days in AZ, 9 rides completed...boy was I hurting!
Here's a run down of what we hit and some random thoughts on each area...
Sunday - Desert Classic Trail in Phoenix...a perfect trail to knock the dust off of some tired winter legs, this rolling fast trail is a hoot to ride. As an out and back, it offers carving turns, rocky washes, a few loose climbs, but is overall a pretty mellow introduction to desert riding.
Monday - National Trail in Phoenix...the polar opposite of it's neighbor, the National trail is a technical riders dream. Rocky/chunky trail, steep drops that pucker your tushy, and ridgeline scenery thrown in make this a trip favorite every year.
Tuesday - Arizona Trail from Kentucky Camp, south of Tucson...a true wilderness ride through lowland hilly grasslands with scrub oak canyons, this trail while not very difficult, was a knock out for location. The only sounds were those of my hard breathing and various birds, as this section of the 800 plus mile trail is considered an air island for southern birds moving north.
Wednesday - Star Pass in Tucson...we met up with a friend of mine, Jeff Francone, and rode Star Pass trail. This is a killer ride, that follows a ridge out over a mountain, drops down a rocky, loose decent, rides the back side of another mountain, climbs through a pass and finishes out a sandy tire sucking wash...whoo! The cacti population was immense, with large stands on the southern aspects of the mountain sides looming over us in their own foreboding way as they protected their territory.
Wednesday - Sweetwater Trails in Tucson...although we baked on Star Pass, we just could not resist the recommendation from Bruce and Dane at Fair Wheel Bikes to check out this new trail system. The Sweetwater Trails are an absolute hoot to ride. Think of your favorite rollercoaster and then imagine doing it on a bike and you've got an idea of what this system is about. An island of fun starting to be hemmed in by residential construction, it is fairly easy to navigate as long as you keep taking the next trail to the right...miss one and it is a Groundhog Day experience. We did, and rode 2/3 of the trail before starting it all over again. No worries though, as it did not diminish the smiles.
Thursday, ready for a day off? Nope. - Fantasy Island in Tucson...we hooked up with Emily Francone and rode this "premier" trail in the area. A fairly flat trail system with a modicum of technical challenge, this trail is really about having fun. Cool little collections of theme trash along side the trail mix with fast flowing single track and evil little prickly pear inches off of the corners that desire nothing more than to embed themselves into your wilting flesh. Overall, 18 miles of leg spinning fun...a nice break from the harder riding of the week.
Thursday evening - Mt. Lemmon and Miligrossa trail... second ride of the day, we drove up to Mt. Lemmon and did a combination ride; rode up the mountain for a fair bit then jumped on a down hill single track to scare ourselves a bit, pump out the arms, and gnash the teeth. No two ways about it...I was WAY thrashed by the end of the day.
Friday - 50 year trail and the chutes, Tucson...another area recommended by the locals, the standout of this system was the chutes, a bob sled like system of trails that although barely a shoulders width across, are fast, swoopy, and killer fun. Ride down the chute, scare yourself a bit, then climb back up and pick another one. The 50 year trail and Middle Gate are both recommended in their own right for challenging single track. Too bad we were too burned to really enjoy them to the max.
Saturday - Black Canyon Trail, Rock Springs...this was my favorite of the trip, too bad we chose to explore it last. This system was designed for "non-motorized recreational use" and is unbelievably awesome. Riding south from the Black Canyon trail head, this 10" wide single track traverses numerous ridges barely clinging to the edge, plunges down into the canyon for river crossings, then switchbacks it's way back over the mountains again. Excellent viewing, long continuous climbs, ripping fast descents, and a wilderness experience are the hallmarks of this experience.
Sunday - parking deck crit, Phoenix...although we had to fly home, I could not resist one last ride before boxing up the bikes, so we ran a quick criterium up, down, and around the parking deck. Too much fun.
A week in the 90's has made me a cold weather wussy, as the highs here at home are only hitting 50 if we are lucky. Got out last night for a spin around Vultures Knob and felt really good. Although the last week contained more riding than I'll do for the rest of the year, it was fun to get out and recharge the body and mind.
I'll be answering the 200 emails that are sitting in my inbox tonight, so thanks for your patience. Pics of Jeff's and Roger's Bigwheel fabrication are in the plans for y'all.