4.01.2012

BCT - Hwy 69 to Emery Henderson TH

An almost full north to south traverse on the Black Canyon Trail, BCT, was on tap for this April fools day. While  the trail does lose more elevation than it gains going south, don't be tricked into thinking it's a walk in the park. There are some 6000' of climbing over 60 miles that state otherwise - no foolin'.

I rolled out of the sack at the crisp time of 3:30a to pick up Seron & drive the hour+ up to the Emery Henderson Trailhead north of Phoenix to meet the rest of our GnarGnar shuttle group. We all gathered shortly before 6a and began rounding up our gear. Seron kept circling the parking lot and much to his dismay came to the conclusion that his freshly converted Monocog -> geared setup just wasn't going to cut it on this day. The rear wheel would not stay put under the force of the rear brake. What a string of bad riding mojo he has going on right now, hopefully this will be the end of it.

At 6:15 or so we began to get concerned that our shuttle had yet to appear, we knew it was going to be a long day and we weren't really planning on a nighttime finish. The shuttle finally arrived with the news that northbound I-17 was shut down due to a rolled semi! We debated on what to do, finally settled on loading the bikes & going back to the closed interchange to see if we could get word on how long the closure would last. We heard rumors of a 2+ hour shutdown and were content in returning to EH TH to do an out-n-back ride. As luck would have it, as we passed the on-ramp the highway patrol began to pick up the flares...yeah, we're opening the freeway. Back on the freeway we passed the wrecked semi, which was facing the wrong way in the right-hand lane....how'd that happen?? Hopefully the driver was ok, it sure looked bad.

We arrived at our dropoff point on Hwy 69, snapped a few pics, and the rest of the group was off. I hung back gathering up all my bikepacking gear for a long test ride. My plan was to do this ride fully loaded with gear and 220oz of water, bypassing the water caches that Jeff had set up. Soon I was on my way through the rolling high desert scrub.

GnarGnar Tour van.

Jeff & Nancy - SS mashers!!

Randy all set for the big day on the SS.

Lots of roaming cattle up here, close the gates!!


Cool section of trail along the mesa's edge, Bradshaw Mtns. in the background.

Mmmm....breakfast burrito!

Hidden Treasure Mine TH.

Some of the 8am shuttle group yo-yo'd with me for a bit.

At the Bumble Bee TH.

Such a great mountain biking trail.
The large group from the 8a shuttle began rolling into the Bumble Bee / Gloriana Mine TH just as I was finishing up my food break, it was the last time I'd have a visual on them. I was feeling good with the extra weight, trying to keep my stops to a minimum. I rarely stopped to get out the camera, instead I took advantage of food/water stops & the occasional gates to snap a few shots.  I started down the Stagecoach segment, old wagon ruts are still visible and this is the one chunky section of trail, when I felt my framebag leaning against my leg. I stopped to check it out and found two of the straps had come undone. I started to separate the velcro only to find that one side of the strap actually detached from the bag!! I was now down two contact points along the seatpost tube. I was able to balance the bag fairly well on the water bottle for a few more miles, but then a third strap let loose. Game over for the framebag. I was irked for a few minutes about how I had to move all this heavy stuff into my backpack, which now was back to the mornings weight. I got over it quickly & moved on, good thing I've been riding with a loaded down pack for the better part of a year! Somewhere near Kay Mine I caught up with Steve & Craig. We rode together down to the Agua Fria River, then up & back down to the river, up the Skyline climb and finally down to the top of the Little Pan Loop. I needed to keep moving so I went on to Table Mesa for a snack. This is the portion of trail that is notorious for nearby shooting, this day was no different. Most of the time the shots can be heard off in the distance, but occasionally they are a bit too close for comfort. As the yahoos kept firing away, I put the hammer down for a bit to gain some distance. One big climb left, then a smaller one to the finish. I was proud of myself for making all the climbs in the middle ring without stopping, even 50+ miles into the ride. With that said I was more than happy to have the hills end to a final 5 mile relatively flat runout to the parking lot. All told, 60 miles, 6000' of climbing in 10 hours (8 moving). Sounds like a good day to me.
Unfortunately, this also comes with the territory up here. 

Jeff's water cache at the Table Mesa TH.

Bradshaw's starting to get smaller.

A second rock bicycle!! Southern end of the Boy Scout Loop.


Shouldn't there also be a mountain biker on this sign???

It's rare for me to finish a long ride like this and still have plenty of daylight!!

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