The night before heading down, Seron was still waiting on a replacement for a cracked chainstay, so he was out. Then Jonathan chimed in that he was a no-go for Sat. as well. So, Chris and I decided that we really needed to scout some of the route along with re-supply points near Oracle for the AZT300. We packed up & headed south a little behind schedule Sat. morning.
Driving south from Superior is quite the contrast in views, on one hand there are the towering cliffs and canyons as you drop down to the Gila River, while at the same time you are driving past some of the largest open pit copper mines known to man. There's a raw rugged beauty in this part of the state. We soon found ourselves in Dudleyville looking for the connector to Freeman Rd. A few backtracks and fiddling with my GPS had us on the right path. We didn't realize we were going to have to drive through the San Pedro River!! Luckily the flow was down and we splashed Chris' truck through the clear running water.
|This guy was guarding Freeman Rd.|
|Loaded & ready to roll.|
|The start a grand adventure.|
|Cool counter-weighted gate.|
|It's not called the Boulders segment for nothing.|
|Chris looking like a veteran bikepacker.|
|We stopped to scout out Bathtub Spring on our descent to Ripsey Wash, the bees sure were thirsty!|
|At the top of The Big Hill.|
|The Hayden stacks in the distance.|
|For all your climbing effort this is the payoff, Chad Brown declares this the best ridgeline in AZ!! I concur.|
|Look closely and you'll see a thin slice of dirt climbing up to the left of the frame. That slice is the 4.5 mile climb up the Florence-Kelvin Hwy or F-K Hwy as I now refer to it.|
|Globemallows in bloom.|
|The Sonoran desert comes alive this time of year with a breathtaking array of color. Here golden poppie and lupines fight for superiority.|
|A new AZT trailhead is in the works for the Kelvin area.|
|Finally at the top of the F-K Hwy, whew!|
|Desert sunset are really tough to beat, it seems like we get ones like this 4-5 times per week.|
Finally back at camp, we were both exhausted. The ride ended up being a 10 hour day and it was almost 9p. We still had to cook up some grub before turning in for the night. The only real cheating we did with the truck nearby was to dive into the cooler for a couple of cold ones. How couldn't we, right?
We settled in for the night dozing off under the sparkle of a star filled desert sky and the faint howling of a pack of coyotes.
|My bedroom for the night, next to the Freeman Rd. water cache.|
We came to our senses and decided the 70 mile ride would not be a good idea on this day. It was already closing in on 9am, we hadn't really packed our things up yet, Chris was without lights and my battery was now near 50% of power. We opted for the safe choice and focused on the 13 mile loop down by Oracle. There was some new-to-us AZT to check out along with scouting for water sources and checking on store locations/hours.
We started our ride near the Circle K that will be used as a re-supply point during the AZT300. The first few miles were on a mix of pavement & jeep road. We turned off the jeep road onto the AZT and what a hoot! Downhill grade, waterbar hopping all the way. The bottom of the hill spilled us into a place I recognized from a few photos over the years.
|So this is the AZT sign I'm always seeing!!|
|Chris enjoying the hills of Oracle State Park.|
|Grinding it out on the SS.|
|The Kanally Ranch house.|
|Reliable water source!!|
We arrived at the Kanally Ranch house in search of a water spigot, as luck would have it a park volunteer showed up minutes later and directed us right to it. The park is currently open only on Saturdays, but she confirmed to us that the water source would be available to AZT racers in a couple of weeks. We finished out the ride after a quick stop by the Oracle Market, good store hours, and a Red Bull.
A few things I learned on this outing: bikepacking is where its at. I need to thoroughly go through my gear list a couple of times and narrow down what I really need. Weight is a big factor out there. The bike handles great, just different. It's quite a bit faster on the downhills due to the added weight. Thanks Chris for making this a memorable adventure, we are first time bikepackers no more!!