This beginner ride of sorts wasn't for the newcomer to the sport, rather all it meant was we'd stop more, ride at a comfortable pace, take pics and eat lots of snacks. In other words, a typical ride minus the copious amounts of HAB.
The only question was: who was going to show up? It was open to the general public, so we had no idea what we were in for other than an 18 mile ride on dirt roads and the Arizona Trail north of Picketpost. (Passage 18 - Whitford Canyon). Craig was leading the advanced group ride on the same route, just riding faster and leaving a bit before us.
Apparently, most of us had never been off US60 in Superior and were surprised to see how big the town really was. I was guilty. It's good to know there is still an ice cream shop open along main street.
Our group slowly assembled and by the time we headed over to Picketpost TH we totaled 10 riders. Not bad.
|8 riders trusted Shannon and I to lead them around for the day. Photo by Shannon.|
|Train of riders along the AZT. Photo by Shannon.|
|Apache Leap and Picketpost Mtn make an excellent backdrop. Photo by Shannon.|
|The hills grow bigger as Picketpost shrinks. Photo by Shannon.|
|Meet Jonas. No excuses, he rocked it all day!!|
|Blastoff!! Photo by Shannon.|
|It was nice to see water flowing in a few places.|
|I wasn't expecting to ride IN a river!! Photo by Jack.|
By the time we reached our rendezvous with the AZT up FR650 we caught up to the advanced ride group. They had gone a bit farther up the trail to check on reported trail damage. Craig informed us about a washout along the Whitford Canyon segment and recommended an alternate route to avoid more water crossings. I figured we'd play it by ear and make the call as a group when we got to that point. First, there were a few miles of singletrack high above any threat of water.
|A steady climb greeted us after leaving FR650.|
|Rugged mountains surrounding us.|
|This is Jack, first time on the AZT. First of many, look at that smile!! Photo by Shannon.|
|The desert floor is carpeted in green. Photo by Shannon.|
|The AZT is a gathering place for all trail users. Photo by Shannon.|
|Time to hand out cookies and make a decision on Whitford Canyon. Photo by Shannon.|
It really wasn't a hard decision, everyone wanted to stay on the trail!! Or at least what was left of it. The first couple of miles through Whitford Canyon the AZT follows and crisscrosses a normally dry wash. Not on this day. The water was still flowing, a few inches deep and the storm damage could easily be seen by the down trees and eroded banks. It must've been quite a sight.
|Trail? What trail. Photo by Shannon.|
|Holly loves a good adventure!!|
|When the trail wasn't washed away, it was lush. Photo by Shannon.|
|Some more pushing and dodging limbs. Photo by Jack.|
|One last HAB and water crossing.|
|The AZT eventually winds up the hillside away from the wash. We'd find Josh waiting for us at the next crossing.|
|Shannon perfecting her switchback technique.|
|Here's Darch, 70+ years young and still getting after it.|
|Reaching the top of the last big climb of the day.|
Picketpost Mtn was now dominating our field of view. A few miles of ridgeline riding back down to Queen Creek ensued. Everyone was enjoying the final sights of the day as we finished up on the first two miles of trail from the morning.
|Craig caught up to us after taking his shortcut past Whitford Canyon.|
|Such a fun group to share the trail with. Hopefully those new to the AZT will venture off and explore more of what it offers.|
Afterwards a few of us went back into Superior to see what the rest of the festival was all about. Some of the vendors had left the scene by mid-afternoon, but the fish tacos were still being served and they were excellent!! The live music was going and beer was available, so it was a fine way to wind down the day.
A huge thank you to the folks who run the Legends of Superior Trail days and thanks for the invite, Craig. Of course this wasn't complete without the other half of Team Loco, Shannon, leading from behind today. The group returned intact and ready for more!! Success on all accounts!!
Full photo album